Sunday, July 30, 2006

sore head

If you had a great night, does that mean the sore head was worth it? And is it alright not to be the perfect guest at every function - if you perform at 140% one night, will 60% suffice the next day?

Today, I walk around in a daze. I'm just back from a lovely bar-b-que where lots of interesting types congregated over sausages and beer, yet there I stood under a beautiful tree, cranky because the brownies didn't have chocolate in them.

'Why bother putting together such a pleasing looking cake if you're going to spoil the effect by having it taste icky?' I thought, frowning and squinting around the garden as the conversation sparkled.

Normally I'd love such an afternoon, frankly I'd still be there, listening to people chat about the interesting lives they've lead saving Goats in Guatemala, or whatever. Sure beats my life of sitting at a desk stamping things and trying to make jokes to keep my colleagues from banging their heads off a wall, or listening with an interested face to their dull stories, whilst inwardly shrieking 'enough already'.

Not today. Today, with my throbbing headache, dry throat, stubbed toes and general drowsiness, everything was as you might say, 'pissing me off'.

The german smiling lady cooking the meats. My return smile was more of a grimace. Old fat man holding court beside the Easter-Island esque statue, I snarled at him when he told me not to stand on the wildflower, retorting, 'what was the ground made for if it wasn't for us to trample upon' - very unhippy and unme like.

And it's all due to my stonking hangover. Dancing at three in Voodoo was amazing, the fitting end to an excellent day. The pizza slices were a bonus, and I didn't even mind dancing on my seriously disfigured toe, which I destroyed whilst walking home from the pub on Friday. In fact, I was the one who piled people into taxis, listened to the sad stories, mopped the weary brows and generally had people on the dance floor giving it welly.

But today, a weekend of excess has caught up with me. And I left the bar-b-que this afternoon, in a confusion of guilt and rage. Had I gone home after Carnival, if I hadn't been skulling Stella in Voodoo an hour later, perhaps I would have been a better guest this afternoon.

Yet I can't help but feel that it's not very rock and roll to regulate the level of enjoyment you have of an evening.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


From time to time a person's name or something they said will flit into your mind.

It was years ago, and you sometimes can't even remember why you lost touch or when it happened.

Sometimes I think 'maybe I'm possessed with psychic powers, and am going to bump into them'

Or: 'are they thinking about me right now?'

Or: 'I hope they are ok'

Or: 'who cares'.

I never ring them or anything like that.

But one friend of mine does. I know this as she contacts me every few years.

It's strange really, I haven't seen her since we were sixteen. She was my exchange student. Lovely time we had too.

I don't mind or anything. In fact, it's kind of cool that she bothers to ring me at all.

The reson I think it's strange is that there are about ten other people who were really good mates of mine at different points since I was sixteen, and they've vanished into the mists, to stay forever, hanging in suspended animation, in my memory.

Take J - she's always there, age sixteen. She's so cool, and beautiful. We were best buds as kids, but we didn't know how to talk to each other as teenagers. Pity.

Or PP - forever a sarcastic, caustic twenty. She didn't like my college friends I think. We were in touch on and off until the day before my twenty-first, when she insisted we go to town. She went over the top and bought me a lovely present and then rang on the day of my party to say she was sorry she couldn't make it. Never heard from her again.

A is waving goodbye after dropping me home from a weekend away. I must have said something, or maybe she did. Who knows, we never got in touch again.

S had her own issues, I could have listened more, but was too self absorbed.

There are many more of them, crowding my memories, people who were so important at different times in my life. We shared secrets, laughed at things we saw and people that said things stupidly. We talked earnestly about saving the world, or just whales and dolphins, and whatever boy we fancied, or whatever music spoke to us at the time.

And then there are the friends I have now. I'm sure I'll lose touch with many of them too, they'll become distant fond memories.

At the end of a life, how many must there be. Is that what they mean when they say you see your life flash before you. In that second before nothing, all those people's images flickering in front of your eyes.

It's so simple though when someone just fades from your life. It's much easier than when they're gone forever.

