Monday, December 04, 2023

On White Goods

Our washing machine packed up and no-one could remember how long we'd had it. Hannah said it was at least six years but I thought it might be slightly longer than that. I decided to check the old blog to see if there was any mention of it but no. Whilst checking I found an entry from seventeen time ago and I had absolutely no memory of ever having had that conversation.  

We've had two more dishwashers since then. Stuff just doesn't last any more. Hopefully the current one will go for a good few years more seeing as I only use it about once a week. Like the guy said, I usually wash them in the sink now, just like our grandmothers did.

Martha washing dishes in the sink assisted by Auntie Hannah. Those were the days when she thought washing dishes was fun and raincoat and wellies were essential. I call that picture The Girls Who Never Take Their Coats Off.

The Honest Sales Assistant (2006)

Bert and I went to Ballymena yesterday to buy a replacement dishwasher. While Bert trotted off to the bank to pay in some cheques I went to a local shop where they always provide good service. I have to say that I found the price of their dishwashers a bit breath taking at first. There were machines costing in excess of £300 and I’d told Bert we’d be paying less than £200. So when the sales assistant approached me to ask if he could help I asked him if he had any less expensive dishwashers. He led me over to another part of the shop and showed me a much cheaper machine. I’d never heard of the make but it looked all right to me.

So why is this machine so much cheaper than the others?

Because it’s manufactured in the third world using cheap materials from China.


This machine was made by people who aren’t getting a proper wage for their work. People who work in unsafe conditions. People who are, in fact, children!

So is it any good?

There’s not a thing wrong with it.

Even so you’ve put me off a bit. I don’t like the idea of buying a dishwasher that was made by badly treated children. Should you be telling me this?

I’ll not be telling you lies. I have the man above to answer to when I die!

Would you buy this dishwasher?

A dishwasher! I don’t think so. People have no need of dishwashers at all. After all how did our grandmothers manage? What’s wrong with washing dishes in the sink? People have no need of half the stuff they have these days! When Armageddon comes….

Thankfully at this point Bert joined us and I managed to change the subject. We did not buy the very unethical dishwasher. We bought another one instead. Ten pounds more but at least I can sleep at night. ;)

Thursday, November 30, 2023

A Pair Of Brown Eyes

Very many years ago I went to see the Pogues some place in Belfast. Whitla Hall? Hard to remember. What I do remember is that I found my 30-something self in the midst of a frenzied crowd of much younger people (mostly male) jumping up and down in such a way that I was in danger of losing my footing and being pogoed to death. My ex-husband pulled me out of the melee and (I suppose) saved my life. Thanks Mick. He and his beloved were supposed to be staying with us for a few days but were forced to cancel due to health concerns. We will see them at Easter.

So we spent an hour or so this evening watching Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan. I liked it. Seemed fitting. I was neither shocked nor sad to hear that Shane had died. Surprised, considering his health issues, that he'd lasted this long.

Way back, probably during some summer in the 80s, living in Ballykeel 2, I'd listen to the first two Pogues albums, windows open, daring my Loyalist neighbours to be offended by the trad Irish-ish. If they'd come to my door, I imagined myself saying, for fucks sake, they've been on The Old Grey Whistle Test. That is part of MacGowan's legacy for, to some extent, he gave us back our music.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Portballintrae and Bushmills


Today was a lovely day. I had a trip out with my first-born daughter. She drove, such a treat! First we went for a walk on the beach at Portballintrae which was a delight but weird because we had no dogs. The first time ever I've been to that beach without at least two dogs. Incidentally, my records inform me that the last time I walked that beach was February 2021. Far too long ago.

After the walk we went to Mike's Coffee Shop in Bushmills for Thai food and it was delicious. Had I been at home I would have licked my plate. The food was great, the service was great and I will definitely return. I have been inspired and must go soon to Asia Supermarket to source the necessary ingredients for a Thai Panang Curry.

I left my phone behind so Zoe took the photographs which is why there are none of her. A pity as she was looking really fine.

Monday, November 27, 2023

The First Judy

This picture of Jess was taken the first day she went to live with my parents. She looks a bit unsure of herself.

I were looking through a box of old photographs, mostly of dogs. I turned up a snap of Mum’s dog Jess from when she was a puppy and asked Bert,

Do you remember Jess?

Jess? The Pup that came from Sammy Grey’s. How long was she around?

At least ten years. Mum got up one morning and found her dead. She was their last dog. They never had another.

Your dad wasn’t that keen on dogs, was he?

I don’t know about that.

So I told him about the second Danny and the first Judy.

Both dogs came from the same mother, a wee spaniel that belonged to a friend of a friend. Danny was the first of them. At that time I had little need of a dog but allowed myself to be persuaded. He was such a gorgeous pup and I named him Danny after a dog we’d had at home. He was probably only about six weeks old when I got him, far too young to be separated from his mother but that was common then to take a pup away at that age. I’d been advised by a neighbour to get him his inoculation soon as distemper was rife in our area. But I’d little spare money then and didn’t get round to it.

It’s a horrible thing to watch a tiny puppy die of distemper. Thanks be it is almost a thing of the past now. He became ill and declined fast. After one horrible night of fitting I took him to the vet but it was too late. Allowing little Danny to die is a huge regret.

