….a ‘rumble’ between rival radio stations, would you believe? Well – would you?? When I posted our ‘Welcomed-by-the-Queen’ post on April 1st last, I had already decided to jump at the chance of becoming a ‘radio star/shock jock’ and pictured myself living quite a bohemian lifestyle, prancing around the gaff with an Orla Kiely-type hat and calling everyone “Darling!” .
But, even before we had debuted on ‘Queen’s Radio’ (!) we found ourselves being headhunted by ‘King’s Radio’…

…but they want me to ‘up my game’ and take elocution lessons ‘to loose the flat Dublin ‘howya’ accent’ and suggested I read the following piece with raised eyebrows and breathing only through my nose. I told them I’d get back to them before the 1st April next….

HOW FRIGHTFULLY BORING….! (From ‘The Sunday Times Magazine’, 13th October 2013.)

The cat’s name is ‘Ruby’, and it’s a Burmese. Not at all easy to say whilst one’s eyebrows are raised and one is breathing through one’s nose.

HRH Princess Michael of Kent, 68, talks about her sleeping quarters at Kensington Palace, the inconvenience of selling her country pile, torturous gym sessions and a frog infestation…

“I have a tray brought to my bedroom at 9am. Breakfast is served on my Herend china and I sit in an old armchair so I can read the papers. I have zero-fat yoghurt with cinnamon, which is meant to be a fat-burner, and a pot of ginger tea made with grated ginger. This I have with lavender honey and one plain Ryvita. Life is a battle against the expanding waistline, so some mornings I just have a fresh juice made from five vegetables that my manicurist told me about. It’s frightfully good. The tray also has plates of food for Ruby, my Burmese, and Cally, my Siamese. One has chicken breast, the other has ham. They’re not yet two and they are little terrors, but such great fun. I got them after my last cat, Nell Gywn, died. We also have a labrador called Shadow.

After breakfast, the prince, who has his quarters next door, looks in. Mother, being very European, once said: “If you and your husband have separate bedrooms, you are fresher for one another. You won’t see each other being cross or saying, ‘I can’t do this up. It’s too tight!’ ” Every morning our secretaries give us our ‘day sheets’ to confirm any engagements we have and I will dress accordingly. If I’m travelling, I like things to be drip-dry; that way I can wash them in a bathtub. The prince says “She’s either catalogue or couture,” but most of the time I’m too mean to buy new clothes. I think I have only walked down the high street once in my married life.

I have three desks: one in my bedroom; one in the study, where I write my letters; and one in an attic room, where I have a computer and write my books. I’m about to bring out volume one of a trilogy. It is my first attempt at historical novels and they’re inspired by European royals in the 15th century, including one who was murdered by her husband when he caught her in flagrante. He ran a sword through her 100 times. It’s also my first go at dialogue. I got my children to read it but they’re mean. They say: “Mama, there’s no point. You write exactly how you speak.”
As well as tennis once a week at Queen’s, a personal torturer comes about three times a week. I will do about an hour of exercise with her.

I always put on my earphones so I can listen to my Russian lessons. My husband speaks the language fluently and we visit Russia a lot. The problem is, when we go to a lunch or a dinner, everyone gabbles away in Russian while I sit there like a lemon. So I’m jolly well learning it. During the summer, we always go to see friends and family abroad, but just before we left this year we had a frog problem. They were coming in from our small pond in the garden. When I saw one in my bedroom, I thought: “Hello, what’s going on!” Next, they were all over the house. In the end they had to be caught and taken to a larger pond. It’s not that I don’t like frogs. I do. I even have a little cushion hung on my bedroom door saying: “How many frogs do I have to kiss before I get a prince?” My husband gave it to me.
Of course I miss the big gardens we had at our country house, but it became very expensive to run. We couldn’t afford it. For the first time that terrible word came into my life when our private secretary said: “Ma’am, you have to downsize.” It was the worst word I’d heard in ages!

