Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Namedropping

People I've met...

Des Cahill: Made me a cup of coffee with too much milk.

Jean Claude Van Damme: Passed him on the beach in Bray. He did a double take when he saw me, and then decided not to risk saying hello in case I wasn't the person he thought I was.

Pat Kenny: Asked me very politely to type something out for him. It was the first time I had ever typed anything. It took two hours.

Glen Hansard: I bought him a pint in my college bar, post interview. He didn't reciprocate.

Niall Quinn: Didn't look offended when I asked him to get me Steve Staunton's autograph.

Carol Vorderman: She was working as a greeter in Peg Woffington's at the time.

John Bowman: Bought me a dark chocolate Kit Kat before explaining the etymology of my surname. Reminded me of Finghín.

Lindsay Lohan: Found my wallet on the Cabra Road, searched out my number and called me. I gave her a tenner for her troubles.

Kobe Bryant: Was selling or buying tickets to Travis outside Vicar Street around 2002. I offered him face value but he figured he could do better.

Diana Ross: In Rick's Hamburgers after a feed of pints in the Dame Tavern. I, on the other hand, was stone cold sober.

Dan Quayle: Sat beside me on the train to Athlone. He asked me if he could borrow my copy of the Daily Sport. I told him to work away.

Gay Byrne: Almost knocked me down on South William Street, somewhat ironically given his road authority mandate.

Pat Ingoldsby: Wrote 'Love, Pat' on his book for me.

Orlando Bloom: I got him in a headlock outside the Virgin Megastore.

Dustin Hoffman: He knows why we don't talk anymore.

Claus Lundekvam: Stayed on my couch in 32A, circa 1998.

Zooey Deschanel: Stayed in my bed, circa last night.

Robert de Niro: Asked me for a light outside Arnotts. I told him he should quit the fags and he told me to go fuck myself. I think he thought I thought he was gay.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Soap opera real estate

Why do people buy soap opera real estate?

It seems like folly to me, heading off to live in Weatherfield or Walford or wherever Fair City is based. It may come cheap, you may even win your brand new home in a game of poker or as a bribe from the local loan shark, but it wouldn't be worth it to my mind.

Why so because? You're just after unpacking all your stuff and about to head upstairs to christen the place with the missus. The doorbell rings and stands there a man. He says something like 'alright bruv' and then some percussive theme music plays as if from nowhere.

You have, up to this point, lived happily brotherless but now that you've bought some soap opera real estate you have to make nice, put the kettle on and shield this sham artist from the police. This is all fair enough, you get fairly used to having him around until you come home one day and catch him having a safe pre-watershed grope with the wife. Your wife, like.

Who needs the hassle?

Buying soap opera real estate also entangles you in the lives of the neighbours and you'll be invited to every christening (that turns into a wedding), every wedding (that turns into a funeral) and every funeral (that turns into a pub fire) on the street. Fuck that.

No, I'm not having that. Odious places to live. Dangerous too. You just know that the wife - having just overcome a three-week bout of alcoholism, crack addiction and trick turning - will get lamped in the face by some falling building site debris.

She'll die, you'll only be allowed to mourn her until the end of the story cycle and then you'll feel like you have to take a contract out on the brickie who failed to use 'best practice' on the job.

This means getting caught up with the local gangster who absolutely WILL need a favour some time, and you'll need eyes in the back of your head until his character arc reaches its shocking conclusion over Christmas week.

I couldn't be doing with it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Archive: Finghín

He's been particularly prevalent in the last few days. My grandfather.

Finghín.

-

Tissue paper hands, a round big belly and a bald head was Finghin, my grandfather. He had a good face, and my granny said that was why she married him. He had a great voice but never sang, a warm heart but I never saw him kiss. He was as stubborn as older gentlemen had every right to be but whatever she wanted, any thing she needed, he gave to her.

When I think of him now he's reading. It infuriated me as a child. I'd walk into that kitchen on the other side with a packet of Eclairs, offer him one, and wait five minutes until he'd looked over every last ingredient, carbohydrate percentage and best before date. I used to think Corn Flakes boxes were written just for him.

He's in my earliest memory, my hand in his, walking around Funderland. I must have been four or five. I used to fall asleep to the sounds of his tummy while he watched Highway To Heaven with her, and constantly harass him to bring me for drives.

"I'm bored!" I'd say. "Read a book!" he'd say. "But I'm only SEVEN!"

"Let me tell you something. Throughout your life, as long as you have a book to read, you will never be bored."

Then he'd relent and bring me to the Phoenix Park with a stick for conkers, or elsewhere, but he never did it without playing the book card first.