You know, if it wasn't for those long distance phone calls from that friend of mine who always rings me, I don't think I'd even get nostalgic for some of those people.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Why it's important not to let bad things get you down

Life in Dublin can grind even the perkiest bunny down at times. Granted the weather is casting a beautiful golden glow across the city, and as such it is hard to imagine being annoyed.

However, even when the sun isn't out, it is probably best to avoid bad things getting you down.

Take last Saturday night. After a lovely day hanging out with nice people, and an evening watching Firefly (it's a bug, I've darn caught it like these folks) I was on my way to a party in Stoneybatter. Wandering along chatting on a nice quiet warm evening. Lovely. WHAM:

Splash all over me goes a can of cider. Probably Olde English or Linden Village I suspect, not even Bulmers.

Smell central. Wet central.

The smell of burning rubber and the monkey calls of skangers echoed around.

It was sticky.

My initial reaction was to wonder 'what is it about me that made them throw that can of cider at me?' In that few seconds I even thought to myself 'they are the type of people who would be perfect at carrying out a genocide' (tend to over-react). Then more practical:

'Was it my outfit, my dress was a bit groovy. Or maybe the way my hair was, how we were laughing and joking, enjoying the evening?

I always liked Stoneybatter.

I've always hated skangers, since the first time I met one back in 1988. Silkies we called them then on account of their tracksuits. The female variety wore their hair scraped back into a ponytail and constantly tried to bully me with their witty repartée about my choice of outfit, and when they failed miserably just shouting or trying to beat me up. I was never beaten up, and besides I was able to take the mick, but still...'

I was having flashbacks.

I had a choice:

a. be furious and let it get me down.
b. laugh it off and go enjoy the party

1988 is a long time ago, and besides, I wanted to go to the party and I wanted to have fun. So I got over it. And I'm glad. The party was good, the people were interesting. I might have sourced French lessons and I got a lesson in playing decks. That was far more productive than spending an hour railing like a right-wing freak about eugenics being a proposed solution for skangers.

I'm happy with the choice. And besides, life inevitably tosses us really awful things from time to time, and if we spend most of the time enjoying the little things, then maybe the bad times won't be so awful and then we'll have good memories to buffer us against little blips in our lives of relative ease.

Of course, all this sanctimonious waffle is a bit hypocritical as typically I am the first to get in a right too-do about low level yuck, so if this were a hat, I would be chewing its ribbon, etcetera.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

things that make one smile

It was lunchtime and I was busy working. After a few days off, it felt as though I had never left and I was trapped in the office. 'Enough of this drudgery' I thought, 'they may take my soul but they don't own my lunch-time'.

The man who works in the Italian café where I buy my salad and americano makes me smile. Today when it was my turn in the queue, he gave me a big smile and with a swish of his long ponytail he said, 'ciao bella, what can I do for you? Do you want to have your salad here or take it away?'

I smiled at him, in spite of myself and said, 'take it away, but do you have any salad dressings?'

He came out from the counter and searched the fridge and said, 'sorry that we run out, I get one especially for you' and he smiled at me.

As I paid, the lady who manages the till and usually looks unhappy was smiling as the Barista made my coffee and I noticed the newspaper photographs of the Italian team taped to the side of the machine.

'Maybe it isn't so bad that Italy won' I thought, 'even if they didn't deserve to'. Then I thought, 'just as well I didn't say that aloud, they might kick me out of here'. They are very proud people working in my coffee shop, and they have commented to me about customers before, 'He's rude' they have said, and I have nodded.

The man came back with my salad dressing and said, 'there you go bella, enjoy'.

I couldn't help but smile all the way down the road. Even the Big Issue seller gave me a nod, and Dublin seemed like an alright place to be.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

people who have more interesting jobs than me

This weekend I met a lady with an infinitely more interesting job than I and yet in typical Irish fashion, she politely tried to convince me that my life was equally interesting.

In possibly the most random place in Ireland for a chocolate factory, in the middle of nowhere in a beauty spot on the Ring of Kerry, this lady and I discussed her lot while she chopped the sweets and I chewed. And the chocolate was divine - all handmade, you could taste the care and attention that went into each bite.

