Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tell her that the only way her heart will mend is when she learns to love again

Saturday, September 24, 2011
"Are you going to do a post about your new phone, Daddykins?"

"I don't think I really can, Riker."

"Why ever not, Father Dearest?"

"Because a 1,000 word diatribe about how obscenely horrible it is in every conceivable way may come across as just a teeny bit ungrateful to the kind sister who was generous enough to donate it to me."

"But Mine Hero, sometimes when you spend hours and hours shouting in a deranged manner at an inanimate object, an attempt to express your feelings through a medium apart from the common howl can alleviate your distress. And mine. Also, isn't Auntie Ellie away on holidays?"

"Both excellent points, Riker, though I suspect that they may have the World Wide Internet in whichever sunny clime she has ensconsed herself."

"Nonetheless, Papino, relaxed by warm weather and copious amounts of local wine, I am sure that she would look upon any phone based offering in the spirit of humour that it was intended."

"Hmm."

"Please, Pater. Do it for me."

"Very well, Riker. For you."

This is how we talk in our house. Because we're fucking sophisticated, right? 

The phone isn't that bad. Really. It's a Nokia N97 mini. I'm sure that many a starving Somali would be more than happy with it. But folks, I'm coming from an iPhone 4. And it feels like my right hand has been severed and replaced with one of those mechanical claw gizmos. It's better than no hand. It's even better than a standard hook. It can do an awful lot of stuff that my real hand could do. But it does more slowly, in a less intuitive manner. And it makes people stare at me in the street. I'm getting used to it, though I'm feeling my way around. I'm looking hard at the bright side, begging it to blind me. 

Look, it's got quirk. We know how I love the quirk. My purple car. My bright orange headscarf. My not quite out of date enough to be retro wardrobe. Every self-aware vertebrate  has an iPhone these days, just like every self-aware vertebrate has two hands. This makes me and my mechanical claw kind of special. Yeah, special. It's got a little slide out qwerty keyboard. I could type on that bad boy all day long. I choose not to, but I could. It's got a kind of App store. Full of fun free games, none of which actually work. It's got...nothting. It's got nothing. No Sound Hound. No iTunesU. No Words With Friends. And thus no real justification for its existence. Yes, it can make and receive calls. But I don't want to talk to anyone. I just want to beat them at WWF as I fall asleep listening to a lecture on Global Geopolitics. Give me back my iPhone. Give it back. GIVE IT TO ME.

"Now, Daddy, do you feel better?"

"Not really, Riker."

"I'm going to ask you that question again, Papa, and I want you to consider your answer carefully, keeping your family at the forefront of your mind."

"Okay."

"Now, Daddy, do you feel better?"

"Yes, Riker."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I'm tired and naked

Thursday, September 22, 2011
Quite how it was decided, what with all the famine, pestilence and imminent return to the Dark Ages, that the retirement of R.E.M. justified a piece on last night's national news is somewhat beyond me. Whatsherface announced the split with a faint undercurrent of glee and proceeded to furnish us with a quick list of their hits, all of which apparently came from either the semenal, go on correct that one in comments, I dare you, I triple dare you motherfucker, 'Out of Time' or the considerably less spunky 'Automatic for the People'. But what of the turgid 'Monster', Eileen? The mumbling 'Murmur'? The dismal 'Accelerate'?

I seem to know an awful lot about R.E.M. for someone who doesn't particularly like them. But they're just one of those bands that  lay down their grooves unbidden on the soundtrack of one's life. "Stand in the place where you live!" I sing to Data as we perform the ritual morning dance of dressing and brushing. "Please, please stop singing, Daddy," she responds. When Riker was a toddler, I used to wake her from her morning nap with their cover of 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'. She doesn't remember this, but I'm sure it will all come rushing back under hypnosis. Many a self-involved wallowing has been deepened, with blatant disregard to the actual point of the song,  to the strains of 'Everybody Hurts.' That track also makes me think of MIchael Douglas. No prize whatsoever to anyone who can work that one out. 

In summation, I lied, I do kind of like R.E.M., 'New Adventures in Hi-Fi' was by far their best album, and despite having taken the time to sit down and write a couple of paragraphs about them, I couldn't give a flying rats ass that they're splitting, secure in the knowledge that all these kind of break-ups are merely the precursor to the inevitable reunion tour, and album, and tour. And no matter how hipsterly ironic the intention, 'Shiny Happy People' was a crime against decency for which they may  never be forgiven. 


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I saw a sign in the sky

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Riker's Junior Cert Religious Studies text, 'A Question of Faith', is 332 pages long. Christianity gets a little over half of those pages. Other major world religions make up the rest. The rest that is, apart from what you see above. The guy holding that sign looks pretty unhappy, huh? That's because he knows deep down, however much he might deny it to himself, that he is going to spend eternity with a burning pitchfork up his behind. 

It's stupid of me to be bothered. What the fuck do I expect? But "their inability to believe in religious teaching"? Really? So what you're saying, Lori Whelan and Niamh McDermott, is that atheists are a pack of slobbering retards incapable of swallowing whole a bunch of made up bullshit?

