Thursday, 29 May 2014

50,000 PAGE VIEWS: TIME TO TAKE STOCK

My blog has been active since 17 September 2010 and now that I have just passed the mark of 50,000 page views, it is perhaps time to take stock.
    The blog began, as one would expect, with a modest count, not exceeding 1,000 page views a month until October 2011. In January 2012 it exceeded 2,000 page views a month, apart from a sudden drop to 734 in May 2012, followed by a sudden rise in August to over 3,000. The highest number of page views so far was reached March of this year, with 3,314. This month's quota is well on the way, with three days left, to be over 3,000. All very forseeable and low-key, I'm sure, but nonetheless a cause of a small celebration (*pours himself a glass of Pinot Grigio*).
    To the anonymous cyper-pilots who touch down on my blog from time to time I say, Hello, how are you? Hope you got something out of your visits.
 
    WHAT HAVE I BEEN BLOGGING?
    My travels to various countries, whether on family holidays or because I was reading my work at foreign festivals and launchings; some poems and excerpts from my own writings and some works by others which I admire; publicity for poetry festivals, particularly Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival and sister festivals in Slovenia, Italy and Brighton; a few reviews and some publicity for my novel, A Year's Midnight (published April 2012); photographs from our garden and some ancestral stuff; occasional reflections.
 
    WHO VIEWS BLOG.CIARANO'DRISCOLL.IE?
    According to the statistics, visitors from the USA are the leaders by a long shot:
    United States 21758
    Ireland 3606
    China 2972
    France 2021

    Germany 2009

    United Kingdom 1855

Followed by Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Indonesia, with figures in the upper hundreds.

    WHAT ARE THE MOST VIEWED ITEMS ON MY BLOG?
    The top three are as follows:
    (1) 'On the Edge of the Sahara 2', a picture taken of the ruins of Fort Bou-Jerif, on the rim of the Sahara in Morocco, with 4,233 page views.
Scene at Fort Bou-Jerif, ruins of a French Foreign Legion stronghold (left) where nasty things were done to Berbers and lots of wine was drunk by the officers.
    (2) 'Testing the Water', a picture of two figures, a man in bathing suit and a woman, standing on rocks conferring about the safety of the currents of the Reka river at the entrance to the Skocjan Caves in the Karst Region of Slovenia, with 3,556 page views.
    (It's interesting that the two most viewed items have very little commentary attached, merely a caption. )
    (3) 'The Great Wall of China', a commentary with photographs, on a visit by me and my wife to a section of the Wall, with 1,615 views.
    Information blogs about poetry festivals are also high up on the list.
    Of my own work which I published on the blog, the most viewed item is the poem 'A Message from Olympia', in the post 'Olympia Leaves a Note for Me'. This is number 6 in the current top ten, with 1,027 page views. The next highest item from my own writing is 'A Desecration of Considerable Magnitude', an excerpt from A Year's Midnight, with a view count of 779.
    It puzzles me that the 'Desecration' episode of my novel shows a disparity between the 'page views' as recorded in the statistics, and the 'view counts' as recorded in the list of posts. The 779 'hits' recorded for the Desecration episode is a view count, and if a page view is the same as a view count, the post should be in the top ten page views in the all-time statistics, but it is not there, and numbers 8, 9 and 10 of the top ten all-time statistics have less than 779 page views. So: either a view count is not the same as a page view or else there's something wrong with Blogger's calculations! Some other anomalies I have encountered lead me to suspect the latter.
 
    But let us rejoice! LOG ON, BLOG ON!
 
 


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

THE HORSE IN THE DISCOURSE OF THE RUBBERBANDITS

Limerick is well-known for its horses. They can be seen all over the place harnessed to sulkies, with a single driver holding the reins and leaning almost horizontally across the skeletal, one-seated frame. Horses can be seen grazing in fields within and on the edges of the city boundaries, piebald and roan and patchy and thrown-down looking.
    The Rubberbandits, a comedy hip-hop duo from Limerick, have taken the horse to their hearts. Is this because the horse might be 'a metaphor for a community centre' as one of them asks in a prank call to a psychotherapist? But as the psychotherapist says, humans are very complicated and it's hard to know exactly why the caller constantly dreams of horses as a result of a dog 'having sex with his head'. If his head was made pregnant by a dog, the caller wants to know, why is he dreaming of a horse, shouldn't he be dreaming of a puppy?
    'Horse Outside', a single released by the Rubberbandits in late 2010, had phenomenal success and led to the duo's being catapulted into fame. The phrase reverberated in the English language as spoken in Ireland. It was even alluded to in an article about an architect in the Arts Section of The Irish Times. On You Tube its fame went viral and global. I remember how much all three of us loved it in my home. It struck some truly resonant chord for us. As it did for hundreds of thousands of others. I want to suggest why this might be so in the following few paragraphs.
    First of all, 'Horse Outside' presents a traditional, animal mode of transport in the midst of flashy mechanical modes of transport which have become status symbols in a pathologically status-conscious society. When the sexy young woman mentions the alternative modes of transport available to her from rival suitors, the Spar-bag-masked swain dismisses them all in favour of his equine means of conveyance:  'F**k your Mitsubishi, I've a horse outside....'
    This admirer of female allure comes into a highly artificial and class-conscious occasion like a blast from the past, like a healthy force of nature, full of primordial, unselfconscious confidence. He doesn't give a damn about the claims to a woman's heart represented by ownership of flashy cars; he believes (as I think we all do deep down) that a horse is a far superior being to a mechanically propelled vehicle. This cocky wooer is making a claim for a true gradation of status: the superiority of a living being over a piece of metal.
    Not only that, but the image of a horse outside is a powerful one. The horse which is outside the door of the church is also outside our society, outside the wedding feast, outside the pale. It conjures up in my mind the Ancient Mariner, the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth, An Inspector Calls, The Green KnightDeath the Leveller, the Eumenides, the Reckoning.
    I don't think it is too over the top to say that the Rubberbandits' horse outside also conjures up death and judgement. In one of their sketches, a claim is made that the only things that ghosts are frightened of are horses. There is also the echo between 'horse' and 'hearse': 'I have a hearse outside'. The church is a scene of funerals as well as of weddings. First Love, Last Rites is the title of a book by Ian McEwan.
    Not only does our society shut out the horse, it also blanks out on death. In the old days, it was a horse that drew the hearse to the final resting place. This is still so in the case of travellers, who are like the horse in that they are also 'outside'.
    Class distinction, sex, death and disparity are, of course, the life-blood of comedy.
© copyright Ciaran O'Driscoll 2014





Friday, 2 May 2014

SONNET FOR MY WIFE AT EIGHT-FIFTEEN



EIGHT-FIFTEEN



Laden with desk diary, handbag, lunch pack, 
raincoat, umbrella, an extra pullover,
my wife is going out the door to work
on a windy morning in late October.
I watch and recommend myself to take
this snap of eight-fifteen across her years
of nine-to-five: the way she bends to put
the key in the ignition, settles herself,
then takes a moment to survey the street.
The engine stirs and she who is my life-
companion, my momentous one, who grows
with the advancing days more weather-proof,
has driven off and left a parking space,
a jackdaw preening on the opposite roof.


© Ciaran O'Driscoll 2014