Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mad Dogs & Saints



Despite the promised forecast of a heat wave across Galway for the next week, most of yesterday it pissed raining – and there’s a reason. It’s all because I forgot to put the Child of Prague statue back out onto the raised beds where I grow my chilli peppers, zucchini and aubergines all under a West of Ireland sky. For those in the know, the Child of Prague is a wacky little statue of the boy child Jesus holding a round globe in his hand with a cross sticking out of it. Forget the whole story of some Czech prince having an apparition of this gay looking kid Jesus and skip a few hundred years to what is reality today. It’s this: if you put the statue of the Child of Prague out in the garden, it won’t rain the next day.
I have been doing so since the start of May, and my garden has become a sun trap. Of course all of these blessings have their downers. I’m nursing mild sun stroke right now, as I am forced to sit in the garden most days due to my house cleaning allergy. So I went online to look for a patron saint of sunstroke, but there doesn’t seem to be one, and that probably explains why so many people get it: it’s because there’s no saint to prevent it.
I did come across St. Hubert though, who has nothing to do with sunstroke, but as he is the patron saint of mad dogs, I thought if I pray to him I might get whatever it is you get from saints. Apparently it’s dispensations or something; or less time waiting in purgatory to get to heaven. It’s a bit like having the priority boarding card for Ryanair. Well St. Hubert was a bit of a mad dog himself.
His Granddad was the  King of Toulouse and Hubert spent his days off hunting. While hunting a stag on a Good Friday morning, he received a vision of a crucifix between its antlers. ( I’m guessing he was on something strong, because after all, it was Good Friday, and the pubs were closed).  When his wife died soon after this incident, Hubert renounced all his worldly positions, not just his titles and wealth, but also his son, to his brother, and studied for the priesthood. You’d think he’d be made patron saint of bad fathers but no, his association with the hunt led to his patronage of furriers and trappers, and against rabies and bad behavior in dogs, primarily hunting dogs. It really is great to have a saint like Hubert to help furriers and trappers. I just don’t get it with the rabid dogs though, I mean, do dogs pray?


Monday, June 28, 2010

Sex, Plots & Poetry

 Being a poet is one of the cruellest things that can happen to a person, and I should know, because I am one. The reason that it’s cruel is because getting published in various anthologies means that there is not only a publisher who likes your stuff, but multiple publishers who like your work. Thing is though, you don’t get paid and most people think you’re a bit soft in the head.
Poems are usually quite short but can take as long to write as it might take you to write a cheap Mills & Boon novel. There’s a difference though, you get paid for writing cheap novels.
You also get paid for writing stories, erotica, chick lit, anything vampire and of course if you can churn out a booker prize definitive Irish novel, you’ll probably be as boring as poets, definitely as stuffy, but you’ll have money and live in an old house with a writing desk that faces a big old Georgian window looking out onto a leafy garden. You’ll spend periods of time in your country cottage or in New York and you’ll get loads of sex but might be too bookish to want it.
Nobody wants to have sex with a poet. They worry that they’ll have to endure hearing twee rhyming couplets at the point of orgasm, whereas everybody wants to have sex with a novelist. Novelists live in the moment, then, after the orgasm, lie on their back smoking a cigarette in the dark saying ‘I’d like to work a scene like that into my next book.’ Then you’d have to have sex again and again and again to work all the little details into that next novel. I know this, because not only am I a poet, I am also a novelist, albeit a failed one. But even failed novelists are good in bed because they need new material. In fact, failed novelists have the advantage of not having to get up early in the morning to go meet their publishers.
I suppose at the end of the day you have to think about your priorities. If you want to have a lot of money, a lot of sex and plenty of free time, it really is quite difficult to find a career that is kind to all of these factors. I haven’t found one yet, I had planned to spend today doing some career planning in that direction, but then I got inspired to write a poem and started doing that instead.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Trapped!



There’s a story I heard about this guy from Galway who couldn’t read or write. I heard it because I teach people literacy skills and they teach me life skills. Well anyways, this guy was offered a job cleaning toilets, so he was delighted with himself, because bad and all as it might be, it was a job, and there were plenty who didn’t have jobs. The day before he was due to start he went up to the council office to get everything sorted, brought along his insurance number and all that jazz. He was asked to fill out a form and when he couldn’t the council guy said that sorry, but he couldn’t give him the job if he couldn’t read or write. So off goes yer man with no job and emigrates to America.
Well years later he came back to Galway a rich man. He’d driven a snow plough in the States, saved like mad and ended up running his own business hiring out equipment. The local politicians were delighted with him returning home and bringing a bit of wealth to the area. He set up a similar business in Galway and now employs about a dozen people. So one day, one of these smart politicians says to him ‘you’re a very clever man, imagine what you could have done with your life had you been able to read and write.’ And of course yer man says, ‘yeah, just imagine, I could have been cleaning toilets!’
Well there you go, stories are great. That’s why I started the Loose Lips Story Slam with Tommy Tiernan last February. So if you live anywhere near Galway, come along to the Roisin Dubh next Wednesday at 9pm and tell your story or listen to a whole load of other peoples stories. I’ve been gobsmacked with the stuff people get up and tell an audience. If you don’t live in Galway, get on a bus, train or plane and come along. This month the theme is ‘trapped’, and I am very looking forward to it, as I myself am a fat person trapped in the body of an obese person. I was trapped in a lift once, but I won’t be telling that story as the fact that I will be there to tell the story ruins the suspense as it’s kind of obvious that it ended in my rescue. However, for those trapped in their own heads, trapped in relationships, jobs, situations and all kinds of wacky things that I haven’t thought about but am sure to hear, the night will be great.
So, if, like some of my readers, you relate my blog to your own personal situation, you may wish to comment with your ‘trapped’ experience, or do you feel trapped by words themselves?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