I'm rereading 'Earthly Powers' at the moment, and the Don Carlo sermon that makes up most of Chapter 27 of that pretentiously wonderful novel had started me on a slow drift back towards something resembling spirituality. But these fuckers have sent me right back to my scorched ass destiny. Nice one, you guys.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Climb into the frame and shout God's name

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I can't help but notice that I have singularly failed to weigh in on any matters social or political since my steaming great comeback of September The Fourth. Unless you consider Macnas to be sociable or children's birthday parties to be political. Which you don't. Because all eleven of my readers are bright, savvy people who know stuff. That's right, I'm up to eleven. I do it for your love.

So politics, huh? The Presidential election, what?

What is right. What a load of shit, in fact. The pointlessness of the position. The fuckwittery that is the electoral process. The horrific list of candidates. Who shall serve as our Head of State? Who would best represent our country abroad? A mass murdering fuckhead? A crazy bigot? A powerless old man lacking the guts to quit a morally bankrupt party? Or David Norris?

Norris was my guy, you see. I was happy to overlook his pomposity, his smugness, even his two-tone bearded toddler pageant grin. Liberal, literate, loquacious.  All my favourite Ls. But if a member of Fianna Fáil had misused their office in the way that Davy did, I would be howling for time in the stocks, and even I cannot stretch my bungee of hypocrisy to the point that I can see myself voting for the guy, however much I might wish that I was gay. It's all moot as fuck of course, he's not going to get the nomination. True, nobody would have been trawling through his every letter had he been a super-hetero, bog trotting Fine Gael anonymatron, but thems the big gay breaks. 

So where does this leave us? Predictably bereft, with little but the transferable hope that the literal or metaphorical sky falls before October 27th, saving us from the further international ridicule which will doubtless be occasioned by our election of a straight man who chooses to call himself Gay.  

Monday, September 19, 2011

But you stand inattentively

Monday, September 19, 2011
As a general rule I find that the happy visions of my death involve me astride a yellow saddle, most often in Fairview, plowed into by, or plowing into any manner of motorised menace. Sometimes the setting changes, to an Alp, a Pyrenee, perhaps even an out of season ski resort somewhere in Canada. Occasionally it's a different saddle. But always Death comes to me as I ride a bicycle.

Today though, a fresh and varied vision. I am reaching up for an item deliberately elevated, out of reach of even the rapidly sprouting almost teenager. Almost out of my own reach too, I used a chair to place it there in the first place. The it in question is a tupperware container, lodged between the ceiling of a high shelf and a precariously balanced pile of heavy glassware dishes. I fumble and flick with my fingers, to no avail. I could admit yet another defeat and just use the chair. But I will not be beaten down. So up I leap, and make a grab. Contact! But with the glassware, all of which comes crashing down upon my upraised face. The force knocks me back and I fall and crack the back of my head Clouseau-like on the edge of the chair that I was too lazy to stand on. The contents of the tupperware have fallen too, and it is on a sweet sweet piece of chocolate pistachio fudge that I unconsciously choke to death.

It may be time to consider a little nutritional forbearance.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's not the way I planned it

Sunday, September 18, 2011
Monday morning. 8.33am. Stephen, a 31 year old man, lies snoring loudly on a hotel bed. He is wearing a shirt and dress trousers. A single shoe. We hear the sound of a phone playing Britney Spears' 'Baby, One More Time.' Stephen stirs but does not wake. The rings ceases on the words "My loneliness". There is a brief pause. The phone rings again. Now Stephen rolls over, reaches fumblingly for his jacket by the side of the bed. Still face down he extracts the phone from the pocket, just as the ring cuts out for a second time. He raises his head and glances at the phone. 

Stephen Shit.

He sits up quickly and instantly regrets it. We see now that he is trim and fit looking, though clearly very hungover. 

Oh shit.

Britney begins again. He answers immediately.

Christy. Mr Cooney. How're ye?...Ah grand. Fine. Not a bother...No, no, I'm up a while. Sorry I didn't get to talk to you last...Yeah...What, now? I mean...Of course, sure, no problem. I'll just...

He takes the phone away from his ear. Looks at it.

Fuck. Jesus.

He stands. Walks unsteadily to the bathroom, off. We hear him urinating. Then splashes of water. He emerges with a towel and glances around for his missing shoe.  He spots it at the end of the bed. As he bends to retrieve it, we hear four sharp knocks. 

Fucking hell.

He puts the shoe on and half stumbles towards the off stage door. The knocks come again before he reaches it. 

Just coming now.

Stephen re-enters, backing into the room, followed by Christy. Christy is a heavy, jowly man of about 60. He speaks with a pronounced Cork accent.

Christy Well now, Stephen.

Stephen How're ye, Mr Cooney?

Christy  Now don't be at that Stephen, it's Christy still.

Stephen Yeah, sure. Christy. How're ye?

Christy  I'm well now, Stephen, I'm well. Can't complain, says you. I'm more interested in how you are Stephen.

Stephen Oh, I'm grand. Little rough, you know. The night that was in it.

Christy Oh yes. Quite a night, I'd say. Quite a day.

Stephen Yeah. (Pause) I'm sorry I didn't get to talk to you last night, I was...

Christy  The hero of the hour eh? The big man.

Stephen Ah well now, it was the whole team...

