Monday, January 31, 2005

Learning Difficulties

You know when it comes to IT I'm not the sharpest knife in the box. I'll say this (before someone says it to me) I suspect it's my age. When I was a girl computers were the size of three-bedroomed houses. My first memories of home computers were Spectrums and Commodores. Despite having an ECDL I still have big problems learning new stuff. So since D breathed new life back into this machine I have been having to reacquaint myself with all its software. So far I'm managed to download Hello and get it going again. I've not entirely got to grips with my camera software which D has improved no end but its different now. And as for the scanner - supposed to be idiot-proof - but my idiocy knows no limits. For example when I was putting everything back together again I couldn't understand why my monitor wouldn't come on. I was using one of those multi-plug extension things and I had it plugged into itself. Homer Simpson lives and breathes in female form here in Cullybackey.

Scunging Devil Dogs

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Writing from Home

I’ve noticed something – recently I’ve been posting from work. The posts are different I find that I’m writing as if someone from headquarters was peering over my shoulder. I think that when I post from home that my writing style is more natural, more me.

So here I am posting from home. Here’s what happened today.

Woke up at work. Got up in pyjamas and opened the gates. Sat at work computer and planned my day. Laughed heartily at Ed post. If he woman would be minx. Male equivalent of Minx? Had breakfast. One shredded wheat, sliced half banana, dried pineapple and milk, glass orange juice. Had shower. Got dressed. Worked all day until 4:30pm. Work consisted of writing reports, showing client best way to clean toilet, doing key work, talking to St Vincent de Paul about how latest request to them for help was unnecessary as money shortage caused by spending dosh on drink and only wanted money for fags anyway. Too bad, so sad.

I got home from work at 5ish to empty house, No Bert, no dogs. Shrugged shoulders and poured glass of wine. Phoned Katy who is panicking about having entire Bowyer clan to stay with her in February. Told her not to worry as long as I got bed to myself, ex-husband can sleep on sofa and sibs can bunk up together. Sat down to read article in Observer about Bez and decided would like him for new best friend. Then read fascinating article about Kate Moss, decided Zoë much better bet as daughter, though unfortunately not worth 15 mill to help out dear old mother etc. etc.

Then Bert came in. Where dogs? Bert spent Saturday night in Hillsborough and dogs left home alone Saturday night. On his return he took them for lovely walk through fields. They, suffering from cabin fever, had taken off after rabbits and had not been seen for four hours. For badness, being very spoiled and not used to lack of human company.

So we go to Ghillies Bar to see Banjo Man and the boys giving it welly and get a bite to eat. Says I very good idea – to hell with those damned dogs, if farmer shoots them we’ll get ourselves some new, good dogs, who won’t run away. So we went to Ghillies Bar, saw Banjo Man and the fellows all of whom were playing well below par due to having been up late at Banjo Man’s mum’s 60th birthday celebrations the previous night. We ran into Young who told us that he had given up his ‘good job’ at the County Hall to pursue a life of hedonism and geetar playing in sunnier climes. I heartily congratulated him on his courage. Young was our inside man in the planning office but he’d already told us there wasn’t a hope of building being allowed up our road within the next 20 years so OK to sell current gaff and fields to the Wee Manny.

One delicious meal and two gin and tonics later we decided it was time to return home. Greeted in yard by two very dirty, hungry dogs that we ignored. Went inside, made coffee and ostentatiously petted the cat still ignoring evil dogs. After coffee fed dogs but remained cool towards them. Relented 10 minutes later gave them pets and told them very bad, horrible brutes not as nice as good cat.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Spots

The other weekend this handsome young PSNI officer called to the office. He is the community beat cop and was in to chat about some little troublemakers we had hanging around. I think he had been hoping to run into my younger colleague, who is in possession of a tumble of hair as dark as a raven’s wing and with sultry good looks to match. But sadly he had to make do with Nelly who presents a much homelier face. The chat came round to the abuse of drugs. Certain in the knowledge that I would have little practical experience of such matters, he informed me of the telltale signs of drug abuse. We’d done the dilated pupils bit and he was telling me how to spot solvent abuse. I thankfully admit I have no personal experience of solvent abuse other than having heavy objects thrown at me by a young person who was under the influence of nail varnish. She kept missing me which was very good. But I digress – John, the very personable young PC, told me that one of the first signs of solvent abuse was a rash around the mouth and nose. Guiltily my hand flew to my own rash around my nose and mouth.

