Thursday, October 31, 2013

Grammar Got Run Over By A Reindeer

As most of you know, I am fascinated by the English language.  More than fascinated, you might say that it is one of my earliest and most enduring loves.  As with almost all long-times loves, this relationship has developed its own fetishes and perversions.  In my case, the most perverse is...I LOVE ENGLISH GRAMMAR.  There.  I said it.  Publicly on Facebook where it is visible to over a billion people.  And along with the base perversion, there exists a sort of corollary:  I am a Grammar Nazi.  As you can see, as GN, I have a Seal of Approval and a Seal of Disapproval.
I have found one song and one song only that addresses this fetish.  Its..oops!  I mean it's a Parody of "Gramma Got Run Over By A Reindeer," a trite and silly song that begs to be parodied.  It's called "Grammar Got Run Over By A Reindeer."

Here are the lyrics.

Grammar got run over by a reindeer

Walking home from our house Christmas Eve
You can say there's no point to good grammar
But as for me and Mignon we believe

She'd been drinking too much eggnog.

Had she drank or had she drunk?
With all her sentence fragmentation,
We'd all told her that her sentence structure stunk.

She was so very, very angry!

She figuratively stormed right out the door.
There were quotation marks around her
We kept wondering what those silly marks were for.

Grammar got run over by a reindeer

Walking home from our house Christmas Eve
You can say there's no point to good grammar
But as for me and Mignon we believe

Hopefully we'll all find grammar

On whom our writing does rely
We may start struggling with pronouns.
Is it you and me or is it you and I?

It's not Christmas without Grammar

We just don't do nothing correct.
And we just can't help but wonder
Are we feeling the affect or the effect?

Grammar got run over by a reindeer

Walking home from our house Christmas Eve
You can say there's no point to good grammar
But as for me and Mignon we believe

Now the podcasts's on our iPods.

And our ear buds in our ears.
We'll be listening in weekly
So we can point out grammatical errors to our peers.

We've warned all our friends and neighbors

Better listen for yourselves
Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
Is better than any books on your bookshelves.

Grammar got run over by a reindeer

Walking home from our house Christmas Eve
You can say there's no point to good grammar
But as for me and Mignon we believe.

Grammar got run over by a reindeer

Walking home from our house Christmas Eve
You can say there's no point to good grammar
But as for me and Mignon we believe.

I cannot find it on Youtube, but an mp3audio is at!/album/Grammar+Girl+s+Quick+And+Dirty+Tips+For+Better+Writing/182994

Note:  Kulwinder Singh, this is worse than most of my songs.  Don't listen, and, if you ignore my advice and listen anyway, don't complain.  You were warned.

Now, a further confession.  I love the fact that the English language is alive, constantly growing, changing, evolving, spinning off in unexpected ways.  I am most grateful that we don't have the equivalent of the fascist Academie Française, telling us what we may or may not say.  There is no point in trying to preserve the purity of the English language; indeed, English has no purity to preserve.  It is a mutt, a mongrel, a Germanic language overrun with vocabulary and grammar from the whole of the Indo-European linguistic family and some from other families, as well.

I am known to occasionally use non-standard grammar, most especially when I verb nouns, a favourite manifestation of my perversion, what you might term a fetish.  Grammar Nazi allows herself this privilege because she knows what she's doing.  When your English is as good as hers, you have her permission to do the same.

(WTF, there is something seriously wrong with you if you need my permission.  Freedom is an even higher value than good grammar.) 

Saturday, October 12, 2013


sRIrwgu mhlw 5 ]
nwmu iDAwey so suKI iqsu muKu aUjlu hoie ]
pUry gur qy pweIAY prgtu sBnI loie ]
swDsMgiq kY Gir vsY eyko scw soie ]1]
myry mn hir hir nwmu iDAwie ]
nwmu shweI sdw sMig AwgY ley Cfwie ]1] rhwau ]
dunIAw kIAw vifAweIAw kvnY Awvih kwim ]
mwieAw kw rMgu sBu iPkw jwqo ibnis indwin ]
jw kY ihrdY hir vsY so pUrw prDwnu ]2]
swDU kI hohu ryxukw Apxw Awpu iqAwig ]
aupwv isAwxp sgl Cif gur kI crxI lwgu ]
iqsih prwpiq rqnu hoie ijsu msqik hovY Bwgu ]3]
iqsY prwpiq BweIho ijsu dyvY pRBu Awip ]
siqgur kI syvw so kry ijsu ibnsY haumY qwpu ]
nwnk kau guru ByitAw ibnsy sgl sMqwp ]4]8]78]

