Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sex & Guilt

Having lived away for years, I’ve always felt there’s a kind of bonus connected to being Irish. I don’t mean the fact that people come up to you and say ‘ah, you are Irish, the green island, you have shiny yellow face from Kerrygold butter.’ And I don’t mean the Americans’ with their ‘I love your brogue’. What I mean is the sex.
As a rule, sex and guilt are inextricably connected for the Irish, and let’s face it, sex without guilt would be banal. I know, because I’ve had sex with people from at least 27 countries spread across the globe, even if I’ve never been to bed with anyone from Wales. Believe me; having sex with someone who doesn’t feel guilty about it just dampens the whole thing. They leave the light on; they ask you things like ‘am I getting the right spot there?’ and they’re loud. They fart in bed, they examine your privates the way a doctor does and they make you orgasm the way an Irish person might make you a cup of tea: too often, too sweet and not hot enough.
Guilt is sexy. You can really only talk dirty to a person if you have been blessed with guilt. Someone who doesn’t understand Irish guilt might be offended if you say ‘you filthy bitch, you dirty whore’. For example, let’s say you’re in bed with a German. The reply might be that the said woman immediately retrieves her clothes from the floor and leaves, saying (read in strong German accent): I zink zere has been a misundershtandink, I am not a filzy whore, I vas doink it for free, jast for fan.

There’s nothing sexier than having sex with someone when it feels oh so damn wrong and forbidden and filthy. If you’re Irish you’ll know what I mean. That surge of sexiness just because you shouldn’t.
And another thing, because it’s a very human thing to want to do the forbidden the Irish actually have more sex than any other nationality; and I should know, because I am Irish. The other proof is in the amount of kids that the Irish have had over the years. In fact, if you are Irish, you should be thankful for guilt, because without it, you probably never would have been conceived and never would have made it into the world to enjoy the joys of guilt. Imagine that. Without guilt, you would probably never be here today. So go spread the guilt. It’s damn sexy. 

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Tooth Or A Campervan?

There’s something about dentists, and I should know, because I’ve been in a dental surgery twice in the space of the past week. Granted, before last week I hadn’t ventured into one for at least five years, but still.
The first visit was made possible due to severe pain. I had an infection or an abscess or whatever the dental definition is for: €1500 and do you want insurance with that?
I was told to come back in five days time, and this time it was even less daunting, as the painkillers and antibiotics had cured the screaming pain, which made me feel richer by the €1500 which I’d written off but now felt I could spend on sweets and chocolate instead. But apparently no: just because I feel better doesn’t mean it’s gone away. I’m not to trust the tablets says Mrs. Gleaming Teeth, the young dentist who looks about twelve years old. The pain will come back. I’m to hand over the money and we’ll discuss some other cosmetic work while I’m at it. But not today. Today we’ll just do two fillings. She tells me she can only do two fillings on the medical card. I tell her that two fillings per visit sounds reasonable to me, but no, she informs me that it’s two fillings per year. So basically, if you have a medical card you’ll be given free healthcare should you get into a fist fight, get blind drunk, take an overdose, abuse your health to the point of life support, or just have a general addiction to prescription drugs which are all free. But a third filling to your tooth, no, that’s not covered.
Not that it will matter in my case. Once she began to prepare for the first filling, I politely told her in my best shaky voice that I’d have to pass on it as despite having given birth on numerous occasions, having pack packed across China and chased snakes out of the toilet combined with surviving various illnesses, attacks and life changing events. But a filling. Not a filling.
There isn’t a dentist in Ireland that believes I can still feel everything even after they’ve supposedly numbed my gums, and even when they are numb, it’s the horrible drilling noise and the pressure and the poking and then no matter how numb you think you are, all of a sudden you get a piercing pain up your tooth and not only can you not scream but you can’t even swallow your own spit and the evil stranger who is doing this to you also has their fingers in your mouth.
There was no argument. She sent me packing with a prescription for valium and told me to make another appointment and take the drugs before I come.
She also did an inventory of my mouth and suggested four crowns in the front and two in the back and some bridge yoke and to get them cleaned and bleached and what not. And no, the medical card doesn’t cover it, but they’ll do me a good deal. It’ll only cost about the same price as a camper van.
I decide that I’ve gotten away with spending the past five years in denial anyway, so I get home and remove the mirror. They’re only teeth after all, and if Shay McGowan from the Pogues got away with it why wouldn’t I? I spent the rest of the day surfing the internet for camping vans and Eastern European dentists. I may as well toss a coin.

