Bloomsday

James Joyce is an author I regard with equal amounts of admiration and guilt. Admiration? His statue in Cover: Ulysses by James JoyceDublin and the jaunty angle of his cigarette holder in photographs. And I love a man (or a woman) with an eye-patch.

Guilt? Ulysses languishing on my list of books I know I should have read but haven’t. Way back in March I added it to my list of challenges for the year, smug because I could use it for both Reading Bingo (Read a forgotten classic) and A Year in Reading (In June read that classic you have never read). I know calling it a forgotten classic is a bit of a stretch, but I’ve done my best to forget my dismal failure to read it in the sixth form. The words ‘the sixth form’ indicate how long ago it was.

Now it’s  June 16th, possibly the most famous date in literature, the date when all the action in Ulysses takes place. Some say June 16th 1904 was the day Joyce and his future wife, Nora Barnacle, had their first ‘romantic liaison’. For the last 50 years it’s been commemorated as Bloomsday.

In Dublin those who have read the book (and those who haven’t) walk the route Leopold Bloom walked. They dress up, eat up, read the book to themselves and others, attend learned lectures on the book, view art and listen to music inspired by the book and, most of all, they drink. It is Dublin after all.

Nothing quite so exciting for me. Drink on a Monday and the only way is down for the rest of the week. I draw the line at kidneys for breakfast. I could give the cat a bowl of milk in a Bloomsian way but as Ulysses sits accusingly on my bedside table the only way to commemorate Bloomsday is to read a decent number of pages .

“Why don’t you write books people read?” disloyal old Nora Barnacle asked Joyce. Will Ulysses be a book this person will read? All the way through to the very end? Perhaps.

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Christchurch – this week in history (16 to 22 June)

16 June 1932
Robert McDougall Art Gallery opens. The gallery was a gift of R.E. McDougall, Managing Director of Aulsebrooks and Company.

17 June 1843
John Deans lands sheep, cattle and horses at Lyttelton.

19 June 1857
Complaints reported that the Avon and Heathcote Rivers are becoming clogged with watercress. Provincial Council approves £1500 for clearance. Watercress appears to have been introduced by the ship “Compte de Paris” to Akaroa in 1841, and from there to the Avon by William Deans in 1850.

20 June 1928
Canterbury Aero Club formed. The first pilot trained by the club was a woman, Aroha Clifford. She may have been New Zealand’s first woman pilot.

Aroha Clifford
Aroha Clifford. Ref: EP-0628-1/2-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22823723

21 June 1851
Christchurch Cricket Club formed.

21 June 1851
Road from Christchurch to Riccarton completed.

21 June 1897
Huge celebrations for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee include the official opening of Victoria Park on the Port Hills and the transformation of Market (Victoria) Square by the City Council and the newly formed Christchurch Beautifying Association. The square, once the commercial centre of Christchurch, had contained many early public buildings and services including a prison, immigration barracks, an animal pound and the first post office.

22 June 1954
Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme murder Parker’s mother in Victoria Park. Their subsequent trial was one of the most sensational in the city’s history. Explore our digitised resources on the murder.

Christchurch chronology
A timeline of Christchurch events in
chronological order from pre-European times to 1989.

More June events in our Christchurch chronology.