Off in about an hour, to fly to a city and country I’ve never visited: Dublin, Ireland, for a small SF convention called P-Con. I’ve been to Northern Ireland, but never the Republic.
Dublin is famously a city of monuments, and I meant to brush up on my 20th-century Irish history so I could make sense of them all, but I was distracted by the discovery of the many fine nicknames given by the locals to their landmarks. There’s the statue of James Joyce known as the “Prick with the Stick”; the (now removed) “spirit of the River Liffey” sculpture called the “Floozy in the Jacuzzi”; the pair of bronze shoppers dubbed the “Hags with the Bags”; the sculpture of a well-endowed Molly Malone nicknamed the “Tart with the Cart,” the “Dolly with the Trolley,” the “Trollop with the Scollops,” and the “Dish with the Fish”; and—evidently inspiring in modern Dubliners a veritable frenzy of naming—the soaring, modern Dublin Spire known variously as the “Stiletto in the Ghetto,” the “Scud in the Mud,” the “Nail in the Pale,” the “Erection at the Intersection,” the “Rod to God,” the “Stiffy by the Liffey,” and, with magnificent restraint, the “Metropole.”
Naturally, a Wikipedia article called “Dublin statues and their nicknames” covers these artifacts and more. But in clicking hither and yon from there, I was most struck by another such page, which relates the tale of—
Brendan Behan (the self-confessed “drinker with writing problems”) who, when asked to define the difference between prose and poetry, is reported as saying:
“There was a young fellah named Rollocks
Who worked for Ferrier Pollocks.
As he walked on the Strand
With his girl by the hand
The tide came up to his knees.
Now that’s prose. If the tide had been in, it would have been poetry.”