Archive | October, 2010

Portraits, at The Bernard Shaw Car-Boot Sale

25 Oct


John, host of The Bernard Shaw’s car-boot sale, personally selects market stall holders. It’s made his event something of a phenomenon. The first time we stumbled in on the car-boot sale, the blue double-decker bus serving wood fire oven pizza’s in its upper story restaurant, the graffiti garden with pool table and the unique products on sale took us by pleasant surprise. So when John asked us to set up shop with our bicycles at Saturday’s market, we did. So did Chewy, Renate, and Fergus.



Chewy is a regular stall holder at the car-boot sale. His off-hand set-up routine belies his experience. Five minutes after hoisting suitcase, clothes rack, and neon starred paper tags from his car, his stall is set up. Chewy sells second hand clothes; such as fluorescent fleece sweaters, cardigans with captain emblems, and a zombie outfit. Handwritten tags give background information on the products, for instance revealing the fluorescent fleece sweater is made of punk sheep. When he is tired of selling, Chewy – also known as Juicebox DJ – dismantles the stall steps up to the car-boot sale’s turntables.




Renate is originally from Australia, but has lived in Dublin long enough to feel Irish. Her blue dress and her contrasting red lipstick give away a meticulousness matching the manner in which her stall is set up. Renate owns clothing label Arms, which makes boutique fashion for men and is sold in Dolls fashion boutique and online. For this car-boot sale though, Renate designed something different: leather moustache necklaces. For the ladies.



Eavann and Fergus

Fergus, finally, set up his stall at the back of the car-boot sale. He is the initiator of ‘Keep Going, Sure It’s Grand’; though he says girlfriend Eavann, who works in PR, has contributed a lot to the business. Fergus sells unique canvas bags and posters, and for each item sold donates €1 to Ireland’s Department of Finance. He aims to sell 52 billion products, so to cancel Ireland’s national debt. In his first three weeks of business, Fergus sent three weekly cheques of (respectively) €7, € 15, € 17 to the Department. This week, he received a handwritten thank you note from the Exchequer, confirming his gifts to the State had been received.

A Classy Commute – the Corporate Partner of a Dutch law firm’s London office

19 Oct

Hans Witteveen – corporate partner at the London office of Stibbe (a Dutch law firm) – has been living in London for three years. Before moving there, Hans lived in New York for nine years. Coming from the New York subway, he finds it hard to get used to the London tube. Its hexagonal carriages make it impossible for tall people to stand straight; temperatures are tropical, even in wintertime; and there are delays. Three months ago, Hans was on the verge of buying a Vespa. But then the Barclays Cycle Scheme came along, and changed his heated subterranean trip to an airy downhill experience.

Nowadays, Hans leaves his house in Primrose Hill at 7.30 to start his new commute. He walks to Camden Town, where the nearest Barclays bike stand is located. As pretty Primrose gives way to gritty Camden, people with husked voices offer him their clandestine goods. The suit clad solicitor declines, and when he gets to the stand, swipes his card, undocks his bike and starts his downhill cycle commute.

Quickly, he enters Regent’s Park. Here, he barely touches the pedals, as the downhill path does most work for him. Wind runs through his hair and cools his scalp as when diving off a springboard – just before you hit the water.  The trips on the tube, feeling trapped in a human microwave, seem a distant memory now. Looking around, he enjoys the early autumn sun warming the grounds, white fingers of fog climbing to the sky. To Hans, this picture is inextricably linked to Regent’s Park, since he only cycles when weather is good. He admits not to know the panorama on a rainy winter morning.

Hans leaves Regent’s Park at Portland Place, where the doormen in front of the houses remind him of New York’s Upper East Side. From there on, traffic gets busy as the City comes closer. Close to the office, Hans passes Barbican Centre.  Built shortly after the Second World War on a site bombed by Germans, it’s London’s most unstylish building to look at. However, it’s the most stylish place to be at, hosting theatre and ballet, making culture and concrete meet.