Monday, July 26, 2010

No Money In Poetry



Today I drove to Sligo and back in the pissing rain. Well let’s say my beloved did the driving and I sat in the passenger seat passing bitchy remarks about other drivers and the state of any poor innocent who happened to be walking along the pavement.
I had been invited to Sligo to read a poem of mine which was ‘highly commended’ in the iYeats poetry competition. In other words, a poem that didn't win. The invite had been called ‘an award ceremony’, however, we runner ups only got a cup of tea and a dry aul’ biscuit.
I’m used to the pomp that goes with poetry by now. I reckoned that if the ceremony was on at 12.30, it would be enough to skip the wine, crackers and speeches and get there about 1pm for the start. I made it at a quarter to one, only to find that it was half way through and I’d missed my slot. Gracefully, they did let me come up and read, and the whole thing was over by 1pm, say a quarter past if you count the cuppa.
There were a few poets hanging around, laden down with bags of poetry books, saying ‘I’m very reserved about pulling out my book at readings, but I do have a copy or two in my bag at €12.50 thank you very much and will I sign it?’ I’m not sure though, if poets will ever have a huge market in flogging poetry books to other poets for the simple reason that most poets are broke. As Robert Graves said:  There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either. 
He’s right about the no money for sure. I’ll tell you why that is. The petrol money to Sligo was about €30, lunch out was about the same and I had to stop on the way back for a large box of Solpadeine painkillers and whatever you’re having yourself. That’s nearly half of my deserted wives’ pension blown in one day, and not a bit of inspiration out of the whole event.
I decided that maybe I just don’t fit into the literature circles. I’m no good at name dropping or mentioning other competitions that I also didn’t win, and when someone suggested I send my manuscript to what I consider to be the Supermacs of Irish poetry publishing, I just said that ‘yeah, I must’, instead of saying how much more damn exciting I find it to write about things that fire my passion than to collect gold stars from learned people who judge said writing.
In many ways, writing poetry is a curse. I wish my inspiration would come in the form of best selling chick lit novels, or that my passion could be channelled into inventing something like the Dyson vacuum cleaner instead of sitting up nights mulling over words. I should really stop giving out, but, as Yeats himself once said:
The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
So for what it’s worth, here’s the non-winning poem:


View From a Ditch

Here. Look at my face on a faded photo.
Cast a glance and roll your eyes up. Say you’re
Sick of these streets pasted with posters,
Boasting young lads winking at passers-by
With their Missing Person dead eyes.
Say it’s not your job to find me alive.

Believe me. These streets breed premature ghosts.
Pull in knife fighting kids on gear. Paint
The town blue with sirens, still you can hide:
Glue sniffing with the belly-topped hep-c beauties.
There I felt warm: shared needles and ice cream,
Said ‘I love you’ and the sun split filthy skies.

Look. In this ditch water flows without a tap.
Since State Care, the longest home I’ve had.
Hawk stoops for its’ prey. Bird murders worm.
The rain on my dead cheek makes me my mother’s son.
A shot - a fox lies victim of a bad deal.
And I am quiet now. I know these rules too well.




Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Right Age For Sex

Recently I was explaining to a friend how now that my kids are all hitting puberty, I intend to buy a gun, build a ten foot wall around the house and vet any prospective admirers by pointing the gun at their face and letting them know what’s the what. After all, I’m the parent and I need to protect my innocent children from the risk of being exposed to sexual predators, or worse, having sexual desires themselves.
My friend asked me what age I felt was the right age for sex, and I had to think for a minute. I reckon mid thirties is a good age. You know what you want by then and you’re beginning to experience the feel of being a grown up. And sex, after all, is for grown-ups. Or is it?
Recently I was staying in a house where the 15 year old daughter had her boyfriend stay over for the night. Luckily, it was in Germany, where the legal age for consensual sex is 14. In Ireland it is 17, with a clause that allows non-carnal contact at 15. Now who the hell knows what ‘non-carnal’ contact means? Does it mean you can go to bed with someone and have oral sex instead? Typical Irish really: there’s a rule, but there’s a way around it and it’s all hazy and unclear and in reality everyone is having sex from an early age but we all pretend that they’re not, so that we don’t have to deal with it because nobody wants to talk about sex anyway. It’s the Irish guilt thing. And after all, guilt is a quintessential ingredient in sex if you're Irish.
Well I can’t say it didn’t make me think when my friend’s daughter was merrily taking the boyfriend home for the night at her young age. Wondering if it was legal or not, I looked up the age of consent in various European countries. Spain was the sexiest, with the age of consent being a tender 13 and most countries came in somewhere around the 15 mark.
I suppose what scares me about my teenage kids having sex, is the thought of them doing it for reasons other than pleasure, affection or the love thing. A lot of the younger generation just do it in order to have done it. And I’m terrified at the thoughts of girls being used by boys – old fashioned, I know, but I am old, so I’m allowed to be. So I changed my mind about the ten foot wall and the gun. I’ve decided that my kids can bring home their smelly, spotty teen beaus if it means the objective of the encounters is consensual pleasure. I just don’t want to hear them though, and I refuse to give breakfast to any of them. At a stretch they can use the kitchen and have some cereal once I’ve moved into the living room in order to pretend to myself that my children are playing with Action Man and Barbie and only love Mammy and will never grow up, well not until they’re 35 anyway. 

