Monday, December 29, 2008

Know your onions

A funny thing happened me at Christmas. While all of you were out there embracing your fellow men and women in the spirit of the season, sitting drunkenly in front of card-scene roaring fires and roaring back, or jumping into lakes for charity, I was quietly musing on the place of the humble onion in my world.

For as long as I remember, (which is all my life bar the first few years and roughly the last five days), I was a staunch and vehement anti-onionist. Bringing Dracula to Abrakebabra and getting him the garlic chips stood more chance of happening than me eating a bolognese without running it through a sieve first. I could just never stand the vapoury, harsh tang of onions.

Like, apart from making for more interesting and diverse farts (there's the fart mention out of the way) I could never really see anything to recommend them. They're withery, flaky and they smell off even when they're not. They burn your mouth and they make you cry. They've killed more dates off than Jack the Ripper. So what's the point people?

I even used to think there was a conspiracy afoot. For a long time, everything I'd order to eat would come with onions. Usually sprinkled delicately throughout the side salad - almost as a garnish, as if it were some sort of treat, the vegetable version of chocolate sprinkles, or hundreds and thousands.
That was just with the sambos. Chinese meals were the real revelation though. You'd get a chicken curry and there'd be these absolutely massive, slimy peelings of onions lying placid but crocodile-like in the sauce, curled around and around on themselves like the esses of snakes eating their own arses. Ewww.

Now I could usually pick around the onion shavings in a salad or the like without much fuss, but sadly, alot of other lunchtimes would end in atomic hissy fits when I'd order a sandwich and not only NOT order onions therein but specifically go to the trouble of saying "please do not put onions on my sandwich, I will redline in an instant and go nuclear all over your hole, honest to Jasus," and what do you think would happen? Yes. It'd come out plastered, no, buried, actually nay I say, fucking festooned in onions!!!

I can't tell you how I railed against this unjust world where my wishes were ignored and everyone's default setting in the service industry was to pile on the woeful onions. Whaddaya mean he asked for no onions? Surely you have it wrong and he asked for extra onions? And who cares that he ordered ice cream? Sure everyone loves onions!

No! They fucking well don't! Does everyone love sugar on their tomatoes? Or snails in their porridge? No they fucking well don't so would you just...just...just bloody well assume you know better and go and put it on there without asking them? No you wouldn't, would you, you silly ould bollocks.

But you know what happened? They wore me down. Through sheer repeat exposure and a weariness at constantly returning food and having to wait for it all over again, fearful that if not onions this time, it would contain spiteful spittle from the put-upon kitchen staff. I simply gave up. It was easier to just bite down and think of Ireland. The oppressive and relentless march of the onion would not be held back.

So now I just sigh, mentally hold my nose a bit, and eat them. I don't idly pick one up from the shelf and eat them like apples or anything, but I just bypass my anger, pick up the pieces and get on with living my life. I've possibly acquired a taste for them in a way, by which I mean I've acquired a tolerance for how shite they taste and don't vomit when I eat them.

What else was there to do? Sure you might as well be a cannibal who's not a people person.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Just to say...

It's definitely Christmas. I've just watched The Wizard of Oz for the 1023rd time and Harry Potter's on the telly in the middle of the afternoon, so yep, it's Christmas alright.

Harry looks well, actually, he gets younger looking every time I see him but then again I may just be watching the franchise in reverse. If anyone cares it's the one with Vladimir Putin playing Dobby the self-loathing house elf.

I've just glanced at the screen there now and Dobby is beating the absolute shit out of himself with a bedside lamp. And Bishop Brennan from Father Ted is in it as well.

Anyway, I digress. I just dropped in to say Happy Christmas to all of you because I haven't time to rattle around everybody's blog and say it personally but I will catch up with you all in 2009.

Peace and love you all. I won't be sober again until next Sunday.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Photo opportunity


I dunno. From her expression, it looks like it might be a really big willy.
Monday, December 15, 2008

Watershed

I’m going to open the door a little bit.

We broke up in late April, a few days shy of the tenth anniversary of our courtship. I met her last week for the first time since.

It was nice. She looks well. No, actually she looks beautiful, like she always did.

We caught up, giggled, gossiped, complained about our jobs and laughed at stories about our parents. Wondered when we’ll get our apartment sold. Soon, I said. We drank a nice bottle of Riesling too and had a bite to eat.

We were, would you believe, in an old church, ext(p)ensively remodelled and now a fancy bar and restaurant. So hey Mum, I’d finally made it up the aisle with your dream girl and all it took in the end was a bit of dinner.

There’d be no afters.

As in, they were out of Banoffee, the bastards.

