Real Life catches up with Second Life.

Ireland has voted to permit same-sex marriage, the first country on the face of the globe to do this by popular vote.

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I blogged about this last week, and hoped that this would be the result in order to create equality for same-sex couples.

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Listening to the radio this evening, I learn that there’s a huge party going on in Dublin tonight, as the country voted, by a majority of 2:1, to change the country’s constitution and legalise same-sex marriage.

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I’m delighted for everyone who wishes to seal their love with a marriage certificate and equal rights. That includes one Irish SL friend who is already partnered within SL and was hoping that this would be the result so that he could replicate what he has already done in a virtual world in real life. I IM’ed him earlier and he came back in the past few minutes, prior to heading out to the Temple Bar district of Dublin to celebrate in RL, to say he was thrilled.

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Ori & his boyfriend celebrate Ireland’s decision to legalise same-sex marriage (note: photo from SLN library, not taken tonight)

Ella

 

 

 

Equal rights

Just across the way from here, on Friday, Ireland is holding a referendum on same-sex marriage.

Why a referendum, when it should be a matter for government? Due to the way in which Ireland’s constitution works, it is necessary to hold a referendum to get the consent of Ireland’s people prior to altering said constitution. Previous referenda have been held in Ireland to permit divorce, and to consent to the Lisbon Treaty regarding Ireland’s membership of the European Union. Famously, Ireland’s voters rejected the Treaty of Lisbon at the first time of asking, thereby stalling reform right across Europe. Not that I thought that was a bad thing. As a eurosceptic, I don’t want ‘closer union’ in a continent wide sense. Let’s be friendly, certainly, but one currency, the euro, doesn’t strike me as a fabulous idea, and I rather like each country having its own currency and unique laws as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach.

Of course, the European Union went back and asked Ireland a second time, and got the Treaty of Lisbon passed at the second time of asking, since when -surprise surprise!- there hasn’t been a third referendum to ask the Irish if they still think it’s a good idea, if they still agree to it or disagree to it. And this, in part, is why I don’t like the EU, steamrollering across sovereign states until, like a child in a tantrum, get their way.

Indeed, from a European perspective, I favour what’s called the Brexit, the British exit from the EU, with the UK promised a referendum on the matter during the course of our current parliament. Possibly, in advance of that, there could be a Grexit, the Greek exit. I sincerely hope they do, the Greek economy having been destroyed by EU membership, and if they do pull out, it could have a domino effect.

Incidentally, before I go on, The European Court of Justice case 274/99 ruled it was illegal to criticize the, corrupt, criminal, fascist EU. 😉 So you know where to find me, boys, if you want to pursue me for hate crimes against your corrupt, unaccountable institution.

Let’s get back to Ireland.

Friday’s referendum now pits the Catholic Church, still an institution of great power and influence in Catholic, conservative Ireland, who argue that equal rights for same-sex couples should be rejected, against the country’s government, with all of Ireland’s major political parties saying that it’s a civil matter.

This blog has always taken a fairly soft-feminist line, urging society to adopt a more equal view in every respect. Although our tone has often been from a female perspective, we would extend that to all forms of inequality. Same sex couples should be afforded the same rights as the historical view of a couple being a male and a female.

We’re against a gender pay gap. We’re against a gender-based ‘glass ceiling’ in respect of jobs open to women. We believe that #blacklivesmatter. We believe in same-sex couples being allowed to marry. Hopefully, when the votes are counted, Ireland will follow Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and Uruguay in permitting people who are in love to get married.

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From the beginning, The Sims and Second Life have permitted same-sex relationships, and I would imagine there are very few of us who don’t have some SL friends, either male or female, who are partnered in a same-sex relationship. Nintendo’s Tomodachi Life game to run into a lot of trouble when it barred same-sex couples from forming a relationship within their virtual world.

Love is love.

It seems as though virtual worlds, the Nintendo experience notwithstanding, are able to separate away from what can still be a church influenced RL society with great ease. It seems that we, as players, are much more open to being ahead of the curve in how society thinks now as opposed to how a small number of men, influencing their flocks, think from a 2000 year old perspective.

Let’s hope that Ireland chooses to vote for equal rights on Friday.

