Thursday, December 24, 2009


"Ride me sideways", that was another one.


In other, entirely unrelated news, I seem to have suddenly adopted that habit people have of saying "oh, stop!" in order to express their complete agreement with a statement someone else is making.
As in:
"Jesus, it's so fucking cold outside I think my nipples might snap off."
"Oh, stop!"


"Did you see on the news about those people down in Kerry queueing up to shake hands with that rapist fella from Listowel? I think it's terrible, so I do..."
"Oh, stop!"

The missus caught me doing it twice today and roundly, rightly ripped the piss. But her camp, hand-flapping impression of me the first time I did it wasn't quite on the mark, as I hadn't really been doing it in all that effete a manner. No, we realised the second time around that I can only have picked up this most unwanted of mannerisms from all the auld ones I've been working with in the charity shop. Auld ones love a bit of "oh, stop!" and use it to register their feelings on subjects ranging from diplomatic relations between Britain and Libya to the Christmas number one ("Full of effin' and blindin' it is, Connie." "Oh, stop!"). Popular variants include "Ah, would ya stop!" and "Stop the lights!"

No harm in any of this at all, only that it once again exposes how impressionable my vocal chords are, what a blank canvas my early years of moving around have left me with. After 27 years of referring to my mother as 'mum' I have now, after little more than one year, picked up the fiancée's preference for 'mam' - the kind of lingual slip that could probably see me excommunicated from the Church of Ireland (if they did excommunication). And a full twenty years since I left Cork, I still find that a few days down there leave me spouting stuff like "Ah, 'tis desperate altogedder". Australian friends have misled me into calling flip-flops 'thongs'. I could go on, but you're smart, you get it.

Next month, all being well, I'll be starting some voluntary work in this place. It was set up by the inestimable Roddy Doyle, a man who should be a hero to every right-thinking Irish person. I believe he can be seen about the place, so I'm looking forward to his influence upon my continuing adventures in idiom.

Happy Christmas, yiz fucks.

Monday, December 21, 2009


and the way the night just seemed to turn the colour of orangeade

"Get the fuck up! Now!"

My shrill warning comes just in time for my brother to leap out of his seat and clear a path for the monstrosity in an ill-fitting aquamarine satin dress behind him (let's call her Sonya), teetering perilously close to the top of his head with a desperate hand to her mouth and ominously bulging cheeks. The contents of her guts are spilt inches from my feet instead. There's always carrots, isn't there?
Seats are vacated to accommodate the ensuing acid, acrid stench, but this pub full of demon drunks and festive finery allows us no quarter to move our group to, and the night is too cold and too far on to be seeking a fresh hostelry.
Lady Sonya of the Sickly Stomach is briefly escorted away by her friend, only to rapidly return with a fresh drink in hand, looking more chipper than ever, holding court and administering fulsome hugs unashamedly close to her oozing pool of vomit being trampled all over the pub by those oblivious to the feel of chunky slime beneath their feet. As it happens, there is but one degree of separation between us, a degree who arrives not long after, spies me, and foists an introduction to Sonya upon me.
"Oh my God!!! HI!!!"
I am generally cuddlier than Barney the motherfucking Dinosaur, but I visibly flinch as she lunges toward me with arms open and pursed lips.
Sonya is celebrating her 28th birthday and is having a brilliant night, as are her friends. In some countries they call a blasé attitude to adults puking publicly a problem. In Ireland the government celebrate its place within our culture in its Budget.
The Fiancée and I leave before kicking-out time, 28 too, and tired. We pick our way through the throngs of George'sWexfordCamden Street liberated by the First X-factorless Saturday of Advent. It is one long tracking shot of a scene midway between the last days of Rome and the last night of Oxegen. We fail to enjoy our solitary stale Spanish cigarette, we talk ourselves away from the hotdog van.  I  think of Essex Dogs as we hopscotch over streams and puddles of the generosity of Brian Lenihan.

The smell of puke and piss on your stilettos.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Is that the new thing?

The bloke at the till next to the one I'm paying at in Tesco Express wears a few  tragically disparate whiskers and speaks with the upwards inflection favoured mostly by the young, the terminally stupid and the Australian. And he's from no further south than Stillorgan...

"Hi, do you have any of those, like, larger naggins of vodka?"
"You want a half-bottle?"
"No, it's like a naggin, only larger?"
"Yes, you mean a half-bottle, a shoulder."
"Um, I think it's called a 'daddy naggin'?"


Thursday, December 3, 2009


Strange news from another star

I don't check my Hotmail account very often any more. They have appallingly bad spam filters and Gmail is preferable in just about every way. I popped in for the first time in about a week last night and found this:

Get RickO'Shea to loose.‏
From: Curtis J (

Dear Andrew

Your country needs you. Well Charlotte Flood needs you. 

Charlotte is competing in one of the annual awards in this years things. anyways. 

She is close to but still second to Mr Rick O'Shea, you may know him. 

I have already set up a number of people, both nationwide and overseas to vote for Miss Flood to win but we need to recruit more and more. 

To help us you need to vote for Charlotte as much as possible! 

