Archive for November 30th, 2010

“every day, every hour, every minute and every second, somewhere in the world, women – irrespective of race, colour or religion – are being subjected to violence and abuse”.

When I was just a child my father extended the hand of friendship to a woman he knew only slightly; a customer who regularly came into a shop he ran in Dublin. Suspecting that all was not entirely well he overcame his natural reticence and indicated to her that if she ever needed a friendly and sympathetic ear he would be willing to provide it.

Shortly afterwards, at 2am one morning, this woman arrived at our house with her three young children in tow. She had once again been beaten by her husband but now, for the first time, she had somewhere to turn. My parents asked no questions. They merely opened their home to this woman whose own family had disowned her for marrying a man who they believed was no good. Several of us vacated our beds and shared with our siblings to make room for these late night callers. The next morning they left with hardly a word but returned several times over the years until finally this woman mustered the courage to leave her abusive husband. What was extraordinary to me was the fact that this woman was a professional with a good income of her own and the financial if not emotional wherewithal to leave anytime she chose to. I have never forgotten her story.

We have probably all encountered the scourge of domestic violence, even if unwittingly. The veil of secrecy that still conceals this dysfunction in our society is to this day preventing women, and indeed many men, from seeking the help and support they so desperately need for themselves and their children. Today in the Irish Times Health Plus supplement I was given the opportunity to highlight some of the work being done by Women’s Aid and Avon here in Ireland and to specifically draw attention to an extraordinary poster exhibition taking place in the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield until December 10 2010. I’d be delighted if you followed the link and read my piece. For those interested in visiting the Lighthouse Cinema here is information on the poster exhibition, as compiled by Anthea McTeirnan in the Irish Times today.

“More than 400 posters highlighting the issue of violence against women, curated by former Garda Colm Dempsey, are on show at The Light House Cinema in Smithfield, Dublin. The exhibition is part of Women’s Aid “One in Five Women” 16 Days Campaign, which runs until December 10th.

Director of Women’s Aid, Margaret Martin, says the exhibition highlights the facts that “every day, every hour, every minute and every second, somewhere in the world, women – irrespective of race, colour or religion – are being subjected to violence and abuse”.

“In an era when we are overloaded with images, words and sounds, the powerful graphics in these posters can help us realise the enormity of living with someone who abuses you. For women who are experiencing abuse, they also reach out to show that help is available and they are not alone, that support is available.”

The free exhibition is open to the public and runs daily from 2pm-8pm. The Women’s Aid national freephone helpline is at 1800-341900. womensaid.ie

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Smoke Fairies are Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies, a British folk/blues duo who combine plucked guitars and harmonies to create lush, ethereal songs. Their critically acclaimed debut album, Through Low Light And Trees, was released earlier this year and produced by Jack White of the White Stripes. The band took their name from the summer mist that collects in the hedgerows of their native Sussex, and Jessica (above, right) answered our questionnaire ahead of their gig on Dublin’s Workman’s Club on December 7th.

What’s the first record you ever bought?

I had lots of records at home so I never really thought about buying any myself. I am very cheap so the first record I ever bought with my own money was a Take That single from the bargain bucket in Woolworths. I wanted to fit in with my friend’s Take That obsession but the 10p tape was as far as it ever got. I think I bought a compilation tape on the same day called Summer Dance Party too.

What’s your favourite smell?

Sweet Peas, warm sponges and the boiler room at primary school – I could never get enough of that smell and spent most of break time with my face up against the boiler room air vent.

Have you ever had a nickname?

I always wanted to be a cool kid with a cool nickname but no, sadly none have ever stuck. People used to shout ‘Donkey Girl’ at me out of car windows when I went out for walks because I always took my donkey Antoinette with me everywhere, but I never embraced it.

What is your favourite room in your house?

I have a room full of plants. Katherine went around and stuck eyes on them so they are all like little friends.

What are your guilty pleasures?

Naps in the afternoon and tinned food. Also, showers are better for the environment, but I do like long bath sometimes.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

When I go on ferries I like to dress up as a sailor.

Who is your closest female friend?

It would have to be Katherine from Smoke Fairies, I have known her since I was 11.

Do you have any tattoos or piercings?

No, I am indecisive so I would never be able to get one.

Where would you most like to live?

London is fun, but I have always thought it would be good to live in New York for a while. If not the city, then somewhere in the countryside with some land so that I can have a donkey and some sheep.

Who was your first kiss and where did it happen?

I am not going to go into any sordid stories like that.

What’s the most unusual question you’ve ever been asked?

How good is your knowledge of music? It is like asking how good is your knowledge of the world? Everyone is going to have a different understanding of it. It’s more of a stupid question than unusual.

What’s the best Christmas present you’ve ever received?

I just got given a new Hofner Guitar to substitute my old vintage one that I broke while I was on tour. I have never owned a new guitar and it is all shiny and perfect, but it won’t be long before it gets a few scratches in it.

What is your favourite word?

Right now all I can think of is: Tentacle.

Who was your first love?

Karen Carpenter and she still has a place in my heart.

If you weren’t doing what you do, what might you have become?

I would like to think I would have dedicated time to becoming something else creative, perhaps an illustrator, but there is still time.

Is there a book you’ve bought several times as a gift for someone?

No, but there are many albums I have repeatedly bought as gifts.

What happens after we die?

Your guess is as good as mine.

What female historical figure do you admire most?

There are thousands, so it is impossible to have just one. I like reading biographies of historical figures. I have just finished reading a biography of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire. She was one of the first women to be involved in British politics and had a great sense of style but she did have a few problems, mainly gambling. I think women like Rosa Parks, Amelia Erheart, Florence Nightingale were far braver though, to name just a few.

Sum yourself up in three words:

Stubborn, Sarcastic, Ridiculous

And finally… What are you anti? What are you pro?

Anti: smoking in public places

Pro: riding the bus

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