Monthly Archives: March 2015

A Bucket of Cold Water From the Universe

Sunday. Normally a pretty quiet day, yes? One for lounging about, not doing much. Watching a bit of TV. Having a late dinner. You know the drill. Yesterday, for us, was one of those Sundays. We were marking a personal milestone in our lives, my husband and I, and we pledged, weeks ago, that we’d spend the day together doing whatever we liked.

As it turned out, ‘whatever we liked’ happened to be noodling on the internet (him) and reading a Terry Pratchett book (me) while listening to a succession of CDs (because we’re elderly) and sighing, occasionally, at how wonderful it all was. Yes, we are the original party animals.

Anyway. Late in the evening, we decided to watch a bit of TV. While channel-hopping, I came across a programme on one of the BBCs (I really do love the BBC, you know), which was about an esoteric, odd and even somewhat creepy topic, but one which fascinates me. Better than that, though, was this: the topic forms the central pole of an idea I had for a book, about a year ago, which has been buzzing away in my lower subconscious ever since. I won’t say I’d forgotten about it, because I hadn’t, but I guess I’d sort of put it away. Shelved, you might say. This is a bit silly, this one, I told myself. Unlikely, you know? 

Except, as I found yesterday, it isn’t all that silly at all.

Photo Credit: Iwan Gabovitch via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Iwan Gabovitch via Compfight cc

The programme I watched showed me that not only was my proto-idea still fascinating (to me, at least), because I was gripped by it the whole way through, but that there are actually a lot more links between my fictional idea and the actual history of the world than I’d thought. The main thrust of the plot I’d half-dreamed of involved political machination and manoeuvring at the tip-top of society, all made possible through the nefarious deeds of a mysterious lady who is, for reasons unknown, kidnapping children – and the reason, the very specific reason why the lady needs to kidnap children (which I’d dismissed, sadly, as being too far-fetched and stupid), I have now learned, would actually work.

Or, at least, the programme gave me back my enthusiasm for the idea, to the extent that I grabbed a pen and an old envelope and as I sat watching the TV, I was scribbling notes. Names of real historical figures, dates, places. Technical terms. I will admit to a wide and slightly manic grin creeping over my face as I realised: I might have something here. This idea, which plopped into my head one day as we drove cross-country to visit someone, and I had neither pen nor paper nor even my phone to make a note, could actually – one day, with work and research and a lot of fleshing out – become a real story… well.

It was a bit like a bucket of cold water being poured down the back of my collar. In a good way. In a way that told me: don’t be so quick to dismiss your ideas. Don’t be so quick to tell yourself something is impossible. Life is always teaching me that things I thought were impossible are actually easy-peasy, if a bit of mental ingenuity and elbow grease are applied. It also woke me up to the very important realisation that no idea is worth junking, at least straight away. One never knows the hour nor the minute that a perfect thread to connect that tiny idea-let with another will flit into your mind, making an intriguing – if slightly unlikely – whole. Perhaps it will be a TV programme which you’ll happen upon by chance while searching for something else, and it will rivet you to your seat while your mind fills up with images. Perhaps it will be something you read. Perhaps it will be a half-heard snatch of conversation, or a phrase that fits exactly into a hole in your imagination. Whatever it is, you won’t know it’s there if you’re not constantly open to receiving it. So, put down your mental umbrellas, and wait for the cold dousing from the Universal Bucket.

It’s a bit shocking, I’ll warrant. You may want to dance around the room shaking out your arms, and your teeth might chatter, and you may not be able to think straight for a while afterwards. But worth it? Oh, yes.

Book Review Saturday – ‘Stasiland’

Only the other day, a friend (and regular commenter here in Clockwatching… towers) recommended that I try reading something out of my ‘comfort zone’ in order to stimulate my creativity. He was, of course, entirely right. Perhaps something of his wisdom had already started to permeate my brain, because last week – slithered in among all the other things I was managing to do – I read a book that I will never forget. That book is Stasiland: Stories from Behind the Berlin Wall, by Anna Funder.