I find if you lower the zoom on the browser (by hitting CTRL and '-' at the same time) you can vote quicker as there is less scrolling involved! 
You are allowed vote 100 times in one go , it is tedious but we need all the votes we can get for good ol Chalotte. It resets after a few hours so if you use up all your votes try later that day and vote another 100 times. 

I hope you will be as committed to this cause as we are. 

Spread the word and get as many people as humanly possible to vote. 

Have a nice day
Who the fuck is that guy? How did he get my email address, how the fuck does he know I know Rick O'Shea and why the fuck does he think I'd care enough to help him rig a poll? I'd rather listen to Peter Andre having an attack of the scutters than any of the tools who pollute the daytime airwaves, but that's neither here nor there. Rick O'Shea is, presumably, running one hell of a campaign himself as he's still way ahead in that particular category, as is his merry band of try-hards (Gimme has said all that needs to be said on that particular matter)., your poll is dodgier than a Zimbabwean election.

Now, Internet, I'm going to be away from you for a few days, holed up in a cottage in Mayo with nowt but a fire, a jigsaw puzzle and at least one scantily-clad lady for company. When I come back I wish to hear no more of this frippery. I wish for you to become once again the calm, measured forum for intelligent debate that you've always been up to now. Or at least ensure that Karen Koster claims her rightful crown as 'Best Xposé Presenter', yeah?

Chancing my arm, biting my lip

Things people say to staff in the Irish Cancer Society shop:

"I'm buying three of these shirts, I should get a discount."

"€1.50 for that? I'll give you €1.20 for it."
(Proceeds to pay with a €50 note.)

"Could you not throw that one in for free? Sure yiz get all your stuff for free anyway."

"30 cent for The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, brilliant."
"I think we have another of her books out in the back, will I get it for you?"
(upon returning) "That's 40 cent for that one, please."
"Oh, it's dearer?"

(To the manager)
"I'm not waiting till Saturday to buy that figurine in the window display, I want it now. I'm calling the head office to make a complaint."

"There's a tiny stone missing from this brooch, can you give it to me for a fiver instead of 7.50?"
"It's 7.50 because there's a stone missing, it's worth at least 40 otherwise."
"I'll give you six for it if you'll wrap it up for me."

What this member of staff thinks about saying to these people every day:

"One in four of you will contract some kind of cancer one day, cuntos, one in four of you."

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


What others were feeling like today #14


Old Irish airs on violin. I love Ireland: were she only not Catholic! But would she be Ireland otherwise?

After yet another foul, fetid week in the history of this country a diary entry from exactly 140 years ago has summed things up better than I can. As have Radge and Gimme.

Friday, November 27, 2009


In a world where...

I was having a bit of a moan the other day to The Fiancée about how everyone starts looking for 'best of' lists at this time of year. I mentioned Donald Clarke's post, and how I'd ended up giving my tuppenceworth anyway, even though I'm above that sort of thing.
"Um, I think everyone missed the point of that one. He was looking for piss-takey ideas, like his ones."

I hate missing the point. So here, because I'm vain enough to post this on my own blog instead of in the comments on Donald's, are my favourite eight movies that weren't released in 2009:

The Stuffing of Dreams
Dir. Ving Rhames
Haley Joel Osment gives an Oscar-nominated performance as a nine year-old with Down's Syndrome who comes to terms with the untimely demise of his Siamese cat, Musty, through the help of avuncular taxidermist Elliott Gould. Also starring Bonnie Hunt as the wise-cracking mom.

Adapting Charlie Kaufman
Dir. John Malkovich
Charlie Kaufman stars as Nicholas Cage, an actor preparing for the role of a lifetime where he will play Philip Seymour Hoffman as he prepares to portray Catherine Keener in a play about Spike Jonze directing Being John Malkovich. Samantha Morton turns in a stunning performance as Jean, the woman who ignores them.

Brown Torino
Dir. Ben Stiller
Clint Eastwood and Michael Caine star as two bickering, widowered toilet attendants who retire to the industrial paradise of Turin, northern Italy, only to discover that there's always shit to take care of.

The Flesh-Eating Monkeys that Live in my Vagina 
Dir. Jane Seymour
Though rumoured to be based on an initial concept by Eli Roth, Jane Seymour is very much the star of the show as she writes, directs and plays all seven lead roles in this bleakly apocalyptic vision of the near future.

Alpha to Omega
Dir. Ron Howard
Tom Bosley stars as Harold Oldman, an old man suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Hilarity ensues as he forgets where he lives and is taken in and adopted as a mascot by the residents of a party-hard fraternity house. Jonah Hill and Seann William Scott both received Golden Globe nods for their sensitive portrayal of twenty year-olds who like beer bongs.

Out and Out (3D)
Dir. Robert Rodriguez
Zac Efron and James van der Beeck star as twin brothers who battle prejudice and their mother's frowns to overcome the obstacle of their homosexuality and realise their dream of making it in the world of musical theatre. Bonnie Hunt co-stars as their mother.

Mincemeat! (How Corporate America Screws us Over)
Dir. Michael Moore
Moore's latest provocative documentary is a shocking exposé of what really goes into mince pies.
Apparently, it's not meat at all.