An Improper Punch in the Face



I’ve just removed a blog from weeks back that was called ‘A Proper Punch in the Face.’ Even though this blog is pure fiction, the bones of the story came from an experience that a friend of mine had. As the person in question lives in Germany and is currently in Africa for three months I haven’t a clue how she’s getting on. But that’s not why I removed it. I removed it because another friend’s ex was pointed to my blog by a work colleague of his, and he decided that the piece was about him. He picked out the parts that he connected with and posted up some vitriolic comments on how the other parts, because they were not true of his particular situation, should be removed – but self centred people can be like that, they only see their own story and don’t understand that there are more than a handful of people occupying the universe at present.
I decided to take down the blog because vitriolic people should have all sharp instruments removed from their reach, as there is likelihood they will use them as weapons. The pen is a mighty weapon; someone once almost gouged my eye out with one. The pencil though, is sharper albeit lighter. Similarly, a blog post is a weapon. Just look how that anonymous blog reader shot himself in the foot with my blog. He read a piece of fiction based on the story of a German woman who is now in Africa, but related so strongly to it that he then wrote a comment telling the world that he had been abusive himself, just not to the extent of the woman in my blog. He outlined and shared his abuse story in the comment. Brave.
I suppose that’s the whole purpose of T.V. Soaps and writing in general though: to create characters that seem so real we can all relate to them.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll blog about an undiscovered and unappreciated genius. I can relate to that…



Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Keep the Day Job

I’ve just had a rejection letter from another agency to let me know that I should seriously consider keeping the day job that I don’t have. It was the usual: started out telling me how clear the plot is and how great the idea for the book is, but that unfortunately they’ll have to pass on it this time as it is total crap that nobody would ever read (and that, of course, is said in different words, because after all, words are their business).
I can’t say I blame them. The book is crap, but it has taken me a few years to realise how boring, badly written and disjointed it is. The dialogue is weak and the actual story is so twee and corny that it’s almost as bad as something by Cecilia Ahern.
Thing is though, I have to keep trying to get it published because if I don’t I won’t be able to justify my banal life.
There are things that are acceptable for writers to do, like spending two hours at the crossword, drinking too much coffee, going for lunch a lot, blowing social welfare payments on books and wearing silly hats. It’s because ‘I’m a wroiter’.
Luckily I have a lot of charitable friends who tell me that I’m really an undiscovered genius, so I tell myself that I am, and keep writing. They remind me that J.K. Rowling started out where I am, but I remind myself that I don’t have any wizards or dragons or vampires or anything in my books that people like reading about. And one other little incidental is that J.K. Rowling can actually write, and probably does write instead of doing crosswords and coffee and that sort of thing.
My novel goes like this: girl has life set out for her. Goes against plan. Gets into trouble. Wins out in the end. The end.
I’d accept being an undiscovered genius, but I need to get about €300k in order to buy my house, seeing as I’ll never be credit worthy enough to get a mortgage and I don’t want to be homeless. It’s my last hope.
So I’m thinking of a brand new novel. How about this: boy has life set out for him. Goes against plan…