Which brings me to the good part. I’d been spotty since last Spring. Which was very annoying as I’m famous locally for having Perfect Skin. All of a sudden the Spots Went Away. I’m so happy. I think my mother was saying a novena for me. Non-catholics can take a trip over to Ganching if you want to know more about novenas. Kerry sister reckons it was the poison from smoking seeping through my skin. She then drew my attention to something that looked like a tiny wart at the corner of her eye. “It’s just like this one.” I said drawing her attention to the one I’ve had for at least the last five years. “Where?” said she, “There.” I replied grabbing beauteous colleague’s magnifying glass. And guess what? It had gone too.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Nip and Tuck...

...which is what my home PC has had - thanks to Doctor D. It is good to be back.

Monday, January 24, 2005

No Smoking

Part 1

According to science today was supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, It was something to do with it being a Monday, the weather, post-Christmas debts and the general populace not keeping its New Year resolutions. So how was it for you?

It was grim for Bert as the builder boys broke his tractor. Then because they didn’t have it they couldn’t do any work. Like yeah! Where were the tractors at Stonehenge? How many Massey-Fergusons had the ancient Egyptians in the Valley of the Kings? And did the medieval castle and cathedral builders of Europe have fleets of John Deeres? I don’t think so.

Meanwhile back at the site the call went out for a dozen strong oxen. Around here the bullocks are far too skittish for any kind of proper work. All they do is gay sex and vast quantities of grass whilst they wait around for the call to the pie factory. And doesn't that sound like a helluva life?

So as there wasn’t an ox to be found there was only one thing for it. Ploppy Pants. You’d definitely expect a good Orangeman steeped in the Protestant Work Ethic to be hard at it on a Monday morning. But poor Bert was getting more and more frustrated as he dialled every number he had for him. Where was he? Not, it seemed, in his garage, diesel oil to the oxters. I suggested he might be at the testing centre or out sourcing a lorry part. Goodness – he might even be rescuing a stranded lorry driver from the back end of beyond. But no – Bert was not having any of this. Ploppy pants was a big lump of manure who was either lying in his cosy, warm bed, away playing the banjo in some hidey-holler or futilely trying to get through to Gerry Anderson on the radio.

What is the male term for harridan, for termagant, for targe? Cross man just isn’t strong enough. I was glad to get away to my good warm work. If there is a bright side to any of this it is not smoking that’s making Bert so short-tempered. And that will pass. And Nelly – was this a depressing day for you? Not at all. I’m still buzzing from being a non-smoker of 10 months duration. That’ll do me for New Year resolutions for a decade.

Oh yes. Bert found Ploppy Pants eventually and the tractor (and builders) are going again.

Part 2

The scene is a small shop in Harryville. Present are Mr Shopkeeper, Mrs Shopkeeper, a punter and Nelly. A conversation is taking place regarding a notice that has been placed prominently on the front door. This notice advises customers that they are not permitted to smoke within the shop premises.

Mrs Shopkeeper: “Wee Sandra printed it up. She was fed up and scunnered of people coming in and smoke going all up round her.”

Mr Shopkeeper: “Sure that’s the way it’ll be going - the same as down south. Nobody’ll be allowed to smoke in a place of work.”

Nelly: “Well I’m in agreement with that. And as well you’re selling food in here so nobody should be smoking at all.”

Punter: “Well I think yous have got a nerve.”

Mr Shopkeeper: “Why do you say that?”

Punter: “Cause yous sell cigarettes, don’t yous? On the one hand yous are selling them tay us and on the other, yous are saying we can’t smoke in yer shop!”

Mr Shopkeeper: “Aye, and the chemist next door would sell ye condoms. He’ll hardly be letting ye have sex in the shop, will he?”

Friday, January 21, 2005

Those Happy, Happy Days

I’m doing an extra shift this weekend, which I didn’t even have to be persuaded to take on. First I thought – well what else would I be doing? Then I thought – I could catch up on blogging. Finally I thought – extra money! Good oh!

