Archive for March 14th, 2011

The Trinity College Book Sale is not for the faint-hearted. For three frantic days every year, book lovers and book sellers descend on the college’s Exam Hall to snap up some of the thousands of second-hand books, from recent paperbacks to 1950s household manuals,  that fill the usually airy room.

If you ever see a copy of this, let me know. Seriously!

It always opens on a Thursday night, which is when the hardcore devotees and the serious book dealers get there to snap up the rarest and most valuable titles, rendering the event more like a rugby scrum than a sedate second-hand book sale. By Friday, things are generally slightly calmer, by which I mean you don’t have to be six-foot tall and built like Ronan O’Gara to shove your way through the crowds around each long table and catch a glimpse of some books.

Despite the crazed crowds, I love the Book Sale. I’ve been going every year since I was a student, and I’ve never left it without my arms full of incredibly cheap gems (seriously, most books cost about a euro at most). And every year I find myself looking out for certain titles and certain authors. There are a few writers whose names I look out for every single time I scan a shelf or pile of second-hand books, whether in a posh London bookshop or a jumble sale. They’re the authors I love whose books are out of print, and when I see one of their titles that I don’t already own I have been known to leap across a table to grab it. I can never pass a Biography section without hoping to find Noel Streatfeild’s Away from the Vicarage, the second volume of her autobiographical trilogy (I already have the first and the third installments), and when looking through fiction from the 1940s and ’50s I always look out for her now very hard-to-find adult novels. I always rush to the Children’s section hoping to find anything by Antonia Forest, whose complex children’s books, all but one of which have been out of print since the ’80s apart from a few limited edition reprints, go for vast sums online. I scour the Humour section hoping to find some volumes of Arthur Marshall’s hilarious literary criticism, or some of the few collections of Ronald Searle cartoons that I don’t already own. And for a very long time I was always on the look out for all three of Dodie Smith’s memoirs (like Streatfeild, she also wrote a three-part autobiography in the ’60s – there must have been something in the air), which I had got from the library and adored as a teenager, until my parents and sister very kindly got me two of them for Christmas last year.

Every book sale or second-hand stall raises my hopes of finding these treasures, and I always feel a tang of disappointment when I leave the exam hall yet again without a copy of Antonia Forest’s Peter’s Room or one of Streatfeild’s ’40s romances.  And yet I have to admit that the day I complete my Forest collection or finally have my own copy of every E. Nesbit book might feel, well, a little flat. Because without that hope of finding the treasures I’ve been seeking for so long, maybe the Trinity book sale will just be a musty-smelling, over-crowded room full of pointless paperbacks. Or maybe, just maybe, it could be the place where I randomly discover a new author who becomes my next obsession. Where there are books, there is always hope…

So what about you? What authors do you always look out for in second-hand shops?

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Veronica Walsh asks if Irish current affairs media programs discriminate against women

So, we know there is a gender imbalance across Irish society. And it was brought home to us in screaming technicolour last week when Joan Burton was publicly humiliated and passed over for the cabinet finance brief that many believe was hers by right. Which got us all thinking and talking… though it’s dying down as an issue now, and we’ll go back to acceptance and same old same old. Before we do – I’d like to share a little exchange that Sara Burke had with Eamon Dunphy on Dunphy’s Sunday morning current affairs show yesterday.

The panel that morning was made up of Eamon, Philip O’Connor, Alan Dukes, Emmet Oliver, and the lone woman Sara Burke. although I suppose we were lucky to have even her, as it is not unheard of for this show not to feature even one woman on the panel. I’ll set the scene…. some way into the show the conversation turns to the pieces by Diarmaid Ferriter, Mick Clifford and Shane Ross in the Sunday newspapers – all suggesting that Burton was shafted. Eamon agrees and says it appears to be discriminatory – and Sara says she is ‘incensed’ at it etc – only Alan Dukes dismisses it as nonsense (quelle surprise! Oh what is it about him that makes me speak French?!). So, okay, grand… chat chat chat, blah blah blah…. THEN, after Eamon declares that “such discrimination weakens our democracy”, Sara puts it up to him that he himself discriminates against women and only features occasional ‘token women’ on his show. Good woman yourself, Sara!

