1. I moved home to Ireland.
I couldn’t have timed it better. Two days after arriving home, my brother turned 30 and I got to be there as we lavished him with jokey presents and sincere gifts. We dispatched a sickeningly large pallet of our belongings by courier from Aberdeen and then filled our car and still had enough material wealth to require 2 or 3 suitcases and Wife-unit and I made our way separately home. She flew. I drove and took the boat. We rendezvoused in our new home, which was much too big and very lovely, late at night. We ate food lovingly prepared by one dear friend, in the company of another, and we breathed a sigh of relief. It is good to be home.
2. I started a new job.
I am now a social theologian for the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. I have an office on the top floor of an old Edwardian building in a little-loved part of Dublin. I work with social scientists and environmental researchers as we try to offer analysis on aspects of Irish society with a view to making the society in which we live a little less brutal. I still don’t quite know for sure what this means day-to-day, but I start each morning reading the Bible and doing the Examen, and I think that is probably an excellent first step for a young (maybe that’s stretching it, a “beginner”?) theologian. On Friday all the different social justice works of the Jesuits gathered for a day of discussion and it was jaw-dropping to be in a room with such an array of expertise dedicated to relieving the hardship of those most firmly in the dark. Refugees and prisoners, those mired in generational poverty and people in prison: the Jesuits seem to be everywhere you would want to be.
They still have an inexplicable and frankly suspicious love of rugby, but apart from that, I have already grown very fond of them. You should get to know them.
3. I saw live music.
In all the years in Aberdeen, I think we went to three gigs. One was my friend’s band. One was the Hold Steady, for which we had to drive to Glasgow. One was Ben Folds, for which I had to drive to Edinburgh.
It was not a culturally rich place.
Dublin is. Friends had bought us tickets to go see Postmodern Jukebox during our first week back in town and it was a tremendous reintroduction. The setup can be easily mocked but as a gig, it is infectiously good fun.
Yesterday we went to the Unitarian Church to see Over the Rhine. That Karin Bergquist can sing. Still, even though my friend JM will raise a skinny fist in my direction from Coleraine, their pristine music never quite manages to get my pulse racing.
4. I savoured quiet
It is madness to go from finishing a book to finishing a PhD to making an international move to starting a new job, in one three month period. I know this. I don’t want to do it this way. But rent has to be paid and deadlines have to be met and I will take a break after the viva and the corrections, when things have settled in a bit at work and when the boxes are unpacked.
But while I cannot for a moment suggest that the month just passed has been easy, it has been marked by periods of wonderful stillness. In Aberdeen we lived on the edge of chaos in our building. We lived under the territorial disputes that the mutant seagulls of the North Sea perpetuate without cessation. There was always noise. Here, in our little secluded suburb that is way too far from our workplaces for optimum quality of life, there are commonly moments when the most obtrusive intrusion is birdsong or, increasingly, buzzing bees. It is a change we relish.
Your Correspondent, He outstrips himself in succulence