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.