Sunday, April 30, 2006

Fifty Ten Million Times Better Than The Alternative

You find you're getting a bit cynical about new music and then something wonderful like the Fifty Ten Millions (excellent name - formerly the Leeches apparently) come along and your face lights up, the toes tap and you're on your feet rocking the Annesley house, or maybe that was just me.

Last night, as wisps of joss stick smoke wafted in our noses, the Fifty Ten Millions stormtrooped their way through a pop-synth-rock set, headlining the intimate gig, which also featured Kevin Treacy, cheeky young troubador with the voice of a jaded angel - the crowd likened him to Dylan in Greenwich village, one to watch.

Check the FiftyTens out on MySpace - but word of warning, their music is not given justice online. Live they are explosive, heavy, throbbing and immediate, you just can't help but feel moved and involved in a way that to be honest, I now realise I haven't been for ages. Their edge is honesty - singing their stories in their own voices, intelligent and witty lyrics, excellent music, and of course the secret ingredient, whatever it is, that they have in spades.

They'll be playing the Hub in mid May - or so I was told by the modest Trevor, ponytailed guitarist - if last night is anything to go by, this will be well worth a visit I reckon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Betsy getting a check-up

All the time, I hear people doing it with their pets. 'Oh Jack' they'll say, 'he's a fierce goodnatured chap, very protective of me, you know?'

So mine is a car. Well, I would be precious and mummyish about my cat if he hadn't been run down by an overexcited skanger who probably has a horrible backstory and little future, but you'll understand that my sympathies are with my poor Arthur, may he rest in peace beneath the dandelions and small alpine strawberry plants.

Back to Betsy, my old friend. We've had laughs (at other drivers expenses, usually), tears (her tyres are forever letting me down) and good times, whizzing up and down the motorways and other laneways of Ireland.

And tomorrow she goes for another check-up... Two years ago I stood watching her being prodded and tested, and now it's all happening again.

I know people who trade their cars in like fancypaper on a second class lunchbreak in 1987, and yes, they usually have either more money or less fear of debt than me, but I just like Betsy.

She's reliable, compact, loyal and I'm pretty confident that I can get her in and out of most spaces. I don't want to buy a new car, I just want to stick with her.

Even if the ads for C3s suggest that I could have a transformer once again, and even if I love the sleek cuteness of the mini cooper. I am happy with my Betsy, she'll do the job.

Well the garage have done their bit, and I was out tonight again with the hoover and the polish. Nothing left to do but cross my fingers and remove her hubcaps.

I hope she passes her NCT.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Signs of ageing

Idle moments when I was young, I would wonder about the line between youth and age.

I know now that these thoughts were childish, there is a blurring, like the gradual loss of my distant sight.

Still, as with every journey there must be a point of no return, I suppose.

I've had a grey hair frequently enough by now, just to pull it out silently and make a silent vow with myself not to think about it.

Those moments where someone asks if I'm a student are welcomed with big smiles and eyes to heaven and secretly wishing that I had a USIT card to once again avail of the discounts.

I fear a moment where it is not respectable for me to go drinking alone - you know that fifteen minutes where you wait for a mate. Not so many girls, or I should say women, drink alone. Couple that with my ocassional effort to dress in the clobber of today, there is a danger I could be mistaken at playing at being a lamb.

The strangest thing I find, is my growing conservatism, not politically of course, but in terms of making involuntary 'tsch' noises when I see parents treating children in a fashion I deem wrong. Or anything I deem wrong actually.

Last Saturday in Habitat I saw a woman treating her coworker with utter contempt and the 'tsch' was out before I could stop it. When paying for my coffee and bun, and all the way around the shop, I muttered to my friend about how unreasonable it was, and how unfair, and how I wanted to do something about it, as she made soothing noises.

One trait I thought would be gone by now that shows no sign of moving is that of weltschmerz. If anything, as I age my world sadness grows and grows. It can be anything - in Eason's two weeks ago a young man, who was on the cusp of being a dude, made me cry.

It wasn't his fault.

He was talking and flirting in a most honest, genuine, innocent, happy way with a girl who was smiling. This boy looked beautiful to me, all young and that, but I know that he would find it hard to get a girl.

Her friend wasn't involved, and was pissed off. As the man went down the escalator, the friend grabbed the girl and left the man going away step by step from the two girls.

His face fell, so gently that you might miss the drop. The friend flirted, and showed off to her friend on the first floor.

The boy stood, unsure what he should do on the ground floor.

