The Republic of Reason with Fergus Quinlan on Kinvara Community Radio 92.4

Welcome listeners, with that wonderful intro music; Spartacus by Khachaturian – I sail again into the second airing of – The Republic of Reason –  I am Fergus Quinlan.

This programme – The Republic of Reason: continues with my ongoing and evolving quest for truth and attempts to understand empathy or the lack of it between humans and towards our planet,

This programme we will look at;

  • Problems in our garden – Our little blue planet;
  • Escaping to sea
  • Why I play so much Classical music.
  • and of course some excellent music.


Climate change; We humans have an illusion of some privileged position on our oceanic planet, that we can do what we like, that we can keep burning the carbons, that we can fly anywhere, send and receive products to any part of the globe, that our race can keep expanding by 220,000 people per day… and yes we can, we can, this generation can eat, drink and party for tomorrow we die, it will not affect us, but it may well have bad consequences for our legacy.. our descendants

Very recently on RTE radio, there was a report on a new runway verses a new Airport in Dublin, this was followed by and burst of commercial / adds/ or is it propaganda ….to get easy money and buy a new car… followed by a dramatic report on the dire consequences of climate change and a moving speech by the wonderful Richard Attenborough. Was any connection made …. did any on radio link the three items …. Not a hope.

After Attenborough’s frightening talk, I listened for the reaction ….. the stock market reports …. Did they fall, not a smidgen. The driver of economics and controller of the social order is the market, and the market only concerns itself with the market. Maybe the only saving of the planet will be, if the market can make profits.

One thing that bugs me …well many things bug me …Electric cars, me thinks we are are constantly codded about electric cars, yes a big reduction in city pollution, however a whole new generation of new cars have to be manufactured a massive expenditure of carbon, and they still need power, and while  wind energy, wave energy, solar power are all definitely worthwhile pursuing – experimenting with, but can they really replace – coal, gas, oil, ?  when you work the energy requirement figures, they are not really adding up. The only one that works …will be the dreaded nuclear power!!!!

So no matter where we turn we are facing many dilemmas. Many think the planet is huge and can contain and absorb all our waste material, gases, and dirty water. But the good news is that more and more are questioning and acting….many of the young with more of a stake in the future are beginning to think.

Each of us relates to the world in a very self-centred way. While we depend on the earths resources— and interaction with our fellow humans for survival …that is generally not how most of us think.  While the products we use link us to our fellow humans who live and work in the far reaches of the world, in China, Bangladesh, everywhere. We generally as humans do not think of links….goods just arrive in a shops.

We relate to people in a series of expanding circles of dependency, our self, expanding out to family, relations, tribe, nation, and out to all humans of the world, with the strongest ties at the centre and weakest at the periphery. Our perceptions of time, also, are self-centred. We live in the here and now, our history and memories stretch back only a few generations, looking forward only as far as our grandchildren. We depend on exploitation of the planet for our survival, we relate in what and how we take from it and we certainly take more than we give or conserve. Programmed as we are for immediate existence, we do not engage with the long-term prospect.

The attempt to secure a sustainable future for ourselves and fellow species depends on our intellectual ability to break this mould, to learn lessons from the effects of our existence on the planet and to imagine our existence into the future. Biologists examining the life cycles of various species frequently observe that exponential expansion is often followed by extinction.

The Earth’s population is now over seven billion and growing at more than 220,000 net every day, the equivalent of a city of a million people every five days, all of whom need to be fed, housed and supplied with manufactured goods. Each new person requires an acre of cultivated land to provide the food for survival, an area that increases as living standards rise, the numbers of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry escalate in unison. The space under grain, corn, wheat and rice is expanding and so are yields, but the limits of expansion in both land and yields are being reached. At the same time there are accumulative problems with water, fertiliser and carbon fossil fuels, all essential for food production. Basically, we have an infinitely expanding population and demands for economic growth in contradiction with finite resources. Previously wild species-rich environments are shrinking to allow more cultivation.