I also had to face other changes in my life, including bad hip and knee joints, and a balance problem, following a virus I had 10 years ago. At least I see brilliantly. I had my eyes lasered by Dr Stevens at Moorfields. Now the whole family has had theirs done, too. If we’re at home in the evening, a simple meal is prepared for us – maybe a grill. When I was growing up in Austria, my mother used to say: “You must learn to cook!” And I’d say, “Mama, I will have a cook when I marry,” and she’d reply: “You may not!” So I did learn to cook five dishes, including goulash, wiener schnitzel and tafelspitz. I’m also a dab hand at tinned salmon soufflé.

In the evening I often go back to my desk and carry on writing, often till very late. I don’t mind: I love the night. The prince will then come into say goodnight in his pyjamas, and he will often add: “Don’t be up too late, darling.” (‘1169…’ Comment – OMG! Can you imagine the SHAME of having your private secretary/hired help/butler telling you that you have to downsize??!)


Last month, 28 women who protested peacefully in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, against US President Ronald Reagan’s visit to Ireland received £1000 each arising from their action for wrongful arrest. Gene Kerrigan recalls the weekend when another State determined Irish security requirements and details the garda action which could cost tens of thousands of pounds. From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.

Legal representatives Ruth-Anne FitzGerald and Heather Celmalis were still thinking in terms of obtaining an injunction to prevent the women being dumped in various parts of the city : FitzGerald rang the home of the then Attorney General, Peter Sutherland, but he was not there.He did ring back, however, sometime before 1am, and Ruth-Anne FitzGerald explained what was happening and asked Sutherland to find out from the Garda Commissioner what the terms of the new order or regulation were.

There are various procedures which must be followed when a new law is brought into force, procedures for the promulgation – or public stating – of the law. FitzGerald told Peter Sutherland that her clients would waive all that and accept a verbal promulgation of the regulation from him, over the phone, just so long as they learned the terms. He replied that there was nothing he could do, he had no function in the matter!

Back in the Phoenix Park it was raining, and had been since late in the evening. The number of women present at the protest had fluctuated , with some staying just a while to offer support. There had been something like over 100 present earlier that day but as the night wore on the numbers dwindled to about sixty. The rain was unceasing , heavy and depressing. The women spread plastic on the grass and settled down in sleeping bags and survival bags to try to get some sleep, but the rain gathered on the plastic and ran down into the depressions formed by the sleeping bodies. Some woke to find the ends of the sleeping bags full of water.

People dropped by with dry clothes. One man arrived with about forty cups of tea and packets of cigarettes, saying that he and his family were delighted with the protest. Meanwhile, US President Ronald Reagan was spending the night in Ashford Castle in Cong, County Mayo. (MORE LATER).



In 1978, radio bombs were tried out in various areas of the North, but only one member of the British ‘security forces’ was killed by one. In 1979, however, radio bombs accounted for no less than 29 of the 86 deaths meted out by the IRA, and this year they have killed 6 out of 30. The radio bomb was also used in two of the IRA’s most traumatic deeds of the last 10 years ; the killing of 18 British soldiers at Warrenpoint and the assassination of ‘Lord’ Mountbatten and his boating party, in August 1979.

The development of the radio bomb, like the unsuccessful attempt to mortar Newry RUC station, also demonstrate another worrying factor for the RUC and the British Army. That is, the IRA’s technical ingenuity. That has been amply demonstrated by the IRA’s use of huge quantities of explosives, not only in radio bombs, but also in car bombs and landmines since 1978. Bombs of 1000 or 2000 Ibs are now quite common. In 1977 and 1978 the IRA was forced to experiment with new ways of producing explosives. Legislation in the South had outlawed the sale of fertiliser containing benzine, which together with sugar, went to produce the terrifying blockbuster car bombs of the early 1970’s and they virtually disappeared as a result. In late 1978, however, the IRA devised a new method of producing home made explosives. The IRA discovered that if ordinary fertiliser was ‘cooked’ in water, the resulting crystals produced after the ‘dirty’ water had been skimmed off, made high quality explosive, when mixed with metal fillings, usually aluminium, and diesel or carbon.

