Saturday, November 29, 2008

On the cusp.

It's my birthday tomorrow. 30 on the 30th. Holy fuck. How did that happen?

Here are some highlights from my twenties, in quote form:

"Give me back that notebook. If she finds out it's over for me."

"There's a flood. Let's drink to it."

"Not playing football today lads. I'm off to Warehouse with Denise."

"I'm moving out. No I'm staying. No I'm moving out. No I'm getting drunk instead of doing any of that."

5X: "Ardour expressed in gaseous form is ardour poorly expressed. Or so my granny always said."

"I had BRAIN surgery (insert number here) days ago."

Julie: "I don't want the lifetime commitment, I just want a day all about me."

"What does this thing do? Oh. Who knew? Again?"

"I'm gonna head off lads. OK, one more. Right, I'm away lads. OK, two more."

"Where's Dick Mack's?"

Johnny: "You do realise we've lived together so long, we're entitled to half of each other's stuff?"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Apparently Too Tall Elaine.

It was another date in a series, back when I flirted with such things as women and wine.

I reckon it must have been just over two years ago when I first came across her profile. I know this because I was using my sister Anne's laptop, while I stayed with her for the week that turned into three months.

We had the banter online, she was a nice sort and I enjoyed seeing her messages on the screen. She was a good bit younger than me, 21 or 22 I think, but she seemed to get it.

Seemed to get it.

After a few weeks I wanted to put a few drinks to the fake name, so I suggested meeting in town. She agreed. All well and good.

I was in the Stags when she cancelled. It was very short notice, I was a couple of hours from our date, but she said she couldn't go through with it.

I was relieved, it meant I could turn my couple of lip looseners into a fiesta of ale and codology. I was a bit vexed at the same time, not like I was proposing a lifetime commitment.

I didn't contact her for a while after that - no point when there were plenty of others to virtually connect with.

She texted me weeks later when I was back in the same seat in the Stags, in the same company, drinking myself to the same stupidity. Small talk, she said she was sick and needed looking after. I joked that I'd be right over with some Lemsip and a moist towel.

This went on and we agreed on another date. She promised she'd keep this one, that she'd acted like a schoolgirl the first time. "Very well, see you Wednesday so," I probably wrote back.

On the day itself my phone beeped. "I know this is a strange question," she wrote. "But what height are you?"

"5'7," I responded. "5'9" in heels."

"LOL. Just that I'm a bit taller. Is that a problem for you?"

I didn't care. I'm not easily intimidated.

Cut to later on and she showed up at Trinity. I was expecting an athletic six-footer with a testosterone overkill. What I got was a 5'5" banker with braces.

She remained convinced, however, that she was taller than me. She told me she wore runners to compensate. I thanked her profusely and thought she was a fool, but I didn't want to make the girl feel bad so I suggested the nearest pub where we could sit and she could dazzle me with her tedium.

So it passed. She spent the whole night talking about her teddy bears, about how much she loved her daddy, about how she found it hard to find men tall enough to match her. All five feet five inches of her.

I had sent her the link to Radgery.

"What did you think of the blog."

"Well, to be honest, I didn't get it. You use a lot of big words."

Oh Christ.

We went on inanely. She went on inanely, more to the point. I just thought of the most painful places I could needle myself in.

"The left bollock."

"Sorry?"

"Oh my apologies. I was thinking of a funny joke someone told me earlier."

"Heh heh, anyway, I sleep with 'Fluffy' but 'Bunny' stays in my handbag and guards my make-up."

"Wow. That must be... Wow."

I started talking about something or other and she interrupted me. She was picking a scab and looking confused.

"So, are you, like, really intelligent."

....

....

"Yes."

"It's just that I was with this fella once and he used a lot of big words but he wasn't very tall..."

"I have to go. Really sorry. But I'm about to get a text message from someone trying to save me."

"Eh?"

"Only joking, but it's getting late and I've an early start."

She collected her bag and we left the pub. As we were walking down Dame Street she hit me with it. She broke my fucking heart.

"Look, I'm really sorry, but I'm not looking for a boyfriend right now."

"That's fine."

"You're not pissed off with me?"

"Well, to be honest, I'm a bit disappointed but given time I'll get over the pain."

"Aw, honey, I really hope we see each other again as friends some time."

"Yeah, me t... TAXI!"

I sent her on her way, and never saw Apparently Too Tall Elaine again. A stone cold fox.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Faking it.

Bluffing and blogging. That's my life as I currently live it.

I have three classes left to give, only three, and I'm fucking delighted because I've filled them up with guest speakers and exercises. Hence I'm getting paid to sit a lot, bluff a little and interject in all the right places.