So, what did he say? Um. I’m not sure. Here’s the exchange verbatim:

Sara Burke: “Eamon, the issue of gender equality isn’t confined to Dáil Éireann, it’s across society, it’s in this studio…”

Eamon Dunphy: “Let me tell you Sara, I go… and have done as a journalist… to inordinate lengths in the teams that I construct as a radio… ‘cause I’m the boss, I run the thing, I’m the editor of the program…  in terms of getting guests, in terms of getting people and promoting women, eh, it is a problem when you go…”

Sara interrupts: “there’s often weeks when there’s no women on your panel and…”

Dunphy cuts her off: “There are weeks when, well, I’ll tell you why…”

Sara cuts him off: “There’s often just the token one, as I am today…”

Dunphy answers: “No, no you’re not. I’ll tell you why… that is… and I’ll be unequivocal about it, the qualification for being in this radio studio on a Sunday morning with me is intelligence. And honesty, probity. I won’t have spoofers, I won’t have token people, and I won’t have spinners in the studio. And in all the times. we’ve got 52 and a half percent more listeners than we had when we started because of that principal, and I think it should apply everywhere… no tokenism at all! We’ll take an ad-break now, and we’ll come back and talk some more….”

(to listen back go here – 31 minutes in….)

The programme returned from an ad break, and he read out a couple of texts then moved on to talk about something else, abandoning the discussion.

But I’d like us to look at it again. Do we agree with Sara? Why do we accept that this is just how it is? What do we think of Dunphy’s reply? What’s he on about? It’s a pity he didn’t expand on his “it is a problem when you go….”. It’s a shame he never addressed the main question of why he appears to discriminate against women on his panel, instead waffling into a defence of his show against the idea he’d allow tokenism, and then escaping to a break and a change of subject.

l searched for data on the panels for the last few months from the programme’s twitter timeline at @thedunphyshow, and lay it out starkly (see list below). There was no woman last week. There was no woman on the double election special panels the week before. In the preceding weeks there was either no woman or one woman on a panel of four men.

So what do you think? Discrimination? Is it any better on other prime time current affairs shows on radio and TV? Is it time we said enough is enough, and demanded some kind of gender balance be applied in the media pundit world?

(Hey! You media producer people struggling to ‘promote women’ as Eamo put it, check out Margaret E. Ward’s list of potential female contributors to Irish media right here🙂

Veronica Walsh is the organiser of the Dublin Current Affairs Group & MD of www.CBTandFeelingGood.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @VCurrentAffairs.


March 13th: Joining Eamon on the panel today are : Alan Dukes, Emmet Oliver, Sara Burke and Philip O’ Connor.

March 6th: Joining Eamon on the panel today are Dan O’ Brien, Constantin Gurdgiev, Shane Ross and Ed Molloy.

February 27th: Joining Eamon on the panle form 11-1 are Pat Leahy, Eddie Hobbs, Cormac Lucey and Ger Colleran. The Political panel up first on The Dunphy Show: Pat Rabbitte, Leo Varadker, Shane Ross and Psephologist Adrian Kavanagh.

February 20th: Joining Eamon on the panel today: Donal Donovan, Constantin Gurdgiev, Dearbhail McDonald and John Waters.

February 13th: Joining Eamon on the panel today are Sean Kelly, David Humphreys, Chris Luke and John Allen.

February 6th: Joining Eamon on the panel today is Alistair Campbell, Cormac Lucey, Jim Power and Noirin Hegarty.

January 30th: Joining Eamon on the panel this morning are Eamon Ryan, Orla Tinsley, Constantin Gurdgiev and Pearse Doherty.

January 23rd: Joining Eamon on the panel this morning are Damien Kiberd, Pat Leahy, Siobhan O’Connell and Senator Shane Ross.

January 16th: Joining Eamon on the panel this morning are Jill Kerby, Dearbhail McDonald, Ger Colleran and Brian Lucey.

January 19th: Sunday panel: James Reilly FG, Paul Somerville Markets Analyst, Pat Leahy, Lindsey Earner Byrne UCD.

Got the picture? Good. Mail your complaints to: thedunphyshow@newstalk.ie

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Himself and Herself

Amazing what you can come across in the children’s section of Dubray Books while innocently browsing for a small girl’s birthday party present. My luck was in on Saturday with this Dress Up Dolly book, starring Kate Middleton in a vest-and-pants combo not dissimilar to what you once saw on the back of Bunty. Her husband-to-be is depicted displaying a common form of patriotism, namely modelling his underpants on his national flag. He’s also got on shoes which are about twice the length of his face.

I’m surprised there’s any market for happy pair dolls this side of the Irish Sea. I certainly haven’t seen any mugs, teatowels or commemorative porcelain statuettes for the buying – but perhaps there really are children just slavering to get their hands on this lavish production. I haven’t seen the itinerary for the Royal visit in May, either – I don’t suppose anyone will. I wonder how alarmed the Queen would be if we were to wave her through the streets of Dublin with cutout dolls of her number one grandson in his underpants? I can’t quite see a smile creasing her lips.
Any Royal gear in your local shop?

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