For those planning to travel. A list of the age of consent in Europe:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_Europe

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is This Berlin?

I’m a couchsurfer, ( www.couchsurfing.org ) Being one means you’re a thick idiot who hosts strangers for free in your house. The deal is meant to be that after the strangers have come and emptied out your fridge, been sick on your spare bed and nicked a few books, they will also write feedback on the website saying that ur not a psycho killer and that it’s ok for other people to let you stay on their couch should you ever recover your losses and get out of the house. Then you can travel the world by asking people if you can stay on their sofas and they say yes because they read all these nice things about you online.
I had this notion that it would be interesting to meet people from all around the world and show them Galway, but most of the visitors we got were extremely boring eastern Europeans who kept their food in a separate plastic bag and got up early to do yoga.
So last week when I arrived in Berlin I wasn’t sure whether I should really go and stay in some weirdo’s house or not, but given that I was broke and on my own, the idea of talking to a grown up and not spending my life savings on two nights in a cheap hotel did become attractive.
I stayed with Angie, a woman of my age (and that means the age where you stop saying your age), and her 15 year old daughter. Angie handed me a key and told me she’d be out all night. The daughter was going out somewhere too, but she’d be back.
Suddenly I was glad that I was staying. It meant that Angie could stay out all night and there would be someone there to babysit the daughter. I could make myself useful. But the15 year old already had a babysitter for the night: her boyfriend.

The apartment was only one stop away from the central station, but I was tired, so I strolled to the corner of the road where a convenient sidewalk pizzeria lured me in with pizzas for €3.50, the same price as the wine. I’d spent all day seeing the sights: Potsdamer Platz, Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, and I’d sat in cafĂ©’s around Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg. But this pizzeria on the street corner was the business. Women in burqa’s stuck their heads out of pokey apartment windows, shouting at kids playing street football in Turkish jerseys: the kind of kids who speak broken German but have never been outside Berlin. And old girl sat at a table opposite me and ordered another beer. She had the usual collection of bags full of things that should be discarded but would always weigh her down.
A fat couple ordered ice creams after their dinner: massive big coupes with cream and syrup. I wanted to do the same, but I was too embarrassed to, being a fatty myself. There was one of those walk aids parked at their table, the type with wheels and a handy ledge to put shopping on. I didn’t know which of them it belonged to. Maybe they took turns. I could see my future.
It wasn’t the best pizza ever, and the wine wasn’t a 1985 Barolo, but it was real Berlin. The old girl lit a cigarette. I wondered what she was thinking. I hoped nothing. People destroy themselves with thinking.
A man in a turban parked his bicycle and a car drove past blaring oriental music.
I could hear the waitress scream angry Italian at someone in the kitchen. A peroxide blonde with a red faced, bearded man joined the old girl with the beer. They ordered more beer, and when they sat down I noticed that the blonde had a dog in her handbag.
I ordered another glass of wine and pretended to read a book. Another burqa leaned out of an upstairs window and screamed at a child. Forget my fluent German, I couldn’t understand a word and I was loving it. The heart of Berlin