 

Ella

Naturist Profile : Tisha

I’m grateful to our roving reporter Geoff for introducing me to avatar Tisha, another one of those real life naturists who also uses Second Life.

Tisha, or Tish, is a former high-flying banking executive who decided, as her 50th birthday approached, that she was facing burn out. With money in the bank and ‘the sort of decent pension you would expect someone in banking would have’, she quit life in ‘the city’ (the banking district of London), and the city of London itself for a small holding in Ireland.

‘Ireland was almost ideal’, she says. ‘The people spoke English, it was quiet and slow moving and I was de-pressurising rapidly after a period where the stress levels made me feel ill. I lived there for two years in the sort of picture postcard cottage you see, grew vegetables, sold them in the market, and re-discovered myself. Or more accurately, discovered myself for the first time.’

The vegetable plot, she says, was simply a framework for the day. ‘I didn’t need to sell anything, or do anything, but it gave me a focus for my day. That was great from spring to autumn but there’s not much gardening in the winter, so I started thinking about the things I always wanted to do. Painting was something I loved at school, so I reconnected with that. I even managed to sell one or two.’

Her daughter, then at university in London, came to visit.

‘The change in her was alarming. I’d left this quiet, middle class girl in London and she came back to me having discovered herself. Dreadlocks, a tattoo, baggy clothes in reds and oranges. I was thinking ‘this isn’t the daughter I raised’, until I realised that actually, her values were very much in the style in which I’d raised her. We’d eaten healthily in London, a vegetarian diet, we’d cycled, gone for walks in the park, I listened to less mainstream music from the 70s. I realised that I was just a bit of a hippy in a different frame. The business clothes, the power shoes, the big salary and whatever else were more of a facade, certainly not the real me. I was a hippy too, and had raised my daughter in a hippy sort of mindset, just with the trappings of the middle class framing it all. Living a lie, pretty much’.

There was also her daughter’s use of cannabis.

‘Yeah, I’d used it a bit myself at university. It got passed around. But that wasn’t something that was part of my life over the years. I didn’t smoke cigarettes. But she lit up in my cottage and of course the smoke got to me and I was thinking ‘I’m having fun here, let me try it’, hahaha’. Sitting by the fire, with no television, her daughter produced her laptop and logged into a game she’d discovered, Second Life. Her daughter logged in and showed Tisha the avatar she’d created a year before, and which she’d coincidentally called Tisha because it was the first name she could find that hadn’t been used by anyone else. She thought her mother might like to while away time on winter evenings playing this game, particularly as the avatar had been abandoned in favour of an alt avatar, now her main avatar. So Tisha was gifted the Tisha avatar.TISHA

‘It seemed like fun. It certainly gave me a bit of an outlet in the evenings, and I’d log in fairly regularly and explore Second Life, but the internet service on the west coast of Ireland, in a rural area, was pretty slow, so there’d be nights I just couldn’t get on, others where it would be running slow, other nights where it was OK. If I got an OK night, I’d play Second Life for a couple of hours. If it was slow, I’d go and do something else. I wasn’t an SL addict.’

The one thing that wasn’t ideal about Ireland was the weather. ‘It seemed to rain a lot, so I made plans to move elsewhere. Somewhere sunnier. After looking at property in Portugal and Spain, she settled on moving to France. ‘I spoke a bit of the language. A bit more than tourist French, but not fluent. So the language barrier wasn’t so hard to overcome. It was sunnier a lot of the time, and the lifestyle wasn’t so much different to Ireland. Relaxed, easy going at a sedate pace. Perfect.’

Tisha moved into her new home about three years ago, an absolute wreck at the time, she says, ‘and still a wreck, but a cosy, habitable wreck’.

Naturism, she says, was something that ‘just happened’ in the French sunshine.

‘I was back to growing vegetables, I was working on the cottage, learning new DIY skills and doing stuff myself. I was outdoors a lot and working away clothed. But it’s hard work under that sun, so I was doing some work in my veg plot one day and I could feel my T shirt sticking to me. I’m out there on my own, with the neighbour’s house maybe 200m away so I took off the T-shirt for comfort. No, the sweat’s still running into my bra. So that came off too, hahaha. After that, topless gardening was pretty much normal if the weather allowed’.

