Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Super Sunday

Wandering past the Trinity College rugby on Sunday afternoon after a swim the lady and I are nattering away to each other. There's a smattering of folks along the sideline, most of whom turn to glare at us like we've just farted do-re-mi during the Pope's funeral. I look at the pitch; some stocky, cocky gobshite with stupid hair is taking an aeon to line up a kick at goal so straighforward that my dead granny could casually backheel it over. The glarers think our chatter from 30 metres away might cause him to miss. These eejits, whose rugby knowledge begins and ends with Munster's Heineken Cup matches on the telly, have decided that all kicks at goal must be met with reverential silence. They do that at Thomond Park, every time their boy ROG steps up to the tee. The wankers. They pride themselves on it there, and on how they're such a respectful rugby crowd that they even do it when the away team are having a shot at goal. Except when it's a kick that might mean Munster could lose, like.
 Anyway, yer man blunderbusses it through the posts and the crowd singularly fail to erupt in jubilation. They don't even clap, they just put their hands back in their snug, smug pockets.

Later on, I ask if she'll join me in the pub to watch the football. Or to read a book in the pub while I watch the football. It doesn't interest her, and I've always appreciated that she admits this and doesn't feel it's her girlfriendly duty to pretend to be into it. I just want her company, as ever.
"Nah, I'll just get the shopping done."
"We can do it tomorrow. Or I'll do it on Tuesday, it's not like I don't have the time," I say, sounding far more wistful than any grown man should.
She joins me a pint and a half into a rather dull match, in which Arsenal have coasted into a 2-0 lead without even playing remotely well. She launches into the Irish Times crossword whilst I sup my pint, grunt at the match and chuckle at the wildly varying approaches to flirting within the group of cadets sitting in front of us. Just as I help her finish up by deciding that 12 down is 'secede', chaos descends onscreen and Arsenal contrive to swiftly turn a two goal lead into a draw. I thump the table, swear incessantly, mumble vague threat against both the referee and Alex Song, and become thoroughly unpleasant company for a Sunday afternoon.
"This is why I don't like watching football with you; you get so stressed."
I hate it when she talks in semi-colons. But she's right, I do.

 What I most remember about reading Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch (a book, incidentally, about supporting Arsenal, but which contains universal truths for any football fan) was an observation he made about the one and only time he was able to pick his face out of the crowd when watching match highlights later on TV. He noticed that he looked completely miserable, and realised that he tended to be tense and serious at matches. So concerned by the idea of his team losing that he never really enjoyed the games at all. Concerned by profligate finishing. Concerned by how evenifthey'vegotawaywithdefendinglikethatthistimetheywon'tgetawaywithitagainsttop-classopposition.

And that's the nature of the beast. Watching a sport that you've somehow conditioned yourself into being highly emotionally with means that you're likely to feel unhappy for large amounts of it. The subhuman roars fans emit when their team scores against some particularly hated opposition are as much about relief that the other cunts aren't winning as they are about joy at their own team's prowess.
This shit isn't reasonable, and I know it. Emanuel Adebayor's obnoxious behaviour towards his old club a few weeks ago had me far more riled than John O'Donoghue's obnoxious behaviour towards his country, upset me more than any news from Darfur and made me ask more questions about the inherent evilness of man than the Fritzl case. If media coverage is proportionally representational then an awful lot of people must feel that way. I really don't know what to make of that.

Of course, you might reasonably argue that the tension and stress of watching sports leads to a such a massive high when things eventually do go right that it's all worth it in the end. But I'm beginning to think that that's a little like suggesting that it would be a worthwhile leisure pursuit to hire someone to hide all of your most precious belongings all over the country, just so you could enjoy the rush of finally finding them all again.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Oh, the enormity of how this genius has done great to write such a seminal post about wordsies. Enjoy!!!!

The Irish Times published this piece yesterday about some of the most irritating words and expressions people use on a day-to-day basis, such as "whatever", "I, personally" and "basically". It's a good piece, though the sight of all these irritating phrases was enough to make me swear loudly to myself when I first read it.
Nevertheless,  in the spirit of whining curmudgeonliness, I've decided to compile my own list of things people say that rub me up the wrong way.

