Tuesday, April 01, 2014

24 years

It was a Euro '88 sticker album that did it. Sucked me in. Tore me up. Gave me the fear for the next 26 years and counting, counting, counting.

I'd pretended an interest in football up to that point. Tried to bluff my way through primary school with 'Liverpool' as the answer just as long as there were absolutely no follow up questions.

Eight, maybe nine years of not one single clue about who starred in certain colours, what a Glenn Hoddle was, who Maradona played for, how to spell Ardiles...

...and then the sticker album.

There's a collector in every child and it only gets beaten out of them by drink, women, bounding, that kind of thing by 13 or 14.

I took to it straight away. I remember names like Vasily Rats, Pierre Littbarski with the spiky head, Morten Olsen and Lars, all scowl and pink striped jersey. They'd adhere to the page as I waited for Stuttgart, Gelsenkirchen, the opportunity to see what Gary Stevens looked like in real life.

Ray Houghton's goal. Jack hitting his head. Mick McCarthy's perfect throw-in interrupted by a flying Ronnie Whelan. Wim Kieft. Bastard.


The 1988/1989 season, the First Division Panini album this time, all the names, the bad moustaches and the Les Brileys. The swaps. Cascarino and Sheringham. Norwich as a force. Elton Welsby on a Saturday. The pink paper.

Liverpool, though. It was always going to be Liverpool, and I was straight in. It helped that they had the four Irish lads in the team at the time - Houghton, Staunton, Whelan, Aldridge - and the lads supported them too.

I was the child whose entire week's focal point was the match on a Saturday on RTE, or on UTV on a Sunday. The green armchair in my granny's sitting room is the only place I remember watching football, and she'd keep an ear out for the scores if the game wasn't televised. She was good like that, knew they were my version of her Kerry, McMahon and Barnes and Beardsley in lieu of O'Shea, Liston, Spillane.

Finghín, my grandfather, had no real interest. He'd read the paper from the front.

On it went. They lost the league to Arsenal that year and I was broken. They won it the following year and I was... I don't remember how I was. Cocky, probably, and pleased. Cocky, though, because they were Liverpool and they were the best and they'd win it forever and ever and ever...

And that was 1990. And that was the last time.

It's the hope that kills you, but it was the hope that kept me going until other things took over and football became something to drink to, to talk about in the pub, a little more abstract and a little bit less of the everything.

Now, though, I feel like I'm nine again. I could be 10 again. Six games to go and the sense that it's happening, but you don't want to mock it, and even though they're a bunch of overpaid millionaires kicking a ball around a field I want to visit harm upon anyone who might make it small for me. Not that anyone dares.

Not that anyone dares, because it's brought me back to Fairfield Road and my granny telling me something Des Cahill told her on the radio about yer man, "what's his name? What's his name Finghín? Molby is it? He's injured for Saturday."

She'd enjoy this, the sense there was a point to this 24 years, and even if it doesn't work out she'd have just said that there's always next year, they'd get there in the end.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Windy Arbour

There's a line in the notes on my phone that reads, 'It must be the most unchanged place in Dublin.'

I wrote it in the middle of the night last Wednesday, when I got in from work long after 11pm and I was trying not to wake herself.

I remember being half asleep and wishing the phone had buttons, like they all used to, because I couldn't see or risk feeling around in the dark for my glasses in case I might wake her.

I'm a noted dropper.

I think, mostly, I wanted to talk. One of those nights where you might switch the office for the bed far too quickly and you're left with some strange comedown. Like the immediate aftermath of a gig in front of thousands with the remembrance of a dirty soup bowl, left on the desk, in place of the teenage hysteria.


I think, instead, I was just thinking about talking. I was set upon that room in Windy Arbour and the last time I walked in through the door, pretending to be casual, knowing I was on the clock and wondering how long it had been now?

This was August. Last August. That was January, early January, the first new year after the operation so it must have been 2003. Ten and a half years.

"Has it been that long?"

In the middle of it all I took a break for three years and, when I went back, the room was the same but her hair was different.


No, grey, not steel, but I remember thinking it was steel and it suited her. Somehow made her warmer. Her face had stayed the same though, all kindness, concern, empathy in all the right places.

I could never put an age on her but I was always bad at that.

The chairs. The stones in the corner. The lamps, those lamps, and the Kleenex. Even the soap she and her colleagues kept in the bathroom was still the same lavender and there was the hoover in the corner. A Henry.

I never once got out of line, went full Matt Damon on her, made her upset for the money I'd awkwardly leave on the table come the end of every session. I worried that I bored her, and then thought to cop myself on, "she's probably glad of the relief." Nothing wrung out.


