Being Poor

The other side of ‘parenting’. The one we don’t hear enough about. The one over-shadowed by the ailments of the squeezed middle. The one drowned out by ‘consensus’ thinking. The comments are well worth reading, too.


Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is getting angry at your kids for asking for all the crap they see on TV.

Being poor is having to keep buying $800 cars because they’re what you can afford, and then having the cars break down on you, because there’s not an $800 car in America that’s worth a damn.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends’ houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching…

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Tagging along: A year in blog

A life less extraordinary;  Abortion;  Banksy;  Beards;  BelfastBlogging; Blogging versus massBonoBorgen; BreastfeedingCaitlin MoranCareers;  ChildcareChristmas memoriesChristmas present ideas for bloggersDemi RoussosDrinkingElectric PicnicEscapismExclamation marksFacebook egg-freezingFaith-based educationFarting aroundFamilyFamily lifeFathersFather & daughterFathers DayFeminismFilmFirst loveFish fingers; Friendship40th birthday;  Gay ByrneGender quotasGigs of 2014Going soloHanging up the baby-making bootsHappiness DayHomeHome while awayInternational Women’s DayInventionsIrish erotica;  Irish Times letters page; Jackie-O ShadesJob-huntingJohn Waters;  Katie HopkinsLeaving Cert.;  LifeloggingLondonLove actuary;  Lucinda Creighton; Making a dick of myself in workMangled poetryMarriageMedia; Meet the sheep;   Mental healthMotherhoodMothers DayMusic; Newborn nostalgiaNew Year’s EveNorthern IrelandOne hundred days of blogitude;  OutrageParenting ;  Paul Durcan;  Pert breasts;  Pope FrancisPregnancy & birth;  Protest songsQuiz;  Ray D’arcy;  ReviewsRitualsRose of TraleeSacrilegeSiblingsSmalltalkSpontaneitySummer holidaysSunday Bloody SundayThird birthdayTop 5s;  The AngelasThe dangers of lying downThe GAAThe new meThe stupid shit that goes on in my headTuam babies2014 in retrospect;  2015 (apparently) ;  Voting; Valentines’s DayWedding anniversaryWimminWorkplaceWorst Case Scenario HandbookYawn.

missing cake

Eh, there was no porridge left so I made a bit of a head start on the cake

365 days. 160 blog posts. 1,976 half-heard conversations with my fella. One mighty thanks to you for kindly sticking yer head round the door to humour me and trade the odd bita banter. Champagne for my real friends, as the man says, and Football Special for my blogging friends. Wee Birdie, the vintage black label Irn Bru is on its way to you from a Fr. Ted look-a-like. Apparently there are only three in existence. Rod Stewart has one but no-one is certain about the other.

And as a little gift to meself…

Top 5 reasons to take a wee rest from blogging using song titles

1. A man needs a maid

2. I Killed a Party Again

3. I Wanna Go to Marz

4. Running on empty

5. Comes a time

I couldn’t find any songs with ‘getting rid of the muffin top’ in the title. Leave it with me. I’ll see what I can do and come back and share it with the group.

Meanwhile, in the words of one of the true heroines of the silver screen….

Keep swimming

Dory, Finding Nemo

Essential advice for the next generation from characters played by John Cusack

In random order of importance

“Liking both Marvin Gaye and Art Garfunkel is like supporting both the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

“People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands–literally thousands–of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss. The unhappiest people I know, romantically speaking, are the ones who like pop music the most; and I don’t know whether pop music has caused this unhappiness, but I do know that they’ve been listening to the sad songs longer than they’ve been living the unhappy lives.”

“Now, the making of a good compilation tape is a very subtle art. Many do’s and don’ts. First of all, you ‘re using someone else’s poetry to express how you feel. This is a delicate thing.”

“The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. It takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick it off with a killer to grab attention. Then you gotta take it up a notch. But you don’t want to blow your wad. So then you gotta cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.”

“Jesus. I’m glad I know nothing about psychotherapy, about Jung and Freud and that lot. If I did, I’d probably be extremely frightened by now: the woman who wants to have sex in the place where she used to go for walks with her dead dad is probably very dangerous indeed.”

“If you start out depressed, everything’s kind of a pleasant surprise”

“Books, records, films – these things matter”

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.”