I talk a great journalist, all boundless enthusiasm and feature-writing savvy. The reality, between you and me, sees me sat in Setanta Towers loathing the barefaced screen in front of me. Every day.

Particularly gruesome are the 7am shifts. I did one yesterday. The sheer horror of it would kill a dead pig.

I don't tell the class this. "Get in there, follow my notes, and you'll be sitting one-on-one with Mourinho, sipping mojitos and accessing his mojo, before the year is out."

One of them mentioned yesterday he'd picked up the Setanta annual and failed to see any of my articles. I said I wrote under a pseudonym, 'Tom Humphries', and quickly directed him to shut the fuck up and give me five paragraphs on the vagaries of the transfer window.

That'll learn him.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Repartee.

Upon encountering several new contacts on my MSN list...

He says:
She wrote 'Hey. Name? Age? Location?'

He says:
I just deleted and blocked her and all the others.

She says:
ah feck that could have been interesting

He says:
Nah, scam merchants.

He says:
Too tired for the cold-calling-prostitutes tonight.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Feedback.

My mother liked the Avril post. Anne showed it to her. That being said she'd probably prefer me to be writing an ode to the present, and not the past. Makes two of us.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

No title.

The neighbours would have heard all sorts of shouts, grunts and moans coming out of Radge's hovel this afternoon. Unfortunately for me, there was no hussy being sired to within an inch of her lucky little life. No no.

I was watching Liverpool. They drew 0-0 with Fulham at Anfield. At ANFIELD. A frustrating flurry of broken down counter attacks, Robbie Keane doing a very good impression of a lost and wandering dickhead, Torres looking like Robbie Keane, no Steven Gerrard. A sad lot.

I'd looked forward to this match ever since my trip to Clonmel to see Denise got postponed. A day of nothing much, sipping coffee and mind uncluttered, loads of football to keep me away from myself.

Liverpool spoiled my idyll, the cunts.

In happier news, I picked up 'Lars And The Real Girl,' 'I'm Not There' and 'In The Valley Of Elah' last night in HMV for only twenty five notes. I watched the first in this trilogy last night. It's very good, Ryan Gosling again doing a fine impression of the world's best actor.

If only Keane could do the same in a football sense I'd be on my way to some sort of elation. Instead I'm sitting here praying the Rags don't beat Villa.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Neat freak.

The flat is in a heap. In a messy state of nonsense. My mind has been more organised lately, feeling better in a general sense, but conversely my place of residence is not at its most charmismatic.

I've left the washing up for a couple of days, the aftershave and toothpaste are on the sitting room floor, I'm surrounded by notes from my class, and the smell has returned. Something is decaying, I think it's the spuds I threw in the bin yesterday.

Old clothes thrown on the chair, DVD cases containing CDs, CD cases containing nothing at all. This isn't like me. Johnny didn't train me to be unkempt in the home.

I normally look after the place, keep the sheets clean for the lady caller that never shows up, as if from nowhere. Wash the dishes as I use them. Spray Febreze about the place. I'm tidy as a rule.

Now, however, I'm wondering how the fuck that stain got there, and no, it's not THAT.

On closer inspection, it's not a bottle of aftershave on the floor. It's water. And the toothpaste is nothing more sinister than a tube of KY Jelly...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dumbing down.

Breaking news ticker on Sky News:

"BBC controller comments on departure of John Sergeant from Strictly Come Dancing saying, 'We are very sad to see him go.'"

What kind of a world are we living in at all?

Tonight, on Prime Time...

"Ya serious?"

"Yeah, honest to God, in front of his ma and da."

"Jesus."

"He was locked he was. He'd nothin' on but a smile."

"What did they say to him?"

"Nothin'. They were watching the news."

"I'd be scarleh I would."

"I KNOW!"

"Fuck sake. He done that a few months ago he did. Well not that, but he went running into me ma's kitchen chasing the cat."

"But you don't have a cat..."

"I know. He was locked he was."

"He'd want to watch himself. I seen him go after Leanne last week and he went to mooch her."

"What did Peter say?"

"Peter wasn't there, he'd have fuckin' kilt him."

"He's a dope. But d'ya know somethin'? He can be the nicest fella when he wants to be."

"Like when?"

"Like the time with the fire extinguisher."

"Oh yeah. I forgot about that. Still, he's a bit of a dope, isn't he?"

"FUCK IT! We missed our stop."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm sorry, what?

I've been off the gargle for a week now, and have stayed away from all the fatty foods that called me home for the past thirty years minus thirteen days.

It's good, therefore, to know that through this thin haze of returning health I can still do things like leave a full roll of tin foil in the fridge and only discover it two days later.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chef's special

When I was in college I worked in a restaurant in the Blanchardstown Centre. Kays Kitchen. I worked the cash register part-time for two and a half years. They were good peoples, the majority. One or two dickheads but you're going to get that anywhere, aren't you? (Apart from in my current job. I love them all apparently.)

