Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nat King Karma

Are you available for and actively seeking employment Terence?

Okay, so she made me promise not to tell anyone and I did solemnly swear and all that but I want to put this out there to recognise a kindess, or for Karmic reasons, or whatever.

And because I fancied her a wee bit too.

Right. This week I went into the Social Welfare office, got signed up and signed on, and they have me approved and ready for the first payment already. Yep. That quick. I'm an official, depressing statistic inside the blink of an eye and what's more, I'm very pleased with it all. Surely this is some sort of record? Is there not supposed to be an eight-week wait? And all sorts of lamentable checks and forms and stuff? Blood tests? Stool samples? Sealed transcripts of how much you got on your confirmation day?

Sure, they were even nice to me so they were.

It was so neatly handled and painless it was like going to the dentist to have all your wisdom teeth out, trembling in trepidation, and finding to your surprise that he'd craftily removed them with the hearty slap on the back he gave you in greeting when you walked in the door.

Is that all like? Do you not want me to cry or beg or something?

Now although I had every last bit of required documentation gathered, present and correct, and then some, I can tell this is not typical. That's because after signing off on my signing on inside a dizzying 15 minutes, she leaned conspiratorially into the plexi-glass and with a wide-eyed whisper, beseeched me not to go out on the streets with a loudhailer proclaiming their awe-inspiring efficiency to all and sundry. For fear, you see, that it would be the clarion call for a deluge of hopeful unemployeds, all travelling long distances to inundate her as they seek the quicksharp succour of the mythical WonderWelfareWoman. And sadly, these sorts of quick turnarounds (crap Wonder Woman pun intended) are just not always possible she says. I think I'm just very lucky or something.

So I'll not mention any names or locations to protect the identity of the superhero involved, because she presumably has a family who know nothing about her amazing powers. Although surely it's only a matter of time before the neighbours see her star-spangled knickers on the line and her cover's blown.

She was a bit of a fox as well actually. Verrrrrrrrrry cute. Nice Rs too. Actually, can foxes be cute? Hmm. Maybe she was more of a rabbit so. Either one or the other I guess, although not at the same time obviously because that might confuse her as she'd be trying to chase herself around the office all day, wanting to eat herself and then having to deal with possible feelings of self-loathing and stuff. 

Yes, on reflection, the rabbitty fox/foxy rabbit thing is an annoying circuitous analogy and should never be used again but I like the image of her careering through furniture trying to bite a lump out her own bum, so I'm leaving it in.

So there you have it. I was expecting to be interrogated and indecently probed by some leather-clad Nazi superbitch in wrought-iron underpants, who'd spend three hours shining a light in my eyes and slapping me around the room with her stiletto. But instead I got a nice smiley girleen in a woolly jumper and boots who couldn't do enough to help me. So, you know, that's all good and fair play to the lady involved because the staff there get a bad press sometimes.

My apologies if anyone reading this hasn't had things run so smoothly for them, but you know, it was all so slick and polished for me, I nearly forgot the fact that I no longer have a job or a regular income.

Well nearly. But although I had to leave my pride at the door going in, I was sure to pick it up on the way back out.
Friday, September 25, 2009

Favourite things. More of.

I'm keeping the good side out today. If I was a fried egg, I'd be sunny side up.

So...here are a few more of my favourite things, because, well, because we all bitch and whine too much. Therefore, without further ado, je te presente the next in my long-running series of heavily hyphenated, feel-good, group hug perk-me-up and ruffle-me-hair like a Jack-the-Lad (drumroll)...anti-rants.

1. Jaffa cakes

The undisputed king of biscuits/cakes/whatever that court case decided there a while ago. I'm literally never without a stash of these in the house - milk comes and goes, but never the Jaffassssss - and I do a little jig in the supermarket aisle when they've got the 24 for the price of 12 offer on. Get in.

It's a shame they got rid of the Munchkins though.

