Monday, January 31, 2011


I swat 'em like flies, but like flies the buggers keep coming back

I visited Egypt for a couple of weeks a few years back. I wish I had a greater understanding of what was going on there right now, but a fortnight of eating, sunbathing and visiting tourist traps doesn't tend to enlighten you on the niceties of political infrastructure and social turbulence. Nevertheless, I do recall talking to a tourguide after visiting some temple* or other. He was telling me about a village near the temple that the government want to be razed in order to build carparks and hotels and shit like that. The villagers, who look markedly different to any other Egyptians I encountered, claim to be the last descendants of the pharaohs. It's pretty much impossible to prove or disprove that claim, but it is without doubt that the people there have occupied that land for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years. When they first refused to leave their homes so that their village could be knocked down, their government shut off their electricity. When they still didn't move they cut off their water, too.

I don't know what developments have taken place since then, it's a hard thing to google when you don't remember which temple it was. But yeah, that's what I know of the Egyptian government. So if you're Egyptian, Andrew says go nuts right now. And if you're Irish, vote Fianna Fáil. They'd never do anything like that.

*Here's why I make a very poor tourist: My brain simply can't deal with visiting heaps of places of massive historical importance within a very condensed period of time. Nor do I keep a diary or take many photographs. Holidays for me need to be "Right, Andrew, here's a fascinating old place. Take about seven hours to look around it at your own leisure and then we'll take you home. Go to a waterpark tomorrow and then spend the day after that sleeping off the excitement and then we'll see you on Thursday for lots more time at another, single, fascinating old place."

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


if you think you know enough to know you know you've had enough

They're saying you threw yourself into the sea, is what they're saying now. They who don't know you, they who really have no right to say anything about you. Like me. Except your face is all over the place on posters, which means you belong to everyone now. The man on the street knows everything about everything and you're part of everything now.  You should probably be made aware of that.

You lived around my way. I was in Spar, kicking snow off my boots when one of your friends came in and asked if she could put your picture up somewhere. The guy hummed and hawed for an embarrassing length of time before saying yeah, there was some space at the top of the door. And we can look at you now and say she looks kind of sad, so she does. Received wisdom is that you really were sad.

I wonder when the posters will come down, if they're not already. Why buy Pringles when people are throwing themselves into the sea? A friend of mine's mum did that, but her body had the decency to turn up on the Isle of Man. I hope you show up alive and well. But if not, I hope you show up.

Monday, January 10, 2011


the panic, the vomit!

Oh, I am in a state today. Fully 36 hours since consuming childish amounts of alcohol and I appear to still be hungover. My dear wife is even worse off.

Leaves me feeling low, this nuclear holocaust of headache and nausea and contrition. And so I'm thinking about John Gray today. John Gray was the first person I ever heard suggest that there is no such thing as progress, at least in the political and ethical sense of the word. I found that a complete and utter headfuck when I heard it, right up there with when you first seriously ask yourself whether there's a god or not. As a species we are obsessed with the potential of things and people, from footballers to musicians to actors, but we rarely ever stop and say "This is as good as it gets and I think it's just fine." We'd see that as defeatist, as letting ourselves down.

As Gray puts it:

"The idea of progress is detrimental to the life of the spirit, because it encourages us to view our lives, not under the aspect of eternity, but as moments in a universal process of betterment. We do not, therefore, accept our lives for what they are, but instead consider them always for what they might someday become."

and, also:

"The core of the belief in progress is that human values and goals converge in parallel with our increasing knowledge. The twentieth century shows the contrary. Human beings use the power of scientific knowledge to assert and defend the values and goals they already have. New technologies can be used to alleviate suffering and enhance freedom. They can, and will, also be used to wage war and strengthen tyranny. Science made possible the technologies that powered the industrial revolution. In the twentieth century, these technologies were used to implement state terror and genocide on an unprecedented scale. Ethics and politics do not advance in line with the growth of knowledge — not even in the long run."

Most discomforting at first, that kind of rhetoric, but oddly uplifting once you get used to it. I am a riot to be around while dwelling on these things. I have also been learning about Black Swan Theory and reading this remarkably good piece about Internet stupidity. If you only click on one link in this post make it that one.

But I leave you with some even wiser words, as spaketh by the prophet Andrew:

"€5 cocktails do not make for a cheap night out when you consume eighteen of them between the two of you."

Saturday, January 1, 2011


it went like this


I begin the year both unemployed and engaged. The difficulty in reconciling these things starts to hit home. Still, plenty of volunteer work means I retain just enough social skills to function in society, and don't sleep until noon every day. Actually reading books, instead of just buying them, also proves to be a pleasant time-filler.
Elsewhere, in a move that gives credence to the notion that time is circular, it snows a lot in Ireland and we have water shortages. I write about it, while really writing about something else entirely, as is my wont.


