Thank you for not breathing

We’re under attack from an aggressive downpour of orders to be quiet from the folk behind. Precision missiles narrowly miss our ears before ricocheting off Natalie Portman’s breathy Jackie to land on their intended target. She’s not a day under 80, alone; with an accent so rooted in the Gaeltacht, I fear for the state of her Vs. Her hearing can’t be much younger since she retaliates with a decade of God Blesses before thanking the caller profusely. She hangs up just as Jackie knocks back another wodka, as she would probably say herself. There is no contest between Jackie’s manicured vowels and the life-soaked North Western afternoon chorus of God sanctioned greetings. But we only paid to hear one of them, which entitles the rest of us to an elevated sense of rage as we pneumatically chop down on our popcorn. Equal opportunity rage, mind. Right on, right on.



Monday musings about the option to live childfree

A consistently great writer poses some essential questions we don’t hear asked often enough

Different Shores

A great post by Jess at My Path To Mommyhood really made me think today.

She talks in part about the kind of comments you receive when you’ve been trying to build a family for a long time without success. In terms of sensitivity levels, discussing options with someone in this position is as volatile a minefield as offering well-meaning advice to someone with a terminal illness. There’s a good reason the Internet is full of Top Ten Things not to say to people struggling to have children.

But living childfree is the one option that no platitude-bearer or advice-giver dares to mention, even if it’s clear that the person is suffering mentally and physically, and might be thinking about exiting the rabbit-hole of infertility treatment or quitting the interminable adoption process. I suppose others who are also stuck in limbo want to project their own fears and longings onto you and can’t countenance someone else…

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In response to intractable listlessness: A request for lists for the great list of lists

Dedicated to listophile and all round daycint spud, Tric over at My Thoughts On a Page 

So far I have..

Things I’d like to be able to do if ability was not a barrier

Things I’d like to able to do if suspension of disbelief was possible

Things I think I can do reasonably OK

People whose citizenship I’d revoke for being so annoying (in my town)

2017 transgressions I committed that increases my changes of going to hell

Ireland’s sacred cows part 33

Inanimate objects I am rather hostile towards

Things on which I experience only intense indifference about

Songs that scared the shite out of me as a nipper and still do

Words that make me wince

Desert Island swear words

All suggestions welcome. Nay, implored. No, actually, essential.

Thank you (and you also down the back). You’re both lovely.

Combating poverty by the fada

Originally posted in July 2014

Anyone half-tuned into news from Ulcer this week may recall an overreaction from (insert one side of the community here) ______________ to (insert other side of community here) ______________ . Time for the Irish Language’s turn on the rotation crop of woes.

Neck veins are bulging over the ‘Bobby Sands Gaeltacht Scholarships’ awarded to two pupils from Twinbrook to enhance their drinking, smoking and snogging skills Irish learning experience with an all-expenses-paid three weeks in the wilds of Donegal.

Not content with politicising the Irish language, and commandeering it for themselves, Unionists are coasting close to apoplexy from this latest audacious move by Sinn Féin to name a bursary after freedom fighter/terrorist, Bobby Sands.

Protection and assertion of cultural heritage is a cornerstone of life and strife in this contested terrain. Sinn Féin has been pursuing an aggressive Irish language policy since The Good Friday Agreement from the introduction of place names to scholarships.

The Bobby Sands Bursary is a joint initiative by Sinn Féin and local business-owners committed to helping children learn the language. Such schemes are replicated across Northern Ireland, often with funding from mainstream social regeneration programmes replenished from the coffers of local tax payers. As a break from the wilds of West Belfast, a chance to flex their social muscles among their peers, and an opportunity to top up on the cupla focail, what harm?

The pages of local newspapers are adorned with photos of students from “disadvantaged communities” beaming on receipt of same. The coverage coated in respectability with local party councillors flanked by school principals and regional education board representatives.

According to Barnardos, one fifth of children in Northern Ireland leave primary school unable to read or write to the required standard while two-fifths leave with poor numeracy skills. Research conducted by The Joseph Rowntree Foundation indicates that one in five people in Northern Ireland is living in poverty. Children on the Free School Meals Scheme are less likely to attain expected levels of educational qualifications. Thirty-four per cent of working age adults are not in employment. While Northern Ireland has high levels of educational attainment at the top end compared with England or Wales, the inequalities among school leavers are stark.

In the last five years, the number of school leavers going into work or training has fallen by around 3,000. But children on free school meals are much more likely to go into work or training than other school leavers. If training and employment opportunities for school leavers are declining, it is poorer children who will lose out most.

Add to this the challenges from the recession, cuts and welfare reform, in a region where the public sector makes up a large chuck of the labour market compared with the UK.

As holders of the Education portfolio, Sinn Féin has a dismal track record and has overseen a succession of cuts. Just last year, Education Minister, John O’Dowd, ordered the closure of the Woodlands Specialised Language Unit in Derry, contradicting the party’s election pledge to combat all cuts. But this is another smooth move in their about-turns with which they are so at ease.

Meanwhile, loyalists, egged on by part-criminal, part-fascist terror gangs, against the background of populist rage whipped up by Unionist parties seeking to maintain control over local councils, continue their flag protests. In many respects, working class loyalists are the biggest losers of The Conflict. They have some of the worst figures in the UK for educational attainment. What do they do about this? Vote for the DUP, a party whose position is to leave the education system that is letting down as it is.

Sinn Féin can name the bursaries after Bobby Sands or Nelson Mandela for all the difference they’re going to make in the greater scheme of educational attainment among “deprived communities”. The DUP can continue to knock themselves out over the irrelevancy of them in the lives and livelihoods of their constituents. That way, both are united in generating the illusion they are actually doing something.

Symptom checker

So, like, even though I ended up weeping uncontrollably at that scene with Elliot and E.T. lying side-by-side saying their good-byes as the science dudes are about to make off with him?

Nah. You’d have done that anyway.

Or when I said I wasn’t hungry and actually meant it?

Probably not, no

Even though I didn’t sneak any sweets up to bed to eat on the sly?


Or the fact I couldn’t move out of bed for an entire two days and woke up at 4am deliriously convinced I was in the house of our childhood neighbour and was just about to get done for suspiciously hanging around their drinks cabinet?


Nothing. But I was exceptionally friendly to your sister when she called round.


And I almost outed us as a Celtic household after spotting some middle-class sneering on Twitter, and was very tempted to defend you despite fearing how judged we would be?

Sure they’re always sneering

But I had to leave that mother stranded and rush in to hide the Celtic Santa before I could let her in last week


Right, well, what about the fact I didn’t once roar at the television during the following:

a) RTE’s displays of patronising public service duty. This time portraying the latest immigrant in Fair City as over-familiar, and duty-bound to be obsequiously lovely to every local he meets irrespective of where the locals come on the spectrum of beige

b) Kathryn Thomas contaminating the Trolls theme tune with her smug evangelical calorie killing kill-joy routine crying out for a toe up the hole from patent ox-blood Dr Martens

And I didn’t try to pretend I wasn’t watching Fair City, or hand you the remote so you could pretend that I pretend I don’t watch it by keeping it on while flicking through teletext.

You sound better now.

I was serious about the sweets y’know

[laughs] I know

So, if it wasn’t the fucking flu then what the hell was it?

I told you. It was just a bad cold.


“It’s just a bad cold, E.T. You’ll be grand. Let me ask these guys for a strepsil”