Crazy Face Man
Dir. Pedro Almodovar
Jim Carrey delights in this knockabout comedy as a man who contracts Bell's Palsy, causing him to gurn unwittingly in the most hilariously inappropriate circumstances. Pamela Anderson illuminates the screen as Woman whose Boobs Jim Likes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Some people say the sky is just the sky

Late last Monday night, lying in bed beside my gradually-recovering-from-swine-flu girlfriend, I found my head beating and beating at me with something I'd been wanting to say for ages but had never intended to say there and then.

"Will you marry me?"

Turns out she will. I held her tightly and she cried a little. The sap. I just shook. We kissed and we talked, thought what exactly we said has long since left my mind, so addled was I by the heady concoction of joy and fear. Fear, not of the commitment that we had just made to each other, but that, once we started the task of telling all the important people in the morning, even one of them might express the tiniest doubt or misgiving.

I needn't have worried. We let the night tick into the wee hours before deciding that we'd burst if we didn't tell someone and that there was a chance my brother might be awake. He wasn't, but he received the news with delight. The following day he told me that he lay awake for the next hour or so, composing the opening lines of the best man speech he knew I'd ask him to give and crying a little. The sap.

We lay in bed and listened to one of our favourite records, laughing at how we've managed to wear the vinyl down already. I don't know what time I got to sleep at, but she was even later, for once.

My brother's reaction seems to have set the tone thus far, thankfully. The Fiancée ( I love saying that) made the important family calls in the morning and then sent a blanket webtext to almost everyone who would care to know. She lost her already fragile voice in the maelstrom of excited calls that followed. So uncomfortable am I with an inundation of attention I chose to do my informing in drips and drabs, soaking up the enthusiastic responses at a manageable rate. I wondered if my heart would ever stop racing.

It was nearly 24 hours later before I was able to lie calmly in bed, thinking about how incredible it is that someone should choose to wake up beside me every morning and how wonderful it is to be gaining a second family, that it all fully sank in. And I smiled, and I woke her up at stupid o'clock babbling about what stones she should get in her ring (her very talented jewellery designer sister will make it) and I knew that every day from then on will feel like a celebration of that one.

P.S . That's what she said.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


About an old lady

Last Saturday was my first day volunteering in a charity shop on Camden Street. As I bustled about trying to be useful and not get in the way I was warned to be vigilant against pickpockets and shoplifters, as they've had plenty of them there recently. "What kind of scumbag nicks stuff from charity shops?" I thought to myself, secure in the knowledge that my teenage shoplifting prowess had all been a carefully orchestrated plot against The Man, and that no-one ever suffered from it.
 An hour later I was working away on the till when a greying man approached me, speaking in a conspiratorially low whisper. "You see that old woman down there, the one in the black coat?" She was the only old woman in a pretty small shop, so of course I saw her. He went on to provide further needless descriptions before saying "I saw her steal something, I think it was a tea-strainer she put in her pocket." His concern was simultaneously admirable and irritating. I am loath to be frisking old ladies, even villainous tea-strainer thieves, so I passed this on to a more experienced member of staff, who consulted with the manager. They thought she'd been at that kind of thing in the shop before, so decided to wait by the door to intercept her.
 Business was good at the tills so I missed the dramatic moment, but the next thing I saw of the old lady she was trembling out profuse apologies, all five foot nothing of her. I was struck by how much older she looked than my 84 year-old grandfather, despite the fact that she's probably a full decade younger. Her eyes were brimming as she kept saying, over and over, "I just wasn't thinking, I was walking around and my mind slipped and I put it in my pocket. I didn't mean to, I didn't mean to." She was brought to the till so she could hand me over the €2.90 for the tea-strainer she says she was always intending to buy. A wretched sight by this stage, her unkempt grey curls quivering along with her and a tear rolling down a line in her face as she handed over her shivering coins.The manager kept trying to console her, agreeing that it's very easy for such a thing to slip your mind. But she was in bits by now, so they took her down to the back of the store to sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat.
 She shuffled out about 15 minutes later looking little better, mumbling anguished promises about going straight to the church to say her prayers.

Friday, November 6, 2009


What others were feeling like today #13

Checking my archives I realise that I haven't put up one of these posts in nearly six months. There's a couple of nice entries for today and I have little else of interest to share with you. When I hear back from E4 regarding my strongly worded letter expressing my outrage at their rescheduling of Gilmore Girls so that it clashes with Countdown I'll let you know. For any new readers (and,surprisingly enough, there seem to be a couple recently, which is nice), this is simply a section where I opt out of any creativity whatsoever and simply put up diary extracts for the day in question taken from a book I have called The Assassin's Cloak.


At night my wife and I did fall out about the dogs being put down into the cellar, which I had a mind to have done because of his fouling the house, and I would have my will; and so we went to bed and lay all night in a quarrel. This night I was troubled all night with a dream that my wife was dead, which made me that I slept ill all night.

If the lady and I ever manage to have a row I may well try out the "I would have my will" line on her; it's so delightfully authoritative.


I spent the whole evening just sitting before a mirror just to keep myself company.

Wikipedia tells me that "The typical protagonist in the works of Pavese is a loner, through choice or through circumstances. His relationships with men and women tend to be temporary and superficial."
Cesare, of course, lived in an era before either Gilmore Girls or Countdown had been invented.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Blue! Blue! Blue!

