GLOSSIP: Yeats’ Birthday & Pregnancy in Tokyo

In this week’s GLOSSIP: INTELLIGENT GOSSIP you won’t hear anywhere else… CASHMERE CARDIGANS as uniforms, YEATS’ BIRTHDAY in New York and Tokyo’s PREGNANCY PROTOCOLS

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1. It seems as if everyone has either gone or is about to go on holiday. For those who are stuck at their desks, there is solace to be derived from a letter sent by PHILIP LARKIN to BARBARA PYM, from his 1971 holiday with his mother at the Duke’s Head in Kings Lynn. Larkin wrote: “I have a theory that “holidays” evolved from the medieval pilgrimage, and are essentially a kind of penance for being so happy and comfortable in one’s daily life …”

2. We’ve always thought it cruel in the extreme that the Back To School advertisements start running before the primary schools have even broken up for the summer. But at one fashionable West London prep school, the debate about uniform changes due to be implemented in September has been raging for months. A group of mothers is seeking to introduce custom-made navy cashmere cardigans to replace scratchy old wool, and there is fierce debate among parents. At the same school, parents are lobbying for an increase in fees (already eye-watering) to cover the cost of hiring a private security firm to take on traffic supervision at drop-off and pick-up, because they are just too busy to accommodate the monthly chore.

3. There’s no escaping Yeats these days, with the celebrations for WB’s 150th birthday in full flow. SARAH JESSICA PARKER and MATTHEW BRODERICK recently hosted an event in honour of the poet at New York’s Town Hall in association with the Irish Repertory Theatre and Yeats 2015. A glittering night of poetry, music and song featured readings by famous faces such as OLYMPIA DUKAKIS,  JOHN SLATTERY and award-winning Irish author COLUM MC CANN. Yeats’ granddaughter CAITRIONA YEATS recited The Lake Isle of Innisfree in front of a thousand guests.

4. Meanwhile, at DAVID MC WILLIAMS’ and SIAN SMYTH’s Dalkey Book Festival, the Yeats’ love-in continued. EAMON MORRISSEY and local residents NICK DUNNING and LISE ANN MC LAUGHLIN read, while DIARMUID FERRITER put the poems in context. ANNIE WEST and FIACH MAC CONGHAIL discussed the poet and his enduring relevance with another local, screenwriter BARRY DEVLIN, who has recently had his drama, My Mother and Other Strangers, greenlit by the BBC. The five-episode series is set in Northern Ireland during WW2 and will go into production later this year. Barry Devlin’s wife, CAROLINE ERSKINE, was persuaded out of retirement to interview her old friend, GABRIEL BYRNE, at the festival.

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Pregnant ex-pats living in Japan find themselves bombarded with advice very different to that they would receive at home. Along with being told not to gain more than seven or eight kilogrammes during pregnancy, some women have reported being admonished in public for not wearing socks and layers to keep feet and belly warm, even in the middle of a sweltering Tokyo summer. The payback for all this unsolicited advice is a very generous post-birth hospital stay of between five and eight days – about five times what most new Irish mothers get – which might just make it all worthwhile.

Main image via Empire Images