Wrapped Up In Books

“Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.” [RIP, Frank McCourt]


I’ve been considering re-reading Angela’s Ashes for about a month now, and I think I’ll finally get around to it when my thesis is over. Here’s to being reminded that life could always be worse, and to the wonderful ignorance children have for their surroundings.

Photo via Slaughterhouse 90210.

Copyright © 2009 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.


St Paddy’s in Dublin (Finally)

I meant to get around to writing about this ages ago, but unfortunately timing was against me. After much planning (read: booking flights twice back in autumn and then a place to stay, but nothing much more than me owning a Top 10 Dublin that I found in a hostel in Edinburgh), my roommate and I ventured over to Dublin for St Patrick’s Day.

It’s been a dream of mine for awhile to do this, and I’m seriously chuffed I went, but it wasn’t without its hitches.

We arrived on St Paddy’s itself, and were amazed to learn that we had booked a hotel and not a hostel for the same price. Showers you don’t have to wear flippy-floppies in are such a godsend. We weren’t directly in Temple Bar, which afforded us the ability to sleep at night, too.

While accessing Temple Bar we made the huge mistake of cutting through O’Connell Street where the parade was just finishing (1pm). People were perched on every surface in an attempt to catch a glimpse of goers-by.


Drink counts from here on in, approximated or exact, will be in parentheses. Our first stop (2pm-ish) was the Oliver St John Gogarty pub (2 Magners) where we met a bunch of Torontonians from the King and Bathurst area, then go the Auld Dubliner (2 Magners, 1 Guinness) where we met a bunch of Aussies who we then went to a horrible dinner with at the terrible Hard Rock Cafe (blech: 1 Magners). A 60-ish year old woman fell at the Auld Dubliner and smashed her face on the floor, cutting her eyelid open. My roommate told her I was a nurse (I’m not), and I ferried her to the bathroom to stop the free-flowing-due-to-being-pissed-drunk blood pouring out. I found a random fabric band-aid in my purse and slapped that on her, and she was ok. A girl from Washington State in the bathroom told me I sounded Irish but I think she was just drunk, too.


After dinner we all went to Buskers (some weird pub-nightclub hybrid) for a quick drink (1 Magners), then back to the Gogarty for at least a few more pints before going to The Temple Bar. Things get hazy, and I know we ended at O’Brien’s where some dude helicoptering across the dancefloor smashed my pint into the ground (retrospectively hilarious) and he gave me his ridiculous St Pat’s themed hat when he bought me a new drink. All I remember is that drinks here were 11 Euro each – f-ing robbery! At some point my roommate calls me an asshole three times in earnest. We each took out 100 Euro upon arriving in Dublin and she burnt through it before reaching O’Brien’s so I picked up her tab. Naturally, Murphy’s Law would work best in the pub with the most expensive drinks.

The next day we did a tour through the city; we saw the Book of Kells at Trinity College Dublin (why does no one better advertise the Long Hall Library within it?! Most gorgeous library I think I’ve ever seen), then stopped for a sandwich on South Great George’s Street where the music shop across the street looked strangely familiar. I took a photo just in case it matched what I had in mind:


Well, guess what! It was exactly what I thought it was (but they renovated and so I didn’t recognise the interior, hence not going in): THE MUSIC SHOP FROM ONCE! FUCKING ONCE!!! (Also known as the film that launched a bajillion tears from my eyeballs, I loved it and love it so much.)

Anyway, onwards: we hit both Christchurch and St Patrick’s Cathedrals, though money was waning so I went into only the latter. It was still mindblowingly beautiful, and I loved the quirky hand-embroidered and unique pillows for kneeling. I wondered why no one had stolen any of them then realised that each had a small chain attaching it to its respective chair.


We also ventured to the National Museum of Ireland (unfortunately not so impressive), then, after a half-year hiatus, I tucked into some sushi at Yamamori. We went back to St Patrick’s Cathedral for a kind of crappy concert by some high schoolers flown in from somewhere in the US Midwest, left early from that, and ended with quiet(er) drinks.

North SIDER or south SIDER?

North sider or south sider?

(Thanks to T for explaining the north/south side separation to me.)

Goodbye, Dublin, I hope to come back to you soon.

Copyright © 2009 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.

11.8L of pure alcohol per annum (Booze culture)

That’s what the Scots manage to drink. It’s astounding, isn’t it? I warned my mom (fitness guru to many, moonlights as a human string bean) that I’ve gained weight from drinking a lot more than I used to. However, I wouldn’t say that I drink nearly as much as the average Scotsperson.

I’ve been keeping track of a few BBC Health articles that are documenting the downward spiral this country seems to be sucked into.  The government is in talks to establish minimum drink prices (boo!) to help curb binge drinking (aka, ‘regular drinking’ here… I’m kidding, sort of).  They suggest no bottle of wine be sold for less than £4.50, about $9 CDN, which is still cheaper than any wine I’ve ever seen in Canada – including the tetrapak business.  But that’s an aside.