I spend a huge amount of time on my computer. Since it’s been sick I have spent that time house cleaning, packing away, reading and watching Celebrity Big Brother. As this house must be valued, I thought it might be nice for the estate agent to be able to see past all the stuff. So I have been sorting, packing and throwing out. What a ball of crap I’ve gathered up over the years. I still own ancient paperbacks that I bought in Smithfield Market 35 years ago. Looking at those ancient Orwells, Steinbecks, Drabbles and Murdochs reminded me of some of the happiest days of my life, my school days – the days that I was not in attendance.

When school* was dreary I used to play truant, or mitch. One of the dreariest of the dreary classes was Anatomy and Physiology. This class was taken by a local GP called Dr R. It always took place last two periods. Dr R. never bothered to call a roll so our class got into the habit of deciding among ourselves who’d be cutting it that afternoon. There had to be at least half a dozen of us stay for the class or Dr R. would report us to the head.

In good weather we’d head for the Castle grounds, which were much wilder and much more fun than they are today. In damper weather it would be O’Neill’s café if we could scrape up the price of a coffee to be lingered over for hours. How my heart did race when we were joined by some handsome Stanley or Eugene.**

Mitching on my own I started off by going to Belfast Airport and watching the planes take off and land. Then when I got braver I’d hitch to Belfast town. I’d often get a lift with Dan the Coalman and he’d take me round the docks. I think he bought his coal straight off the boats. Another guy who used to give me lifts was Johnny the Gallaher Man. Imagine getting a lift on a wagon carrying (at today’s prices) millions of pounds worth of cigarettes. Nowadays Gallaher's sends Dublin’s cigarettes via Liverpool rather than run the risk of hijacking at the border.

My favourite places in Belfast then were Fresh Garbage (still going) and Smithfield Market (not what it was.) That is where I bought all those second hand books.

And what of Anatomy and Physiology at ‘O’ level? A big fat fail was my deserved reward. But I still know the names of nearly all the bones in the human body and I can tell you the places where you’ll find squamous epithelium. Some of them are a bit rude.

*Antrim Technical College – Pre-Nursing Class 1968-1970
** Any reader familiar with this era or place please note that I do not refer to the publican Mr M. who would have been a child and unknown to me at that time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Warning! This Quiz Can Betray Your Age

Copied from LawyerGuy (28ish?)

1. Album you've bought the most? – Astral Weeks, Pearl

2. Download illegally? - Have I ever? No. But I possess some illegal downloads given to me by criminal types.

3. First album you owned? – Like yerman I got three at the same time. They were Imagine: John Lennon, Pearl: Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company and Relics by Pink Floyd.

4. Song you've had the most sex to? – TB Sheets, Van Morrison

5. Senior Prom song? – Doesn’t apply in NI but when I were a girl a big dancing song (not that I could) was Alright Now by Free

6. First song you danced with the opposite sex to? – Some reel or jig at a ceilidh.

7. Album you listened to/listen to most in high school? – Fresh Cream, early Fleetwood Mac

8. Album you listened to/listen to most in college? – Stone Roses, Charlatans, Happy Mondays, Carter USM. Nirvana. I was a mature student at Uni and the kids controlled the turntables. It was good though – except for Carter.

9. Box set you own but don't brag to your friends about owning? – Not applicable in my own case as my only box set is The Ramones.

10. First concert? – Fleetwood Mac – line up at that time Peter Green, the McVies , Fleetwood, Jeremy Spencer and sweet little Danny Kirwan for whom all three of my dogs called Danny were named. Thank God he joined the group or I’d have had three dogs called Jeremy. Apparently Danny Kirwan ended up in a homeless hostel with a serious drink problem.

11. First concert you paid for with your own money? – Van Morroson, Z and I, 1974 (I also took Catkin to see the Stranglers in 1978) Van was a grumpy, hateful bastard. No wonder Z doesn’t like him.

12. Best concert ever? – Gomez in Derry a couple of years ago. My first concert since Ecstasy was invented.

13. Worst concert ever? - Sutherland Brothers and Quiver. It was my 26th birthday and I was simple drunk. We sneaked in drink not that I needed it. I had the blackcurrant cordial (to go with Claire’s Pernod) and it got confiscated. But not before I’d spilled it in my bag. Have you any idea what that stuff does to the inside of a camera?

