Monday, August 31, 2009



"Are you on Facebook, Andrew?"


He looks at me like I've just started dry-humping a life-size Margaret Thatcher doll.

"Oh, right. That's the only way I keep in contact with people now."

I didn't kick him in the shins, but nor did I feel guilty any longer for having gotten his new baby's gender wrong at the start of our conversation.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I missed a friend's going-away bash the other day. She's going to England, where most career-minded young teaching graduates are going this year. I haven't struggled to resist the temptation to join them. Various horror stories I've heard, coupled with my deep suspicions as to why English schools need to recruit so aggressively over here mean that I'm reluctant to go over there and live in Rutsford-under-Lyme while young Wayne and Chanelle throw chairs and chewing gum at my proud Paddy beard every day. Besides, leaving your beloved behind on the Auld Sod while you go off to earn a few pennies in Blighty: bit 1972, isn't it?

So anyway, I failed to make it to her farewell do. I had other friends I wanted to see that night, and I decided I really couldn't be ringed leaving my group and heading to a pub in an entirely different part of town just to do the token "just sticking my head in" gesture. I felt slightly bad about it for a while, until I started to think about how I have loads of friends of about the same level whom I haven't seen for ages, and am unlikely to see any time soon. Just because, really.
There's something about moving to a different country for a while that makes people want to round up every fucker they've ever met so that they can bid their adieus. I've experienced this feeling on trips to Kenya, Tanzania and South Korea. On no occasion was I gone for more than a month, yet I found myself unusually keen to let all of my acquaintances know I'd be away and I found myself crestfallen when there was no sign of a government delegation to greet me upon my return.

Yet that nagging feeling of guilt remained, until I decided to seek a scientific solution to the problem. It wasn't a think tank that was called for, it went beyond that: I needed a cognitive cabal. Comprising the world's most scientific brains from fields such as geophysics and quantum mechanics, the group was spearheaded by that most legendary leader of men and outside-the-box thinker, former Cameroon striker Roger Milla (not to be confused with King of the Road crooner Roger Miller, who I've always found to be utterly useless in such circumstances). Their findings may forever change our perception of social guilt. The cognitive cabal have devised an ingenious an utterly fool-proof formula for calculating whether or not one ought to attend such functions.
It goes as follows: (TxL)+(DxR)=S.
That is to say: (Time x Liking)+(Distance x Rarity)=Size of obligation.

Need that broken down further? Fine.

The number of years you have known the person is multiplied by how much you like them on a scale of one to ten (ten being your bestest BFF and one being the guy who used to wipe his ear wax on your jumper in French class when you were fourteen). My respective figures for this half of the formula were 0.8 x 6.8 (which equals 5.44).

Second, you rank the distance they are moving away on a scale of one to twn and multiply it by the rarity with which you expect them to return home (ten means they'll never come home, one means they'll be back to stock up on six-packs of Tayto most weekends). My figures for this side of the formula are 1.2 and 1.7 (which multiply joyously into 2.04).

You then add these two final figures together to work out the precise size of your obligation. Mine weighed in at 7.48. But don't fret! My boffins inform me that anyone whose final figure falls under 11.7 should not feel remotely compelled to attend the send-off for the person in question. Huzzah!

Though further testing is still required, this formula looks set to be proven a reliable and important one as it offers a way out to those who:
(a) like the person just fine but have only known them a matter of weeks and/or
(b) have known them forever but secretly can't stand them and/or
(c) adore the person in question but think that moving from Rathmines to Ranelagh is hardly the catalyst for an emotional send-off.

So now you know.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


On writing, Radiohead, Red's retirement and uh...mixtapes

Weird the way when you go to write a post after a fairly lengthy gap you automatically want to be all apologetic in tone, isn't it? (Though that might just be me). I'm not sorry at all, though, I've never understood why so many bloggers seem to feel this compunction to keep writing even when they know they've nothing to say.

I had this notion that unemployment might make me feel more creative in some way. I was about to say that it hasn't, but when you're as non-prolific as I am then I suppose one half-written short story, one fully-finished piece of crap and one three-quarters done post on an issue isn't that bad. The story will be entered into a competition if the end result turns out OK, the surreal piece of crap will be consigned to the bin, and the post should appear shortly.

As an aside, Radiohead have apparently said that they won't be releasing any more albums, but will release individuals songs, presumably as downloads. One such song has been released this week, it's called Harry Patch (In Memory Of), it's very good, and it's available for just one of those things the Brits like to call "pounds" right here.

Continuing the musical theme, I bought some new headphones the other week. They cost €25, which is not a lot when you consider how much they can be, but is more than I've ever spent on headphones before. And, listening to a bit of Nina Simone late one night, I got to thinking about how some songs really sound best when listened to in a quiet place, on your own, with headphones. It reminded me of my brother's complaint on the one and only occasion that he came to a music festival with me: "I think I prefer music in private. To that end, I've decided that the first ever mix-tape I plan on putting together will be made up of subtle little numbers that work best in a chilled out space on your own. It's almost an anti-festival mix, if you will (though I'm still all excited about the Picnic next month). I will send out a copy to absolutely anyone who would like one, regardless of where you live. so if you're interested in getting one just email me and I'll get right on it. My email is in my Blogger profile at the top right hand corner of the page.

And on that note, I'll finish by saying that I was sorry to see the retirement of the Queen of the Mix Tape last week. Red has been one of the good ones throughout the entire time I've been reading blogs and my feed-reader is going to miss her.