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Dreadful Nonsense

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

30 December 2004
Hello!

I had many plans for my one last post of 2004, but they all went by the wayside when my mother decided to move about everything in the house, including everything in the computer room. I have 15 minutes now, in which to download every photo I've taken today (a LOT of photos - I was bored) and upload them all again. Can't be bothered.

Instead, myself and Bobby would like to wish you a very very happy new year, whatever you choose to do with it. Here is a self portrait we tried to take earlier. Bobby is very squirmy.

lots of love

Shazzle
xxxxx




28 December 2004
Yesterday, because we are ladies of leisure who found ourselves at loose ends, myself and Dee decided a good idea would be to travel into town. I'm not sure why we decided that. I can't see how it would be a good idea for many reasons, the least of which being I don't have any money and traipsing around town looking at things I can't afford even at reduced prices, while being trampled to death by raging ladies too depressed following another disappointing Christmas to care about politeness or dignity filled me with dread. But because Dee demanded an alternative suggestion, and I couldn't think of one, I found myself on the bus into town wondering how exactly this had happened, and swearing that we wouldn't be staying in town for long.

That was my first mistake.

Halfway through my journey, Dee rang to say that she was running a bit late, and would be about 20 minutes behind me, and suggested I rang Mrs Bishop, who was already in town with her Future Husband. Dee said quite reasonably that I could bide my time with them until she arrived, and I agreed that this indeed was a reasonable suggestion.

That was my second mistake.

Mrs Bishop, you see, and her good Future Husband were in a pub. Where they serve alcohol. They were partaking of the alcohol, and this was only 3.30pm in the afternoon for goodness sake, Christmas time or no Christmas time. I hung about for a bit, and then at about 3.32pm gave in and had a tiny sip of drink, because Dee would be arriving soon and then we'd be braving of the shopping and the alcohol would be behind me, much like Satan.

That was my third mistake.

Come 9pm and I'm calling JC to see if he wants to join us. Mrs Bishop's Future Husband had wisely skipped off hours ago, leaving myself, Mrs B and Dee to our own devices, propping up a pub in Temple Bar. We were very enthusiastically chatted up by some boys from Croydon who insisted on not hearing any of the regular mentions we all made loudly and clearly to BOYFRIENDS, but they did eventually bugger off when JC turned up.

Skip forward to 11pm and I'm trying to insist that getting the last bus is the only sensible option. Mrs B says that there are night buses, and sure why don't I stay for one more, we'll all be leaving together in half an hour and all will be well.

That was my fourth mistake.

Skip forward again to 2am. Dee had wisely left at midnight, and was already safely tucked up in bed. He Who Only Reads This Blog To See If He's Mentioned rang a couple of hours ago, and got a full earful of my drunken state, while I dribbled on about New Years Eve and boys from Croydon and how cold Dublin is, while Mrs B and JC ranted and raved in the background, kindly repeating many of the dribbling pieces of nonsense I'd been coming out with for most of this evening. Snow Patrol is playing loudly in the pub I'm in, and myself and Mrs B are boring everyone around us by telling each other loudly how wonderful it is to be in love. JC gives up and goes home. We get one more for the road.

That was my fifth mistake.

3.30am in the morning. Dublin city centre has suddenly closed for business, leaving hundreds of us stranded, without a single clue as to what to do next. The night buses don't seem to be running. There isn't a taxi, or even a mere car, to be seen for miles. Every taxi rank in the city has queues of shivering blue people snaking up and down the pavement, all huddled together around the butt of their cigarettes trying to get some warmth. Myself and Mrs B stand in a queue for about 10 minutes drinking cups of tea, and then give up, and make the 40 minute trek back to her house.

This was a wise decision. This was in fact the only wise decision made yesterday.

Woke up this morning feeling Simply Not Right, and I've felt Simply Not Right all day. Even now, with almost 24 hours between me and most of the dreadful mistakes, all is not well. Puppies and coffee help, certainly, but many of my internal organs seem to be demanding compensation for the battles they went through last night, and they're not afraid of all out strike action if they don't get it.

27 December 2004
Ladies and Gents, you haven't yet had the pleasure, but now that my Dad's new digital camera has fallen in to my greedy hands and I've spent the last two days playing with it and screaming loudly and at length if anyone takes it away from me, allow me to introduce the newest member of the clan: Bobby.



This is Bobby, sitting beside his... um... hang on a moment, until I work out their relationship. Kesh is technically Little Sister Edel's dog, making her my doggy-neice. Bobby is technically my Mother's dog, making him my doggy-sibling. That would mean that Bobby is Edel's doggy-sibling and so he would be Kesh's uncle. Even though he's at least 3 years younger than her. It's like something out of EastEnders.

Skipping over that, then. Bobby is the one on the right. Look at his little face! He's a very pretty puppy. He makes up for this by constantly biting everything that wanders past, throwing up on a regular basis only outdone to date by Smudge, eating shoes, toys, table tops, brushes and the ends of your trousers as you try to walk past and generally being hyperactive 23 hours of the day. The other hour he spends collapsed in an adorable bundle that makes you want to pick him up and cuddle him until he can't breathe.


This is me on Christmas Day attempting to do that. He looks understandably terrified, and is looking to my mother for rescue. You'll note that she's doing nothing to stop this dog abuse.

26 December 2004
The day after Christmas means one thing and one thing only round these parts: we must go walking up mountains with a variety of dogs and relatives.

