Archive for August, 2010

Today is the seventeenth anniversary of the last day I lived alone.  Tomorrow is the seventeenth anniversary of the day my then Present Boyfriend, now Present Husband, moved in with me.  Note that we did not “move in together.”  I was living alone.   He moved in with me.  He moved back to Dublin and needed somewhere to live and so he came to stay with me.  And I got used to him.  Little things like having dinner ready for me when I got home.  And I liked having him around.  And here we find ourselves.  So I would say that a key element in a relationship is having a reckless disregard for your own long-term well-being. But there are many more. Let me share with you the wisdom I have gleaned from years of living with my Present Husband.  If this goes down well, I may change career and become some sort of TV relationship guru and, who knows, that might be lucrative.   And if other people got something out of it – stranger things have happened – that would be a bonus.

In addition to reckless disregard for your own well-being, a key component of a long and happy relationship is Stockholm Syndrome.  Long periods of time in confined spaces – that flat in Rathmines was tiny! there was  just the one bathroom, good God, the barbarism! – mean that I have come to identify with my captor and his cause.  In his case, the KLF.  No, not that KLF. The other KLF.  The Kerry Liberation Front.  It’s not called The Kingdom for nothing, you know.   But the more I ponder it, the more I agree that Kerry should have its independence recognised, be allowed to secede from the Republic and become an autonomous nation.

Also, it’s important to be superficially supportive of hairbrained ideas.  For example, my Present Husband has given up coffee and there is now none of it in the house.  Not a drop.  And I’m a person who likes her caffeinated beverages.  But I went along with this.  In fact I encouraged it.   And so I am “off coffee.”  But while in work I have been mainlining coffee like it’s another quite different stimulant more customarily associated with Columbia.  But the veneer of propreity in the home is being maintained and I am not deranged from withdrawal, which wouldn’t be good for our relationship either.

So we can further extrapolate that a bit of lying and cheating is in fact a positive thing in the context of a loving relationship.

And, of course, there are Ireland’s strict gun laws, which prohibit fringe loonies like myself from owning any weapon more powerful than an embroidery needle.  If my Present Husband and I lived in the US, with its Second Amendment and powerful gun lobby, I suspect our marriage would have taken a different – shorter, more bloody – trajectory.

So that’s it. Cast aside commonsense, adopt all sorts of fruity ideas, occasionally evade the truth and whatever you do, don’t own a gun.

The more I ponder all of this, the more I wonder how Dr Phil has his own TV series and I do not.  Is it just that he got pally with Oprah? Or is it that he’s bald?  Because I could certainly work on cosying up with Oprah.  First, though, I think I will work affecting a more homespun accent so that y’all can have a greater appreciation of the wisdom that I am proposin.’   How’s that workin’ for ya?


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Well done – you shook that dreadful cold!
Your donor liver is ten years old!
You came up with a witty barb!
You went all week without a carb!
You managed Christmas all alone!
Hurray – You passed your kidney stone!
Your in-laws’ décor is banal!
You now don’t need a root canal!
Twelve years in work, you hate the place
But now you have a parking space!
Congrats – You cleared your credit card
(First time ever, that was hard)!
Your knee packed up, you got one new
It’s six years old – hurray for you!
That scary smell inside the shed
Is not being caused by something dead!
Your aunts who are a pair of crones
Are stuck in Heathrow without their phones!
The dress you bought in last year’s sale
Now fits you right when you exhale!
Your ex’s car has got a clamp
And his new girlfriend, she’s a tramp!

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A child born on the day I met my Present Husband would now be old enough to vote and legally drink.  They’ve probably been drinking illegally for years, but that’s neither here nor there.

I fall over a lot more than a habitually sober adult should.

I started sewing again recently.  I realised that the nun who taught me to sew figured very prominently in The Ryan Report.   I am better with a needle than she was as a teacher of children, which is not exactly high praise.

I love Jon Stewart.  I mean I really love him.  In a way that my Present Husband should be a little troubled by.  And he’s not.  Which in turns troubles me.

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There are certain things that distinguish the child-free from those whom I suppose you might term child-ful.  Chief among them is sleep.  Of this no more need be said.  But an interesting side effect of this is the nocturnal TV viewing habits found amongst parents of small babies.  Programmes you would not watch by day for the length of time it might take you to tie a shoelace will burn themselves in their entirety onto your retinas.  In particular, programmes you are forced to watch because the baby has in fact now fallen asleep – oh blessed mercy – but you find the TV remote is out of reach.  Do I move and risk waking the baby or do I stay and endure televisual torture?  It is the kind of agony that might prove to one so inclined the existence of a vengeful God.

