Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The new things

Apparently experiences are all set to be the new things - once all the houses, and all the washing machines, and all the gardens and all the under the xmas trees are full to capacity, (and all the trees have been cut down, and all landfills full), people are going to get greedy over experiences.

No, this isn't just the idea of experiences, like the vouchers for flying we all bought each other in the 90's that no one ever got around to using... more real live experiences, meeting famous people, having them to dinner, making flowers out of butter, learning how to spin silk from spider's webs... it's thanks to the web/ apps/ whatevermebobs, which allows us to boast our experiences live.

Like sales of anything though - eventually it comes down to convenience - like i'd love to canoe down Niagara some day, but just the time and hassle of getting in and out of a wet suit, having to brush my hair afterwards etc etc, pure mayhem - so how to get the lovely belly warming experience without the inconvenience of having to go out and do?

 Story telling has always been a form of sold experience, deepened, and painted by the teller, focussed on certain aspects, drawing you along, inviting you to partake in the creation - in the written form especially your own experiences during reading will colour the product (as I found when reading kafka's "the Trial" while enjoying a 5 hour airport wait - it was perfect).  As experiences become the new things however - I'm not sure reading is quite going to explode, or indeed sitting and listening to storytellers (though again happily the web makes this easier by the day - anyone watching Moth stories out there?)
Poetry is experience in concentrated form -  like the coffee capsule things that look like spaceships - it can be surprisingly shiny and powerful...
Film is experience applied to your face, appealingly sometimes in a group setting, simple and magnetic - you get to splash around in it with others, soak it in...  But will there be megastores - that's what I want to know, when all the furniture shops and garages, and garden centres close, will they be replaced with centres of discovery - people going to the COD (you heard it here first folks) to discover, try new things big and small - maybe I could go around with a little stall teaching people how to make blades of grass whistle by placing between your two thumbs.

What experiences will you enable in this bold new world?  What will you save up just for yourself?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Benefits of Wrappers

I’ve been reading about the benefits of using Banana peel and Orange peel – not just for football related jokes – but for real practical purposes, such as reducing wrinkles (just flatten them right across your brow) and cleaning mirrors (yes, just take the stringy bits off and it’ll have the mirror shining like never before)

But – have you heard about the benefits of used sweet wrappers?  They are amazing.  In fact 99% of the fibre present in a typical sweet is in the wrapper, as well as 20% of your RDA of vitamins and minerals.  If you haven’t had a bath with a rainbow of sweet wrappers floating around you, you won’t know what I mean.  They are super for exfoliation, they are non detrimental to the bubble level – (unlike pesky sponges) and it’s so environmentally friendly – you need never throw out a wrapper again!!

Why not collect the plastic from around your old loaves of bread and stuff a pillow case with them to create a super comfy and waterproof resting cushion for your windowseat?  No Windowseat?  No problem!  Gather all the lollipop sticks you can, pile them altogether, cover them over with card from your various food and consumable items, (turned inside out to show off the rustic “raw card” look), finish it off with the last of a few jars of mayonnaise, and leave to dry gloriously in the sunshine. 

Cut out the ingredients, or nutritional sections of your favourite foods, make an album, so you can show visitors what you’ve been into.

Fun for all the family.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The world is forcing chocolate on me!!!

So yesterday I thought we were getting there, I thought I was making progress, I got a different person serving me at the garage, and when I told them I was off “the chocolate” and that I would happily take an apple instead – they said “sure take an apple instead”  I was delighted.  It was a real breakthrough.
Today, back again, delighted to see the same person working, surely they’d tell me to take an apple again, maybe they’d even have the apple ready for me, all polished with the annoying little sticker removed… but alas and alack – the server looked as if they’d never seen me before in my life, making no sign of remembering our golden moment of only 24 hours thence, and even went so far as to put the bar of chocolate on top of my hot beverage cup, “why don’t you have a nicely softened with the heat of your coffee chocolately snack” he almost said to me.  “Get behind me chocolate”  I almost said in return, but instead I said “I don’t want it” a small part of me still hoping he might remember yesterday (when all our troubles seemed so far away) but no, he simply said “I’ll give it to someone else so”  I said “Fine”  “Have a nice day” he said with a hint of cruelty.
In the car – driving along, chocolateless – what comes on the radio “Eating two bars of chocolate a day is shown to reduce the risk of heart failure” or something.  Well I know why – it’s because if you eat lots of chocolate like an obedient mind slave you will not face the stress and embarrassment of having to refuse chocolate at every turn….
In the meantime, half of the readership of this blog (hi Mammy and Daddy!)  have taken this to be a poor advertising campaign, saying “We’d love to go to that place but you never told us the name of it?  What kind of chocolate do they give out? Oh it sounds great value!”  however the other half will know this is a serious thread, about serious issues, it’s about freedom, community relations, health, and kafka-esque complications of the modern world preventing us from fully living to our dreamed potential,,, not saying my parents don’t get that too, they just also see it as an ad. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Trust Shop

Clean shaven-ness, I think that’s one of the key things,
- he smiles,
and good hair – as close to a Ken doll as you can get. 

Enda raises a glass and settles back into the leather seat.  

John leans forward,
that’s all very well, but like how come you always seem to know just what to say? 