Traditionally, any of the family related to us by blood on my mother's side that are presently residing or even just temporarily located in Dublin take a dander up the Dublin mountains, to vainly try to remove some tiny portion of the mountain of chocolate, cream, whiskey, turkey etc consumed the day before.

This year, we were seriously lacking in relatives with which to walk, but we rustled up a couple of cousins and one cousin-in-law, and the twins saw fit to drag along an honorary relative in the shape of their friend Paul. We donated to the cause two jack russells, although the cousins didn't contribute in terms of dogs. After a mere half an hour of being stuck halfway up a mountain in a ridiculous traffic jam, gridlocked in by a man who refused to back up 2 inches in order to let a stream of cars pass (Paul had great delight in screaming out the window what an "AAAAASSSHOOLE!" this man was, right into the man's curmudgeonly bearded face), we met the cousins and started the walk.

As you can see, it was glorious. Snow all around and views to die for. Bobby thoroughly enjoyed himself, running to and fro, trying to choke himself on the lead and managing to trip up family and strangers alike. I quickly had to hand him over to the care of Little Sister Edel initially, and later to Honorary Relative Paul, because it occurred to me that he could probably lead me screaming to my death. The walk, you'll see, while being very beautiful, was also incredibly treacherous. Ice. Ice everywhere. Ice compacted by a million other Dubliners walking off the meat sweats from the day before's overindulgence.



This is the group shot I took. You can just make out Bobby and Kesh standing beside each other on the left. The rest of the group, Left to Right, are: Little Sister Edel, Little Sister Louise, Cousin-In-Law Stephen, Cousin Clare, Cousin Wendy, Honorary Relative Paul, Me With Camera.

25 December 2004
Merry Christmas!

A list of some things that I got:
- Second series, Podge & Rodge DVD
- Tommy Tiernan Live DVD
- Books and that
- Money
- Angel Calender
- Pygamas
- Soaps and that
- Other things

Things I got by proxy (ie. things my parents got that I will use more than them):
- Jimmy Carr DVD
- Killinaskully DVD
- Digital Camera
- Laptop
- Scanner

I'm well excited. Christmas is about receiving, I've decided.

23 December 2004
There's something extra special about going out and about in a social manner around the Christmas time. It's a little detail that I do forget almost every other time of the year. You tend to begin to take it for granted. It's just there and present and correct. Then at this good, religious holiday time of year, when we're remembering the fact that the Good Lord (who is, of course, fictional) sent down his Only Son (likewise, a fictional creation) to save the rest of us from Hell and Damnation (not really though), it disappears.

That missing quality? The simple ability to walk through a crowded bar without being groped.

I think it's the Office Christmas Party spirit that takes over all gentlemen this time of year. They view it as a sudden free-for-all, and when the spirit moves them, they're determined to be moved by the spirit as much as possible. It's a festive thing. I don't think it's got anything to do with the amount of alcohol being taken. Certainly, more people are out and about in a social manner around this time of year than at any other, and there are more amateur drinkers taking on board more alcohol than they would really otherwise consider wise, but this does not happen on St Patricks Day. This kind of business really only happens at Christmas.

Case in point: Myself and Mrs Bishop were out last night with a collection of other people, both of the lady and the gentleman persuasion. We were standing slightly off to the side from our main group, all the better to have a girly gossip (you know, nail varnish and dolls and boys and tampons, that kind of thing). I was wearing a t-shirt that bears the legend "Disco Queen". This legend, like all legends on t-shirts worn by girls, is written directly across the area you'll also find my lady bumps. I've worn this t-shirt out a lot. This is one of my favourite t-shirts to wear.

A man came up to us, pointed at my lady bumps, and read aloud the legend. He then, without a moment's hesitation, grabbed hold of my lady bumps. This gesture is of course strictly reserved only for my fiancee. I, in no uncertain terms, told him to fuck right off. He did so.

A moment later, another man approached us, and grabbed hold of Mrs Bishop's behind. She leapt, as a lady does in a cartoon, spun around and told him to fuck right off too.

Mere moments later, two more men approached us, and the first man declared it was the second man's birthday, and as a celebration of his life, we must flash our lady bumps at the both of them. We, as one, told them to fuck right off.

We then thought perhaps a good idea would be to move back in to the thick of our group, so as to be protected by the good gentlemanly folk that we had come to see as protectors of our lady virtue.

I swear, that only happens at Christmas.

22 December 2004
I took puppy for a walk last night, the first long, proper walk he's ever been on. We've brought him around the block a few times, usually on a nightly meanders with the other two dogs, but this takes an awful long time thanks to the other two being lame, and puppy viewing the lead as some kind of instrument of torture.

I've never seen a dog react to the lead in quite the way that Bobby does. He must associate it with some very bad things, because when you produce a lead in front of any other dog, they got all excited and jumpy and giddy because it promises all sorts of excitement and adventure. Even Honey manages to do a bit of a dance when she sees the lead come out. But Bobby cringes and lies down on the floor and shows you his tummy and basically begs for mercy when the lead is attached to his collar. Hopefully this association will soon fade, because at the moment it looks like we've spent every day of his life beating him half to death with it.