But enough of theology. I always resolve this dilemma in the same way, which is to stay put and endure the appalling TV.  Hence my familiarity with all manner of nocturnal nonsense, such as Doctors or Telly Bingo. (Yes, I know these shows are on at other times of the day, but I am not trapped in front of a TV at those times.)  And this brings me neatly along to the coup de grace, Euronews.  It is a 24-hour multi-lingual public service news channel of the EU.  Almost every word of that sentence is apt to fill one with dread.  In Ireland, it is broadcast on two channels simultaneously during the night, so you are doubly trapped.  It shares many of the qualities of conventional 24-hours news, such as being achingly repetitive.  Two hours of programming will in reality contain about twenty minutes of material.  The scale of the recycling is spectacular.  I watched an interview with the EU Energy Commissioner – a German guy by the name of Gunther Oettinger, seems harmless enough – where he discussed the EU position on a gas pipeline in the Caspian Sea.  They’re all for it, by the way.  They think it’s just a peach of an idea.  And then the following night I got to see it again.  I suppose it was conceivable that there might have been a plot twist that I missed.  Maybe a car chase.  But no such luck.

When not reporting news, there are interminable public service announcements, such as how bureaucratic changes to the Schengen Agreement will now make it easier for Romanians to travel to Belarus. Or some such. There is an admittedly quirky little segment called “No Comment” where a minute of news footage is broadcast with no sound, so you have to play a little guessing game with it.  It can be thought-provoking the first time you see it.  But after the fourth time, you beg for mercy.  There is also an interesting round-robin style way of showing the weather forecast for major cities in Europe and worldwide.  It is oddly compelling the first time, but after several viewings you can’t quite summon a whole lot of enthusiasm for the impending downpour in Valetta.  And, at the back of my mind through all of this are two thoughts.  One is that I am a TV licence payer and am being robbed.  And second is that this torture will be relieved only by the arrival of children’s TV on RTE2 and informercials and home shopping on RTE1.  If I can change the channel when my baby wakes around 6am, over on TV3 is the repeat of  Tonight with Vincent Browne which, in my state of advanced sleep deprivation, is like a televisual warm bath.

But there is something faintly odd about realising when Vincent Browne says goodnight (again) that you have absorbed all your current affairs information for the day, much of it now out-of-date, and it’s only 7am. Because throughout the day even though there will be a TV or radio on, you will have the attention span of  gnat and will take in nothing.  And you will of course be crashed out on your couch when the 9 o’clock news comes on. Yet another of those things that distinguish us from the child-free.

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A Correction

Yesterday in my musing on the CAO offers and Leaving Cert results I made a grievous grammatical error.  Review what I wrote and you will see that I used the term “a Chocolate Hobnob.”  Grammarians and chocoholics alike will recognise that there is no such thing as “a Chocolate Hobnob.”  It is one of those unusual nouns that is declined only in the plural.  Other examples are ‘news’ and ‘trousers.’  They are just nouns that exist in the plural, that’s the way they are.

It was quite a significant mistake and indeed it’s not the first time I have made it.  And I’m more than a little dismayed that the Internet Police did not haul me up over it.  One wonders what else they are failing to notice.  But I have to admit that I have been making this mistake a lot recently, which causes me to ponder if my standards are slipping.  A few weeks ago, for example, I used the phrase “a Jaffa Cake,” which is clearly nonsense.  More recently, I heard myself ask for “an apple drop.”  Absurd.  Evidence once again, I feel, of the terminal decline into barbarism of the once great and majestic English language .  Or possibly, just me.  Either way, not good.

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CAO Offers

Last week thousands of burgeoning adults received the results of the Leaving Certificate exams and then just this week their college place offers.  And so they now have the final verdict on how the education system has served them.  As with most results days, I find my mind wandering back to when I did my own Leaving Cert back in 1742.  I wonder how well all those years spent in the school system really prepared me for life.  I have to concede that I learned a few useful things that I draw on all the time.  In chemistry, I  learned the difference between effervescence and deliquesence and thus that one should never store bread and biscuits in the same container. Many, many times this knowledge has rescued a Chocolate Hobnob from certain oblivion.  I learned how to measure the area of a room, handy when buying laminate flooring.  And knowing how to work out the diameter of a room is undoubtedly useful when you need to buy the accompanying beading, although I appreciate that neither is an everyday occurrence.   I learned to measure the length of a road on a map using a length of paper and a biro, although in the era of AA Routeplanner and so forth, that’s really more of a quaint party trick.  I learned enough capital cities and dates and names in geography and history to be more of an asset than a liability at quizzes.  And speaking of assets and liabilities, I have a passing understanding of bookkeeping, although that’s more or a theoretical thing given that I have no money.

On the other hand, I amassed some astonishingly useless information.  I know the Irish word for a blood transfusion (fuilaistriúcháin), the German word for a resident’s permit (aufenthaltserlaubnis) and the French word for a female primary school teacher (institutrice). However, in no language did I ever learn the word for a shoelace. Or a sieve.  Or heartbreak.  While living in Germany, I fell down a flight of stairs and bruised my shin.  Could I explain that to anybody by means other than pointing and moaning?  No.  While learning Irish in the Gaeltacht, I could converse with great zeal on matters of current affairs such as employment or emigration. But I could not relay the results of a football game.  I didn’t know the word for results.

And yet, as people are wont to say in these discussions, I turned out fine.

So my hope is that those unfortunates who got their offers yesterday are happy and got whatever they need to glide them through the next door they approach in life.  Exam results will open only one door at most.  After that, you’re on your own.   Within five years of leaving school, most people have apparently forgotten 80 per cent of what they learned.  And most of it wasn’t worth knowing in the first place.

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