Christy No reason for false modesty Stephen. A wonderful performance. "Ice in his veins" they said on the telly. The Iceman, huh? That's what they'll be calling you now. No more of that 'Clucko'.

Stephen shifts uncomfortably.

Christy  Sit down there, Stephen. Relax. A long night, I'd say. After that long day.

Stephen sits on the end of bed. He briefly puts his hands over his face, then quickly removes them, sits taller.

Stephen Mr Cooney. Christy.

Christy  They're calling it a classic already, did you know that? 

Stephen No.

Christy  A classic.

Stephen It was an accident, Mr Cooney.

Christy  One for the history books. Never before has a goalkeeper scored the winning point in an All Ireland. 

Stephen I wanted to make it close. 

Christy  Historic. (Pause) An accident was it? From 50 yards?

Stephen The wind...

Christy  The wind? The fucking wind? Listen to me you little jackeen fuck. You bisected the fucking uprights. Slap fucking bang in the middle. Do you know what you've cost us?

Stephen I...

Christy  Everyone else. All the rest of them. Perfect. 

Stephen I'm sorry...I...

Christy But you wanted it all for yourself. You fucking Norrie. How dare you? You little pup. How fucking dare you? Got carried  away. Pictured yourself on the front of all the papers. No thought for the Association, for the fans. For all my work. My life's work. 

Stephen Mr Cooney. Sir.

Christy  I should have expected no better from a fucking soccer player. Luton wasn't it? You should have stayed over there with the fucking Brits, cleaned their boots. You're good for nothing else. Did you know we were going to go for three this time? And you couldn't even let us have the second one. You little prick. MIllions. Millions you've cost us. 

Stephen I'm sorry.

Christy Oh you will be. You'll be very fucking sorry. And it won't just be you. Life is going to get very fucking tricky for every one of you Dublin fucks. Parnells too. And I'm not just talking about the money. I hope you enjoyed yourself last night. It's the last time anyone in that team will pat your filthy treacherous back. Things are going to change for you, Cluxton. I wouldn't get too comfortable with that cushy number in Vincents either. 

Stephen You can't...

Christy  Can't what? What can't I fucking do? I can do whatever the fuck I want.You know who I am. You know what I am. You don't fuck around with the Association, Cluxton. And I am the fucking Association.

He turns to leave.

Christy  And Stephen? 

Stephen Yes, Mr Cooney?

Christy  Watch yourself the next time you go up for a high ball.  

Exits
Stephen remains seated. He returns his head to his hands.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I wanted to get you roses but they were all out

Friday, September 16, 2011 0

More on our new home. You know about the kitchen. The neighbours? Instead of trumpet playing to the left and pyschotic born again bitch bully to the right, we now have a cute elderly couple on one side and a slightly odd but nonetheless charming hippy gardener on the other. The elderly man never speaks. His wife is perfunctorily polite. Most of odd but charming hippy gardener's charm comes from his rectitude. I have moved to next door heaven from hemmed in hell. Other advantages? Acoustics. A downstairs bathroom. Heating that appears to actually heat the house. I need to search extensively to find a downside to our new living situation. But search I have, long and hard, for you. Because I realise, I know that you hate the happy stuff, the weak attempts at humour, the kitchen praisings. You want the filth, the degradation that is the daily drudge of my life. And I've found it, here it is, personified in the scowling face of Marty Whelan.

I loved Marty Whelan. His morning show on Lyric got me through the bailout, the election and the lack of revolution that these events inspired. His soothing voice, his bad jokes, his occasionally awful taste in music all aided me in my slow coming terms with spending another day in this brutish country, leading this banal life. But today, today he parked in my space.

We used to have a driveway. And now we don't. Like Stewart Lee longs for a time when having a regional accent was considered a professional disadvantage, I pine for an era when this would have made precisely fuck all difference to my life. To that carfree time of bus and Luas and Dart, but mostly of bike, with Data asleep at the backseat wheel, her helmeted head dangling perilously close to the passing and often honking traffic.

We now live reasonably close to a Dart station which is of no particular advantage to me, because any time my legs are ouchy, or it's raining, or there's even a vague hint of the possibility of rain, I climb aboard my comedy purple car and drive. But this reasonable closeness also means that any fucker who fancies it can use our quiet street as an unofficial Park and Ride facility. While sometimes irritating, this fact has never caused my anything resembling serious inconvenience. Until this morning when I found myself having to walk what must have been almost 50 metres from house to car. Not good. Not good at all. If I'm going to be a fat lazy cunt, I want to be a fat lazy cunt who doesn't have to do any superfluous strolling. Seething, I parked. Livid, I walked. And what was parked in front of my house only a big fat Beamer. And you know who was sitting in the driver's seat, casually reading a newspaper.

To be clear, I started listening to Marty In The Morning long before this move was mooted. His mother, I now know, lives a few doors down from our new home. There can be no doubt that we have been drawn together like this by the Fates. Before now, I assumed that this fatal artistry would lead to a progression from nodding acquaintance through casual conversation to the eventual destination of a unspoken yet deep spiritual bond, which I thought I had already begun to express itself in coded mellow morning messages. But it now appears that our destiny is one of a different hue. He looked up as I approached the gate. Our eyes met. For a brief moment we held a gaze that spoke sparingly of a love that might have been, soured now, to an enmity from which we cannot flee.

