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Sunday, 26 April 2020


Available for freelance writing commissions on a variety of subjects including family history, nostalgic Belfast and its famous people, shops, shoppers & shopping, the golden age of Hollywood (esp westerns) and humorous pieces on life's weird and wonderful. Op-eds, columns, non-fiction book reviews too. & @JoeCushnan

I have a portfolio of features, reviews, poetry and short fiction published in all sorts of places - Belfast Telegraph, Tribune, Ireland's Own, Dalhousie Review, Fairlight Books, Reader's Digest, Reality, Lapwing Poetry, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Spillwords, Dear Reader, Amethyst Review, to name a selection.  Oh, and the odd BBC radio contribution. 

This is a series of very, very short items that have nothing to do with the current news agenda.  Swift diversions for a moment or two.

Apropos of Nothing #9 – 26 April 1867

In 1865, 19-year-old Marquis de Beauvoir left France with a group of aristocratic friends on a voyage around the world.  Two years later, they reached Yokohama.  There, they were awoken one night by a fire in a neighbouring property.  The party was dismissive of local attempts at fire-fighting but were in awe of Japanese house builders.

“The town is a perfect tinderbox, built as it is entirely of wood, with braziers and lanterns in every house.  Last November, during a gale, it was entirely burnt down.  But the Japanese are not of a melancholy turn of mind; three days after the fire they began to rebuild; and, by the way, it is very interesting to see them building a house!  First, the roof is made upon the ground and covered with little wooden tiles, two fingers wide and as thin as paper; then this is raised and supported on four posts, and in less than no time the many-folded transparent screen, which services as a wall, is slipped into double grooves, and you have a charming house, finished to minuteness in its smallest details and built without a single nail!”

Sources: The Conclusion of a Voyage Round the World;
The Traveller’s Handbook/Fergus Fleming/Atlantic Books/2012

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