Tag Archives: ireland

The Picture of John Gray: for Wilde fans in London

One of my favourite books has always been ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde. It’s the only novel Wilde ever wrote and has such a preposterous idea at its centre that it could almost be science fiction.

For those who don’t know anything of Dorian Gray, it is about a beautiful man who never ages in person, yet his portrait – hidden away in an attic – gets older in place of the man changing. All Dorian’s sin and hedonism is absorbed by the portrait – he can live the most extreme life and yet remain young and attractive.

Oscar Wilde was actually infatuated by a man called John Gray – they had a brief relationship in 1889. Wilde used Gray’s name for the main character in the novel, but the actual relationship ended and nothing more was heard of the real Gray.

A new play is set to open next month at the Red Lion Theatre in Islington, London, titled ‘The Picture of John Gray’. Written by CJ Wilmann the play aims to explore the real relationship between Wilde and Gray and what happened to the real John Gray.

I really loved this book and even the modern update by Will Self ‘Dorian’  is a great read. In that version, the work of art is a web installation rather than a portrait. When I read that book, I registered the URL for the art installation as featured in the novel. I was surprised the publisher had not reserved it and I left it pointing at my personal home page.

Eventually I tired of annoyed Will Self fans emailing me asking why I had any right to own the URL featured in the novel. I let my ownership of the URL expire. I don’t know who bought it after me, but perhaps I should have offered it to the publisher directly.

It’s a shame that I’m almost certainly going to miss this new play as I live in Brazil and have no plans to be in London during August. In fact, I’m actually planning to be touring the Pantanal in August. However, I’m sure the script will be available online soon.

If you are in London, do go and let me know what the play is like! 🙂 And don’t forget to check out this song about Dorian written by my friend Enda Mulloy and his band, The BibleCode Sundays…

Details of the play, including the venue and tickets, can be found here.

Grave of Oscar Wilde

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The joy of Mountjoy – Christmas lunch with the Irish convicts

Many years ago I made the mistake of booking a trip to Dublin for Christmas. I love Ireland and I love visiting Ireland – though I haven’t been back for a few years now – however it’s not really a good place to be on Christmas Day because everyone is with their family.

Literally everyone. There isn’t a bar or restaurant open on December the 25th so it’s difficult for a visitor trying to experience the city. Now this may all have changed in recent years, but 20 years ago Dublin was like a ghost town on Christmas Day. The only place to eat and get a drink was in the hotel you were staying in.

I went out there for Christmas with my girlfriend. We tried going out for Christmas lunch at a few nice hotels on Christmas day, but found that they were all just accepting residents for lunch – we would only be able to eat in our hotel.

So we went back and started on lunch. It wasn’t bad and there was a group of Australians in the restaurant all determined to have a party so the drink and conversation was flowing.

Then I noticed a couple of old homeless looking guys walking into the reception and quickly getting escorted out again by the security staff. I called over to the hotel staff and said ‘don’t worry about them; let them in for Christmas lunch and I’ll pay for whatever they order…’ I’d probably been enjoying the Christmas spirit quite a bit by then to make such a rash offer.

The two old guys were delighted. They came and joined our group and regaled us with some outlandish tales of their petty crime in and around Dublin. They claimed to be on Christmas day leave from Mountjoy Prison in Dublin, which we all doubted for a long time, but eventually one of them produced a document stating exactly that – they were prisoners who had been let out to enjoy Christmas day! They had to report back to jail the next day…

We let them continue enjoying the afternoon anyway and had a lot of fun talking to the two of them, however they both eventually passed out – probably from not having a drink on the inside then suddenly finding a free bar. The hotel staff carried them out and called a taxi to take them back to the jail that evening.

It was a crazy experience, but a very memorable Christmas day in Dublin.

OFF LICENCE - MUNSTER STREET

Photo by William Murphy licensed under Creative Commons

No St Patrick’s day for me this year

It’s Paddy’s day. Usually that would mean some fun in the evening drinking Guinness and enjoying the several-gigs-in-one-day that the BibleCode Sundays are planning, but this year is a bit different.

It’s true that there are several Irish bars in São Paulo, but they are seen as upmarket joints and are very expensive. I don’t mind spending a lot when it’s a special location, like the bar at the top of the Italia building , with a view over the city from 44 floors up, but some flea-bitten Irish bar that is charging £10 a pint just because it’s “foreign” – no thanks.

The funny thing is that some of these bars even charge you just to get in because they see themselves as foreign and sophisticated. Can you imagine having to pay something like £10 just to walk into your local O’Neill’s Irish theme pub and then paying £10 for each pint of Guinness? And this is in Brazil where £10 goes a long way…

So I might put on my Ireland shirt later and have a quick Brahma before bedtime, after my Portuguese class finishes. Not quite the same, but I will be at the parties back in Europe in spirit.

Private Eye

Maybe it’s because I’m an Irish Londoner

The BibleCode Sundays are a west London band with Irish roots – half the band actually are Irish and the others are from Irish families living in London.

They are trying to get their song “Maybe it’s because I’m an Irish Londoner” to number one in the charts for St Patrick’s night – that’s March 17 to those of you who don’t have the date ingrained into your consciousness from years of Guinness abuse on that particular date.

It means you need to go and download the song from iTunes this week – from Monday the 8th – or you can also buy a copy by sending a text message from your phone. All the details on how to participate and get a copy of the song are here.