We decided (we? I decided. Bobby was not involved in the decision making process at all) to walk down to my sisters' house, since they live about 20 minutes away along a well lit road, and since at the end of the walk there would be my sisters to shower him with praise at what a great dog he was, and also Kesh to play with. Bobby, though, is frightened of the following things:

cars
people
buses
loud noises
Christmas lights
other people
other dogs
tree branches
my shadow
his own shadow

In short: everything. The little thing is basically a cowering but manly mess. He faces his fears directly, taking the confrontational approach to fear, and I applaud him for it. This however does mean that every three seconds, while you're trying to build up a stride and pace to the walk, he's stopping, squaring up against the enemy (a leaf, for example), getting the hackles raised and starting his fabulously high pitched and hysterical barking. Every. Three. Seconds. This makes the 20 minute walk to the twin's house last 40 minutes.

Towards the end, when we'd crossed over at a pedestrian crossing (he's scared of the noise they make) and some dogs across the road had started barking, I gave up and picked him up, carrying the quivering bundle the last five minutes until we got to the quieter estate where the twins live. I met D walking the other direction, and she said she knew it could only be me, because who else brings their dog out for a cuddle.

Our puppy, ladies and gentlemen.

21 December 2004
Ah, this flying thing. It's a fecking piece of cheese. It's easy peasy. It's a sinch, people. Who's frightened of flying? Not me, for sures. It's as easy as stepping on to a perfectly fine bit of reinforced steel and placing your life in to the fickle hands of the gods. It's actually just that easy. No hassle. No bother. No way I'd do it without valium.

The thing I still can't quite cope with is the timing of the whole process. The two ways I go are: (1) I turn up at the airport ridiculously early, and then have to hang about looking at things I can't afford, being jostled by other passengers and occasionally getting to stare at a famous for so long that they think I'm probably going to kill them. Or (2) I arrive incredibly late, am rushed through the check in and then have to half walk half jog my way to the OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD where they keep the second class passengers flying to Ireland (as a tribute to the days of the famine ships, I assume), and then barely get the valium in on time before we're boarding and the panic sets in good and proper.

Of course, now that flying is so darned easy for me, I'm no longer in such dire need of the old tablets. That's the theory, anyway. I've not tried it without them. It'd be in interesting, but I think ultimately unrewarding experience. What I'm trying to say here is that the flight home tonight was darned easy, piece of cake, I even slept for a little bit of it, that's how relaxed and in my stride I took it. However, it was accompanied by a good 10mg dose of the old housewife's choice, so really it's got nothing to do with my increased confidence. I'm a slave to the drugs. The drugs make me cool.

Dad picked me up from the air coach, with a glowing plastic snowman perched happily in the passenger seat of his car. My Dad is legendary for his collection of ridiculous Christmas tack, and I arrived home to find the house totally transformed. It's brilliant. We've the most decorated house in the street with: fairy lights in every tree, a string of santas and snowmen across the window, and stickers on the front door. Not the tack fest that you'll get in the colonies, I'll grant you, but it's might OTT for the Blackrock area.

Inside the house, the collection is growing. This year we've a bungee jumping Santa who screams in terror and then giggles "Merry Christmas"; the Santa that blows bubbles; the Santa in a sleigh that sings a never ending irritating song in a heavy American accent; the dancing Christmas tree that puns like no one's business; the Santa hat that suddenly comes alive and starts dancing when you walk past; the reindeer that sings; the secret mat under the welcome mat that wishes you a "Mewwy Kwismass" (it's got a speech impediment) when you step on it; the penguin who skis across the floor; and completely unrelated, a duck that dances.

The puppy is gobsmacked by it all.

20 December 2004
[Backdating this post means that I can write about the party we will be going to tonight, in full and frank knowledge of what will be happening later on this evening, time wise. Blogging is nothing if not slightly confusing, unless you blog yourself, in which case it really isn't.]

Ah, Christmas. A horrific time of year if, like me, you don't enjoy spending money on other people, and absolutely loathe getting dressed up and having to go socialise with people you work with. I've almost completely avoided the latter half of these twin horrors by not having a job for OVER AN ENTIRE YEAR (lord, I don't know how I managed that). But unfortunately, fate had something else in store for me, and without realising what I was letting myself in to, I agreed to attend a social function with He Who Only Reads This Blog To See If He's Mentioned.

I didn't think this through. A couple of weeks back, I started to think this through, and realising I have no lady clothes whatsoever, I had a fashion show round Moo's house, because Moo is a lady and has lady's clothes. We all agreed on one outfit, which involved what I believe is referred to as a halterneck top (meaning shoulders on full display like some kind of Victorian whore). As the night approached, though, I started freaking out, feeling like Eliza Dolittle or Martine McCutcheon, like I wasn't a real lady and everyone would see through the facade.

Are you getting the feeling that I might be a bit mental? Because I am.

Anyhoo. In the end I still wore the pre-appointed top, and all was well, and the party was actually quite the success and not at all what I'd been expecting, and not as scary as I thought it would be, and quite frankly a truly surreal experience.

We were sat at the "comedy table", where all the comedians and their husbands, wives and drunken partners were sat. I was sitting beside a GOD OF COMEDY, a phrase that must be written in capital letters in order that you understand the importance of quite how legendary this comedian is. Kris was kind enough to keep whispering in my ear everything the man had ever done or achieved in his career, so as to make it more difficult for me to make small talk with him about the menu or quality of the wine.