Thursday, July 15, 2010

On Becoming A Racist

I've decided to become a racist and it has nothing to do with the fact that I'm sitting in an internet cafe a few yards up from Checkpoint Charlie. After all, what could you dislike about the Germans? They're peaceful and organised and despite their reputation there are some who have a sense of humour. Using public transport is a dream; there's just not going to be a flaming arguement or a traveller family with the father praying out loud while the daughter listens to music blaring from her mobile phone. There are no hungover scangers bringing chips and burgers on board to smell out the carraige and it's quite uncommon for a bunch of youngsters to start their drinking binge on the train. So no, Germans are fine. I also couldn't fault the Africans. I recently took the bus from Galway to Dublin where I had to move seats to get away from the drunk Irishman beside me as he pissed his pants and it started to run across to my seat. I ended up beside a guy from the Congo. I got his life story and half his lunch. Then I realised a woman who I know from Cameroon was two seats behind me. She introduced me to another Camaroon guy who lives in Westport. He told me about what a wonderful place it was and what a great view he has from the window of the tiny room he shares with four other asylum seekers. I have a thing for positive people and he oozed it. His girlfriend was from the West Indies. She didn't talk much but I decided not to be racist against people from there purely on the basis of how pretty she was.
Somewhere between arriving in Dublin and getting to the airport, a strung out scanger tried to rob my bag, deterred only by me giving him a proper kick in the balls and then hitting his head with said bag.
So after a series of bad experiences with the Irish, ranging from the above mentioned to the pathetic hen and stag parties that have destroyed Galway, the politicians who told us lies bigger than an ageing prostitutes cunt and the poor builders wives who have to trade in their SUV's for Toyota Carollas.
The Irish are a ridiculous shower of  drunk freeloading wannabe anythings who turned their crock-a-gold into piss that doesn't even have a pot to piss in. All of them, and to be a proper racist I'll end this blog with the mandatory line of every racist I've ever come across:

I'm not a racist, but...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Job I Won't Be Getting

 The other day I had a job interview. Being called to interview is a biggie these days. HR people just don’t waste their time anymore unless they really feel you might be serious about the job, suitable and well qualified and willing to work 60 hours a week at €2 per hour. Despite qualifying for all of the above, it is still a rare occurrence that I do actually get called for interview but what happened was this, the company interviewing had won a government tender to deliver training, and they now need trainers. When they tendered last April they were told that they’d know by the end of the month. Of course, here we are in mid July and they got a call last week to say they’ve won the tender and to get started by next week. So I got a call to come to interview the next day, and I’m guessing it was all done at such short notice that the good people who all have proper jobs and are busy were not able to down tools and come along, so people like me got asked.
Given that part of this job involves teaching people how to write CV’s and prepare for interviews, the interviewers were obviously expecting me to be the business, and I was, but not in the way that might get me the job.
You see, two months ago I went for interview with an important pharmaceutical company. It was similar to last weeks interview, they call it competency based which means they ask you things like what you did well and what you fucked up on in the past, how you deal with this that and the other, and your job is to give examples. When they ask for the bad stuff you give a mildly bad example and follow it up with ‘and what I learned from that situation was blah de blah de blah.’ Well the interview with the uppity ladies from the pharma company didn’t go great. I had everything off pat and as I answered the questions I could hear my voice echo inside my own head and because it was rehearsed I couldn’t help but speak in a very monotonous tone.
The women who interviewed me had also learned off how to conduct interviews and they spoke in that false interested voice that you use when you talk to kids. Well no need to say, two days later I got a ‘please fuck off letter’ and that was that.
So the other day I decided just to go in and chat to them. Turned out the interviewers were English. They asked the usual questions, but actually in a normal voice and explained the job without sounding like the judges from the X Factor. As they spoke, I began to get excited about the job. They weren’t from FAS or any other jobs for the boys’ organisation where the owner of the business knows Paddy Joe’s sister who runs the tenders. They were actually interested in training methods and results and they seemed to know what they were doing.
I left on a high, wondering when I’d get the call to say I’m hired. After all, I love training. I’ve volunteered as a trainer for two years with clients similar to the ones they’ll be teaching, I have  a track record in working with metrics, in a team, managing and being managed, inspiring people and confidence building. On top of that I have great contacts in the community to help people get jobs and I have connections with the local newspapers so that I could write great press releases and market the programme well.
It’s just a pity that I didn’t mention any of that in the interview. I’m guessing they mightn’t have found the few jokes I cracked all that funny. They noted that I’d lived in Germany for a long time and instead of taking the opportunity to say something like ‘yes, which proves that I work well in a multi cultural environment’ I said, ‘yeah, my kids are half German half Irish, they’ll want to start a war but want to go for a pint first.’ At least I didn’t say anything about England’s performance in the world cup but reflecting on that afterwards I’m not sure if it will really net me the job. I’m also not sure if my answer to ‘how do you feel about being managed, having worked for yourself?’ I replied ‘ha ha, sure wouldn’t I love to be managed!’ They were taking notes as I spoke, and how I’d love to see those notes.
Apparently they’ll be deciding early next week, so I have a few days to dream about the great courses I could teach, how I’d strategically plan my lessons, how I’d manage student retention, and until the ‘please fuck off phone call’, I will dream of inspiring and up skilling the unemployed.
I do know what happened though. I actually wanted that job so much that nerves got the better of me and I became giddy and stupid. So for the next few days I’ll put a lesson plan together in my head on how to deal with nerves when at interview. Then when I get rejected I can learn from my top tips just what people do when nervous and kick myself for not having learnt all this in advance.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Preaching to the Converted