Image: sceneenough.com

Image: sceneenough.com

Originally published in 2003, Stasiland is a monumental work of research into life in Germany during the Stasi regime, which began shortly after the Second World War and lasted until November 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Funder (who is Australian, and began her book while working in Germany during the 1990s) explores not only the stifling, claustrophobic terror of life in east Germany during this time, but also the many reasons for the development of such an ‘under siege’ mindset among the Stasi’s high officials, some of whom believed that they were still fighing fascism (once embodied by the Nazis, and now embodied by the West) and others whom, it seemed, just couldn’t find a way to relinquish the power they had once held. It is written almost like a novel, with Funder taking us into the lives and minds of her interviewees so completely that I felt, at times, as though the ‘characters’ were fictional. Perhaps I was simply trying to convince myself they were, because I found it hard to deal with some of the events I read about in this book. It is not written simply as a recounting of conversations, or a cold transcription of interviews (though there are times when Funder does take us through personal encounters with some of the people who feature in the narrative), but we feel like we’re living these experiences with the people who suffered through them. It’s first-hand testimony, and it pulls no punches.

The primary figure in the book is Miriam Weber, whose story begins when, at sixteen, she makes an attempt to flee east Germany, over the Berlin Wall, in order to reach the freedom of the west. She is found, and tortured by the Stasi, and eventually released into a world where she cannot find employment and where she is broken, mentally and physically, by her experience. Her name is on a list, and everywhere she goes, and every job she applies for, and everywhere she is asked for her name or her identity papers, she is met with walls of bureaucracy and stalling. She feels the clamp of the Stasi in every corner of her life. When she eventually marries her husband Charlie, the Stasi are not far away. Her husband is taken from her by the powers that be, and she never sees him again. Her quest to find out the truth of what happened to him runs through the entire narrative, and her quiet pain and rage seem, at times, to overwhelm her.

We also learn about women whose relationships with men outside of east Germany are monitored (through letter interception and telephone tapping), and upon whom pressure is placed to bring the relationship to an end; we read several times of people who, for one reason or other, are on Stasi watchlists and who cannot find employment anywhere. At one point, one of Funder’s contacts arrives at an ‘Employment’ (as distinct to an ‘Unemployment’) office, and asks one of the other people there, conversationally, how long he has been unemployed. ‘Young lady,’ snaps an official. ‘You are not unemployed. You are seeking work.’ ‘I don’t see how it’s different,’ she retorts. ‘You are not unemployed! There is no unemployment in the German Democratic Republic!’ shrieks the official. We read of a raped woman who is forced to undergo a physical examination by a male police officer while naked on a table. I learned about Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler, who hosted a TV show (one of very few shown in the GDR) called Der Schwarze Kanal (The Black Channel), designed to mock and denigrate all that was western, and of other high-ranking Stasi officials whose homes were maintained like shrines to the old order. Several of the Stasi men mentioned in the narrative were still alive at the time Funder was writing, and it’s chilling – and fascinating – to read their take on what they were doing, and the state they were serving, and why they made the choices they did.

Some stories were funny, like that of a former Stasi official who stole a plate from his office just before the Wall fell, and who lied repeatedly when police came looking for it. He took huge pleasure in showing Funder where he had it displayed, in pride of place, on his living-room wall, like a personal protest to a regime he had grown to hate. She also allows us glimpses into her own personal life, her fears and triumphs, her feelings at the loss of her beloved mother, the difficulties of writing a book such as this one. But the story which I will always remember is that of Frau Paul and her family, whose son Torsten was taken away into the west in order to receive life-saving medical treatment while a very young child (after having received ill-considered, careless treatment by doctors and nurses in the GDR). The Stasi, as was their wont, find a weakness in Frau Paul’s life and use it, cruelly, to try to force her to inform on a young man whom she knows will be put to death if she speaks out against him – and they tell her that if she does what they want, they will give her a pass to visit her child, whom she hasn’t seen for months on end. Her choice brought tears to my eyes.

The most knowledge I had of the Stasi before reading this book was from watching the (excellent) film The Lives of Others; if you enjoyed that movie, Stasiland might be for you. It’s hard going, at times; it’s hard to believe, almost the whole way through. But it’s never anything less than brilliantly written, compelling, and deeply moving. It’s highly recommended.

Flash Friday – ‘Judge, Jury, Executioner’

First woman jury, Los Angeles, 1911. Public Domain photo by the Library of Congress. Image sourced: flashfriday.wordpress.com

First woman jury, Los Angeles, 1911. Public Domain photo by the Library of Congress.
Image sourced: flashfriday.wordpress.com

Judge, Jury, Executioner

He looks so fine up there, his head thrown back, a thick pulse thudding at his throat. If it weren’t for his shackles he could almost be in church, a pillar of righteousness.