So there I was, sitting a-perch an altar, looking down at my plate and delicately sickle-sluicing through my poached salmon as I like to do it, and working and working the whole situation over in my mind like a tumble-dryer rolling clothes.

Right. How will this go down if I tell her I’ve been dating since our split?

It’s not that I should feel bad, I’m a single man now with no ties, but…she’d always said that the thoughts of me being with someone that wasn’t her filled her with anguish. There’d been quite enough of that already. And I’m not one for inflicting the anguish if I can help it. For my own part too, I wondered how I might take it when I heard she had also moved on with new men in her life.

I shrugged internally, resolved to play it safe and not bring it up, sure it’d come out by itself when it got hungry.

Suddenly though, apropos of nothing, she blurted out that she had a new boyfriend.

It was like time slowed down for a few moments. Waiting for a good time to mention it, she’d clearly erred on the side of a lack of caution and just threw it out there. She was scanning my face for a reaction. What she found there was surprise and what I needed to work out quickly was whether it was pleasant surprise or not. Every bit of communication we’d had since splitting suggested to me she’d been keeping herself to herself and not really socialising.

She told me a bit about him, unprompted. He reminds me of you, everyone says it. He’s a fucking keeper so, says I, but neither of us laughed.

I’ve told him all about you, he knows all about you, she said. I didn’t know how to tell you. I hoped you’d heard already. This is making me emotional, I’m sorry.

Don’t be sorry. Or emotional. Be happy. You’re a single woman now. Live your life, that’s what it’s for.

We backed and forthed for a bit. I figured it was ok to tell her I’d been on some dates as well. She was fine with it. I know this because she nosily probed me for details about them, a sign of rude emotional health if ever there was. I was grateful to hear it.

It dawned on me then, as we both relaxed in the revealing, that although we split up a few months ago, we had actually still been in the process of splitting up with each other. Now the two of us were seeing other people. It was truly done.

Let’s kiss this thing goodbye.

I realised too that, yes, I was comfortable with her moving on. I’d been nursing a fear - not out of any ridiculously high regard for myself and what I meant to her, but simply because nobody but nobody knows her better than me – that she might brood for too long in the aftermath and almost forget to pick up the strands of life again.

So I was a little bit, well, relieved to hear her news. But most of all, and I had to check a few times to be certain, and I’m writing this mainly to make doubly sure, I was happy for her. Yes. Genuinely happy. And after a decade of Moo-Dog and Miaow Cow, (as I’d christened her in the old days for blog purposes), I think that’s quite something to be able to say. So I sat there glowing and alive in wonderment at it all. I’d – we’d – passed some sort of test. We’d let each other go and it wasn’t that bad after all.

That said, she still fussed and tutted at me about not being late for my train and told me off for not spending a voucher she’d given me last Christmas, because they love it when people let them expire, it’s totally soft money for them and they have more than enough already so buy yourself something nice you eejit, put it in your wallet so you’ll see it and remember it.

I grinned. There are, it seems, some things that will never change between us but fuck it, I don’t sweat the small stuff when the big stuff does so well at looking after itself, thanks very much.

I’ll close the door now.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Slinking and slithering

Oh look, it’s the start of December, and in his twelfth new month’s resolution of 2008, Terence slides apologetically from the undergrowth with a new post and a pledge to blog more often.

I'll preface this by revealing my promise to stop publishing posts that explain away my frequent absences, because one can become reliant on them in the way that stellar journalist Tom Humphries over-employed the old writing a column about not being able to think of an idea for his column idea. It punishes me a little bit more to have to think harder you see, on top of the annoyance at having something under my care that I’m not tending to properly. There's only one way to do something and that's the right way or not at all. That's what I always say. When someone's doing something for me.
I know too how irritating it is for readers because when I visit blogs I like and it's just chill winds and tumbleweeds everywhere, it gives me a pain in the rashers so it does. And I don’t even know where me rashers are, although they say the government has them.

Anyway, I got prompted to reconnect with my blog because I checked the email where the blog comments go to, and there I discovered that rampant serial taggist Susan has once again done her worst in an effort to rouse me, and succeeded. It’s a typically Susanesque tag as well, very girly and pink and sweet-smelling which throws me out of my comfort zone; she requests that I list off six things I value the most, which is actually a neat meeting of minds because I was planning one of my anti-rants anyway, to restore karmic balance on the blog, as one must do, so here goes.

+++++

1. My signed copy of John McGahern’s Memoir

As one of only 250 ever issued, it’s probably worth a few bob (800 yoyo on some sites, less on others) but it’s not for that reason this is among my most prized possessions. McGahern and I went to the same college, are from, roughly, the same part of the country, he was the subject I chose for my English thesis and basically, I just think he was a cracking writer in a very understated, spartan sort of way. The opposite of me, indeed, I lean a little more towards the verbose.