14. Who have you seen three times or more? – Van Morrison twice is my record.

15. If you get me really drunk, I might admit to knowing all the lyrics to....? – I’m hopeless at remembering lyrics

16. Old rock star crush? – Jim Morrison

17. Current rock star crush? – Don’t have one.

18. Why don't more people like....? – Nick Cave

19. Why do so many people like...? – Robbie Williams

20. First rock poster you owned? - Monkees.

21. Rock poster on your wall now? – None. Maybe I’d like Iggy Pop. Bert’s got a Kylie calendar (2004) Does that count?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Boys Will Be Girls

This afternoon I visited the site of our new/old house with Matty and my youngest sister. There is not much to see yet. Cement floors have been laid where the old ones were gouged out. The next step will be demolishing the internal walls so the building can be re-joisted. As they say “it will get worse before it gets better.”

The bottom floor is swapped around. The kitchen is where the ‘good’ room used to be. This is to maximise the amount of light we will get. The den will be where the dining room was. It will be a strictly observed no-smoking area. Where the kitchen used to be will be a shower room and toilet area. This is to be what the foreman, Jay, calls ‘wet’. This means that we can shower the dogs in it too. Oh happy day. No more filthy dogs climbing on my clean chairs. I’m thinking of putting a gate on the stairs to keep them from going upstairs to lie on the beds. Oh wheesht, Nelly. You know you’ll never close it. Anyway Paddy is the best guy I’ve ever shared a bed with. And he barks ferociously if anyone tries to come over the threshold. I like that in a bedmate.

The Wee Manny and his big daughter called this morning. Lols was going to school late because she had a Physics exam. She informed me that she has been searching my blog for New Year photos. I told her I hadn’t posted any, as they were far too boring and sedate. Lols has never got over missing the 2000 New Year Party when her dad and Banjo Man dressed up in fishnets and stockings with little skirts to show off their shapely pins and little lacy tops to emphasise their manly torsos. Poor Ploppy Pants had to make do with a peasant woman costume, as nothing else would fit him. These photos exist boys – be very, very scared.

Bert is still not smoking. I knew he would join me eventually. I’m so proud of him.

Friday, January 14, 2005

My Offline Life

Posting from work as my computer is still very poorly. It will be admitted to computer hospital sometime after this weekend. I came out in sympathy with it and got my first viral infection since giving up smoking on the 15th March last year. It is a stinker. I have had a sore throat, a sexy husky voice and a hacking dry cough. But unlike before it has not gone to my sinuses or deep into my chest as it always did when I smoked.

The news so far is - parents well, Bert off cigarettes for 6 days now and the builders have started on our new/old house. Belated birthday greetings to Vancouver nephew, Kerry niece and the big doll.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sick

I am sorry to inform y'all that thanks to the Banana and her sad picture of Tsunami child victim that I have been infected by a virus which has slowed my home computer to snail speed. Hope to be back on form soon.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Bert and Nelly's Day Oot

The ither day Bert says tae me “Nelly, that’s a stinkin’ coul oul day. I dinnae think I cud face stannin’ aboot in they oul polyhooses the day lucking at them oul bushes. D’ye think we shud go intae the toon for a bit af a day oot?”

Says I tae Bert, “Ye’re richt aboot that Bert. It’s nae day tae be stannin’ aboot they ould polyhooses luckin’ at bushes, nor any ither thing for that matter. I wud like a day in the toon, but shure I cud go naewhere wae me heer hinging roon’ me in tartles.” Bert says, “Richt enough Nelly, ye’re a guy throughother lukkin’ oul clart. Mebbe ye shud go oot tae yer cousin Pauline and see if she cud dae something wae yer heer.” Says I tae Bert, “Richt enough Bert, maybe I will dae that. But first I’ll need tae slap a bit of pancake and mescara on tae take the bad luk af me” Tae finish mesel aff I sprayt a squirt of the perfume Bert got me fur me birthday. So, says I tae Bert “Am I lukkin any better now?” Says he tae me, “Ach, ye’ll do. Ye’ll be better yit when ye get yer heer tidied up. Ye smell nice anyway.” I says tae him, “It’s thon stuff ye got me fur me last birthday. Ye mind we thocht it smelt like that quare good flyspray we got last August fur the bluebottles.” Says Bert, “Och aye, but it was a quare bit dearer than thon bluebottle stuff. Thon cost me seven poon in Bairds the chemists. Mebbe I shud have got you some of thon bluebottle stuff instead.” “Naw Bert,” says I, “Thon wud likely bring ye oot in a rash. Thon bluebottle stuff, nice an’ all as it smells wud be nae use on human skin.”

