It’s apple time in the Orchard County . I was picking up some grit for the garden and I popped into the  orchard adjoining the supplier for a quick look around. It’s a beautiful time of the year , especially with this rare sunny spell we’re curently having. It’ll soon be apple-picking  season  with a fervour . The  warm , earthy autumnal colours and smells are intoxicating.The tart  Bramleys and the Laxton Superbs are already tippling to the ground. The branches are hanging heavy and aglow with  the spots of reds and russets.We disturbed a  large  Irish hare  which scampered off through the bruised  windfalls, obviously oblivious to the fact that it was an endangered species.The corn-crakes may be gone forever but that  wee hare, for all the world like a small, cramped  alien deer , made haste for a very important date.  What an intoxicating smell. That smell of autumn , redolent of forgotten corners of  childhood . I wonder did the hare “prog” the odd apple like we did as children. We used to stuff our jumpers full and get chased by the angry geese protecting the orchards. I suppose if rabbits can steal carrots , a hare might be partial to  a sweet laxton apple windfall , lying invitingly on the green orchard floor.

Groundhog Day , eh? The seasons spin around . I see that ballet company that the wife and daughters dragged me to see some years ago is on its way back to the local theatre with “Swan Lake” .it’s almost traditional ,like  the Christmas pantomime, now. I enjoyed the dance well enough,supressing the bulging absurdity of men in tights,enjoying and   surprising myself at the athleticism, romanticism,   gothic horror and vigour of the show .I’ll have a go at most things, I suppose. I was disappointed that the music was canned though. If they could have risen to a wee quartet  down the front at least…a few violas, cellos and fiddles being scraped  , it would have injected a little more life into it.Taped music has its place, but you can’t beat that live sound of music being made in the room . I think once was enough ,anyway.  Doctor Feelgood and a little rackety blues  is more my cup of meat.

I see it’s also the season for Big Talks at Stormont again.  Is anyone interested in that show anymore? It sounds a bit like the same pantomime they put on last year. Maybe there will be a few new faces  but I really don’t see what difference it will make and why we should be bothered . We’ve all seen this tired production already. It was all well thrashed out last year. Let me think…yes it even extended over Christmas , if memory serves.  It’s about these marches and flags …and whatever else they want to cobble on to it. It’s an ill-balanced production at any rate and I can’t see our current secretary of State handling it any better than the droll Mr Haass. You need a good sense of humour to listen to some of the claptrap  you’ll be subjected to.

The unionists gathered  together and  switched off the violent nonsense last summer  with an easy aplomb . They called  it a part of a “Graduated Response” . Whatever it was , it was proof positive that if they could switch off the violence , they could also switch it on .That begs the question  why they didn’t switch the violence off in the previous year before all that money was wasted on policing it. It also asks why was it allowed to develop in the first place.  There’s not a lot of point wrangling about money and Welfare Reform if you’re prepared to waste it so readily on street violence .There was no need for any of that. A waste of our time and money on a lot of nonsense, really.

So I imagine they  could have sorted  out any problems last year without talking any  more about any of  it . There is no real need for these Big Set-Piece Talks.That would do fine for me.  A bit of peace and mellow fruitfullness is all most of us want anyway in Autumn or otherwise. What novelty can possibly be produced by these proposed new talks anyway? Surely every great idea was laid on the table last year and they walked away from it all. Have they had brain- transplants sometime during the summer holidays to re-jig their ideas?  I doubt it.

Maybe each party should just send in a ” canned” recording of their demands and the Secretary of State could simply listen to them and put them  back into their  little boxes  until next year. I’m sure all of it could be fitted onto  a  USB computer stick . They could all fit into a matchbox and open it up again next Autumn in time for next year’s harvest .They could take the example of the ballet Company and just switch on the taped  music and hope that any of us out there who have seen this show  many times before  will  still want to listen . I for one will  not be too interested in their repeat performance anyway. There’s as much sense in “An apple a  day keeps the doctor away”  .

More , really….


  1. giordanobruno October 1, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    Thanks for evoking many happy memories of pulling (not picking!) apples. Hard work though, and if the trees were wet, it was not so pleasant with the water dripping down your neck. I never did recognise the idyllic picture Robert Frost summoned up mind you. City boy.
    The laxton superb is a lovely apple along with the worcester, always pronounced wor-cest-er by my da. The kemps were great too though tart, liked by an older generation maybe.
    So I’m thinking that might have been a couple of cox’s pippins you spotted in in those bulging ballet tights?

    • paddykool October 2, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

      You are right Gio….pullin’ apples …not picking…and it was always wet armpit work!!!

    • wolfe tone October 4, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

      You cant beat the freedom of being your own boss in picking apples. I averaged 7 bins a day and it was hard work but oddly enough enjoyable.

  2. ben madigan October 1, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    indeed harry -how cheapskate can a ballet production get – no live orchestra! Talk about cutting costs to maximise profit and give the audience less for pricy tickets!!

    the new round of talks will be the same old, same old broken record unless something is produced to “convince” Loyalists/Orange Order (who scuppered Haas) nobody will be “pandering” to them any more and that they’ve lost their place in the UK sun.
    Which may well be on the cards, given the way things are shaping up after the scottish referendum.
    No one seems to know quite how to match up the promise/pledge/vow of scottish home Rule/Devo max with other demands like “English votes for English laws” and maintaining the Union.
    But if the push comes to the shove the UK will hold on to Scotland, not NI.
    It’s got oil – which is worth a helluva lot more than the expensive hobby of “pandering” to Loyalism!

  3. Ruaidri Ua Conchob October 1, 2014 at 7:57 pm #

    Excellent post, as ever 🙂

    You’ve remind me of by-gone days of escaping to the country to shoot rabbits and hares… I swear con-stable, we never ever shot scarecrows… never, never, never, your honour!!! Similarly, I’ve just had a flashback to a time when proving I’d engaged in these harmless pastimes helped me once overcome a gunshot residue test during a stay with the charming crew at Castlereagh interrogation centre 🙂

    All I would add to your other comments concerning political unionism is, we’ve always known they could always easily switch the violence on and off. Beyond the terrible waste of money and disruption to wider-society, it’s sad their last stirring of violence left hundreds of young and uneducated loyalist cannon-fodder with criminal records and even worse employment prospects.

    I note today media references to the Grand Old Duke Of York ‘graduated response’ might include new protests/parades across the 6 counties