A wry chuckle from the other side of the table,
Well that is indeed an interesting secret. 

There are no secrets between us,
- John opens his football muck covered hands in a gesture of open-ness, while Enda raises his perfectly manicured steepled lámha to his lips, in a shushing gesture.  They look around them,  they are alone in the office, as they were ten minutes before.  John leans in a little more, Enda can almost smell the sweat. 

- he says softly
here’s the thing, you’ve got to study American Presidential films, Harrison Ford, Samuel L, George Lee, anyone you can get hold of, watch them religiously – this is what I’m really doing when I say I’m going for my 3 hours transcendental medication.  I see you’re creasing your eyebrows John, I know you’d rather watch Italia 90, but you asked the question.  Can you not Handle the Truth? 
He looks around again, to reassure himself the office hasn’t heard his raised voice, the excitement having taken over for a second, he readjusts his tie.

John is astonished.  
It’s surely not as simple as just looking at them?  I mean you must take notes?  How often do you watch them? 

Alright John, here’s the thing, one a day.   Even when you’re sleepy –
- he holds up a finger to hold John back from his spluttering protest, -
Even during the world cup, when you’ve been up all night to watch Penos.  The key thing is never let a day go by without watching an American Film of some sort, and you’ll always have something respectable and wise to say. 

And then they’ll believe me? 
John asks, 
About the 5 million?  And.. and… that I’m doing a great job? 

They both laugh at hearing that out loud, 

Lookit, they’ll believe anything, they want the happy news, they want to think that someone in charge knows what they’re doing.  It’s easy – just make believe.  Like my good friend willy wonky says… It’s a world of Pure Imagination. 
- allowing his voice to lilt into the music a little.  They both hold their breaths a little in the ensuing silence.

You just did it to me there didn’t you? 
Says John, 

glasses clink and both men smile in satisfaction

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Redefining our relationship

So, I’m back with the old garage, for now.  I know, I know, they force chocolate and news on people, but their coffee is so good, ahhh dictive in fact.  It makes it very hard to walk away, when they are one of only 2 places that can serve a decent cup at the right temperature, and the second place is down the middle of the town, so If I want to get to work on time (and I do), I have literally no choice but to go back for more.  So I go… but on my terms.  I refused to take the chocolate this morning.
Well, my astute reading public, what do you think happened next?  Did the garage offer me an apple instead?  A round of applause in admiration for my one woman stand against sugar? A wry smile of recognition for my dogged determination?  With a friendly reminder that the chocolate would be there again for when I needed it?  Or perhaps they honestly expressed surprise and hurt that I would turn down such generosity?
No, my friends.  None of the above.  In fact – the girl scanned the bar of chocolate anyway, waving it in front of me (yes waving, talk about taunting), and saying “I’ll have that for a well earned treat later!” 

What would you do?  I’m thinking about suggesting we go to counselling, they need to know that they are only undermining any trust we ever had between us when they do things like this – a well earned treat indeed.  Well earned by over-charging for their (admittedly orgasmic) coffee?!!  I feel like quoting dora the explorer “Swiper, no swiping!” or “Scoibthaí ná Scoib!”  Jiminy Meepers Like!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Did anyone else’s mother ever say Siúcra or Sugar when they really wanted to say a bad word?  How about Fruitcake!?  I find “Jiminy Meepers” is my go to phrase for expressing frustration or shock…. It’s so effective I’ve started using it when in an adult context away from little ears…
Anyway back to the sugar – It’s just occurred to me that at least part of why that word was used for something bad is because it is something bad.  I’ve been reading a bit more lately on Sugar, and how it’s the new salt.. (black is the new black) in terms of health.  Some even believe it is a poison  http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/aug/24/robert-lustig-sugar-poison
So I’ve taken charge of my life and decided to see how difficult it is to avoid… Here’s how it’s been going so far.  Sunday – no sugar on my wheetabix, (plenty of lime though if you must know), no chocolate when the kids went to bed, or at any other time of the day… The only little bit of sugar that snuck in was in the peanut butter I had with a  cracker at one stage… So Monday happens, I go to work, someone’s back from holidays and has brought cookies, it’d be rude not to, so I have two, to be doubly sure not to be rude… Yesterday – at work, I am informed that I must taste our range of sugar v’s a new supplier’s sugar… yes – Demerara, soft brown dark, soft brown light, icing, caster and granulated… all of it…!! Do you think it was a sign?  followed by my birthday – cake followed by more cake…
Back on the wagon today.  Sugar free me…!!!!!!!


