Saturday, April 30, 2011


I was much more for the doing, and less so for the writing about the not doing, this past week.

A few days free from Mother Internet.

I got back to it yesterday to catch up on the football stories I'd ignored, the financial irregularities in my online banking, the work I'd put off for three soulful days and the blogs I hadn't commented on.

My head, however, stays fixed on the few days of holidays we shared in her house, in Portobello and Howth, in the only Select Bar we know how to drink in and even Temple Bar. Temple Bar, with hats gaudier than a R***l W*****g, hilarious and terrifying but far more the latter.

Now for a redrunkening. Anon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

State visit

An indoor day, sporadically watching the snooker and dipping into my book about a shit-infested Balinese prison. A tremendous read entirely, 'Hotel K,' and it's distracting me from a minor bout of throat-ouch and, most importantly of all, myself.

I had a thought about the queen's* visit to Ireland. They're down to visit Croke Park and the Garden of Remembrance and Coolmore Stud and the Guinness Storehouse and Trinity College and fuck knows where else on their three-day jaunt.

You'd be knackered after all that. I'm tired even thinking about it, and I have no involvement whatsoever.

"Fuck this, Philip, look at this itinerary."

"What is it NOW, dear?"

"Look what they're having us do, where they're making us go. Here there and fucking everywhere, Philip."

"Language, Liz, language."

"I'm riled up Philip. I'm 85 tomorrow and they're having me stand around in horse muck and shaking the hands of a bunch of West Brit haircuts."

"Well what do you suppose we should do about it, dear?"

"I believe we should go, as intended, and just sit in our hotel rooms and order one of those frightfully good pay-per-view channels."

"Oh they ARE frightfully good. Yes, I like them."

"Or, Philip, you could see to it that someone ships over the DVD player from the entertaining den. We could finally get into that 'House' box-set that Camilla gave us. That Hugh Laurie is frightfully good."

"And a frightfully nice chap too."

"Oh Philip, let's. Let's jettison all that State visit shit and stay indoors. They have those Domino's pizza pies in Dublin too according to the computer box."

"Have it your way, dear."

"...oh? What's this? Philip. PHILIP! Wake up! They're trying to get us to pay our own way! What a fucking dis..."

"LANGUAGE, dear! Look up Trip Advisor and be done with it."

"Very well, Philip. Very well."

*I capitalise for no monarch.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Archive: Leppings Lane

Given the anniversary, I decided to post this again...

= = =

Before drink, before the Jesuits, before failing to talk to girls, long before The Wire, before almost everything I formed a deep and unforgiving attachment to football.

A Panini sticker album did for me.

Prior to the European Championships I had no interest in it, when the kids in Scoil Mobhí asked me who I supported I just bleated out 'Liverpool' because that, to me, was the codeword for getting out of these awkward situations.

My eight-year-old me hadn't a clue who played for them or what the First Division was or even where Liverpool was located. It could have been in Sligo.

Then the sticker album, and the collecting, and the learning of names like Dave Langan, John Aldridge, Niall Quinn, John Anderson and Kevin Moran, and then Ronnie Whelan's spinkick against the Russians and then sweet, sweet addiction. Child heroin.

The following season was my first as a proper Liverpool supporter. I knew the players, the dates of birth, the former clubs, the positions, the nationalities (mostly British at that time, with a hint of Zimbabwe and Jamaica) and the form.

Videotapes caught me up on past achievements, and having four Irish lads in the team was the badge of honour against those nasty Manchester United supporters, with their Peter Davenports and their Ralph Milnes.

We were good back then, very good. The previous season, when I was still ignorant of the game, we had won the league but lost the FA Cup Final to Wimbledon. The Cup was the top of the game because English teams couldn't compete in Europe. We were used to winning the First Division title but to win the Cup was the pinnacle, at least to my mind.

I used to watch the matches in my granny's sitting room. They lived next door, herself and Finghín, I'd just go around the back and through the kitchen, ignore them completely, walk into the room and switch on the television. Squatter's rights.

An FA Cup semi-final was a big fucking deal. A huge deal, but I said that already. I imagine myself in that green armchair with a smuggled glass of coke and some Rolos, switching between the RTE and BBC coverage. Liverpool v Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough in Sheffield.

The teamsheets came up. The Irish lads were in, including my favourite player Steve Staunton (no sniggering). Happy days. I'd been building up to this all week.

My da was working as a jeweller at the time and he operated from a workshop in the back garden. He saw me coming out of my granny's and asked me what was wrong. He tells me now I had a face like thunder.

"There are supporters on the pitch and they had to call the match off."

I was almost in tears, cursing those fuckers, those supporters who couldn't behave themselves so I could see Staunton rampage up the wing (like he ever rampaged, I know, but I was ten) and throw over a cross for Aldridge or Ian Rush to head home.

