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Dreadful Nonsense

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

29 July 2003
Today finds me at my last temping position… thank the tiny lord baby Jesus who is up above smiling benignly and slightly patronisingly down upon me. Yesterday and today - but, and this is the important part, not tomorrow - I have been working in an estate agents a mere hop, skip and jump away from the city centre. It's been a pleasure, you can just imagine, but the only thing that got me out of bed (besides the veritable panic attack that was induced by the words "It's coming up to half past eight") was the fact that today is the last day working in an office that I will be doing until September.

Temping is all right, which I've had to explain every blinking Monday for the past three months. That's one of the biggest problems with temping, in fact, or at least one of the biggest irritants - the fact that you have the same conversations all the time with people. Other secretaries want to know where you've worked and if you know so-and-so. Partners want to know where you've worked and if their firm is as good as the rest of them. All I want to know is where to make a cup of tea and if I can skive off for a smoke. Oh, and the password to get on to the internet, if that's not too much trouble.

The Festival is now well and truly upon us, in that Susan is now in town and that can mean only one thing - very late nights. Last night I managed quite well to get home by 12.30am, but even so I feel like crap today. It's been officially confirmed by my liver that I'm not going to be able to drink at all this year, which should make for some kind of interesting social experiment, because I've never been around so many drinking people for such an extended length of time and not been a drinking person myself. I've also been given my first deadline of the Festival, and fully intend to have written eight reviews by late Friday night. But that's probably in the same way that I fully intended to have my OU essay done by last weekend (still haven't finished reading the first chapter).

And now, because someone told me last night that he thought the Friday Fives were funny, here is a belated Friday Five:

1. If your life were a movie, what would the title be?
"Who's Got The Crack?" I'd've preferred "Good Morning Vietnam" but apparently that's already taken.

2. What songs would be on the soundtrack?
Well, the title song is already sorted - that's due to my clever naming technique of stealing the title of a Moldy Peaches song and pretending that I thought of it myself. I think the whole film will then have to be "inspired by" that song, or at least "based on an idea by Moldy Peaches" so that I can get away with having that song as the title song. Which, naturally, means that I will now have to start living my life according to what is set down in the lyrics.

I'd also like "Bright Eyes" and "The Final Countdown" on the soundtrack.

3. Would it be a live-action film or animated? Why?
Oh, it'd have to be live-action. All grainy. And slightly hysterically colour-treated, like Amelie. With a pointlessly melodramatic soundtrack. No explosions, because they bore me. No car chases. Some gratuitous nudity on behalf of Colin Farrell. In fact, I've a feeling Farrell may spend a lot of the movie in a state of undress. That should help liven it up considering, because if it is really based on my life, there's going to be a lot of scenes where the main characters sit in complete silence in offices reading Popbitch and sending pithy emails to each other.

4. Casting: who would play you, members of your family, friends, etc?
I'd be played by Jessica Stevenson, but only on the assumption that she can do a decent Irish accent. My Dad will be played by Colm Meaney and my mother (although she won't thank me for this) by Brenda Fricker. Everyone else will be played by bit-part actors from Ballykissangel and The Commitments, except for Susan, who will be played by someone from EastEnders. If you have any suggestions on who should play you in "Who's Got The Crack?" email me at the address to the left.

5. Describe the movie preview/trailer.
Do I have to do all the work for you?

20 July 2003
For the last week I've been reading a book called Join Me by Danny Wallace, someone who inspired me to start trying to be the comedy hack writer I'm still trying to be. He's also Patron Saint of Comedy Lounge, which we explained to him last year when we interviewed him. He seemed pleased. But he's probably very good at seeming pleased while being privately very frightened indeed. There is even some graffitti of both us and Danny (and his friend Dave Gorman) on the back of a toilet door in the men's toilets of a pub in central London. Don't ask me how I know that.

