Own goal

It’s that time of year again. The annual pilgrimage to the sold-out Springsteen shows. Relax. It’s just the sun giving me jip and making  me mix up my religious rituals as the summers fade into one another. I mean graveyard mass, of course. Then there’s the monster raving Ulsterman cracking open the apoplexy, as is tradition. Or Joe Brolly, for short. Bruce and Joe. Imagine them trading birth places, if you will. Joey and Wee Brucie.

Not a porch door for any of Brucie’s average-looking women to slam. Maybe a broken lift to curse, or the person who was born in a hospital with swinging doors who left one wide open. Meanwhile, Joey’s giving it Red Sox knocking himself out commentating on the baseball league with Patty Spillane. Awesome.

There’s really not a whole lot that separates these two men from their traded places in terms of the people that inspire and drive them. It’s just that Jersey skylines go better with the universal theme of disenchantment and broken blue collar dreams than Tesco car-parks and doughnut tracks from twincams. Baseball is the unifying game that helps them forget about life for a while. Sort of like The GAA. Or the Grab All Association. Or the what’s-the-point and the anachronistic eye-rolls scornfully mocking the parochial game. Or its failure to compare with the beautiful game. Delete as you see appropriate.

It’s that time of year again. When the city/rural divisions rear their jerseys online,  and the self-regarding antipathy breaks out on messageboards like a prickly heat rash. I’m no devotee, or apologist for The GAA. No sport has claimed to be the panacea for all societal ills, except maybe democracy. But it takes a certain blinkered snobbery to wilfully ignore the unifying power the GAA has in carrying communities through good and bad.

One of the more heartening developments in recent years has been the emergence of rugby as a more reachable sport for all the nation. Men and women getting stuck in on the great debate throughout the country (“O’Gara’s better looking” “No BO’D is”).

Plenty of sporting enthusiasts love both, some play both. Even so, it’s past time the minority of whingers paused the eyeroll and threw out the stale sweat smelling questions on the point of it all. Go listen to Badlands. It’s about living in Leitrim. Except it’s not, but it is. And Carlow. And Donegal. And Armagh. And Louth. And Tipperary. And even Dublin. Where the game breathes energy into connections between folk, and helps them forget about life for a while.

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The dingo took my baby

My car has broken down

I ran out of petrol

I’m locked in the house and can’t find a key for the windows

I’ve lost my car key

My child-minder is sick

I was visiting my parents who like to economise on basic needs and got frost bite

I got sun stroke

It’s a personal matter

It’s too embarrassing

Women’s problems

*crams dry cream cracker into mouth* Really sore throat

(4pm) I’ve just realised it’s Monday, I thought it was Sunday

Sorry I’m four hours late, I thought today was a bank holiday

I fell asleep on the bus and ended up in Cavan bus station overnight

I won last minute tickets for Glastonbury

Sorry I’m a bit late, traffic’s shit.

 

They’re so disarming, darling

One of the countless comedy gold moments in Tom Berninger’s ‘Mistaken For Strangers’  arises during the director’s interview with Bryce Dessner. The lead guitarist, and one fifth of indie music messiahs, The National, bristles at the line of questioning. “I thought you wanted to talk about me but it seems you just want to talk about Matt. That tends to happen a lot”.

Matt is lead singer with the band. As Tom’s older brother, he charitably invites him along on the world tour bus for a year to preside over essential duties like fetching towels and assembling the daily wish list of goodies on the rider. All of which he undertakes with spectacular incompetency.

The feckless and disarmingly charming Tom has other ideas. Including having a good time in stereotypically rawk star fashion while honing his amateur filmmaking skills. Assembled from 200 hours of handheld camera footage,  Tom’s approach is less fly-on-the-wall than irritating mosquito-round-the-ear the band and crew just about endure until he’s batted off the bus.

