Monday, September 27, 2010


No I in Threesome

When I was born and lived in Cork I was from Cork and that was simple. When I briefly lived in Birmingham I was the Irish boy and kids at school asked me if I was in the IRA, or knew anyone in the IRA. I was seven, so I probably said I did. And when I lived in Tanzania I suffered the odd Irish joke from my Australian friends, but I could laugh those off because I recognised them as re-badged Kerryman jokes that Irish people had written in the first place. Coming back to Ireland after three years abroad was the hardest adjustment of all because of the Antipodean mishmash of an accent I'd picked up and the fact I didn't own a polyester Ireland shirt or a sega Megadrive made me more of a foreigner than ever.

Life got easier, but deep into my teenage years I still harboured fantasies of my family moving to America. Anywhere in America would do, though I reckoned Californian sun might work best for my greasy, troubled skin. I'd negotiate the cliquey, hierarchical minefield of U.S. high school and win. Girls would be blown away by my adorable accent and my roguishly, anachronistically Colin Farrellish looks. Yeah, and the jealous jocks would keep their distance because ofmy biting Irish wit and the assumption I was IRA; a notion I would take few steps to relieve them of.

I'd become a sporting superstar and have a college scholarship sewn up within days of arriving, due to my single-handed transformation of the "soccer" team's fortunes. This, I was confident, was the most realistic element of my fantasy, not due to any great skill on my part, but by sheer dint of my not being American - and therefore inherently superior with the ball at my feet.

Despite the attentions of most of the popular girls in school, including the icily beautiful Shelley Aryanski, my heart would be set on Naomi, the awkward art student whom I knew would be a stone-cold fox if only she'd take off those thick-rimmed glasses of hers. I'd capture her fragile heart by playing Damien Rice songs on a ukulele and pretending I'd written them. With the new strength she found in me she'd overcome her bulimia and her sculpture would really flourish.

I'd garner the devotion of the nerds through my powerful and outspoken stewardship of the school newspaper, and the black crowd would have my back after an impromptu rap-off saw me proclaimed "the illest, chillest honky muthafucka since Vanilla Ice", such was the impact of my mad skillz. 'A-Dogg' was how they would choose to address me from then on.

Jessica and Liz: strong swimmers
Naomi and I would hit a bit of a speedbump after word of me banging both of the twins from Sweet Valley High in Frankie Lopez's hot tub during a party to celebrate the team winning the championship after I scored seven goals in three minutes to beat our cross-city rivals 7-6 got back to her, courtesy of the bitter, spurned Shelley Aryanski. Naomi dumped my cheating ass initially, but she soon came around after I tearfully reminded her from beneath her bedroom window that it's not hard to fall when you float like a cannonball.

And then one day, perhaps as we were making our way to be crowned Prom King and Queen, Naomi and I would encounter Chuck Logan. Chuck had been captain of the soccer team and an A grade student before my glorious arrival. Now he was a high school dropout slinging crystal meth for a living. "Oh look, it's the Irish fag and his fag-hag" he'd sneer to his crackhead buddies, who definitely carried an air of menace. And I, I'd whip a can of Lynx Africa out of the back pocket of my Ralph Lauren suit trousers, and spray it against the flame from my lighter to form a blowtorch to scorch the skin off Chuck Logan's face. As he lay writhing acridly on the ground I'd douse the rest of his body in Lynx Africa and then take the cigarette out of my mouth and say "No, this is a fag, ya fuckin' eejit!" as I calmly flicked it onto him and watched him burn. Then I'd force-feed his charred remains to Shelley Aryanski for being a meddling bitch.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Leave your livestock alone

My ten-year school reunion was on last weekend and I didn't go. Not being on Facebook meant that I was the last to know about it, only hearing at all because my brother happened to have been talking to a guy I was in school with. By that stage I had made plans for Saturday night anyway. Not plans that couldn't be changed, mind, but plans.
It would be easy for me to get in a huff and launch into one of my tirades against the privacy-thieving monster of a social network that dominates our lives, but I won't. "How else would they have organised it?" asked a colleague, who's really old enough to know better. "People had fucking reunions before 2006, you know," I managed not to spit back at her. In reality, though, I appreciate that posting a simple statement on a forum that no doubt 99% of my classmates are affiliated to is infinitely less hassle than tracking down current postal addresses and snailmailing every single one of them, or even emailing each person.
So no, my failure to attend was not because I was fucked off that people think that if you're not on Facebook you must be dead. It was something more intangible than that; and that troubles me. There was, perhaps, a time when I thought I might skulk into my ten-year reunion like John Cusack in Grosse Point Blank, all angsty and in need of some sort of redemption. I would confront those who were the biggest bastards to me, make a few quips and, with any luck, stab someone to death with a pen and make off with the startlingly compliant Minnie Driver.
Turns out school just didn't matter enough to me for any of that to be necessary. People weren't really bastards there, or at least to no greater degree than any teenager is. We were all just folks cooped up together for 35 hours a week in a place where we didn't particularly want to be. It was only oppressive in its mundanity, rather than its cruelty. I find it hard to think of the experience as anything beyond humdrum, and for that reason don't find celebrating with my old classmates any more of a logical thing to do than to celebrate with people I see on the bus to work most mornings. I'm still in touch with the ones I want to be in touch with, and I seem to lack the gene to make me curious about the ones I'm not.
Nostalgia? What is that? We still play video games and we still listen to The Prodigy and Radiohead. If nostalgia for people my age is pretending you liked the Spice Girls more than you did and sitting in a kip of a pub drinking until you overcome your mutual lack of interest in each others' lives then Nostalgia can fuck right off. And so can Facebook.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


A Chugging on Wicklow Street

Hey man, how's it going? Do you have a moment for Concern? Could I ask you a couple of questions?"

"I'll deal with these one at a time, if I may. Firstly, it's going alright, though I kinda need a piss after all the coffee I drank this morning and, frankly, my balls are sweaty to the point of discomfort in this weather. You know how it is.

Secondly, if I may wilfully misinterpret your question for the sake of a blog post, I have many moments for concern. I am concerned by the continued existence of reality television, I am concerned by the closing-in of the seasons, for I believe I may very well be a seasonally disaffected man. I am concerned that my fellow man is more preoccupied with Bosnian puppy-drowners than Bosnian war criminals. I am concerned that the only notable response to a British war criminal in our midst came from a few Sinn Féin nutjobs. That Mental Morrissey continues to be given a platform. I am concerned that with the dampening of Dublin comes the drying up of furriners, and that, on any given Friday, I may be dismissed from my employment with a shrug. I am concerned that I will take my anxieties about unemployment out on my wife. She doesn't care about money, but sometimes I'd love for her to not even have to not care. I am concerned that slowly, gently we will start to trust our government again, that we will vote the bastards in again, that we are falling victim to an indefinable propaganda machine as effective as Fox News.

To take your question as you meant it, no I do not have a moment for Concern. I am on my way to HMV to try to spend a gift card on whatever gems might still lurk in there beneath layers of Jedward and Adam Sandler. I am concerned by the rapid deterioration of that shop, too. And anyway, I've been Concerned enough to give your lot 12.70 a month since it was still a tenner in old money. It made me feel like an ethical student and I think I thought it would make the girl on Talbot Street who signed me up fancy me. Tell me, man, are you Concerned enough to waive your wage for even one hour? What do you get, about 12.70?"

Can you ask me a couple of questions? You've already asked three, fuck off."