Christ, it's gone too long, but the walk, and that room, will remain the most unchanged in Dublin for the simple fact that there's the Luas, there's the Costcutter, there's the room above the bookies and there's the buzzer.

Nothing else is seen.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

This feels just like a Tuesday

This feels just like a Tuesday.

A Tuesday with a bit of a lie-in, granted, but a gusty Tuesday nevertheless and nothing at all like the frenzy of Christmas Eves gone by.

I didn't take sleep last night, my head full of worry and angry thoughts, anger at those factors that keep forcing my parents to prevail, and prevail, and come up with ways to get by when they shouldn't have concerns. 

The latest? A car accident that they were lucky to walk away from between Birdhill and Limerick, the broken back and front of some green motor - a write-off - evidence of some swerved carnage.

I've had consolation from others who say that a car can be replaced, but lives can't, and they were so lucky. 

And I'm relieved. 

But I can't help but shake an angry fuck off fist at the two steps forward, eight steps back nature of their 2013. And their 2012. And before that again. 

Theirs is the story of others, of a country where you can steal billions and live happily ever after, but borrow a few quid at the wrong time and...

Look. Enough. I'm just sad is all. 

I won't see them this Christmas for the first time in my life, and while I know that it's a world made small by technology and there will be happiness at both ends of our divide, there will be moments when I'm on my own and it's just a great big ball of strange. 

I will, at least, be in a house where I'm also home, with my girl and her folks, and where self consciousness has no place and there is love. And tradition. Bonds that only get stricter. And a Christmas wedding to follow that may just contain all the craic in the world. 


The wreckage is still there, outside in my parents' front garden, and I hope that when I say, "next year will be their year" that they can finally get free from worry. 

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Giving up on giving over

Crikey. Do you know what? Fuck it.

It wouldn't quit me after all and that's that and I'll say no more*.

It seems that I won Voting's Guess The Mood Of The People poll for Friday just gone. I opted for the old 'No' and 'Yes' during a sweaty imbalance up in Mount Argus, went on my way, bought a couple of ginger biscuits and snapped, crackled, popped them while the mood of the country went from "sure they're all a shower of bastards" to some other kind of apathy.

I can't blame Inda.

I wouldn't have debated it either. Debating is hard work, especially when the alternative is having a good gurn at Croke Park or cooking with Neven.

Sure it'd be a lovely little country if you could only roof it.

Good golly.

But I won Voting's Ask The Audience poll anyway.

Elsewise, I've just been watching the headlines appearing, then disappearing, and they've mostly been some variation on how Syria Broke Bad And Then Broke Back Again, too many people going for long, long walks and a whole host of reasons not to go drinking anymore.

Who can afford it? Who wants it, really, when there's Netflix afoot? Sure everything's shite since Roy Orbison died anyway.

This is exhaustion on a grand scale, with a Twitter feed that just won't take a breather and Mi**y C*r*s winning the race to outvile the rest of the world, all of its subsidiaries and every last one of its shareholders.

In other words, much has changed, and everything else remains sadly the same as it ever was.

The asterisk: I hope that Andrew, who wrote this, won't look at me unfondly for giving up on giving up.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Final post

Having dragged the arse out of the blog for the last while, it's time to bring it to a close. I always said to myself that I'd finish up on a nice, curvy 803 posts, and that is a complete lie.

But it is time.

I've threatened this to myself for a couple of years now, but it's only over the last couple of days that it has decided to quit me. Life has grown too full of things that I can't commit to a public forum. Too much is searchable, everything has become shareable, all reality is being seen to death.

I started the blog in August 2004 and am happy to have encountered many good writers, and some great ones, that have pushed me through and kept me going when I'd lost momentum.

I hope I've written some good stuff. I know I've scribbled some detritus but that's what happens when you've never had, or wanted, a theme.

Playing favourites here, I still love to see Andrew (Chancing My Arm) and Rosie (The Spanish Exposition) post and I hope they keep it up, however infrequent, through their married life. Gimme (Stranded on Gaia) is a horrible tease in the best way possible, while I've lamented the full stops of Annie Rhiannon, Terence McDanger and Therese Cox in particular.

Others, too, over the years and they've been in the sidebar for a reason.

I'm going to keep paying Google a tenner a year to keep it open, hopefully it'll gather some sepia and I'll be able to show it to the grandkids before they kick me in the shins and run away.

Thanks for stopping by, and onwards...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Start to slide out of touch

One former wedding shirt and a pair of good pants later, I swear to dear sweet baby Ranulph I had become one of them.

The signs? A tin-can line of traffic down the South Circular Road, a bus hugging the pavement trees, a coffee cup of Montague Street and a slip through Foster Place.

