WASPS , BUTTERFLIES AND NOLAN, IN WINTER

autumn-in-ireland

There’s an oddness about it….

First off I saw a wasp landing on a leaf in the garden. That’s not so strange except that we are now a few days into November and the wasps are usually long -gone by the end of September . Nobody told the bees either because here they are pulling in pollen with about eight or nine weeks to Christmas. That was strange enough, although I’m glad to see that all the remaining six hives seem to be working healthily. I’d prefer that they settled down soon and stopped using up that precious  winter- fuel when the frosts could strike at any moment .Then  later,  I was walking by the river and most of the tawny, crackling , once-green  leaves  are already carpeting the ground , but there resting in a ray of sunshine , its wings spread to soak up this uncommon heat, like small solar panels,  was a butterfly. I’m no expert but it looked like a Red Admiral. It struck me as a curious sight at this time of year ….like seeing frogspawn in Winter.

So that’s at least two strange things to think about this week. There’s another thing I learned this week too, unexpectedly. For reasons unknown to me at present, it  ticked and tickled that little box which contains quiet absurdities or unexpected revelations.Stephen Nolan, the broadcaster,  came out on the radio a few days ago. Now I like to think that a day isn’t purposeless if I learn something novel and new within that twenty-four hour span. Before you jump to a conclusion, let me add that I don’t mean that Mr Nolan is gay, although that could be a possibility . I had no notion that film-star Richard Chamberlain was gay for many years , for example and my life-path didn’t alter in any way. When I found out casually , it didn’t really make much difference to my life .Nobody fell into a black -hole..Nobody died , although there may have been a few confused lady “Doctor Kildare” or “the Thornbirds” fans, left crying in a corner at the loss to female-kind.

No….what i mean is that Mr Nolan came out as an atheist.You might say ,” So what?”….. and actually that’s the proper response, but his honesty in a religion-obsessed place like Norneverland was very refreshing. As you  might know , I’m not a great fan of his  shock-jock style of show but being a local political forum there is always the temptation to listen-in.I always preferred Gerry Anderson’s surreal and creative approach to radio though.Unfortunately Gerry has recently left the world of radio and the planet,  his wry, knowing humour, doubtless much- missed, and himself irreplaceable.

Mr Nolan’s atheism and disbelief in a god came up in a discussion about Halloween, ghosts and  whether he believed in anything otherworldly  or supernatural .He said he was so sceptical about anything he  couldn’t “see” that he could find no reason for  belief in a god. He thought it was all made up, basically .On this at least I would be on the same page. I don’t mean that I would want to shove my idea of atheism down anyone’s throat , but I do think that in a place like Norneverland , we really do need a neutral voice between the extremes and interpretations  of Christian belief , that the two tribes here tend to  supposedly bind themselves around.As we become even more multi-cultural and multi-religious, it is no bad thing that there is is someone with a point of view outside of all those beliefs to act as a sort of  general “ringmaster”. Of course , you don’t have to “see” ghosts and goblins to believe in them anyway. All you need is a faith in their existence, so if anyone wants to believe , they’ll always find a way to do so. There are plenty of people who “believe” they have “seen” extra -terrestrials after-all, even though they can’t prove it.Anyway, this being Norneverland, it’ll not be long before someone asks him whether or not he’s a Catholic or a Protestant atheist……

So that was something new for me. I suppose i didn’t really expect it and found it refreshing. The  odd thing is that now that Halloween’s ghosts and ghoulies have been chased to the skies by the rackety fireworks, we will be on full assault mode for the coming Christmas bacchanal.I believe they are already putting up lights in town in readyness for the event. It goes without saying that this Christian festival is Mr Nolan’s absolutely favourite time of the year.He has  mentioned that fact often .It has probably very little to do with the Christ of Christian belief, given that he doesn’t believe , and more to do with the even more ancient winter celebrations that Christmas trees , Santa Claus and all that gift-giving has been relatively recently welded on to.  I know , it’s a bittersweet conundrum that an atheist would think like that …but there you go. We’re all a bit like that.There’s nought as strange as folks….as the old saying goes!

I was thinking also about the out -of- season , sunbathing butterfly, and thinking that within twenty four hours it would have completely lived out its life-cycle  on planet earth and be gone forever.For the believers, I suppose it would be on some heavenly ghostly- plane with the millions of its pre-deceased relatives,  but  for the likes of Mr Nolan and myself, it would be subsumed into  the soil beneath it ,or have entered the food chain as a mid-afternoon snack for some passing robin, awaiting Christmas .

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