You know you've been unemployed for far, far too long when you hear that 'mentalist' muppet Keith Barry on the radio banging on about how the Irish version of Deal or No Deal presented by his good self is starting soon on TV3 and you think "Hmmm...could be interesting."

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 ", 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.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Would I blow everyone's mind if I ate dessert first?

It's been giddy nuns, frank and sensible Germans and smiling Swiss. This is TEFL, and I love it. No two days are photocopies.

"So you definitely don't need me to work tomorrow?"
"No, we don't need you tomorrow. See you on Friday, Andrew."

This is how the wind blows, and it's OK. It's helping me steer clear of the inevitable maiden voyage to the dole office.

I wander down George's Street. Radiohead's In Rainbows is on my ipod. It must be my favourite walking album by an urban mile.

No matter how it ends, no matter how it starts

I'm hungry. But I have a Mars bar in my coat pocket and the components of a killer toasted ham and cheese sandwich at home, only 15 minutes away. I might even go fucking mental altogether and put salami in it too.

Past all the new students on Aungier and Kevin Street. Each and every one of them thinks they are the most unique and special human being on earth. If zany t-shirts and lunchtime pints don't say that, then nothing will. This feeling is likely only to swell for them as they go through the next few years. It will swell, and it will pop.

The infrastructure will collapse

Posters everywhere fight to appeal to my basest natures. Vote No. Vote Yes. Vota Idiota. Fucked if you do and fucked if you don't, from what I can see. Hard not to feel impotent at such times.

I'll be on my own this evening, as she's off to a meeting like a grown-up. A fleeting moment of panic grips me where I wonder what I'll do without her for the evening. Then I laugh at it, glad there's someone whose company feels like a treat every single night. It's dazzlingly sunny for a moment, and I realise I've been walking for the last few seconds with my eyes closed. I've become that guy.

What's the point of instruments? Words are a sawn-off shotgun

And I near home, and I think about how I might try and put how I feel on this brisk walk home into a post. Because I do that from time to time. And I think about how I will fail, because words can't really do that. There might be no way to adequately tell people how you feel. But if I could tell you I would let you know.

You've got a light, you can feel it on your back
A light, you can feel it on your back

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Upon this tidal wave of young mud*

I may very well be the king of posts-I-really-felt-I had-to-write-and then-never-did.

Tonight I had intended to write about football from a certain slant. But it's late and I'm still annoyed by the issue in question and there are plenty who can do that stuff better than I so I'll leave it, at least for now.

I had intended all week to write a little bit about last weekend at the Electric Picnic. But it's now one week on and I doubt anyone cares terribly about what acts I saw and why I went home a bit early, in a huff only with the muck and myself for wanting to see the hype act that everyone else wanted to see. So I'll relate to you instead only a quick anecdote from the Friday at said festival.

Being unfond of getting up and getting my hole into gear in the morning, the missus and I leave it rather late to make our way to Stradbally and don't get there till mid-afternoon. Somehow in our sluggish morning preparations we forgot that we needed to replenish our supply of tent-pegs, as we are about ten short of a well pinned-down tent.

We remember this while pitching the tent. I go off to seek extras from any shop I can find. The man at the camping supplies shop says "No, mate, we sold out hours ago." He is clearly of the belief that if one must be unprepared, one should at least be early to do so.

So I try the Gala mini-supermarket.

"Do you have any tent-pegs? I ask the girl behind the counter.
"Yes we do" she replies, with a certainty that suggests they must have plenty of them. In your fucking face, camping supplies man!
"Brilliant, you're saving my life here. Can't believe I came down without enough of them."
She smiles sympathetically, scans the item, and hands me a box of...Tampax.

*Hundreds of bands playing at the Picnic and I have to go and make my title a pun on a song by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, a band who were not there.

Monday, September 7, 2009


The Second Sole

"Is it ready yet?" you bark at the chap behind the counter, "I've been waiting twenty fucking minutes."
 This is a lie. I think you had placed your order just before me, and I was only gone two minutes, fetching milk in the Late Nite shop across the road.
"Nearly," says the chipper man, as he stares intently at the pan, willing the fish to cook faster. I sense you were chatty while I wasn't there, too.

You wear a navy suit, not shabby but not half as suave as you might have hoped. It looks massively incongruous in such surroundings on a Sunday night. You are upper middle-aged and middle middle-class. You are old enough and educated enough to know better than to be an asshole to nice fellows working in chip-shops. Your belligerent demeanour makes me assume drink was playing its part, though you were odourless from where I stood.

And, for a moment, I want to smash your fucking face in.  To decorate the pristine white tiles on the wall with a smattering of your blood. If only to put manners on you.

It passes.

Your order arrrives: two fresh sole and two chips, and you pay with a twenty. "I want all my fucking change, now," you growl, your prey fumbling at the till. You get your fucking change, and an astonishingly genuine sounding thank-you.

You turn to leave, and see me for the first time. I must look strange, freshly returned from a festival, spattered with mud and smelling faintly of rum. But your face speaks of only of contempt, not of bemusement. I resist the instinct to move out of your path and  I make you walk around me instead. You meet my eyes in a way that makes my blood run cold. And you leave.