Anyway. As I was saying. Last year, he got a bit bored, and so accidentally started a collective. Remember that point - it's not a cult, it's a collective. The Karma Army endeavour to do random acts of kindess every Friday - now titled Good Fridays - for strangers the length and breadth of wherever it is that they live. It's a beautiful idea. It's a wonderful idea. It's something that needs to be grasped with both hands. Tony the Blair has written to say what a good idea he thinks it is, and lord knows he'll be needing some random kindness in the next few weeks.

So. Go to the website Join Me and join. It's very simple. And it's very important that you do.

Please. Join.

18 July 2003
Look! It's Friday already! No internet at work this week, and, shocking, work at work this week. So blogging has been a bit sporadic at best. Parents currently on plane on way home from South Africa. Swimming With Penguins never happened, although they did get attacked by an angry giraffe while on safari.

Friday Five now, while drunk and watching Nush get evicted. Yay.

1. When was the last time you cheated?
When someone says "cheat" I immediately think of exams, so probably in my exams in college. Chances are. I can't remember any specific episodes, other than during my Leaving Cert, I wrote key words, dates or theorems (depending on the exam) underneath my massive watch. Cheating is not big or clever, but it's usually the easier option. Cheat away, I say.

Relationship wise, I've never cheated. Just thought I should clarify.

2. When was the last time you stole?
Um... well... probably a couple of weeks ago. Shut up. Not saying anything else. Stealing is evil and wrong, and a cheap thrill and not at all sensible.

3. When was the last time you lied?
Just now.

I do lie a bit, but usually only to spare other people's feelings, or to hide my own.

4. When was the last time you broke or vandalized another's property?
Never. Never intentionally, anyway. I would never vandalize anything, that's just plain cruel and wrong. If something belongs to someone else, you should treat it with great respect. Especially library books. Or any books at all.

5. When was the last time you hurt a loved one?
God, I don't know. I hope it was a long time ago. I hope they've forgiven me. That's another thing I wouldn't do intentionally.

Lordy. Boring answers when I'm drunk. This would have been a great questionnaire if I'd been bored at work. Sorry peeps.

Now I must go glory in the wonder of Nush being ousted.

15 July 2003
Swimming With Penguins continues despite all your protesting:

This message from last night -

20:55:30
Stayin da most amaz place 2 nit.On side of river.Lots of exot birds.Own lodge wit fire.Drinks by bedside.Dinner on our own served 2 us.Bed made up an shery on r

And then this morning -

09:59:34
We are off whale hunting and dad is c sick already we dont sail 4 an hour

13:56:55
Back on shore after 2 hour trip 2 c whales 5, seals 2k dolphins 100s! Now eating lunch watching dolphins surf!

14:44:22
Now nearly 4 sun set at 5.17 so not much day left going 2 c cave drawings

(So obviously the times featured are when I received the messages, rather than when they sent them)

14 July 2003
Swimming with Penguins update -


09:28:11

We ar on our way 2 did u c any 2 day.Really honestly


Translation: It's a running joke from my childhood - Dad would come in from work and (for a reason that I'm sure has a great explanation but that has been lost to me through the mists of time) he'd inexplicably ask me if I'd seen any today. 'Any' meaning elephants. Usually I hadn't.


13:44:29

Saw 7 touched 3.Sue stood in elo poo .Lots of phots.Fed dem fruit


I asked them to send me a baby elephant home. Dogs are so yesterday.


13:51:30

I did.Weighs 3.5 tons. Think of kesh shit an multiply by 100.Put dat on your carpet


Quite, quite charming.

12 July 2003
Two Swimming with Penguins messages this morning. Although apparently they're looking for a name change:

09:05:31 -
"Spect beach out front.Think of swim until man told me about 3000 seal on island dat i c which is suround by great white sharks.Seal is dare diet.Da dont eat man"

11:47:03 -
"Had my swim .No sharks.Sue did look out.Water tem same as 40ft.On road again"

11 July 2003
One more message from my parents:
"Termite mounds 6ft high.Looking out at indian ocean from hl window.Drove 400ml tru farmlands. Average size of fields 5000 acres .Saw cape point whar 2 ocea met"

Continuing the ever popular Swimming With Penguins section of the blog, written entirely in my Dad's text messages as he and my mother travel around South Africa, I have just received this update:

"Done 400 ml drive acros da amazing hills an wideopen farms.So big da fields had no fences an went 2 da horizon.Saw blue crane ostrich baboon egrit meercat term"

That's one heck of an animal, right there.