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Big Itch

  
 A friend of mine was telling me all about the time she ran the NY marathon. I was well impressed until she said ‘it was the second best day of my life’. She went on to tell me more about the great run, but I had already switched off. My head was burning with the one question ‘so what was the best day of your life?’ Turns out it was her wedding day. Personally, the idea of spending the day running through the streets of New York with every cell in your body pounding, does appeal to me a tad more than wearing a white dress and confronting family members who I usually spend all year avoiding. Luckily for me, I had fallen out with most of my friends and relatives by the time I got married, and given that wedding dresses are not all that flattering when you are six months pregnant, I went for the modest registry office option, hence, I cannot truly compare notes with my friend who ranks her wedding above running the marathon.
It made me think though: the happiest day in my life? There are certain days that stick. Coming second in the three legged race, aged 5, has stayed with me. But surely that can’t still be my happiest ever day? In fact, if it was, it would be sad which would cancel it out.
There are other kinds of days I can remember though. I’ll never forget the itchiest day in my life. It was a learning experience. I learnt that you should never wear a pair of nylons when teaching for a whole day in a stuffy room with no air conditioning if you have very angry athletes’ foot. I was supposed to be teaching middle managers how to be better middle managers. I was sitting, standing and walking at the top of the room and my foot was so itchy that my whole body began to break out in a sweat and whenever anyone asked me a question I’d make a Freudian slip by saying something like ‘ you need to have a good marketing itch, I mean pitch’.
Eventually I gave them an exercise and made it to the bathroom where I took off my tights and scratched my foot until it bled. One of the legs of my tights had slipped into the toilet during my scratching operation, which actually wasn’t all that bad, as it was a clean toilet bowl and it did have a cooling effect on my bad foot. I’m not sure what my class thought about teacher disappearing and returning with a wet leg, but I was just too itchy to care.
I’ve had a scariest day, which involved being stuck up a gorge at dusk while hiking in Corsica, there’s also been a most embarrassing day in which I sent a very inappropriate text message to the wrong person. I’m hopefully through with the most painful day in my life which ended by passing a stone through my kidney. Then there’s the most worrying day, the most tumultuous day and the day I made the best dinner ever.
Thinking about the happiest day makes me realise something brilliant though: I haven’t had it yet!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Homophobia Is Gay!



Homophobia is a complex thing. And believe me; I know this all too well being a homophobe myself. It started when I realised that I might be gay. I was still a teenager and being gay was something that other people did. Normal kids, and I was normal, tried to find out who was gay and write so and so is a lezzer on the toilet walls. Usually the girl in question wasn’t gay at all, she probably had short hair and Dr. Marten boots, but that was enough back then.
So I left the country and went to London to be gay in secret. I knew that I couldn’t possibly be a lezzer myself; I liked Laura Ashley skirts and white court shoes. I had a Farah Fawcett Major hair style and I wore make-up. I convinced myself that I definitely wasn’t one of those abnormal people who committed abominable sex crimes, all I wanted to do was to try it out once, and after that I could go back home and get married to a nice boy.
I was less than an hour in London when I bumped into some friends from home, so the plan died there. Then I went to Germany. I could get it out of my system over there. I didn’t bump into anyone from home until I finally ventured into a gay disco. It was in Berlin, but there he was on the dance floor: a guy from the street I’d grown up on. I couldn’t understand how he realised that I’d be there, but I knew I was caught. He didn’t spend the evening stalking me and taking photos of me to send to my mother, he was busy dancing and showing off his pierced nipples. But I knew he could only be there to spy on me (because I was the only gay in the village!) so I left.
Eventually I did meet a woman, but I couldn’t really connect, because after all, she was a lezzer, so she had to be slightly strange. We had fun, but I slipped out before breakfast in case I’d have to talk to her. It wasn’t long before I came back home and married one of those nice boys like nice girls do.
A few years later, when the really nice boy I married had run away with a lap dancer, a terrible thing happened: I fell in love with a lezzer. That means I didn’t score or get lucky or have a secret night of sordid sex (because isn’t that the only thing that gay people do?) No, I fell in love with someone who didn’t even love me back. In fact she thought I was a pathetic and patronizing homophobe. I became a political gay activist to try and win her heart. I didn’t get the girl but I became enlightened.
Last week one of my kids punched a guy for making homophobic comments. I’m not a friend of punches myself and luckily never received any during my years of delusion. I like the attitude of the new generation though, and I’m proud of my kids whoever they are. I’ll even accept them if any of them turn out to be heterosexuals…

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Blame The Parents


I’ve been getting a bit of hate mail recently from a person by the name of anonymous.
Apparently my blog is neither funny, nor original, and I must say that I do very much agree with Mr/Mrs/Ms Anonymous because rereading my posts they are definitely non original sad person kind of blogs. Thing is, that’s what a lot of people get a laugh from.
Well on the subject of something not very original – having kids, it’s been a bad day.
What I just can’t stand are the tantrums. So I went down to the shop and grabbed a book called something like ‘teens and tantrums’. I’ve flicked through the whole thing but not a word of advice on how to stop having tantrums. It seems to be about families where the children have the tantrums and not the parents. I think that would be easy to deal with: just give them a clip across the ear and send them to their rooms. What I need is advice on how not to scream things like ‘you stupid imbecile’ at a child, while flinging various items to the floor before storming out and driving around the neighbourhood until I calm down.
See the one thing about having kids is that if I’d never had any I wouldn’t know all the things I’ve learnt from them that points to why I should never have had them. I’d never have known that I’m scab, clueless, a loser, a poohead, mean, unfair, and generally incompetent of any parenting related tasks. I also would not know that I am so fat, ugly and embarrassingly badly dressed that I should not park anywhere in the vicinity of my kids when picking them up. And thanks to my kids I now know that I know nothing, and even a genius like Socrates took years to find that out.
In a way I feel sorry for people who don’t have kids because think of all the things they don’t know about themselves…