Had Tisha been inclined towards (semi) nudity before this?TISHAELLA3

‘No. Never thought about it.’

With her daughter having graduated from university, she came to visit her mother’s new home for the summer, ‘and stayed. It just sort of happened by accident that she was back living with me for a while’.

‘I’d not logged into Second Life for a year or more. I had too much to do fixing up my new place. The internet connection was better, much better, but my computer time was confined to email or the news or sourcing things locally, like builder supplies, you know?’

Her daughter’s arrival resulted in Second Life coming back onto Tisha’s agenda. ‘The house was OK now, the vegetable plots sorted so time was now a bit more freely available. My daughter was still playing it and sort of had this whole, separate fantasy life she’d built which was, in some respects, mirroring our real lives. She’d log in and do a yoga session in Second Life with others and the advice she’d get from other avatars would be something she’d apply to real life yoga.’

Part of the advice was to do her yoga nude. ‘I didn’t even know that was a thing’, Tisha admits. ‘But I’d come down for breakfast and she’d be outside, doing her yoga nude under the sun. Eventually I said ‘look, when I’m working on the vegetables I take my top off, is that OK with you?’ and she said, without blinking an eye, ‘why keep a pair of shorts on?’, hahaha’.

‘It was a bit strange at first, just being fully naked out there, and not any less strange wandering around like that with your daughter there. But it became surprisingly comfortable surprisingly quickly.’

Her daughter, who had adopted the avatar name of Rainbow Gathering* for her alt at the time she’d gifted the Tisha avatar to her mother, was now looking for work in France, and the two of them drove to Beziers and Montpelier -the nearest cities- one day (about 90 minutes by car) to research apartment rental costs and the availability of jobs. On the way back, Rainbow turned off the main road to a beach called Frontignan, a naturist beach. ‘Let’s swim’, Rainbow told her mother.

‘Being naked in my own vegetable plots was one thing, but here in public it was a case of me saying ‘no, I can’t do that’. But the beach was lovely, there was a mixture of families, couples, single men, single women all fully nude and just enjoying the beach and the sea. Eventually I thought ‘sod it’, and we stripped off and ran to the sea. It was a marvellously invigorating experience. It sort of felt like I was now plugged into the earth around me. Does that sound strange or hippy like?’

No, not at all. I can identify with that feeling. I feel it every day when I’m on holiday having my sunrise swim.TISHAELLA2

‘I think, from there, I’ve sort of become a naturist full time where circumstances allow. I’ve only ever got clothes on if I’m going to the local markets, or shopping. If I can be nude, I will be nude.’

Do you have dreads in RL? And if you do, how does rural France react to that?

‘I do have dreads in RL, hahahah, and rural France is OK with them. The people are awfully sweet around here. They buy my vegetables at the markets around here and people seem to like them because they’re organically grown. Better taste. The French love their cooking, so I do have a regular clientele who buy carrots or whatever from the back of my van. I don’t need to be selling vegetables and earning 40 euro a day, but it’s the link to a purpose on a day to day basis and also social interaction.’

Trisha says that she regrets not having discovered a one-ness with her own, and others, nudity much earlier in life, a story I hear again and again from late naturist bloomers.

Does she feel that she might like a more social form of naturism, in the company of others?

‘I don’t think it’s necessarily important. It’s enough to feel comfortable in your own skin in your own surroundings. Anyway, there are times when I do have that social naturist aspect to my life now anyway. Rainbow and her friends sometimes come up and stay at weekends. We don’t all immediately strip off and sit around naked for 48 hours, but her friends seem to have a remarkably casual approach to it. So we may sit in the garden with a meal and if it’s hot, some or all clothes come off some or all of the people present. It just happens.’

A rather interesting life story, I think you’ll agree, and not the ‘usual’ sort of naturist experience. It goes to show that naturism can be a uniquely personal experience, and something that you can do yourself, in your own surroundings. Home naturism, practically a branch of naturism all of its own, and something we’ll be posting about soon.

 

Ella

 

*Rainbow Gathering, Tisha’s RL daughter and SL player, adopted the name ‘Rainbow Gathering‘ in relation to the temporary camp/festivals that carry that name around the world. I’ve been speaking to her also, and another Naturist Profile on Rainbow will follow in due course. The interview with Tisha was conducted via IMs & notecards before being edited into some sort of narrative structure, and I finally met up with Tisha, in world, on Saturday morning as pre-arranged in order to take some photographs.

