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Showing posts from 2010

Happy New Year!

I just can’t help myself. Despite writing a feature for the Galway Now Magazine on why NOT to make New Year’s resolutions, I still find myself lying in bed with the laptop thinking about how I’m going to up my visits to the gym starting tomorrow, drink less, save money and all the usual resolutions that are only ever good for making you feel guilty in the end. My big one is the get fit lark and given that it was last years resolution too, and the year before and they year before that, I should have learnt by now that it probably won’t work. If I were to look back at what I consistently achieve year upon year I should really resolve to put on half a stone, not finish my novel and be sure to have dipped well into my overdraft by the end of the year with a drawer full of unpaid invoices to boot. And come to think of it, if next year ends like that too, it might not be a bad place to be. In fact, the more I think about it the more attractive it becomes. You see, all of those predicaments …

Recession Conspiracy Theory

The recession is a complete conspiracy. I know, because I lived through one before. You see, it’s like this, if you think about paid employment it’s not difficult to realise that that’s all a hoax too, and that’s where it all begins. To keep people down you have to keep them busy, and to do that, you have to reward them for being busy. So someone invented the idea of jobs. You go somewhere every day and get given a few chores, and then you get rewarded for doing the chores. With the money you get, you start to build a nest, but very soon that nest is built, so you build a bigger one and when that’s built you start refurnishing it and getting new doors and windows and conservatories and all that, and then you buy a memory foam mattress and a massage chair. Soon you begin to realise that you are wasting your time and you begin to question the meaning of all this.
Then the conspiracy begins. The people at the game factory, who write the rules and design the board, decide that the game nee…

Christmas Is Not For Kids

Christmas is not for kids, it’s for grown ups, and I should know, because I’m a grown up who used to be a kid, so I’ve had quite a few Christmas’s at this stage. As a kid, you spend the whole year being told that Santa’s helpers are watching you, that you’ll get a bag of soot if you’re not good and that you have to go to bed early or Santa won’t come. You write a note to Santa in the hope he’ll bring you what you want, and mostly he does, even if it is the wrong colour or a different brand to the one you asked for. The house fills up with fizzy drinks and biscuits but any time an adult sees you enjoying same, you are told that if you eat or drink any more of that stuff you’re going to get sick. And yet, those same adults who pat your head and tell you how much you’ve grown are allowed to sit around the table with your parents, playing poker and drinking whiskey until their voices get louder and louder and then one of them gets sick, and nobody even gives out to them for it.
Give me Ch…

A Goat is for Christmas, not for Life.

My best ever Christmas present came from my kid brother back in the 80’s. I had taken him Christmas shopping which meant waiting impatiently outside some shop while he insisted on running off to buy me something with his life savings of 74p. Eventually he emerged  with a big grin and a brown bag. “You’re going to love it” he said, “it cost all of my money”. I was raging. I imagined he’d just been done by some crook who’d sold him a stick of incense in return for his life savings. I said nothing though, after all, it was the season to be merry and all that, so I paid no more attention to the brown bag which by now had been replaced by gift wrap. Then, on Christmas morning I opened it to find a beautiful brown wooden jewellery box. I knew those boxes; I’d had my eye on one for a while, so I also knew that at the time they cost about £2 each. The little rip, I thought, he probably nicked it, or worse, stole money somewhere to buy it. I was wrong on both accounts though. It turned out tha…

The Money Will Come

It’s always annoyed me the way rich people often preach about how you should just do what you love doing and the money will come. It’s just that the ones who say things like that normally spent about twenty years working their asses off on an oil rig or working as an engineer or a nurse in Saudi Arabia.  Then, when they had a load of money, they invested it into something really risky but cutesy, like starting up an organic chocolate cake cafĂ© where you can come and stay for the weekend and do courses in the art of combining yoga and seaweed. Somehow, the whole thing ends up as a huge success (nothing to do with the millions they stashed in it to set it up) and they talk on some TV documentary about how they walked away from working their weary jobs to follow the thing they love, and that now, signs on it, it was all worth following your dream. Of course, someone suggesting you follow your dreams instead of hating your boss is paramount to offering a child ice cream instead of cabbage,…