sreeraag mehalaa 5 ||
naam dhhiaaeae so sukhee this mukh oojal hoe ||
poorae gur thae paaeeai paragatt sabhanee loe ||
saadhhasa(n)gath kai ghar vasai eaeko sachaa soe ||1||
maerae man har har naam dhhiaae ||
naam sehaaee sadhaa sa(n)g aagai leae shhaddaae ||1|| rehaao ||
dhuneeaa keeaa vaddiaaeeaa kavanai aavehi kaam ||
maaeiaa kaa ra(n)g sabh fikaa jaatho binas nidhaan ||
jaa kai hiradhai har vasai so pooraa paradhhaan ||2||
saadhhoo kee hohu raenukaa apanaa aap thiaag ||
oupaav siaanap sagal shhadd gur kee charanee laag ||
thisehi paraapath rathan hoe jis masathak hovai bhaag ||3||
thisai paraapath bhaaeeho jis dhaevai prabh aap ||
sathigur kee saevaa so karae jis binasai houmai thaap ||
naanak ko gur bhaettiaa binasae sagal sa(n)thaap ||4||8||78||

Siree Raag, Fifth Mehla:
One who meditates on the Naam is at peace; his face is radiant and bright.
Obtaining it from the Perfect Guru, he is honored all over the world.
In the Company of the Holy, the One True Lord comes to abide within the home of the self. ||1||
O my mind, meditate on the Name of the Lord, Har, Har.
The Naam is your Companion; it shall always be with you. It shall save you in the world hereafter. ||1||Pause||
What good is worldly greatness?
All the pleasures of Maya are tasteless and insipid. In the end, they shall all fade away.
Perfectly fulfilled and supremely acclaimed is the one, in whose heart the Lord abides. ||2||
Become the dust of the Saints; renounce your selfishness and conceit.
Give up all your schemes and your clever mental tricks, and fall at the Feet of the Guru.
He alone receives the Jewel, upon whose forehead such wondrous destiny is written. ||3||
O Siblings of Destiny, it is received only when God Himself bestows it.
People serve the True Guru only when the fever of egotism has been eradicated.
Nanak has met the Guru; all his sufferings have come to an end. ||4||8||78||

Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji p.44

Yes, I am a Trekkie, a nerd of the classical variety. Although not as knowledgeable as some – I'd have to look up France Nuyen's middle name – I am nonetheless a huge fan. More importantly, Star Trek has integrated itself into my life.

In the episode whose name shares this piece's title, a group of people are, unknown to them, living inside a spaceship hurling toward a paradisaical promised land. One man, now very old, once climbed a mountain, an act strictly forbidden, reached up and felt the edge of the spaceship. Telling about this, he falls dead, his act of disobedience costing him his life.

This might all be allegorical (much of Star Trek is), but I'm not sure if this has anything to do with this shabad or why I am writing this Whatever the case the background may be interesting to some. It is to me.

I have made this picture to illustrate one of the meanings of this shabad to me. There are many other meanings, of course. This is just one. I am no scholar and I am certain others get deeper meanings from this; this is what I see now. I am not writing a line-by-line analysis; I leave that to others.

Every time I read this shabad that line comes to my mind; for me it sums up one of the meanings it sometimes has for me. After all is said and done, the world of Maya is shallow and meaningless, hollow. How sad would it be if that were all there were!

As I see it, Siri Guru Granth Sahib ji and Sikhi, in general, and this shabad, in particular, show us the ultimate meaninglessness of Maya and the soaring delight, the peace and joy that await us when we are able to accept it.

From the hollowness of Maya, we are called upon to stop trying to find any lasting fulfillment within the fleeting confines of our mundane consciousness, to fall at the feet of the Guru and in doing so, to move beyond the ordinary, to touch the sky.

Part of the genius of Sikhi is that we are able to reach these heights while still living in the world of action, still doing the things people do everyday. This is where we are and what we do, all the time learning to overcome our fevered ego, learning to rest peacefully at the feet of Waheguru, experiencing the extraordinary in the ordinary, touching the sky while our own feet remain on the ground of the hollow world in which we live.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ma Cher Pauline...