When I first started writing the daily Arsekick I promised myself two things: that it wouldn’t be political and that I would post up a piece every weekday. I’m beginning to realise that everything is political, even t-shirts with slogans are political, as is suggesting that people ban the pyjama bottom or comparing one kind of corruption with another and all the other things I’ve blogged about. So I’ve started to realise that I’m less consistent and more political than I thought I was.


This week has been interesting. I came across a Facebook group called ‘support the re-opening of Mosney’ or something like that. Well, having worked with asylum seekers, I’d already felt my stomach balk at the thought of the people living there being uprooted overnight and sent to random parts of the country to re-establish their already turbulent lives. So I joined, thinking that this was a page calling for the place to remain open.


Not so.


The page is, in fact, a holiday camp for racist commentary, one’s like this:

To say asylum seeker is funi there money grabbing foreigners tat are responsible for mst of the problems in tis country. (Janice Smith) 

We won’t say anything about the spelling. After all, that would be prejudice and the goal is not to make assumptions about people, in any sense. I reported the page to Facebook, but nothing happened, and having pointed others to the page there was a spin off of comments and articles, but in a way, you can write about these things till the cows come home, but really, you’re only preaching to the converted. People read and hear what suits them, so is there any point really in telling them some of the stories I’ve heard about the plight of people not as lucky as I am?
Yes, there are those who screw the system, but freeloaders are cannot be sorted out by the colour of their skin, their nationality or their political status. Freeloaders are abusers; from the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick, to those who scam dole money whilst working on the black economy, those who are feigning asylum, and posh whores who live off lovers. But how do you educate people about justice when you live in a totally corrupt society?
Well anyways, it got me rightly pissed off I must say, and to add to that I have some ear infection yoke going on and I’m really not a good patient. Very precious about myself with a tiny weenie pain threshold. So for that reason, there was no proper arsekicks for two days, only the ones I was giving myself by reading the run up to the next holocaust on a Facebook page.
So there you go, after all my excitement about writing a funny blog every day to cheer folk up, it turns out I’m an inconsistent political animal. I wonder what asylum seekers would think if they read all those comments, but luckily they won’t. They can’t afford things like laptops when they live on €19 a week.

Check out this great article on this great blog, by this great writer:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Doting Madwoman with Tic




I’m not sure when Tourettes was invented, but it’s definitely a great name for a disorder. I think back in the day when I was young we just identified people as having a ‘tic’.  I myself do not suffer from tourettes, but if I did, and if I were to describe myself on a dating website, I would definitely prefer to write ‘I have a bit of a tic in my left eye’ than to write ‘I suffer from Tourettes syndrome.’ But that’s just one of my little tics, not wanting to call things by their official names. Sometimes I think I have a yet undiscovered illness called ‘silent tourettes’. What I mean by that is that sometimes I find myself silently saying things in my head that I don’t really mean at all. For example, I might be talking to someone close to me whom I very much appreciate and like, but parallel to the nice conversation I’m thinking ‘cow, silly cow.’
I don’t know much about tourettes but I saw this girl who had it give an interview and she said that she can’t help herself but that she shouts things like ‘nigga’ at coloured people, even though that’s the last thing she means or wants to say. Well I have to admit that I silently hear those words sometimes. Like say, I see a guy begging on the street and I really feel for him, and I buy him a coffee and give him money and my heart is breaking for him, but somewhere in my head I’m going ‘ah get a job you lazy git.’ I’m not sure if it’s the remnants of the programmes that were put into my head at one stage but are now reprogrammed or if it might be this double condition: mute tourettes.
It could also be that I don’t have any condition at all, because I grew up when conditions weren’t conditions, they were classified as the following: a bit soft, mad altogether, doting, wild, the madman or the madwoman from wherever, tapped, distracted, raving and so on. I think it’s actually not PC anymore to use those expressions, you have to use official words like tourettes, aspergers or autism. Unless, of course, you’re the doting madwoman from Galway, then you’re allowed use other words because of your tic.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ban the Burka, and Suits and Pyjamas