 

 

St. Patrick’s Day

Forgive us for not decking ourselves out in 40 shades of green for St. Patrick’s Day. We’ve got Irish friends, some of us have Irish blood in us and, frankly, there’s a lot of pretty offensive (to my eyes) national stereotyping goes on out there in both SL & RL.

This image of the drunken, fighting, red-haired Irishman (or woman) is appalling crass and not very truthful. In a list of the top 10 heaviest drinking countries in the world, Ireland doesn’t make the Top 10.

In the 20th century, it was Ireland’s writers who were progressing English language literature at, arguably, its greatest speed of development since Shakespeare. Try reading James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, WB Yeats and more.

One of my Irish SL friends is even more scathing than I would be, berating what she calls ‘plastic paddies’ -wannabe Irish, the Irish of the diaspora- for their need for green Guinness and spurious claims to be Irish. ‘The only feckin’ ‘Green River’ we need to know about is Creedence Clearwater Revival’, she sneers, before we read from her profile -An Irish prayer, it’s entitled- that she hopes God gives her strength not to tell ‘the plastics’ that they aren’t and never will be Irish.

On the basis, here’s the only green you’ll find on SL Naturist this March  17th.

Pookes.

 

Top of the evening to ya!

Back with part 2 of our rather extended St.Patrick’s Day posting.

This one features, sadly, just one photo of Seosaimhin (Irish for Josephine, I’m told) at a Martello Tower at the Brittania Village Sim (based on Folkestone, Kent, England), hence the UK flag flying over it rather than an Irish one this St. Patrick’s Day.

And this time, there’s some RL naturist link. As well as in England, Martello Towers were built around the British Empire of the time, and that included Ireland, articularly around the Dublin area. One is particularly famous at Sandycove, due to James Joyce living in it, and also setting it as the home of the character of Stephen Dedalus (in ‘Ulysses’).

Not only that, but one location close to this tower is known as ‘Forty Foot’. Not a reference to the width of the beach, or depth of the water, but that it was a bathing place of the 42nd Highland Regiment of Foot, a British army regiment who subsequently became The Black Watch. The Forty Foot were stationed closed by, and the beach became their chosen place of (nude) bathing.

In ‘Ulysses’, Buck Mulligan takes a dip there in that he calls ‘the snot green sea, the scrotum tightening sea’ (due to the Irish Sea being, well, blooming cold!)

Thereafter, it became a ‘gentleman’s bathing place’, code for ‘nude bathing’, and remained so until the 1970s when feminists struck out to claim equality, so that nude bathing is available to both genders now, despite Ireland not officially having any naturist beaches (the only country in Europe without any, I believe).

I don’t imagine many who historically took the plunge there would maybe have historically considered themselves nudist, but in poorer times (and certainly in the era of a British Army regiment doling out ‘kit’) a swimsuit was an unnecessary luxury. Instead, the hardy swimmers of Dublin’s fair city would have accepted they simply wore the swimsuit God gave them.

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Seosaimhin prepares to take to the waters beside an SL Martello Tower.

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The entrance to the RL ‘Forty Foot’ on the outskirts of Dublin

All of this sounds like a typical Irish solution to a typical Irish problem. Don’t have ‘official’ naturist beaches…but establish a set of rules whereby it can exist. 🙂 Who can fail to love the Irish approach to ‘issues’?

The Irish Naturist Association have a website here, for those who may be interested in naturist activities in the Emerald Isle. In 2014 the 34th International Naturist Federation Congress will take place in Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim.

Ella

Top of the morning to ya!

The title is as cliched as it’s going to get.

It’s St.Patrick’s Day, a day when the whole world is, or pretends to be, Irish. So we’ve been out and about capturing a little sense of Ireland, without tipping over into national stereotype and what’s known as being a ‘plastic Paddy‘ – a condition suffered by members of the diaspora, and who will claim to be Irish, regardless of how feeble those claims may be. There are those who even go as far as to claim that use of the term (or simple use of the name ‘Paddy’ to denote an Irishman) constitutes racism. I think that’s utter nonsense. Certainly, I loathe the use of the plain term ‘Paddy’ in the context of denoting an Irishman -that does smack of racism- but I certainly have no truck with people who use the term ‘plastic’ in context, largely because it’s almost certainly a true, 100% reflection of the person’s faux-Irishness.