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What Respectable People Do

I’m just back from the last meeting of the Parents’ Committee for this year. The end of year meeting is not only good because it’s over until September, but also because   school principal treats us to finger food and wine in the school’s ‘parlour’. It would be a lie to say I don’t enjoy being one of the parent committee ladies. I feel that I have what it takes to be a committee kind of woman. I may not wear fancy heels and golden strappy sandals, but I love organising garden fetes and that sort of thing. So I can’t work out why there seems to be an unspoken assumption that I’m ‘different’ to the rest of the nice men and women on the committee. There’s no evidence whatsoever.
The school principal attends every meeting. She’s great, but she’s a school principal so I just can’t help feeling nervous in her presence. I can’t help worrying that my  mobile phone is about to be confiscated or that I’m in trouble for not sitting up straight or forgetting something or not having the minutes from the last meeting on hand. It’s about thirty years since I was at school, but sitting in a classroom still evokes the fear of lines, detention or my mother being phoned.
I don’t get into trouble though. There is a lot of back patting at this meeting. Apparently we’ve all done a great job fundraising this year. The bag packing was a huge success and the car boot sale was riveting. I mention that I’m glad I didn’t win the hideous lamp we raffled, and realise I should not have said that, especially as the person who donated it, along with the person who won it, were both present.  I’m good at that though; saying things I later regret.  The meeting ends and we retire to our cocktail sausages and cheese on a cocktail stick. I mention that there’s a lot of cock on offer tonight, but nobody seems to get the joke and I enjoy a slice of smoked salmon in the uncomfortable silence of my little joke.
Luckily there’s wine. I’m so determined to be one of this clique that I try to adopt to the behaviour of the committee and nurse one little glass of wine all evening, but it just doesn’t work. I drink about three or four glasses and grab one last top-up as the evening winds up with everything being tidied away except for the remainder of a bottle of wine. Despite my many glasses of wine and me raising my voice making stupid comments about how I think a certain female politician should get her roots done, I do still feel totally part of the committee.
A member of staff insists that I take the rest of the bottle home with me, and I say ‘ah no, I’ve had enough’, while stuffing it quickly into my shoulder bag.
I suggest we should have a sing-song to bring our Trojan year of fundraising to an end, but sadly, I am ushered into the car of one of the nice committee members who doesn’t drink, so I take a swig out of the wine bottle as I leave the building.
At home I polish off the rest of the wine and have the sing-song on my own. I suppose the one thing I love about being a lady on a committee is that it really reinforces being a pillar of society. It’s great being respectable.




Monday, June 14, 2010

I Should Be Committed


I think I may be suffering from a rare mental disease that only affects my good self. I call it commitment-phobia. I’ve had it for almost thirty years but I’m really only coming to terms with it now. What it is is a hormone or gland or chemical imbalance or something, that causes delusionary emotions of falling madly in love and then falling madly out of love just as quickly. The falling out of love is usually triggered by the other person falling in love with me. Hence, I probably have enough ex-lovers at this stage to fill a theatre for one of my story telling nights (if they were speaking to me, that is).
And believe me, it’s not as if I have a lot of choice. There are plenty of people with whom I would love the opportunity to prove I wouldn’t be happy with. No, I am only referring to those who are desperate enough to fall for me, and whom, similarly, I am deluded enough to be taken in by.
I remember my first boyfriend. I was a seventeen year old school girl and he was a student of twenty one. I was well impressed. He was tall, blonde and he wore a black polo neck sweater. We kissed and fumbled. I stole an ashtray from the pub and he gave me a crossbar home on his bike. It was pure adventure. Even the next day when I was sober I still thought he was the sexiest man on the planet. We spent a few weeks talking about every single thing under the sun, and then we tried out every single thing under a blanket. He told me that I was the only woman he had ever loved. My heart skipped a beat and I was so much in love that I, yes, even I, could not eat. Soon after that, he himself got some sort of disease, whereby instead of still talking about everything under the sun, his conversation became limited to: ‘I love you’ or ‘you’re amazing’ or some similar kind of rubbish talk. Although I could still talk coherently, whenever I did try to engage in conversation he would gaze into my eyes sending out the message ‘whatever you say is wonderful, but I’m not listening, I’m just waiting to kiss you.’ Looking back, that’s where my own disease probably began to kick in. Unfortunately, the more he gazed lovingly at me, the more he began to look like a duck. I’d feel uneasy and decide to take a breather, so I’d say something like ‘I’m just popping up to the shops for the newspaper.’ ‘I’ll come with you’, he’d say, and then hang out of my arm all the way there and back. My disease then entered stage two, which was similar to a complicated form of claustrophobia. When I wasn’t with him, I was still madly in love, but as soon as we met up I began to panic and plan my escape. This then developed into crisis mode. I knew it was over, not only did I not love him, I hated him. He had nothing to say, he looked like a duck and that sweater from the first night had belonged to his flatmate because on the night I met him all of his horrible cream coloured shirts had been in the wash. Being seventeen it was easy to run. I just got one of my school friends to call up to his house and say ‘my friend says she’s breaking it off.’
Unfortunately, despite having tried every possible combo there is, the pattern persists: I meet someone. They are the most amazing person in the world. Then they are not. Then I am in trouble for breaking their heart. Then I do something stupid to escape, such as shag their friend. Then they hate me. At this stage their hate can at times cause me to have second thoughts and go for a reunion, but once they love me again, I’m off again. I celebrate my freedom and remind myself that I am not suited to relationships. Then I meet someone else and truly believe that they are ‘the one’. Then the whole thing starts again.
I suppose I’d be much better off just concentrating on one night stands. Thing is though, I’ve recently fallen madly in love…