I’m never really sure what I think about all this ‘ban the burka’ stuff. Without a shadow of a doubt, costumes from different cultures are great and it is truly uplifting to see an African woman in a mad yellow, gold and dazzling green dress with matching headdress, wheel a pram along Shop Street in the rain.
The burka, on the other hand, is mostly dull yet it does draw attention but not as much attention as the neon elasticised bands worn around the breasts and waists of some indigenous Irish minority ethnic groups.
What also fascinates me though, is the gender thing. I constantly see Muslim women wearing traditional attire, while their husbands have shed the flattering headgear and flowing robes in exchange for jeans and hoodies, shell suits and various variations of western male attire.
I’ve heard a lot of arguments as to why women should or should not stay in the burka or wear the head gear while their husbands don’t. But my point is this: if you want to ban somebody from wearing something that denies them their democracy, I think you have to start with men in suits. Those suits must be so restricting: especially ties. Imagine having to wear a rope like garment around your neck. And the shoes, the silly little black shiny shoes, I mean they must feel like right idiots in those tap shoes when all they are asked to do in them is sit around at meetings and look important.
Women in burkas and men in suits have a lot in common: they both think that their uniforms will earn them respect, but mostly people scoff at them. They also believe that it is all about personal choice. But they believe it in the way that we believe ourselves to be free.
Whatever you wear sends out a message. But if you don’t like what people wear can you pass a law to ban them from wearing it? I think you should be allowed to wear what you like, when you like, except for people who wear their pyjamas to the supermarket. They should be arrested and forced to wear burkas, or suits, or those awful three quarter length pedal pushers. But then again, maybe people who wear their pyjamas to the shops, wear suits to bed, and burkas. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Parking Tickets & Democracy

I had to go into town this morning to help a friend of mine with his asylum application to stay in Ireland. You see, he comes from Nigeria, and where he was living, life has become totally destroyed by corruption.
Luckily, Ireland is not corrupt. I called a few influential friends who I know and asked them to push his name up the list, and I got an old lover to help set him up with a false I.D. so that he can at least do a bit of work while he’s waiting for his case to be heard.
When I returned to my parked car I found that I’d been given a parking ticket: forty quid. I took it off the windscreen and looked at it with the same disbelief that I look at rejection letters from publishers.  Just then a community warden came along.
“Is this from you”, I asked, because if I was to get a ticket I at least wanted to look into the eyes of my persecutor before selling my children’s shoes to pay the fine.
It wasn’t from him, but without much of a conversation he began to tell me what I now needed to do. What I don’t need to do, apparently, is to go to City Hall and pay the fine. No. First of all he suggested that I hang around a while and wait for someone who actually had bought a parking ticket and to ask them for it and then go to City Hall with the ticket, claiming that it had been mine but that it had blown onto the floor of my car or something. Given that the street was pretty deserted he then suggested plan B: go to my car mechanic and get a note saying that the car had broken down and that theoretically it was not parked, but immobile. He assured me that this would work. He also tried to cheer me up by saying that it could have been worse, the warden could have done me for not having tax and that would have been another €60.
I informed him that I was aware of not having tax and he reminded me that seeing as I’m almost four months overdue with the tax disc that the best bet is to go to the police station and get a form signed to say that my car has been off the road. This will mean I’ll get away with paying for the months that are in arrears.
I told him that I was delighted to find such an informative public servant, as usually all they do is to put you on hold when you ring some office and he apologised again that he couldn’t rip up the ticket as he hadn’t issued it.
“I aim to please”, he said.
 “And you do please”, I said.
 And I went off home feeling happy with the world and glad that I live in a civilised country like Ireland and not in a really corrupt one like Nigeria.