I turned away and walked into our new home. The kitchen was cold now. The countertop unacccountably grubby. A stench reached me from the downstairs loo. Whelan, I felt sure, had been here too. 

Through the wall I heard the hippy cackle. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

But can't denial let me believe?

Thursday, September 15, 2011 6
Those of you with an O2 account should be aware that the company have a live chat feature. This allows you to talk a representative without having to decipher a thick Cork accent. The woman that I chatted with was extremely helpful.

Hi. My name is MichelleM. How can I help you today?

Hi MichelleM. My name is Gimme.

And how can I help you today, Gimme?

I'm not sure if you can, MichelleM.

I can certainly try. What seems to be the problem?

I am sad, MichelleM. I am very, very sad.

I see. What seems to be the problem?

And angry.

I see.

A little depressed.

How can I help?

To be honest I think I'm experiencing all seven of Kubler-Ross's stages of grief. Simultaneously.

Is this to do with your O2 account, Gimme?

Oh yes.

What seems to be the problem?

It's my iPhone, MichelleM.

What seems to be the problem with your iPhone?

It's gone.

Gone?

I left it in the studio for like five minutes and some fucker swiped it.

I'll have to ask you to refrain from coarse language, Gimme.

Sorry.

That's okay. So your phone was stolen?

Yes.

I can block your phone from here.

Thank you. Can you make it explode in their thieving mitts, leaving them with bloodied burnt stumps where their hands used to be? Like in Iran? But technoligacallier?

No.

Isn't that kind of racist?

No.

Perhaps it's a feature you could consider adding. People would probably pay a little extra for that kind of thing.

I will pass on your suggestion.

Will you?

Yes.

Okay.

Do you have insurance?

I do not. I don't believe in insurance.

You don't believe in it?

I think there's something weird and wrong about laying a wager on one's own misfortune.

Oh. I see from your account that you are not due for an upgrade until 07/12. But you can get a free replacement sim card in any O2 store or I can have one sent to your address. You will able to use this in most phones.

Okay. How much will a new iPhone 4 cost?

If you purchase online it will cost €697.

Pardon?

I said if you purchase online it will cost €697.

How about if I purchase offline?

If you buy from an O2 store it will cost €729.

That's more.

Yes.

I thought it might be less.

It's not.

I can't afford that.

I'm sorry.

Are you?

Yes. I'm sure a friend or relation has a phone that you could use until your upgrade status changes.

You're probably right.

Is there anything else I can help you with today?

I don't think so.

Would you like me to post you a replacement sim card?

No, thank you, I'll go to a shop.

Okay. Have a good day. Goodbye.

Hang on!

Yes?

I just had an idea.

What is your idea?

Lots of iPhones get stolen, right?

I suppose they do.

And then the thieving bastards wipe them and sell them to people for cheap, right?

Yes, probably.

So all I have to do is find someone to sell me a cheap stolen iPhone, meet him, smash his face to a sticky pulp, and take the iPhone.

I'm not sure that's such a good idea.

I know what you're thinking, MIchelleM. It's unlikely that that would be my iPhone, or the guy who stole my iPhone. But it would be like a kind of karma. The circle of life, if you will. Have you seen The Lion King?

Yes.

Did you like it?

Yes.

Well, then.

I would advice against this course of action, Gimme.

But it was your idea!

No it wasn't.

Okay, well you gave me the idea. And you like The Lion King. So on some level you approve.

I don't. I would advise against this course of action.

Okay, sure. You have to say that. They probably have some corporate monster standing over your shoulder checking on everything you write. I understand.

I just don't think it's a very good idea, Gimme.

Okay. *wink*

Is there anything else I can help you with?

I'm not going to do that. I'll just get a phone off someone else until my upgrade. *wink*.

Is there anything else I can help you with, Gimme?

No, that's it. *wink*

Okay. Have a good day. Gimme. Goodbye.

I'll have a 'smashing' day, MichelleM. *wink* Thanks for all your help. And ideas.

Goodbye.

Goodbye.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

He bought it with the money he got from his chores

Wednesday, September 14, 2011 3
"You're very late tonight."

"I know. Traffic."

"They're in bed."

"Right."

"Are you okay?"

"I'm grand. Tired. Why?"

"You're sweating."

"I am?"

"Yeah, look."

"It was hot in the car. I should have opened a window. But you know, all the fumes."

"Are you upset about something?"

"Nah. Tired."

"How was work?"

"Work was fine. It's the commute. I can't..."

"Can't what?"

"Ah, nothing. It's just tiring is all."

Just getting out of town takes an age. I fucking hate Thomas Street. I hate that old bitch in the silver Honda Civic who feels the need to let every single fucker from every fucking side street pull out. Look, politeness is grand, I let people out too, but not every single fucking time. Maybe she has nowhere to be, no dinner to eat, no kids to see. I start honking after the fifth or six one. No reaction. You go ahead sure, my life is barren.

The M4 is moving but slowly, slowly. And my back. I have this pain in my leg, my hip, my lower back. Everytime I clutch, it shoots. Go to the doctor, Lorraine says. For what? To spend sixty quid for him to tell me to buy one of those cushions. I have one of those cushions. It cost me sixty quid. It doesn't fucking work. 