After much thought, I have chosen to share my meditation on Pauline Marois with the world.  

First she plucks us of our rights.

Then we remind her of who and what she is.

I'm not sure how La Marseillaise found its way into the mix.  Are you Pauline?

(Not that it much matters since so few read my lonely little blog anyway.)

For those who may not know, Alouette is a song about a sweet lark having its feathers plucked out, bit by bit, as Pauline proposes to do with the rights of the people of Quebec.  A lovely children's song.
Here is a translation.

  Lark, nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you Alouette,

nice Alouette Lark
I will pluck you
I will pluck you the head
I will pluck you the head
And the head, and the head Alouette,
Alouette O-o-o-o-oh Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you Lark,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you
I will pluck you the nose
I will pluck you the nose
And the nose, and the nose Alouette,
Alouette O-o-o-o-oh Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you Lark,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you
I will pluck you the eyes
I will pluck you the eyes
And the eyes, and the eyes Alouette,
Alouette O-o-o-o-oh Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you Lark,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you
I will pluck you the neck
I will pluck you the neck
And the neck, and the neck Alouette,
Alouette O-o-o-o-oh Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you Lark,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you
I will pluck you the wings
I will pluck you the wings
And the wings, and the wings Alouette,
Alouette O-o-o-o-oh Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you Lark,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you
Alouette, nice Alouette Lark
I will pluck you
I will pluck you the back
I will pluck you the back
And the back, and the back Alouette,
Alouette O-o-o-o-oh Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark
I will pluck you Lark,
nice Alouette Lark
I will pluck you Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark
I will pluck you
I will pluck you the legs
I will pluck you the legs
And the legs, and the legs Alouette,
Alouette O-o-o-o-oh Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark
I will pluck you Lark,
nice Alouette Lark
I will pluck you Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you
I will pluck you the tail
I will pluck you the tail
And the tail, and the tail Alouette,
Alouette O-o-o-o-oh Alouette,
nice Alouette Lark I will pluck you

Read more: Children - Alouette (english Translation) Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


The sound needs more work.  I know.  A couple of you wanted to see it now, so here it is nin the director's preliminary cut.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Still On My Feet

Yes, I am still standing on my feet.  Barely, but still there.  I am like the guy in the old Simon & Garfunkel song:

In the clearing stands a boxer 

And a fighter by his trade 

And he carries the reminders 
Of ev'ry glove that layed him down 
Or cut him till he cried out 
In his anger and his shame 
"I am leaving, I am leaving" 
But the fighter still remains 

Not sure which one I like better.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Radical Free Speech - How It Works

What follows below is a Facebook conversation primarily between Kulwinder Singh ji and myself.  It will give some idea of how the idea of radical free speech actually works.  Except for correcting misspellings and deleting our profile pictures and meaningless Facebook artifacts, this is exactly as it appears in Facebook.  Since it is clearly marked with the Public icon, I see no reason it cannot be reproduced here.

Kulwinder Singh this is not necessarily true...

Inderjeet Kaur Perhaps not true for you.

Kulwinder Singh perhaps not true for many..

Inderjeet Kaur True only for those who believe in radical free speech and act on that belief. Only a few.

Kulwinder Singh there are some ignorant Muslims here in UK .. asking us to defend their right to say stuff (like some weird stuff) ... will you defend that ?

Inderjeet Kaur Yes. As long as it is not a direct threat of physical violence or legal fraud.

Kulwinder Singh speech to implement Sharia law in UK .. would you defend that ?

Inderjeet Kaur I believe that all ideas, however, bizarre can be expressed. Free speech especially protects unpopular or dangerous speech. If I disagree with something, I am free to counter's governmental censorship I oppose.

Inderjeet Kaur Yes, they have a right to express their ideas. Of course, I have an equal right to oppose them

Kulwinder Singh nah.. you said .. you will defend to the death their right to say that .. so you will defend their right to say ...

Inderjeet Kaur If you shut them up, all morality aside, you only drive them underground where you can't see what they're up to. You can't stop them.

Kulwinder Singh we know what they saying ..they said it before.. can we shut them up now ?

Inderjeet Kaur Shutting them up will not stop them. As I said, it will only drive them underground. This way you can see clearly what they are up to and devise a strategy to counter it.