Lesbian Sex, the Movies & Blocked Noses

The missus took me to a movie last night. (It seems we’ve all started calling ‘fillums’ movies.) It was that new one ‘The Kids are All Right’, and yes, we went to it because it’s about a pair of lesbians with two kids who are dealing with a sperm donor. Now let me just say one thing, we ourselves might be a pair of lesbians, but we do nothave two kids and a sperm donor to deal with. In our case it’s seven kids and two ex husbands. Still, though, it was a film we could relate to andI couldn’t help trying to work out which of the lesbians I was most like in the movie. First of all I thought I was like the one with short hair, because she was unappreciative and grumpy and she drank too much. But then the other one had an affair and was always starting up businesses that didn’t work, so I thought I was a bit more like her. In the end I thought I was a bit more like the sperm donor, because he’s this mixed up guy who ends up losing everything.
There wasn’t an awful lot of sex in the movie, …

How Gifted is That?

There was a programme on the other night about gifted kids. I tried hard not to watch it, but in the end I watched bits of it and started to get mad, as I knew I would. The worst part was watching a lone parent mother drag the three kids off on the bus and hang out on a university campus all day in order for the kid to do something relevant to his brain. It hit a nerve with me as I remember doing all of that a few years ago. The TV cameras didn't show the bits where one of the kids gets sick on the bus, or of losing a coat somewhere or a child, or having to change busses because of a breakdown. By the time the next two kids were assessed I had gotten fed up with the whole dragging up to Dublin lark, and besides, these courses; the only ones available for gifted kids, are elitist. They cost a small fortune, which I don't understand, as surely there is no reason for them to cost way more than any other extra curricular activities for kids? So it means that really, it's only …

Age Matters

If you didn’t know what age you are, what age would you think you are? It’s a question I can’t answer myself. In my head I’m around late twenties. Emotionally I’m not sure if I’m three or a doting geriatric. Intellectually I’m stuck: on the one hand I’m a grown up and have an M.A., so I could pick out a mature age for that one, but on a practical level I find myself asking my kids to help me with simple maths. As for the physical part of it, I look at myself in the mirror and think, ‘wow, not bad, I still look twenty.’ The problem is though, that I don’t, and not even the mirror thinks that I’m the fairest of them all. But to hell with wrinkles and sagging boobs and surplus weight, I still just see me, and I just am. So let others put me at 30 or 40 or 50 or more, I see the same face every day, and I’m fine with it. The one thing that really gets to me though, is the issue around date of birth. Once I hit my mid forties I decided that I’d have to just give up age, because whenever I a…

Free Education? Yes, but Pay for Schooling

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a bit of a laugh really, unless you believe that some time Utopia really will happen. Some of the things seem basic, but they make me think. Article 25 (1) declares that Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…’ What I want to know is this, exactly who is it provides you with these rights? And the other thing that I’m puzzled about is where you rank the various rights. Personally I think that free food is much more important than free education. Well I’ll correct that actually, education is free, it’s schooling that isn’t. Given that 20,000 students marched to Dail Eireann in Dublin protesting the cost of education, I wonder are they educated enough to know what ‘free’ really means? Because free doesn’t mean that it costs nothing. If you don’t pay yourself, somebody else does. I do thin…

What it's like to be Broke

I grew up in a middle class family, one that was poor enough not to have a second car or fancy holidays abroad, yet comfortable enough that we were never left wanting for any of the essentials such as good practical shoes, school books or hideous padded polyester anoraks. We did go on holidays, ones spent visiting some remote rellies in an even remoter part of the world, like the outback of Donegal. We were never disappointed at Christmas and birthdays meant a spread of egg sandwiches, TK red lemonade and butterfly cakes sprinkled with hundreds & thousands. What we didn’t have was the sense of community that they had in the council estate up the road. On our road most people were snooty and although my mother had to work around a tight budget, she pretended that she didn’t, and let’s face it, she never had to pull a rabbit out of a hat or try to glue a shoe back together. Of course we couldn’t keep up with the Jones’s in the detached houses with the sea views. They went to Spain a…