He made furniture, the best of which a great big desk that resides in Limerick now. It had four drawers on each side, and a middle one for lighters, pens, ink, papers and nonsense. He even fitted it with a clandestine hideaway for his whiskey. It was so secret that only he and my da knew where it was. My granny's blind eye turned to it. She was gone to bed by then.

He'd come back from "Superquinn's" with random rubbish that would never be heard from again. There was a can of Spam, two unopened cans of McArdles ale and a single packet of Smash in their utility room as long as I knew them.

We used him, myself and the girls, for homework duty. He could never turn us down. He'd start off by trying to talk us through it, but in the end we'd just come back and collect it when he was done.

He got older and weaker but the books and the steady hand remained until the end. The best intellect I'll ever encounter too, even if I live to his eighty years.

He passed away in Limerick on the fifth of December in 1996, five months after my granny. He was in his bed, reading, when it happened.

Friday, August 27, 2010

"You're gonna have to face the music!"

I can't decide if I'm currently listening to 'Avalon' by Roxy Music out of irony, the pressure to be interesting or because I love a good sax solo accompanied by a perfectly pitched female falsetto.

I'm unable to stop playing it and it's making me think of the closing credits to Romancing The Stone, where Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas ride a boat down the street. It's not even the right song, but it fits the scene in my head.

Moving on to Terence Trent Darby, whose name I'm 97% certain I've never written on this blog before. I've gone all standard and put on 'Sign Your Name' when I should have searched for the one he sang with Des'ree, but I can't remember the name of it.

'Sign Your Name' brings to mind the film Mona Lisa and seedy Leeson Street nighthaunts circa 1986, when I was mostly seven.

Moving on again, and my mind takes a leaf through 'Look In' magazine and The Pasadenas. 'I'm Doing Fine Now' is the song and I haven't heard it since I was 8 or 9. Turns out it's, well, it's really terrible. Just because it's retro doesn't make it good.

Back to Terence. 'Wishing Well.' More like it.

As is Black's 'Wonderful Life,' which I'm sure was incongruously used in an ad for chocolate when it should have soundtracked something starring Martin Kemp, when he was still in Spandau Ballet. Quiffy.

People love 'True' and 'Gold' but, to these ears, nothing screams the Spandaus like 'Through The Barricades.' Such cloying majesty. "We built our love on waaaaaasteland... through the barrrricades." I haven't the foggiest fuck what he's on about but listen to Tony Hadley emote. Only Level 42's Mark King can touch him.

Oh yes, Level 42. Anyone with even a passing interest in all things Radgery should know that I consider 'Running In The Family' to be the best song in the history of Top Of The Pops and, by extension, music itself.



Look at that one-handed synth work. Mythic stuff.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Brought down to size

A letter to a menswear shop.

=

To whom it concerns,

Earlier this afternoon I was passing by the branch of your store on O'Connell Street in Dublin. As most of your clothes are advertised at discount prices outside the premises I decided to see what was on offer.

After browsing through various jackets, suits, casual wear and shirts I pulled out two t-shirts and brought them to the counter.

There was one person on duty, a young man in his twenties.

As I put my clothes down on the cash desk to be scanned in, the shop assistant in question was sending a text message on his phone. I had to wait one minute while he sent his SMS, after which point he put the phone under the till.

I received no apology for being made to wait while he took care of his own personal business.

After I got his full attention, the assistant took stock of the two items I wished to purchase. One was a large, plain black t-shirt and the other item was a grey, patterned t-shirt with a button up collar.

He then asked me if I was sure I wanted to purchase the grey t-shirt, as it was a "slim fit."

"Excuse me?" I replied.

"This is a slim fit and, looking at you, it's definitely going to be too tight on you. It'd look a bit stupid. The black one should be ok but not the grey one, not on you."

At this point I put my wallet back into my pocket and told the gentleman in question that I would be buying neither item. I told him that I'd have considered it had he not been more preoccupied writing text messages when he should have been serving me, before leaving the shop. As I walked out the door, I heard him mutter something in my direction but I wasn't able to discern what he said.

Some questions arise from this incident.

1) Do you encourage your staff to use their mobile phones to send text messages when they should be available to tend to the customers' needs?

2) Do you encourage your staff to decide for the customers what they should and should not wear?

3) Do you encourage your staff to imply that the customers that choose to enter your stores are overweight?

It is beside the point, but I must state at this point that I have never been advised that I have a weight problem. In fact, on a recent check up I was told by my general practitioner that I was not far off the perfect weight for my build, and the same GP advised me not to alter my diet in any way.