Rip It To Pieces! To Pieces I said Day!

You've finished Atonement by Ian McEwan and found it to be quite enjoyable, often moving. Now rip it to pieces! To pieces I said! I said to pieces!

When you're finished ripping Atonement by Ian McEwan to pieces, phone friends to tell them that you've just finished Atonement by Ian McEwan amd found it to be quite enjoyable, often moving.

If a friend says, "I loved that book!" Say, "Mm," and hang up so you can call another friend. If a friend says, "Hey, you think I could borrow it?" Say, "No." If your friend says, "Why not?" Say, "Because I ripped it to pieces! To pieces I said! I said to pieces!"

Happy Rip It To Pieces! To Pieces I said Day!


Girls Are Pretty: a blog that gives you daily instructions on what to do.

And just as I was despairing of my life, as suicide seems now the only option following the monumentally boring morning I've had, I've found an extra chapter of You Shall Know Our Velocity on line. Did you know about this? Then why didn't you tell me, goddammit? Am thrilled, and will spend afternoon reading it. Hoorah for Dave Eggers. He has saved me, and will be immortalised in my life by having a small dog named after him.

"I was expecting straw and children in dressing gowns with tea towels on their heads. It was all very disorientating." On Good Friday in 2002, Jeremy Hardy went to Bethlehem with film maker Leila Sansour to make a documentary about the International Solidarity Movement. On Easter Monday, the group that he was peacefully marching with were the first to sustain bullet wounds. The film has just gained a national release. Jeremy Hardy v The Israeli Army opens across the UK next Friday. The publicity starts today. Read all of this -

- 11.07.03: Independent interview with Hardy
- 15.04.03: Guardian article by Hardy
- June 2003: Press reviews from the original release
- International Solidarity Movement volunteer journals.




10 July 2003
Swimming with penguins update:
My Mum has just texted me to let me know that the penguin swim didn't go according to plan: "the waves were 2 big as was the fence around beach. Did make Cape of good Hope and met 4 wild ostriches!"
My Mum can text a heck of a lot better than my Dad.

Note to self - visit this site the moment you get home.

So bored. Surfing now. This is what I've found:

- Blogstop: blog in which each sentence is made up of the acronym of the last word in the previous post. The rules state that the posts are supposed to make sense. But they don't.
- Loop Di Loop: A funny, short, concise blog written by someone who is probably also funny, short and concise. But I wouldn't swear on that.
- Dublin comedy listings: As it's a day of the week, I'm starting to panic that my decision to move back home is a bad one. This brings me great comfort.
- fruits from hell: Seriously. This can't be real.
- Irish Animals: I've decided to go window shopping for my doggie that I'm getting when I move home.

Those dog stories are making me cry. This is what I imagine Eggers looks like -





And, in case you're in need of a bit of incredibly depressing reading, why not try this interview with Tony Slattery from last weekend's Observer. It really makes me want to cry.

Despite feeling like death wrapped up in a blanket last night, I decided to keep my promise to myself and my cousin, and headed down to the monthly night of Walkout Wednesday at The Stand. Walkout is a night whose aim is to offend as many people in the audience as possible - I guess the ultimate aim would be to get the entire audience to walk out in disgust. Really, though, what tends to happen is that the comedians just end up pissing people off and irritating them rather than downright offending them. It still, really weirdly, makes for quite an entertaining night, so long as you're not caught in the cross fire.

The compere was needlessly offensive to everyone in the audience, but diplomatically so - he made sure that every single person in the audience was picked out for the same treatment. He was quite nice to us though, I'm not sure why, as we sat with our feet up on the stools in front of us and arms crossed so solidly that we couldn't have been more defensive.