But instead he’s in the dock, and I’m here.

The judge reviews the evidence, making it sound even more damning than the prosecution had. Gruesome injuries, he drones. Overwhelming strength. I tremble, but the defendant doesn’t hang his head; he stays straight-backed, his eyes fixed in the crowd, on one face in particular.
I don’t have to look to know which one.

When I caught my husband sneaking out at night, I did nothing for the longest time. I waited. I chose my moment carefully, following on silent feet. When I saw him embrace another man – this man, whose life I’m about to judge – a rage like hellfire filled my bones and blood.

So I crept to his house. I murdered his wife. It was as if a demon overtook me.

And when they dragged him to trial, this fine innocent man, he confessed. To spare my husband, he confessed. To spare me the shame.

‘Madam Foreperson. Your verdict, please.’

Like a coward, I rise and condemn him, and his eyes never leave my husband’s face.

**

This week’s Flash! Friday (which I heartily recommend you try) asks participants to write a story between 190 and 210 words (I barely scraped in!) based around the image prompt, above, and the ‘concept’ prompt of ‘Man vs. Self’. The image prompt was of a jury of women sitting in judgement, and perhaps it’s because of my love of folksongs with their dark, twisty deeds, but the first place my mind went when I thought about interior conflict was this: what if you were judging someone for a crime you knew they hadn’t committed, but you had no choice but to convict them?

Well. And so, this tale was born.

Again, I make no claim to have written a ‘good’ story. It’s a story which didn’t exist an hour ago, and that – for me – is enough. I’ve been finding story-writing tough lately, and so any week in which I can get a story to coalesce long enough to capture it is a good one. Let’s hope it’s a good sign for the rest of the day’s endeavours!

Alors, my loves. I must fly. Happy weekend, one and all, and make sure to do some creative thinking over your down-time. It can only be, I’m assured, a Very Good Thing.

Finding the Muse

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I haven’t written about writing here for quite a while, now. There’s a reason for that.

I’ve been having an extended period of drought. It’s like my brain is spread too thinly, or perhaps it’s as a result of having a lot of things, some of them unexpected, to think about and deal with. Then there’s the fear – you know the one I mean. The fear that everything I write is nonsense anyway, so why bother creating more of it.

Maybe I should just invest in a bigger one of these... Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc

Maybe I should just invest in a bigger one of these…
Photo Credit: quinn.anya via Compfight cc

I have half-created so many drafts over the past four months, novels which began reasonably, and which I felt had arcs and characters and a story to tell, but which still sputtered out. This happens to everyone at some point or other; I know that, of course. But when it happens over and over again, in succession, it’s bound to have a bit of a dampening effect, both on confidence and productivity levels.

It’s not that I’m not having ideas, as such. I get them, fleetingly, every once in a while. My Notes function on my phone is full of half-cooked flashes that might, one day, become stories, and I’m hopeful that’s a sign my brain hasn’t given up the fight just yet. In fact, one of these ideas has, over the past few weeks, taken on a life of its own inside my imagination – I can see a finished book, full of beautiful line-drawings, and the layout of the text on the pages, and I have a character with a heart-shiveringly lovely name, and I have an Enemy with a complex motive, and I have high hopes for this story.

But I haven’t written it, or even really pushed myself to think about it or plan it out. If the images float into my mind of their own accord, I let them come, but I don’t force them.

I also have another idea which is, at the moment, not ready for committing to paper, but I have managed to complete one important aspect of it, and that is this: a cracking first line. I also have a character name, which seems to be something I really need to get a story to hang together. Then, there’s another story which exists in scraps inside my mind. I also have a cool character name for this one, but I’m not sure yet who it belongs to. Maybe when I decide that, I can move forward with this idea. Maybe.

And maybe nothing will ever come of any of them. That’s something which haunts my thoughts.