Scientific America claims we are destroying over 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest and losing 135 species every day, that is 4000 football fields per hour, I find that very hard to believe…lets say that again – Scientific America claims we are destroying over 80,000 acres of tropical rainforest and losing 135 species every day, that is 4000 football fields per hour. Don’t believe me – look it up .

What a huge loss humanity will suffer if, we destroy something like the Amazon rainforest with its thousands of diverse species and only preserve disjointed bits in zoos and arboretums. The recent election of right-wing candid – Jair Bolsonaro indicates that things are about to get a whole lot worse for the Amazon.

Some contend that the Earth can only support two billion people on a sustainable basis. Others argue that advancing technology and slowing population growth may turn the tide. Population expansion occurs on two fronts – the actual growth in numbers and increasing longevity. The impact of expansion is not just in the numbers, but in the growth of consumption as living standards rise, this will have a particular impact in the high-population countries of India, China and others as they seek parity of wealth with the first world.

For example, private motor car ownership in China is 50 vehicles for every thousand people, (1000) while the world average is 120 and in the United States it is 740. If China were to achieve the same number of cars per head as the United States, the country would have to pave an area equal to the land it now plants in rice and would need 99 million barrels of oil a day. The entire world currently produces 89 million barrels per day and may never produce much more.

Reproduction, our second most powerful instinct, is regarded as a world apart from economics or the environment, an untouchable facet of our being. But the gene that drives reproduction is blind; it has a selfish, laissez-faire attitude, its only slogan is ‘the more survival machines (humans) the merrier’. It does not see or care where it is going. The only reason for production and economics is to supply the necessary food and energy for the survival of these human replicators. The present competitive, market mechanisms of industrial production are the same as that of the gene. Both are driven by inherent and similar blind forces, their motivation is growth, neither recognise the limitations of expansion and the finite resources of our planet. Only by the application of science and a philosophical approach to controlling the instincts of the gene can humans exert control over their fertility. Likewise it is only through science and a philosophy of sustainability can humans exert control over production and economics. Thankfully, some of the gene’s more rational survival machines, are attempting to do just that. The inherent blindness of reproduction and present-day economics are capable of being rolled back by logic and advancing technology. Politically this requires groups of people that can agree on a clear agenda for survival, who can influence and change the political and economic structures.

For example, a broad-based movement gaining ground in the USA – Defining a transformative Green New Deal (NOT MY WORDS) and I quote

The Green New Deal, as a tool to address climate change and economic insecurity, could be transformative in many ways or it could reinforce current systems. Our political system is inclined towards programs that do the latter, so it is critical that the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice and peace is clear about what we mean by a Green New Deal.

At the heart of the issue is capitalism, a root cause of many of the crises we face today. Capitalism drives growth at all costs including exploitation of people and the planet. It drives competition and individualism instead of cooperation and community. It requires militarism as the strong arm for corporations to pillage other countries for their resources and militarised police to suppress dissent at home.

Capitalism was in crisis in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when, like today, there was great inequality and a political system that catered to the wealthy. Progressive, populist, labour and socialist movements were pressing for significant changes. This came to a head in the depression when tens of thousands of Bonus Marchers occupied Washington DC during the summer of the 1932 presidential election demanding their bonus pay from World War I. The newly-elected President Roosevelt was forced to act, so he put reforms in place called the New Deal.

While the New Deal brought relief to many people through banking reform, Social Security, jobs programs and greater rights for workers, it was not transformative. Some argue that the New Deal was essential to save capitalism. It relieved suffering enough that dissent quieted but left the capitalist economic system intact. In the decades since the New Deal, monopolisation, inequality, and exploitation have again increased with the added crises of climate change and environmental destruction.