Seminal: 'Seminal' comes from a Greek word meaning seed, the same root from which we get the word 'semen'. It is often used by music and film critics to denote how influential something is or was, e.g. "The Beatles were a seminal band", meaning that they sowed the seeds that led to many other bands. It does not simply mean that they are important. Sports broadcasters regularly fail to realise this. When Bill O'Herlihy excitedly welcomes viewers to "this seminal match for Ireland" he is eschewing much more suitable words like 'crucial', 'critical', or y'know, 'very important' because he thinks this one makes him sound clever. Only if you want to cover Kevin Kilbane in spunk, Billo.

Enjoy: How often are you in a shop or restaurant now where someone hands you what you've asked for and instructs you to "enjoy"? It's a pretty harmless statement, but it feels as unnecessary and platitudinal as "have a nice day". I mean, chances are I wil enjoy my lemon meringue tart and cappuccino, but I don't need your fucking permission, thanks. I could swear it only crept into common usage here about five years ago, but it's ubiquitous now. I could probably develop something of a dough-based crush on the young lady who works in the bakery near my house, were it not for the fact that she concludes every single one of our transactions with "enjoy". It's batch loaf, love, it's as much about staying alive as it is enjoyment.

-sies: "Wantsies!" "Ooh, you've bought your engagement ring, showsies!" "That's a big Mars bar, sharesies?"
It was probably cute when this one started, but it's dancing all over my metaphorical tits by now. I imagine it's only going to keep growing, too. This one should never, fucking ever, be attempted by any straight male over the age of three and a half. Try responding to the next 'sies' you get with a swift "piss offsies".

Enormity: Do you know what enormity actually means? It means 'outrageousness' or 'extreme wickedness'. Honestly. Somewhere along the way someone noticed that it sounds an awful lot like 'enormous' and started using it that way. It's perhaps due to sentences such as "the enormity of the Holocaust", where people assumed it referred to the scale of it, rather than the evilness. Kingsley Amis once wrote something to the effect that we "must battle against the enormity of using enormity to mean enormous." He lost.
"John, we can't underestimate the enormity of this match, can we?"
"No, we can't, Bill."

Genius: Probably the most misused word in the English language. Geniuses of our time include Wayne Rooney, Brian O'Driscoll, Peter Jackson, Robert de Niro and my postman. They're just very good at what they do, is all.* A fellow blogger once referred to Lampsy, the guy who puts pictures of lamps with the caption "I love lamp" all over Dublin as a genius. I had to be restrained from leaving a snotty comment. he's just a guy who likes Anchorman and has too much time on his hands, is all.

The death of the adverb: "The lad's done brilliant to get his shot in from there." Sports broadcasters can, once again, take a bow. Apparently you sound snobby if you tack 'ly' onto the end of adjectives, as the decline in their usage appears to be quite wilful at this stage. It's spreading elsewhere, too. The only instance where it's acceptable to forego the 'ly' is 'shite', as "he's playing shitely tonight" sounds stupid.

Readers, do feel free to wade in with your own pet peeves. 'Pet peeves' should probably be amongst them, disgusting phrase that it is.

*Except my postie, who regularly fails to deliver post to our flat because he's afraid he might slip on the steps. The pizza flyer guys don't seem to mind, the beautiful little geniuses.

Tell them I hate them

I wandered along Thomas Street thinking "If I can't see it then I don't have to go, if I can't see it then it's not really there." But it was there. It was the big dirty building with SOCIAL WELFARE OFFICE above it in bright blue letters. It was my first time, and I expected it to hurt."28 years without anyone's help," I thought grandly. "Well, 28 years without anyone's help but that of my parents. Whose help was, at times, one must admit to oneself, of the sizeable variety. But still."

The nice lady at reception directed me to the Fresh Claims counter, whilst the obese man behind me tutted about Nigerians in between his sweaty gasps for breath. "I'm not like you people", I thought, "I washed today and I don't want to be here. I worked last week, I worked!" Two tracksuit warriors, no more than 19, wandered in, dragging mountain bikes across the beige carpet. "It's not my day for signin' on, I signed on yesterday," said the chap in the blue cap airily, to no-one in particular. They appeared to be there just for the craic, leaning their bikes near the counter I was headed to, then kneeling on the chairs like it was their living room at home, as they nattered to some comrades in the queue.

