Posted on November 13, 2020
Friends of MB are beginning to pop up Christmas decorations. MB can see a small Christmas tree twinkling brightly in the dim dark nights in the apartment block across the street. A few nights back, friends of MB played Michael Buble’s Christmas Songs CD as background hum to the consumption of a nice Chianti. Not a sliver of liver nor a fava bean in sight!
It’s certainly beginning to look a lot like Christmas.
What a year of experiences. Boldly going where none have gone before. Thoughts to all who’ve struggled, and the many who continue to do so. Financially. Emotionally. Whatever.
MB won’t be home for Christmas. First time ever. Will miss it terribly. Too much logistical hassle with quarantine periods each end, and the mental hassle of spending 7 hours on a flight with a mask and the hustle and bustle of infection-controlling airports. Wondering if any fellow mask-face passenger is infected; praying not. Whilst trying to watch Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory on the inflight entertainment system. To get into the festive mood. Or listening to Shane McGowan. If Qatar Airways have him on the playlist. Doubtful.
Then there are those with real problems.
Few weeks back, MB’s phone pinged. Messenger. Old school friend. Still lives in HX land. Much of his adult life spent looking after kids football teams. Has Stage-3 colon cancer. Went to doctor to have something relatively innocuous checked out. One test later, the big C. Fuck-a-duck. MB wished him well and continues to check in with him. Here’s hoping he’ll have a merry Christmas. Hoping big time.
Time for MB to go look for a Christmas tree. Alas, no tree markets out here. No tree sellers with puffa jackets and scarfs and woolly caps and seeing their exhaled breath in the cold sharp air and asking too much before settling on a lesser sum. Maybe MB can find a small Made-In-China plastic tree, and plank it on his work desk. And another for the living room table. Here’s hoping.
The Doha weather outside is delightful, but having no fire inside is frightful. And the lights are turned way down low. On MB’s essential oils mist lamp.
Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow!
Posted on December 13, 2018
To anyone who read one or more of MB’s blog posts during the year, or liked, or commented, or shared, or interacted in any way – Big thanks for all the crack during 2018. Read More
Posted on December 24, 2017
Followers will find a version of ‘The Prayer’ on Youtube by Andre Bocelli & Celine Dion. The version MB now gives you is by HX ladies JD & NOS from the Christmas Carol service at Grange Church on Sunday evening last. MB knows which version he prefers.
Posted on December 19, 2017
For the last six years, a Christmas Carol service has taken place at Grange Church, HX, where attendees make financial donations on the night to assist various charities, with an emphasis on helping local people at Christmas time. It is always a stunning musical event, and last Sunday night’s concert, which MB attended, was possibly the best ever. Many locals have now come to recognise this event as the real start of Christmas in the locality. MB understands that sentiment. The atmosphere on the night is very special.
The choir on the evening comprises volunteer members of the three local church choirs who come together for the annual event and attend rehearsals over the previous three or so months. The adult choir for the occasion goes by the Irish Gaelic name ‘Cor Na Nollaig’ (The Christmas Choir) and the children’s choir, who also perform on the night, is called ‘The Little Voices Children’s Choir’. The event is overseen or managed by two very young members (we can call them ‘kids’ actually!) of the Grange community, NOS and JD, who arrange the music and conduct on the night.
None of the choir members are professional singers, just local inhabitant choir-members. But youngsters NOC and JD have studied music, as will be evident from some videos that MB will post in subsequent posts. MB might have been better concentrating on either the photos or the videos, as he might have gotten better results, but what to do when needs must?!
For the moment, MB will give followers some photos from the night, to set the scene and give a flavour. Apologies for the poor photo quality. MB’s camera lenses are really not cut out for the ‘low light’ conditions. And FYI – the red glow in many of the pics is coming from the red-light heat lamps on the walls of the church, evident in some of the pics. “Enough of your nonsense excuses MB, they are just crappy shots”. “OK, ok lads, maybe you’ve got a point. And Happy Christmas to you too!!!”.
Posted on January 7, 2017
Posted on December 20, 2016
Unknown to most in MB’s homeland is the fact that in the majority land area of the Middle East, music is forbidden. In the local lingo, it’s haram. Allegedly, according to those of such beliefs, it’s not God’s will that people should sing or play or listen to music. Read More
Posted on November 26, 2016
In recent years, MB has been lucky on a few occasions to be home for the Christmas Carol service in his home Church at Grange. On the nights MB has attended, the services have opened with a traditional Irish air called Innisheer (or Inis Oírr in Gaelic).
So, without further ado, here are Grange girls Noreen O’Sullivan on concert flute, and Jade Dillon on keyboard, playing Inisheer (& apologies for posting a video as MB’s effort for the weekly photo challenge!):
Posted on October 28, 2016
“To change in appearance or form, especially strangely or grotesquely; transform.”
MB will not post anything strange or grotesque, but will instead focus on the ‘transform’ element of this weeks challenge.
Our local churches back home at Grange & Patrickswell are almost exclusively used for daytime and daylight activities throughout the year. Living in a very rural location there is no great, or hardly any, need for the opening of the churches after dark, save an occasional evening funeral service.
But at Christmas time each year the churches host Christmas carol services, or midnight masses which are actually on at approx 8pm (an Irish midnight!).
Anyway, it’s interesting to see them in their transformed Christmas state.
Posted on December 26, 2015
Posted on December 23, 2015
The uneventful KLM/Air France flight from Doha suddenly sprang to life on the descent to Schipol airport. The calm of the rarified air up top was replaced by the far more exciting blowy stuff down below. Five & half hours of the proverbial ‘perfect flight’ was replaced in seconds by a flight utterly different. The plane bobbled and wobbled at a fearsome rate as the runway approached. As if the plane was floating on very choppy seas. A child by the window squawked a scary squawk as the lights below appeared and disappeared with the sideways ‘up and down’ of the air ship. Mommy-of-child did her brave frightened best to cope with the fears of daughter and self. It’ll be all right a stór, she said; but in Dutch, vomit bag in hand.
MB is homeward bound.
Posted on August 17, 2015
The Islamic religious holiday of Eid Al Adha is the nearest thing that Muslims have to a Christmas. It’s a great family occasion and a big meal is consumed. It is a religious duty of all Muslims to sacrifice an animal at this time, normally a sheep or a goat. Cows, cattle, camels and others are also used when groups or extended families may pool together for the purchase of larger animals. The sacrifice is to honour the story from the holy book when Abraham gave thanks to God for sparing his son, after God had earlier tested Abraham by asking him to kill him. Abraham then killed a sheep as a sacrifice in thanksgiving. The same story appears in the Christian Bible, albeit both books state different sons names (Ishmael in the Quran and Isaac in the Bible). Read More
Posted on December 31, 2013
Posted on December 25, 2013
Patrickswell Church, HX, Limerick. 24 December 2013.
Prayers for Syria, Gaza & Sudan. And the story from the Great War (WW1) of the football match of 1915 on the Western Front between the Germans & the Allied forces. Cigarettes & wine shared, family photos shown, hymns sung. 3-2 football victory to the Germans, allegedly. And hours later the slaughter started again.
Posted on December 24, 2013