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18 FEATURES Irish Independent

Friday, 2 January, 2004


Ireland? Sure we don’t A sign of
the times
or a load
know how great it is of bull?
Caitriona Durcan

With tens of
thousands of
W ere you born under the sign
of the bull? Well, lucky old
you if you were. After all,
2004 is going to be a great year for
all you Taureans. Apparently you’ve
been at breaking point for some
people moving time but this year your stress levels
will lower.
here each year, Not a Taurus? Well don’t worry. In
fact, 2004 looks to be shaping up
JANE LYONS asks quite nicely for everyone if the spate
of astrological predictions
swamping magazines and daytime
some ‘blow-ins’ chat shows is to be believed. And
how we lap it up — poring over the
what they think of predictions, hoping to discover
whether that promotion at work
this country will happen or if we’ll meet the
person of our dreams.
A century ago, it was confidently

O n returning from a recent trip to

France, I presented my Australian
passport to the immigration
checkpoint at Dublin airport. There
predicted that science and
technology would eventually drive
out all superstition and religion.
However, be it astrology, tarot or
were no problems with my paperwork phrenology (reading the bumps on
but what struck me was the officer’s your head), fortune telling shows no
response to my year-long stay in Ire- signs of disappearing.
land. “Ah, you poor thing,” he said, and Although somewhat perverse in
laughed. this scientific day and age, to the
Welcome to Ireland! despair of rationalists such as
I have never quite known how to Stuart Vyse, we are increasingly
respond to these jokes or comments trying to gaze into crystal balls. In
and, after a year, I have heard them 1997 Vyse published a book called
often enough — from the taxi driver Believing In Magic, in which he
who offers me his commiserations to called for proper teaching of
the bewildered question: “But why did decision analysis and greater
you choose to come here?” promotion of science education.
A mild giggle or non-committal titter Today he is pessimistic.
have always seemed the most appropri- “Instead of taking control of our
ate response. I have always suspected own lives and making our own
that rolling around the floor with Taking it easy in Dublin: Remco de Wit and Shinya Okawa. Below: Marta Garcia Tascon (left) and Ciaran Murphy. Pictures by Aidan Crawley, Donal Doherty and Jim O’Kelly decisions, we are putting more stock
laughter or, worse, putting the boot in in superstition, magic and, at this
myself would go down like a lead bal- time of year, the zodiac,” he says.
loon. It’s like any family: potshots from experienced is the friendliness of the economy in the last six to eight years. It Despite their popularity,
members are allowed but outside criti- people. When I came here four years is a period where the young Irish are horoscopes are not taken too
cism is rarely welcome and is often ago there weren’t very many black peo- plugged in and connected and are as seriously in Western societies but in
fiercely repudiated. ple (compared to now) and, at least for contemporary as any other group any- India it’s a different matter. In 1998
“I think a lot of that has to do with me, I have never experienced any racial where else. It is an absorbing time for the newly elected Indian prime
the weather and the traffic — why do tension. I found the people very genu- them in terms of an international cul- minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee,