After the dinner was served, eaten and cleared away, though, that's when the fun really started. The mingling began, you see, and all the truly truly famous that had previously been separated from us were suddenly descending in ever increasing numbers. A very famous celebrity chef came over and had a long and sincere conversation about the importance of having the right kind of frying pan, but not before declaring the importance of having the right kind of spliff. Someone else brought up the subject of nits and then regaled us with tales of using his daughter's nit comb to run the conditioner through his downstairs big-boy hair. A third celeb then declared that he's very difficult to buy presents for, but makes up for that by being - these are his exact words - "very good at eating pussy" (and that will bring me all kinds of new readers for the holidays! Hi perverts! Welcome!).

Seriously. It was like sitting through a Popbitch mailout, all being played in real time. Celebrities are very very friendly people after one or ten drinks. I think I spent the vast majority of my time looking slightly stunned. There I was, dressed in Moo's finest, and all around me was smut and debauchery. If only I'd had a camera.

19 December 2004
We inadvertently broke the First Rule of Stoke Newington this afternoon. Walking down Church Street hand in hand, as a couple if you like, it is apparently obligatory - nay, laid down in letter of law - that you should, hetero or otherwise, be accompanied by at least one child (baby or toddler age preferred). If you can't muster up a child, the lady half of every couple must instead be heavily and uncomfortably pregnant.

We did manage to sit next to the Ideal Stoke Newington Couple at lunchtime. They were laden down with the colourful and educational toys and all the flotsam and jetsom that go hand in hand with trying to stall a two year old's tantrums. Child number one was sitting in a high child throwing her food around the cafe and throwing up on her lovely colouring book, sucking on crayons and shouting. The lady was heavily pregnant with child number two and was successfully ignoring every cry for attention that child number one was hurling her way. The gentleman was looking ravaged through sleepless nights and the enforced and constant suppression of anger and exasperation at Turquoise or Fidelma (or whatever godawful name child number one was blessed with)'s inability to sit still while he tried to get just a couple of paragraphs in to the Sunday Supplements.

On a weekday the rules change somewhat. You are allowed unaccompanied on Church Street if you are a gentleman, but only if you are walking very very very quickly, while shouting something completely unintelligible in to a tiny mobile phone. If you are a lady, the child quota seems to be increased to two or three children, preferably one in a buggy, one standing at the back of the buggy shouting and pulling at your haggard hair while you are trying to buy organic wheatfree food.

I just keep my head down and try not to catch anyone's eye, for fear of being knocked up just to comply with the rules.

18 December 2004
I have, it has to be admitted, an unnatural obsession with other people's lives, particularly with the minute and mundane details. Therefore, I absolutely love the winter - more darkness means more lights switched on in front rooms, which means that when I walk down the streets I can see in to the houses of strangers. This becomes even easier in December, when the Christmas decorations are up, and everyone throws aside their right to privacy to display trees and fairy lights. This means you can stare right in to their lives under the guise of admiring their festive spirit.

Standing on the steps of the new residence of He Who Only... and having a sneaky fag, and with a lack of neighbours directly across the road on which to inflict my evil eye, I found myself staring at the drivers of the cars going by. But then one of the cars slowed down, almost to a complete stop, right outside the house, and I had the instinctive, Irish, I-was-brought-up-to-believe-that-everyone-in-London-will-at-any-time-produce-a-gun-and-shoot-you-dead-for-no-reason panic.

The car kept going.

It was only after this had happened two more times with the next two cars that I noticed the speed bump placed right outside the door. So really it was fortunate that I hadn't quite got round to grabbing the flack jacket and sniper rifle I carry with me wherever I go and started firing indiscriminately.

17 December 2004

The fragrant Caoimhe (actually, I've never met her, so she could be really stinky, but I doubt it) pointed out yesterday what a shame it was that most bloggers don't decorate their blogs for Christmas. And she's absolutely correct. In order to try to right this appalling wrong, I've changed the picture on the side so that it now features the two stars of Christmas, Mr Jesus Christ and Mr Santa Claus. I think that redresses the balance somewhat. I might keep changing this over the rest of the month. I might not. I don't know these things for sure. I'm not Nostradamus.

Today, I'm going to London again. So, the obligatory posting of flight details (Ryanair, again, ick) and the obligatory commencement of panic and second thoughts and reflex dives in to phobia all present and correct.

GOING OUT
From Dublin(DUB) to London Stansted(STN)
Fri, 17Dec04 Flight FR226 Depart DUB at 17:00 and arrive STN at 18:10

The adventures of Puppy continue, with a new trick last night of chewing the whole way through his collar. The dog is a genius of Houdini standards, since it's all but impossible to get a collar off. Not sure how he managed it, or if the chewing began before or after the removal of the collar, or if the chewing somehow led towards to the removal, or even if it was intentional, or if he was just bored and looking for trouble, much like any young Irish man of his age and weight. Bless the little demon. He's taken to barking at reflections now, having more or less been persuaded that the television does not need a constant talking to. He seems to think that I'm the boss round here, running to me every time he needs protection, or when he wants something. I bet by the time I get back on Tuesday, he'll have forgotten who I am.

15 December 2004
Through some strange twist of fate, I found myself Christmas shopping today with Little Sister Louise. This is strange for me, because a week ago, I made a declaration to friends and family that I would not be purchasing Christmas presents for people, due to the fact that I'm stony cold broke, and can't afford to spend money on myself, let alone other less worthy people.