My food is ready instantly. As I suspected, it was ready before yours but they dared not give it to me first. I leave a twenty cent tip by way of a sympathy gesture and leave. Looking up the road I see you clunking your way along the pavement towards Camden Street.

And I can't help but wonder as to who's at home, awaiting you and the second sole.

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.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


i never let on that i was on a sinking ship

I was on the bus home from work today when I started to get all excited about the fact that College Green is becoming a bus-only zone during rush hour from Monday onwards.

"What crazy capers might I get up to with the extra five minutes or so this should afford me in work?" I wondered, largely quietly.

Then I remembered that, come Monday, I won't be going to work. I've been teaching English to foreign kids for the last four weeks. but tomorrow (Friday) is my last day. Spanish and Italian kids are, understandably enough, not coming over here in anything like the quantities they once were. You'll have noticed that you haven't had to step off the pavement quite so often to get around them. Finding out whether there may be sufficient amounts of them to get me work for August has proven an impossible task.

"We'll give you a buzz if any work comes up" is the standard line my colleagues and I are hearing. There was a time when the only people in Ireland who received such vague promises were the Lithuanians they hired to rub muck onto free-range eggs to make them more expensive. Now it's probably par for the course, whatever industry you're in.

And that's the thing about a recession, it's one hell of a leveller. So many people here got it into their heads that they were special, that they deserved everything they had and that good jobs would always be around. It's perhaps no harm for everyone to get a massive reality check. Because, judging by the national debt figures the government are mentioning, this mess has been a long time coming.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


This life and then the next

Circumstances and geography have found me shopping in ALDI (do you need to capitalise it, like LIDL, or is it just Aldi?) quite a lot recently. I'm generally accompanied by the lady, who knows exactly what is what in there and guides me through the process ever so smoothly, subtly steering me clear of the 29 cent custard creams in the process.

But yesterday found me there alone, getting stuff for dinner. This task accomplished, I began looking for the pink lemonade that we got there the other week. Having no success in this quest, I was about to go up to a manager type who was busying himself in the booze section to ask where I might find this most satisfying of liquids. But then I stopped short, remembering that the reason these places are about 20 times cheaper than Tesco or Supervalu is because, like Ryanair, they save money by not doing customer service. I had this vision of the manager suddenly pulling out a loudhailer and shouting


So, I leave, sans delicious lemonade, but vowing to return on Thursday with a GPS to help me find the memory foam pillows for 12.99.

I relay my fears to the lady later on.

"Nah," she laughs, "they're really nice in there."

Seriously, then, what's the catch?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Chuck Norris doesn't bowl strikes, he just knocks down one pin and the other nine faint

An alluring combination of mechanics and a job interview in Blackrock find me briefly in Bray on a Monday afternoon.

The familiar sound of teenage skangers causes me to turn and look across the road. There are four of them, about 15 years old, decked out in Nike and Umbro's finest and clearly bored shitless. One of them is grabbing his balls in a fashion so lurid it makes even me blush. This may be a reaction to the young lady crossing the road at this point, it may be a rather overstated but necessary crotchal adjustment on a such a humid day, or it may be that he simply enjoys making a show of clutching his testes in public.

It's not really my place to speculate. But he and his chums have caught my disapproving glance. "Hey, pervert!" is shouted. My heart sinks as I realise they mean me. I immediately am reminded of that episode of Peep Show where David Mitchell's character Mark is chased back into his flat by teenagers shouting "Oi! PAEDO!" at him for no apparent reason.

I have a quick decision to make: Do I scurry on, pretending not to have heard them, but appearing very much like a guilty paedophile to any onlookers who may have viewed this incident out of context? Or do I front up, telling these little scuts to go fuck themselves?
Disappointingly, I pick the former option. There were four of them, after all. And life has made me very good at feigning nonchalance.

"Chuck fuckin' Norris!" is the next catcall. As insults go, this is a marked improvement. Chuck has never been a style icon to me as such, but with my beard and almost slightly long hair I can see where these kids are coming from. As such, I feel empowered enough to stride across to their side of the street, channelling every bit of Delta Force I can muster and casting them a glare that says Chuck don't take no shit off no punk-ass kids. Or something. It appears to be a remarkably successful move, as these little scallies shrink right back into their boxes and not another word is heard.

Kids, when attempting to vex older members of the community on the streets, don't compare them to the greatest human being the world has ever known.

Monday, June 22, 2009


Renaissance Man

I realised recently that the only novels I've managed to finish in the past couple of years have all been from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

I've bought the Sunday Independent for the past three weeks running, and have found myself reading the Life supplement from cover to cover, pondering the merits of a €500 man bag.

I was out in town on Saturday night. In Buck Whaley's on Leeson Street. Six euro pints and coked-up teenagers? Yes, please.

I went to see Synecdoche, New York last night. Lots of people whose opinion I respect had said it was great. I couldn't find it to be anything more than a pretentious piece of art-wank. If Charlie Kaufman is the emperor then I regret to tell you that he has no clothes on.

I went to see The Hangover the week before and laughed my hole off.

I recently discovered that I had quite a large collection of Nuts magazines.