you come here?” jokes Professor Tony ine, very helpful and very nice. They ture and it probably has to do with delayed moving into his official
Fahey from the Economic and Social reminded me of people from home: developing a contemporary or, dare I residence because he was waiting
Research Institute. very easy-going, love to party, love to say, a post-modern Irish sensibility — “for an auspicious hour”
He adds: “I would say if you were to drink.” who they are and what they are.” recommended by his astrologer. It’s
have been here 10 or 12 years ago, it Dislikes: “The hardest thing has been Dislikes: “I dislike the moral vanity of unlikely Bertie Ahern would do
would have been far worse and the the weather.” the upper-middle class or the intelli- likewise.
justification would have been that the gentsia. I think the Irish love to take Last month on a visit to India, I
country seemed to be going down the GIUSEPPE CONTI, 31 (ITALY) the higher ground. There is a certain spent an evening with Dr
tubes. The boom that occurred in the Likes: “I like the intimacy of the people. way of looking at the world where a lot and shopkeepers talk to you and get to Churamani, the President of
1990s has done something to make It is very easy to move here by yourself Length of stay: Six months of the educated Irish are very critical know you. Or even when you’re stand- Spiritualism for New Delhi. He
people less inclined to be down in the and it’s a little bit easier to get to know Occupation: Bar attendant about things in world politics that have ing in a queue in Tesco and the person explained that whereas western
mouth about the country than they people than in other places I’ve been to. Likes: “I usually don’t talk about a not been resolved on their own door- next to you starts a conversation. astrologers regard a birth horoscope
used to be.” “It feels like it is possible to do things place, I talk about the people. I find step.” There’s a real sense of community.” as a psychological map, Panchang,
For so long a place of departure, the here now, while in other countries Irish people, in a way, similar to Italian Dislikes: “The only things I don’t like the ancient science of Indian
last decade has also witnessed the things might be very established. There people. I’ve met some really good peo- MIRELLA MECHITA, are the traffic congestion, how much astrology, sees it as a map of the
transformation of Ireland into a desti- are many young people who are doing ple.” 20 (ROMANIA) everyone seems to drink and the high soul’s karma and destiny. Highly
nation, attracting tens of thousands of things. It feels like there are more pos- Dislikes: “I think they drink too much. I cost of living.” personalised, it describes the deeper
immigrants each year. With so many sibilities to start a band, a record com- usually don’t drink but since I’ve been Length of stay: Three years character of an individual, as well
people making Ireland their home, just pany, magazine, clothes label — stuff here I go drinking because that is the Occupation: Business student SHINYA OKAWA, 29 (JAPAN) as unveiling how two people will get
what is it that they like (and dislike) like that.” only way you can socialise with people. Likes: “It has always seemed more nor- on with each other.
about this country? Dislikes: “I don’t like the weather: the They also don’t care as much about mal for me to consider Ireland in terms Length of stay: Three-and-a-half years

