#OccupyDameStreet - Check my collar, collar, hey, hey.
Those of you who have been reading this blog for some time now will no doubt be aware of my fondness for train travel. I am not some anorak-coated, warm-beer drinking trainspotter scribbling down engine numbers in a tattered old marmalade-stained notebook, but I do rather enjoy a good journey by train. There is something almost spiritual about a few hours of enforced restfulness, a chance to read undisturbed by the outside world or slip on a set of headphones and simply stare out at the passing landcape rushing past and disappearing in a puff of parallax. A train journey is a world away from the angst and stress induced by even the thought of an encounter with RyanAir, and as much a possible I try to avoid flying for both emotional and ecological reasons.
Fintan O'Toole speaks at Dame Street
#OccupyDameStreet, Dublin, Friday 18th November
Even within Ireland I will usually choose train over car and this was how I found myself two weeks ago on the 13:00 train from Dublin Hueston to Cork, trapped in a confined space with an indeterminate number of excitable teenage girls all on their way home from an in-store meeting with Jedward, and not even my noise-canceling headphones could save me.
Teenage girls are a phenomena that I admittedly know little about, having nothing to do with them as a grown-up, and painfully little to do with them as a teenage boy (though not for want of trying, the Catholic Church and its segregated dominance of the Irish secondary education system has a lot to answer for). A mystery then and an annoyance now, I am sure that they are quite inoffensive on their own or in small clusters, but when gathered together in hysterical packs huddled around a cheap mobile phone blaring out pop inanities over impoverished speakers made in a factory where uttering the word 'Bass' could lead to a fine, flogging or both, they are the adult equivalent of the mosquito alarm used to rid public spaces of their very presence. The eternal battle between youth and wisdom continues to rage in the 21st century and once again the sonic arts are bent to the will of both combatants, and as ever no side can claim a decisive victory.
I tried to explain this to the Very Understanding Girlfriend, but she just rolled her eyes skyward and put her headphones back on. I think deep inside she knows I'm right, but her own previous incarnation as a teenage girl no doubt clouds her judgement.
Thankfully the carriage emptied long before we reached Cork and I was able to enjoy the rest of the journey in a semblance of peace and tranquility, mood dampened only by the inability to get the words "I'll check my collar, collar, hey, hey" out of my head, no matter how much Squarepusher I listened to.
The point of this all being to say that while I neither claim to understand nor to appreciate the intricacies of the verbal and nonverbal communications of teenage girls, I was left with the impression that for them meeting Jedward was something of a big deal.
With this image firmly in mind I now feel you are adequately prepared to understand what it was last night for me to be able to host Fintan O'Toole on Occupied Dame Street. He spoke as part of the ongoing #OccupyUniversity program, and through a stroke of good fortune I was able to introduce him and facilitate the Q&A afterwards. His books Ship of Fools and Enough is Enough made a hugh impact on me when I read them last year, stoking my wrath and ire and motivating me to get up off my backside and get out there and campaign for radical change, to move from being a passive observer and occasional commentator to a far more active and militant role. Though I do not agree with everything he proposes (and in some areas do not think he goes far enough) his books are one of the reasons I have been on Occupied Dame Street for the last 43 days.
Though it pains me so much to admit it, to say last night was my giddy-as-a-teenage-girl-meeting-Jedward moment would not be entirely untrue.Tweet