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Shoplifting and other writing methods

A new sign has appeared at the Premier Gas Station, (or an old sign has been newly noticed), it says “Shoplifters will be prosecuted and published”.  This fits nicely with a call out from Triona (Domestic Oubliette) to let everyone in on our writing methods.  I have never tried shoplifting personally as a route to publication, so I cannot vouch for how well it works.  I presume you would really need to be a genuine shoplifter before you would be considered for publication, it wouldn’t just be a case of walking in and picking up a bag of Monster Munch – otherwise we’d all be published… no, I’m guessing this would require a more dedicated life of crime type of career, and the book in question would have to be your autobiography, most likely written behind bars.  There must be a huge world trend towards reading these types of books, (I know I’ve read my share of them) if the printers have resorted to advertising for writers at garages…
As for my writing methods?  It depends what I want to write – I will use a different method depending on the character, scene, emotion I want to evoke.  If writing about a difficult experience for a character I will try and write it will entertaining the four year old while the 1 year old naps, (and will also try and keep the 1 year old napping).  Sometimes I’ll walk out into the middle of a meadow in Autumn, if I want to write about bounty and reaping, or I might write on the odd occasion while lying down inside said 4 year olds spider man tent, if I want to write about hiding, seeking peace and quiet.  I will sometimes listen to music – Bob Marley for a really tense scene (to gain balance), or classical music when I write about pop (see “loop” my short story a few  posts ago – about pop”ish” music with a twist).  Or I write at night, or during the day.  That mostly covers all my methods… what are yours?
Oh and yes, I must have blue m&ms when writing, that is the one constant throughout.

Monday, June 8, 2015

50 ways to clean your covers

Apologies cleaning enthusiasts – this post is not what was advertised….

The problem is all inside your bed, he said to me, The answer is easy if you take it logically, I'd like to help you in your struggle to be clean, There must be fifty ways to clean your covers

He said it's really not my habit to intrude furthermore, I hope my cleaning won't be lost or misconstrued, But I'll repeat myself at the risk of being crude, There must be fifty ways to clean your covers, Fifty ways to clean your covers

You Just give them a steep, Creep, Use a new can (of powder), Stan, You don't need to be coy, Roy, Just listen to me, gotta soap with no fuss, Gus, You don’t need it to suds much, just drop it in Ghee*, Lee, and get your sheets clean.

You just Give them a soak Folks, in some diluted bleach teach, Put em in the machine, Dean, You could even try steam Dean, Just drop off the bag, Mags, get the launderette to clean

He said it grieves me, To see you struggle with such stains, I wish there was something I could do to make them shine again I said I appreciate that And would you please explain About the fifty ways

You Just give them a rinse, Vince, Make a new plan, Stan, You don't need to be dirty, Bertie, Just listen to me, Put em out on the line, Ryan, You know today’s fine for drying, Just give them a rinse, Vince, and get your sheets clean
* Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in ancient India and is commonly used in KurdishIranianAfghaniPakistaniIndianBangladeshiNepali and Sri Lankan cuisine, traditional medicine and religious rituals.  (not necessarily used for cleaning covers – however since animal fats have been known to use in soap it does make sense to me)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Climbing and other busy things

She pushes yellow plastic chairs around, and climbs them to reach the surface of the blanket box, falls off clutching the mosaic’ed paper dinosaur.  Half way up the stairs before you know it, she stands waiting to hold your hand while she half walks half flies down.  If the coffee table is in her path she won’t go around it like a normal human being, over or under if she wants something in particular, using all her skill not to bump her oversized head.  In Granny’s house and visits to our friends, she almost makes it to the windowsill, she craves the outdoors.   Shouts at the back door of the doctors office, looking to make her escape, out where the wheelie bins stand and summer leafed trees beckon from a distance.  She joins her brother jumping on the bed, bouncing herself kneeling up and shouting.  She is busy – with boxes, or anything that’ll hold anything else, she walks around looking important with it, focussed on her task and proud of her achievement.  She tries to fit into any box or container like a cat.  I hope the joy she daily finds in ordinary things sticks to her like honey, their sweetness always finding purchase in her heart.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Is that a banana in your purse?

So we have a security protocol/ system whatever you call it in my place of work, whereby we scan ourselves in with a badge (not a chip in the back of our neck – though I think that’s probably a better way forward, make all employees completely trackable, it’ll surely lead to soaring [I nearly typed souring there] productivity), and so we swipe in when we arrive – the swipe is our door opener, without it you have to stand at the door like a confused neighbourhood moggy that doesn’t have the right collar to open the cat flap.  Anyway – recently I was on my way into work, as I so often do, and I was planning to use the door.  However there was a visitor standing beside it, awaiting entrance.  I look all business on my way into work, I’ll have you understand and so he stood back, ready to be impressed by my door opening abilities.  I nodded graciously, understanding perfectly that he didn’t have the required clearance to “get in”, so like the VIP that I am, I began to check my jacket pockets for my pass.  It wasn’t there however.  No.  It was buried deep in ….. “the bag”. 
Normally this is traumatic enough – ie having to search… “the bag” for anything is always a chore.  However with MIS (Man in suit) watching – this was soon a nightmare.  I wanted to find that swipe quick, but I didn’t want him to see the half eaten banana that my children had declined to finish on the way to the childminder, but which I had decided to keep for my breakfast.  So I routed, carefully, between the wet bananas, Micheal Harding book, Brand new big swipe ribbon that I never attached the swipe card to, malfunctioning spiderman game which is there ready to hand back next time I pass the garage I bought it in (not that garage, another one)…. Etc etc.  I’m almost sure he saw the half eaten banana.
I’m hoping he saw it for what it was – a sign that I would waste nothing, that I am ruthlessly efficient, and that even though I have two wonderful children I have chosen to leave them with someone else while I toil on behalf of someone else for the joy of the challenge and the love of progress, I nourish them well on their 7.40 am commute, I manage not to be COVERED in banana slime…. How would you have viewed it internet career consultants?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Where everybody knows your name