How Not To Be President

They’re at it again. There are a group of fanatical Christians from Castlebar known as the  Castlebarbarians, and called so as they do not represent the opinion of the regular Castlebarians, they are, like most fanatics, a tiny minority with big mouths. Well anyways, they have set up a website called something like ‘David Norris 4 President’, but actually when you read it, it’s full of the usual insinuations that being gay equals being a pervert and paedophile. I’m purposely not linking to the site just in case the right wing Christians who created it think that anyone would want to read such crap. The thing that always amuses me though is the claim that being gay goes against being Christian as the bible, and we’re talking Leviticus here, claims that that sort of gay carry on is an abomination. Of course, if you were to read everything in the book of Leviticus, you’d discover that it’s also an abomination to eat a prawn and that you’ll burn in hell if you work on the Sabbath. Now the…

Baffled

One of the desperate things that poets do to earn a crust is enter competitions. In my case, this normally incurs costs rather than accumulating cash. Despite being well aware of the strength of the competition and the meagreness of my unedited rants, I still tend to chance my arm, reminding myself that Bukowski got nowhere until he was well into middle age and Maeve Binchy was something like 44 when her first novel was published. So I decided that despite having to miss the X Factor, I’d enter the Baffle Bard Poetry Competition in the great metropolis of Loughrea, Co. Galway (population about 4,000). I’d entered a couple of times before, so I knew the score. There’s a qualifier on the Saturday and if you get through, you perform in the final on the Sunday. It’s a local bash and the prize is anybody’s (as long as you come from Loughrea, are related to somebody on the committee and write in rhyming couplets). But still, I thought, you never know, and in fairness, a friend of mine won i…

Town or City?

I live in a sleepy little town that qualifies as a city. There are certain criteria you have to meet in order to be a city, and Galway’s status as a city has always been debatable. Nevertheless, it is historically known as ‘the City of the Tribes’, and if you happen to be around Eyre Square, in the heart of the city, at around say 3a.m, you may spot various tribes engage in combat outside Supermacs ( a Galwegian fast food outlet specialising in contemporary Irish culinary delights). But city or nay, most people have heard about Galway. There’s the races, who hasn’t been to the races? Then there’s the Arts Festival; there’s Cuirt, the international festival of literature; Baboro is a festival for kids; there are at least two Oyster festivals with a film Fleadh thrown in somewhere in the middle. More recently there was the Volvo Ocean Race and on foot of that there have been a good few boat festivals attracting polo shirted men in deck shoes accompanied by leggy blondes with an attitude.…

Man and Bird Flu

I’m sick. It’s not all that surprising considering that I’ve spent the past week living with two sick teen boys. The kind of teen boys who think that the coffee table is the bin for germ filled tissues and that the place to send a sneeze is across the room, especially when I’m in the firing range. But despite all that, I just didn’t expect to get sick because after all, I’m the one who has to mind all the sickies, so who the hell can run to the chemist and get overpriced paracetemol, a forest worth of tissues and a few dozen movies except my good self? But damn, it looks like I too have gotten the ‘man flu’. I call it that because I understand man flu as meaning you have a bit of the sniffles and you’re going over the top about it. Well truth is, women can get the man flu too, and I’m one of them. I’ve coughed and sneezed a few times, my throat is a bit sore and I do have a certain amount of aches and pains, but I’m so precious about myself and such a man when it comes to illness that …

