The Other Side of the Ocean

I've had a busy week doing the usual do-goodery, work and dodging tornadoes. I've also been entertaining a couple of friends from Ireland who are visiting the U.S. for the first time.

George & Manda 
Ronny met Manda and George several years ago when he played the Belladrum Festival in Scotland. The working class couple (social worker and union organizer) had won a pair of tickets to the festival, and when Ronny later toured Ireland he stayed with them at their home in Coleraine

The like-minded couple told me this week about Ireland's (great) ban on plastic bags, (sad) intolerance of pit bulls and their Wal-Mart-owned Asda chains stores.

I shared with them books by Native American author Sherman Alexie, pancakes with maple syrup and walking tours of Davis Islands and Ybor City.

We laughed (and cried) about corrupt humans/politicians in both our countries and around the world.  

As a high school U2 fangirl, I became obsessed with Irish culture. I read (okay, watched) In the Name of the Father and My Left Foot. My obsession gave way to my eventual obsessions with other war-torn cultures like Viet Nam, Kosovo, Sudan and Iraq. 

Manda told great stories about living their lives in Northern Ireland despite "the troubles." She had gone on a bus trip to Southern Ireland and as often happened on long trips, she got motion sickness. When the bus was stopped by British soldiers, Manda ran to the front of the bus and opened a window in just enough time to stick her head out before she threw up. It splattered at the feet of one young soldier. Her friend yelled from the back of the bus: "That's no way to show your politics, Manda!"

Another time there was a wedding in Belfast. Because of barricades around town, Manda was late bringing the flowers. The bride's 8-and-a-half month pregnant sister went into labor. When the wedding was over, the happy couple had to plow through a field in their small car to get to the airport on time for their honeymoon flight, but once they were back on the road the car broke down, so George walked to the next town for a cab. They just barely made their flight. 

Meeting Manda and George has reminded me that we humans certainly have more in common than not. With our love of food, humanity, and Ronny Elliott, I particularly have a lot in common with Manda and George. 

After meeting them, Ronny wrote the song "When the Showbands Played Coleraine." 

Mandy's got her hair up and her best Eartha Kitt look and she's okay 'til two a.m. George has got what's left of a paycheck in his billfold and a wink that says, "I don't give a damn!" We may as well stay for a few more songs. We've already missed the half past train. Mandy and George were dancing on clouds when the showbands played Coleraine.

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