By now, the business people on Barclays bikes have swollen in numbers, as the solicitor pedals the last stretch through the City to a bike stand near Exchange Square. He parks his bike, and takes a look at his blackberry – ending his one daily moment without the device – clocking his trip at 23 minutes, leaving time to pick up a coffee before his first meeting. The solicitor walks away and leaves his Barclays bike behind. At the end of the day, he will not come back to retrieve it for the return trip. On the uphill commute back home, Hans still rather takes the tube.

A Classy Commute – the Minster for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources

13 Oct

Eamon Ryan – Ireland’s Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources – has been a cyclist his whole life. Growing up in Dublin South, he cycled to school as a boy. As student in UCD he set up Bellfield Bike Shop and later went on to found the Dublin Cycling Campaign. Today, he cycles as an everyday commuter.

On the first part of the commute, he feels like father duck. He oversees his children as they cycle in a queue in front of him, in the direction of school. Like their dad, the children have been on bikes from a young age. Now that the youngest – daughter Róise – is eight years old, the garage of the Ryan’s Clonskeagh home is filled with memorabilia of the children’s early years; baby seats, sidewheels, and bike trailers, all in disuse. These days, the children ride their own bikes. Arriving at school in a group, Eamon talks with other parents on bikes and waves at his children, as they each head on in their own direction, melting into their crowds of friends.

Then comes the second part of the Minister’s commute, as he heads for the city centre through South Side Dublin and on the uphill slant on Leesson Park. Every day, the Minister will wave to a friend, talk to an old neighbour, or nod to a fellow commuter whom he doesn’t know but who has been riding the same route for years. Then, it’s left on Leesson Street, where traffic gets busy, and on in the direction of the city centre. Coming to the traffic lights at Leesson Bridge, he is pleased to see the amount of cyclists waiting outnumber the amount of car drivers.

Crossing the bridge, Eamon either takes a left on Adelaide Road to get to his Department’s Office, or a right on Fitzwilliam Street to get to the Dáil. Today, he has a morning meeting in the Dáil and so he takes a right. As he comes up to Leinster House, he bumps his bike up the sidewalk and walks through its gates, bike in hand. He parks his bike without locking it and greets the guards as he walks inside. One of the advantages of working in the Dáil, Eamon says, is that your bike does not get nicked.

A Classy Commute — the Actress

4 Oct

Kerrie ‘O Sullivan – perhaps more known as Dearbhla Dillon in Fair City – can recite every detail of her daily commute. Little wonder. Reciting is what actresses are good at. That it takes only 5 minutes to get from her Clonskeagh home to the RTE studios might be of help too.

Kerrie’s short commute, she says, starts at UCD’s Clonskeagh entrance. Even though she´s a Trinity graduate, she knows this campus as if it were home. Passing through the gate, she cycles straight with the sports fields flying by on the right and then turns left before the sports hall, onto the narrow road behind the Health and Science Building, leaving the campus at the Greenfield gate.

By now, the actress is rehearsing the day’s lines out loud. This is one of the reasons she prefers cycling over walking. By the time people start giving you funny looks, you’ve already cycled past. The other reason she prefers cycling, is that it wakes her up. You might be able to walk in a daze, but the wind on a bike quickly blows you awake. Helpful; when you’re due for hair and make-up at 7.20 in the morning.

The downhill ride on Greenfield Park is lined with trees, its scenery set with residents walking dogs, people bringing out bins, young father’s waving to children from behind their car window. At the bottom of the hill, Kerrie meets the only traffic light on her trip. Her day is made if she catches it green, because it means she has won the game of getting-to-work-without-stopping-once.

Catching the green light, allows her to shoot over the dual carriageway, onto Nutley Lane. There she swings left into RTE’s studios, simultaneously flashing a smile to the security guard and ducking right to avoid the red and white car barrier blocking the entrance. Finally, she parks her bike in the bike rack – often next to Geoff’s, her Fair City Father, who’s due in make up just before her.