New people, new circumstances, a constant wage for the first time in four years. No more freelancing, sweating on the shift sheets, nor emails to editors telling them to keep me in mind for this or that or St Stephen's Day.

It feels good, has felt good, even if I may look down at my attire on a Friday and be accidentally casual.

Some words have been lost for sure, and I haven't imagined Radgering since whenever when, but I'll set aside some hope for now that those will come back in time.

Also, that things will settle themselves into a far greater rhythm, that dread of the end of the month and the slog of inpermanence gone and those two things most happily forgotten.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sweetheart, I'm graceless

Panic on the streets of Dublin. Panic on the streets of Harcourt. The Casual Fridays stand shoulder to shoulder to shoulder as the tills ring out, and ring out, and ring out again to the tune of several thousand kerchings.

The Londis queue is a coiled rattlesnake of eager boozers, out the door and around the bend, no greater fear than that midnight hour and the shutters coming down.

If you're good at the old time maths, you'll figure there's time for three or four quick jars before getting to the offie and relieving it of half its stock, carried home in a one-man mambo.

And the anger. The indignance. The "how fucking dare they tell us we can't drink on Good Friday, the bastards, and I'll tell you another thing, Jenny, they can stick their property tax up their arses too!"

The "I'm not letting any poxy civil servant..." and the "I wouldn't mind but if I was let drink tomorrow I probably wouldn't bother my hole..." and the "Superquinn are doing a great deal on that Rioja we had in Jimmy's last year..." and the this, and then the that, and then the pubs close and then the plaintive "oh bollix."


"It's grand, we have that bottle of port and those cans of Carlsberg in the shed."

Friday, February 08, 2013

LIVEBLOG: Lost In Translation

0.19: There they are. The pink knickers.

1.01: Death in Vegas play in the background and there's Billo. Or Bill. I don't think he'd take to being called Billo. Jetlagged and looking out at the Tokyo night. He pulls up to the hotel.

2.31: He meets a woman whose name is 'Kawasaki.' He says it's all "very Japanese." It, presumably, is. He gets a note to tell him he's forgotten his son's birthday. Not sound.

3.41: Him sitting on the hotel bed, offof the poster.

3.55: The first sighting of the lounge singer, aka Carol Decker from T'Pau. Lots of Japanese men are smoking. In a bar. Somewhere, Micheál Martin's combover comes unstuck. Bill, meanwhile, tells a couple of travelling businessmen that he's visiting friends. They are drunk and they are cocks. Drunken cocks.

5.31: His wife faxes something about furniture. Why won't she let the man sleep? For the love of fuck.

6.04: The first appearance of Scarlett, being kept awake by Giovanni Ribisi's snoring. He's a bit cool. I don't like him. Just the character, mind, I find the acting of Mr. Ribisi to be agreeable.

7.19: Bill is too tall for his shower. Japanese people are small, you see?

7.59: Bill sees Scarlett in the lift. She thinks he's a dirty old pervert, probably. He's just missing home is all.

8.29: The whiskey ad. The director is a complete looper, and looks very like Dustin NGuyen of 21 Jump Street fame. A very animated man who shouts 'cutto cutto cutto,' which I take to be foreign for 'cut cut cut.' Bill is told to look intense, but he exudes bemusement.

10.14: Bill looks like Herman Munster. Too much eye-liner. "More... intensity!" the translator tells him. He just wants to be in Neary's.

11.32: Scarlett takes the train to a monastery. She later tells her sister on the phone that she 'felt nothing.' For me, she should stop her cod-acting and just have a Twix for herself.

13.39: Her sister sounds like a dickhead, all the same.

13.51: She's doing her make-up and tying up her hair. And lying on the bed. And hanging up decorations. She bangs her foot. She'll feel that in the morning, no way she'll be fit to face Grimsby Town on Saturday.

15.00: Giovanni Ribisi's getting ready to leave, but not before giving out to her for smoking in the room. He has a point. She should really go outside. But he loses credibility for wearing sunglasses indoors. What a geebag.

16.04: Bill's channel hopping, comes across one of his old films, an aged hooker calls to the door. "May I enter?" She asks him to 'lip my stockings.' She means 'rip.' He has no idea what the fuck is going on. She seems to think that his premium fantasy involves imprisonment and degradation, but he just wants her gone.

18.10: Next morning. He's eating breakfast with chopsticks. Breakfast sushi. Just crazy enough to work.

19.04: He's been invited to stay until Friday. He'd rather drink paint, but says he'll check with his agent.

19.34: 'Fred the agent' tells him to stay. Otherwise there wouldn't be a plot, not that there's much of a plot, but y'know... Anyway, he's making the whiskey ad and the director asks him to be Lodger Moore. James Bond. He's drinking iced tea, wants a real drink. Again with the eye-liner. (I'm never making a whiskey ad in Tokyo. Especially not a fictional one where I'm pretending to be Bill Murray pretending to Lodger Moore.)