The explosive produced is detonated by a pound or two of commercial explosives and can, as the radio bombs have proved, be enormously destructive. Its drawback is that it stinks to high heaven and is very unstable. As a result, it is usually only ‘made to order’, in two stills the British Army thinks the IRA has deep across the Border. (MORE LATER).


“Nothing that is morally wrong can be politically right” – William Ewart Gladstone (pictured, right), British Prime Minister for four terms : 1868 to 1874, 1880 to 1885, six months in 1886 and then from 1892 to 1894.

In 1880 in Ireland, the Land War was in full swing headed-up by, in the main, the ‘New Departure’ group (which was established on 20th April, 1879, at Irishtown, County Mayo, and was almost immediately condemned by the Catholic Church – many parish priests of the day were ‘landlords’ and stood to lose financially if this new group were to win its demand in relation to the ‘Land Acts’ position : the ‘Three F’s ‘ – Fixity of Tenure, Fair Rents and the rights of Free Sale) ,with Patrick Egan, Joseph Bigger, Charles Stewart Parnell and John Dillon in the leadership. Members and supporters of the campaign had been advised to pay no rent at all to their ‘landlords’, but the British fought back – their ‘Land Courts’ were fixing rents which most ‘tenants’ could just about afford – a divide and conquer tactic. British Chief Secretary William E.Forester hoped to divide the Irish further and ordered the arrest of the leadership of the ‘New Departure’ group and they were rounded-up. Their ‘trial’ began on 28th December 1880 but collapsed on 23rd January 1881, and they were released. Forester strongly objected to the release of the men and attempted to get the verdict overturned – when he failed in this endeavour, he resigned his position in disgust.

The then British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone (“My mission is to pacify Ireland…”) , had his nephew (by marriage) , a ‘Lord’ Frederick Cavendish, appointed as the new British Chief Secretary in Ireland ; Cavendish , in turn , appointed the soon-to-be-despised Thomas Henry Burke, (not this Thomas Burke) an Irishman (a ‘Castle-Catholic’) as his new Under-Secretary, both of whom were to be killed in the same operation by the Irish ‘Invincibles’ organisation. However, Gladstone persevered with attempting ‘to solve the Irish problem’ and four years later (ie in 1886) he presented, to the British ‘House of Commons’, a ‘Home Rule’ bill for Ireland which sought an Irish Parliament to be established in Dublin but with Westminster retaining control of matters to do with defence, foreign affairs, customs and excise, trade, postal services, currency and the appointment of law judges. The proposed ‘Irish Parliament’ would consist of one chamber which would house those elected by the people and those placed within by the Crown (‘peer/nobleman’), and an ‘Irish MP’ would not be entitled to sit at Westminster.

Irish commentators were disappointed that ‘Irish MP’s’ should be excluded from Westminster and also voiced caution in relation to the powers that Westminster retained re defence, foreign affairs etc and, at the same time, Gladstone’s own colleagues in the ‘British Liberal Party’ felt that too much power was being given to Ireland – 93 of them actually voted against it, splitting the party and defeating the bill. A lesson should have been learned then – 129 years ago – that a limited form of ‘granted’ jurisdictional control and sovereignty from Westminster re Ireland is “morally wrong” and will not be accepted by Irish republicans as “politically right”.


…but what happens if the person in the ‘Irish Water’ billing department is colour blind!?? Or if, having answered the question, you paint the door and/or the house and/or the gate a different colour? Or change the name of the house?

I seriously thought this was an April Fool joke, but it’s not – before they will consider you to be a ‘non-customer’, the ‘Irish Water’ company requires the following information from you :

Colour of the property.
House name/number.
Colour of the door.
Details about neighbours’ properties (if any).
Colour of the gate.
Type of property.
Side of the road property is on.
Any directions from nearest town or landmark.
Contact number.

Seriously depressing state of incompetence on view here, from this crowd of gobshites – bad enough that we are expected to pay twice for this one service without that company exposing itself to all on-lookers as the cowboy operator it is. Like hundreds of thousands of others, I haven’t ‘registered’ with that company and I have no intention of doing so, regardless of how incompetent or otherwise they are, on the basis that I will not pay twice for any one utility. They will not be seeing the colour of my money!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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