Old dog, old tricks, old post

Lately, I’ve been thinking about some things I used to do before Becoming a Parent™. I was first instructed to apply myself to this task by members of The Chorus of Doom during my pregnancy. Grave warnings were issued about how life would never be the same, and sacrifices would inevitably be made. True. I can’t say I enjoy the same relentless self-obsessing without interruption these days, but nor do I miss having to explain what I’m doing with my life. Others assume an explanation since our one arrived. The relief. I have parenting to fall back on while I figure it out; usually in a state of high anxiety over whether I should be world dictator on a full or part-time basis. Lean in *glances furtively around* can I excuse myself from this one? I’d rather chew my own elbows off than endure another meeting where everyone talks in their weird telephone voice, and gesticulates in ways that interferes with their own peripheral vision.

Nowadays, the aforementioned parentatti can be heard cheerfully reminding rookies what’s “all ahead” of them in that self-satisfied tone that suggests it never occurred to the naïve couple that their midget drunk will grow up and demand more things to meet their ever expanding basic needs. Seriously? Did you hear that, Dad? (yes, I’ve been known to call my fella that – it’s all ahead of you). Well, if I’d known. One day they might even use the expression ‘Jesus Christ!’ in a situation appropriate way. Like when they can’t get their own pants down while clamouring on to the potty. And this is something to worry about apparently. Pass me the manual. It says here it won’t last forever. Did you hear that, Dad? How do you fancy pulling an all-nighter first Friday in 2028?

‘Before’ is a broad term however. And for me, it increasingly has less to do with getting up off a chair unaided, or watching just one more episode of a box-set at three in the morning (hey, I’ve lived) than jumping off piers. That’s right. I’ve regressed for the umpteenth time in my parenthood. It was a relief to know I can still revert to ten-year old behaviour round the family Christmas Dinner table, and remain suspicious of adults talking to me like I’m one of them. But this is unprecedented. I haven’t leaped off a pier since my teens.

pier

Quick! the parentatti are coming

Not only do I want to sprint down one and fling myself knees-up overboard, I want to travel there by bike and abandon that bike on a mountain of others. I want to lay flat a digital watch on the ledge before leaping. And forget to bring a towel. Then I want us all to commandeer the road back home in a bird flight formation.

Really, I just want to live retro in a day directed by Steven Spielberg. Where walkie talkies are the height of sophisticated telecommunications, the encyclopaedia is our Google of the day, and there’s a soundtrack for when things get really exciting or tense. I’d like some ominous sounding synths as I approach my Boss’s office. And I wouldn’t half mind getting drunk by proxy through a two-foot creature waddling around our kitchen helping itself to beers from the fridge. I’ve heard that’s all ahead of us anyway. Jane said it happened with all hers but not to worry, it was just a phase.

Ireland blog awards – celebrating the best of Irish writing?

Awards. I can take them or leave them. Except when it comes to Ryan Gosling being over-looked for a gong for Blue Valentine, which I will always contend was a gross miscarriage of justice.

So, blogging awards shouldn’t really give me jip, especially when I harbour fairly low expectations of my own, which have predictably been borne out by a dwindling readership. I’m reasonably comfortable with being an acquired taste. I can take me or leave me much of the time, too.

But when it comes to organisers of blog awards casually taking or leaving large swathes of bloggers while hogging lofty straplines, it tends to get on my tits.

A quick peer through the history of the Irish Blog Awards shows an evolution of a peer-led rough ‘n’ ready collective cheer-lead into the slick PR company extravaganza it is today. It should be within the fabric of any modern movement to periodically re-invent itself. The corresponding lament for resulting casualties is inevitable, as are the rapid chalk-ups of same to behavior of the strictly churlish and curmudgeonly. The net is buoyed up on simple binary formulae.

Which makes it difficult to call out the insidious dominance of the ‘lifestyle’ ‘category’ as the enemy of good writing. For the second year running, the ‘personal’ category has been jettisoned in favour of this apparently convenient catch-all. Only the catch-all relies heavily on catching as many products as possible: dining, fashion, make-up, cooking. Preferably with photos. The quality of writing appears to be an afterthought, if considered at all. Less in sync with the values of writing than those of glossy publishing and ‘industry experts’. Commonly caught up in their dedication to Selling to The Consumer.

