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Dreadful Nonsense

"I've read your blog. it's really funny. you should write a column." - Jon Ronson

31 January 2003

Following on from the Swan Debacle (as it’s now known), I didn’t think that anything else could go wrong. But obviously fate does not like to be mocked. In our book, The Inadvertent Twin, myself and Eoin chose to illustrate fate as a mischievous cat, leading the innocent down the rocky road to darkness and despair, all the while giving the illusion of choice while in reality directing the poor innocuous ones to doom. And then fate itself, in the final chapter of the book, was of course destroyed by a huge… but I’m telling you too much. The Inadvertent Twin will be available in all good book shops from Monday.

Anyway. Fate is leading us all on a merry dance today. First there was the swans. Then, my maid Petula forgot to record Classic Coronation Street for Eoin from UK Gold and all was hellish - there were tears, tantrums, actual fist fights, and Eoin got to see none of them. We dissolved some Valium into his lunchtime whisky chaser, and he seems much happier now, watching the Changing Rooms marathon on one of those god-forsaken channels. Actually, I think he’s drooling slightly. I must get Petula to clean that up.

Anyway, again. After we got the swans cancelled (the main course will now be beansprouts and mashed potatoes served with glasses of milk), the decorators called. Apparently there was a mix up with the delivery of the decorations for our event and the decorations for some event being held by the Passive Necrophilia Society. All of the decorations delivered to London turn out to be cadavers.

I will have to spend the remains (no pun intended) of the day sorting this out. Eoin, bless him, is blissfully unaware. I just hope nothing more goes wrong. My nerves are already shot.


I’ve just had the caterers on the phone. Something’s gone terribly wrong.

What we’ve decided to do, having two launch parties happening at the same time, is have two completely identical events in both London and Dublin – well, it saves on confusion, and also shouldn’t disorientate Eoin too much as he’s moved from one to the other (we have decided that it would probably be best if he’s sedated during the journeys, as he tends to get over excited, and that way he may not even realise he’s in another place. Also, it’s a condition of his bail).

What was chose in the end were the themes of innocence – this being a children’s book after all – and fairy tale. For some reason, everything is going to be white – the decorations, the flowers, the sculptures and the food. Eoin, as he likes things that fly, declared that he wanted swans at the party, and although we briefly explored the idea of having a lake with the birds swimming around in the middle of the room, we were advised that having live animals would cost too much in insurance, and also that swans are dangerous. So instead we talked him down to swan ice sculptures, which are not nearly so much trouble, and can be easily replaced if he has one of his temper tantrums and attacks their heads.

Somehow, someone went wrong while filling in the catering order, and rather than writing “swan” in the box marked “Shape of ice sculpture” they wrote it in the box marked “Main course”.

30 January 2003

Well, gosh.

What with one thing and another (namely my back problems, but also Eoin’s brief incarceration at Her Majesty’s Pleasure… actually, who takes pleasure when you’re locked up in Belgium for trying to smuggle a suspicious package across the border? The package, you’ll all know from the Irish Times coverage, contained nothing more than some bars of hand-made soap, a packet of cheap cigarillos and three blind (and dead) mice. While waiting in custody to hear the final test results on the mice, Eoin made the unfortunate mistake of threatening one of the Belgian police with vague notions of higher powers, to which the district attorney (or whatever the equivalent is there) took great exception. Thankfully, that whole episode is behind us now, and Eoin has returned to living in my garden shed, emerging only occasionally to rap on my sitting room window and ask what’s happening in Coronation Street)…

That’s too many words inside brackets to be able to continue a sentence sensibly. What with one thing and another (see above), the book launch has been rescheduled to happen this weekend, with events taking place in both Dublin and London – the plan is that myself and Eoin will attend both parties, swapping in between the events like tag-team wrestlers and woo-ing the book reviewing public with our wit, talent, and free narcotics. At least, that’s the plan. Our publisher assures us – or rather assures me since Eoin is no longer interested in meeting people that don’t live outside the fictional ITV village of Weatherfield – that this a great idea, launching the book on both sides of the radioactive sea at the same time, and hopefully catching the eye of the American market. I am personally quite worried at the prospect of unleashing the world on Eoin, let along unleashing Eoin on the world, but I’m not in PR, and therefore can’t quite think along the same lines as them. And for that, I thank the good Lord every day.