Hospitalizations for drinking-related injuries and accidents are on the rise and it’s said that the NHS is spending upwards of £2.7 billion annually for this (£365 million at minimum being spent in Scotland alone), which is a seriously dear sum of money.  The number of alcohol-related hospitalizations in the UK have doubled since 1995; last year there were 207,800 admissions compared to 1995’s 93,500 (still dire).  Furthermore, about 10% of that number are patients who aren’t of the legal drinking age, 18. Still, hospitalizations among the 65+ age group are also on the rise.

As it stands, Scotland leads the UK for number of alcohol-related deaths each year. Scotland lose about 27 per 100,000 citizens to the drink annually, while England, Wales, and Northern Ireland each stand at about 12, 13, and 14  per 100,000 people, respectively.  The population of this country is approximately 5 million, so that equates to 1350 dying each year.

The people who probably suffer the most live in Glasgow, where men living in poorer areas of the city have a life expectancy of 54 years old.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The sheer alcohol consumption, in combination with cigarette smoking, is robbing families of fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers.  The alcohol-related death rates are six and a half times that of the national average: in the Ibrox area, 176 per 100,000 men and even 58 per 100,000 women succumb to alcohol abuse.

Data collected from the World Health Organization demonstrates the severity of the drinking here: Scotland ranks 8th in the world for alcohol consumption.  It stands just behind Luxembourg (15.6 litres per capita), Ireland (13.7 litres), Hungary (13.6 litres), Moldova (13.2 litres), Czech Republic (13.0 litres), Croatia (12.3 litres) and Germany (12.0 litres).

Clearly interventions are needed, and I don’t think raising the price of alcohol will benefit anyone.  Awareness is what’s needed most; to stop serving any more beer to those people barely able to stand in the pub, to put warning labels on packaging (it’s been at least moderately successful with cigarette packaging in Canada), and, generally, to adopt an in-your-face attitude to responsible drinking everywhere.  This country is in serious need of a rude awakening.  I don’t understand how they haven’t had one already.

Copyright © 2009 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.

Ten years ago, I fell in love with an Irish girl [One week until Dublin]

WordPress won’t let me embed the fast-forward on the clip, so click here.

In a week I’ll be in Dublin for St Patrick’s Day. I’ll be there until Thursday morning as I’m fairly sure that RyanAir (who will soon be extorting you to even use your oxygen mask in case of an emergency) are in cahoots with the Irish tourism board: there are no flights out of Dublin on the 18th.

Even better is that my flatmate and I managed to find a room in a hostel that not only has just two beds, but also an en suite bathroom. This is probably going to be the ideal hostel experience and I hope I haven’t jinxed it by saying so.

I fully anticipate blowing a massive amount of money on alcohol alone (also known as the ‘new liquid diet’), but St Pat’s, like Christmas, only comes once a year so I’ll make the most of it while I’m there.

When I get on my 6.30am flight to Toronto on Friday I’m sure I’ll be thinking something along these lines:

Copyright © 2009 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.

Top of the mizzle

I just about died watching this (in the library, no less) today. I realize it’s beyond stereotypical, but I’m at that stage in the week where I need something funny to distract me, no matter what.

Copyright © 2008 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.

It’s been a year

Since I saw Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (plus some of the Frames) in concert at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto. It was mere months before their Oscar win for Falling Slowly from the completely brilliant Irish indie musical Once.

Their encore was an entirely Christmas-based score; Star, Star, followed by O Holy Night, then Christmastime in the Mountains. Considering how utterly Christmasy it feels around Aberdeen, it seems a most appropriate youtube of the day.

Do check out the remainder of the videos I took from the show – I had a great seat and my camera captures sound really well.

Copyright © 2008 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.

There’s nothing worth running for/When your mind’s made up
August 21, 2008, 7:33 pm
Filed under: A, Biomusicology | Tags: , , , , , ,

E doesn’t know it yet but come hell or high water we’re going to see Glen Hansard (of The Frames) and Marketa Irglova in Ireland this year. Or somewhere in Europe. She missed the Swell Season show last November at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto (and has been regretting it ever since), and I know that she wants to see them in the flesh.

They’re really an amazing team, and their performances are friendly and impeccable. Should you have no idea who I’m talking about, go rent Once then cry your eyes out in the comfort of your own home. If you can’t relate to any of the songs, you really haven’t lived yet or otherwise you’ve been lucky to have had flawless (and ergo flawed?) relationships. Everyone needs their heart torn out every once in awhile, but there’s something so redeeming about the way these two perform the songs. They’re brilliant.

Copyright © 2008 WrappedUpInBooksBlog. All rights reserved.