Four smokes later we get to Enfield. Get off here, or go on to Kinnegad? It's a gamble. It's moving here, like I say, and the Kinnegad way is shorter. This one might be empty, it might be fucking packed. You never know. I stay on. Light another fag. The tracking on the car is kind of fucked. You can't really let go of the wheel. I need to get it done. That Civic cunt is long gone but yet another asshole breaks suddenly while I'm trying to light up. For fuck's sake. Yeah, I'm probably a little too close to him, but it's fine, it's grand. I try to get going again in third, and almost cut out. Jesus.

Kinnegad. I don't think I believe in God anymore, not since Conleth was born, but I say a prayer anyway. Please let it be clear. Please Jesus. Please Mary. Please the Holy Fucking Ghost. 

Yes. Suddenly not a soul. I roll down the window. I turn up 98fm. I open the fucker up. The feeling of release. Like being stuck in a lift for two hours and the door opens and you just charge the fuck out. About five miles from home now. I love this road when it's quiet. Couple of twist and turns, but I know it well. I'm in fourth, fifth and I'm fucked if I'm putting my foot to the clutch between here and dinner. Lorraine makes the best fucking bolognese. I can taste it already. The sun is only coming down now. I dread the winter, leaving work in the dark. But now, right now, I feel good. There's time for one more smoke too.  I can't smoke in the house with the kids and even if I just sneak one out the back Lorraine looks unhappy. So one more now.

I dropped the lighter that last time, when I almost cut out.  It's under my legs. I reach down. And I think I've hit something. I slow, looking in the mirror. And I see something lying in the road behind me. I stop. Get out. Walk back. It's an old fella. His bike's in the ditch. I don't get too close but I can still see that his face is white and his eyes are open. I turn away. I get back in the car. I drive home.

"They didn't bring mince. I didn't have a chance to get to the shop, so I ordered pizza."

"Oh."

"It's in the oven."

"Right."

"You stink of cigarettes."

"Yeah. Sorry."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I keep forgetting the smell of the warm summer air

Tuesday, September 13, 2011 3

Check that shit out. That's my kitchen. That's my organic recycling tub. That's my alien visitation. Why these cliché-faced other worlders have chosen me to be their spokesman is anyone's guess but I suspect it has more that a little to do with both my immense readership and my pretty hair. Just that single apparition so far, but I have no doubt that soon other messages will be forthcoming, and included in them, orders. Orders to keep cooking the dinners, to continue with the washing and folding of clothes, to seek out Ryan Tubridy and punch him in the snozzle. 

I love my new kitchen. From where this picture was taken, I can, with minimal weight-shifting, reach just about everything that I might need in the preparation and cleaning up of an evening meal. To my left the dishwasher. Above me, plates, glasses, bowls. Below me, foodstuffs. And to my right, as varied a range of stabbing instruments I mean cutlery as any man might require. The fridge calls for a step or two, but stepping once or twice I can do. It's walking for miles to put away a plate that I have a problem with. The kitchen in the old place was so small that delft had to be stored halfway across the enragingly open-planned downstairs room, giving the unloading of a dishwasher the feel of a hike down the length of Appalachian trail, minus the beauty and ravenous bears. One adept at chopping on a postage stamp would have been perfectly content. And if you like bad trumpet practice, I assume it was you that foolishly snapped the property up. Three months after moving, I still feel vaguely blessed every time I find myself with the space to silently slice a mushroom, to make a lunch without packing a lunch. 

Yeah, that's it. I love my kitchen. It has aliens in it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

And you measure for wealth by the things that you hold

Monday, September 12, 2011 4
Back to school, back to birthday parties. Two this weekend. Data's own in a scant three weeks. What are you getting her? She wants an iPad, a pair of Zipp 800s and the complete works of Stewart Lee on doovd. Send them care of Gimme.

The highly competitive nature of these events begins with the arrival of the invitation. Some of us, specifically the would be losers in this game of parties, content ourselves with a group text. Others choose to replicate the business card scene from American Psycho. While both obnoxious and sickening this is at least fitting, given the carnage that tends to ensue when a large group of seven year old girls are force-fed ketchup and released into the wild.

Both of the weekend invites came in this afternoon. The first by phone, rambling, incoherent and dripping with the kind of text speak that when composed by someone over forty smells not a little of the drunken wheedles of a comb-overed uncle at a 21st birthday party. The second was pure Bateman. Tasteful font. Muted but unusual colours. The bare minimum of information. I suspect there was a graphic designer involved. Nothing is too good for their little psychopath. Both invitations include the now de rigeur request for €5 in place of a present. The text informs us that this is because the giftee is 'saving for a bigger bike'. The latter does not specify, presumably because it would throw out the typeset. I think that we can safely assume it's for a new pair of Nikes or an axe. No party favours for guessing which mother I might almost consider a friend and which blanks my wildly varying facial fuzz at the school gates.