I passed a friend while driving down the dual carriageway earlier. Instead of pulling over for a chat I called and kept her on the phone while I wittered on for about five minutes, whilst speeding through an area that often has Garda checkpoints.

If things carry on like this it won't be long till I'm sat on the couch dribbling into my Pot Noodle and watching Big Brother.

Monday, June 15, 2009


There is a chair, he is walking down the street with the shoes

A Scotsman, an Englishman and an Irishman walk into a bar. The barman asks what they're having. The Englishman says "Pint of Heineken, please." The Scotsman says "Aye, Heineken too." The Irishman says "Yeah, Heineken's a good beer, I'll have pint of that too, please."

What's round and orange and looks exactly like an orange?
A piece of wax that has been coloured and shaped to look exactly like an orange by a man who has a number of years' experience in that line of work.

A Christian, a Jew and a Muslim are discussing their memories of 9/11.
The Christian says "I was at the canned food aisle in my local supermarket when I bumped into my neighbour and she told me all about it. I was shocked."
The Jew says "I was at home flicking through the channels when I saw it on Sky News. I watched the second tower fall. It was awful."
The Muslim says "I was out in my garden watering the petunias when my wife called me inside to see the terrible thing that had happened on TV. As it became clear that Bin Laden's people were behind it I began to worry that it might have a negative impact upon the public's perception of my religion."

Friday, June 12, 2009


Out to stud

"Have you retired?" asks some cheeky little bollix earlier, via Googlychat. His question refers, presumably, to my blog rather than real life. Early retirement for realsies has long been a temptation, but they tell me it helps if you have a career of some kind first, and have at least reached the age of 30.

The blog has been quiet because I have been, hither and thither, doing other things.


Exams. Badness. Let's not talk about them.

Shacking up. Goodness. Very lots of goodness about that.

Failing to obtain the visa that would have allowed herself and I to go to Nova Scotia for a year. It's a shame, the recurring fantasy I had of wearing lumberjack shirts and becoming a cult hero for my exploits in bare-knuckle bear-boxing was not an unpleasant one.

Successfully climbing Croagh Patrick. No-one has ever really conquered that motherfucker in their bare feet, have they? Having abandoned any hope of keeping up with my hideously healthy brother and disgustingly wheeze-free mate I set myself the task of making it to the top before a six year-old English girl I passed along the way called Harriet, who was being cajoled along by her mother. Harriet did not much care for holy mountains, and cared even less for my patronising attempt at encouragement. Yet, every time I stopped for breath and turned around to look over Clew Bay, there was Harriet, steaming along with a face that could advertise infanticide. I suppose she's never smoked Luckies or snorted vodka, but my self-esteem still took quite a kicking. I made it to the top a full three minutes ahead of her. In your freckled face, Harriet.

Finding a job, albeit a very temporary one, that allows me to sit in a warm room drinking tea and playing Football Manager while getting paid. And not even having to pretend to be doing otherwise.

Crossing off the final two counties on this island that I'd never been to. Derry and Donegal, so's you know. If we could be sure of the kind of weather we've had recently for as much as four weeks of the year then I don't think I'd ever need to leave this country.

Applying for a real job, even one that doesn't allow me play Football Manager. Writing letters and lists of why you're better than everyone else is most unbecoming, in my view.

Sunday, May 31, 2009


"A poppyseed twist, and two bagels, and do you have any chocolate biscuit cake? Fuck it, I'll have two of those too."

"When did everyone suddenly decide to ditch quality in favour of cheapness and convenience?" I ask thoughtfully, wandering home in the last of the daylight. My question, largely a rhetorical one, might be directed at any one of society's myriad ills (I often wonder if I am life's youngest grumpy old man, until I think of my younger brother), but in this case I am referring to the declining amount of bakeries in Ireland.

She decides to grant me a considered response to my gripe, anyway: "In the 70s and 80s when no-one here had any fucking money. That's when supermarkets opened."

"Kinda like now, then..."

I have become concerned.

We have just moved into a new place that shares a street with a Jewish bakery. It appealed to me so much that I felt the need to sample their wares before we'd even viewed the flat. Half a muffin later I was on board, whether the place boasted goat's blood-spattered walls and neighbours with a penchant for speed metal or not.

Turns out it didn't. It's lovely, it's warm and it's affordable. But I'm now worried that the recession might take my new baker friends away from me. "They must be struggling with the way things are right now. I think it's important that we buy more stuff there." She just grins at me, and no doubt feels glad that they aren't open right now to receive the full financial benefit of my goodwill.

The issue arises again in the morning. "I think I'll go get us some bread for breakfast, will I?"
She laughs. "Are you now determined to save all bakeries from the recession, as well as the taxi-drivers?" That's been my thing for the last six months - a grim determination to take taxis for even the most menial of trips, as those guys must really be feeling the pinch right now too. I take stock of this for a moment: somewhere, at critical stages of this ever-wilting current economic climate, it appears to have occurred to me that the way to alleviate everyone's suffering is for me to eat more baked goods and to never walk anywhere, whilst dramatically gnawing away at my own dwindling funds.

I'm not sure if this makes me the greatest guy in history or a complete fucking idiot.