Anyway, his memoir was long awaited because his private life had generally been just that; private. It was difficult finding out meaty stuff about him for my thesis, and I had to make do without it, but the memoir filled in all the blanks a few years later and having a rare copy of it in the house which he personally handled and inked, just for me, well it’s a little bit tremendous. In my book anyway. Boom, boom.

2. Hamsters
I only discovered the comic potential in hamsters there last Christmas.
I’ll clear it up right now that this won’t stray into Richard Gere-myth land, just to get it out of the way early.
Anyway, my seven-year-old niece got a hamster for Christmas two years ago. She entrusted Uncle Terence to feed it on Christmas Eve last year while she went off to bed where she had promised solemnly and fairy-like to “fall fawwwst asleep in deep and silent slumber.” In fairness, she’d been at the Enid Blyton books, bless her.
I, however, had been at the Southern Comfort.
Anyway, I started feeding him nuts and no matter how many I gave him, he kept taking them. I’d give him a nut, he’d grasp it squirrelishly, briefly examine it, pop it in his mouth and then stare twinkly-eyed and buck-toothed at me for another. So I kept obliging the wee fella, it was the season of giving after all.
A full packet and 15 minutes later, he was still ramming them in the little bastard. By that stage, a sort of silent standoff had developed between us. I wanted him to just wave a paw at me and admit he was beaten but he wouldn’t, he just kept packing the nuts into his jowly cheeks where he was storing everything for gorging himself on later.
I got afraid he might swell up and explode cartoonishly but in any event, I ran out of nuts before he ran out of space. I think he thought he was on the Krypton factor endurance test for hamsters or something.
It was fun though, he looked like Quagmire off Family Guy at the end. Giggidy.

Hamsters. Sigh, the gift that keeps on taking.

3. Family

Family is King. End of. It’s only now that I’m a little bit older that I realise not everybody was brought up in an environment where their parents were happy together, got on well with their brothers and sisters and still look forward to returning home and hooking up with them all whenever possible.
Charles Manson and the Krays know exactly what I’m talking about here.

4. GAA
Now here’s one I haven’t covered on the blog before. I’m a total Gah head who’s been following Cavan’s gaelic football fortunes oe’r hill and across dale since I was a nipper. You can’t really grow up in Cavan and not follow ‘the football’. See? We even put a ‘the’ in front of it, like it’s an exalted, higher reality or entity you can touch and see. We talk about nothing else down home.

And this normally mild-mannered McDanger turns into a red roaring lunatic at a match, I’ll admit. I dunno, it’s just part of what I am now. My Dad started bringing me to matches and it’s a passion we’ve shared together ever since. We’re very similar, my Dad and I, so even though I have four brothers who’d profess an interest in the game as well, it’s me and Dad that always go to the football together. The rest of them just flirt with the football, Dad and I married it. That’s why it's been an important influence in my life.
By the way, Cavan win absolutely fuck all so it’s something of a curse to have been born there and therefore have to support them, (where you’re born dictates everything in GAA). We won a big cup back in 1997 and it was one of the best days and nights (one day, I think there was two of the nights, it’s all a bit hazy) of my life.
We’ve a new manager for the season ahead, here’s hoping fortunes improve. I probably won’t write too much about it here though, I don’t think anyone would get it.

5. Personal contentment
You don’t know what it is to have lost this for a long time until you’ve found it again. 2008 wasn’t an easy year for me, that’s all I’m saying.

6. Women
No, seriously, I’m not playing to the gallery here and I don’t mean it in the very obvious way, but I absolutely love women. They’re great. I still haven’t a clue how they actually work or anything but even growing up I’ve always had more female friends than male. In 80s/90s rural Cavan, this immediately and ironically bracketed me as an ardent homosexual but I didn’t mind.
I think I just get on better with women. Maybe I’m nicer to them because I’m generally trying to get off with one of them. Maybe I’m not threatening because unbeknownst to myself, I come across as asexual. Like an amoeba. Or maybe, as Radge often tells me, to make me blush like a schoolgirl, I’m just a great big massive cuddly hunk o' love.
Whatever the reason, most of my close and significant friendships in life have been with women, and most of the girls I’ve snogged have been women as well, so all things considered, women are just great.
Terence says: Embrace women wholeheartedly.

+++++

Now, I know I'm supposed to tag six others but I haven't got the heart to be honest, I've fulfilled the difficult end of the bargain and will leave it there.

After posting, I'm typically awash with new enthusiasm for blogging and fully intend to be back with more nonsense. I really want to tell you all about the luckiest thing ever that happened to me, ever, I hope I make it back before 2009 to tell you.