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Detox is a Word

My life is all sorted: I’m starting a juice detox diet. Spell check just claimed that detox isn’t a real word, well how wrong is that? I’m going to do the Carol Vorderman one, because I bought the book a few years ago. It’s a great read and there are lots of   coloured pictures of drinks that make giving up food almost seem attractive. And Carol Vorderman is so good at Sudoku that she must know what she’s doing, even if I despise healthy sexy slim women in general.
The idea came to me last week when this friend of mine called over. We try to meet once a week and take time out to work on the novels that we are both not writing. This means a lot of sticky cream buns and cafĂ© lattes are consumed. We spend an hour discussing how our week has been so incredibly busy that there’s no way we could have written even a page of our novels, we bitch about any mutual friends, saying what bitches they are and five minutes before she leaves we come up with a plan as to how we really will get writing this week.
She brings the buns, normally a big bag of them. I remind her that there are only the two of us not writing novels but she reminds me that I have a whole heap of kids who will eat them when they get back from school. I say things like ‘you’ll be popular in this house’, but actually she isn’t, as I always manage to finish off the buns in the time between her leaving and the kids getting home.
So I was asking her last week did she think that her bringing cake but never eating it and me eating too much of it had anything to do with the fact that she is a little slip of a thing, whilst I have become a fat person trapped in the body of an obese person. She thinks there actually is a link there, and that my weight could in some way be related to my diet. She told me that years ago she was quite a bit heavier (you know when skinny girls say they ‘had a lot of weight on’ they mean they went up to a size 8 once) and that she did this juice detox and that after that she started eating healthy and feeling great about herself and has never looked back.
So there you go. I’m all set. I was going to start last week, on that day actually, but I already had a stuffed chicken in the oven. The following day there were some overripe bananas in the fruit bowl and with the recession and all that, I decided to make a banana and walnut bread, which unfortunately, I had to eat the whole thing myself as one of my kids has a nut allergy and the others don’t like bananas. Then there were relatives’ home from America who I cooked for and I felt it would be rude if I didn’t go all out and make the apple pie, scones and all the trimmings. The stress of not being able to start my juice diet led me to drink, so the following night I downed a bottle of red. I thought it would be good to have it out of the house anyways before I begin.
Now it’s the weekend. You can’t detox on a weekend. There’s a garden fete I have to go to that will involve a cake stall, there are pizza delivery companies that need to be supported in times of recession and the sun is shining. You can’t detox on a hot day because if you did that you couldn’t have an ice cream.
So I’m starting Monday. Well no, hang on. Monday is the last parent committee meeting before the summer and that’s the night we all get invited by the school principal for a glass of wine and finger food, so no, Monday’s out. Tuesday. I’ll start Tuesday if I'm not meeting someone for lunch. 
I've looked it up in the dictionary. Detox is a word, maybe only a word...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm NOT With Stupid