But this fiver. What a fucking joke, I have recently realised. The final party of the season, before the welcome summer break, saw me delivering both Data and a stray child to the house of yet another little princess who had requested the aforementioned monetary gift. Data bore a thoughtlessly thrown together handmade card fashioned from twistables and a grubby sheet of A4, with a crumpled fin attached by a paperclip. Her backseat buddy had a card, an envelope containing a tenner and a fucking present. Wherefore. Toxic. Fudge. And it seems that this is the norm. Ask, and due to the chilling desperation of Northside Southside wannabes to appear richer than, or at the very least, as rich as, they are, ye shall receive a whole fuckload more.

Well, Gimme ain't buying it. Or buying into it. Or buying anything more that the penny sweet it takes to break a ten spot into two almost fives. Let them think that I'm cheap. Let them know that I'm poor, or slightly poorer than they. Let them scorn my child and make a point of never stopping the music when she holds the parcel. Let them...Fuck. I don't know.

I never ever know.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

And a bunch of other cover ups

Sunday, September 11, 2011 6
I'm going to tell you the truth about 9/11. It's the truth that no one wants you to hear. Not the FBI, not the CIA, not Bush, Obama, no, not even Bin Laden.

What? Sorry? Really? Oh. Really? They did? In, like, a cave or something? No! Really? Less than a mile? No shit. Wow. I missed that. I must have been running. Or folding clothes. Shut up. Look, there hasn't been a West Wing episode about it, the fuck do you expect?

Ahem. 

No, not even, whassis name, the guy with the hooks for hands. No one wants to you to hear this truth. 

Now what I'm trying to do here, and let me know if it's not working out, is to give you the impression that I'm some kind of conspiracy theory nutjob who thinks that any of those NeoCon cunts had either the wherewithal to organise a massive operation and cover up like this or felt that they had any pressing need to invent an excuse to invade Iraq. How's that going for me? Do you think I'm kooky yet? Superkook? Kooktastic to the max? Good. Cause here comes the switcheroo. This is not the truth of which I speak. But it's coming now. Here it comes. Ready?

A huge airplane hitting a massive building is cool. Two huge airplanes hitting two separate massive buildings in the space of an hour is double cool. Both of them collapsing demolition style soon after? There are no words for the coolness of this. 

But 2,997 people lost their lives, Gimme. Uh huh.

Kyle Willis is from Cincinnati. He's unemployed. He doesn't have health insurance. And last week he got a toothache. He couldn't afford to have the fucker pulled. His face swelled up. He got a really bad headache. He went to A&E where they gave him two prescriptions, one for painkillers, one for antibiotics. He couldn't afford both. So being in a huge amount of pain, he picked the painkillers. The infection spread, his brain swelled. And now he's dead.  Him and an estimated 44,779 other Americans who die every year because they can't afford treatment.

Toothaches? Not cool. No ten year anniversary celebrations. No memorials. No Bruce Springsteen songs. No irrelevant wars. No never forgets. You want to die in America?  Die cool.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

I ride upon a field mouse, I was dancin' in the slaughterhouse

Saturday, September 10, 2011 5
Not since the St Stephen's Day tsunami of 2004 has Mother Nature, that  most spiteful of all the mothers, done so much to shatter the hopes, the dreams, the very lives of so many innocents. At 5.55pm the tweet came through:

 'ANNOUNCEMENT: Due to high winds, we have had to cancel the Macnas event for health and safety reasons. Please do not go to the venue. Pls RT.'

Dear God No, I thought and instantly tweeted. For it is in moments like these that my hyper religious don't kill me kill the gays true colours come to light. Why? Why? Why must fate by so cruel?

Sometimes I say something that displeases my younger daughter, along the lines of "Bedtime. Tidy." or "Your magic rectangle half an hour is up." or "Stop being an irriational, paranoid, self-centered replica of your father." And she will often reply, more, I suspect, in hope than expectation, "Are you being sarcastic?". Take from this what you will.

I fucking hate Macnas. Macnas and all their parade-based countrified ilk. What the fuck even is it? Art? Art, I believe, should either have something to say about the human condition, or failing that, engender some kind of emotion in its audience. Some kind of emotion outside of a bilious "Why the fuck are these unwashed longhairs getting my tax dollars to put on crappy costumes and prance about the place like a pack of stoned show ponies?" that is. But ooh the colours! Ooh, they're so high up! Ooh, that must have taken ages! Fucking wow. Colours I can get from jamming my fists in my eyes. None of these cunts on stilts are as high as the top story of my house. And if I have a salad bowl full of muesli tonight, it's going to take me an awful long time to squeeze one out tomorrow morning. But will the exhibition of my grain fed turd be cancelled tomorrow due to high winds? It will not. This is not art. It's not even entertainment. It's just people with too much time on their hands fucking about for the distraction of other people with too much time on their hands. Forget Big Tobacco, folks, joyfully abandon Lockheed Martin. The industry that we need to bring to its knees, the one that is slowly but surely sucking the life from us all, is the one that cunningly has no official name but that I shall henceforth  term 'People Creating Shit For Other People To Stand Around And Stare Vacantly At'. 