Another act (I'm not going to use their names, because I don't want any of this being reproduced as a genuine review. It's not. It's just that I'm bored and trying to kill time before lunch) came on and, having made a valiant attempt to do some of his usual routine, went off on a complete rant about a new comedy award he had been in the semi-finals of, and the fact that it was rigged, that the judges didn't know what they were doing, and that the compere - a telly comedian - was completely crap. All of which is actually (and probably verifiably) true. It was great. And the self-indulgent nature of the night meant that the only people in the room to understand what he was on about were the other comedians, my cousin and me.

Low-light of the night - you think it can't sink any lower, and then on comes this man - was someone standing up on stage, wearing a kitchen roll on his finger, with a bar of soap strapped to his hand, talking endlessly about his cleaning obsession that runs past obsessive compulsive and straight in to the arms of psychotic. The best/worst moment came when, having accosted one of the other performers and vowed to give him a bath, he then stood stock still while his poor stooge tried to ask surreptitiously what was supposed to be happening next. After fifteen incredibly long seconds, some music kicked in, and he continued like nothing had happened. Three people in the audience, including me, were at that stage weeping helplessly. Everyone else was physically exuding hatred.

Another act, rather than running through his already-quite-offensive-to-Christians act, instead talked the audience through the act, commenting at intervals why we would have found it funny if he had delivered it in his normal manner. This approach threw him just as much as us, and in the end he had to keep asking for prompts from his friend sitting at the back (who later came on stage and drank bleach).

Having been to see so much comedy in my time, and with a month of at least five hours every day of comedy looming towards me like a big scary uncle, last night was a brilliant release. I love the fact that it’s all so half-arsed, that it’s deliberately offensive, but merely in a childish manner, that they don’t actually give a crap for just once, and that everyone can saw what they like when they like. I wish other comedy clubs would be as brave as The Stand are for putting on and supporting this big pile of self-indulgent, pointless nonsense.

08 July 2003
Just got a text message from my Dad, who is in Capetown, letting me know that he's going to be swimming with the penguins on Thursday. (Do the South African Mafia use that as a threat?)

I love my Dad's text messages. I shall transcribe it exactly, in his unique style -

"On a shopping trip.Try out a gold ring 18ct.180eur.Weather good.Back on 19.Th.Goin 2 swim wit penguins thur.Thousans of dem on a beach.Den 9 days d"

07 July 2003
I've had to abandon my previous email address, due to too many offers of sex, penis extensions, pornography and free fire arms. And, of course, there was also the spam.

So I can now be reached at 'shazzle at cluas dot com', cluas being the Irish word for 'ear'. The email is based on an Irish music site. That makes sense. I'm trying to think of the word for 'eye' now, but can only think of the word for nose. I'm sure there's a site somewhere that'll give me more grammar than that. Maybe I should start re-learning Irish. It comes in very handy on holiday.

I've had to make a new resolution, following that shameful splurging in the shops on Friday. I'm not going to spend money on anything at all that's unnecessary, so that basically means anything that I like or want or get any kind of pleasure from. Other than cigarettes. Obviously taking an Open Univeristy degree, writing for a newspaper and a website, keeping this daft nonsense and working five days a week isn't enough to keep me out of trouble, so on Friday I joined COMMUTERLAND, which is an open blog charting the daily journey to and from work. As far as I can gather, the other participants are both in London. Me and another girl called Sharon (what are the chances, eh?) have just joined, and therefore are vying to be the best Sharon, leaving the other one to inevitably skulk off in shame at being the second best Sharon. [NB - that might just be my take on it]. My journeys to and from work are wholly unremarkable as a rule, so this should be fun.

In other news, they gave me work to do here this morning. This afternoon, they tried to give me more work to do, but I explained to them that what they were asking me to do was both inpractacle and also stupid, so they've backed off a bit. I'm wearing my new runners as well, because I'm that kind of a maverick that refuses to be tied down by rules and uniforms. And also - and this is true - my runners are the same colour as my bubble gum.

04 July 2003
In keeping with my thrifty approach to saving money and generally being close to very broke in the run up to the Festival, I bought two pairs of shoes this lunchtime, because I was bored and it was too sunny outside. Hee. Shoes.