[On choosing a career] “How many of them really know what they want, though? I mean, a lot of them think they have to know, right? But inside they don’t really know, so… I don’t know, but I know that I don’t know.”

[On a similar vein] “Nobody’s looking for a puppeteer in today’s wintry economic climate.”

“There is truth, and there are lies, and art always tells the truth. Even when it’s lying.”

“But the elderly have so much to offer, sir. they’re our link with history.”

“Consider outer space. You know, from the time of the first NASA mission, it was clear that outer space has a clear effect on the human psyche. Why, during the first Gemini mission, thought was actually given to sending up a man and a woman… together. A cosmic ‘Adam and Eve,’ if you will. Bound together by fate, situated on the most powerful rocket yet known to man. It’s giant thrusters blasting them into the dark void, as they hurtle towards their final destination: the gushing wellspring of life itself.”

“What the hell’s wrong with being stupid once in awhile? Does everything you do always have to be sensible? Haven’t you ever thrown water balloons off a roof? When you were a little kid didn’t you ever sprinkle Ivory flakes on the living room floor ’cause you wanted to make it snow in July? Didn’t you ever get really shitfaced and maybe make a complete fool of yourself and still have an excellent time?”

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by observing its prisoners.”  Dostoyevsky said that… after doin’ a little time. ”

“One little change has a ripple effect and it effects everything else. Like a butterfly floats its wings and Tokyo explodes or there’s a tsunami, in like, you know, somewhere.”

john cusack

Vince wonders if this is a good time to drop in that Dostoyevsky quote. But he’s not sure how to pronounce Dostoyevsky. Neither am I.

Fantasy referenda

“I think we need to dismantle the relationship between Church and State. We can’t have an equal society when the State is funding 90 per cent of schools to indoctrinate their pupils in the Catholic faith. I don’t think Catholicism is compatible with feminism. We need to get the Church out of the school system, but out of our hospitals as well.”

So says feminist writer, Emer O’Toole, in an interview with Anne Sexton in the latest edition of Hot Press on her new book Girls Will Be Girls.  As a succinct statement that’s familiar to most of us but not particularly radical, it works fine. As a basis for a national aspiration informing a future referendum, why not? It works perfectly from where I’m sitting. Well, slightly hunched.


My fantasy doesn’t end there. The referendum takes place in 2016 to coincide with the centenary of the Church’s crossing of the national threshold to all-encompassing power.

But..but.. what about parental choice?

My fantasy doesn’t end there. Campaigners will invoke the original aspiration of a Republic that cherishes all its citizens equally and the fight to safeguard equality of access to education. Including the ‘minority’ of us.

But..but.. what about the census figures?

My fantasy doesn’t end there. Practitioners of the faith will not be banned from continuing to practice that faith. There will be a few possible nixers up for grabs through a Sunday school type initiative, if families are keen on collective instruction. Catholicism won’t be ignored in the classroom. Consideration will be given to its place in the market place of religious ideas and world religions. And confirmation outfits will be positively welcomed during the 6th class coming of age graduation ceremony. All’s not lost.

But..but.. what about the legalities and autonomy of boards of management?

My fantasy doesn’t end there. Irish people are proving themselves to be committed to equality and inclusiveness, so I anticipate consistent commitment to same through vociferous arguments in favour of children having access to education. Equality 2016 has a certain ring to it. I can see blogs and banners festooned with these badges.


“Excuse me, Miss, why is my friend not allowed to come to our school?”


My fantasy doesn’t end there. Emer O’Toole also had something to say about our national whataboutery. “Most people will agree with social justice up to a point, but as soon as it seems that real equality will be achieved, the more right-wing elements will claim you’ve gone too far, that oppressors have become the oppressed.”

But I’ve more faith in Irish people than that. I know we can rely on our Catholic parents and neighbours to do the right thing when the time comes. They will keep their chants going; their voices raised; their protest against the misplaced dominance of clerical authority in focus; their social media campaigns strong.

One fight coming up, many more to go.

