Musical breakfasts and a walk with the band
U 8.470-1: Halffed enthusiasts. Penny roll and a walk with the band.
Breakfast for the unemployed stucco-plasterer would consist of nothing more that air and music, listening to the band of the Royal Fusiliers (or that of another regiment) as they relieved the guard at eleven o’clock in the morning in Dublin Castle yard.
The formula is proverbial, and comparable with the weather-lore saying about “an Englishman’s summer: three fine days and a thunderstorm”. But in Joyce’s case the expression reminds the early twentieth-century reader – by way of a phrase then passing out of use - of the difficulties experienced in the mid nineteenth century by the Irish under a regime symbolised by the Anglo-Irish of Dublin Castle and the British regimental bands, and the bread and water which came to represent a staple diet for the poor of Dublin in those days.
1 Freeman’s Journal (1841), 9 January.
2 Charles Du Val With a Show through Southern Africa (1884), vol. 2 ch. 8 p. 180.
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