Archive for April 8th, 2011

In today’s Guardian, several music critics write, sometimes very movingly, about the songs that can bring them to tears. It’s a subject most of us can relate to, including me. Many songs have made me cry over the years; I’ve cried to Nick Drake, Tim Buckley, the Velvet Underground, REM, Palace, Bonnie Prince Billy, Mazzy Star, Johnny Cash, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Kristin Hersh, and countless others – indeed, there are few artistes who haven’t made me bawl at some stage. But the ones that stick in my memory at the moment are the ones that got to me last year, just after an old friend who was just a few months older than me died very suddenly of what was either an aneurysm or a heart attack (the post mortem couldn’t reach a conclusion). Everyone who knew him was stunned by his death, which didn’t seem quite real, like all sudden deaths. A day or two after he died, I was trying and failing to work so I went for a walk in my local park, listening to Hot Chip’s then recently-released album One Life Stand. And less than a minute into the third song, I found myself crying.

A pulsating dance song doesn’t seem like the sort of thing to bring on sobs, but this song did. It was the lyrics, particularly this section: “Nothing is wasted, life is worth living…There is a day that is yours for embracing, everything’s nothing, nothing is ours…”

I think what set me off was the “nothing is wasted” line, the idea that even if someone is gone there was a point to them being here, that their lives weren’t wasted, that everything goes to nothingness in the end but that’s okay. Anyway, tears started trickling down my cheeks as I walked along, but I didn’t stop walking. As the synthy strings soared, I somehow felt uplifted as well as sad, as if all that was needed was just to keep marching along to the beat. The combination of the bittersweet lyrics and melancholy dance music was, it turned out, just what I needed.

It wasn’t the only song that made me cry around that time. The day after my friend died I was listening to Charlotte Gainsbourg’s IRM on the bus on my way in to meet fellow stunned and bereaved friends for a drink, and half the songs on it made me tear up. ‘In The End”s sweetly sad melody combined with the words “who’s to say it’s all for the best in the end?” had me turning away from the person sitting next to me so he wouldn’t see how red my eyes and nose were.

It says something about both those songs that when I was checking those Youtube links and listened to them again, they still both made me cry. And yet, in a weird way, like a lot of the songs that make you cry, they made me feel strangely better afterwards.

What about you? What songs bring you to tears?

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According to the UN Global Report on Women in Tourism the tourism sector, one of the most significant generators of wealth and employment globally, is also credited with providing valuable income-generation and career opportunities for women. In contrast with other sectors women are almost twice as likely hold positions as employers in tourism and the leadership possibilities span the whole spectrum of roles from hotel proprietors right up to government ministers; women hold one in five tourism ministries worldwide, more than in any other branch of government. However, despite this relatively high representation it should be pointed out in this context that 20% is still appalling and that our own Leo Varadkar is quite clearly a man.

The issue is that, despite this high level of involvement in tourism, the women working in this sector are all too often “concentrated in low-skill, low-paid and precarious jobs,” and typically earn “10% to 15% less than their male counterparts.” The jobs that women are most likely to perform tend to include cooking, cleaning and hospitality, states the report. While the UN focused specifically on the developing world, a quick glance at this key industry here in Ireland is disheartening. Fáilte Ireland Authority members and holders of key positions are overwhelmingly male as are the boards and senior management of both major airlines.

I’m not offering any specific criticisms of the way tourism is organised and represented in Ireland. To date we have done very well in attracting and satisfying our overseas visitors. I simply feel saddened yet again that here is another  important and potentially very dynamic sector that is skewed at the upper levels in favour of men. In the future tourism represents a mechanism of attracting overseas cash into the country, enhancing our natural resources to the benefit of visitors and residents alike and, perhaps most importantly of all, improving our tarnished reputation globally. I would like to see a few more women at the helm determining and implementing policy rather than simply serving up the full Irish breakfast.

Anyone any ideas or opinions as to why this is the case?

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