Rosie turns 29, and I laugh at her because that's really the same as being 90.
Elsewhere, I manage to get a bit of TEFL work, which is exactly what I did when I finished college many moons ago, before I then spent a lot of time and money on further training so I wouldn't have to do it any more. But that's Ireland at the moment, you learn that you don't always get what you want.


I fall deeply and inappropriately in love with Stella, my new bonsai tree. She dies a couple of months later, but I don't write about it because it was all too sad. I'm pretty sure it was because I overwatered her. I guess you can love something too much. I later get a new tree, a Japanese Holly called General Honda, but he's a far more robust creature and doesn't need me like Stella did, so it's just not the same.


Realising that the only posts I feel like writing are about the books I've been reading, I start Slightly Read, a sporadically updated book review blog. Thus far it has failed to land me that lucrative contract with the Irish Times where they throw me the hot new thing a couple of times a month in order for me to capture the essence of it in a few pithy lines and get paid a rakeload of money for the pleasure. Thus far.

Elsewhere, while on a few days' break in Krakow, word reaches us that Gerry Ryan has died. I buy a clay statue of a frog prince and name it 'Gerry Ryan'. Not because I liked him, but because his jowly bloatedness makes them doppelgangers. I always thought he was an absolute cock, but it only becomes socially acceptable to say so after it emerges, months later, that he died of a cocaine overdose. Gerry Ryan the Frog prince remains healthy and contented on a bookshelf and prefers mescaline, if you're asking.


Back on the ranch, Chancing My Arm turns two and Rosie knocks me out a graph to celebrate. Nelson Mandela refers to it as "a momentous moment of momentousness" in a statement to the press and asks me to go knick-knacking in Ballybough with him to mark the momentousness of it all. I decline, but share a few laughs over a flagon of Buckfast and Bulmers with him.


Crystal Swing have their weekend at the Flatlake Festival made for them when they meet me and harrass me until I consent to a photo with them. They ask me to join them on stage for a bit of an oul' boogie, but I decline, knowing it'd only be a downward spiral into tea and brack abuse.


On the eve of my wedding, I come over all gooey with my readers. How embarrassing. We manage to wring two wonderful, happy days out of our wedding and we do it all our way. Our way involves a hog roast, a non-hotel venue, no cheesy wedding band and a hilariously inept display of Chinese lanterns. Good times.


Wouldn't you know it, no sooner am I off the shelf than Scarlett Johansson and Zooey Deschanel approach me on the stairs in Kehoe's, all "We're thinking of doing a little experimenting in our suite tonight, cowboy..." They take the rejection well, all credit to them.


I miss my school reunion and get a little paranoid about Facebook.
Elsewhere, politicians tell lies.


I turn 29, which is the new 28.
Work-wise, my boss adopts a new strategy of consistently implying to half his staff that every week in work might well be their last. Life would be dull if every week didn't see you swinging from gloom to gibbering relief on an almost daily basis.


Doing a startlingly good impression of Comical Ali, Brian Lenihan and Dermot Ahern appear on the tellybox shaking their heads and saying that there's, like, totally no way that Ireland is going to get a bail-out from the IMF. But the tanks are already on the horizon and a couple of days later Ajai Chopra and his cohorts swing into town. I manage to be the envy of every journo in the country by landing an exclusive interview with the great man. The wonders of some yoke called Google bring around 3,000 or so visits to my quiet little corner of the internet. They are, perhaps, drawn by the presence of the word 'deviant' in the post title. And yet the post only receives comments from three people who aren't me. Internet strangers, it's all take take take with you.
Some of us, about 100,000 or so (which must be around 5% of the adult population of Ireland), protest against the bailout. The government fail to give a shit.


It starts snowing at the end of November, and continues for most of December. Everyone ponders aloud whether anything like this has ever occurred in their lifetime, except for my grandfather who says "Well, you'll have heard of the Great Snow of 1943?" I hadn't, truth be told, but apparently that was fucking freezing too.
Rosie and I go to see Godspeed You! Black Emperor play, and it feels a lot like the soundtrack to the apocalypse. Except the world didn't end, I guess, we just got a bit more money taken off us.

So, 2010. Pretty shite if I hadn't got married, I reckon. I hope you all had something deadly happen to make it good, too.
Film of the year was probably Winter's Bone, gig of the year was the aforementioned Godspeed, book of the year was Paul Murray's Skippy Dies and slamming hot babe of the year was my wife. Only time will tell if she can battle the ravages of age to retain her crown in 2011.