But Little Sister Louise had other ideas, and bright and early this morning two over excited and very wide awake jack russells were set upon me in the most undignified of ways, apparently in order to tip me out of the lovely warm cosy bed I was happily curled up in. I managed to persuade one of the jack russells (Kesh) to join me in the land of lovely warm cosy beds, and the other jack russell (Bobby) very quickly got bored and left to go chew something somewhere else. However, Little Sister Louise had other tricks up her sleeves, and eventually I found myself half awake and half dressed, curled up in a ball in the passenger seat driving towards Liffey Valley Shopping Centre for no reason other than the fact that she didn't want to go it alone.

Little Sister Louise hates shopping just as much as I do. Oh, sure, we could spend hours and millions buying things for ourselves - the fun would never end! - but we both go glass-eyed and staring after approximately 5 minutes when faced with a list of people we once called friends but now hate with a passion usually only reserved for co-workers. Presents! It's impossible to buy presents! Who came up with this stupid tradition? If I could spend the amount of money I'm spending on other people on myself, why, I'd have a heck of a lot of Angel on DVD round about now. And that, good people, would make me one happy bunny.

We tramped down through the shops and Little Sister Louise managed to make heavy inroads in to her long, long, long list of people that she knows and loves. Thankfully, I'm not as kind spirited, sociable or generous as Little Sister Louise, and so my list is infinitely shorter than hers. We did keep getting distracted by shoe shops - Little Sister Louise tried on a particularly exquisite pair of boots that cost over ?250 just to have had them on her feet - but when we eventually got to the end of the long line of shops we about turned and treated ourselves to some chocolate based coffee beverages as a reward for a job well done.

Today, bearing in mind that I've got no money at all, I bought:
- Lady make up for me because I am a lady.
- Insoles for my shoes because I am a lady with less than sensible shoes.
- Lady accessories that stops lady clothes falling down (otherwise known as 'tit tape' but sssh, that's not the kind of thing a lady would say).
- Some presents for Little Sister Edel.
- A CD for my cousin to give to someone else, because I am a kind, caring and sharing kind of lady.
- A CD for another cousin to whom I owe so much more than just a lousy CD. This isn't a lousy CD though, so it's okay.

In short - more for me than anyone else.

I also felt it would be appropriate at this juncture to buy some more plane journeys while striking the hot iron and building up my credit card to massively inappropriate levels. It's fun to be in huge, scary, towering debt, kids! Learn from me! Who can spell "repossession"?

14 December 2004
Just in case you missed the mention in the comments below, Puppy has been rechristened "Bobby". This my mother announced on her arrival home yesterday afternoon. Apparently she'd been pondering on it for most of the morning, and decided that Dutch doesn't really suit him (it doesn't) and that Bobby does (it doesn't). I said we needed a good long backstory in order for the name to work, because all of our pets have arrived at their names through convoluted steps and leaps. She couldn't think of one, talking some nonsense about red-red-robins that come bob-bob-bobbing along, and that it was Christmas. I suggested calling him Jesus, because he's not just for Christmas (this is a John Hegley joke, but I passed it off as my own) but Mum just rolled her eyes and walked slowly away from me.

Last night, she was on the phone to her sister, telling her about the new puppy and how he sits on your feet and lies on his back and is frightened by but also fascinated with the cats, and how he chews everything in sight, and my aunty asked if he was called Bobby to match with Kesh. Mum didn't understand the leap. Neither did I. My aunt, who is a patient 50-something Protestant lady explained the connection.

Kesh - Long Kesh Prison - IRA hunger strikers - Bobby Sands

Holy crap. My mother's a secret republican. Tomorrow we're getting a pair of budgies called Gerry and Martin.

So Bobby he is for now, anyway. The hilarity of this was increased ten-fold by our pointing out to everyone that will listen that he's actually black and tan in colour.

I learned last night to my cost - the cost of a small puppy teddy bear, my new comfy bedthrow and a plastic bottle - that Bobby loves to chew things. Anything. Anything at all, especially if it appears to have value. Particularly especially if that value is emotional rather than monetary. I can already sense that shoes will be lost to his wandering jaw and short attention span. He's also freaked out by television - if he walks in to a room and the television is on, he starts barking in a very high pitched and urgent manner until the television is turned off, or until he's handed something to chew. Once he's got something to chew, the devil himself could be preaching from the television, and Bobby would remain happily unperturbed.

13 December 2004
I had physio this morning, the scary physio appointment that we arranged last June, when December was a very very long way away, when the Festival was around the corner and nothing else after that existed because my brain doesn't stretch beyond the big upcoming excitements. In our last physio session, my physioterrorist (DYSWIDT?*) had all sorts of words of advice for me, all of which annoyed, irritated, offended and downright pissed me off, because I don't like having the truth gruffly blurted out to me. I must do my pilates exercises, else my back will fall out and I will die. I must lose weight, else my back will fall out and I will die. I must walk more, else my back will fall out and I will die.

What she didn't seem to understand was the fact that I'm a very lazy person, prone to lying around and thinking about the profoundities of life while snuggling up to a large labrador who loves nothing more than having her tummy rubbed. I'm the kind of person when faced with the decision of either going for a long walk or not going for a long walk will chose the second option. And importantly, due to the last physio appointment being before rather than after my second epidural, I was the kind of person to whom travelling on a bus or walking down a crowded street was the worst kind of torture imaginable, due to the pain and the spasms and the panic attacks.