I do not have a hang-up about my weight, but I worry that another customer with body image issues might enter your outlet on O'Connell Street in Dublin and be met with a similar response. This leads me to another question.

4) Does each member of your staff double as a healthcare professional, with the necessary expertise and qualifications to deal with a customer who suffers a breakdown due to being insulted over their appearance?

In the past I worked on the cash register in a Dublin city restaurant, dealing with hundreds of customers per day.

My final question is this.

5) Should I have been allowed to keep my job if I had asked a customer who approached me with, for instance, a sausage roll:

"Are you sure you should be eating that?"

I also wonder if the staff in your O'Connell Street branch is encouraged to treat the public with no respect whatsoever, simply because the clothes contained therein are cheaper than in your flagship outlets?

I have shopped at **** for years and have only been treated with the utmost class. The excellent treatment I have received up to this point only serves to highlight the crassness of how I was dealt with today.

I look forward to your response.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Nook

I headblogged a lot of the way through our conversation, vignettes about her life and people I would never meet. I headblogged all the times I've been sat in this seat, in this room, in this situation pretending to be the best version of myself, letting some table candle frame my face to look interested.

In the drafts on my mobile phone is written the sentence: "You can't compete with somebody who knows the nook."

That seems to be the way of things on these interdates, a constant battle against somebody's history and her own tussle with mine. Back, forth.

This grapple with the past and with drink, with questions, nodding, smiling and looking concerned, with being off-hand, confident and self-deprecating, all the factors of another blind encounter getting rougher and rougher to the point of frustration.

I defy anyone in the midst of these interviews not to wish themselves at home watching old episodes of Dragon's Den on Dave, sucking the last biscuity bits from a Cadbury's Yellow Snack packet and wondering if it's too late to put on a wash.

Even on the good dates this is me, quipping for all my life's worth and being all lovely, listening intently while silently and painstakingly holding in a piss.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Post 650

More starts of blogs that never came into being, or simply haven't yet...

= = =

I think the rapper Skee-Lo said it best when...

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Look at him. Look at Jeff Wode. Imagine the size of his balls...

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Tonight I discovered the term godhusband and, by extension, godwife. It occurred to me that there are many things I do not know yet.

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Take one grapefruit, slice her up, pour some brown sugar on top and put it under the grill.

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The Globe is the perfect first date pub. Dark enough to hide the previous night's shadows, vibrant enough to not let things get wooden, sexy enough to put the sex thing on some rickety table. Staropramen on tap. Get it done.

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The contents of her sock drawer surprised me, where really there should have been no shock whatsoever. I had come to meet her idiosyncracies with indifference.

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That is one magnificent beast.

=

I headblogged all the way through our conversation, which was really just a series of vignettes about her life and people I would never meet. I headblogged all the times I've been sat in this seat, in this room, in this situation pretending to be the best version of myself, letting some table candle frame my face to look interested.

= = =

That last one could be a runner, actually. I may go back to it when I've kicked the arse of this mental block.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Drinking FIFA

I'm in the office but I refuse to start. I want to be at home, playing 'Drinking FIFA' with Fitzbollix*.

Take one copy of FIFA '98 (it has to be FIFA '98), have at hand 24 bottles of Stella Artois, set aside two cups that hold about a third of a pint of beer, drink one cup every time a goal is scored against you.

Things got particularly messy when we'd fix the match on a 3-3 draw and head for a penalty shoot-out.

*I'm hoping he reads this and cranks out the Playstation, the original of the species.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Clothes shopping

A man calls to the house, my da answers...

"Excuse me sir, what do you do with your old clothes?"

The aul' fella: "I wear them."

The man goes on his way.

I can relate. There is no fresher hell than shopping for clothes, at least not that I can think of.

With my black t-shirts now frayed and charcoal, my jeans gone at the crotch due to my gargantuan appendage, my shirts shedding buttons like Bosco on a drinking frenzy I took myself to town to get it all over and done with.

What a rotten experience.

I went to five shops, with the selling staff getting more and more trendy as I got more and more broken down by life. A sweaty curmudgeon buying young people's clothes, that was me, doing everything I could to avoid seeing myself in profile through the dressing room mirrors. I hate my profile.

TK Maxx was the killer. I went in hoping for some cheap knock-offs and left cursing and blinding and tripping over the buggies of children eating ice-cream, their mothers chattering away to each other and caring not one jot for the tightness of the aisles. Fuck that. Fuck TK Maxx and its row upon row of polyester pulchritude.