Kulwinder Singh ^ G that was not your point though

Inderjeet Kaur I obviously disagree very strongly with their beliefs and what they are trying to do. That doesn't change my stand on their right to express their views.

Kulwinder Singh it was a simple statement ,"I will DEFEND to the death your right to say it"

Inderjeet Kaur My point is that I support the right of people to express their opinions, even when I violently disagree with them.

Kulwinder Singh so you would support their right for speech (Hate speech)

Kulwinder Singh Last week .. UK has deported someone who was doing the same thing (Hate speech) .. you think UK did the right thing ?

Inderjeet Kaur Yes, I would put myself in the line of fire to defend their freedom of speech. I do not defend any imaginary right they may believe themselves to have to commit violence. I support free speech, not free violence.

Kulwinder Singh what about free speech that promote violence ?

Inderjeet Kaur I am not in a position to judge what the UK did in that case. In any case, a visitor to a country does not enjoy the saME RIGHTS AS A CITIZEN OR PERMANENT RESIDENCE.

Inderjeet Kaur Any controversial TALK MAY promote violence in some people's minds.

Kulwinder Singh He was not a visitor !

Inderjeet Kaur I myself have shouted "Khalistan  Zindabad!" more than once.

Inderjeet Kaur It's hard to comment on a case where I don't know the facts.

Inderjeet Kaur I hope lots of people read this exchange. It says a lot. In fact, I may do a c/p into my blog...although no one reads my blog.

khoon ka badla khoon.. i don't think there were Muslims involved. that man is still raking millions, apologies for intruding, but I must admit, here i find people debating a topic after deciding upon the conclusion.

Inderjeet Kaur My conclusion is stated at the very beginning. I believe in free speech...except direct threats of physical violence and demonstrable, legal fraud. This means I OPPOSE GOVERNMENTAL CENSORSHIP AT ALL LEVELS.

Inderjeet Kaur Prabu ji, feel free to join in, no apologies necessary. This is a public discussion and a good example of what "the free exchange of ideas" means.

Inderjeet Kaur I realise that India, where every little real or imagined slight sets off communal rioting and murder, is not ready for this type of free expression. I don't live in India nor do I care to. Right now, this will work only in the Western, industrialised world which has a history and tradition of free speech. The freest has been in the USA, and that is what I use as my model. The USA has done a lot of things wrong, very wrong, but this one thing they have done right, IMNSHO.


Image License: I, Inderjeet Kaur, the creator of this work, hereby release all images in this blogpost into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In case this is not legally possible, I grant any entity the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.

If this image is subject to copyright in your jurisdiction, I, Inderjeet Kaur, the copyright holder, have irrevocably released all rights to it, allowing it to be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, used, modified, built upon, or otherwise exploited in any way by anyone for any purpose, commercial or non-commercial, with or without attribution of the author, as if in the public domain.

Size A4   297 x 210 mm for printing in the civilized world
Size 8.5" x 11"  for printing in USA..

Size I use on my gmail signature 200 x 300 pixels

Facebook cover size
851 x 350 pixels

300x300 Profile picture size.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sean "Red" O'Connor (???? - April 10, 2013) - In Memorium

“Can’t they create their own fuckin Gods without bastardising ours?” 

 PROFANITY WARNING: Red’s speech tended to be profane and I’m not going to water him down to make his words acceptable to sensitive ears.  Neither am I going to soften his speech and attitudes toward England and Englishmen.  He detested both and that was part of him.  He liked English women just fine, though, except for the nobility.  When I tried to get him to see the illogic of this stance by reminding him that all men - even Saxons -  come from women, he'd narrow his eyes and snort.  A real snort.  "I suppose every fuckin, bloody Saxon" - he rarely used the word English and never Angle - "has a mother, but we don't think of that.  Woman embodies life, even a Saxon woman.  And we Celts honour life."  As usual, I found arguing with him just left me feeling a bit dizzy.  Anyway...  
I generally don’t mix my physical universe friends with my online friends, but this time, I simply must introduce you to a very old friend of mine, Sean “Red” O’Connor, a Communist and a Republican.  That statement is meant to confuse my “American” friends, but will be immediately understandable to my friends from Éire.  (In Red’s honour, I will not use the name Ireland in this piece; Red disliked it intensely.  “Ire Land.  Land of Ire?  Sure and that’s wrong.  Irish are people of joy and laughter, song and dance, not ire.  Until you get us riled, I mean. Then we fight.  Like England.  You’ve heard of England?  Damned, fucking Saxon scum, don’t have the sense enough to stay in their own friggin land.  The name is Éire.”  I make no attempt to write his brogue into this; I used to tease him that he sounded like a stereotype from James Joyce that no one could understand.  He’d beam with pride, “Sure and I am, at that, me girl.”  He used “Sure and…” as a stereotypical Canadian uses, “eh?”)