This time around, we need a broad Green New Deal that changes the system so there is greater public ownership and democratisation of the economy. It can also be used to address theft of wealth from Indigenous, black and brown communities. And it can set us on a path to end US imperialism in the least harmful manner. END QUOTE.  So hopefully some progressive shifts are underway.


And here is some who was trying to cry halt to this madness some time ago Go Joni Go—— minutes 2.15

MUSIC- what music can one play after that —yes of course; Joni Mitchel ‘They paved paradise’


While natural selection still applies in the wild, it does not apply in domestic species and plants. These are refashioned to be more useful to us through selective breeding and genetic engineering. Evolution, as it once applied to humans at the raw level of prey verses predator, whilst still proceeding under the rules of sexual selection, has also been usurped by science and medicine. Humanity and its domestic dependants have become a distinct group, separate from the wider wild world, all under the erratic human intellect.

Farming in Ireland is now supported by substantial subsidies; these can be up to 80% on beef farms in many cases the subsidy exceeds the market income. The Irish State and the European Community maintain these subsidies for social, political and strategic reasons that stretch back to food shortages during the war. It ensures a steady supply of cheap food and provides the authorities with some leverage to encourage sustainable land use, water quality and habitat management. It is interesting that while the farming community at present might be regarded or regard themselves as a bastion of conservative social and economic values, they are in fact involved in a vast taxpayer-funded social enterprise to maintain a life-style with some environmental considerations.

There is growing pressure by free marketeers to remove all such supports allowing the amalgamation of farms to a more viable size through commercial pressure.  A move that would also encourage deregulation and a more laisse fare approach to the environment. Either way, pressure will continue to expand the size of farms, for thousands of cattle in conveyor-fed rows, supplied by mile-long fodder fields, such industrial farms without ditch or hedge are more viable. That of course depends on the environment – not been taken into consideration.

Another issue is the concentration of stock makes the herd more susceptible to a disease requiring intensification of monitoring and antibiotic inoculations which creep into the food chain. Their waste, both on pasture or in wintering sheds, can result in severe problems with groundwater. The world’s 1.5 billion cattle are responsible for up to 18 per cent of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change, more than cars, aircraft and all other forms of transport. Their stomach gasses and manure emit more than one third of emissions of methane gas, which has an affect 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide. ( I did not have time to read and comment on to-days report on meat eating in the Lancet magazine- wow… that sounds like a bit of a hit)

Biologically one cannot extract nutrition from grassland at present intensities without intensive fertilisation.  Despite these problems and the fact that we are stretching the limits of production, the world continues to produce enough food to feed its people for many years. However, the gap between food production and consumption by its seven billion consumers is becoming smaller and more fragile. While we can produce the quantity required, we do not have an equality of distribution, for as with the potato famine in Ireland, many countries whose people suffer from hunger and malnutrition, export food. Food and nutrition are not perceived as a right, but as a free-market commodity. Food is a political and economic question.

Globalisation and the neoliberal agenda allow that the entire Earth to be exploited with all its resources of land, forests, hunting and fishing grounds. All that matters objectively to investors are crop, stock and fodder. All else is pest, – whether it be bird, plant or parasite – to be controlled by gun, machine or pesticide and this intensifies as we move from small holding to industrial farming.

Conservationists act to hold back the relentless tide of arable land expansion and preserve wilderness, a position difficult to defend coherently while poverty and hunger are sold as alternatives. How can one attempt to stop desperate farmers from burning rainforest and creating arable land, which is precisely what we the inhabitants of Western Europe and Ireland did?.  Only a coordinated international response, offering paid guardianship of the forests to the farmers would work, but in a world of competition and corporate interests, co-ordinated international responses are not easy to come by.

Let’s look at China for a moment;  when the government saw that the population was rising faster than resources they made a large-scale intervention  with the regulation of family size. Couples were encouraged by cash, housing incentives and penalties to comply with the ‘one family – one child’ policy. Its implementation had anomalies, it not apply in Tibet or to some ethnic minorities, in rural areas it allowed another child if the first was female. Despite its many problems the majority of people in China support the policy. Its contribution to population reduction to-date is in the order of 350 million, which is more than the population of the United States.

