The Lung Brothers

Hanging out at the extreme end of the long tail ...

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Persian Snub

A couple of years ago I was waiting for a connecting flight at Brussels Airport when I struck up a random conversation with an Iranian businessman. A very amiable bloke. When I told him I was a Mick, his ears pricked up immediately and he asked me:

Tell me please. Who is Bobby Sands?

I was momentarily stunned as this was not exactly the type of query I would have expected to receive from a Persian while in Purgatory in a drab Benelux terminal. I explained what I knew about Sands from memory, that he was a political prisoner in Northern Ireland in the seventies and that he died in 1981 while on a protest hunger strike. He thus became somewhat of an icon for the republican cause and a thorn in the side for Downing Street. Being fairly apolitical, that was about all I knew on the subject.

Then he gave me the reason for his curiosity and it left me gobsmacked. It turns out that when the British Embassy in Tehran was finally allowed to reopen long after the revolution that had deposed the Shah, the street where it was located had been renamed by the Iranian city authorities.

What had been Winston Churchill Street had now become Bobby Sands Street. Now I realise that many of you won't find this very funny.......but let me assure you that it fucking is.

Who would have thought looking at the Ayatollahs that they had such a naughty sense of humour?

Monday, May 23, 2005

Reproduction Reviews.

Instead of gabbing on about the recent birth of my son, an activity which is far too rampant in the blogesphere already, I’ll restrict the commentary to what the critics had to say about the event. Here are some of the reviews that CS and yours truly received from friends scattered around the globe:

While, gold and frankincense are welcome, baby Nicolas shows signs of a childhood myrrh allergy, so please exercise caution when selecting a gift basket.

Matt – Microbeer processor, Portland, Oregon.

It's nice to see some intelligent people reproducing, there's hope for the future yet.

Tim – Cynic, Colorado.

holy crap! nobody even told me you were pregnant! cant type much.....i've got a fucking broken arm......

Kaleen – Victimized schoolmarm, Boston.

That's rad !!! A big hug to the familia and little Z-boy Nicolas .

Armando – Skateboarder and artiste, New York.

Welcome to the world Nicolas!


1. Despite Kaleen's claim, it was your mother who was pregnant and not your father.
2. Your name WITHOUT the accent means "victory for the people".
3. Your name WITH the accent means "victory for Español". At some stage (possibly kindergarten) you may feel an urge to be addressed as Nicolau or Micholau, which mean "victory for Barca" and "Madrid suck" respectively.
4. You were born on the feast of the Irish Saint Brendan, whom many (Irish) believe to have reached the US before Columbus. (Unfortunately Brendan never applied for a green card, so he doesn't show up in the records.) At some stage in your life, a software company will offer you a job in Palo Alto; resist!
5. Your parents don't think much of the name Brendan.
6. Thank your mother for your good looks.
7. Thank you father for your good looks. ;)
8. Never pass a Bar named after you, without going in for a pint.
9. Never give your father your e-mail address.
10. If you have trouble sleeping, get your father to tell you a story.

David - Itinerant, Barcelona.

Bonne continuation a tous et toutes.

Louis - Homeowner, Sligo, Ireland.

Couldn't be happier for you if you rolled me in fudge and tickled my toes :-) What was it your dad said to me? "Congratulations on your replacement on this earth" :-0

Eddie – Blackmailer and sociopath, Dublin.

Well done that man! You're moving up the curve my friend. You've already gone through moments of delight at knowing the plumbing works, months of fear and now you move into what I presume is years of ambient concern.
It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy! Is the kid going to be a smartarse or will CS raise him?
Tell CS, Pecho Lobo was asking for her.

Ian – Figment of my deranged imagination, London.

So, nothing too scathing there. I hope the reviews are as kind again if ever we choose to go ahead with a sequel.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Can't Talk, Breeding.

....erm...birth...son...sleepless...paperwork...handing baton over to Lung the Elder. See you in eighteen years.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Four Roses

Roses and Saint George.

A couple of weeks ago they celebrated the day of the patron saint of Catalonia, Saint Jordi. My apologies to all Star Trek aficionados but Jordi is just plain old George in Catalan and over here it’s as common as muck as names go. So, like the English, the Catalans got themselves a Rambo saint who earned his crust in days of yore, wandering the land saving maidens by lopping the heads off of presumptuous dragons.

The traditional way of celebrating this day is curiously similar to our Saint Valentine’s day. However, the etiquette of wooing your loved one is somewhat more specific than sending him or her an anonymous piece of Hallmark schlock. Basically, the guy buys the girl a rose and the girl buys the guy a book. So, come the end of April the streets of Barcelona are lined with bookstands and gypsy florists touting their wares. It’s kind of nice actually.