Kays was good to me. The owner, Bernie, a friend of a friend of my mam's, took me in and gave me shelter and free chicken nuggets. ALL I could eat!

The staff was generally made up of people from the area, decent skins who couldn't understand why I was taking two buses from Glasnevin to sit on my ass, taking abuse from customers and firing out 5p coins like they were going out of fashion. I told them, like I just told you, I was just in it for the nuggets. And the occasional cottage cheese and pineapple tartlet.

Anyway, I got thinking on two separate incidents tonight. Two acts of kindness that stuck with me.

The first was on a busy Saturday afternoon. The chicken kievs were selling like hot cakes, the hot cakes were selling like hot cakes, I was sweating like hot cakes. Hot cakes fucking everywhere!

A woman and her young child approached. They were getting a dinner and a dessert each for a combined total of thirteen Irish pounds and fifty pence. The woman realised, to her dismay, that she didn't have any cash on her.

I was in a bind. I would have loved to tell her to eat up and come back later with the money, but the day manager was standing over me and I had to hold firm. No money, no food.

The next person in the queue spoke up.

"Excuse me... hello... excuse me... I'd like to offer to pay for this lady's food."

The woman who had forgotten her purse graciously accepted the offer of kindness, and shuffled off. I didn't charge the next lady for her coke, unbeknownst to Hawkeye counting her takings nearby. She'd saved someone from embarrassment in front of her child, and I was happy to have witnessed it.

The second story is a dinger.

An old tramp lady - let's call her 'Louise' - used to come in from time to time. Bernie took a shine to her, and told the day manager that whenever she appeared she was to eat for free.

Louise would never take the piss. She'd just go for a scone and a cup of tea. The girls on the floor would make a fuss of her. I'd carry her tray over.

One evening in particular she was sitting down, eating and sipping. It was a quiet evening as I recall. I served a girl at the register who stood out as a fine, fine thing to me. I flirted a little bit, again with the free ketchup, before she took her seat next to Louise.

I took no more notice of them until the girl came over to me, somewhat cagily.

"Sorry, look, I bought a slice of cake from you. I'm not going to eat it now but I'd like that old lady beside me to have it. It hasn't been touched.

"The thing is, I don't want to seem like I'm taking pity on her."

Having fallen in love ever so slightly, I told her I'd get one of the girls to clear her table, and then bring the cake back out as a gift from the sweet counter.

The girl walked out and I was pissed off I never got the courage up to ask her how her French orals went in secondary school. Oh, and Louise loved the cake.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Deleted.

Now there's a sign of maturity, or maybe cowardice. I've just taken down last night's post. It didn't sit right.

The second, and hopefully last, time I've self-censored.

(I've kept it as a draft though.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Avril

She began in third year, in school. On the bus. On the 19. I was aware of her because I figured she had the reddest hair I'd ever seen. A deep red, and she always looked slightly pissed off. I liked that.

At that point, though, she didn't have me hooked. She was just someone I saw daily on the bus home and she was as relevant as the man who sat in the same seat every morning reading The Irish Times. I'd sit beside him so I could steal illicit glances while he read the sports pages, but I could never fall for him.

She was different because she was female and my own age and deeply beautiful.

In fourth year it started proper. She was now getting the bus from the top of my road every morning with her sister, who was pretty but didn't have the same deep hair or mystery about her. I became regimental in my routine. I'd switch off The Big Breakfast at exactly 8.12am because I knew that ten minutes later I'd catch my first glimpse of that long straight red before I turned the corner on to Botanic Road.

I'd approach and sometimes she'd entertain me with the slightest glance, other times her eyes were elsewhere.

She rarely spoke to her sister standing with her. The rare times that she did I couldn't discern it, too soft and distant a sound and I could never get a grasp.

I'd wait for the 19 even though the other buses would have done me just fine. Nobody can obsess like a 16-year-old.

Coming home from school I'd stick around for as long as I could because I knew she'd be on the later bus. I was a schoolboy loiterer and I told nobody why, but eight times out of ten she'd be there, sitting upstairs while I wore my uniform and ridiculous purple overcoat, pretending to look interesting.

School itself was made bearable through daydream, even though I stopped seeing her in the mornings once I got to fifth year. I was made to plan harder ways to cross her path, but I managed it, by and large. She was usually on that same bus home.

For two years I'd sit in the class and invent in my head the romance to come. I wondered how many other sisters she had, where she actually lived. I envisaged her at my debs, bringing her to McDonalds, getting into pubs on her pretty little coattails and buying her Woodys.