Somewhat related to yesterday’s post is the fact that I predicted the Truman show years ago.  I was, and still am, the star of the show.  It usually happened when things were quiet, I’d be there, lying in bed, and I’d feel the camera on me, I’d know that there was a close up going on, and I’d try to look suitably thoughtful/ emotional whatever. 
I can’t say too much, but suffice to say, the show is definitely back on, after years off the air – they have decided to revisit somewhat nostalgically – the little girl that used to stare into space – to see how she fares now as the grown up girl who stares into space.  There is no other reasonable explanation for the sudden increase in blog posts – obviously a new producer must have taken over and is going for a “sex and the city” type vibe – giving viewers a window into my inner  (they must have drugged me to induce the writing, thus extracting my thoughts for all to see, here, regularly)  - not only that but they have carefully staged things to make the gas station saga even MORE exciting.  Following on from my last post on this subject - 4 amazing things have happened –
Tuesday – up early – as sunlight (curse it) wakes the kids – so I’m at the old gas station at an unlikely early hour – who else is there – only a colleague from my work – someone I have only ever met up with once before in my home town – who supposedly was heading for Dublin that day.  I received free chocolate but no free newsprint.
Wednesday – up at the normal time (do they have some sort of influence on the kid’s sleep patterns?)– at the old gas station at the normal time – who is there – only an old school mate, someone I made friends with recently again through our babies both being squishy and cute – this was after years of mutual apathy from a time in school when we were friends with very different people despite sharing a name.  Again, I received free chocolate but no free newsprint.
Unknown Day – Domestic Oubliette receives a free newspaper – not sure about the chocolate.
Today – another meeting with a work colleague at a different, but related gas station.

I’m not sure what you all think out there in blog land, about what they could be looking for, what they are telling me, but I am listening…

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Meaning Hunting and Weetalime

A lot of success in life is predicted by how successfully you can predict the future.  And even if you can’t really predict the future – a lot of fun can be had by attempting it.

I predicted the World wide sensation that is Weetalime years back – “weetabix, with a squeeze of lime”, they said, “you must be mad” they said – but then along came Colin Farrell with his brown sauce in tea and suddenly the world of ordinary food with a little tweak opened up.  Fast forward seven years and I can exclusively reveal that Weetabix have developed a cereal with the lime ready embedded, milk activated, to satisfy those crazy morning taste buds, while shops all over Ireland have run out of fresh lime while trying to keep up with the trend.

How do I do it, you ask, how do I know what’s coming down the track years before anyone else has even heard of it?  Well you know – I think I owe a lot to my writing – and in particular to mindfulness when writing.  Seeking meaning in the world naturally opens your eyes to the way things are going.  Two writers during my radio show years encapsulated this perfectly – Mia Gallagher once said to me “You look for what’s going on, then you look for what’s really going on” the deeper meaning – what’s going on beyond the surface actions that you see – is usually pretty interesting, and more important possibly than the noise at the top.
The other one was Peter Sheahan – who said that in order to write – and this was his method – but you basically need to submerge yourself in the scene – ie as if you’re dunking yourself in a swimming pool that is the moment, make it viscous, make yourself be stuck there, and that way you capture it, and find the deeper meaning. 

These wise words from both writers I think have stood me in good stead, or at least they would if I would only sit down and follow them. But anyway – yeah, lime on your Weetabix, check it out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Commandments for Mammies - a helpful guide

above you will find a link to a competition to find the best mammy in the country – if you want to be the very best by the way – key words from the above are “Others first, herself last – how great, on time.”   All the very best Mammies are in hospital with their nerves from following such ideals. 

So, in homage to this competition and pondering the joy of it all here goes my 10 Commandments of Modern Mammyhood

I am your child, Irish Mammy
Thou shalt have no other children (I will happily use up all your time – but if you do have other children they will feel the same)
Thou shalt not put other children before me
Do not use my name in vain – (ie when I’m watching cartoons and you call me 100 times for dinner, take the hint – I am not interested in dinner on this occasion and I will not be answering you any time soon – now stop assaulting my ears)
Remember to keep holy the family day – a fun filled outing may suffice, or else play with me constantly and messily for the day – be careful what you choose, you cannot expect me to clean up when cleaning up gets old which will be quickly and there will be so very much mess.
Honour the grandparents – without them none of this would be possible
Thou shalt not kill me – even when the mess is really huge and I’m really not listening.
Don’t be all adultery (whatever that is) – sounds boring
Thou shalt not steal – just so we’re clear if you want some of my ice cream that’s stealing, if I want some of your ice cream that’s sharing.
Do not bear false witness – you can’t tell me it’s bed time when it’s bright, or that it’s too early to get up when it’s bright – I don’t care what time you call it – bright = day – everyone knows that.
and last but not least
Do not covet your neighbours kids – they look so mannerly and well dressed and all – but hey – I blame the parents…