If this reads as an attack on lifestyle blogging, I apologise. It’s not meant as one. Or a suggestion that lifestyle blogging is incompatible with good writing. But rather an unapologetic two-fingers up to the casual and unquestioned flicking aside of bloggers that fail to fit the category however broad the catch-all appears. And the unsubtle expansion of personal blogging into personal PR, an extension of the catalogue industry. Where the anonymous are the creeping social media pariah, the writing scope of females stereotyped to a laughable degree, and blokes don’t stand a chance.

Squeezed from consideration are those who shy away from documenting their forays into personal tastes and tidbits; who care less for current trends and aesthetics than treading thoughts on all manner of topics too thinly spread to qualify them comfortably in other categories. Of the half dozen blogs that spring to mind, none would be eligible for the category criteria. Yet they contain some of the best of Irish writing I have the good fortune to click on. Substance over style. In my opinionated opinion. Perhaps it’s a problem of taste. Or more likely – the taste-makers.

Ireland Blog Awards – ignoring some of the best of Irish Writing.

In neutral

Saturday morning. An authoritative knock at the door. I don’t bother opening my eyes but considerately, if reluctantly, take a moment to assess its forcefulness. On the scale of urgency it’s somewhere between a car-blocking incident, and an exasperated delivery-person giving up grappling with a stubborn envelope. Whoever it is, they’re too impatient to await my plan of inaction so swiftly move next door to keep the rhythm going. Violet’s chirpy greeting is soon punctured by a monotone male. Or Violence, as I prefer to call her, on account of her overbearing inoffensiveness.

My curiosity yawning now, I make for the window just as her door shuts. A PSNI officer flees the driveway. Shit. (I preferred it when they were the RUC. Reluctant, Unwilling & Contrary – name that film).

On the scale of catastrophe, reason gauges this approximately somewhere between finding my fella collapsed on the park-run circuit (I feared it all along), and an offer of a witness protection programme after my decision to throw a vote at one of the local Unionists was rumbled (I feared it all along). In a way, I’m relieved my dirty secret is finally out.

Earlier that morning…

“A Chara, he was the only candidate who supports same-sex marriage and is pro-choice. See? Only a pretend Unionist. With a font size 2 U. Oh no, please, not the kneecaps. They’re my best feature” *bolts upright in cold sweat from nightmare*

So I knock on the window fully intending to comply. He looks up, shakes his head disappointingly before consulting his watch.

“What sorta time do you call this to be in bed?”

It’s 9:45am. This is nothing, pal. But I’m wearing pajamas with a family of sparkly rabbits on the front so it’s no time to willingly participate in sadistic interrogation without my lawyer present, who for I all know was found collapsed on the park run circuit moments earlier.

“Small child. You know yerself”. Thankfully the 53-month old is at her relos. I don’t know where I got the giggle from. Possibly Barbara Windsor circa her Carry On days.

The relief on learning the woman three doors down had her car robbed overnight is immense. Yay. My fella’s still alive.

“Some time after one this morning”

“Oh that’s dreadful”, I reply in slightly Violence-esque tones.

“They broke into the house and got the keys”

“Oh no”

It’s impossible to feel anything but pity for the plight of our neighbour. But discussing it with a police officer through an upstairs bedroom window with upside-down hair and sparkly rabbit pajamas isn’t usually my thing.

So I do that thing that one shouldn’t ever do when one is feeling comprised. I relax.

“That happened my brother last year”

I can tell he’s wondering what this has to do with anything. Time to crank it up a gear.

“Down South”

He backs away slowly.

“And guess what? When he replaced the car, they came back and did it again. How mad was that?”

He returns to his watch.

“Well, thanks for your time. If you hear or see anything suspicious you can call the station”

He momentarily looks at my car, declining the opportunity to issue a reminder to keep it locked. We both suspect if anyone bothered to rob it, they’d probably leave it back shortly afterwards.