I love food, this is no secret, but I only ever lie about it to the host(ess) - so you can trust me when I say it is delicious. And the wonderous thing was they have flavours I've never tasted elsewhere. They let you try it out, and then if you fancy some, it's there to be bought. Along with liquor based chocolates and truffles she let me taste lemon and orange chocolate... I said 'you know what would be lovely? Ginger chocolate' and she said, 'well, we have a little bit of that for the German market - it's very strong though'.

Then she sneaks me out a bar of the richest, most unusual tasting chocolate, which of course I purchased along with many more (currently being depleted rapidly from the fridge).

And the most lovely thing is there wasn't a touch of the Willy Wonka madness from her or her delightful family - instead they welcomed questions and were happy to talk about the chocolate and how they had ended up running the factory, as they slid slivers of the dark stuff in my direction.
She had left Dublin with her husband to take over the chocolate factory. Seems she had an office job, but managing a chocolate factory was a more attractive proposition (I can so relate to that).

There are so many people with interesting jobs, all around the place. And yet there are so many of us stuck in offices. I don't even know how I got into the office, and yet when younger people I know say things like 'oh I don't think I could ever work in an office' I nod sagely, knowing that I too once voiced these feelings and yet couldn't seem to avoid being sucked into the desk, phone and computer cage.

But meeting lovely people such as the polite chocolatier gives me hope and something tasty to eat while I wait for an opportunity to escape the drudgery to fall on my lap.

So for any loser such as I who hasn't found their muse and is waiting patiently but wishes to have a tasty treat to ease the pain, here is my gift to you: skelligs chocolate

Friday, July 07, 2006

favourite dinners

dinner nostalgia can be a strange thing. A conversation today revolved around dinners that formed an obsession at various phases in my life to date - I find if I really, really like a dinner (I'm not talking posh dinners, rather your common garden variety) I'll tend to eat it as often as possible for many months untiil I get tired of it.

There was the mini pizza and broccoli phase - mini pizza equals island, broccoli equals tree, mouth equals world catastrophy.

Then the cheddar cheese sandwich phase - I was a latchkey kid, and my mother bought bread and cheedar.

Followed by the cheddar cheese applied copiously to mini pizza phase - as I entered the key developmental phase of learning about fire (or in my case the Cooker switch).

Cheddar cheese on it's own was a late variation of this phase. Following an incident involving being starving and an entire block of cheese, I have never really bothered too much with the stuff.

As I entered double digits on the birthday front, sophistication began with phases such as the tuna sandwich phase, burger in a bun phase and latterly the lengthy love of chicken koka noodles.

Curry koka noodles still are palatable, but due to ODing on the chicken variety, even the smell can create a rash.

College coincided with a flurry of invention with noodles, featuring dishes such as the curry noodle toasted cheese sandwich (edam naturally, cheddar is so passé).

Thus, a plastic packet of euroshopper mini pizzas, stalk of broccoli, block of cheese and a package of curry koka noodles invariably invokes a nostalgia for my youth.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

last night i dreamt of some baker, seems like yesterday not far away

It's only twenty eight days until Spain. And I'm reading portions of the rough guide and googling so I'll:

a. know what I'm looking at/for
b. avoid pissing off the local people
c. am not exposed as the fraudulant not knower of Spanish life that I am.

If I were living in a computer game, Doom say, well I would be running akimbo collecting facts instead of health packs, facts such as: Franco equals BAD, Gaudi equals GENIUS, Guernica is a sketch not a picture, Catalonia separate state discuss, Spain has a king, Spain were robbed of the world cup (just thought they might like that one... don't really know, personally thought the Germans were fab).

But it is all unravelling. I talked to someone today and it was a bit like this:

me: 'I'm going to Spain.'

she: 'I'm going to Pompeii'

me: 'Yay, holidays. What are you going to get up to?'

she: 'Well we'll probably just go straight for an Irish pub.'

In a mildly racist way, I'd always presumed that only English people felt like this. I know it's awful but this was based primarily on two events in my life. One age seven on beach:

english 7 year old: where are you from then?
me: Dublin
e7yo: that's in Scotland, in'it?
me: no.