22.45: Carol Decker again, making a complete and total BAGS of Scarborough Fair. For the love of crikey. This is Bill and Scarlett's meet-cute, she sends him over a Japanese delicacy and he toasts her from afar. He enters the lift and thinks "still got it!"

24.27: He's in the gym, and reminds me of John Barnes in that Lucozade Sport ad, except he's not very good at exercising and makes a bollix of the whole thing.

25.38: Anna Faris, playing an actress, enters. I wouldn't let her near the house. Far too shrill. She was crap in Friends, and that's saying something.

26.56: Scarlett and Giovanni have a little squabble and he fucks off for the rest of the film.

27.34: More Anna Faris, talking to some assembled journalists. Scarlett watches her press conference and thinks to herself, "I'd like to kick her in the back of the face."

29.00: Scarlett plays with some pretty flowers. She might get to like this Tokyo place after all.

30.00: Nothing on telly at night, so she heads down to the bar. She has the right idea. Booze is definitely better than indecipherable Japanese cartoons.

31.00: Bill's at the bar. This is the proper first encounter. He suggests a whiskey, she orders a vodka tonic. He reveals he's being paid €2m to endorse the whiskey. Nice work*.


32.00: He lights her cigarette, she asks if he's having a mid-life crisis. Bill dispenses some wisdom. I become distracted by the whiskey in his glass. Looks nice. Easily a triple.

33.00: Bill watches some aqua-aerobics, Scarlett goes to Dr. Quirkeys. She doesn't seem to be having a good time. I realise that Japanese pop music is really rather catchy.

35.17: Hang on, Giovanni Ribisi's back. I thought he'd pissed off! He should brush his hair. The cut of him.

35.55: Oh fuck. Anna Faris... Hell is full of Anna Farii.

37.15: Bill and Scarlett again. Safe ground. He's trying to organise a prison break. Remember Prison Break? I never saw it, but heard it was good, and then shite, and then quite good again.

38.11: Giovanni's wearing sunglasses indoors again. If ever a man needed a waterboarding...

39.00: Right, he's properly gone now. Time for Scarlett to look wan and lovely as she surveys the landscape from on high to some Japanese mood music...


So, what DOES he whisper in her ear at the end? I reckon he's warning her to avoid Rick's Hamburgers at all costs, but it's open to interpretation...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Exclusive: Ireland's road users are granted 'drink drive permits'

April 2014:

DANNY HEALY-RAE WAS celebrating today after his controversial motion to allow 'drink driving in moderation' was passed by a Dáil majority of 90-76.

The Kerry councillor first proposed the issuing of permits "to drink two or three pints before driving home" to members of isolated rural communities in January 2013, provoking outrage amongst those members of society vehemently opposed to carnage on Irish roads.

While legislation seemed unlikely at that point, it has now been passed by a Government keen to steer the national debate away from the subject of an ailing economy.

One TD, who did not wish to be named, said: "There was a time when a piece of legislation such as this would never have even come to a vote, but the collective inebriation of the Dáil chamber, coupled with the need to reduce the country's rural population and therefore the burden on the Exchequer, should see it pass easily."

A jubilant Cllr Healy-Rae called it a "victory for common sense."

"I've met all sorts of people from communities throughout Kerry who were initially opposed to the scheme, citing all sorts of guff about months of physiotherapy, families broken up and wounds that never heal, but I soon found that after a couple a couple of rounds they were able to see my way of thinking," he said at his pub in Kilgarvan, County Kerry.

When shown evidence that stricter drink-drive rules, introduced in the Road Traffic Act 2011, had greatly reduced the number of accidental deaths and injuries on Ireland's roads, Cllr Healy-Rae was nonplussed.

"Look, you can show me all manner of statistics and numbers and data and all that jazz, but the fact is that a couple of pints never hurted anyone."

Back in January 2013, Cllr Healy-Rae said: "There are many people locked in at home now in rural, isolated places who are looking at the four walls and they can't get out because they can't even have one drink."

When it was pointed out to the Independent Councillor that alcohol itself acts as a depressant and has been ruled ineffective in the fight against deteriorating mental health, he responded: "Where I come from there's no harm whatsoever in telling a man to cop himself on and throwing a ball o' milk his way, do you get me?

"Look, nobody knows more than I the benefits of a few pints of an evening, playing cards or what have you? As a young lad I walked those same roads and even got the odd lick of a Toyota Corolla or Mike Hassett's jeep, and has it done me any harm?"

Monday, January 21, 2013


This is what happens when the words stay in bed, keep the windows closed.