Monday, May 25, 2015

Further adventures in the Premier Service Station

So I went there again today.  I couldn’t face the free sugar, the free newsprint, the pressure to carry a card and therefore get a free sandwich once a month or feel bad for not getting a free sandwich, and to win a trip to new York or feel bad for not winning a free trip to new York*, so I went to the other place.  The place that is a cover for illegal activity.  A key difference about the new place is that it’s on the other side of the road.  This means it’s on the way into town, as opposed to being on the way out of town and therefore on the way to the city.  The type of people stopping on the way to town, coming from the country, or another smaller town, are a different type of person to the ones on their way from town.  I am probably being a city working snob, but I don’t think town workers have the same expectations, they just want cheap drinkable hot liquid, without bells and whistles and free donuts, with marigold gloves in easy reach while they wait for the machine to spew the black sanity saver, with a hole in the wall (with a mysterious pipe [like something maybe a top trained drug running hamster might use] visible within the hole) with a strange unlabelled red button beside it (if you have to ask you better not press it).  Town workers want a cashier who will have the five cent change warming in their hand so that when you put down your 2 euro** in their palm, you pick up the five cent in the same efficient movement, they want to be impressed by the mind reading magic of the lady with the short hair whose body heat has gone into the piece of metal now in your pocket, they don’t carry wallets (ok I’ve no way of knowing whether they carry wallets – although the only co-customer I saw did drop his coinage from his pockets all over the forecourt).  They don’t expect the coffee lids to fit without major re-engineering.

*my computer has decided to capitalise the York and not the new – it’s not me I swear.

** yes, city readers, you read right.  2 euro and you get change!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Cheating on my Gas Station (or being unfaithful to my garage)*

*Translation of title provided for Irish readers for whom the word “Gas” denotes fun, good craic (really good fun)** etc
**Translation of craic provided for international readers for whom the word “craic” means nothing or drugs  {perhaps I should retitle this post “nothing or drugs” that’s a good title}

But anyway

It all started weeks ago if I’m honest – my garage, that I stop at each morning for coffee and a 1 cent bar of chocolate, they started forcing viewspapers on me along with the chocolate… chocolate is bad enough, well actually coffee is bad enough, but suddenly they were giving away dirty newsprint laden piles of thinly sliced dead trees as well.  I could have said no thanks, in fact one time I did, but after that I was finding that the surplus papers were sometimes handy to have in the car – for drying out wet 3 ¾ yr olds only pair of shoes, or keeping 3 ¾ yr old warm when I forgot to bring a blanket for him and then remembered that the car’s heating wasn’t working… so I took em, for a while, but always with a slight mini cringe inside, especially the weeks they give away tabloids (as opposed to “serious papers) and the headlines are even more depressing – “Sicko killer given a bath”  “Dying Mum said icecream would save her” type of stuff – like hardly ever things like “Cure for cancer found” or “Scientists prove people are getting nicer and happier”
So yesterday they went a step further, not happy with making my car look (even more) like a centre for the homeless, they now want to take up my free time.  “Do you have a loyalty card?” the girl suddenly said, like it had just occurred to her and having already forced the daily paper on me,  “No” I said, “I think you will like it” she said in her exotic accent, “Here” she said in the same tone I’ve seen childcare workers use on the 3 ¾ year old “take this home and study it, I think you will like it and we actually sold a winner recently”   “Oh, what did they win” I asked, because I cannot NOT be polite, for some annoying reason it’s like part of my personality  or something, and she told me “A trip to New York” and I said “Oh that’s great yeah” “I’ll be here on Friday if you have any questions” she said.

So this morning, even though she wasn’t going to be there, I avoided my usual garage, and went to another one.  One that was less well laid out – you had to walk through the whole shop to get to the coffee, and when you were at the coffee machine there were no sweet delicious almost free things around to tempt you, no, there were just cleaning products, sponges and cloths and bin liners, and because I have an insane job that this week requires me to sit through a few hours of presentations from companies who make these things and I know very little about them, I may have become the first person in history to impulse buy some of those products in that shop – In fact I think they were hidden there at the back of the shop trying to avoid purchase, the shop was laid out by someone who wanted to only have to stock the shelves once, and not have to worry about people buying all the stuff and then they’d have to redo it, oh no… in fact the place is clearly a cover for some illegal enterprise, (I should probably check the sponges don’t have drugs actually hidden in them – at least before I wet them for use) now that I think about it, maybe I should report to the authorities…. I’ll have to trust that they are monitoring the situation – perhaps they’re reading this blog even now and will know which garage I mean and will investigate accordingly.  Mean time – I don’t know how long I’ll stay away from the regular place… they know me, their coffee is good, they make it easier to buy sugary rubbish, I must be strong, must stay away….

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Some kind of silly tree

We were discussing apples one time, and how some of them have stems and some don't, and I was telling Danger how the stem connects the apple to the tree, and he came to the genius conclusion that his apple must have grown on some kind of silly tree because it had no stem - a very silly tree indeed.

Another observation - the quietness of the city - got to drive through the city centre last Friday evening - it was around 6.30, mad busy, slow traffic, and being somewhat deprived of city centreness lately I wanted to fully absorb it (car fumes and all) and lowered my window, and muted the radio - and guess what - nothing.  There were no New York style exclamations and shouts going around, no blaring music, raucous laughter - now to be fair - if I'd have come back 6 or 8 hours later there'd probably be shenanigans aplenty, but I was a little shocked by how much silence there was.  I've been repeating the experiment ever since, getting the best results on a splattery rainy day with the water drumming on the roof - heard from inside and out, and with the added water effect of the odd splash on the side of the face.  Something for you to try at home.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


A story I wrote - in honour of the end of the talent show "the voice" tomorrow night - I'm a big fan of the thing for easy watching...