Those supporters who ruined my day by spilling on the grass and just sitting there, those ambulances that would tear up the surface something rotten if they decided to just delay the kick off for an hour, those policemen on horses where Steve McMahon should be scything into Steve Hodge.

A face like thunder, until the count went up and up and up and never seemed like stopping.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Square one, and life's great pleasures

1) I'm allergic to bananas.

2) I can't think of many other foods I wouldn't eat, except for eggs.

3) I can't stand the sound of an apple being eaten. It sounds like leg break to me.

4) I dislike people who don't ask questions.

5) I recently considered applying for a job in sales. Honest to jaysus, sales.

6) I don't think I could give up coffee, black, no sugar, never instant and strong.

7) Life's great pleasures #1: Walking into a busy pub, standing room only, the seat beside you becomes free.

8) It is fifteen months since I've been to my favourite place.

9) The only drug that interests me is Exputex.

10) My favourite smell could be Olbas Oil.

11) Life's great pleasure #2: Kehoe's on a Monday afternoon.

12) If I read more, the words will come.

13) I miss writing about the bad dates, but I don't miss the bad dates for a single second.

14) I'm happy, so very happy, that Fernando Torres is now a poor man's Geoff Horsfield.

15) I've watched 'When Harry Met Sally' more than is normal for a straight man, and I apologise to nobody. I'm making herself watch it soon.

16) Life's great pleasures #3: Mussels.

17) I drank far too close to a phlegm of Leinster supporters last Saturday, in O'Neill's of Pearse Street, and lived to tell this tale.

18) I wear black t-shirts a lot, seldom white, never grey.

19) I despise getting a missed call from a private number, with no message left.

20) In the last month, I have started eating porridge with great regularity.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Everyone loves a cartoon penis

You know how you'd be of a Saturday night.

You finish work around 8pm, a tough day of unseen match reporting, news correlating and discriminate copypasting, and you make the short walk down the quays towards home amid thoughts of reheated chilli and something, anything to drink.

Something, anything to drink turns out to be the three-quarters full bottle of red wine that's been resting beside the microwave for a week or two now. You pour it as the pot bubbles up and the rice does something, swimming in a bag. The wine tastes fine but is just the promise of acid to come. You'll finish that wine tonight.

You switch on the telly and it goes to RTE2, it goes to Ryle Nugent narrating the handball with his unique brand of nasally Leinsterness. It disgusts you, grates on you, fucks you up but you keep watching because this is what supposed sports journalists do. They watch the rugby even though it makes them sick and they're off the clock.

You need to build up the tolerance, you see, because next week brings more of the same. More trips up the quays to the land that good manners forgot, to the oiks in the suits who don't hold the door open and who piss without locking the cubicle.

"No time!"

You need to build up that tolerance so you listen to Ryle, figurehead to the Casual Fridays, for the duration of the second half as lads try to rape each other for the sake of an egg and the young lad, who's actually 43, kicks Munster to a win.

Handball over, chilli ready, wine poured and sitting, you check your phone for a text from a hen party but that will come later, will probably come drunkenly, and will come appreciated.

You're not really watching the telly, you're just thinking about the week gone by and the signing of the card.

You hate when the card gets passed around, hidden inside a paper folder so they won't see it. Some lad in accounting has seen sense and decided to do one, and you're asked to post a message like all the other oiks saying "best of luck!" and "I hope it works out for you!" and "you'll be missed!" even though the only memory you have of the man is something grunted during Cheltenham.

You doodle a cartoon penis instead.

You give a little chuckle to yourself on your Saturday night couch because it's still funny at three days' remove.

You let yourself a smirk as you finish the chilli and award it top marks, even nicer a day later, and you sup the end of that first glass of wine.

The phone is off noise, but it's not lighting up, and you wonder if you should have taken that offer of Neary's, but it's close to ten o'clock and there's a DVD player, Fitzbollix's big screen TV and the wine to be finished.

'The West Wing' cranks up and you get horizontal. She texts, she's fine, she's dancing or about to. Bartlet and Toby are having a row, the wine's settling nicely, the quiet is broken by a crowd of ten outside. Onto the balcony and you see a young one or three swigging straight from a bottle of vodka and you just know that's going to smart in the morning, you know she's going to puke as you sup your red wine all smugly from on high.

Back to the couch and the end of the story, you click back on the telly and remember the nagging thing, an unchecked Lotto ticket in your wallet.

Inputting the numbers is a highlight, same for most in these carbuncular times, and your soul takes a leap for that split second between seeing 'Congratulations!' flash up and the small print, informing you you've won a euro on the Lotto Plus 2.

You finish the wine and give the evening up, switching back to silent and belching off to sleep.