 I love Paris. The cafes, the culture, the art, the romance, I could go on all day. But I don’t love Paris as in ‘I heart Paris’ on the front of a tacky t-shirt. Apparently, though, I’m alone in this sentiment if I’m to go by the rail of t-shirts I’ve just seen at in the local retail store. And it’s not just Paris, I’m also not a student at various colleges mostly on another continent, I’m not Superman or sexy chic and no, the Leprechauns didn’t make me do it. I’m not ‘with stupid’ and I don’t think you should ‘save the trees, eat a beaver.’ Not eating beavers isn't a vegetarian issue, it’s more that I’m really not convinced beavers have been all that instrumental in the demise of trees. But, oh of course, double meaning. I'm on the floor laughing. Not. 
Now why people go around wearing the most ridiculous things written on t-shirts is beyond me. I can’t say I’m not guilty myself. When I was ten years old the local cheapo clothes store were selling a range of t-shirts with slogans. I can only remember two of them: the one that I wanted and the one that I got. I wanted the one with the little kid beside a big shaggy dog that read ‘nobody loves me.’ I got the one with a precocious looking girl waving a tennis racket asking ‘anyone for tennis?’ I got into trouble for not wearing it after hounding my mother to buy me a slogan t-shirt. But even back then, I was loathe to sport a slogan I couldn’t relate to. To this day I’ve never played tennis, but as for ‘nobody loves me’, I still feel an affinity to that statement and am bitter that I wasn’t bought the t-shirt.
 The people I worry about most are those who wear t-shirts with funny slogans: Jesus is coming. Look busy!’ I mean, what are they getting at? Is it that they want to entertain others, or do they want others to find them entertaining? Perhaps they just want to read their own t-shirts all the time and make themselves laugh. Then there’s the political ‘stop whaling’ stuff, as if reading someone’s t-shirt is going to make me start thinking about the wrongs of whaling instead of what a wally they look like. I’ll leave out quotes from my favourite writers covered in other peoples sweat and we won’t mention all the variations of the word coca cola, which probably belong to the ‘oh, so hilarious’ category.
I’m not bitter that none of the slogan t-shirts came in my size; they only went up as far as XL. I ended up buying a very fetching tent like smock and the only writing it offers is a little label on the inside with the unmentionable size written on it. No, I’m not bitter; I just think that slogans are meant for car bumper stickers and fridge magnets. Nowhere else. Not even the slogan that I saw while on holidays in Spain. It was written on a scroll and read: ‘the only woman I’ve ever loved was another man’s wife, my mum.’ Unfortunately it wasn’t a t-shirt; it was tattooed onto a man’s lower arm. I just don’t get it…

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Best Thing About Marriage

I have the best thing you can ever get from marriage: a divorce. My ex lives a good two hours plane journey away which means that the child sharing is done by going on holidays together or the kids going to stay with him during the summer, leaving me with a few weeks of having the opportunity to live the way I think I’d like to live but actually wouldn’t. He comes here sometimes and stays in my house where we organise various family days out and in. We reminisce about old times. I bring up things like ‘wasn’t it a trip of a lifetime when we travelled overland to China?’ But I never say things like ‘wasn’t it a hoot when you had the affair with the lap dancer and got beaten up by that pimp guy?’ He says things like ‘I’ll always remember how you awakened my interest in the arts.’ But he won’t say ‘I wish you hadn’t sold the family car that time to buy a polytunnel.’
We pussyfoot around all the issues and find a space where we can still be a family in our own right, a weird kind of family but c’mon, we were always going to be that anyway. True, it has not been easy to get to this place where we can all be friends, but lots of happy endings begin with a fight. Giving birth, for example, was way worse, and I’m still not sure if that was a happy ending.
This year we went on a skiing holiday together and I realised why it’s so easy to get on brilliantly with your ex-husband. First of all, he was in charge of the budget, so there weren’t any arguments about ‘no, that’s too expensive’ or ‘let’s go to the supermarket and buy cheap stuff and make dinner’. And because he probably feels guilty about not having paid maintenance until I chased him across Europe with some commission or other for the recovery of unpaid child maintenance (we wouldn’t really have chats about that over dinner either), he likes to be generous and demonstrate what a nice person he is.
 Then there are all the annoying things that I remember from being married. Things like hearing the same story over and over. Because I no longer live with this man, I only have to hear the same stories for the duration of the holiday, which makes it bearable.
If I think he looks like a total nerd wearing his jeans too high up his waist, if he still makes that loud chewy noise when he eats, if he arranges to do something for a day trip but then changes it to another and then back to the original arrangement all within an hour. Whatever he does, it’s not going to faze me; he’s my ex. I’ve already escaped. Of course it does make other people uncomfortable. They probably think that one or the other of us would secretly like a reunion, but mostly I’d say they’re just jealous. There were some days on that ski holiday when I looked around at the other families and thought ‘jeez, it looks like we’re the only grown ups here who are actually on speaking terms.’
But there is that one drawback when you’re on holiday with your ex-husband. You’re not going to get much sex. People assume that we are a couple, not that it ever stopped various advances in the married years. But a family hotel full of Dutch ski enthusiasts who wear slippers in the hotel foyer, is not really the place for adventure.
Recently, things have been going so well with my ex and so bad with romance that I’ve had a great idea: we could meet up now and then for sex. We did do it for years when we were married, so we could just go for it, we wouldn’t need to drag things out with foreplay or promise on things that we can’t deliver, like happy ever after and all that.
Thing is though, it would never work, because I already know I’d end up geting turned off by the chewy noise when he eats, and the repeated stories, and the changing arrangements back and forth,  and the reason for the divorce in the first place, the horrible nerdy trousers…