Weighed down like some photo negative Pretty Woman I panted my way down Grafton Street and into the nearest taxi I could find, hoping against hope that some poor damsel will marry me before I have to go through this again.

I am my da.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The horrible noise

Just when I need a visual aid, no visual aid will come. I'll have to wing it.

I just switched on E4 in the hope they'd be showing Big Brother as I haven't the faintest, foggiest notion what form of sub-human effluent is vying to win. They're showing 'Gilmore Girls' instead.

If memory serves me from those disgusting five minutes I spent watching it three weeks ago (while lying on my couch with the mother lode of hangovers) the 'house' is/was inhabited by an Irish girl, a black girl with long hair and glasses that says 'proper mingin'' a lot, 17 gays, some boy who's good at maths, a pre-op transsexatrix, a fat Geordie builder with a lazy eye and a former member of Bros.

Craig something.

Yeah yeah, I made most of that up, but that's beside the point.

I think Big Brother is responsible for 90% of the horrible noise that society makes. It is a disgusting blight on our ether and I can't wait for its demise.

I will grant it that it started out as an interesting idea, albeit one lifted from an earlier BBC incarnation called 'The Living Soap,' itself a rip-off of MTV's 'The Real World.'

However, whereas those shows were condensed down to half an hour a week, Big Brother went the 24-hour route and I'll admit to some initial curiosity about the effects of cabin fever and such. That soon abated when the producers started cutting out the good stuff, replacing it with the sound of crickets, and it died a death when some boy called Nick was hung, drawn and quartered for talking about nominations.

It grew a deep hatred in me, one I'd never quite tapped into before, and it only got worse as it entered my working life.

Some years back I had to run a Big Brother micro-site for Vodafone's mobile web content, so I had to become au fait with the nonsense of it all and pretend to be enthralled by how many times Chantelle went about her daily ablutions.

Thankfully, the Vodafone site went tits-up and I got back to writing injury updates from Wolves v Bolton, meaning I could give Big Brother the berth it deserved. A great big yawning chasm between us.

Still. Still. How can one REALLY avoid it? Not when its stars are gurning off the pages of Heat and Closer and Stalker and Yowza magazines. Not when they're hawking their latest tell-all stories in the tabloids/on the internet/at signings in Easons. Not when I meet their haircuts on every second teenager I try to swerve on Suffolk Street. Not when I overhear the latest 'ohmigod ohmigod ohmigod' stream of studenty antivescence on the bus.

One of the worst things I've ever seen on telly was a portion of the final a few years back, when the lad with Tourette's Syndrome won the thing.

I think his name was Pete. Watching him yelp his 'fucks' and his 'shits' and his 'cunts' while Davina Dyspepticpig McCall fawned all over him - telling him how cute he was - made me sick sick sick because I knew that this scene would cut to a year later and he'd be there, in his pyjamas in his mam's house, still yelping away and biting his own face off in nostalgia, probably teary. Can you remember his surname? You can remember fucking Chantelle's.

Deep breath.

I'm glad it's finishing but my pleasure is tempered by the knowledge that what it started can not be stopped. The idiotification of society as spawned by Endemol has taken on many forms since, and I dread to see what next summer has in store.

It won't be pretty.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Anniversaries

It's Brain Day today, eight years since Mr. Nice Neurosurgeon decided to crack open my skull and gorge on the delights within. Well, for 'gorge' you can read 'splice out something unsavoury.'

A fibrous dysplasia, it was, so named because of the displeasing cut of my head for a month afterwards.

Will scare children for negotiable fee.


Brain Day was born two years later, as viable a reason for a session as reasons come. Palace Bar, whiskey at dawn, the start of the football season, Porterhouse North and a two day raising of hell that was chronicled in one of my first ever blog posts.

It was to become a yearly event but we only really resurrected it once in the oft-derided and overly commercial 'Brain Day 2006: The Stag's Headening.'

As the years have rolled on and taken me further and further away from Beaumont Hospital's sexy nurses, Brain Day has taken on many forms.

Three years ago, a couple of quiet jars in Bowes.

Two years ago, Doyles and a free pint from the lovely barmaid.

One year ago, I went to see the first 'Mesrine' film and trundled home for a tug.

Today, lemon and cracked black pepper mini-fillets from Marks and Spencer and, if the urge takes me, maybe a spot of dogging.

I'll report back.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rear window

The telly, it turns out, shows exactly the same shite as it did over in the odd numbers, so I find myself inclining my head slightly to the left to discern the activities of my neighbours.

It's all very voyeuristic but I can't help it.