I was between floors, and helpless. I wanted to protect the boy, but I couldn't. I wanted to shake the friend and tell her she would get her moment some day and not to be so greedy, but I wouldn't.

So I reached the ground floor, and looked away, catching the tear before it left my eye.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sods Law

A few days off work, yay I think.

Then my throat starts to ache,

My head starts to throb,

Temper gets worse and worse.

I'm so tired.

I sleep, then I wake, then I'm bored

I'm too tired to do anything.

This Easter equals no fun.

BLAH, I hate everything.

Friday, April 14, 2006

EASTER!

Once again, I pleasantly realise that Easter is an underrated holiday in Ireland.

Christmas always seems like a gloriously long break when viewed from November, but when it comes to it, what with family and excessive drinking, eating and sleeping, it flies by and sooner than expected, there we all are blankly staring at our computer screens in work, the tinsel looking a little glum and our colleagues extremely crabby.

Whereas Easter, hah, you can't help but forget about it each year, except for the idle rescheduling of meetings etc.,. off in the distant future of March or April. This vagueness is assisted by the fact that it never falls at the same time, which I find a little confusing as does this indicate we're a litle vague on when Jesus was crucified, yet we remember each step of the journey intimately.

And also, I'm quite confused about what we're celebrating - the chocolate and all that. Is there a link between the terribly graphic death of Jesus, then his hasty recovery, temporary visiting of mates (who have already forgotten what he looks like) and the glorious levitating to heaven and a chocolate egg? Or is it some pagan feast getting mishmashed with the religious stuff?

Not that it matters very much really, I suppose. I shouldn't question the indulgent eating of chocolate, mmm. And what is really excellent about Easter is that I have a long, long weekend, F.O.C. mmmm...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

day before payday

If you're broke, and yet you know tomorrow is payday, it is hard to be restrained.

Especially if you're a spending junkie.

Lunchtime today, I salivated my way through oodles of shops looking at tops and dresses and shoes.

I couldn't afford a nightie in Penny's (ok, slight exaggeration, but I am saving for my trip of a lifetime), yet each item shone like a gem.

Everything glimmered and called out 'wear me, you'll look amazing in me'. I tried on some things, and deluded myself that they looked good, yet I wasn't satisfied.

Then into furniture shops, I looked at cow printed sofas and oak tables.

Back in work I was on myhome.ie, browsing mansions and houses and penthouse apartments.

And tomorrow, when I divy up my spoils on the mortgage and bills, and then try to work out what meagre allowance I have each day until next pay day, gone will be this consumer-girl to be replaced by a scrooge character.

But today, and tonight, I live in consumer heaven, dreaming of all that I might own.

The lipsticks, perfumes, funky impractical coats, sexy shoes, groovy coffee tables, wide expanses and mansions.

What a fickle moment it is, the satisfaction of anticipated consumption.

ice age too

People who go to the cinema for a chat with their mates - whether it is those that are sitting next to them or those that are on the mobile - well, it's rude. If I ruled the world or just the cinema even, I would force them to sit through that Smart Telecom ad for a day, followed by the Audi radio ad that plays a single note on a jazz flute for an eternity (imagine the pitch in the agency - we could get some jazz music but hey there would be royalties, so instead we'll just play an F Sharp for twenty seconds, that'll have them pulling out the SSIAs, I tell you Damo we're on to something')

But kids who have a genuine stomach pumping old giggle in the cinema, they kick ass, and should be encouraged to snort their slush puppies in their enthusiasm. Take Ice Age 2 this evening for example - the excitement was palpable as the squirrel like animal tried again and again to get his acorn. Shrieks and hoops abounded. It made an enjoyable experience classic.

To contrast this honest enthusiasm with people going 'Rooight Damo, PHNAR PHNAR PHNAR, wot an aaaaaarsssssssse'ol PHNAR'.

Is it my biological clock ticking, or do grown-ups just suck?

Well, it just aint rooight, I tell you.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

bad things happen on a random tuesday

If you really love someone and another person does something vile to them, something you can't do anything about. Well, it's like what I imagine being kicked by a horse feels like.

In real life I was once tapped by a donkey who didn't like me getting too close to him, and it hurt.

What I found out about today is out of my control. I'm wishing that I could be there to take the force of the blow for him, but I can just listen to the song and I'm so powerless.

And what will become of us - the observer, the young man and the heinous bully - only that we'll grow old and weak and vulnerable. All three, stooped and exhausted and resigned.