Two age twenty five when I overheard this english woman in Rome in a restaurant. She was sitting at the table beside us and I was marvelling at the carving of a big Parma ham, until:

italian woman (patiently resorts to speaking English after many attempts in Italian)

Italian: you like to order that Pizza?
english 47 year old: oui
italian woman: what?
e47yo: Ja
iw: (is walking off. not happy)
e47yo husband: That was French Margaret
e47yo: What does it matter... French - Italian. It's all the same

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

green giant

Though the green giant is dead, and it would inconvenience him greatly not to be, I wish he wasn't, as he may be the only one who can save me from the invasion of the tomato plants.

From one little pouch of seeds bought for a squid down in Woodies has grown in the region of twenty gazillion green plants of varying lankiness.

At the start, I had humble notions.

I was pissed off a few months ago, felt a bit useless, and bored, possibly missed my cat Arthur who was run down by a rabied skanger last year, so I went on a ramble and bought some seeds. And then some tomato food. And a few bamboo sticks, twine, pots, compost, all the necessities.

As I rambled home, my ideas grew and I began to imagine that I may set up an organic tomato farm from my ex-council home, heck who wants' tomatoes nowadays, maybe it could be an italian tomato sauce factory, if I could get some basil from Tesco to take on my window-sill and a few empty jars. The label artwork was all worked out.

Memories of my Rocket growing adventure from two years ago resurfaced, but this time it would be different, I was more responsible. Anyway the rocket was lovely if a little ungainly and wild.

Into a pot full of compost I popped all the seeds. It wasn't as much fun as I'd imagined, and I had a movie to watch as I recall.

They grew and grew and I watered and fed them. From time to time I got bored and abandoned them, but it was tragic, they would flail around helplessly and besides when you starve them for a while and then feed them water they zing! in a most impressive fashion.

Eventually I repotted some of them, but got bored, so they adorn various window ledges in differing experimental forms.

One of my visitors this evening commented that they look like hash plants, but as his girlfriend said, 'only if you don't know what it looks like'.

Unfortunately they just keep growing, and I couldn't be bothered repotting them, so they fall over from time to time. It's all so tedious cleaning them up. My visitor who knows what hash looks like suggested that I tie them with the twine to my curtain poles as they've outgrown the bamboos, so we stretched and yanked and they currently are marionette like in my front window.

The other day I noticed some flowers on them, yellow ones. Then in one of them I noticed the flower was falling off, and there is the teeniest tiny green sphere. Although they're monsterous and the pasta sauce making factory is unlikely, it's terribly exciting.

Monday, July 03, 2006

reasons i shouldn't join the library

a. always forget to bring the books back (two month out of date books currently on desk).

b. i'm no good at these lending communal things - my xtra-vision account is as large as some people's overdrafts, i use my credit union account like a deposit account and my mother once said in an ominous tone, 'never a lender nor a borrower bee'.

c. i'm twenty eight and occasionally wear a suit and yet i stand in front of the xtra-vision man saying 'can i just pay fifty cent today, i'll pay the rest later, promise'.

d. the second time i go to the library i try to show off to everyone by taking out 'difficult' books.

e. they're too hard for a pea-brained one such as i to read and sit on my desk as a consequence of the fact that i'm too ashamed to bring them back (see a. above)

f. i'm a messy book reader, adore dog-earing pages and munching sandwiches, twixes and other assorted foodstuff including crisps and coffee whilst reading and thus should not be allowed access to books that other people possibly may want to peruse afterward

g. if a writer is good, i tend to glut on them until googlyeyed, such as ian rankin, ian mcewan or any ian's generally speaking, this coupled with a. above means that my fellow citizens are famined of certain writers for lengthy periods

h. hobbies, which the library urge you to try, are something i like to try and thus i take books out on random subjects (such as an Irish novel, a Jungian psychology book for dummies and a learn to speak Spanish kit) which i never get beyond page IX, lesson 2 or whatever and thus feel really really inadequate

i. i tell everyone in the known universe, even strangers about how wonderous the library is, and when my interest abates they tediously remind me of it and ask what i'm reading, and then i have to lie or worse show off, and it's just a web of deceit and could end in potential misery

in conclusion there are many reasons why i shouldn't be part of the library, so i'm going to drop those books back under cover of darkness and rescind my library card for another three years.

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