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t know Red.  Colourful, loud, brazen, profane, given to outbursts of temper one minute, gentle, calm, poetic the next.  He saw no point in a balanced approach to life.  Life is to be lived to the fullest, without reservation.  Anything else would be the purest blasphemy. 

Speaking of blasphemy, religiously, he was a very odd duck.  An atheist Catholic.  He used the most evil of women to explain his atheism.  “Most lovely creatures, these ladies, the real ones, I mean, not the demons.  Me girl, what sort of God could create Maggie Thatcher or Indira Gandhi?  More like a devil, if you ask me.  Bah!  The Old Religion had the right idea.”  (He was very sympathetic to the Sikh Cause, as well as the Irish Republican.)  Although he denied belief in a God, he was a great admirer of Jesus and, of course, Ste. Brigid and St. Patrick and St. Columba.  I remember him once telling me that Ste. Brigid is really Érun, Mother Éire herself.  He never styled himself a Celtic priest or Druid or any such and had great contempt for the neo-pagans who fancied themselves somehow spiritual descendants of the ancient Celts.  “Can’t they create their own fuckin Gods without bastardising ours?”  That would call for a shot of Kilbeggan.  After a couple belts of whiskey, he'd toss back his thick mane of gloriously shining red hair and proclaim, "You know, those bloody, fuckin Saxons can never defeat us.  You know why?"  Of course, I knew;  I had heard this dozens of times, but I loved it and always played along. "No, Red, why?"  His eyes would get that twinkle I so loved, he'd put on his biggest, most mysterious grin, "We're Celts!  We're magic! Can't no mortal fuckin Saxons defeat magic!"    

He was a staunch Irish Republican, supporter of sending the British back to where they came from (“Hell!”) and reclaiming all of Éire, “to make our land a nation once again.”  It was from him that I first heard the phrase “England’s Last Colony,” or rather “Fuckin Bastard England’s Last Bleedin Colony.”  For the sake of my “American” friends, I must point out that Irish Republicans are polar opposite of American Republicans, who tend to be conservative, mean-spirited, hard-hearted, rich and humourless.   The Irish Republicans I have known are generally socialist, generous, kind-hearted working class people with humour emanating from the pores of their bodies, until their freedom is jeopardised.  Then they fight in any way necessary to be free. 

One slight oddity about him.  He disliked the flag of the Irish Republic and refused to fly it because he considered the orange an insult to the Irish Republican patriots and insisted that if they must have a tricolor,  it should be the true Irish colours, green, white and gold, not orange.  In truth, though he really preferred the old golden harp flag, which does have the advantage of being most distinctive.  This is very similar to the one he flew each year on St. Patrick's Day.  And Ste. Brigid's Day.  And St. Columba's Day. And other occasions and non-occasions as the fancy struck him.

Red’s dearest wish was to go to Éire and join the IRA (Irish Republican Army).  That, however, was impossible.  From early childhood, Red’s body was confined to a wheelchair, a result of polio when he was little more than a baby.  He had been brought to the Canada for medical treatment and, although he lived, his physical recovery was incomplete and his health always precarious.  Not only were his legs withered, but he also had great difficulty breathing.  Until his marriage, he lived with his parents, a sickly young person, with the spirit of a dragon.  At home they mostly spoke Irish (Gaelic) and he developed an almost exaggerated brogue.    Unable to go fight, he had an old but still serviceable Armalite rifle that he slept with – fully loaded, I must add – and many the times, I’ve heard him singing (yes, he did keep changing  the location.  This was his favourite.):

                    And it's up close near to Long Kesh that’s where I long to be
                    Lying in the dark with a Provo company
                    A comrade on me left and another one on me right
                    And a clip of ammunition for me little Armalite!