                Music began, and she sang.  She sang despite the nerves.  Her chest felt like it would explode with the quiver of it, but she managed to tame.  She cast a net over herself and kept on steering through the wild storm of her own waves and gushes of panic.  Her body was reacting as if she might be shot if she didn’t sing it perfectly.  Tears ran from her closed eyes, closed against the blur, focusing on the next note, the next note, the next.  Her nose felt all soft.  The meaning of the words kept her going.   The flood of gratitude, love and excitement that filled her with each of these words that had unbelieveably, even to herself, spilled from her pen at 3am of a quiet morning – helped keep her steady.  She seemed to wake at the end of the song.  She shielded her eyes against the blasting lights of the studio to see all four judges chairs had turned.  They all wanted her on their team.
                Melon clutched the microphone in front of her.  She’d never sung on any kind of stage and really didn’t expect even one of the judges to turn.  She didn’t quite remember how she’d even got here.   
                “I don’t know if you saw right” Stud began when the thunderous audience applause died down, “but I turned around after two seconds, like two seconds flat!”  The other judges began to shout him down.  He stood.  “All 6 foot 7 of me was shaking when the first note left your lips, honestly it was without a doubt the most stunning thing I have ever heard.”
                Shorty  waited for the roaring and rapturous audience to calm down, helping to quiet them with her slender arms.  She fixed her eyes on Melon “You my girl, have got a special gift, you know this don’t you?”
                “Of course she knows it, come on!” scoffed Cheeky,  throwing his hands up to the studio rafters, “she is a diva, a true and honest Diiiiva”
                Eyes was last in the line.  She was half crying with the emotion – “What’s your name again darling?” 
                “Melon” she quietly breathed.
                “Well,  an apt name for someone with such a fresh and juicy voice,” Eyes didn’t miss a beat  “I would actually find your sound completely succulent and smooth.  Was it your own song?”  Melon nodded and the audience got to their feet again, the judges shook their heads in disbelief. 
                Eyes said with a wide smile “Your voice can go anywhere”
                Stud “Your voice does things to parts of me that have never before been done things to if you get me.”
                Shorty “He can’t even speak.  Listen, you and I, I know you are going to win this, everyone else might as well go home, I want to talk about getting you to duet on my next album, I would love if you could pick me”
                Cheeky “Watch out for her, she only wants you to further her career – I’ll let you be yourself.”  There was silence before Eyes came back in again with the killer smile
                “ Only you can choose.”
                Melon noticed how orange the sides of her nose looked with the make-up they’d plastered on her – she was far too pale the girls in the make-up room had said. 
                They all continued begging, quietly pleading in their own ways.  “I’m going to go with Eyes” said Melon, which led to the lucky judge jumping high off her seat squealing with delight.

                Three weeks later in the “judges homes” bootcamp, things were not quite so rosy.  The judges had gone on and on for the remaining few programmes about how Eyes had got a hold of the amazing Melon, and how she didn’t need anyone else, so all the strong contestants went for the other judges .  She’d had to turn for the weaker ones, so that she’d be alone, so that she’d be guaranteed to get them, but she hadn’t been worried until now.
                “What do you mean you don’t sing anything else?”
                Melon shrugged.
                “You are telling me you don’t sing ANYTHING else?  Like you CAN’T sing anything else? Are you for REAL?  You’ve never once managed to sing any other song?”  The normally sweet and collected Eyes was storming around the penthouse apartment, the camera crew luckily hadn’t arrived, and the other contestants – all mediocre and nerve ridden, were standing awkwardly around the island in the kitchen while Eyes strode up and down the fake tiger rug.

                “Oh we’ve a little trick or two up our sleeves” the flushed Eyes told the camera flirtingly later.  And then they shot a warm little scene of everyone singing Melon’s song around the piano while Melon herself smiled sheepishly.
Eyes told the camera later from her bedroom in a confidential excited manner “The first surprise is a name change.  This isn’t a gimmick or anything, it’s just that for Melon this competition has already been such a transformative affair – we’ve decided her new stage name is going to be Cantaloupe.”
                “So you’ve never sang anything only your own song?”  Eyes was going over the story again later that night, this time slightly calmer, sitting on the couch, cameras and crew all gone away, her sweeter self fighting to show itself.  “You know you can tell me about it?  Did you never even hum along with pop songs?”
                Cantaloupe shook her head.  “No, I told you, I came from a house where there was never any music – it was like my parents wanted to be able to hear every single insult they hurled at each other – whispered or shouted.  And then when I finally left – I dunno – music always kind of got to me a bit too much”  Eyes nodded her huge understanding eyes unbelievably wide and encouraging, until she remembered the lack of cameras and narrowed them a little again.
                “I don’t believe it” she shook her head.  “And you’ve never managed to sing any other song?”  She’d seen the proof earlier herself though.  The girl wasn’t making it up, she sounded crow like when trying to apply her vocal chords to anything but her own composition.  It actually made Eye’s toes curl with discomfort listening to her.  It was fully apparent – the girl struggled to get anything out that wasn’t part of that one amazing song. 
                Cantaloupe shook her head again sadly “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have entered, it was a stupid idea”  her eyes were brimming wetly as she thought about the job at the dog shelters which was probably gone by now, the house mates who won’t notice her absence till the rent is unpaid.