About a year later Beryl’s friend’s bitch had a second litter. At first I was reluctant to have another pup but went to see them. Always a mistake. I chose a sweet little bitch and named her Judy. This time I made sure she got her inoculations. That done I could pat myself on the back and consider myself a good dog mum. But I wasn’t.

Judy spent a lot of time in the street outside our house. Drumtara was a newly built estate and there were a lot of children and dogs around. When Zoe was outdoors playing with her group of friends Judy was always with them. There was one young boy who tormented the girls and he had been kicking Judy. Understandably, Judy snapped at him and this caused a big problem. His mother came to my door and threatened to call the police. I asked my parents if they would take her off my hands and, slightly reluctantly, they agreed.

Judy adapted well to country life. She decided that my father was her hero and followed him everywhere. If he was at the farmyard she would be with him. If he went to the moss (which he often did) she’d go too, trotting beside his tractor until they arrived at the turf banks.

She was always well-behaved when she was with Daddy until the day when one of the fellow turf cutters brought his dog along and which excited Judy so much that she did not mind herself around Daddy’s tractor and was killed under its wheels. He buried her there and then in the bog that she and my father loved so much then returned home alone. Mammy knew the moment he came in that something was wrong. He went to his customary place at the kitchen table, sat down, folded his arms in front of him, laid down his head and wept.

Not long after these photographs were taken Judy and Katy set off on an adventure. Whether it was Judy's idea or Katy's we'll never know but they both left my mother's house and turned up at the next door neighbour's house which was a good fifteen minute walk for a toddler and a terrier. Both were returned safely and we were advised that one of them might need a nappy change.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

A Post From Fifteen Years Ago


Oh How I Wish That Skippy Was Here

The hole what I fell in

I’ve never got into the habit of carrying a phone with me. After yesterday I think perhaps I should. After leaving Hannah in to work I took Paddy and Bonnie for walks in Currell’s Avenue. I was wearing my Hunters so decided to go off piste. We were in this boggy field between the river and the Ballygarvey Road and I went to cross an old wooden bridge over a sheugh. Next thing I’m sitting on my ass on a whole heap of mud and my left leg is stuck in a hole in the bridge, damn and blast it to hell. Of course my first thought was,

Am I going to lose my welly here?

No thought a-tall for my leg, just my welly for a damned expensive welly it was too. Then I thought,

Am I going to get my leg out or am I going to be stuck here for hours?

Then I thought,

Will I have to chew my leg off?

Then I thought,

If I had a big rock I could smash the wood around my leg and get it out.

Then I thought,

If these dogs were any good a-tall like Lassie or Black Bob, or if they were even as smart as Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, then they could go and fetch help but they’re not, they’re crap dogs and they’re not even looking at me, they’re running ahead regardless as if Nelly with her leg stuck in a bridge is a really normal thing to be happening.

Then I thought,

If I imagine my leg is really skinny like Kate Moss’s leg then I could wiggle it out or die trying.

So I did. I imagined my leg was totally skinny and wiggled it out and it hurt like hell and it came out with Hunter still attached.

And I jumped up and walked about and everything still worked so I thought I’d better take myself and my two useless dogs homewards but before I went I took a photo of the hole in the bridge and I wished that I could have had a picture of me with my leg stuck in the bridge and if Skippy the Bush Kangaroo had been there (s)he would definitely have gotten that picture.

What's that Skip? An old lady's got her leg trapped in the old wooden bridge?

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Places in Books: 19 Eldon Road, Kensington


Number 19, Eldon Road, where the art critic Brian Sewell and his dog Susie lived in 1972. Susie was the first to sense that they were not alone, trembling and howling on many occasions. Sewell himself became aware of a presence.

"...something disagreeable - a chill and a stench through which I could pass in a single stride, of much the same height and volume as a human being" (Sleeping With Dogs, Brian Sewell, p30)

It is to be hoped that the current residents are untroubled by hauntings and, if this is so, they can thank Sewell for it, because it was he on meeting the ghost on the stairs, sat down, talked to it and somehow persuaded it to leave, much to Susie's relief.

I am reading this book for the second time. Zoe loaned it to Hannah after Ziggy died and when she had finished I decided to read it again. By all accounts the author was a complicated man who held controversial views but I read him as a fellow lover of dogs and that will do.  


Thursday, November 16, 2023

Diana and Dodi Are Dead

I don't exactly remember what I was doing the night Diana died but I think there might have been some sort of a party for the next day had a bit of a hangover vibe. And it had been  a Saturday night. What I do remember was Katy coming in after an all-nighter. She'd been clubbing in Belfast. And she said,

Hey Ma, did ya hear? Diana and Dodi are dead!

I thought it was crazy talk. Some kind of post-party-drug fantasy. She said, turn on the TV. It's all over the news.

So I did, and it was. Was the newscaster wearing a black tie? I don't remember. But he had that black tie kind of voice going on and it was true. Diana and Dodi were dead and nobody hardly mentioned the driver who was also dead.

Yep! I've just watched the first episode of The Crown on Netflix and it is all coming back to me.