I didn't like her, and I didn't want her stinking advice and what did she know and she didn't understand me and she could go to hell, I reasoned as I limped home last June, cursing her name and damning her and all her brethren to the lower fiery bowels of Satan. But you know what? She only went and had a point.

Post epidural, I started walking more. I started socialising and not being frightened of people. The festival came along and made me realise that being out and about was actually possible once more, and post festival I kept on truckin'. I stopped having to take so many tablets and the nausea and feelings of uneasiness also left. I joined Weight Watchers with some other like minded, fat peeps and stopped eating so much muck, and by jings, it's all gotten so much better.

So I glided through the door this morning, ready to spite down that wretched woman with all my success and progress, and you know what? She was happy for me. She declared me one of her "success stories". She was delighted about everything. We were doing some stretching things to see how my flexibility was going and she caught a glimpse of my tattoo, which I'd had done since the last time I saw her. And you know what? She didn't even flinch. Not a word or a comment or nuffink. WHAT'S THE POINT OF GETTING A TATTOO IF IT DOESN'T IRRITATE YOUR PHYSIO?!

She discharged me, saying I should carry on with my pilates for 30 minutes a day, four times a week, and that if I wanted to, I should call back in to see her some time to let her know how I'm getting on. Then she gave me a massive smile and wished me a happy Christmas.

Huh. Some people.

*Do you see what I did there?

12 December 2004
Yesterday, because I was wandering around the house with an expression so unhappy that flowers were literally shrivelling under my gaze, my mother declared that it was a good day to go buy a puppy. Ever since I moved home, I've been quick with the loud yelling of WE NEED A PUPPY! every time my mother walked anywhere near me - and it's been over a year since I moved home. I didn't realise that slipping in to a short burst of manic depression would be what tipped her decision, but any port in a storm.

To recap for those of you not paying attention, at the moment we have two elderly labradors, both now living out their twilight years sprawled across duvets and chairs, only occasionally getting up to eat, fart or both. We have two cats, both of which do a fine line in eye infections and vague disorders that need constant veterinary attention. We also have a time-share in a small jack russell bitch, who is really only good for snuggling and howling on command. What we need in this house, I have always reasoned, is a dog that can run, chase balls, and come when you call them rather than merely opening one eye and glaring at you. In short, a dog that works and isn't broken.

So, we packed the time-share dog in to the car, on the off chance the dog rescue centre would do a parts exchange, and trundled down the back roads of Wicklow until we found it. And by golly, them were some back roads. I had no idea Wicklow was quite so "Wicker Man" in areas. It was astonishing, considering what The Guardian said last week about pretty, pretty Ireland being destroyed by the installation of infrastructure and networked motorways, and presumably the destruction of those quaint passages where the donkeys and carts used to traverse. They'd've wet their pants having found the back water that we drove through, and been very very grateful to return to the N11 where there's street lighting and tarmac and the absence of the noise of banjos and the scream of outsiders being burned alive.

When we got to ASH, we were greeted by a massive, scary goose which honked at us, and a large grey dog who barked constantly for the duration of our time there. All around the house, there were cages with a variety of dogs of different shapes, sizes and conditions. Mum and I looked at each other and realised we'd made a terrible mistake. We're both the two emotional ones in the family, whereas the rest of them are automatons who would have been able to arrive, pick the best dog and leave. Mum and I immediately went to the cages where the sick and lame ones are kept and tried to bring them all home.

In the end, we settled on a tiny jack russell dog who has recently had surgery to remove his offensive man parts and was hacking up a lung thanks to kennel cough. All of our other dogs have been vaccinated against this, so it was okay for us to bring him home. The reasons we chose him were threefold:

1. He's very tiny, and very adorable. He's white and tan, with big black marks around his eyes, and he's got a massive tail which looks like a fox's brush tail that curls round around to sit on the top of his back and is almost constantly wagging.
2. When we took him out for a quick stroll on the lead, every time we stopped to look at something, he'd promptly sit on my boots and stare at me.
3. On our way back from our quick stroll, we went over to the pen where they're keeping a massive pig. The massive pig trundled towards us, presumably to see if we had food, and the little dog went mental with the high pitched hysterical barking, threw himself behind me and carried on barking by sticking his head in between my boots and shaking.

That's proper cowardice, people. That's what I look for in a puppy - always willing to put his master's life in danger to protect himself. That's a dog with priorities in all the right places.

ASH had called him Jasper, for reasons they never explained, and we didn't ask them to elaborate. On the long journey home, Mum and I were throwing suggestions at each other. For approximately one moment, we were going to call him Lee Carsley, but that's because I'm evil and have a sick sense of humour, but yesterday we settled on "Dutch", because the people who run the pound were Dutch. This, I suspect, is going to change.

11 December 2004
My eight year old god daughter Rosie was getting ready for bed last night, and I was sitting on the floor listening to her monologue as she told me news of her life. She'd just finished a long and highly competitive game of Monopoly with her mother, having won through the twin tactics of being the banker and being able to steal money, and ignoring requests for rent payment. The girl will go far.

In the middle of telling me about something altogether different in context and tone, she turned around and delightedly announced "I know what sex is!" I chose not to bat an eyelid. "That's brilliant," I replied, "so do I."

She looked really disappointed that it didn't get the reaction she was looking for. So, she carried out dilly dallying around the bedroom, as only an eight year old can when she doesn't want to go to sleep.