Mother Nature, the most just of all the mothers, is on my side. You should be too. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Not functional or elegant

Thursday, September 8, 2011 8
As a primary parental unit, I don't get to see many grown up fillums. "Fucking diddums", I hear you snark. And rightly so. Who needs 'em? I have a ready-made solution in the form of  the weekly Mark Kermode podcast which serves a dual purpose in relation to this issue. Firstly, it provides me with knowledgeable-sounding opinions for those unfortunate moments when I find myself forced into cinematic discussions with co-workers or members of the public. Secondly, it allows me to minimise any possible desire to see a movie in the first place. This works thusly: if the coiffured critic thinks the film is shit, I assume he is correct. If he thinks it's a masterpiece, then I can comfortably distrust his opinion on the basis that this is a guy who believes that 'The Big Lebowski' is not a great Cohen Brothers work. Happily, I find this to be a  technique that I can apply to many aspects of my life.

Mark has been away, and I refuse to listen to his replacements, the irritating and irritatingly named Floyd and Boyd, one of whom, and who fucking cares which one, started life as the film critic for Heat magazine. And so it is that I have not heard a review of 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'. Which would be of little note had Common Law not brought home a doovd containing said movie burnt by one of her many admirers in work. And so, needing a little sabbatical from The West Wing and lacking My Double Blind Kermodian Buffer, I sat to down to watch it.

Some people would have preferred that I had substituted the above paragraphs with the words "I recently watched 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'." These people should fuck off back to Twitter where they belong.

I am used to everything in life being a crushing disappointment, and this simian offering was no exception. The filmmakers could easily have conspired to explore some serious social issues. Animal testing. Slavery. Coping with the degenerative disease of a well-loved parent. Instead, they remade Garfield. I'm not fucking kidding. Prepare yourself for a spoiling double bill. Man gets unusually smart pet. Pet has some minor cute adventures. Man takes pet to surprisingly attractive vet. Man woos vet. Vet inexplicably allows herself be wooed. Pet gets in scrape, is separated from man, is bondagised. Pet enlists help of other animals, causes some amusing mayhem, escapes bondage. The fucking end. But ah, you say, what of Odie?  Where in Rorpota is the hilariously stupid animal who provides a foil to the unusually smart pet? That role is ably filled by an Alzheimered John Lithgow. Stupid is funny. Alzheimer's makes you stupid. Alzheimer's is funny. Non cogito, ergo sum.

I have seen three other movies this year, all within the space of a 24 hour period where someone took the children somewhere for some reason and I found myself unable to get drunk. They were 'Inception', 'True Grit' and 'Never Let Me Go'. And guess what? All pretty much Garfield. Think about it. But not too hard. Really, I see no reason to ever watch a fillum again. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

None of dem drugs get me high

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 6
This is all about running. You hate these ones. But you hate them because you're jealous. Like non-smokers hate smokers, like the skinny hate the obese. It's the comfort that all those latters obtain, that fucks with all your former minds.

My friend Emma is in a boot. Stress fracture in her foot. But not no ordinary stress fracture, at least not no more. This injury normally presents as a barely visible hairline crack. Her foot, she is informed, looks more like a splintered piece of wood. Why? Because she trained on it for three months. This is the running equivalent of injecting yourself in the groin, enduring extreme pain in search of that just one more big rush. She may never run again. Foolish? If you like. Understandable? Oh yeah. That running, that's some good shit.

While I was on my yearly nine month sabbatical from the land of Stranded, I finally got back on the road, in the park, by the beach. And it was going very, very well. I was creeping over the 40 mile a week mark, putting in six mile threshold efforts at 6am, knocking out 20k Sundays. I ran a couple of races, dropped under 70kgs. All these sweet sweet numbers, speaking of a real return to form. And then, just before the first peak race, in a fucking Yoga class, I did something moronic. And hey presto, I've got a Grade One tear in the attachment of my left adductors. I ran on it. Of course I ran on it. And it really fucking hurt. So I ran a little faster. The pain followed, as it does. Thus reluctantly and on the advice of my miracle working physio, I let go of my Strawberry Half plans and went back on the methadone bike. If I was rich I could go under the knife, have the bad bit hacked out and a good bit reattached. But I need to work, and work doesn't hurt, so I just have to let it heal. Six months is the optimistic prognosis, though I doubt that takes account of all the biking, all the squatting, all the lunging. None of these activities cause actual aggravation, but the odd twinge and dull ache makes me suspect that they're not really helping. I try a little jog every now and again. Instant discomfort and the promise of something way beyond. So I just have to wait it the fuck out.

Or do I? If Emma can run on a broken bone for three months, why the fuck am I being such a wuss? It's just a little searing pain in the groin. The half-heartedly stifled groans of agony as I climb the stairs are surely something to which my family can adjust themselves. Htfu, motherfucker. Yeah, yeah, there's that 'may never run again' niggle. But that's a 'may' right there. And these medicine talkin' guys are always saying shit like that. Every alcoholic gets told that another drink will kill them, so they go for a pint to calm the nerves and does it kill them? No. Or rarely. Or not immediately. 

So. Anyone up for a quick jog around St Anne's?   

Monday, September 5, 2011

Firmer he roots him, the ruder it blow

Monday, September 5, 2011 5

I have political rage. Contracted at the age of 22 when I finally began paying attention to current affairs, the condition has steadily worsened over time. Symptoms include uncontrolled high-pitched shrieking at radios, televisions and computer screens, mistrust of every adult human on the basis of the doubtlessly accurate assumption that they have, at one time or another, exercised their democratic rights in a way that would displease me, and the occasional ill-conceived, poorly planned and ultimately unsuccessful attempt at Lord Mayoral assassination.