Monday, June 7, 2010

Sexy Quips

   I can never really work out what it is you are meant to do with your life in order to qualify as a worthwhile woman. If you are into things like fashion and glamour you will be deemed as weak and pandering to men as their playthings. If you have a career you will hear about how bad it is for your children and how women are difficult to work for, worse than men and more ambitious. Chose to stay at home with your kids and you’ve lost it all together, because that means you have become an unpaid skivvy pandering to the needs of little people who will grow up to hate you. A homemaker is also a dead loss. It means you cook and clean for free and also take orders and abuse for doing so. Getting married is not cool either, nor is staying single. Married women have sold themselves to the enemy, while singles are self obsessed old maids.
I still have to work out my own role as a woman. Unfortunately I love cooking and hate cleaning which leaves me fat and living in a dump. I love having kids, am even enjoying them as teens, but have to conceal my bohemian lifestyle from them just in case they grow up wild and free, and who in all fairness wants to end up like their parents? I fear the worst for my children. The oldest has expressed an interest in accountancy. I worry about bringing up children who might get mixed up in corporate lifestyles and wear suits. Next thing it’ll be banking, or politics and we all know that this sort of thing can land you in prison.
But that’s the thing, isn’t it? Whatever you do is likely to be either praised or frowned upon. What if women in business were not tough and ambitious? Well then they’d be criticised for not being up for the challenge. And what if there was nobody to make dinner? I totally agree that it’s not just the woman’s job to do all these things, but where does the divide between the genders start and finish?
There must be something I don’t get about feminism, and just to clarify that, I do consider myself a feminist, but I also like the ad for Hunky Dory’s with the rugby girl flashing her tits. She looks tough and up for a wrestle, and she really doesn’t make women look like all they’re good for is sex. In fact, the ad kind of challenges that if you ask me. And let’s face it, if you do have to generalise about women, the one thing they all seem to have in common is the ability to multi-task, so this girl is just as likely to be a PhD student out to earn some extra cash and a few free boxes of crisps. But apparently, no, there have been thousands of complaints to say it’s in bad taste, vulgar and all that.
Tell you one thing for nothing, if I had that girls body I’d probably go round in a very low cut t-shirt with the words ‘in case you hadn’t noticed, I am (amongst other things)  a babe’ written on it. (And when you're as big as I am, you can fit a lot of words onto a t-shirt.)
I wonder if the poster had been of a man in a sexy pose would there have been as many complaints? More than that though, I wonder how many of the complaints about the distasteful ad came from men?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Irish Burglar Alarms

Once upon a time when I was a newly returned ex-pat, I decided it would be a great idea to live in the back of beyond, in a place where it’s so country that you had to go out and look for beauty with a metal detector. The place was mostly bog and stone and other than my good self and a handful of blow-ins, most of the locals were cousins of some kind or other. There was one sad pub where the local men sported various themes on the same check shirt while the ladies wore knee length skirts and raised a leg on a Friday night for the Set Dancing session. This village had one tourist attraction, and it did earn the name village as there was a petrol pump that doubled up into a post office where you could also buy groceries. You wouldn’t know it was a tourist attraction considering that from outside it looked like the ruins of a big old house, and it was pretty much deserted. What made it a tourist attraction was that above the hole that was once an entrance, there was a carving of a very ugly naked woman holding open her genatalia for the entire world to see. There are only a few such carvings left in Ireland and they are called ‘Sheela-na-Gigs.’ There is, of course, plenty of controversy as to what a Sheela-na-Gigs is all about. Some will claim she is a pagan goddess, others will say she is a warning against lust. Personally, my favourite interpretation is that she was there to scare people away: a sort of warning that a mad woman with a huge fanny is inside and that if you dare come any closer she is going to get you.
Not long after moving into this shambles of a house we were broken into. It served me right. It was stupid to think that living in the Irish countryside meant you would be safe. I had moved into a very exposed house on a country road, and really I should have just put a sign up saying ‘pull in, rob the place and leave’. After the break in I began to feel uncomfortable at night. I feared that someone would break in when we were at home, attacking myself or the kids. So I decided to do a Sheela-na-Gigs on it. I bought a cement plaque with a picture of a very nasty Sheela and hung it outside the door.
I used to sleep naked anyway, so I came up with a safety plan. The house was a bungalow, so if anyone broke in I would hear them come up the hall. All I’d have to do would be to run up the hall naked, holding my fanny open and screaming in an earth mother voice. I was delighted with myself. It was cheap and I didn’t have to remember some code or other. A few months went by and I began to forget about burglars. Until, that is, I heard my front door rattle one morning at about 3am. I could also hear my car being pulled and tampered with, so that was it.
He probably heard my cave woman howls first, but when I came running up the hall naked and flashing my fanny at my next door neighbour I can only say that yes, it did work indeed.
He was at my door to say that the bull had escaped from Kelly’s field and was now endangering my car. Sadly, the bull wasn’t scared off by my tactics, so I did the walk of shame back down the hall, put on some clothes and helped my neighbour to get the bull out.
All the same though, I still think it’s a great alternative to forking out money for fancy burglar alarms, and when it comes to humans, it definitely does work.  I’ve since moved from that village for reasons best left unsaid. Here in the suburbs though, they say that crime is on the increase, so luckily for my family, we are all safe. Safe as houses. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Copulative Complications