So, for the past few weeks, I’ve taken a step back and I’ve started going through some of my other manuscripts, and my older ideas. I had entirely rewritten one book, based on the bones of a previous draft, and it’s far from perfect – but I’d forgotten that it’s actually okay, and there’s usable material here, and I did a lot of work on it before putting it aside which makes me less inclined to want to waste it. However, there’s loads more work still to do. About three-quarters of the way through, there’s a giant ugly weld-mark where the story changes pitch and direction completely, for instance, but I’m currently trying to smooth that out. The end is all wrong. But there are bits in the middle which are actually rather good. Now, of course, nobody has seen this book but me, and it might stay that way, but even if I do whip up a new draft from these old bones and it goes precisely nowhere, I’ll still have proved to myself that I can write another book.

I can write another book. There is hope.

I haven’t felt like much of a writer lately, despite everything. But until that feeling comes back, I’ll just have to fake it. Turn up on my writing days, face the desk, don’t shy away from the work, get the job done. Plough through.

Show up, and the muse will too. It might take her a while, but she’ll come.

Wordy Wonders

At the end of last week, and into the weekend, I felt pretty rough. Tired, and washed-out, and hardly fit to string a sentence together. It felt, more or less, like I’d been squashed flat. Not a lot of fun.

However, it did have one upside, and that was this: I finally got time to watch a few old episodes of BBC’s Sherlock, which (I hate to admit) I haven’t been following right from the start. I’d only seen series three up to last Saturday, and one of my Christmas presents to myself was the box set, which includes every episode so far. So, over Saturday and Sunday I settled in with series 1. And it was good.

Now, there’s plenty to like about Sherlock. The cracking dialogue, and the excellent characters, and the clever plots (and, if you’ve got any familiarity with Arthur Conan Doyle’s original novels, the little references and nods, here and there, to the stories as they were originally written), and Mrs Hudson (who is just the best), and sweet, awkward Molly, and the deliciously unhinged Moriarty. Not to mention, of course, the main attraction.

Photo Credit: ashleigh louise. via Compfight cc  Every time you clap your hands, Sherlock and John get a new case!

Photo Credit: ashleigh louise. via Compfight cc
Every time you clap your hands, Sherlock and John get a new case!

Whoever cast Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Dr John Watson needs a knighthood (or damehood, or whatever). Their dynamic is perfect, and their acting superb, and just… yeah. I’m fangirling now, so I’d better rein it in.

Anyway. All of this is leading to a point, I promise.

During one of the episodes, Sherlock (not a man who chooses his words with anything less than precise, elegant care) drops ‘meretricious’ into a conversation about a recently discovered corpse. In surprise, Inspector Lestrade replies ‘and a happy New Year’, looking a bit confused. I laughed at that, not just because of the funny dialogue, but because of the sheer wonder of the word ‘meretricious.’ I repeated it out loud to myself a few times (which probably means it was lucky I was alone), enjoying the sound, and spent a few moments being glad that I’m a person to whom words are important.

Meretricious. Try it. You might find you enjoy saying it as much as I do. You may even find cause to use it in a sentence today, despite the fact that ‘tawdry’ or ‘tacky’ would do very well in its place. They just don’t sound the same.

You can’t help but admire a character who uses a word like ‘meretricious’ in a sentence without even thinking about it, can you? As a kid, I was often told I’d swallowed a dictionary, because a word with fourteen syllables would always be my first choice (despite the fact that a word with three syllables, which meant just the same thing, would have done equally well); I also had the classic reader’s problem of mispronouncing things, because I’d only ever seen them written down. I really admire a character who is written in a way which appeals to my vocabulary-loving heart, and it got me thinking about some of my other favourite words.

Pusillanimous. ‘Timid’ or ‘weak’.

Pulchritude. Meaning, slightly ironically I think, ‘beauty.’

Prestidigitation. Sleight of hand.

Susurrus (I share the love of this word with Tiffany Aching, which makes me proud). ‘A rustling, rippling, whispering noise.’ Or, if you’re Tiffany, ‘an immediate incursion into your world by another, and time to get out the frying pan.’

Mellifluous. A rich, honeyed, pleasingly musical sound.

Zaftig. A German borrowing, meaning ‘curvaceous and attractive.’ This word was used of me, once, before I knew what it meant, meaning I had to make a quick judgement call as to whether it was an insult or not. (It wasn’t). Sometimes I wonder whether my ignorance had a role to play in the way my life has subsequently developed. Oh, well. No harm.

Palimpsest. A manuscript which bears the faint traces of other, earlier words, either words which have been erased and written over or words which were impressed or embossed upon the parchment through a heavy-handed scribe leaning on another sheet.