However, with the policy in operation, the population still grew over the period, doubling from circa .65 to 1.38 billion. This was due to the increase in average lifespan which had risen from 44 to 75 years since the revolution. The policy had unintended consequences such as a preponderance of 120 males to 100 females, for despite being illegal, there is or was a higher abortion rate on girls, a tendency that may self-correct, for a daughter has now a higher chance of finding a partner and is a better bet for ensuring the continuation of the family genes. Another consequence of the policy is that parents with one child concentrate their resources into his or her education and many of these children go on to reach third level. When these children in turn form a family, they are allowed two children and having been high achievers themselves, will insist on similar for their own children, leading to accelerated educational gains throughout the state.

The policy is now being relaxed, as the increased level of wealth and education, particularly of women, is now the main element that regulates family size. A paradox  for the environment is that as income and educational growth are determining factors in slowing the population growth, they will be the same factors that increase consumption. For example, the dwelling space for each inhabitant in China has grown almost three-fold over the period. Looking at the problem through climatic rather than humanist eyes, it is a win some, lose some situation. If the vast populations of the north Pacific Rim reach the standards of education required to reduce population growth, they will seek a standard of living familiar in the west and prolong their longevity, thus increasing the demands on resources and climate. This is the first time such numbers will combine the dual pressures of population and economic growth. Humanity is caught in ‘the red queen effect’. The faster we run, the faster we need to run, just to stand still. The developed countries of Europe and the United States where conspicuous consumerism is rampant, are in no position to lecture against other people attempting to achieve similar standards of living. One way or another by the end of this century ten billion people are expected to live on the planet.

Lessons for humanity may be found where the remnants of once-magnificent civilisations lie, with cities crumbling back into the dust. The poet Shelley in his Ozymandias tells of a once proud and splendid settlement fit for a king of kings, who proclaimed his great and everlasting works: Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” But now, nothing beside remains: round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and level sands stretch far away. Who, we might ask, in their right minds would have built a city here? What could possibly have brought people to settle on such a desert location?

But imagine a time of a green and bountiful forest, populated by game and fowl and watered by bubbling spring and brook – a paradise, perfect for settlement. A clearance is made and the timber is used for construction and fuel. The game is hunted and the bountiful land is cleared for farming, life is good. The city, its people and its rulers grow in power and stature. Every day however, the trek to get timber from the forest increases; every day the game gets a little scarcer; every day the tilled soil gets a little more depleted. The rains, which were held in the sponge that was the forest and shielded from evaporation by the dense vegetation, now evaporate quickly in the thin soil which starts to blow away.

As prosperity crumbles, the once powerful army, fed on a plentiful surplus, now succumbs to poverty and like the city, capitulates before any predatory force. The once bountiful and fragile land blows into desert dunes, awaiting the return of a wetter cooler climate to re-establish a delicate foothold. This scenario is, best captured in Jared Diamond’s book ‘Collapse’. The book describes various civilisations, such as the Fertile Crescent formerly Mesopotamia now part of Iraq, a foundation of civilisation, once a paradise of wooded valleys, abundant water, game, grazing and with sufficient resources to build a great civilisation. But relentlessly the forests were cut down, the land over grazed and the waters squandered. Some environmentalists would argue that the militarised states of the Greek and Roman civilisations required huge timber, agricultural, water and fishing resources to maintain their cities and were destroyed, not just by the fortunes of war and ambitious over-stretched armies, but by depleted land and ravaged forest.  Has any such human destruction ever come to our land… no further than a few mile to the west and see the Burren.