                Eyes looked slightly haggard when the live shows came around – they’d spent weeks trying everything she could think of - hypnosis, sleep training, she’d even tried to scare the girl into singing another song – but not even when held at knifepoint by actors dressed as crazed fans could she string more than a note or two of a song together before breaking down in an exhausted sob or sometimes she’d go and start singing her own song again – leaving the listener spell bound, but Eyes increasingly worried.
                They pretended she was skipping the sound check for health reasons.  And then the moment came.  The nation had been talking about the song and her amazing voice since the point when her audition had been aired.  People were humming it to themselves, thinking about it while they made love, finding refuge in clicking the youtube clip again and again no matter what their difficulties.  Something about the song just made everyone melt.   When her turn came to get up and sing – a reverent and blistering silence descended on everyone in the mega theatre.  The pianist began a thrum thrum thrum, and she began to sing “It’s a little bit funny...” and then she stopped, shook her head, seemed to fight something inside herself before roaring out of her, unaccompanied by the stunned musicians came her original song again, stronger and even more impressive and touching and tender than before.  It was way off script, but Eyes lit up like it was planned and every listening soul in the whole country swooned with it, skin fizzing with each note, backs of necks caressed by the sounds.  Hairs standing up but dancing.  She looked as surprised and awed by the power of herself as everyone else as the place erupted in thunderous appreciation.
                She got through of course, to the next round, and the next.  3 weeks before the end of the series the rest of the contestants quit.  “I was only thinking about her song anyway while I was up there” said the young fella with the gravelly voice.  “Yeah” nodded the woman with the face held together with staples, “I’ve enjoyed the journey, but there’s no way I’d want to win anyway if it meant Cantaloupe was going to lose.  Who am I kidding?  I was voting for her myself every chance I got” she giggled showing her coloured button teeth.
                Things got strange after that.  She was crowned winner of the series.  Camera people had to have their ears blocked so they could concentrate on their jobs when she sang.  Every time she sang it just kept getting better and better.  She recorded an album full of the song.  In 12 different styles, recorded over the course of one 24 hour period every two hours.  People gathered around water coolers – “I adore the 3 am, it’s just so aching and tired you know?”  The 5pm was released as a single – but all the different versions were played incessantly on the radio as well.  The rest of music started to sound so old, so wrong and false.  “He’ll only go to sleep for the 9pm version” said the young mother at the bus stop with earphones in her sleeping babies ears, as she checked the iphone  to see how many seconds were left in the tune – “I’d never have survived the colic without it!”
                Everyone agreed it was the most amazing thing.  Of course it spread.  Conquered the world. No translations required.  She didn’t quite believe it herself.  Eyes gave heaps of interviews about her times with “Loupe” as she liked to call her.  “When I first heard she couldn’t sing any other song I felt like a race horse owner who’d found out the horse was paralysed from the neck down, I didn’t know that she had the song, I mean THE song – the only song we’d ever need again.”
                Cantaloupe herself didn’t do interviews.  She’d have liked to see her old school choir master who’d kicked her out for not being able to sing – he was probably eagerly training his kids to sing her song now, boasting that he knew her once upon a time.  This was just a dream – she knew he’d never remember that he’d once known her, that he’d once frowned, rolled his eyes and stood her in the corner at the back, coffee breath telling her to sing softly, so she wouldn’t put the kids who could sing off their notes.
                At first it was wonderful.  Her music was out there, the world’s finest musicians (as well as the lousiest) all sending her demo tapes, trying to capture the sound, trying to impress her so that they could be in her band.  She got lovely letters, from people who’d been preparing to die but then rallied around at the sound of her voice.  People who’d fought for years no longer seeing the sense in it and reuniting with the people they’d once loved.  Terrorists abandoned their plots.  Boardrooms began their meetings with a quick listen and gave everyone the rest of the day off, realising that giving people a chance to connect with each other and share some love was actually infinitely more important than growing.  But Cantaloupe grew tired of it all.  She went into hiding.  The attention, the adoration was too much.
                Once she’d stopped her daily podcast of the song she began to relax.   It was true the critics said that every time she sang it just kept getting better, but so also grew the nerves and the pressure on her to deliver, until her blood was pounding with it, and she was stopped in her steps a few times with heart palpitations.  So stopping was a great relief.  Her massive wealth bought her an island where she could hide.  She had a full staff who she interviewed extensively for until she found the perfect team of people who were deaf but no one else, no one from her old life.  She flew a doctor in twice a month to check on her recovery.   He strongly advised that she stay put and said that if she ever sang again there was a strong chance that she would die.  He had tears in his eyes as he said this, as he really wished he could hear her just once more – but he was a consummate professional and wouldn’t risk the patient’s life.
                The world was in shock.  When the podcasts stopped people prayed it was just a blip, a technical difficulty, that the mysterious singer would be back soon.  Every concert had turned into a Cantaloupe tribute concert, the same song echoing sadly and never quite perfectly delivered in arenas around the world to crowds who were in mourning.  In nightclubs her earlier recordings were mixed with later versions, the 7 videos from the talent show were shown on a loop, people smiled wanly under the disco lights, no one felt much like dancing. 
                Eyes was a shadow of her former self.  The media were cruel, they blamed her as she was the only known connection to the girl.  They even went back to calling her Melon, saying that the name change was part of why she’d ran.  Eyes was hunted and headlines showed her in tabloids and broadsheets alike pointing out that she had the brashness, the boldness to continue living, eating, breathing and seemingly, or claimed to have lost contact with her protegee.  “Eyes wide shut” they jeered.  “Irish Eyes not smiling”  “Eye’m the biggest loser”.  This was only 3 weeks into the loss of Cantaloupe – a full 3 months after she’d first began to sing in public.  Cantaloupe’s former friends and family it must be said never missed her – of course they worshipped her as a singer, along with the rest of us, but they never connected her with the mousy colleague/ sister/ daughter who’d gone missing a few months before without trace, and who they really weren’t all that distraught to lose.
                Her doctor broke his silence on the 22nd day, he sold his story to a respectable broadsheet and a medical journal – “The song has nearly killed our songstress,” he said, “she has only just stopped in time”  He was hunted by the press for news of her whereabouts, and soon regretted having brought the attention to himself.
                Eventually Cantaloupe made a Video.  In it she told the world she would come back and sing once more.  Her holiday was good, but she was ready to return.  People blessed themselves, sang, gave birth without pain killers, and cried into their soup.
                She never returned, but every day she made a promise that she would, made an excuse or two and asked for more money to be sent.  She grew fat and then dramatically thin and perfect with the help of surgeons.  She starred in documentaries and films.  The song was played and played.  People continued with the purge of other music till no other music was to be heard in the entire world – even birds were shot at except the ones that could learn the song and everyone kept smiling at each other like they do in Ireland when the weather’s good and they said to each other “I think we’ll hear the new version tomorrow”  “I think we might”