damp and cold. The prices also very food as Italians do.” of advantages and disadvantages, ups Occupation: Multimedia expert anchang astrology reveals that
LEA GOSSART, 24 (FRANCE) expensive.” and downs. What Ireland stands for, Likes: “The people and the atmosphere Madonna and Guy Ritchie are
CIARAN MURPHY, for me, is the opportunity to achieve of Dublin, I like that. It is not too big, it the perfect match.
Length of stay: Three-and-a-half years MARTA GARCIA TASCóN, 34 (AUSTRALIA) something, to fulfil a set of dreams that is not too small and so it is a nice cosy Unfortunately my Hindu friend
Occupation: Front of house coordinator 26 (SPAIN) would be far more difficult back home. city where I can have fun. The place Rajif’s reading wasn’t as agreeable.
Likes: “Dublin is small enough and big Length of stay: Four years “The things I like best are the people and people are also easygoing.” Based on Dr Churamani’s prophecy,
enough — it is not a huge city where Length of stay: Three months Occupation: Sub-editor — they are friendly, outgoing, full of Dislikes: “Sometimes people here are a Rajif decided not to marry the love
you get lost and it is not like a village Occupation: Bar attendant Likes: “I like the ease of companionship, life, ‘can-I-help-you’, ‘let’s-go-out-for-a- bit unsophisticated and not so cosmo- of his life because apparently their
with one street. You’ve got enough Likes: “The weather in these last three the vigour of an argument over a few drink’ people.” politan. I don’t like the ‘lad’ culture or charts weren’t compatible.
entertainment and enough attractions. months has been very nice. The pints, the beauty of the countryside and Dislikes: “I have met some hypocritical the new rich Irish people who splash But can astrology actually predict
“In general, Irish people are really humour of the Irish is similar to the the real Ireland that lies behind the people who have been sweetness and money about in so-called exclusive the future? Gordon Rutter,
warm people. They live up to the repu- Spanish people — it is friendly and hi-diddly-i facade.” light to my face but, as soon as I have places.” president of the Edinburgh Fortean
tation that they have. Irish people tend happy — and the personality is very Dislikes: “I dislike the political shadow turned my back, they have clenched Society, a group dedicated to the
to speak to people in the streets and open. There are also more jobs and games which are allowed to continue their teeth and called me a ‘f***ing REMCO DE WIT, 31 (HOLLAND) open-minded study of the
pubs while in Paris you don’t do that money here.” with a nod and a wink while the nation immigrant’ and ‘f***ing foreigner’.” unexplained, is sceptical.
because it is so big.” Dislikes: “I don’t like the taxes. In Spain frays. I also dislike the contentment in, Length of stay: Four years “There are hundreds of studies
Dislikes: “Ireland can be quite frustrat- everything is public — the health, medi- and rabid pursuit of, wealth and the GAYLE WILLIAMSON, Occupation: Manager of an internet claiming astrologers can’t do what
ing because there is no margin for dif- cal, hospital. Here you have to pay for plain tackiness of the manner in which 33 (SOUTH AFRICA) cafe they think they can do. The majority
ference. If you are not part of the stan- these services and you have to pay it is displayed.” Likes: “I like the people — they are of predictions tend to be
dard, you feel like you are not going to more taxes. You have to pay for every- Length of stay: Two-and-a-half years nicer than in Holland. At home the non-specific and even those of
belong. Sometimes people are quite thing. It is very expensive.” JAMES ARMSTRONG, Occupation: Journalist people are not nice any more; they are Nostradamus have been open to a
limited in their way of seeing things.” 52 (AMERICA) Likes: “I know locals will say that Dub- not friendly and they are always in bad wide range of interpretations over
AVERY JOHN, 28 (TRINIDAD) lin isn’t like it used to be but, having moods. The Irish people are easygoing. the centuries.”
EMILY LIDSTROM, 22 (SWEDEN) Length of stay: Six years come from South Africa (where I lived I also like the countryside very much.” Despite scientific scepticism,
Length of stay: Four years Occupation: Photojournalism lecturer for 20 years), I find it very friendly and Dislikes: “In the supermarkets they fortune-telling continues to have a
Length of stay: Two years Occupation: Professional football player Likes: “It is a very interesting time to be safe. I love that you can go into shops don’t have as big an assortment as in hold on many of us.
Occupation: Photography student Likes: “One of the greatest things I have here with what has happened with the here, especially in the smaller towns, Holland. The rent is also too high.” Professor Vyse says the feeling of
insecurity after the September 11
terrorist attacks has contributed to
an increased interest in horoscopes.
“These are anxious times. Here in