"And I know what sexy means."

I didn't reply.

"Do you think Christina Aguilera is sexy?" she asked.

I thought about it for a moment.

I had to ask. "What do you mean by sexy?"

She thought about it for a moment.

"Pretty."

I didn't have to consider my answer.

"No, I don't think Christina Aguilera is sexy."

"Do you think her clothes are sexy?" she continued, despite my feigning boredom with the topic.

"But she doesn't always wear clothes," I responded.

She thought about it for a moment.

"True."

She then got in to bed, and read me the entire Dr Seuss 'Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?' from cover to cover.

10 December 2004
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is all part of the "THINGS I CAN'T BLOG ABOUT" season, and shouldn't be up here at all, but dammit, I can't think of anything else to write, so a good old-fashioned whinge will be appearing in place of any other kind of constructive posting.


I used to have a theory a few years back that one ex-friend of mine had a voodoo doll of me, and would every now and again sever something, or tie something up, or do whatever it is that you do with voodoo dolls to cause minor pain, inconvenience or irritation.

Today, because I'm feeling all paranoid and frustrated and helpless and generally out of sorts, I've come to the conclusion that I must have done something quite horrible in a previous life, like kicked a tramp to death or somesuch, that I'm now being punished for. The punishment seems to arrive in relatively minor forms, things on that the scale of things don't really seem too hideously awful - I've got a roof over my head, and a some iota of health - but still have the effect to really upset.

(Ah, vague posting - where only a select number of people know what I'm on about. I put these up here to remind myself when searching through the archives how much things used to suck and how much better they are now, in the future, with my future self smiling back indulgently and looking all smug and happy. That's the theory anyway.)

In other news, I may have gone and got myself a part time job, depending on references. The problem of getting references now lies with my recruitment agency, rather than with me. They're ringing my last three listed employers, but I haven't worked for any of them for over a year, and one of them I left under very acrimonious circumstances in April 2003. So they'll be lucky if they even remember me, let alone give a reference, let alone give a good reference.

But the job is only data entry, so surely they don't need to know that much? I can mindlessly type numbers in to a ratty computer programme with the best of them.

07 December 2004
I've been catching up on my blog reading - honestly, you let it slide for a few days and all of a sudden you need to put hours aside just to find out what complete strangers have been up to. It's ridiculous, and one of the things I would never have thought would catch on, internet wise - why in the world would you put details of your personal life on the net? And why in the world would anyone else be interested in reading it? Why, for example, am I absolutely fascinated by the life of an American lady who is on a diet? Or why can't I stop reading the diary of a stand up who I, quite frankly, don't really like at all? Or the diary of an actress who I, quite frankly, would like to smack from now until next February? Or the diary of a gay polish boy living in America? I don't know these people!

This girl here is writing a dissertation on blogging, and specifically Irish blogging. I'm not sure what her criteria are, cos she's not telling until she gets the go-ahead from her supervisors. (I remember this from college - I had to submit four proposals before one was approved, and I ended up reading and writing about Gerry Adams for six months of my life.) If I'd known about blogging then, I'd've definitely done it on blogging instead.

But let's not get sidetracked. The fantastic Caoimhe has said that mine is "...one of the most well written, regularly updated and amusing Irish blogs out there." Yeah, that's right. You heard the lady. AND I didn't pay her to say that. So there.

[Oh! And. Another sidetrack. Everyone should look at this - caitriona.net is a photoblog of very pretty pictures, some of them being Dublin.]

Well. So. Yes. The point being, Caoimhe has got me thinking again about why in the world I would spend so much of my time blogging. I'm fully aware of the fact that my life is not that interesting - I spend so much time texting other people with the words I'M BORED that it's actually set up as one of my templates. I spend an inordinate amount of time lying face down on my bed listening to music being played by depressed boys in their early to mid twenties who've spent too much time in their teens learning to play guitar and not enough time meeting girls their own age. I also have far too much quality time with labradors for it to be considered healthy. I had decided months ago that I'd blog every day, come hell or high water, but it turned out that I don't always have something to say, because for the most part nothing. ever. happens.

And at the same time. The "nothing happened today" entries written on some of my favourite blogs are some of my favourite entries. I've said it before on numerous occasions, and I'm saying it again - I wish everyone in my life kept a blog. I might start demanding it of new friends, and I might start demanding it of old.

Get to it, people.

05 December 2004
We got up relatively early on Saturday morning. Shockingly early, considering how blind drunkenly drunk I had decided - and managed, which is quite a rare feat for me - to get the night before. Downing pints of beer is not a skill of mine, and yet I somehow managed. The alcohol seemed to take a while to catch up with me but when it did, by jiminy, it did. Little Sister Edel had to insist on me leaving the sofa and escorting me to the bedroom, where I apparently stood and stared in to space for a bit, probably unsure as to what my first name was, and then casually announced my intention to throw up.

So, the early rise on Saturday was a slightly unexpected twist, as was the complete lack of hangover, and we decided to build on the good start that we had by going for a good brisk stroll down to Blackrock with the small dog named Kesh that seems to hang about with Little Sister Edel quite a lot.