I’d already gied Pauline a wee ring and she’d said “Come oan ahead Nelly an’ I’ll see whit I can dae fur ye.” So aff we set in the big dented Volkswagen van wae Paddy and Rosie. Rosie got tae sit in the front but we haud to keep Paddy ahint us in the back fur he was clarried in glaar after bein’ in a sheugh after rats. So we got the length of me ma’s and Bert went intae her hoose and goat himsel’ a feed of barley soup and small bread way a wee cup of tae in his haun. Meantime I dandered over tae Pauline’s tae see aboot getting me heer a bit of a tidy. When Pauline got a gawk at me heer she says, “Boys-a-dear, Nelly. It’s a quare wheel since ye’ve been out here.” I says to Pauline, “Indeed it is Pauline. Luk at the cut of me wae me heer hinging roon me in tartles.” Pauline says “Och shure, we’ll soon tidy thon up fur ye. Whit way wud ye like it?” I tuk a wee scally at mesel’ in the mirror an’ I says tae Pauline “Wheek a good bit aff it. Good an’ short at the tap an’ the sides. I’m lukkin’ the early 80s dyke luk” Weel it wasn’t long ‘til Pauline had me sorted oot. “Is that the usual price then?” says I. “Aye, Nelly” says she. I gie ower a five poon note. Pauline reached tae fur to gie me change but I says “Not atall, Pauline. Shure that was weel worth a fiver.” I says goodbye to her and dandered back over tae me mither’s hoose.

I wis goin’ tae ask me ma if she wanted tae come oot tae the toon wae us but she says “Yer Aunt Maud is comin’ tae take me tae the toon. We’re fur the Next sale tae get wurselves some of they cropped troosers tae tek wae us fur wur holidays in Lourdes. They cropped troosers are all the go wae the pilgrims at the minnit.” I says tae me mither “Weel then, shure that’ll be all richt. Me and Bert’ll head on then fur Bert is mad tae get tae Burton’s fur a new jumper.”
“Before you go” says she, “Will ye tek a wee cup of tay in yer haun?” I says tae me mither, “Och naw. I’ll nae bother. Shure I’ll get some in the toon wae a fish supper in Caulfield’s, I mean Casper’s.” She says, “That’ll do then. Before I forgit Pauline’s made a lovely tidy job of yer heer.” I says to her, “Aye. It needed it, but boys-a-dear, she’s brave and dear wae her three poon. Now dinnae ye be spendin’ all yer pension in the Next sale noo.” I bantered at her.
So aff we headed tae the toon. In the carpark Bert parked the ould van at an angle astride the wee white line and aff we went intae the shoppin’ centre.

I wis scallyin’ at mesel’ in the shap windows as we santered in and was weel pleased at the new heercut. “Whit are ye fur getting’ Bert?” says I. “I cud really do wae a jumper or two,” says he. “Here’s Burton’s now. Boys this is great steam. Better than stannin’ in that ould polyhoose lukkin at clematis and shite. I love shappin’”

It wisnae long afore Bert had picked himsel’ oot a couple o’ vee neck jumpers. He hoult wan, then anither up agin himsel’. “Whit dae ye think Nelly? Which wan shud I go fur?” Weel says I, “The mustard wan wud be good for iveryday weer and wudnae mark aisy but I like the lemon wan tae. Mebbe ye shud tak the baith o’ them.” Says Bert tae me, “Yer right Nelly. I’ll tek the baith o’ them. Wull we go tae TK Maxx nixt and see if I can get mesel’ some mer bargains?” Says I “We wull indeed Bert and then we’ll gae doon tae Caulfield’s, I mean Casper’s, fur a fish supper and a wee cup of tay tae revive us. “ And that is jist what we did.