Fantasy referenda – feel free to add your own…

Moving pictures


Pre-race nerves


An individual with her own unique stripes, but part of a big herd

away they go

And they’re off (roaring parents: not pictured)

the home straight

Thata girl, giving the Old Man a run for his money

to the finish line

Towards the finish line. (Being hauled in for an EPO test: not pictured)

the spoils

The goodie bag. “Is that it?”

 medal ceremony

“Now then” Oh  wait,we can’t say that anymore

our winner

“I’m not sure if these runners match my tracksuit”


Tinfoil Man attempts to escape his fans

Kerb our enthusiasm

A year ago, pleas for an ice-cream cone would’ve detonated animated warnings giving Hong Kong Phooey a run for his money. Neither of us willing to concede the last word to the other in our game of good cop, deranged cop. “Oh Gawd, ice-cream. It’ll give you a sore nose and head”. “Yeah, ice-cream makes you really sick and you’ll have to go to hospital.”  I paused to deliver a withering sideways glance in response to this tempered statement before gently adding “well, that could happen if you eat too much of it. Like a swimming pool’s worth”. Less condescending usurper of unfiltered reasoning than Pink Panther laid-backness, I felt.

Hong Kong Phooey

Hong Kong Phooey expertly eliminates the deadly 99

This year we prepared to chaperone their first stepping out from the newsagents together, fearful it wouldn’t prevent one of them kamikazeing to the ground. She looked through one of us, then the other, and silently mastered it within seconds. Another marker of her skip towards girlhood that announced itself in the unlikeliest of ways.

The rest of the afternoon yawned out in front us, egging us on to take it as it came now that naps are all but erased from the schedule. Her buggy was jettisoned in favour of swaggering ahead with one hand determinedly in a side-pocket before she turned back to reclaim it for her pair of dinosaurs, but we’re too big to fit in, so she belted in her two toy dinosaurs instead. Complaints that her dress didn’t match her runners were ignored, and though she hasn’t a notion what matching means, I exhaled in grim acceptance that her comprehension of it will roll round soon and we’ll all be fucked then.

Those blinding white teeth definitely didn’t match the smile. And the eyes were way out. One dinosaur politely threatened to eat the other while we awaited our coffees, silently studying an amatuer painting above my head. “Nelson Mandela starring George Clooney”, he finally deadpaned, turning away to hide his smile at cracking me up, knowing I wouldn’t better it. It’s the slight movements that announce his air-punches the loudest. With a pricetag of €200, the artist had got to be joking. Perhaps that was the point. In which case, give me the pallette and brushes, and I’ll give you Chris deBurgh, starring Enya. Or, more likely, a Lada. An early prototype, anyway.

American tourists lined the tables opposite. Retired mostly, wearing appropriate attire for the scorcher of a day that was in it. One woman studied a landscape painting over her shoulder by peering over glasses perched on the bridge of her nose. Not unlike my Geography teacher whenever I attempted to explain why I hadn’t my homework done. One of those intimidating moves she used to pull along with marching a girl off to head office with a note delivering some urgent news (“Fancy a pint after? This lot are doing my head in”).

I imagined our neighbours were on the big retirement holiday, having taken an ice-pick to that golden egg they’d been squirreling over a life-time of toil. Like any thoughts on the lives of others, they turned back towards mine. I momentarily tried to work out how many more years I’ll need to punch the clock before I bow out to mount the proverbial VW camper. But I tripped over words like pension and plans and grazed both knees of my dreams. “You have a pensionable job!”, I finally blurted. What I meant to say next was that I’ll catch up with him if he wants to bugger off to France, but it came out like “ah I’ll probably die first anyway.” He just smiled like he’d been bemusedly reading my thought-bubbles, and brought my anxiety to a close with the trusty reliable statement of denial: “We’ll be graaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand.”

C’mon, man. What’s keeping you?, I wondered as the pair of us hovered on the kerb out front at the foot of the steps leading up to the cafe. Diddly-di music wafted through the streets, pumped across the square from one of the few surviving relics from pre-recession times – the independent music shop. They’ve had to survive somehow. I resisted the urge to peer in the window over the invisible specs on the bridge of my nose for fear of being confronted with Daniel’s big face, or worse still – Enya (cowers), or maybe that was actually Chris. Arrgghh.

I looked down to see her tapping her foot in tune to the music before quickly scanning the nearby loiterers to clock who she was copying. No-one. She was, of course, doing her own thing. There was nothing else for it but to take her lead and join in.