You know, when I die and am called to my eternal reward, people will sit glum, silent and bereft at my wake, as the clock doles time on the mantle and someone rakes the ashes of the fire and says:

"He was a lovely man. Loved washing ducks of an evening. Always had a packet of Jaffa cakes on him too.

"And a cow in the wardrobe, oddly."

2. Shaving

Well not shaving per se, but rather that unique feeling of being shaven-ness that one can only acquire through, uh, shaving.

Now, as the medical terminology would have it, I'm a fierce hairy bastard altogether, so I generally have a five o'clock shadow by 2pm. This would seemingly demand that I shave more often than twice a week, but such is my love of being close shaven that I, paradoxically, apportion and ration my shaves down to twice every seven days. This, you see, ensures there is sufficient growth for an easy, comfortable shave - so I get to be all swish and swashbuckle flourish with the razor, like the chaps in the ads on the telly, with the hapless hair getting bulldozed off my jaw like stubbly rubble. Shaving a short beard y'see, is just a recipe for nicks and cuts and burns, can't be doing with it at all.

Just last week, now, I went retro and started using a shaving brush for the first time. Now I foam that bristly baby up and slap and slather my face until it's like a fresh pavlova, and off I go. I feel like John Wayne in a Western every time and I'm just waiting for a renewed attack of piles so I can do the walk and everything. Coo!

3. Jessica Fletcher

There's just something dependable about ole' Jessica. I saw her mentioned on Red Lemonade the other day and just got to thinking about the staple she has been in my life for so long now.

Despite the fact that countless incompetent Chiefs of Police across the USA see fit to disparage and dismiss her as some sort of interfering old biddy who read too much Miss Marple, Jessica just brushes it all off and keeps on bagging them criminals so she does.
Anyway, never mind that she can't think of any fucking plots for her novels on her own, and so hangs about crime scenes so she can rip them off and profit on the back of others' misfortune, I still think she rocks. And the icing on the cake is that each episode usually has a big feel-good communal laugh ending, just like in that other seminal crime series, Scooby Doo.

I do often wonder, however, given the fact that she was involved in anything up to 270 murder investigations, some sleuth or other didn't sit down and twig that the one common denominator in them all was actually Jessica herself. Hmmm. I reckon the crafty bitch was bumping them off herself, and using a cunning mix of crime-scene experience and enchanting prose, she pinned the blame on someone else. What a truly magnificent old hag.

And, while I'm warmed up, I still can't figure out how she got so many invites to all these big parties and functions and fundraisers and hanging out with Sultans on yachts and shit. It's a simple equation. Jessica Fletcher + social event  = guaranteed corpse within 15 minutes. Now I'm no socialite, God knows, but one thing I do know about the boogie-woogie is that if anything takes the gloss off a party, it's a dead body floating in the punch bowl.
Pah! Never mind, I think she's a wee pet. If she thinks she's coming near my house though, she can fuck off.

4. Listening to the rain

Oh listen to the rhythm of the falling rain, telling me some dickhead's getting soaked...

Yeah that's what it's all about isn't it? You're wrapped up cosy and tight in bed, burrowing down with an ear cocked to the musical hiss of rain hitting the tarmac outside, and then you hear the unmistakable hurried clip-clops of someone rushing to get under cover. There comes a gust of wind and there's a brief rattle on the windows like pebbles clattering down a tin roof.

You burrow down further and draw your knees up to your chest, snug, and smug, as a bug in a rug. Ahhhhhhh.

5. Womens' bras

No seriously, they're great. But only a very particular type, mind you. Specifically, the ones with the plain black curved cups; so when they poke up from under a plunging neckline, it makes me think that Mickey Mouse is living down there and he doesn't realise his ears are sticking out. Fun times!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Three birthdays and a helicopter

Apologies in advance for hammering this numbers theme to death and all that, but it seems good things do happen in threes, even turty threes. Up trees as well sometimes. Other times, on all fours. I can't think of anything for fives but sure feck it, I should have stopped before now anyway.