Inspiration provided by Willie Drennan and ganching

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Tired

So, so tired today. At work yesterday evening and the wee clients were so very restless. As usual I was lovely to them and for my trouble I got called "a Feen-Yan Bastard" and a "stupid bastard". I also had the first-time pleasure of flushing an intruder from under a bed and another out of a wardrobe. What fun! And I only got five hours broken sleep.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Recap

I read this here and here thought it might be fun.

1. What did you do in 2004 that you'd never done before? Started a blog

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year? Yes. I gave up smoking on 15th March 2004. An unexpected consequence of doing so was that I drastically reduced my usage of cannabis. Sadly I increased my weight by about 20lbs so hopefully that will come off next year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? No

4. Did anyone close to you die? Yes - my beloved dog Danny at 16 years old

5. What countries did you visit? None. But I did visit North Yorkshire for the first time.

6. What would you like to have in 2005 that you lacked in 2004? A waistline.

7. What date from 2004 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? 17th March because I got my dog Paddy on that day.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Giving up smoking.

9. What was your biggest failure? Forgetting to grow brussels sprouts.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I lost a dearly loved tooth.

11. What was the best thing you bought? Paddy.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Bert for being an all round brilliant fellow who cooked not one but two Christmas dinners.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? David Beckham, only joking. No-one I know.

14. Where did most of your money go? Ebay. But I’m over it.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Blogging.

16. What song will always remind you of 2004? The Lyre of Orpheus – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fat as f**k.
iii. richer or poorer? Much poorer as I reduced my hours at work.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Walking.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Chocolate and jelly babies.

20. How will you be spending Christmas? Working, eating, drinking, spending, family, friends

22. Did you fall in love in 2004? Yes – with Paddy.

23. How many one-night stands? None

24. What was your favorite TV program? Goodness me, I don’t really watch TV except for the news and the occasional ‘reality show’

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year? No. Hating people is bad for me

26. What was the best book you read? They were all damn good. I can’t be arsed reading crappy books any more.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery? That it is never too late to take up a musical instrument

28. What did you want and get? A vegetable garden

[Hey! Where the hell is #29?]

30. What was your favorite film of this year? Shrek 2. I don’t get out much

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I ignored it. 51

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? A holiday

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2004? Outsize

34. What kept you sane? Seroxat

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Catch yourself on.

36. What political issue stirred you the most? The War, the US election and the pathetic posturing of local politicians.

37. Who did you miss? Katy & Hannah.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
I'm in agreement with Lawyer Guy who I quote “All of my faithful blog readers. *wink* Thanks so much!!”

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2004: Keep cool. Don’t worry.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Skippy,
Skippy,
Skippy a friend ever true

Skippy,
Skippy,
Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Norah Jones vs The Ramones

We had the Reeds down for New Year and their cousin Liam who was to be co-babysitter with Martina. Liam is a good bloke. I think he might be 12 or 14. He is a mighty Nirvana fan. 'Banjo' Reed was deposited in Cully with Bert and a bottle of Black Bush while Jazzer and I headed off for the dreaded McDonald's which apparently kids consider an amazing treat. Jazz sez are you having some. No way sez Nelly. I'd rather have a piece of stale bread dipped in a muddy puddle. What the oldies actually had was takeaway from the Eastern Moghul which nicely lined the stomach for later on.

So off we headed to Mr Carletoni's somewhere in the Portglenone hills. We had a lovely evening despite being separated by gender up until midnight. After midnight it was music time. I actually sang for the first time in ages. I performed My Lagan Love and as much as She Moved Through The Fair as I could remember. Great fun. Jazz and I also did backing singers for Ian and his bluegrass numbers. We were enjoying ourselves so much that he sang them all twice. That is the first time I've chanted for ages and certainly the first time since I stopped smoking. It doesn't do the lungs any harm. Unfortunately the best singer among us, Jenny, stayed silent.

Q. What do you do when you get home and your daft, maudlin friend wants to play Norah Jones - really loud?

A. Put on the Ramones - even louder.