But I'm plumping, in every sense of the word, for the latter.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Sunday swab

I wake up in a motel the morning after the somewhat truncated night before. I don't feel good, but she's already three hours into her day, feeling worse. There is breakfast, there is bad TV, and there is a trudge of a drive home.

We get back to Dublin and I pick up a new product that promises to alleviate my cunt of a mouth ulcer in one fell swoop. It is acid on a swab, and it should come with a health warning. "This will sting." This will shred your fucking soul. Show me the man who doesn't shed a tear when hydroxymethoxybenzenesulphonic acid is applied to an open sore in his mouth and I will show you a man dead from the waist up. I sit in the armchair for some time, shell-shocked and self-pitying, reading a Sunday supplement.

I sit there for too long. After a fashion she perches beside me on the arm of the chair. I want her to sit on my lap, but she thinks she's too heavy. She's never been too heavy. There is good music playing, and there is the slow admission of what is really up: the difficult days approaching and the momentary sense of the impending collapse of it all. The crass guilt I have put on myself. I say very little because she knew before I did. I cling to her like an infant and she asks if I want to have a cry. I do, but I know I won't. I had a sneaky one last month.

We stand up and suddenly I'm freezing. She offers to get my jumper, but I need something else. I take off my black shirt and put on a t-shirt and a hoodie. It's bright orange and far too big. Retrospectively thinking, I may have bought it for days like this. I am an X or maybe even an XXL, but I am not an XXXL. I wonder how many men have the dubious honour of being called extra, extra, extra large by clothing companies.

She hands me a cup of tea and I smile gratefully, then shuffle out to the balcony for the day's only cigarette. I peer through the rain and count the chimneys on the grey slate rooftops. I'd never even noticed them before, but right now they're fascinating. I've been sleeping here about six months now, but I've never really lived here. We won't be here much longer.

I spend so much time broad and bearded and made out of bricks. I spend so much time six-two and smiling. I spend so much time strong and almost sensible. I spend so much time, so much time, so much time. And today I'm the small, shivering boy I thought I'd long left behind.

For half an hour, anyway.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


What Others were feeling like Today #12


When all seems rubbish that you wrote in this and all your other books - when you have nothing good to show yourself, to give yourself a feeling of delight. What can you do but plough on through thick mud?

Denton Welch

Extract taken from The Assassin's Cloak.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


It was all fairy cakes and Club Orange around here, you missed out

So, a year ago today I sat down, largely on a whim, and wrote this post. And from that moment on I have been a blogger. Bloggers, to my mind, were largely the people spoken of in tones of both hushed confusion and utter derision by the print media. They were the people who made me laugh by saying what everyone else was thinking, but had previously had no outlet to do so. It was somewhat disconcerting to find out that it really was that easy to join this club, who had previously sounded a little like the Freemasons to me. I had, as I so succinctly put it then, no fucking clue what I was doing. But people responded to me anyway, so I kept on trucking. A year on and this stream of precisely 180 posts seems to have been the catalyst for a huge amount of change in my life. I wasn't intending on meeting anyone through this stuff, let alone making friends whose writing I genuinely respect and enjoy. Let alone falling in love with someone.
But it's great because it means that, though I've contemplated killing this whole thing stone dead on many a dark night I'll always be incredibly glad that I started it. It means that I look at virtually everything in the world around me and wonder whether I might have anything worthwhile to say about it. It means that, for better or worse, I can picture a good few of the people who read this blog and try to work out whether they might enjoy what I've put up.
Mostly, it means that I can enjoy the monstrous ego trip that is tied up so tightly with the notion of people enjoying what I've written - whoever they are. I've been called a couple of names I didn't deserve in response to things I've written, but I've been told a hell of a lot of nice things I didn't deserve too. Recently, I've happened upon a concept called 'standards'. That is to say, the idea that I might be selective and careful in what I write, rather than just spilling everything out onto the screen. The lady and I were talking recently about how frustrating a band The Flaming Lips are, as they produce beautiful songs and utter tosh in equal measure - a fact that can't have fully escaped them. I mused that perhaps they simply like to throw everything they do out there for public consumption, and let time be the judge of how good it is. My approach to blogging was similar for a while, as summed up in a quote from one of those lazy diary posts I put up ages ago: "Do not worry about the foolishness and banality of what you write; let Time take care of it."
Time has shown me so far that some of the posts I thought were shite are now worth reading, and that others I was quite proud of at the time are awful offal. And Time has taught me that I am embarrassed by those ones so, for now at least, I am adopting a policy of greater selectiveness.
Which, in turn, is making me reluctant to say anything at all most of the time. Still, in a world where Twitter is bringing us every vague thought and bowel movement that ever occurred to anyone, it's a policy that makes me. A friend - a friend who doesn't read or know about my blog- told me only a few minutes ago to me that I am a secretive, private man. I am far from this, I am a man who is happy to reveal coruscatingly personal details about my life to anyone who'll listen. But only sometimes.
Welcome to the next year of Chancing My Arm and thanks for choosing to read here, it mollifies me beyond belief.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


While my Wenger gently weeps

Me: Welcome back, dude. Good year?

Him: Yeah, good.

Me: Where'd you visit, anyway?

Him: Ah, we were in Australia and New Zealand mostly, but also got to Vietnam, Japan, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Fiji...