The tradition is believed to come from the fact that any young bachelor worth his salt would naturally be a scholar and as such would always appreciate another book as ballast for his ample library. Seeing that girlies weren’t supposed to study in olden days, a book would be seen as untoward. No, the only proper gift for a young lady back then was a pretty piece of horticulture and seeing that the rose is the symbol of old Saint George, it couldn’t have been easier for the lads. The average young beau didn’t even have to rack his brains trying to think of which flower to choose. A rose is a rose is a rose.

At first this trade off seems a little unfair and sexist. I mean lets face it, a book costs a hell of a lot more than a rose and you actually have to put a bit of thought into buying a book for someone. Whereas even the most forgetful guy could probably get away with rescuing a rose from a dumpster the next day and giving it a quick makeover. On the other hand, if a girl wanted to drop a heavy hint to her boyfriend, a book would offer an irresistable opportunity. For example, wouldn’t it worry you a little if your girlfriend gave you one of the following titles for Saint Jordi’s day?:

Surviving Infidelity
When your Lover is a Liar
Why Men Won’t Commit
The Advantages of Castration
The Lazy Husband: How to Get Men to do more Parenting and Housework

Roses and Marketing

Speaking of Roses, I have a bone to pick with the guys who sell roses from bar to bar at night in the Gothic Quarter. They should really brush up on their marketing technique because their current selling method is wrong, wrong, wrong. It goes something like this:

Rose seller comes up to the café table where you and your girlfriend are sitting.
Rose seller sticks roses in your face and says ‘Rose for Lady?’ ‘Rose for Lady?’
When you politely decline, he says ‘Very cheap!’ ‘Very cheap!’.

Now Ladies and Gentlemen, what has Rose Seller done wrong here? Anyone? Yes you guessed it. By saying ‘Very Cheap!’, Rose Seller seems to expect you to say ‘Well, seeing as they’re so filthy cheap, I will happily purchase one for my girlfriend who is sitting right in front of us watching me trying impress her by being a cheapskate miser’?

I think not.

Instead of saying ‘Very cheap!’ as a backup pitch, maybe they should try ‘Very beautiful rose, beautiful like the beautiful Lady’. Now if the guy says no, it aaaalmost sounds like he’s saying that his girlfriend isn’t beautiful. Much better. Now he feels obliged to fork out some cash so as not to look bad. What these rose sellers need is a training course in sales techniques. I’d offer to give it myself but I don’t speak Urdu.

Rosetta Stoned.

About a year ago I was at a party, partaking of some happy herbs with a bunch of Serbian musicians. One of the group was a girl named Rosetta who had always scared me a bit. She dressed like Frida Kahlo, wasn’t too prone to smiling and on the few occasions that she did choose to speak, didn’t mince her words one bit. However, on this particular evening the leafy substance that we had both enjoyed served as a conversational lubricant and we ended up nattering together like a pair of old fishwives.

Still waters certainly run deep. Rosetta turned out to be a fascinating individual and I’ll always remember one of the stories she told me that night, which I still consider to be one of my favourite nuggets of wisdom. It went something like this:

(Rosetta speaking Spanish with a heavy Serbian accent)
My great-grandmother she was the greatest woman that I ever know. She lived very long and had many husbands. Until she was one hundred years old, she had completely clear mind and told me many things back then, when I was a little girl. One thing that she told me that I will always remember is that the third husband is best husband.

When you first marry, she told me, you are young and your head is full of romantic things and you think that happiness is forever. So of course, this does not last. I was lucky and my first husband he die very young and leave me in peace.

For my second husband, I make typical mistake. I have bad memories of first husband so I find a man who is completely opposite. This is not good because I am reacting to first marriage and, of course, second husband is also bad as first husband but in completely opposite way. But I am lucky again and second husband goes to God in only few years.

Now when I look for third husband, it was different. I have experience of two husbands completely opposite and I know what I like and what I do not like. I am widow two times and I am not shy. I know who I am. I find man who loves me and respect me. A man who does not control me but doesn’t want me to be boss either. Then I find such a man and we were happy together for many years. So remember Rosetta, she told me, when you are a women, it is good idea to marry at least three times.

Curiously, this trajectory of relationships fairly accurately described my own experience. My first two serious girlfriends were indeed completely opposite in personality. CS is my third long-term girlfriend and we’ve been together for eight years now and going strong. I’ve told many friends this story and quite a few of them concur. Although it obviously doesn’t count for everyone’s experiences, there is definitely a pattern there that rings a bell with a lot of people.

Blood and Roses

I read somewhere that there are more cases of people catching tetanus from thorns, and especially rose thorns, than from rusty nails. Well there goes another childhood myth.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Enlightened Little Buggers

I had a strange dream last night.

It was a kids’ birthday party with cake, balloons and streamers, but the strange thing was that the children present were all Zen Buddhists. They were sitting in a circle singing:

‘If your happy and you know it clap your hand...

And then they did. But I can’t for the life of me remember what it sounded like.