I thought about staying on the bus to see where she got off, and maybe I'd follow her, but I never went through with it because even then I knew the difference between schoolboy ardour and schoolboy stalking.

Sixth year came and a double life. By night, living with fancy female college students and learning the ways of pub. By day a post-pubescent puppy who always looked up to where she sat when the bus pulled off. Some days she looked back, most days she didn't.

17-years-old. I talked the talk but kept her secret. Same bus home, same routine, same eye contact, same silence. I'd reach deep inside myself.

"If she's on her own, and sitting three seats back on the left, I'll say something to her."

The bus would come. Her infernal sister would be there. I'd sit further up so I might get the look when I moved to alight. On and on and.... every day.

One time she was on the 19 of a morning. I was surprised. She was on her own. She was studying notes, French mock oral examinations. There was a name scrawled on the top that I could see from the seat behind her. As far as I could see, it said Avril. A name. Not a particularly nice name, I thought, but a name.

This was coming towards the end of my final year in school. I'd have to do something about this. Feel the fear and blah blah blah... Still. Nothing. Until...

...a few weeks before we finished up, the French oral exams were taking place. I knew this because I was just after fucking up my vouvoyers from my s'il te plaits.

Waiting on Parnell Square, the bus approached.

"If she's sitting on her own, and there's no other seat upstairs than the one beside her, I'll say something."

I went upstairs, and that's exactly what transpired. I took the seat next to her and sweated buckets under the pressure of deciding what to say. I had to. I knew it. Right now. Fuck it.

"So, eh, so were you doing the French orals?" I managed.

I wasn't even looking at her, but became aware of her lifting her head ever so slightly to my right.

"No."

That was it. That was all. They were the only words that ever passed between us.

Today, eleven and a half years on, I passed her in the street...

The Superhunks.

I know what 5X would tell me to do.

"I'm in a bind, I want to blog but I can't get the words."

"It's easy," he'd say. "Just rate the superhunks."

But I'm thinking no. In this time, in this moment, I'm just thinking that I've only ever referred to the man as 5X in this blog. In the outside, to his face, he's been called Sire, Melwith Lippe Swillager, Del and a cunt by many, many of the ladies of Naas. But foremost he's been called an awful man.

Only in Ireland could you be called an 'awful man' and take it as a compliment, because it's meant as such.

And I'm thinking that the rain outside is reflecting the current mood perfectly. It's all a bit drab, but that's how life seems after a wedding, a wedding where everything's heightened. You like people you normally decry, you toast with those that would usually make you swear. You take fancies at women because of the situation and too much champagne.

Meet them the next day and they're not a bit special, and neither are you because you're wearing that old t-shirt from two days ago. That same t-shirt caked in sweat from the mad rush to collect the suit and buy the card you almost forgot. That same suit you've worn eight or ten times. That illusion-giving suit that's now a crumpled mess on the bedroom floor with a stain that will never be identified.

And I'm thinking I'm going to be told to cheer the fuck up, but I'm thinking I really don't give a bollocks and, what's more, I'll start sentences with conjunctions if I want to.

But I probably will cheer the fuck up tomorrow.

Oh, and it's George Clooney for me.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Kev's wedding.

At one point I had a beer, a glass of champagne, a whiskey, coffee, wine and water in front of me. I think there was dancing done and a jacket lost and found, and there was me, confused and stupid at 2 in the morning.

I fell asleep on the jacks.

Messy messy love the weddings, me.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Is it infected?

You'll have to excuse my recent inactivity. Being on tour is a hoor when it comes to finding time to blog.

In reality it's been same, same, same. Had a quick pit-stop in Limerick to see the doctor, these stomach woes need attention so he's sending me to a gastroe... gasteroenti... a stomach specialist who will hopefully nail the source of my woes and send me on my way afresh.

The waiting room was terrifying in its sterility. The room smelled of nothing at all. I've never been in such a scentless room, with the sick heads in the accompanying seats only adding to the surreality of the situation.

This sitting room of mine smells like old coffee and the bin (which needs changing), but at least it's identifiable as 'single man haven.'

Back in Dublin early enough yesterday on a promise to prepare tonight's class in advance. That didn't come to pass - instead I entertained Austin, ate almond fingers and drank tea - but the session went well this evening. I saw out the full two hours for the first time, and they were still debating and surmising as I packed up my man-bag. Good signs. I've piqued something, hopefully.

Cut to right now and I've just seen Liverpool salvage an improbable draw against the Spaniards, and I have Julie's third season of Entourage to get through. No school for two weeks which is very nice indeed, and not in work until 3pm tomorrow so I can be confused by electoral colleges until the small hours.