Somewhere in the midst of his life, I think before I was born, Red met and fell in love with the lady who was to be his lifelong companion, Mary.  I never learned her maiden name and I suppose it doesn’t matter.  He called her Fiona, much as he used to call me Maeve.  All the women he cared for, in fact, were given good, strong Irish names.   Anyway, we all called her Fiona, too, which always made her smile.  Life could not have been easy for her, with such a spirited, yet sickly husband, but she was one of those people who seem only to grow stronger with adversity.  They were very much in love, although they bickbickered nonstop, and were, sadly, childless, I imagine because of Red’s illness, but, of course, I never asked.  Both loved kids and wherever they were, you could be sure to find a group of young people, eating Fiona’s delicious snacks and being indoctrinated by Red’s leftist politics.  He could, and did, go on for hours about the evils of capitalism and the genius of Marx and Engels.  I suppose from an ordinary mortal, it might have gotten old and dull.  But this was Red O'Connor.  Nothing about him could possibly get old or dull.  

Red was a great friend to me.  Whenever I would get teary about some real or imagined wrong as little and sometimes big girls do, he’d become the gentle man of love and sweet words.  He’d always sing to me,
                                       There's a tear in your eye,
                                  And I'm wondering why,
                                  For it never should be there at all.
                                  With such pow'r in your smile,
                                  Sure a stone you'd beguile,
                                  So there's never a teardrop should fall.
                                  When your sweet lilting laughter's
                                  Like some fairy song,
                                  And your eyes twinkle bright as can be;
                                  You should laugh all the while
                                  And all other times smile,
                                  And now, smile a smile for me

Of course, I’d smile – how could I not? – and he’d go on at the top of his lungs
                                       When Irish eyes are smiling…

I’d try to interrupt, “But Red, my eyes aren’t Irish!”  He’d lean over and stare into my strange blue-green-grey-brown eyes, smile and just keep singing.

 "Ye're a Celt, me girl. A bloody fuckin magical Irish Celt. Sean O'Connor knows 'em when he sees 'em." At such moments he was charming and irresistible beyond words and I tried not to get angry at the people and situation that so often had him upset and angry. And, of course, he was right. I was much-delighted to learn from genealogical research and DNA testing that I really have a strong claim to being Irish. I'm enough of a lady (in public) to leave offthe various adjectives he used.

Back in 1967 he introduced me to the Irish Freedom fight and I have been a supporter ever since, although, I admit, not with his fervor.  He understood that I have my own people and my own battles to fight.  He taught me all the revolutionary Irish songs, old and new, and he introduced me to some of the people who came to be so much a part of my life, Wolfe Tone, Roddy McCorley, Kevin Barry and his great hero, James Connollly, among others.  He would sing the Connolly ballad at the top of his lungs, stopping at the curse on England, speaking, not singing it, in his most virulent tones and his slightly altered words:

                     God’s curse on you, England, you cruel-hearted monster,
                     Your vile deeds they shame all the devils in hell.

He would always end the song with a bellowing FUCK THE QUEEN!  Followed by a softer, “if you’re not afraid of getting syphilis.”  In spite of this, his hatred of England did not extend to his social life.  Although everyone knew his strong beliefs, he had quite a few English friends.  He did not moderate his speech around them in the least.  I suppose they must have understood that his vitriol was aimed at the situation and those actually fighting and not at them.

His health was so precarious that he was only twice able to return to the land to which he dedicated his existence.  The first was before I was born.  I remember well when he returned from his second visit in 1980, at the heights of what is euphemistically called the Troubles  with two tattoos:  Tiocfaidh ár lá with a shamrock and the cryptic  26 + 6 = 1     He avoided “The Occupied Counties” (he never called them  anything else) only because of his health.  It's hard to be a freedom fighter when you can neither walk nor breathe.  I believe the most significant stop on his visit was at Errigal. (“Just Errigal, any more name is gilding the fuckin  lily.  Heaven on earth it is and where my soul will journey when at last I escape this useless body.  Sure Errigal is heaven, nowhere else.”)  When he returned, I saw a man on fire and could only wonder what he might have been if his body were whole.  I understand now very well the frustration of wanting to do so much but being held in check by a disabled body.  One, perhaps small thing, after his return, I never saw his Armalite.  When I asked him about it, he grinned widely and said, “I expect it’s lying with a comrade on its left and another one on its right with a full clip, ready for action.  How he managed that I’ll never know, but he was a determined and resourceful man who pretty much did whatever he wanted.  Except to walk, of course.