Imagine a time of a green and bountiful forest, populated by game and fowl and watered by bubbling spring – a paradise, perfect for settlement. A clearance is made and the timber is used for construction and fuel. The game is hunted and the bountiful land is cleared for farming, life is good. The sea is close for shell and swimming fish.  Every day however, the trek to get timber from the forest increases; every day the game gets a little scarcer; every day the tilled soil gets a little more depleted. The rains, which were held in the sponge that was the forest and shielded by the vegetation from movement, now wash down into the valleys below. Thus, the life and people who lived on the hills follow the soil to the valley. The only direction that one can look in the Burren that is not the result of human interference, is to stand on its seaward cliffs and look out to sea.

Speaking of the sea is a good time to lighten the tone of this programme and take ourselves out to sea…. a need for a spiritual enrichment, a contemplative mindfulness that leads my wife and I out into the restless waters of the Atlantic, and beyond.

The modern jet powered air liner is no doubt a miracle of science and engineering, epitomising the genius of our species in defying gravity and by cruising at 480 knots, it shrinks the planet.  Many have suggested to us sailors that it just might be a better way to get around.  It can cover over 11,000 Nautical miles in 24 hours; we get excited on our sailing boat Pylades if we can cover 150 Nautical miles in the same period.

But for some obtuse reason a small body of our species, chose to engage with this very contrary method of travel. We go to sea in small boats, an activity we carry out in a rather reclusive fashion.  Our best goals are scored, unobserved, far offshore, in darkness reefing sails and riding some squall ripped sea.  Our best points are scored arriving in a marina with half a gale blowing, cross currents, no one in sight surrounded by shinny brand new show boats and you think that maybe your insurance has run out.

Leaving the protection of Parkmore Kinvara and beating 22 miles out to the Aran Islands from these eastern reaches of Galway Bay against a stiff head wind, and is always seems to be a stiff head wind can consume about 7 hours of one’s life. But sure, as you slide past Straw Island light in a soggy state the thoughts of the first pint in Tig Joe Mac, warms the very inner self and so it comes to pass that as the pints kick in, the dreamer within us emerges, a longing for out of the way places, the talk, becomes, big talk, the impossible becomes possible.  The plans and the horizons expand.

Thus, time unfolds, and we find ourselves far far out on the back of a vast surging ocean entering a dream world, a dream world of boundless horizons. In daylight we scan the sky for those the elusive, small, white puffy clouds that might indicate the trades.  At night we are transfixed with the shifting rhythms that play on sea and sail, our furrowing of the deep disturbs a billion luminescent swimmers…. who stream away from the stern in sheets of fading phosphorescence?

Through brilliant star fields we stare out to the far constellation of Andromeda, back through two and a half million years of time, thinking deep and no doubt, very profound thoughts.  We can then see not just us but the earth itself as a very small stage, a lonely speck in this vast cosmic arena. Debris hurtles in from the ether streaking green across the night sky, the flash of a falling star.

On gale filled nights when all is obscured by dark low scudding rack.  Visibility is slashed by sheets of rain, we can barely see the glow of our own masthead light and we doubt very much if anybody else can.

Squall lines which show their presence by day can now sneak up on us undetected, laying us over in spray furies while we skirmish with reefing lines.  Frustration visits when confused seas overcome a failing wind throwing the rig and slating sails with a ghastly, rolling, twisting motion.   This is all part of how we travel.

Time is counted by the waxing and waning of the moon, the passing of fronts, the occasional sighting of a ships lantern.  But most of all by coming and going of our own giant nuclear furnace the sun, oft in blazing colour and the odd green flash as the slow spinning sphere creates its measure of day and its own shadow of night.

The rhythm of the voyage rolls on in splendour like a Beethoven symphony for days and indeed weeks.  Then a faint flashing light or smudge becomes apparent on the horizon and despite all our new found gadgetry and surety with navigation a call of the watch might well be raised as it has been for generations, LAND AHOY!.   And so whither that land be our own Fair Isle or ones first south sea island of French Polynesia, our hearts race with exhilaration and anticipation.