But today and yesterday and tomorrow, that small dicked wonder has a choice. And I have no choice. All I can do is advise, listen, support and let the young man do what he chooses, for its not my life, its his. And while I wish I could do something, I'm powerless.

bump in the night

Driving around Kildare today was great - sun was shining, even the roadworks every half a mile didn't get me down. Later, I must have been wrecked, or reacting to the lack of TV, lack of soma put us in a coma, I digress.

After dinner at the table, how civilised, we staggered to bed lusting for kip. Three hours later, bump wallop bang.

The neighbours have moved in, I said, to his bleary eyes. 'I hope it won't always be this noisy' he said, standing at the window.

Don't let them see you, I said. My morbid fear of being caught staring out the window must come from that time twenty years ago when we knickknacked on the strange man five doors up, snotting ourselves with excitement, only to shriek when looking back we realised his shadow was looming in the porch.

'It's the collection' he said. And we remembered that the council are taking unwanted junk tomorrow. Our hacked sofa in the side passage had to be brought under cover of dark, and there was every chance some mice are residing there, so I was on tea duties.

Later though, I stood outside, beside the yawning springs of what was our sofa, watching him knock wheels off the broken computer chair, in a brave attempt to make it less appealing as a mode of conveyance to skangers. After the Jackson Pollack incident with the paint in the skip and the artistic skanger, we've become very community spirited.

A van drove slowly by, eyeing up the broken fridges, ancient beds and skeletal frames of what was once beloved furniture. I shivered, feeling a bit nightmareish, as though I hadn't woken properly from my sleep, as though the world had tilted slightly on it's axis or Salvador Dali was painting the scene.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Anticipation

Oh, you just have to see it, I say to him over and over, so eventually we agree to go on Saturday night.

I check the paper, but there's only one show left in the Savoy, and I prefer going to the cinema in town instead of in a sterile shopping centre populated by people who have forgotten how to imagine.

It's at 8.05pm, and during the day, as I do my thing, I am always checking the clock to make sure we're on time. Other times, one of us will become too comfortable or busy with something else, and then noone sees the film.

After the show and the supermarket, I listen to the Folsom Prison album reading the Guardian magazine. Busy myself cooking, make a banana bread and some soup from bits and pieces of vegetables. And I wait.

At seven, he comes down from his room and we begin to walk in the evening light, passing Mountjoy jail, we wonder whether people find drugs in the grass, and I say I read that the jail was originally a resting place for prisoners on their way to Australia in the 1800s.

Even Parnell Street looks well, basking in golden light, and we're glowing after our walk. It is good to feel that you can walk into town from your home.

The Gresham Hotel looks well, and he nods at the perfect pint through the window. Tickets are bought and the girl urges us to get our seats, 'it's about to sell out' she says. He rushes me upstairs, and when we are seated, in the perfect seats, he says he thinks she said, 'it's about to start'.

A cross-section of Dublin sits in the tiny cinema, where it has been sent for the end of its run. I hear accents from the southside, northside, Poland, India and many other places besides. The sounds run one into the other making a happy sound, relaxed. Mild panic overtakes me, I feel as though we're in a plane, but then I put the feeling aside.

The film begins, and it's different the second time. I wonder what it is about this story that touches me - there's the love, certainly. But more than that, the interpretation Joaquin Phoenix takes of this man's live, his passions, the rage and hurt.

I remember that day a few years ago, listening to Johnny Cash's honest and beautifully sad version of Trent Reznor's 'Hurt' and Gerry Ryan announcing his death bringing tears to my eyes as I drove through town.

Johnny Cash - Joaquin Phoenix - Trent Reznor - each of these and others besides, touch on that struggle. The fine point, knife's edge... the danger within dealing with the reality without.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

without you-eh-hew-eee-oooh

Since the ntl man came and took you away,
I've been able to read the paper
Make banana bread
Watch Adam's Rib
And Chaplin too.

Goodbye my TV
You're beautiful, it's true.

xx

Monday, April 03, 2006

Bloody yoga is back on tonight. She shouldn't have given us last week off, I just don't feel I could be bothered with the stretching and bending.

Foul humour really. No idea why, but generally feeling a bit peeved with the world.

I'm going to divide my world into nice people and ick people. The nice people today knew I was a bit off and were nice to me. One person was a nice and I could feel my voice begin to warble, stupid. Still. She was nice. Other nice people were funny or distracting. The ick people never think of anyone else and even if they do sometimes, I don't care, I'm in a bad mood so as far as I'm concerned they're nasty. Feck it. Anyone I don't like today is an ick.