26 January 2003

Over the last three weeks, I’ve spent most of the time complaining about various different things, but the main rephrase, the recurring theme was – obviously – the pain in my back. Even I find that last entry, on Tuesday, bloody depressing to read. So, in the spirit of the advice from my doctor, I am going to stop looking for a “magic wand” and just get on with everything, with only the occasional reminder to anyone who is walking past that I do still have serious pain in my lower back.

The doctor, along with ignoring the message from my physiotherapist and dismissing everything I said to him as the continual moaning of a hypochondriac, also took the opportunity to touch me up while doing a physical examination, and I’ve discovered that – like most people – when you’re in a situation of vulnerability and something slightly surreal, out of norm, or extremely inappropriate happens, your brain just jumps a loop and you ignore what’s happening until after the event.

Anyway. So the point of this posting was supposed to be that I’m going to carry on with normal life from now on, despite the fact that nothing has changed. I even went out this weekend. Yay me. Apparently alcohol helps me to socialise and also relax. So all I need to get through the full working day is about 5 pints and an unlimited supply of cigarettes. Do you reckon I could get my lovely GP to sign me off on that?

I’m going to have to report him, I know. But it’s a scary thing to think about, particularly considering that my referral to a musculo-skeletal specialist depends on this one indecent, ignorant, obnoxious and downright loathsome little man.

23 January 2003


Sung to the tune of “If you're happy and you know it…”


If you cannot find Osama, bomb Iraq.
If the markets are a drama, bomb Iraq.
If the terrorists are frisky,
Pakistan is looking shifty,
North Korea is too risky,
Bomb Iraq.

If we have no allies with us, bomb Iraq.
If we think someone has dissed us, bomb Iraq.
So to hell with the inspections,
Let's look tough for the elections,
Close your mind and take directions,
Bomb Iraq.

It's "pre-emptive non-aggression", bomb Iraq.
Let's prevent this mass destruction, bomb Iraq.
They've got weapons we can't see,
And that's good enough for me
'Cos it's all the proof I need
Bomb Iraq.

If you never were elected, bomb Iraq.
If your mood is quite dejected, bomb Iraq.
If you think Saddam's gone mad,
With the weapons that he had,
And he tried to kill your dad),
Bomb Iraq.

If your corporate fraud is growin', bomb Iraq.
If your ties to it are showin', bomb Iraq.
If your politics are sleazy,
And hiding that ain't easy,
And your manhood's getting queasy,
Bomb Iraq.

Fall in line and follow orders, bomb Iraq.
For our might knows not our borders, bomb Iraq.
Disagree? We'll call it treason,
Let's make war not love this season,
Even if we have no reason,
Bomb Iraq.

21 January 2003

I’m back at work two days. Both days, I’ve sworn I’m leaving after lunch, and when I get home, I’ve sworn I’m not going back the next day. But I think I’m still going to go in tomorrow, despite the fact that the pain in my back is steadily getting worse. My right foot is going numb. Every time I stand up it takes me longer to stand up straight. I can audibly hear my back – right up to the base of my neck – click back in to place. Touching the small of my back feels like it’s heavily bruised. I can’t sleep properly. I certainly can’t walk properly. I’m starting to lean over to the right all the time. I can’t concentrate on a single conversation or follow through a simple task. And when I called my GP to get an “emergency” appointment, they can’t see me until Thursday.

I can’t decide what to do. If I call in to work sick again, there’s a fair chance they’ll hold it against me when I ask for holidays off – I’ve already been refused a place on the first aid training course because it will take me away from the office for three days at the end of February. I’ve already bought two sets of tickets to see David Gray in Belgium and Holland. I can’t not go on this trip – it’ll break my heart.

If I don’t go back to the doctor I’ll have to trundle on the same as I have been. I’m afraid it’ll get worse. I’m afraid I’ve been misdiagnosed. I’ve never been x-rayed for my condition, and I’m afraid it’s something worse. I should just present myself at A&E and demand more attention. I should go to my GP and demand an appointment. I should really try to prioritise properly.

I can’t decide what to do.


Irish anti-war community
Stop the War Coalition
Stop World War 3
Stop The War Home
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
Justice Not Vengeance
Anti War Writing
This Modern World
American anti-war community
Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases


Things to do today:

1. Send Christopher Reeve a birthday card.

2. Register your opposition to the war with a tabloid newspaper.

3. Go and see a comedian make fun of George Bush Jnr.

4. Visit the Breast Cancer site.

5. Wish Susan Turnbull a Happy Birthday.

16 January 2003

I had no idea. I knew, of course that Edinburgh is the "Athens of the North", but I didn't know that Leith (where I live) is the "Covent Garden of the North". And now I do. How lovely. I can't see it myself.