Propinquity. A tendency, inclination, or attraction, or the nearness of things to one another.

There are many more, but here I must draw a line for fear of instilling boredom. I’m struck, while compiling this list, how many words I love the sound of begin with the letter ‘p’ and/or end in some version of an ‘s’. Strange, and inexplicable, and rather interesting – at least, to me. Words in all their loveliness please my nerdy little heart. I’ve often meant to compile a proper list of my favourites, and keep adding to it as I learn more – but that’s a job of work for another day, I feel.

Do you have a favourite word, or a Top 10? Frankly, I’ll be less inclined to like you if you don’t. Just saying.

 

 

 

Book Review Saturday – ‘Lords and Ladies’

I can’t let Terry Pratchett’s death pass without looking at one of his masterful Discworld novels, particularly this one, which I love. (Well, I love them all… but you know what I mean).

Image: taken by SJ O'Hart.

Image: taken by SJ O’Hart.

While I was at university studying to complete my PhD, I loaned my original copy of Lords and Ladies to my doctoral supervisor. Cutting a long story short, I never got it back – not because it vanished into the pestilential pit of his office, but because he loved it so much that persuaded me to give it to him as a gift. There was actual eyelash-fluttering involved (and he did buy me a beer to sort-of make up for it), so I had very little hope of withstanding. I relinquished the book, and that was that. For several years – almost a decade, in fact – my Pratchett collection had a hole, right in the middle.

Then, one day, my beloved came home with a small, paper-wrapped package in his hand, which he gave to me without a word. I opened it, and the wonderful red-coloured cover in the photo above came into view. The book I now have is a different edition to the one I gave away, but it hardly matters. My favourite Discworld novel had returned, and I was delighted to welcome it.

Lords and Ladies is a book about the collision between worlds – as so many Discworld books are, in some form or other  – and this collision happens in a lot of ways. On the most basic level we have the world of the Disc coming into contact with the world of the Gentry (or the Shining Ones, or the Fair Folk, or – of course – the Lords and Ladies), as the Elves, the baddies of the piece, have come to be referred to over the years that have passed between their last appearance and the present time. These are not the gentle, wise Elves of Tolkien, by the way; we are not in Lothlorien, here. These are Elves of an entirely different breed. We also have the collision between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ styles of magic, embodied in Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg (who are as old-school as it’s possible to be) who come face-to-face with Perdita (real name: Agnes) and her friends, whose naivety has given them corrupted ideas about the magic they wield. Their ‘new-fangledness’ has led them to dabble in things they do not have the experience to understand, and it is through their attempts to work magic without first learning what it is that the world is left open to the influence of evil. We also have Magrat, the third and youngest of the witches, who leaves behind her magical life (sort of, at least) in order to marry Verence, King of Lancre, a man who began his career as a Fool, and the book explores the relationship between king and people, nobility and commoner, and man and woman, all through their gentle, awkward relationship. In fact, I think part of the reason I love this book so much is because we have a chance to see Magrat as she is, not through the lens of being the ‘third witch’; we see her learning how to defend herself and those she loves against terrifying odds through her own ingenuity and bravery, and not through her magic.

But it’s the story wot matters, and here it is.

in the countryside of Lancre, there is a circle of standing stones known as the Dancers. Birds divert their course so as not to fly  over it; clouds separate and flow around the circle, rejoining again once they’re past it. The weather inside the circle is different to the weather outside it. Once, the stones were guarded and feared, and the grass around them was kept short, and people stayed away. But time passed, and the fear began to dissipate. The grass grew. The old stories were forgotten. Young, unschooled witches begin to have their sabbats around the stones, and careless hunters disturb it by driving animals, against their will, into the gaps between the Dancers. If something goes in, then something must also come out… In this way, the power of the Gentry is awoken, and the Elves finally manage to find the crack in the world which they have long been searching for. It is up to Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, as well as a brave band of Morris Men, to send them back where they came from. For these Elves are not benevolent, or kind, or interested in being guardians or custodians of mankind. Their power is not on the wane. They are cold, and treat humanity as though it were a bug beneath a magnifying lens, and they love to cause pain just to watch what happens. They rejoice in their own power. Over the years, people have forgotten the cold and the cruelty, and remember only their beauty and the glamour they shroud themselves in, and nobody fears them any more – nobody but the witches, at least.