Like Dessner, I, too, was expecting a reverent behind-the-scenes portrait of a band floating on the milky way of hard fought success. Those moments arrive, often hilariously, but quickly become the trampoline on which the Berningers bounce reflections on their lives and dreams. As individuals in pursuit of creative purpose. As men who have been in combat with the demons of self-doubt and failure. As one perpetually sizing up the other. But mainly as brothers. Their overlaps and differences are threaded together through the eyes of each, and others. As is the tenderness and good-humoured affection that has them reclining in deckchairs shooting the breeze with beer. Counting their winnings from luck,  and from making the film we’re watching them in. Possibly the best leg-up from a big brother to a younger towards that elusive sense of achievement.

A gem. Not just for music-lovers and those who love an exquisite use of a New Order song in film. Currently showing at The Light House.

Things I can’t believe don’t exist (Part One)

1.The Rock-A-Bye Baby™. An electronic rocking frame type thingiemejig for a Moses basket to slot into. The ad men are falling down here. I’ve even given them a brand name. Get me the patent office, Morag.

2.Personalised nappies. lf people are willing to root through shelves of Coke to get to a bottle with Aoife on the label, they’ll do it for nappies. Well, I probably would.

3.Doorbells with answer machines. OK, perhaps not. Would’ve been useful in the pre-mobile days all the same. Damn.

4.Split screen domestic TV. One half World Cup, one half Fair City. Like the pizza occasionally shared in front of the box that one half of the couple is slightly huffing about because they got the smaller half. Well, I probably do.

5.Silent Lawnmowers. Like with those silencers for a gun currently aimed at the noisy ones.

Top 5 ways I regularly make a tit of myself

1. Waiting for the gates to lift after shoving the parking ticket in the machine. Then copping I forgot to pay it, with a Rizla paper sized space between my bumper and the next. There is no obligation for those queuing to show any tolerance or understanding of this outrageous act of civil disobedience. To prove this, I will release their collective thought bubble by loudly proclaiming to all within earshot my status as a numpty and a half. I might add gestures depending on the demographic. Gentle sideway head pleads for the older generation; a regular pistol to my head for the rest. Older and younger people – you are united in not finding any of these theatrics helpful or amusing. Concentrate on what you have in common, not what divides you.

2. Being introduced to someone new in work and casually enquiring “what do you do yourself then?” so I can make the correct prejudicial judgement and a mental note to avoid them in future. “I’m the Chief Executive” “I’m God” “I’m Jesus” “I’m Elvis” “I make Reese’s peanut butter cups”. Inevitably, all the big fromages I should be genuflecting before rather than having the impertinence to address them verbally or initiate eye contact.

My boss is usually in the wings wearing her thought bubble on her rolled-up sleeve (“Numpty”). First cousin to this awkward moment is the over-enthusiastic response to any hint of the boss being absent or out-of-reach. It’s a throwback to my younger days and the thrill of the parents going away. Twenty odd years and 200 miles later, a wave of giddiness still comes over me when I hear they’re going away for the night; even though I’m not actually there. This week’s classic… Boss: “This will be my last week here” Me: “Whaaaaaaaaat??” In that over-exuberant the-water-pipes-have-burst-there’s-no-school-today kinda what. “Eh I’m just moving to a different office”. Insert your own tumbleweed here.

3. People are so fucking cruel where I work, not one of them had the decency to point out that I ran the risk of exhibiting a dodgy drug habit with the remnants of face cream hovering round my nostril area. We Mothers Are So Busy™ sometimes we don’t notice. Thanks people. You’re the best. I’m not telling yiz there’s no toilet paper left. I didn’t realise. Honestly™.

4. Turn to the person next to you and try chatting to them with your hand vaguely covering your mouth and shuffle backwards gradually. This is how to behave when you’ve bumped into someone you haven’t seen in ages while convinced your breath stinks. I don’t want to think about what their thought bubble contained.

5. Because I wasn’t arsed reading up on the non-must-haves for newborns, I overlooked a few items. After three weeks watching re-runs of One Born Every Minute and bragging about my heroic stoicism compared to the screaming wimps featured, the inevitable emergency came (we had run out of cheese and pate). An outing was inevitable.