Me: I went to Rathnew, Co. Wicklow last week.

Him: Yeah, that's like a foreign country too.

Me: Aye....ah, I fucking hate football, it's shit.

Him: Yeah, it is shit, it's always been shit. Most things are shit.

Me: Most things are shit. TV is shit.

Him: Yeah. So what have you been doing while I was gone?

Me: Um...I have a blog now. I like to imagine I didn't do it to fill a gap while you were away.

Him: Poof. Did you miss me?

Me: When it got cold enough.

Him: So, any news with you now?

Me: Not a lot. I might move to Canada.

Him: It's fucking freezing there and there are no visas left.

Me: Yeah, I know, but it's Nova Scotia so they might make an exception. They must be dying for people to live there.

Him: Why does your brother look so much younger after a whole year has passed?

Me: I stole all his weight and facial hair while you were gone.

Him: I was thinking that.

Me: You still hoping to go back to your banking job?

Friday, May 1, 2009


Things you can do when you should be studying #2

Get fragmentary ideas for blog posts in your head but fail to commit them to screen, or even paper, as full sentences feel like an awful lot of effort right now. One of them threatens to be the greatest post ever written, and could become the greatest meme ever*.

*This is not, strictly, speaking, true at all.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Things you can do when you should be studying #1

Have The Hills on TV with the sound muted and the video for My Sharona playing on your laptop.

In your jocks, obviously.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009



Wasp, what are you doing in here? Yes, you want to get out now, I can see that from the way you keep banging your head against the glass like a fucking moron. (Incidentally, why doesn't that kill you, like it does to birds?) But what made you come in here? There's a whole big world out there, wasp, yet time and again you and your ilk come strolling into whatever building I'm in, your inflated sense of entitlement blazing in the sun. Except there's only ever one of you - what's that about? Do you fancy yourself as something of a lone wolf, wasp? I've met wolves, I've sung and drank with wolves, and you're no wolf, wasp, you're a wasp.

I think you simply have no friends. Do you expect me to be your friend, wasp? Do you think I'd like it if we drank coffee together and said things like "Ohmygod, I can't wait to see The Killers at Oxegen!" I don't think I'd like that at all. I already have a friend, wasp, and they don't buzz as incessantly in my ear as you do. And if they want a bit of my muffin they fucking well ask, instead of plonking all fours on it and doing a tiny little poo, as seems to be your way. That's the behaviour of a dickhead. Are you a dickhead, wasp? You lack a sense of propriety anyway, that's for damn sure.

No, we shan't be friends. I've been burned by this kind of thing before, wasp. A promising relationship with a bee came to a most regrettable end during an ill-advised pillowfight. Jemima made honey, glorious honey, wasp. You can't even offer me that much. We shan't be swapping books and sharing earphones, you and I. I care not for that "what happened you man, you used to be cool" rhetoric that you always bank on in such circumstances. I am unmoved. So you can just sit there staring balefully at me whilst you bop your stupid stripey distended arse up and down. And I, I'll bide my time, wasp.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Now she's a little boy in Spain, playing pianos filled with flames

It's been a while now since I've been tagged with any kind of a meme. Normally anyone who does do this to me deserves to be kicked up the hole with a pair of size 15 hobnails. But when the man who tags you is Blazing, one of the true gentlemen of the blogosphere, it'd be rude not to.

The rules of this particular meme are:

1) Put the link of the person who tagged you on your blog.
2) Write the rules.
3) Mention 6 things or habits of no real importance about you.
4) Tag 6 persons adding their links directly.
5) Alert the persons that you tagged them.

I'm inclined to think that my blog is already all too full of information of no real importance about me, but I'll fire away anyway with some tasty nuggets y'all may not be aware of.

1. I once bumped into former US secretary of State Madeleine Albright outside Dino's Takeaway in Athboy, Co. Meath. We had an illuminating chat about the impact of leopards upon coastal erosion. Minimal, apparently.

2. I auditioned for one of the leading roles in Ang Lee's Lust, Caution. I was turned down for being "excessively lustful, not cautious enough." Yeah, Ang, and The Hulk sucked.

3. When I leave the house with either no boxers or no socks on I like to imagine I'm a pornstar.

4. When I'm playing Football Manager I occasionally fantasise that my peripheral, squad rotation players are slightly attracted to me. But only in a way they can't quite comprehend.

5. I have a paralysing fear of starfish.

6. I devoted the entirety of the middle seventeen years of my life to perfecting the formula for barbeque sauce flavoured candyfloss.

7. I believe 7 to be an infinitely superior number to 6. You know the way there's 7 days in a week? I came up with that.

Now, the shitty part: Tagging.

1. Darren. Because he needs to stop pretending he works for Empire magazine and get back to his own blog.

2. Meadow. Because she's new enough to this game to probably never have been tagged before. And why worry about jobs when there are memes to be done.

3. Radge. Because it will annoy him but he could make it very funny.

4. Colm. For precisely the same reason.

5. Uncle Dick. The possibilities are endless.

6.Green of Eye. Because she might use nice pictures to illustrate it.

The option to tell me to go fuck myself remains, as ever, a viable and appealing option.