How Prince Charles helped normalise Anglo Irish relations

Prince Charles’s visit to Donegal earlier is being hailed as a significant moment in the long process of normalisation in Anglo-Irish relations. Up until today, the only royalty of world renown who managed to visit the north west was Sara Jessica Parker, Mick Hucknall, and Meryl Streep.

After a century of UK embargoes on travel, work, and sanctions on sexual relations between the two nations, the Prince opened a new era in the history of these islands. And he proclaimed it not with a speech or a grand political gesture. He did it by graciously donning the local traditional costume – a Manchester United jersey.

prince charlesman u

Charles yesterday                            Charles lines up for 5-a-side         

His choice of a red and white ensemble (his staff called it ‘crimson and ivory ’) was as demonstrative a gesture as the late Pope kissing the tarmac.

It was underlined by another colossal gesture soon afterwards as the future King (by now in taupe) took to the podium and greeted the crowds in their own language. “Hello”, he announced smiling, drawing audible gasps of admiration at his flawless pronunciation. Mickey Joe Boyle, President of Donegal Tidy Towns Association, who was standing beside the Prince, turned to the crowd open-mouthed, exclaiming “wow”.

While distant jeers could be heard from a small group of protesters in Arsenal jerseys, by far the most significant sound was that of a twin-cam engine giving her dixie in the distance.

Everyone appeared to be full of praise for the address, which was delivered in front of dignitaries from both sides of the Donegal border, including the King of Tory, Patsy Dan, Members of the Donegal Association of Bridge Players, religious leaders including Dana and Bibi Baskin, the Nobel laureate Daniel O’Donnell, and various members of the extended Blaney family. They gave Prince Charles and Camilla rapturous applause and a standing ovation.

patsy dan

The King of Tory lines up for 5-a-side

Some Sinn Féin politicians claimed “ta bron orainn” – and found themselves roundly attacked for failing to speak in a language local people could understand.

The Royal visit continues tomorrow with the party expected to sample the local delicacies of Lough Derg.

charles and camilla

Charles and Camilla have difficulty understanding the local Sinn Fein Councillor

If I was your girlfriend

Would you remember to tell me all the things you forget now I’m your wife?

If I was your best friend, would you let me take care of you and do only the things that only a best friend can?

If I was your girlfriend, would you let me dress you? I mean help you pick off the bits of fluff before we go out? Sometimes those are the things that being in love’s about.

If I was your one and only friend, would you run with me if somebody asked you even if that someone was me? Sometimes I hallucinate on notions of doing a 5k

If I was your girlfriend…

Would you let me pull out your ear hairs?  Could I make you not do the dishes all the time? Well then, could we let them drip dry? I mean, could we just hit play and lie on the sofa together? Cause to me, baby, that would be so fine

Baby, can I dress you? I mean help move you along so we can actually get out? Listen, man, I ain’t sayin it’s deafness but sometimes those are the things that being in love’s about

Is it really necessary for me to leave the heat off just because you wanna get pneumonia? We don’t have to leave the country to have a holiday. We don’t have to have a holiday to get stressed.  Our savings is what I’m about…

Would I stop singing in this weird voice and callin you baby? Of course. For you, I would be quiet. Well, I’d try..

If I was your girlfriend…oops. Sorry, baby.

Did ye get heeled?

Word has reached the dungeon that Price Waterhouse Cooper sent a receptionist home for not wearing the requisite heels on the job. It was only a matter of one phone-call from a lazy radio show researcher before Minister for PR, Terry Prone, was forced to take cover under a cloud of smug from where she instructed us all on the etiquette ways of the workplace.

To summarise:

Flat-shoed + make-up free = disrespectful

Heeled-up + make-up wearing  = respectful

As a crude argument, it was highly impressive.

Sharp intakes of breath ensued across Ireland FM with the rapid reaction force launching sexist-seeking missiles towards nonsensical arguments that fail to support the double-standards women are forced to endure.

To summarise:

PwC policy + Terry Prone defence = pile of sexist shit.

As a sophisticated feminist argument against sexist practices, it was a hard one to challenge.

As an example of the corporate world’s ugly self-regard, the incident was another glaring one that mystifyingly managed to evade attack.

heels

Sheila wasn’t sure if her heels had made her unsteady

or if it was just the feeling of power going to her head