Landing at the deli-counter I bumped in my Mother-in-Law who looks down at the buggy and asks where the child is. She’s here, says I, lifting back 25 assorted blankets. Think princess and the pea. The baby being the pea. A foot muff arrived by Amazon super swift post the following morning courtesy of Grandma. I’m usually wearing 25 assorted blankets of one sort or another any time we randomly collide. It’s not that she’s not a decent spud, my Ma In-Law, it’s just that most times we have an unscheduled meeting, I inspire her to think…numpty

June 2024

Aisling thinks I’m over-reacting about this morning. It’s the first day of teen camp a bunch of us parents started up last year. A hybrid of the CLP (child led play group) concept that become popular in recent years, and the political camp model traditional in Scandinavia. You can follow our blog on http://www.genderisasocialfuckingconstructok?.com (We’d appreciate a nomination in this year’s blog awards by the way – under the feminist section. You know the drill). Aisling’s real name is Kate but we all go by our daughters’ names.

We had to do something. There was nothing. I mean fuck all. Unless you count the Be the Bigger Person camps run by the GAA. But they tackle obesity primarily and my wee one would NEVER meet the BMI threshold for that. Or that Cut From the Same Cloisters mob. A camp that combines faith and fashion for those boys and girls pre-teen young people with an interest in going onto the priesthood. Credit to Mary McAleese for that one. The infamous Bonkersgate affair started with Cardinal McAleese slagging off the men of Rome for having the audacity to meddle in family affairs when none of them had (officially, anyway) changed a nappy in their puff.  Fearful that the Ordinary Decent People in the church would eventually realise it’s all bonkers, Francis upped the trendification a gear and declared weemen could join the ‘hood. Which was a relief to Leitrim that hadn’t had a priest in five years, and to the thousands of parents who can’t afford third level fees. The riots in Knock were less than becoming. The nuns took it particularly bad. That Reeling in the Years boxset is worth getting for 2019 alone.

I was just email harrassing saying to Caitlin Moran the other day that she should take some credit since she was the first to revolutionise contemporary feminism with a very simple theory. Her insistance on good manners helped usher in the Third Wave. Thanks to Caitlin, blokes have reigned in their randy mitts and are more likely to be heard politely complimenting women on their tits than imploring them to get ’em out for the lads. We’ve come a long way, sisters fellow adult women.

As our patron, Caitlin was due to come along today and read from her new book. Unfortunately we couldn’t cover her appearance fee and the offer of a teenage led massage, and a take-home pair of docs from the do-up your own docs workshop, failed to compensate. Pity. How to build a Reconstructed Social Construct is a seminal work that further advances the Third Wave agenda. I should know because I stampeded into the breach and read the opening chapter to the group earlier. For instance, having a deep love for the complete works of Abba is not incompatible with being a heterosexual male, while women can adopt their husband’s surname and STILL be a feminist and champion of equal rights. Who knew, girls young women? I asked authoritatively, my right hand in a perfect prize-winning Mary Robinson Claw™.

mary robinson

Sometimes it’s a challenge to look out at a sea of adolescent indifference. We had a few minutes to spare before the initiation ceremony when they colour a grey streak in each others hairs in pairs, so I thought I’d notch it up a gear. I explained that when I was born, my mother was legally prevented from returning to work due to the marriage bar in force at the time. Sure enough, this got them going. Mentally claw-punching the air, I could see the exchange of horrified looks, hear the sharp intakes of breath. And then, almost in unison, they shrieked.. “You’re that old?” My one erupted into tears before fleeing the scene.

Aisling said I should’ve taken it as a compliment before adding “but seriously, are you, like?”

Image: United Nations

Has anyone seen the counter-culture anywhere?

Anyone?

Sorry, what was that? Where did I see it last?

Erm….let me think…mmmmm

Ah!

Miriam O’Callaghan and David McWilliams had it. Again.

I suppose I should look there.

Well, whadaya know.

Give it back you cosy-consensus peddling fuckers. Our anti-establishment forefathersandmothers didn’t rebel for ‘debate’ to permanently end up in the lap of the establishment.

Don’t you be getting all angsty now, Fintan.