What Fear Does

A few weeks ago when I heard noises downstairs at 5 o’clock in the morning, the kind of noises that didn’t sound like that of a child getting a drink of water or the wind blowing through the rafters, but more the kind of noises you hear when someone is in the process of packing your valuables into a bag and making away with them; I froze to the spot. Well that was the first thing I did. Then I ran downstairs in my pyjamas hoping to take on whatever number of strung out junkies might have been ransacking the place. As I don’t have a great track record in speed, I only managed to get a glimpse of them drive away with anything of value that I ever owned. It was only afterwards that I wondered what the hell I would have done with them, or what they might have done with me, had we had a face to face confrontation. It's a bit like a dog chasing a car. I mean, what would it do if it got it? So I’ve been thinking about fear, and the fight or flight instinct and what makes people afraid of …

The Jedward Thing

Fortunately for me, I am one of those altruistic, non-judgemental, non-opinionated people who see other peoples spin on life as an interesting and enriching complement to ones own beliefs and values. Not. So I’m trying to come to grips with living under the same roof as a pre-teen who is a Jedicated Jedwardian. Now, if you have not yet come across Jedward, let me explain in brief: identical twins who are famous for singing out of tune and acting and looking about 12 years old when they are, in fact, about to turn 19 next month. If I were to use one of my pre-teens favourite derogatory comments to describe them it would be ‘so gay’, but apparently they are neither so gay nor even gay, well at least not in the eyes of my pubescent daughter. When they first appeared on X Factor, they cited one of their reasons for entering the competition was that they wanted to meet lots of girls who'd be their fans (they said it in between saying the word 'like' repeatedly), and indeed that h…

What To Wear?

Having decided to take my progress as a writer seriously, I recently returned to the day job. It takes a bit of getting used to, but most jobs are the same really. You have stuff to do and you have to do parts of it with people who are neither family nor friends. In some cases they become one or the other or both, but mostly they just get on your nerves and you end up spending more time with them than you do with your own family and friends anyways. The thing that’s been bothering me though, is this: what to wear? I just can’t help it, but whenever I wear formal work clothes it throws me back about thirty years to when I had to wear a school uniform. It’s the same principle really, you’re made wear uncomfortable clothes that look stupid but send out the message that you belong to some organisation or other. Well it’s not exactly a uniform in this job; I’d actually like it if I had to wear a peaked cap and a traffic warden’s outfit. There’s something sexy about those kinds of uniforms, …

First Day Of School

My little boy just started school last week, so I’ve been through the usual: going all mushy about how tiny he looks in his school uniform, standing at the school gate in tears, worrying about him being bullied, lonely, upset or overlooked by some crabby teacher. Will he get lost in the big school building and will other kids talk to him at break times? So I made some excuse to go into the school on day two, said I wanted to pay for some scheme or other that isn’t really due until Christmas, and I managed to catch hold of the school principal in the corridor. She knows me, I already have a child in the school, so I just mentioned that she should keep an eye on my little fella and be nice to him and all that.
I did feel a tad upset when she more or less told me to get over myself, but I suppose she has a point considering that this is his first day of secondary school, and he is thirteen after all. Thing is though, I never really had a cry when any of them started primary. They were fo…

Belfast For Me

When I was a kid in the 70’s there was a place in Ireland we used to hear about on the news, in black and white of course, called Belfast, and back then I thought it must have been Africa or Israel or somewhere, because wherever it was, it was one of those far away countries in the throes of war. But Belfast really was in Ireland and what was going on there were ‘the troubles’, which is a word the Irish use for war when it’s happening in their own country. By the 80’s I knew a bit more, and I did take a trip to Belfast, not on a political mission or anything, it was to buy a telly and condoms. When we headed down the main shopping streets we were frisked by armed soldiers and I vaguely remember a lot of barbed wire and wasteland. Two years ago, I was invited back there to represent Connacht in the BBC4 All Island poetry slam. ‘All Island’ is the new word for ‘Ireland including Northern Ireland.’ It was a riot, but not like the riots back in the day. The audience were a bit rowdy, but …