Today, much of the world will claim -falsely- to be Irish. You’re not! An Irish great-grandfather who sailed half way around the world for a new life, from a country you’ve maybe never visited, or visited for a week, does not and will never make you Irish. You’re American, Australian, English, from wherever. The fact that you can claim dual-citizenship won’t make you Irish either. Ever.

With two Irish paternal and one Irish maternal grandparents I guess I might have more claim, than most, to call myself Irish under this feeble definition. The fact remains I was born to English-born parentage, in England, to a household that didn’t feature fiddles being played or Guinness being drunk. Over the years I’ve visited Ireland more times than any of these faux-Irish folk and never felt my ‘roots’ being stirred in any sense whatsoever. I love Ireland, Dublin in particular, and it’s a wonderful place full of wonderful people. The well-established sense of Irish friendliness is, in my experience, an accurate reflection of the island’s people. I’ve never felt inclined to visit the various villages my grandparents came from because, to me, it’s about as relevant as saying ‘well, all of our ancestors originated in the Horn of Africa…so I’m Ethiopian‘. I just don’t feel any pull, any ‘roots’ or need for ‘roots’. My ‘roots’ are pretty much the house I grew up in.

I might just as well call myself Ethiopian as Irish, for all of the relevance it has on my life.

This is going to be, by our usual standards, an extended SLN post. We’ve got some actual, real, Irish avatars who’ve posed for us (Fionnuala has featured on the pages of SLN before) and, to some extent, share my own views on ‘plastic paddyness’. It’s a terrific series of photos from both Harry and Diane, with the words, below, being the various models’ own (with the usual caveat that I’ve woven a straight ‘interview’ technique via IM into a freer-flowing narrative).

Ella.

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‘There’s a lot of, shall we say, national stereotyping goes on in relation to St. Patrick’s Day’, suggests Fionnuala, ‘which is almost a benign form of racism. Every celebration in real life is fixated with drinking. It’s assumed to be a day for drinking. And I don’t like that. I mean, you’ve already identified the whole plasticity of it. And I did read someone refer to it all as a condition called Dermot-itis (a play on dermatitis) in which everyone adopts this ‘begorrah’ attitude. While Australia or the States might have some cause to claim Irish roots in some of their major cities, it gets ridiculous when they’re doing St.Patrick’s Day festivals in places like Austria and people from the Tyrol are desperately searching for Irish blood. It’s silly.’

‘You can’t elect a US President without there subsequently being some need to discover some sort of Irish roots. Let it go, for goodness’ sake. Yeah…Ireland did a lot in regard to the building of the New World but honestly! It has reached ridiculous levels. And more frustrating is the sense of us…real Irish people…just fighting and drinking. What seems lost in this nonsense is the fact that we, the Irish, probably advanced English language literature most in the 20th century, through Beckett and Joyce for example. Will anyone focus on that? No. It’s better to be drunk to the point of insensibility than it is to be in a library, listening to readings of their works. So I won’t buy into the whole drinking thing at all.’

Indeed, Fionnuala and her co-model James (‘it’s not Seamus….it’s James…I was born with the English version of the name, thanks, and I prefer not to have it changed to suit others’ preconceptions and needs’) refused to pose with alcohol present in their photos. ‘It just reinforces that stereotype’, sighed Fionnuala. Instead, the pose above, intended to be posed with beer mugs, was rejected by the pair. ‘Can’t you add in like we’re holding a banner?, sniffed Fionnuala, so that’s what harry has put in in a bit of post-production.

Both, though, readily wore green hats, on the basis that they had no issue with a bit of Irish associated colour in the photos. ‘I’m fine with there being a sense of Irishness in a St. Patrick’s Day post…just not a reinforcement of the drinking culture’.

Despite the pair’s sniffiness to the stereotype, one which I readily agreed with (see the intro to this post), they remain immensely proud of their homeland, in many respects.