I am wearing these ones right now, even though they clash with everything else I'm wearing. They're not very comfortable.



I got the blue version of these ones, not the pink ones. My new favourite colour is light blue, apparently.

"Then director Ken Loach had a brainwave - if it was impossible to find a real ginger man to operate the puppet Emu, why not try a real live emu that could carry on its back a fake puppet of Rod Hull!"

TV Dregs, on the surface another TV listings parody / do-you-remember spoof, is actually simply brilliant. And also has the added bonus of the aphrodisiac-style vocal talents of Peter Seraphinowicz. And is written by Ashley Blaker and Paul Putner, who between them have produced and appeared on everything that's ever been any good on telly. So it's quite highly recommended.

1. What were your favourite childhood stories?
We were always encouraged to read Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl books when we were young, so obviously I really like those books. Especially The Faraway Tree books, the ones where, if you climb up to the top of the tree and walk in to the cloud, you’ll find a new world. I haven’t read them since I was about seven, and I don’t think I want to, because my memory of them is still quite vivid. I’m sure there’s all sorts of rudeness in them, and hidden text and meaning, and probably some great homoeroticism, as there seems to be in all of Blyton’s books. And I’m not even going to pass comment on the fact that two of the children are called “Fanny” and “Dick”.

This site is dedicated to that book, and obviously run by someone who is refusing to give in to the call of adulthood.

My favourite book of all time is The Children Who Lived In A Barn, which was originally published (I’ve just found out) in 1938 and written by Eleanor Graham. It’s about five siblings whose parents are lost in a plane crash. They’re evicted from their home, and forced to go and – you may have seen this coming – live in a barn. The fascinating thing about the book is the fact that all the adults are so incredibly uncaring about their plight, and the children have to band together and battle to make sure they are not split apart by the dreaded District Visitor. Although, I think the extra appeal of the book lay in the intricate and indepth detail that the author put in to describing each and every household chore that the oldest girl Sue (age 13) had to do every day to keep the barn hygienic. Oh, and cooking in the hay box. Everyone who ever reads the book will remember cooking in the hay box.


2. What books from your childhood would you like to share with [your] children?
I’d force them to read Swallows and Amazons and I am David and every book that Robert Westall and Margaret Mahy wrote. And after that I’d let them go ahead and find authors for themselves. While encouraging them to read Harry Potter, obviously.


3. Have you re-read any of those childhood stories and been surprised by anything?
I avoid re-reading books that I’ve got a really strong memories about, because I don’t really want to destroy them. But actually now I’ve got thinking about it again I’d like to read the old Barn story. And I’ve found a beautiful book shop that I might buy it from.


4. How old were you when you first learned to read?
I was two. My mother had just had premature twins, my brother had had a major operation on both his feet and was in a wheelchair, and I was in a corner happily reading. Apparently I taught myself. This is what happens when you neglect your children. Think on that, and learn from it.

5. Do you remember the first 'grown-up' book you read? How old were you?
We smuggled the – in reflection, truly awful – Judy Blume books in to the house because we weren’t allowed to read them, due to the adult nature of some of the content. But to be honest, I didn’t understand most of what she was talking about.

I read all the John Wyndham books at quite an early age, and then started trying to collect all the original editions in their lovely orange Penguin paper backs. I’ve got some really battered copies at home, because from the age of about 13 I couldn’t bear to leave any in a book shop. I’ve got over that now, but they’re still really great books. Never really moved on from that in terms of science fiction, that particular genre has never held my attention for very long.

03 July 2003
When I got home last night I accidentally finished reading the latest Harry Potter book by accidentally sitting and reading for two and a half hours. It's that kind of book. I'm slightly disappointed with the ending - or, more specifically, with the last 20 pages, because they don't reveal anything more than we already knew, and the central story isn't advanced one single jot from where we were when we started the book. However, all that said, I've still spent the morning discussing it with my other 26-year-old friends who have just finished reading this children's book, and would like to point anyone who is interested in too much in-depth information to this site, The Harry Potter Lexicon, which has far too much on it. Don't go near it if you're still reading the book though, it contains tons of spoilers.