But still, we search our minds for the meaning of it all.  What is the climax?  Is it the planning?  Is it the beginning?  Is it the arrival?  Is it the sailing or is it the voyage itself? But whichever it is, deep within our being….. We know ….WHY we travel ….THUS.

Why is there romance in – and why does my heart pound at the words, the Hebrides this brings me back to one of my first adventures into the – The Sea of The Hebrides.

Music; Fingal cave and the Sea of the Hebrides.        3.47min

That was Felix Mendelssohn’s ‘The Hebrides’ written after his visit there in 1829 he captured the wild and sombre atmosphere of the sea in a musical landscape.


How can we get action on climate change? Scientists are screaming from the rooftops that climate change isn’t just a bit of warming and some storms. There has to be an alignment if interests between the forces that drive production, the mass of people and the environment.

People who dwell in cities lose knowledge of food production realities, their perception is that goods and food just arrive in supermarket shelves. This results in a diminished responsibility for any damaging interaction between food production and the natural world. There are no famines in this world of plenty; cost is the only criteria with copious consumption driven by blanket marketing. The cities, worldwide, united by logos and brands become indistinguishable, blending into a superglobal organism. There are no divisions in the world of consumption, no nationalism, no sectarianism, no racism, no sexism. This is a dichotomy for a while the philosophical interests of capital does everything to maintain its power with divisions and diversions, its commercial agenda wishes for the United consumer. There are of course sections of the so-called third world where there is little to consume and where people dream of our western abundance.

Despite humanity’s record on the environment, we can be intelligent social mammals with the potential to negate our impact. A need for regulation might be boosted by a growing realisation that there may not be any choice.

The macro problem can only be tackled on an international basis and as solutions impinge on the dominant force – capital. Humanity do not have any effective worldwide organisation to regulate such a powerful force, the UN has been bought off by capital.  But never the less worldwide international forums are now more than ever required – just at a time when they are most under threat, the EU, the UN and in the Americas, But until these conglomerates are philosophically committed to serving the interests of the people. It will not happen until we the people force an alignment of interests between government and people. This, of course, entails an extension of democracy over economics, in the race that pits demands for reform and regulation against the destruction wrought by CAPITAL,— capital is winning hands down.

We now throw vast quantities of carbon dioxide, previously buried, back into the atmosphere at speeds faster than can be absorbed by nature. If any industrial power agreed to reduce its use of this energy, it would give a trading advantage to its rivals. Any governments trying to mitigate carbon use, by the introduction of carbon taxes, face a hostile reception from an electorate whose short term standard of living would fall, they would be voted out of office by parties promising the abolition of such taxes and lower fuel prices. The media which is instrumental in any electoral process is owned and controlled by the very forces that require to be contained. The issue will be and is clouded with obscuring data.

Selling of short-term gains for political advantage is a major impediment to progress on that front. Perhaps a more dictatorial approach issuing top-down decrees might achieve more, but historically such regimes have always aligned on the side of capital, with the top echelons benefiting from even greater levels of exploitation. International attempts to get agreements are constantly thwarted by corporate lobbying or avoidance. Once a regulation is in place, be it a tax or environmental law, the first incentive of the corporate board, its legal and economic advisors, is how to mitigate or circumvent that law. This will continue until catastrophic climate events or an army of angry environmentalists bang so loudly on the door that they can no longer be ignored.

Green energy solutions offer many false dawns. Images of giant wind turbines on a beautiful mountain landscape promising a clean bright future can be deceitful.  While all alternative energy sources must be fully explored, it should be ensured that any cost-benefit analysis includes: the carbon cost of manufacture; transport and erection; reduction of visual and habitat amenity; down time for maintenance; percentage time of windless conditions with back-up power plant. life and replacement time of the installation; removal of all plant, recycling, and reinstatement of the site. It is essential that any government authority ensures that the operator is bonded to cover the removal of installations and the reinstatement of the site in the case of liquidation. Most cases of ‘alternative energy’ looked at to-date fail on many of these counts.