Made for each other? It’s still a labour of love the US things have become more
anxious since the terrorist attacks
and an increase in superstition is to
be expected,” he says.
Recent studies by Professor Giora
Keinan, of Tel Aviv University,
Grace Wynne-Jones about your needs is very important but Many couples sail along happily until humour is crucial and someone with
established that superstitious
............................................................................................................................. never hurt your partner more than is they have children. “Parents need to similar aspirations to what they want
behaviour is more likely when

‘A ny idiot can fall in love but stay- necessary. And also be aware that more learn how to support each other and to out of life. Also kindness and good com-
under stress — and there’s no worse
ing in love is an ongoing disci- damage is often caused by trying not to ask for more support if they need it,” panionship. Someone who they can be
time for stress than Christmas and
pline.” These are the wise words hurt someone. For example, don’t start says Malcolm. “Make time for things good friends with too. You need some-
the New Year. In an ingenious
of Malcolm Stern, co-host of Channel off a relationship by trying to be a per- you enjoyed doing together before you one you can relate to on a physical,
experiment he asked a group of
4’s reality love series Made For Each fect partner. If someone has been giving had children.” emotional, mental and spiritual level.”
students questions about their
Other, due to return to our screens in a lot and then suddenly stops it can be Though conflict is inevitable in rela- But is it all worth it? “Yes,” says Mal-
health. He found that individuals
February. very painful.” tionships, Malcolm believes that there colm emphatically. “Because you take a
with a high desire for control were
It’s a sobering message for young cou- But how do you go about stating your are times when you should step back journey of discovery together and reap
more likely to tap the table and say
ples out there who are planning to needs effectively? “Make sure you get from confrontation. “Never try to nego- the benefits of having someone who
“touch wood” when interviewed just
spend the rest of their lives together. your timing right,” says Malcolm. tiate new ground in the middle of an really loves and supports you. You cre-
before sitting exams than students
But don’t despair — Malcolm stresses “Choose a comfortable time and place. argument. Wait until you calm down.” ate your own best friend.”
questioned on a normal study day.
that conflict within relationships is Avoid blaming statements like: ‘You Honesty often requires diplomacy
FIVE TOP TIPS While enlightened thinkers of old
inevitable and his solutions are simple: make me feel like you just don’t care.’ and courage but it can also save a mar-
must be turning in their grave at
negotiation and compromise. Instead, say: ‘If you don’t ring when you riage. “I have seen many couples who ^Try to understand your partner before
the persistence of superstition in
“We all have different needs and get- are going to be late I feel like you don’t think they can’t stay together because Love at first sight: but conflict is you try to get them to understand you.
the West, then the communist
ting our needs met often requires nego- care about my feelings.’ Try not to make they haven’t shown their partner who inevitable ^Don’t go to sleep on a fight.
authorities who strove to eliminate
tiation. A huge amount of personal the other person wrong.” they really are. Healthy relationships ^Sometimes you can’t sort something
such practices in China and the
development happens when both peo- The main sources of conflict in rela- are challenging because they require unfaithful, I would advise a couple to go out as quickly as you’d like to. Don’t
Soviet Union must be turning in
ple are willing to grow,” says Malcolm. tionships tend to be the inability to self-knowledge and that is also why to a counsellor,” says Malcolm. walk away from a problem. Make time
their mausoleums. Both countries
In Made For Each Other Malcolm and communicate needs, power struggles, they are so valuable.” But what if only one person wants to to discuss it later. But you need to be
are seeing a massive resurgence in
his co-presenter, Vanessa Lloyd-Platt, a money issues, sex and children. “Many grow and the other thinks everything is willing to let some things go.
superstition of all kinds. In China,
divorce lawyer, watch videos of couples couples have very different views on

ut however close you are to your just fine as it is? “If the other person ^When stuck, get support. Don’t expect
faith healing and sorcery are
going about their daily business at money,” says Malcolm. “One may spend partner you will need other allies. won’t change, you could leave the rela- your partner to fulfil all your needs.
increasingly popular, and in Russia,
home. Malcolm and Vanessa then money freely while another hoards it. No one person can meet all your tionship,” says Malcolm. “Or you could ^Say sorry — but only if you mean it.
where tarot cards were once
watch the videos with the couples and Again you need to be honest with each emotional needs, however much you’d create an environment in which it is
banned, all kinds of fortune-telling
discuss any problems. The couples are other and work out a compromise.” like them to. According to Malcolm, easier for them to open up. If you have Malcolm Stern’s book ‘Falling In Love,
have become fashionable again.
set certain tasks to see if they can over- Apparently sexual problems are often building up a mutually supportive net- children you have more of a responsibil- Staying In Love’ is due out in March,
So it seems that little has changed
come their problems and are filmed as caused by a breakdown in communica- work of friends who can help you with ity to keep the relationship together.” published by Piakthus.
from the days when man looked to
they get on with their homework. tion. “Again it’s about learning to assert honest self-examination is crucial. Don’t let all this put off any single
the stars for omens. It’s just that
“Men and women come from differ- your own needs. Don’t just concentrate Of course there may be times when people looking for love. Malcolm says Grace Wynne-Jones’s novel ‘Ready Or
now we read the horoscopes
ent tribes,” says Malcolm. “To expect to on pleasing the other person — it’s friends and self-help are not enough. the key is finding someone with whom Not? Life, Love And Other Complica-
be the same is ridiculous. Being honest important that you enjoy sex too!” “For example, if a partner has been you are compatible. “A good sense of tions’ (¤9.99) is published by Tivoli.

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