So, anyway, yeah, I just had myself three birthdays. That's why I disappeared for a few days there. I was off busying myself with the, y'know, whole three birthdays thaaaaang.

First off was a small intellectual soiree in the Stags Head last week. We all repaired to the rooms upstairs, donned silk dressing gowns and passed the night swirling ice-cubs round the bottom of chunky crystal glasses as we investigated and probed the key issues of the day. There was quite the gathering there but, never one to aggrandise myself, I should point out that most were not there specifically because it was my birthday, but because they knew the few who were and had tagged along for some opportunistic imbibing. And no harm. There was, I recall, smoking of cigarettes, a visit to Burger King and an expensive taxi ride home of which I remember nothing.

Do you realise what a combination of those three things makes you smell like the next morning?

Birthday two was a corker. Sister McDanger was having her birthday party as well, because all McDangers are born in September, what with it being nine months after friskmas. I mean Christmas. She has some mad gaff out in the country somewhere and about 100 people piled into it and got truly ratarsed and sang the roof off the place and there was a surprise birthday cake moment for me as well, by which I mean I was surprised when I went to taste a bit, didn't look and ate a napkin instead. Ah well. Elsewhere, there was mohitos, doritos and other things that rhymed. Fun times.

The next day I was as sick as a plane to Lourdes. I was standing at the kitchen sink trying to force some water down my practically closed throat, pondering the contents of my Dad's greenhouse in the back garden. I don't know what he's growing out there but they're massive, beanstalky and sinewy. Fuck me, I thought, the ould lad's growing Triffids the mad bastard. I was smiling inwardly at the thoughts of his bemused face when he'd come down for breakfast one morning and find them eating his underpants off the clothesline, when the man himself asked me what time I was heading for Mayo at the following day.

Oh Jasus, I thought, I have to go to Mayo the following day. That'd be birthday number three. Visiting cousin McDanger. Whose birthday is in March. They had better things to be doing in his house at friskmas it seems, although apparently not in July. Weirdos.

Anyway, I fired up the chariot and blasted my way deep into the west. Now there's little point spinning a short story long, so the headlines are big meal, yum yum, finished after ten, forgot the off licence was closed ah Jasus Christ like, no booze in the house because he doesn't drink (I know I know, not only did they copulate at odd points in the calendar, they were also unschooled in the pleasures of grape and grain), but we found a dusty bottle of vodka, I drank three quarters of it and was bladdered by 5 am, at which point I fell asleep on the bed with my pants on.

Now I'm back in Dublin after the mother of all drives and today I was a bit zonked and thought I had the swine flu but I'm sitting here blogging so it must have been a false alarm. I hope.

Oh and by the way, I made the helicopter bit up just to get you to read to the end. Sorry loves!

But I won't mention my birthday ever again, I promise.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Turty Tree

Whee! It's me! And today I'm turning turty tree!

Yep. I've just turned the grand old age of 33. Same age as Jesus. In earth years like.

And the same age as Abi Titmuss too! (In dog years).

Regrets I have a few. Principally I really can't believe I wasted the best part of my 32s by not blogging. They were my peak years. I'll never get those posts back you know.  

Interestingly, well maybe not but it's good a bridge word as any, Bilbo Baggins, at the outset of the first book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, held his eleventy-first birthday on September 22nd. So I'm a little put out that I don't get to share my birthday with the little big man himself, missing out by a week. Instead, I got Tommy Lee Jones, Prince Harry and Marco Polo, who of course when you think about it all have Hobbit-like qualities themselves to varying degrees.

However, I have noted that littler bigger man, Frodo Baggins, a hobbit for the younger generation, also turned 33 that same day (I'd be a mere stripling in hobbit terms it seems, I'd move there for the social cachet with the Hobbit-ladies but couldn't be up to all that banging me head off stuff and besides, I refuse to entertain females any hairier than myself). Further investigation reveals that 33 is when hobbits are said to have 'come of age' and don't forget, as a present Bilbo also gave Frodo the keys to his, no sniggering, Bag End. So you see, in hobbit years, it really is the equivalent of my 21st, or something approximating it at least. Maybe I'm only 18 actually. So there.