The deaths of the ten hunger strikers in 1981 did something hard and permanent to him.  He was still our friend Red, of course, and he still had his considerable charm and spark of life, but there was new depth in him, a sadness, a seriousness, perhaps a bitterness, which had been lacking before.  There was no bottom to the pit of his hatred of Margaret Thatcher.   Those deaths were very personal to him, as if they were his own brothers.  I guess they were, at that.  I think it was no coincidence that he died two days after her. He couldn't make that final journey until he knew that she was safely dead and burning in a hell he didn't believe in. 

 One strange and very visible outcome of the death of the ten patriots was that he vowed never to cut any hair anywhere on his body until Éire was united and free.  He never  lost his hair and although I didn't see it, Fiona tells me that his once-red mane was a dirty grey and nearly to his waist and his beard was to his chest.  "A mess that birds could have nested in," in  her words.  And by the way, I asked her her maiden name.  She giggled and said, "Ellstrom.  Swedish."  So I guess you never know.  

The last time I saw him was in the mid-1990s, during my last trip to New York City, where he had moved for medical care.  We were both older and possibly wiser and had been through our separate wars.  He was very ill and the doctors told Fiona to prepare for his funeral. A priest, whom he promptly threw out, came to give him last rites.  He weakly sat up and started singing Finnegan’s Wake, a totally memorable occasion for me in a decade where I have lost most of my memory.  He grew stronger with each note and by the end, he was sitting up unaided.   He bellowed, OK, it wasn’t quite a bellow, but it was a strong request, a demand actually, for a full bottle of Kilbeggan.  Proof again that doctors only believe they are gods.

So how old was Red when he died?  That's anybody's guess.  I asked him once when he was born and got a bunch of silver-tongued malarkey about being born before the days when Mother Érun rose the land from beneath the seas.  At least I think it was malarkey…

He was a controversial figure, loud, brash, often violent (verbally only, though), bad tempered, smoking and drinking way too much.  Opinionated, rough, prejudiced, with a really wicked sense of humour.  But he was also as he would have put it, "damned, bloody, fuckin lovable. "   And magical.   There was something magical about the man.  The world is a bit less colourful with him gone.

I have taken a picture of Errigal and placed it in the heavens.  I think he is that greenish galaxy near the summit and believe I can see him throwing Maggie Thatcher off it, presumably to her eternal damnation.

Godspeed, Red, wherever you are.

NOTE:  If some of the names and events I've written about here are unknown to you, I suggest to google them. Irish history, both modern and ancient is fascinating.   Assuming you are reading this online where I published it, you have at your fingertips the sum total of the knowledge of humanity, almost all of it anyway.  I suggest you use it. Likewise with the lyrics to the songs. I believe all are easily available except "The Eyes Of Th IRA Are Upon You."

RELATED SONGS either mentioned or implied.  Many of these songs are IRA songs and the language will be offensive to some.  The ideas in them might be even more offensive to certain people.  Tough.  I believe in free expression.  And I support the cause of Irish freedom. 
There are many videos of these songs.  I have chosen ones Red would have liked.  I know he especially loved the Kennedy Memorial, singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling."  This video of Finnegan's Wake has an introduction that sort of explains the song and is well worth listening to.

Fiona asked me to design a mural in his memory for a wall in their family room.  I had not intended this to be it, but she loves the picture, so there you have it.  I'll make an Irish Republican picture for another wall.  He deserves both.

And I know Queen Maeve is generally considered to be a blonde.  I have taken artistic licence and given her black hair;  I like the effect.

About the picture:  Queen Maeve and Mother Érin accompanied by St. Patrick in the shadow of Errigol, a tribute to a dear friend who fought the good fight for many years against all odds. I have no doubt Red is even now somewhere expounding upon the Communist Manifesto, his dear old Armalite slung over one shoulder and a banshee-screaming Maggie Thatcher slung over the other. A happier sight never before seen.  Queen Maeve deserves a faery relaxing on her cairn. The prototype for the Ladies is from a painting by Bottecelli