Sunday, April 12, 2015

How to fix a Bupa

A bupa is an ouchie or oweee, in spanish, and in our house too.  They asail us daily, the bupas, usually if you're ok to say the word, it's probably not that bad, but it still always needs fixing, a kiss from a loved one is usually the simplest remedy, or a kiss deposited on a finger tip, and the finger tip pressed to the affected area can also provide relief, this is most useful when the bupa occurs in a difficult or disgusting to kiss area such as the sole of the foot.  Other bupas are more inaccessible still, but I am realising more and more that all bupas have simple solutions - Danger had one on his tongue recently and wiggling the tongue was enough to relieve it.  A bupa in the belly can be fixed with a song.  Sore ears can be relieved with a tickle. Virtually any movement will relieve a bupa, so keep it moving folks...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Strangers on a train

We took the Cobh train to Fota today.  There were some strangers on it.  Some stranger than others.  One very nice man, predictably enough - looked a little bit homeless, if you can be a little bit homeless - in fairness I looked a little bit homeless myself with bad hat hair and black coat with a sprinkling of dried in Weetabix thanks to monkey bootses breakfast, but anyway - yerman, the scruffy looking fella, very simply, straightforwardly and helpfully helped me when it came time to alight - gave a hand to Danger and took the front wheel of MB's pram without so much as a teeniest bit of eye contact, off he went... like superman... or spiderman... not looking for thanks, he just did it.  So thanks Mr helpful, if you're reading this.
Then we were walking in to the station, you know the one with the corrugated shed roof on it, and a woman took notice that we were speaking Irish and said in English how nice that was to hear.  So I said thanks, and then she said "Are they good?"  meaning the kids.
I said "yes, they're very good" as if kids are ever good or bad anyway and she said again "Are they??" a bit surprised, and then she smiled after I had reassured her once again that my children were indeed on the nice side of Santa's naughty/ nice list.  She smiled and said "It's all about your attitude isn't it?"
I almost agreed.  Just cos, she was being friendly - it was a throwaway comment, she expected me to agree, but I couldn't.  I said "it's luck, and we all have our ups and downs"  She didn't really like that - her world is divided into good and bad parents with good and bad children, and good and bad people and she hated the blurring of the lines.... Well lady with the pinched eyes, and the bad eyesight (forgot to mention she initially thought my rucksack was a baby, since monkey boots had decided to swap places with the rucksack)  you might prefer to think that, so go ahead, but I won't be agreeing with you, at least to the extent of our tenuous relationship while walking in along the platform to the train station goes.
So that's the news.
In other news I feel like someone who's been at the outdoor swimming pool all day on a hot day, and I've been out of the water now so long that my swimsuit is entirely dry and warm and it's long enough since I've eaten that I won't sink or anything so it's time to go swimming again in another 3 weeks, so while I'm not looking forward to the cold and wetness of the water, I'll enjoy the splashing and the floating etc, which is my cryptic way of saying Mat leave is nearly over - aaaaaaaarhghghghgh anyway - nice talking to you blog land, hope you are all keeping well and talk again soon.