Kesh has a great love for chasing birds across the beach, so we headed to the dart station and over the tracks on to the beach, which was unfortunately covered in a lot of sea water. Kesh, however, didn't seem to either notice or mind this slight dampening of plans, and didn't seem at all put out that her intentions of running across the sand barking maniacally with a glazed expression of gleeful evil had been subverted. Instead, while we stood on the wall and watched, she carefully picked her way across the tops of rocks that had yet to be submerged, moving slowly along as they were very wet and slippery. When she reached a certain point, she'd raise her head, the birds would see her, and they would fly away. She would then pick her way carefully back across the rocks to the wall, and run along until she found another cluster of rocks that was accessible to her and that had a gathering of birds on top. The procedure would be slowly, carefully, almost autistically adhered to and repeated in every detail.

I could have watched this for hours.

03 December 2004
I got back from the conference to find a letter, wrapped in a brown envelope and stamped with a harp symbol slapped at the top. I knew it was a government letter, and decided it was probably the result of the official medical exam that I was sent on a few weeks ago. On that occasion, the nice government doctor just talked to me for about a minute, wrote something on a piece of paper, and (I assume) officially declared me as a 'disabled', so that I could continue receiving disability benefit.

The disability benefit, we'll all remember from the many and varied different rants I've had in the past about it, isn't worth very much at all. It doesn't cover my mobile bill and my visa bill, let alone rent if I had rent to pay, or any kind of extravagance like food or heating or clothing. Because of this, I've spent the last age and a half trying to apply for an exemption, which would mean that I could continue to receive the paltry disability benefit, and also legally work up to 20 hours a week, which would obviously be great. To get the exemption, you've to jump through hoops - something I can't do, due to being a disabled. But I've tried. I've filled in numerous forms, went to see my crazy GP (who charged me €50, as is his right), posted off a variety of things and failed to hear back about it all. I'm being patient.

So, the official brown envelope with the harp emblazoned across the front. I assumed this would be, if not good news, then at least progress - If I've been officially decreed a disabled, then I can move on with the exemption application. If it's about the exemption application, then I can actually start work and stop waking up in a blind panic with numbers and euro signs flashing before my eyes, as each and every one of my debts march up in front of me and smack me across the face.

I saw this brown envelope as a friend.

The brown envelope took it's turn in the queue, and smacked me across the face.

They've cut off my benefit.

The official reason for this is because I've not worked long enough in the Republic of Ireland, and not earned enough points to be able to get the disability benefit for a prolonged amount of time. If I want to reapply for the disability benefit, I can do so after a lapse of six months. BUT. I have to have worked for at least three of those six months.

I can't get the disability benefit because I haven't worked.

I can't work, because I'm disabled.

If I don't work, I won't qualify for the disability benefit.

I can't work, because I'm disabled.

There's just no way around this.

02 December 2004
I have no news today. None at all. Nothing to tell you. I spent today helping my mother out at a course she is running for professional people who do a wonderful job teaching spakky children to sit still in classrooms. My job includes - but is not limited to - selling books, accepting cheques, explaining to people that receipts won't be available until tomorrow, sitting on the floor reading Burning Down My Masters' House by Jayson Blair and pointing out where the toilets are. Therefore, I have nothing to tell you.

So instead, here is Part One of an ongoing series, where I display photos people were unwise enough to text to my mobile. Today's short piece stars JC and his lovely ManWife Ian.

[Interestingly enough, in this photo JC (on the right) is sporting a haircut from the world famous "Mr Topper" of Tottenham Court Road fame, as previously mentioned by He Who Only Reads This Blog To See If He's Mentioned.]

If you have a camera phone, do text me, or alternatively email me images of you and your lovely Man- or LadyWife to dreadful.nonsense@gmail.com. Join in the fun.

01 December 2004
We (Moo, Little Sister Edel and I) went to a wonderful Tom McRae gig tonight. It's towards the end of a long European tour that him and his lovely, scruffy, goggle-eyed band have been on, and they're all feeling the pull of it a bit, by appearances - but By George, that was a heck of a gig. As Moo remarked afterwards, if we had been 16 years old, we'd all have been in tears throughout, such is the effect of his downwardly spiraling lyrics. Plus, the man is a sarcastic genius with quite the talent for self deprecating banter. In short, the perfect manic depressive singer songwriter. You really all should buy both his albums and join us in adoration of the McRae, who promised tonight to one day take us all by force (Moo was weak at the knees at the very thought), and become our "Leader Dictator". All hail.

However. The more remarkable and important thing to know of this night is the fact that WE WERE ASKED FOR ID. AGAIN. On the way in to Whelans, of all places, somewhere me and Little Sister Edel and Moo have been frequenting for most of our adult lives. We've been old enough to get in there for almost 10 years now. You have to be 18 or over to enter Whelans, and we were asked for ID. Again. That's twice in two weeks. (It didn't happen at all in London, but then again they're more morally dubious than we are here.)

I swear to you, it's my haircut. I have grown to really quite like my haircut, and even the colour has now settled into a more palatable brown, rather than the striking gothic black monstrosity it started out as. But it's literally taken years off my life. I'm like a younger, more innocent person because of it. Okay, that's not true, I'm still as haggard and world-weary as ever, but apparently my appearance screams UNDER AGE! and ILLEGAL DRINKING! and OUT ON A SCHOOL NIGHT!

If I had a digital camera, I'd be quite tempted to post a picture of my youth giving haircut so that you could all go out - yes, all of you, even the gentlemen callers - and copy it so that you too could be handed back the glory of youth just one more time. But I don't, so I can't and won't.