Until they come, and their true nature shows itself…

Everything about this book is a triumph, from the wizards of the Unseen University and their cross-country trip to attend the wedding of King Verence and Ms Magrat Garlick (and the adventures which ensue), to the courtship of Nanny Ogg by Casanunda, the Disc’s second-greatest lover, to Granny Weatherwax’s secret past, to the legend of Queen Ynci whose fearsome iron armour becomes a useful weapon against the Elves. There are scenes which make the reader snort with laughter (like the Stick-and-Bucket dance, or the moment when Verence takes delivery of what he thinks is a guide to ‘marital arts’, but turns out to be something quite different), and there are scenes which chill the blood, and there are scenes which bring tears to the reader’s eyes because they’re so real and moving. And, of course, on every page there are sentences so perfect that you just sigh in admiration as you read.

Every Discworld novel has something to recommend it, and every fan of the series will have their own particular favourite – this is mine. If you haven’t already found yours, I hope you’ll read and re-read the books until you do.

THE TURTLE MOVES.

GNU Terry Pratchett.

Lá Fhéile Phádraig

All of us have things we love about our native lands, and all of us have things we can’t stand. I’m no exception. I’m very proud of being Irish, and by and large I’m happy to live in Ireland and to say that ‘ich am of irlaunde‘, but there are also things which make me angry, mad, and depressed about the country of my birth. As ‘modern’ as we like to think we are, there’s a lot of inequality here, and there can be a strange, parochial, ‘me-me-me’ mindset which privileges some people over others, and certain groups in our society are given far too large a platform to espouse their viewpoints, sometimes at the expense of reasoned debate.

Hm. No different to anywhere else then, I suppose.

There’s one day of the year, however, when it’s easy to cast all your cynicism about being Irish to one side, and just enjoy the fact of your nationality, and that’s ‘Lá le Phádraig’ – St Patrick’s Day. I never go into Dublin to watch the St Patrick’s Day parade there any more, because as spectacular as it is (and this year was no exception) I can’t deal with the crowds, and the noise, and the public drunkenness (though if you’re younger, fitter and more of a party animal than I am, you can’t beat Dublin on St Patrick’s Day for ‘craic‘). I stay at home instead, where the parade consists of a few old tractors chugging up the main street, and the local Irish dancing school jigging along behind them, and local amenity groups taking a chance to thank the people who’ve supported them all year round. This is the sort of St Patrick’s Day parade that I love.

Photo Credit: Hotelsireland via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Hotelsireland via Compfight cc

I haven’t been living in my local village for very long (well, it’s several years at this stage, but in Ireland, unless you’re born somewhere you’re always a ‘blow-in’!), but I have made friends in my time here, enough to see several familiar faces in the crowd and walking in the parade itself. This recognition connects me to the parades of my childhood, in which I knew everybody, and makes me feel part of something bigger and more meaningful. I love that I live in a place which has a hugely rural flavour and sensibility, where showcasing farm machinery and celebrating our local Macra na Feirme (an association for young farmers) and Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann (a nationwide network of Irish music and dancing groups) is a parade highlight, and where people of all nationalities and backgrounds walk together in the strip of our local Gaelic Athletic Association football and hurling clubs. I’d sooner stand in the cold to watch this sort of parade than I’d like to look at the fancy, multi-million euro spectacles put on in our larger cities; the smaller parades make me feel Irish, and they make me feel proud of the hardworking, dedicated and connected community which unites our smaller towns and villages up and down the country. I’m wary of nationalistic fervour, and I don’t believe that pride in one’s country should make a person blind to that country’s flaws, but watching the effort that people put into their costumes and floats, and the good humour with which they wait for hours for their turn to walk in the parade, and the sense of togetherness that the day fosters, I can’t help but be happy to live where I live. And that’s a good thing.

Whether you observed it or not (and whether you were even aware of the day at all!) I hope you had a good St Patrick’s Day, and that you wore a little bit of green, somewhere. Did you manage to catch a parade, or do anything ‘Irish’ on the day? If you’ve never been in Ireland on March 17, maybe next year is they year you should pay us a visit – just make sure to wrap up warmly while you’re waiting for the parade to start!

Photo Credit: Mijos via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Mijos via Compfight cc