At 33, I'm £25.99, in 'old' money. You can do the puns yourselves. I think I'm better value now though.

If I was a bingo number, they'd call me two little fleas, thirty-three, Gertie Lee, Dirty Knees, Sherwood Forest (all the trees) or All the Feathers. I've googled and can find no explanation for All the Feathers by the way, and this is annoying me, which is in itself a sign of getting older I suppose.

Personally I'd call it Boobs and Bellies, 33. Heh. I like that.

Anyone who drinks Rolling Rock beer will also know that the number 33 appears, for no apparent reason, on the print on the back. The theory goes that it was a word count of the original blurb: Rolling Rock - From the glass lined tanks of Old Latrobe, we tender this premium beer for your enjoyment as a tribute to your good taste. It comes from the mountain springs to you. The company submitted this to the bottle maker and left the word count (33) in the print afterwards and the printer put it on the bottles, and it was deemed too expensive to correct later. So consider yourselves educated.

Turty tree is of course a number beloved of the English, because they love to hear the Irish say it in our unique way, just like I spelled it there. This is rich coming from a people who will exhort us to say 'Free Fur-hee Free' in our 'cute' accents and see no irony in it whatever, but we'll forgive them their foibles as they have forgiven us ours, e.g. Henry Kelly and Bryan McFadden.

So. Today's post was brought to you by the number 33 and the letters S, I, G and H.

Terence out.
Monday, September 14, 2009

I hate wasps

I'm afraid of wasps. Ever since our 50-year-old neighbour suffered the indignity of being stung on the balls in bed one night, by a vagrant wasp hanging out in his PJs, I've lived in fear of them. True story.

Last night, for instance, I was in the pub down here in Cavan, drinking Mexican beer that was brewed in Belgium, and talking to a lad from Belfast called Dave about his dog called Dandy that had just died that day. All of a sudden he broke off from one of his dew-eyed slipper-chewing reminiscences and glanced down at my shirt with a look of terror spreading across his face. I wondered briefly if he'd just seen the face of his dead hound appearing mirage-like in my chest hair or something. So I was all set to throw open my arms so the pair of us could, you know, do what all fellas do in rural pubs in Cavan and just hug all that pain away.

But no. I had it wrong.

"Fucking hell mate," he said, backing away in fear and scraping his stool off the floor, "you've a big fat fucker of a wasp on ye."

It was the type I fear most. The old, fat, half dead wasp type that's too banjaxed to be able to buzz any more, so you can't hear him. And as he's too lethargic to fly any more, you never see him approaching either. Yes. The stealth wasp, invisible to radar. Rumour has it when they're barely clinging to life like that, they just prowl about gasping and looking for something to sting for no reason. Because that's just what they do. They're wasps. So not only are they furtive, they're mindlessly violent with it.

Anyway I flicked the thing off me and because I didn't want to look like a big girl, I calmly went to the jacks, and in the safety of the cubicle I took off my shirt and frantically whacked the shite out of it off the walls to kill anything that might be crawling about inside it. The Belfast lad was still terrified when I came back, scanning the floor and checking his clothes and asking everyone at the bar had they seen thon wasp anywhere hye?

Yep. I hate wasps. I've only been stung once, when I was experimenting as a child and trapped a few of them in a tin can and shook it a lot to hear them pinging about like nutters and making angry noises inside. Of course one of them got out and neatly reversed his arse on to my hand and wiggled his nasty little payload in before I knew what was happening. Ouch. It all swelled up and I was arthritic for a whole day. Now, I'd almost crash the car or fumigate an entire house if I so much as hear one in the vicinity, and I get so over zealous about it I'd try to swat one on a window with a frying pan.