One of the great things about the internet is that borderline alcoholic lone parents, who are forced to stay home at night, can now go online once they have reached the edge of maudlin with their lonely lone parent bottle of wine. I am one of those people. Online, to define it properly, means searching up old flames. That’s because old flames are safe. They remember you from way back when you didn’t buy your clothes in the fatty shop, you don’t need to do a police check on them because you know they were always mad but not in a weirdo way and they are also likely to be the kind of married and living on another continent safe.
Recently I found an old flame on Facebook. There was a touch of all of the above. He sent me an email to say he still thinks I’m beautiful (he last saw me in 1987). Luckily, he’s been living in New York for the past 25 years, so I won’t have to do my roots, put on my favourite tent and disappoint him over a coffee. The dangerous part is that he is currently single and other than some grey stubble looks pretty much the same as he did the last time I kicked him out of my apartment in Bray leaving him to walk the 20 mile journey back to his place in Fairview. Possibly that walk or one of the other journeys I put upon the poor guy has been key to the fact that he has spent the past twenty years actively climbing mountains, bouldering and hiking.
He promised that he’d always held a place for me in his heart despite his two marriages and numerous love affairs. He told me he still paints, plays guitar and writes poetry despite the time constraints brought on by a successful career.
Then there was the phone call: “gee, it’s been so long.”  When I asked him how he was doing he said “I’m good.”I had not asked him about his behaviour, I had asked him how he was. Then he reminisced on old times and how we “laughed so hard.” It wasn’t just the Noo Yawk twang that got to me, but the fact that he was changing his words. This I’m good carry on gets to me big time. I already knew he was good: bloody brilliant. Why else would I go looking for him after 25 years and a bottle of cheap wine, but let’s face it, well is an adverb and good is an adjective.
Adverbs describe verbs and adjectives describe nouns, which means that saying ‘I am good’ is wrong, as good cannot mean how you are, rather what kind of person you are. Complicated, I know, and as for laughing so hard, we never laughed hard, we laughed ourselves sick, or silly, or laughed our heads off: all much more unrealistic descriptions of laughing, but at least they conjure up an image whereas laughing hard doesn’t.
So I decided that even if this handsome, fit, wealthy ex of mine really does send me the promised ticket to America, I really couldn’t take him up on it. It just wouldn’t be right to meet up with somebody who’d developed bad grammar habits over the years. I did some research into the usage of I’m good and I’m well  in order to have some incriminating evidence,only to discover that it’s actually not wrong to say I’m good. Apparently it’s got something to do with what’s called linking verbs and action verbs, and seemingly the verb to be is the quintessential action verb, making it perfectly legal to respond I’m good to the question how are you? It went on to explain that linking verbs are also called copulative verbs. Well there you go, I thought. Isn’t that where all the trouble began in the first place.
So I’ve just sent him an email to say I won’t be coming to visit. It’s just because of some copulative complications…

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sex and Haircuts

To me hairdressers are like lovers. I get all excited about trying them out; especially the ones with a bit of a name for being quirky. This morning I dished out top dollar for a guy with a great reputation, but paying hairdressers can be on par to using a prostitute: the cost doesn’t guarantee the quality, does it? Today’s session was totally sexy – a lot of foreplay involving the male in question telling me how great he was, how great it would be and how much success he’s had with other women. The act itself was over before I’d noticed, he patted my shoulder and called me love, and like a lot of sex, I left telling myself I could probably get a better job somewhere else.
As with lovers, the good thing is that you can move on to the next one soon after the anti-climax, and in between times you can mope around and blame yourself.
So most of lunchtime I’ve been coming up with reasons as to why it is my fault that I’ve just paid almost half my weekly income on having some guy do a ballet dance around my head whilst giving me a short back and sides which makes me look like a proper dyke. Well that’s reason number one: perhaps top hairdressers like to give you a haircut to suit your personality. Then there’s the fact that there’s not much you can do with a short haired person looking for a haircut, and there’s also my face. He needed to hide as much of it as possible. Another possibility is that it might be some new sort of fashion that came into style in the past twenty five years, and I wouldn’t have a clue about what’s kosher these days, now would I?
I’m probably being as selfish about this haircut as I am about sex: I expect to emerge from the experience looking at least ten years younger and 30lbs lighter. Somehow, I believe there should be a transformation somehow.
But no, here I sit with a short haircut that makes me look like a little boy, and that’s not as in skinny and thin little boy, it’s little as in pesky and irritating little boy.
So I’ve decided to make up for the bad hair with liposuction and a facelift. But what if the liposuctionist is like the hairdresser and I end up with a botch job, let’s say some lopsided fat removal or something? And people die getting facelifts done.  
Maybe I’ll give the facelift and lipo a miss and just buy those elastic knickers that go up to your neck. And shoes, there’s always shoes, because shoes are like lovers…