I took ticket 53 and waited in a chair. The queue for payments grew 30 or so long and showed little sign of movement. A bloke nodded to me from the queue. He looked about my age and like the type of person I might know, but his face rang no bells. Lots of people there looked like people I might know, looked not unlike me. If he really did know me then I resented him for showing it. A raised voice coming from behind a closed door in one of the interview rooms started to dominate the place, rising to a crescendo "...no, you're bullying me,WHERE'S. MY. MONEY?! "
"Where's mine?" responded some wag in the line, raising a few titters. I was feeling titterless.
A short, curly-headed woman comes out. "Sorry folks, there's a dispute going on in the office next to mine. You'll have to just ignore it, let it go in one ear and out the other, please." She seemed to rank this oafish grab for lucre alongside the Secrets of Fatima. Her face falls "It's difficult for everyone, it's in the office next to mine." A sigh. "Can whoever owns these bikes please take them outside, please?" The warrior in the grey cap arose sulkily "A'right, I'm movin' them, I'm movin' them. Jaysis." She let them leave them just inside the door, just as Wheresmymoney exited Interview Room D fatly, slamming the door fatly behind him and fuming fatly outside. Like a big fat man, the kind of big fat man that makes me feel better about my own fluctuating levels of chub.

My number finally came up, and I approached the counter.
"Do you live in Dublin 8?"
"Yes, in Portobello," I said too loudly, making it clear that I am better than these folks from The Coombe, and that, were it not for the peccadillos of the postal code people and a narrow streak of grimy canal, I'd have been allowed make the five minute mosey to the Rathmines Social Welfare office instead, where small, neat lines of fecund and attractive briefly-down-on-their-luck artists would welcome me, where no-one wears tracksuits or gets angry, where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.
The lady was calm and patient, telling me what forms to fill in and arranging me an appointment for next week. Her constantly changing expressions of surprise as she surveyed her screen left me wondering exactly what kind of information a PPS number leaves one privy to. I left with a fistful of paperwork for both me and my sometime employers to fill in, with the bemused impression that I might somehow have been better off not working at all since June.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Mein Gott

Nearing the end of a class on Tuesday, I used my standard technique for filling in the last few minutes of the final class I am going to have with a particular group: I ask them what they're looking forward to doing when they get home.

"Anna, what are you going to do when you get back to Vienna?"
"I will go to the toilet."
She said this without even the hint of a smile on her face.
"You'll go to the toilet? Does the family you're staying with not have a toilet?"
"Yes, but I can't go in another country. My mother has the same problem."

Some quick quizzing from her fellow Austrians confirmed that yes, for the entire week she was here she was happy enough to piss but was entirely unable to take ein scheise. My gut suddenly ached in sympathy and I dismissed the class, horrified.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


In what furnace was thy brain?


This perfectly composed shot is to serve as a memento for me of my final day as a 27 year-old. Because I don't think you're allowed to wear jumpers with pictures of gay tigers on them once you're 28. That would just be really sad.
I took this not long after having a shower, which is why my hair is wet. I've tended to make a point of having a shower the day before my birthday, it feels like a symbolic gesture - a washing-off of the year left behind. Most people might have these washings-off pretty much every day, but I've never been a believer in such things. I started this ritual the day before my 15th birthday. 14 had been a difficult age, bringing a certain amount of bother with it. A week later I got suspended from school.
It's just as well I don't shower too regularly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Seasonally disaffected

I've always found bin day slightly depressing. There's something about sad little black sacks of rubbish sitting on the street waiting to be picked up that gets to me. And it's on Tuesday around here, and Tuesdays are notoriously crap anyway. Bin day on a pissing wet Tuesday is even worse, my heart sinks for the binmen who have to pick up these sodden sacks, rendered several litres heavier by those who don't tie up the sack properly.
And there was something very, very shitty about driving the girlfirend's car back from the car dentist (where it must presumably have received a crown, two fillings and a nice little handjob, if the price is right) and seeing the contents of a ripped bag strewn all over Mountpleasant Avenue. Human detritus all over the place, wet.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Gonna help him put asunder bad guys who like to loot and plunder

I wonder if in years to come we will look back on this point in history as the moment when Irish politics finally descended irretrievably into infantilism and lowest common denominator bullshit.