Even one of my best mates is currently in the ick pile. Not her fault really, but there she is, in the ick pile, all the same.

Melancholia is funny. Take when I was logging in to blogger. I just remembered that my password is the name of my dead cat, who was alive back when I gave the password, I'm not that weird.

Blah. I miss my cat.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

City of contrasts

Summer is in the air today, I think, walking into town, sun is shining. In the supermarket this morning, smiles abounded, men making way for me and my basket, their women talking about cakes they would bake or meat they might roast.

Signs all around for Easter Opening Times. A man buys a huge chocolate egg, I wonder who for. When is Easter? I ask the lady at the checkout. 'Week after next' she says.

On the way into town, children are playing kick the can in Iona. There is hardly any traffic, and walking around Mountjoy Square, fathers are bringing their children to the new playground.

I think about match days, wonder when the championship will start, and I know that I'll be back here, wearing blue, probably rushing, late again, to Croke Park.

Temple Bar is full of hungover tourists, the middle-aged look jaded, the hard drinkers are already in pubs, sinking back a few drinks. I remember last night, driving in to collect people, and that man who tried to get into my car, wanted me to be a taxi to bring him home. His girlfriend's stricken face, I wonder how their heads are this morning.

My friend is a bit late, so into Keoghs for a coffee and I start the book, again. Why is it so hard to read nowadays.

We do the hellos and then wander the streets, contesting with tourists for seats in cafés. Dublin is such a weekend break place we say with half hearted disdain. Sudden shower of hail rains down and the streets are still warm from the sun, so we stand in a doorway with others, all grinning at the absurdity of Dublin weather. In a café across from us, smokers shriek as they run in from outside, the hail lashing off their cups and plates.

Forget this coffee nonsense, we'll go to Peter's Pub, where the beer is good, and there are seats at the bar. The Barman jokes that I'm going to stab him, and I think he's lost it, until I realise that I've been distractedly messing with the wine opener, as he demonstrates. We consider switching to wine to see it work, but stick with the beer.

Later, I walk home, back up through old Drumcondra, but it's raining.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

the magic formula to make strangers talk to you

Today I must have oozed some odour of friendliness or intrigue. In Phibsboro, no less than six people had a conversation of sorts with me.

Firstly, in a charity shop (currently again experimenting with little/no tv... not voluntarily this time...) buying books a white haired man leaned over to let me know that there was another Chuck Palahniuk book that I hadn't picked up -

White Haired Man 'Excuse me - Do you want that one there?'
Me, 'no, thanks though... I've read it already'
WHM, 'was it good? do you think I should buy it?'
Me, 'well, em... (meanwhile thinking: would my dad like Chuck? would this man like Chuck?)...well, it's a bit risque (..what? risque? sounds as though it's a carry on film or something... cringe)'
WHM, 'oh, I do like a bit of risque, don't you know'
Me, 'hahaha (eek weirdo alarm ringing eek)

Then in my enthusiasm to dispense my non-wealth, on leaving the shop, I promptly expelled all change from my wallet on the ground. Rethinking my gesture of generosity, I began to scramble for the coins

Helpful man 'I'll help'
Me, 'thanks'
HM 'It's just like one cents or something'
Me, looking up, realise the HM looks down on his luck. 'Oh, that's fine, just keep it'
HM (smiling) 'Thanks'
Me 'No worries'

I amble to the cake shop where the lady behind the counter is a bit unhappy looking and our conversation was a bit non worth writing about, but hey, I'm happy as her confectionaries look nice, so I buy many of these and she places them delicately in a box. I walk back towards Tesco, and this man who is trying to I don't know, impress his mate or something says,

Impressive man 'Do you need help'
Me (daydreaming of cakes and flowers and dandelions)
IM 'I SAID DO YOU NEED HELP WITH THAT?'
Me 'Sorry?'
IM 'I COULD TAKE THOSE CAKES FOR YOU LIKE<>'
Me, 'No thanks'.

In Tesco the English lady on the till is nice and also quite the wit and says,

EL 'Aw, how kind of you, buying me cakes'
Me 'I do try to please'
EL 'You shouldn't have'
Me 'I think it's important, you know, to let you know that we shoppers are grateful for your hard work'
EL 'You're too kind'
Me 'I know'
EL, 'Aw, now you're taking them away, thought they were for me'
Me 'Bad for your figure, you'll thank me for it'

So, the secret to chats with randomers is: a. buy second hand books, b. buy cake.

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