‘I think we’re also best placed to criticise some elements of it’, agreed James. ‘There are aspects of it that remain, well, 19th century. Social attitudes to marriage, divorce, abortion…all things driven by the fact that it’s essentially a Catholic island. And that past power the church held remains like marbling through Irish society, despite the fact that the church has a greatly diminished power. That’s a good thing. We need to be 21st century and secular, not 19th and pious. I’m not trying to diminish anyone’s faith, but I don’t think it has a place in a modern society. You see vestiges of it around the globe in other countries too. I’m not going to single any particular nations out, but many are still under the sway of an almost medieval deference to the churches. Many governments still have deference to churches. The church, for me, isn’t relevant in the 21st century…at least not in that sense of previous generations. If you want to have a faith, fine. Practice it. But don’t expect that the rest of your town, country or continent must follow suit. Just as you expect us, who aren’t particularly religious, to respect you, you also a duty to respect our views, whether you like them or not.’

‘Both of us are RL naturists’, chimes in Fionnuala. ‘Ireland has exceptionally few facilities for naturists, and without SL it’s probable we’d never have discovered that there are like-minded souls out there! Well…that’s not strictly true in the internet world, but you know what I mean…SL provided a platform for us to meet. Another forum, in a sense. James and I live at opposite ends of the island in RL. We’ll probably never meet in RL. But through SL we’ve met each other and compared notes and views. We’ll pick each others brains on where we holiday…what beaches are suitable for skinny dipping, still illegal in Ireland, incidentally, and so on.’

‘What sticks in my throat’, James picks up, ‘is that today, in SL, people will assemble in Irish bars in sims to talk up their Irish credentials. These are to be avoided, in my view. I’ll certainly be in SL today, but I’ll avoid those sort of sims like the plague. Lag-hell filled with moronic opinions on Ireland and its culture. Ignorance on a grand scale!’

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I must say that while I shared their views to some extent, I’m probably not the best placed person to comment on the ‘plastic paddy’ debate, viewing it from outside.

So I was surprised when I met up with some other Irish avatars I know, Dublin sisters (real life sisters, incidentally) Niamh and Brid, who weren’t quite as scathing, but who disliked the whole Irish streotype going on in and out of SL.

‘Don’t generalise, please’, said Niamh. ‘Buying into this drunk and Irish thing…yeah, we do like a drink from time to time…and there are those who do it to extremes, who fit the stereotype perfectly. Equally, there are those who don’t, so please don’t tar us all with the same brush. It’s like me saying ‘All Americans are fat rednecks’ or something. We know that’s not true. Some are fat. Some are rednecks. Some are well-educated and slim. Would I dream of stereotyping? No, I would not.’

Both Niamh and Brid are SL naturists, but not RL ones. ‘Not enough opportunity to do so. We keep saying we’ll go on holiday sometime and try it, but our lives move away from each other now we’re in university. When we started we had adjacent bedrooms in RL, last year at school. And we’d go and dance at Sweden Naturist and just have so much fun winding other avatars up in a gentle way. No makice. I think we’re in SL about four years now. We do still play, but not as often as we used to, and while we were pretty much joined at the hip when we started, now we lead separate SL lives in the main’.

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A bit more Irishness later in the day, but I thought that I should split what was initially going to be a long post, and let some people roll over what some Irish avatars think about the whole ‘green beer’ idea for a bit.

Enjoy the day, and I’ll catch you later on for the second part…’Top of the evening to ya!’

Ella

Oifis an Poist

Looks like (coming in on the back of Ella’s French titled post) we’re in polyglot mode here on SLN today!

Here’s another of my SL replicates RL posts.

When I saw the RL image on the web, I knew I had to try to replicate it. ‘Oifis an Poist’ is the Irish for ‘Post Office’. I know Ireland’s post offices, letter boxes and so on have a green livery. I know that, if it’s in Ireland, a redhead pretty much has to be included to maintain national stereotypes. And I know an Irish, redheaded avatar -Fionnuala, we’ve featured her before- in SL!

Well, I couldn’t find an Irish Post Office in SL, but I did find a green painted building (at the O’Hare’s Gap sim), so I rounded up Fionnuala and got her to pose in front of it to replicate RL in SL once more.

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Harry