Ireland goes to the polls on Friday charged with making a decision that absolutely no-one seems to understand the ramifications of. It's very hard to when the people who are paid good money to do so seem incapable of anything other than lies and mud-slinging. Posters everywhere scream that the minimum wage could be cut to €1.84 if this treaty is allowed to pass. This always seemed unlikely and is, apparently, completely untrue. So why has it been allowed to stay on virtually every lamp-post in the country? Imagine I put up posters all over the country with a supposed fact like, say:

My posters would be taken down pretty quickly, I'd imagine, and if anyone knew it was me who did them then I'd find myself in a bit of bother. This despite my fact being true, as far as I know. Yet a massive amount of misinformation is plastered absolutely everywhere right now. 'YES FOR JOBS', sounds massively disingenuous on Fianna Fáil's part, as there is really nothing there to suggest that more jobs would be created if we pass the treaty. 'We can't save the environment alone,' urge the Green Party, who apparently believe that passing the treaty is akin to shouting "Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart!" and summoning Captain Planet. But even He couldn't take pollution down to zero at this stage.

Then there's Jim Corr. I think we all knew, deep down, that touring the world with three ridiculously good-looking girls, all of whom are your sisters, would be enough to send a man crazy. But it hasn't manifested itself in old Jimbo getting whacked off his tits on mushrooms and attempting to snog Ryan Tubridy live on TV, as we'd all hoped. Nope, Jim has gradually turned into a full-blown conspiracy theorist with a fine line in paranoia that'd make even David Icke blush:

You will meet people as I do occasionaly (sic.) who are unable to grasp the reality of what's going on. You may even meet them amongst family and friends but don't get frustrated, It is understandably inconceivable for some people to contemplate that some governments at the behest of their globalist puppeteers could be staging terrorist attacks against their own populations, particularly for people whose reality doesn't extend beyond the television set, which is being used highly effectively sometimes as a Weapon of Mass Deception. 

Jim has been "studying the New World Order", apparently, and is now running a website that can liberate us all. Step One is voting No to Lisbon, don't you know. I think I prefer it when has-been popstars try to make it as reality TV show judges.

I voted no last time round, simply because I wasn't happy with the way the treaty had been explained to the public. The wording on the ballot paper asks if you agree with the proposal to alter our constitution in order to ratify the treaty. I was undecided until the very last minute, when I realised that I couldn't possibly agree with the proposal, because I couldn't for the life of me understand what the treaty meant in real terms, and therefore couldn't  honestly agree to accept it. So although I wasn't necessarily dead against the Lisbon Treaty, I felt perfectly comfortable saying I disagreed with a proposal to accept it at that particular juncture.

But I helped to spawn a monster. The rest of my family had all voted Yes, and gave me constant earfuls (mostly playful, though not all) about my unwavering support for Declan Ganley and Mary-Lou McDonald. Sadly, these two festering pustules both treated the success of the No campaign as a personal victory. Both were, mercifully, soundly told to fuck off by most of the population when they tried to get elected to the European Parliament earlier this year. But they're back again, duplicitous and obnoxious as ever, still making it all about them. This time round they may just turn out to be the Yes campaign's deadliest weapon, as there can't be many people left who have any sort of stomach for them.

It gets complicated, though. One argument for voting Yes that is often put forward is that "all the major parties are for it, so it must be fine." I remain unconvinced by this, as it only means that one or two heads in each party have decided on their policy, and that all the other plods have to toe the line if they know which side their bread is buttered on. Many of our public representatives, I think it has been proven lately, are a corrupt and venal bunch, who know exactly how to get what they want. I hope I don't sound as though I'm sneaking into Jim Corr territory if I say that I honestly don't trust any of them, and find any claims they make to be looking out for the public's best interests to be suspect at best.

So how will I vote (or will I vote?) on Friday? Fuck knows.