You will be relieved to hear that I have begun a self-devised course of treatment. A minimum of one episode of The West Wing per day, ideally taken in conjunction with the calming ritual of clothes folding. And it's working. Cycling through our ex-leafy suburb on the way to our new ghettoland I spied Gerry Breen crossing the street towards his 11 D Bike Basher. I did not swerve to hit him. I did not swerve to hit his car. I did not even shout 'You fascist fuck' at him. I merely breathed a deep breath, pictured Rob Lowe's cheeky cheekbones and pedaled on.


There are some side effects. My sensitive side has emerged from its long hibernation. The simplest of political compromises forced upon Josh induce a pronounced welling. The death of CJ's bodyguard boyfriend had me wracked with sobs. And when President Bartlet's daughter Zoey was kidnapped the Bridge Crew spent 24 hours fending off my weeping embraces.


Next we have my newly shaped Toby Ziegler goatee. Last week, as I tackled my holiday face ferret, I found myself holding back from the final coup de grace. My poised hand paused before my careworn upper lip and seemed to say "You too can be grumpy and wise..."


"Really?" I riposted.


"Really. I mean, you've got grumpy covered, right?"


"Right."


"Why not add wise?"


"Having a goatee will make me wise?"


"Maybe."


"Maybe?"


"Fine. It'll make you look wise."


"You don't think that, given the masisvity of my hair, it won't just make me look a poorly appointed Luke Kelly tribute act?"


"There is that risk. But as you've been hacking at your face for half an hour already it's most likely worth a bash.'


"True, naked puppet, true."


So now I have a Toby goatee. Here's hoping that the next time my hand is holding a razor it doesn't attempt to complete the look, because folks, for all my failings, at least I am not bald.


The final side effect. Last Sunday I spent four solid hours perfecting my Martin Sheen jacket donning. And while I'm pretty sure that I now have the technicalities down, there remains a nagging doubt as to my ability to carry off the air of nonchalance that seems so essential to the practice. I don't know. Maybe I've got it. It's really just my insistence on gathering the family around me as witnesses every time that I put on a coat or cardy that makes me think that I may just have a little ways to go.


But rest easy. All these by products of my new televisual diet are worth it. To verbatimally quote Orwell: 'He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Enda.'

If you think that hurts then wait here comes the uppercut

I forget how to do this, so you folks are just going to have to put up with some straight reportage until it all comes rushing back like so much tequila vomit onto the bus seat bench in a 90's Temple Bar dive named The Garage.

Riker went to Bigger School. All in green, shoulders bowed by with the weight of a million dollars worth of books, looking for all the world like the young woman that she has so suddenly become. 'Yes!' I howled, internally. 'Be bowed! Bow some more! I could have bought a fucking iPad with that cash!'. I will skip lightly past the cost of these books, of that uniform, of those 'voluntary' contributions, lest I weep all over my barely functioning Dell.

I was scared as she walked away. Scared to fuck. Logic loudly dictated that there was little to fear in relation to my Riker. But logic could talk as slowly and shoutily as it liked, I was taking none of that shit down. Because I remember still. My first day in secondary. The giddy excitement of what might have been another chance. The dreadful stench of desperation oozing from my pores. That giddiness leading to babbling, jibbering, gabbling, to inappropriate guffawing. Shut up, I tell myself as I keep talking, fidgeting, being excitedly excitable. And then, barely four hours later, I'm back to where I began, ostracized by the cool kids with whom I inexplicably want to be in, doomed to six more years of hanging out with the stupid, the fat, the fawning. And fitting right the fuck in.

None of this for Riker, who, while thankfully not a cool kid, bears little resemblance to the fucked up ball of fled father inspired insecurity from the above paragraph. She came home happy, if exhausted, and full of cheery chat. If she got the crap wedgied out of her literally or emotionally, she hid it well. And as the week progressed it became clear that this was not merely Riker at her Epictetian best. Despite the long walk, the longer day, the heavy bag, she is genuinely enjoying the new challenges and experiences offered by second level education. The big freak.

It's unlikely to be all plain sailing. And my relief at never having to set foot in a similar environment myself is tempered by the knowledge that I will be living each inevitable trauma through my brilliant daughter without even  the semblance of control that I felt I had at her age. But best to think of it as some low-intensity training for the moment that her younger sibling makes the same crossover. Because there be some scary shit.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Eight miles outta Memphis and I got no spare

Sunday, September 4, 2011 2
An off-centre sofa, upsettingly mustard walls. Elder child magically rectangling right to my right, her casually crossed leg obscuring an obscure early Madonna 12" single. Fucking Coach Trip on the telly and another pair of voices drifting down from the bath.

It was a pretty special summer, involving a mountain stage of the Tour on a beautifully handmade but deeply unsuitable bike and then one of the happiest fortnights of my life. But now it's back to school and double-jobbing inspired almost solo parenting.

I've been listening to Nietzsche to get me through, accepting, embracing my Will to Nap.

Just thought I'd drop by...
 
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