Making plans. It's a great idea. Although Edel did point out that going to the hairdresser in my current condition would probably just be the easiest way to get stabbed in the neck when my back goes in to spasm. I'll have to go back to work looking like a scarecrow instead.

I got 10 Monkees videos in the post today. That really cheered me up. And me and Edel got up this morning at 9am and watched a video in an attempt to get me back in to a normal sleeping pattern.

I talked to my physio today about going back to work - she said I should probably go back to the doctor's before I go, but since I couldn't get an appointment with my normal GP (and could only get one with the horrible man who was, thinking about it, quite inappropriate when he last visited with some of his language and comments) I've decided I'd better go back in. Just to see how it goes. I'm really looking forward to it.

15 January 2003

Okay, okay. Enough of the self pity. It's very hard, when stuck in the house by yourself (save for a small jack russell who is slightly frightened of me after all the crying I've been doing) all day, with nothing and no one to keep you company, other than Columbo, to not sink into some kind of introspective funk, where nothing looks good, there's absolutely no hope, and listening to Turin Brakes and Ben & Jason all day adds nothing to the mix. And that sentence is far too long.

But no more. I have today applied for a new job. My favourite thing to tell other people is the fact that I have never failed to get any job I've ever applied for, once I get to the interview stage. So I've already decided I've got this one, although I'm totally over qualified. I'm still all achy and cranky and not really able to go anywhere or do anything productive, but damn it all. This is no way to start a new year.

So. Even though it might really hurt, I'm going to get my hair cut. I'm going to dye my hair a nice bright colour. I might even manage to buy some new clothes before the pain gets too much, and generally I'm going to try to cheer myself up through retail therapy, before facing the fresh hell of returning to my stinking nine to five next Monday morning.

(Note - I've tried this approach already this week. I've bought a DVD player (£148.00) and ten DVDs (£90) this week in an attempt to drag myself out of my pit of doom. It hasn't worked. Now I'm depressed that I've got no money in the bank.)

10 January 2003

Can't go to the arsing party. Am sulking. Hate everyone. Am bored.

09 January 2003

Now that I've discovered sitting up again, I thought I'd share with you what exactly it is I've got wrong with me this week - it's sciatica and is described here with great detail and also some nifty little pictures like the one below. It's nerve number one, the big yellow one, that I'm having trouble with.




Slowly getting better every day. Today, I solved the Columbo crime before Columbo did, meaning that I am better than a one-eyed fictional detective. With or without the big coat.

Dave Marks, who is one of the "special" men from niCe mUm was kind enough to come up with a sort of solution for my back problem, and a possible way for me to attend the Comedy Lounge party, which is to be happening in just over a week, with or without me.

He has called this a "Wheel-chair", and you can hopefully have a look at Dave’s Invention here. But don't copy it. It's his invention.

(Please note - you'll only be able to see this invention for 72 hours, after which it will be deleted so that I can get down the patent office and make my fortune Dave's invention is safe.)

08 January 2003

Just in time for the New Year, I decided that the best thing to do was to make one of the discs in my spine - those things that stop you from feeling a lot of pain, enable you to walk, stand up, sit or lie down in comfort - slip out of place. As a result, I got to spend my first Hogmany in Edinburgh lying on the floor in the front room listening to the fireworks going off. I stepped outside for the first time this year yesterday. Today is the first time I've been able to sit up for longer than 5 minutes.

Goodness me, though. That's a lot of pain. You haven't felt pain until you've tried to sit up and had sheer sharp agony travel very rapidly from the base of your spine right up to the middle of your skull. Two different doctors came over to the house - one of them commented that our flat was "disgusting" (I think he was referring to the fact that it hadn't been hoovered for a while) - and they both gave me strong painkillers and also lovely, yummy, tasty valium. I've spent the time watching Columbo, and thanks to the valium, I've not been able to work out the ending until Columbo explains it.

I've got two weeks off work, which is about the only advantage I can see in this whole debacle. Hopefully, in the next week, I'll start to be able to crack on with my Open University studies, and maybe even manage to get down to London to attend the party that we've been planning to hold for the last 4 months. Or I might just stay up here and sulk.

How was your new year?