While events at Chernobyl do not engender any great affection or complacency but nuclear power is still an option. France with over 90% of its electricity emanating from nuclear or hydropower claims energy independence. It has fairly lowcost electricity with an extremely low level of CO2 emissions per capita. The message is that, as yet, there are no miracle, alternative energy systems. Energy optimists predict a major technological break-through in power generation and they may be right. One must be aware of the following statements of W. Thompson, first Lord Kelvin, an eminent man of letters and science. He declared the following facts to be true:, ‘the world is far too young to have allowed for evolution, radio has no future, x-rays are a hoax and heavier than air flying machines will never be possible’. Perhaps new technologies of nuclear fission and hydrogen-fuelled engines are around the corner, and that humanity’s ingenuity will triumph and discover everlasting clean energy.

Energy saving is an easier route to travel and good progress is being made. Engines of all kinds have become far more efficient and the insulation of buildings against heat loss has improved dramatically. We might even overcome our fear of the dark and our need to light every street and motorway.  but we are again at the ‘red queen effect’. The faster innovation and efficiency rises, the more population and economic growth negate our efforts.

Perhaps one can be overly pessimistic, but the growth of consumption and the concentration of wealth can lead to startling conclusions. The top ten per cent who own and control the vast bulk of wealth have the most power and influence. They are the forces directing and gaining the most from production, consumption and expansion, but will suffer the least from environmental degradation. The rich and poor will not suffer equally, for the wealthy have the resources to relocate where the impact is least and will continue to afford the benefits of energy long after it becomes unaffordable by the majority.

To tackle global problems, a global unity is required. Science-fiction writers were correct when they implied that mankind would unite against an external threat such as an invasion of aliens from space. But the enemy is already here, knocking loudly on the door and so far the sound is being drowned by the clamour of the individual, national and corporate self-interest and hymns of delusion. The enemy at the door is a troika of population growth, resource depletion and climate change.


Speaking of climate change and grim reapers knocking at the door  None sounds better than the first movement with the Fate knocking at the door, Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony…… 2.15 min


I have been often asked why do I almost exclusively play and listen to classical music; Having been privileged to spend three years studying architecture in the Cork School of Art at that time I lived at home in Cork,  the final two years were in Dublin. I and many other rented a flat in 12 North Gt. Georges street, I think for about £4.00 a week…it may have gone up since—- There were three of us lads sharing one flat with fabulous big windows overlooking the street., there was no TV, but there was a record player,  I had no music, but one of my fellow students had a collection of Tom Jones, and the other had a collection of classical records.

I quickly grew to hate Tom Jones – not personally you understand- but his music with a passion. But I became totally and irrevocably smitten by the world of classical music. It was 1969 and  to this day I remain grateful for that to the boundless world of joy and imagination…… However, it did leave me with unfortunate inability to tolerate ..most of commercial pop. I became a cranky musical snob…. It has had interesting consequences in that over the years as people dumped their LP record collections …they bequeath them to me, and I now have a nice little collection. I have a reasonable manual vinyl player and when working – writing or other – I listen a great deal to these amazing spinning repositories of music, they also force me to get off my ass every 20 minutes or so – to turn the LP, what strenuous exercise. Well it all helps. Also, when children call, that is anyone under 45 they are amazed at these large vinyl discs spinning about making noise, somehow their clicks and scratches enhance the memories. There are my lifeline to the great art of fine music, this most wonderful creation of humanity.

Back to sailing for a moment; during our circumnavigation on our way to the Panama Canal, we anchored in Cartagena. On the evening before we left that glorious city, we went to the main square in front of the Cathedral, as dusk fell, thousands had gathered to join a full choir and orchestra for a magnificent tearful concert. – we will play out with — Mozart Requiem;

Mozart Requiem