As we're situated here in Radge Towers we're facing another apartment block directly across the road.

While I like to think that I'm just being a good soul and looking out for my brethren, I know that it's the same nosey gene that had my granny glued to her front window in Fairfield Road...

"That's the third time Mrs Loughman has been up and down the road today. I wonder where she's... Oh, hang on, there's Kay...." She hurries out to the front door. "Kay! Yoo-hoo! Kay!!! How's Nuala?"

...and it's a slippery slope that's going to lead all the way to Specsavers' special brand of night vision goggles.

Still, I'll be laughing all the way to the publicity pages when I catch yer man from two floors up, three windows to the right beating his missus to death with a vase.

You'll all want to know me then.

Monday, August 09, 2010

New digs

My hands smell of chemicals. Dettol and dirt, dust and soap and some generic bathroom cleanser from Tesco.

Having moved yesterday, I had to go back to the place that housed me for three and something years to clean up, to hoover and wipe and rid the place completely of myself.

There were buckets of sweat in the scrubbing but not a wistful sigh to be heard.

Shorn of my stuff the flat was just a shell and it's hard to get nostalgic for a place without people, a place with paper thin walls and fighting couples overhead and students next door and... That's all well written by now.

Anyway, it's led me to this, back to living with Fitzbollix.

I have counted the tea bags, the slices of bread, the nice chocolate mini-dealies from Marks and Spencer. I have taken inventory and consider this a further warning to the man directly - stay out of my underwear drawer.

It's for your own good.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Cuss words

I received an email today to tell me I use too many cuss words in my blog.

Seeing as it wasn't Sam Elliott's eloquent moustache passing on this piece of unsolicited advice, I despatched it with a peppering of invective and went back about my day, which involved watching the hours tick away while I thought about packing away my DVDs and collection of deerheads (without doing any of it).

I don't think this is a profane blog but I do reason that a good fuck, every now and then, throws a lovely emphasis on things.

I'll call a hideous bastard a hideous bastard as opposed to a 'not very nice individual,' and if the occasion ever comes up to label someone a 'wankpallet,' consider it bandied.

They're only words, a series of harmless letters arranged in such a way as to spell out 'cockhead,' for instance, or 'John Terry.'

Would that I should asterisk out my saltier musings? Fuck and, indeed, that. I asterisk for no man.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Gimp of Satan

McCabe's delicatessen, George's Quay, 12pm, not too busy.

Two men in suits stand in the queue, waiting to order their sandwiches. Suit number one takes a bag of crisps from the stand, turns to suit number two and says, "I'm focking storved."

He opens the crisps and proceeds to munch on them. He approaches the counter, all the while chomping through Burt's finest handmade kettle chips, prawn cocktail flavour.

The girl behind the counter asks him what sandwich he wants to order.

"Give me a minute." Chomp. Chomp. Crunch. He's still eating the crisps, looking at the meats and cheeses and salads on offer. He puts a crisp in his mouth and, before swallowing, he barks out his order. Bits of chewed potato hit the glass below.

"I want cheese, tomato, ham and mustard, pronto."

Suit number two inches away from him, pretending not to know this cretinous bastard and looking awkwardly around him.

"Here, Morgan, wait 'til I tell you who I saw at Lansdowne..."

The girl behind the counter interrupts to ask him if he'd like his sandwich cut in half.

"Yeah, like, whatever," he responds, before announcing how he got the best focking seats in the stadium for the previous night's friendly match between the Rags and the part-timers.

He then elbows me out of the way in order to pay for his food, before handing the empty bag of crisps to the girl who'd made his sandwich.

"Get rid of this, will you?"

...

...

May he die roaring of galloping knobrot.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

At the risk of repeating myself

I thought I'd heard it all, I thought my well of bullshit bingo hath runneth over until I got an email from Mirabilis today.

'I have to go to a HR Huddle today. A HR Huddle? What is that?'

I replied thusly: 'I can't even begin to think of how to imagine what that might be.'

She rang me afterwards, after she'd escaped.

"It was a meeting. No more nor less."

I never felt so sorry for her in all my days.

While I sat on my floor uncarefully boxing off my CDs, wondering how I got from a Christy Moore box-set to Hundred Reasons to Johnny Cash to Underworld, she was interverbing about flagpoles and things that need to be reconciled. All very standard business nonsense if they hadn't tried to paintball it, or umbrella it, with the term 'HR Huddle.'

Whoever thought that little cracker up needs to stop liaising quite so intimately with his or her own arsehole.

Sunday, August 01, 2010