I'm not into killing things in general, but let's face it, wasps are utterly, utterly pointless as insects. They lack the aesthetic of the butterfly or ladybird, the pest-killing ability of the humble spider and aren't as funny-sounding as Daddy Long Legs. Wasps, in fact, do fuck all except make irritating noises and hang around bins craving sugar, and then they randomly inject their arses into you for the hell of it.

Apparently they're more afraid of us than we are of them, but I dunno.

Oh yeah, and there was a band called WASP and it was supposed to stand for "We Are Sexual Perverts." Nuff said.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009

McDanger reforms!

Well why not? Everyone's reforming. If it's good enough for The Spice Girls, Boyzone and Take That, then it's good enough for me. They're all at it these days. It is truly the age of the reformation my friends, get on board or get left behind. Don't mind Oasis like - sure, they've flipped the logic and have split up, but it's just so they can wait a few years and then reform; having lived the dying dream and witnessed the public outpouring at their own funeral as it were, they can then bask in the glow of a triumphal return.

So yeah, fuck it. I'm getting back together too. Truth is, I should never have split up really. I just thought I needed a break, recharge the batteries. I wanted to take time out to enjoy my garden, watch my kids grow and all that but after four months away I realised this was foolish, principally because I don't actually have a garden, or kids either. I tried watching the neighbours' instead but they reported me, which was a bit of a hair-trigger reaction on their part although in hindsight, it was two in the afternoon and I had forgotten to put on any trousers.

But I digress. Yes, I've decided to make a comeback. It's time to dust down my outrageous old outfits, the lurid wigs and lyrca one-piece and just get back out there. I've had a tingle in my fingertips for weeks now, you know - a bloggy feelin', came oe'r me stealing, if you will.
I guess I knew it was really time when I overheard two women talking in a cafe about some big business mogul friend of theirs who had made it big in plastics or something. They didn't say his name but I was sitting there praying and hoping and praying and just dying for them to say his name was Willie, just so I could grin at the person I was eating with and wonder aloud did they know him locally as 'Big Plastic Willy'.  Round their parts, like.

This type of stupidity was very familiar to me, like an old friend. Old dormant synapses started to spark again. I started wondering about the blog regulars. I bumped into one on a night out, he spoke about being out drinking with some bloggy pals. I suddenly missed it all. I realised it had been too long. I resolved to fire up the blog-mobile and take her back on the road. I'll know where I'm taking this when I get there sort of thing.  

Well, sigh, ok, I'll level with you. I haven't reappeared like this, just so I can make comedy allusions to possible dildo magnates. (Although this will be a central plank of the strategy going forward, rest assured). The real reason why? Well it always comes down to money doesn't it? Yep. I need the cash. You see, I've joined the ranks of the unemployed - sort of voluntarily in the end, as it turned out, although at the least they could have cried and formed a human barricade at the door or something, the bastards - so I'm now at a loose end. And there's nowhere better for my loose end than the internet, I always say.

Now I haven't been idling for the sake of idleness. During my time away from this crazy heady stage, I've been keeping busy. Immediately after a helter-skelter summer's work (my last as it would turn out, oh woe oh woe...) I pitched myself headlong into an intensive four-week course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language and having just completed it, I am now thinking global in terms of the workplace. The course completely disassembled everything I thought I always knew but had merely forgotten about my first language, and although I put it back together again fairly well, I have that uneasy feeling I get after manfully replacing the battery in my watch (all on my own!) and yet still have a few perplexing spare parts left over. Two of which are, rather ironically, batteries. Seriously though, there's bits of grammar and relative pronouns lurking in corners all over the place, but nevertheless my management and I are giving serious consideration to a year-long tour of Asia, possibly Korea.

We both feel that I need to branch out and break new markets. Korea's got Seoul and looks as likely and as blithely unsuspecting a place as any, but China, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan are also in the running. Heck, anywhere that's not Ireland stands a good chance of having me indoctrinate their youth with my own particular brand of English. I'm being that choosy. Sure it'll be a bit of craic like.

Besides, I want to go somewhere where I can write a more interesting class of blog. Anyone who still checks this page deserves that at the very least.