Saturday, December 31, 2005
I've never been to a funeral on New Year's Eve before but it seems fitting - an ending and hopefully, a beginning.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Anyway next December when I call on my butcher (with whom I am on first name terms) I shall be saying something like this -
Good morning James. You know that large-breasted, Puccini-lovin', oven-ready turkey I bought from you last Christmas?
You know! 24 pounds, Emmerdale fan, huge breasts?
Number bloody 93! Honestly James! Your memory is dreadful.
Well! This year I want my turkey to be a bit less Dolly, a bit more Kate. Likes the White Stripes, Pixies, that kind of thing.
Parton! Moss! Smaller breasts man, smaller breasts. Last years was good. But there was just too much of it. More than a handful's a waste you know.
Right. Ok. What'd you say your name was again....?
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
| 7/9 Intellect |
You are 63% knowledgable and 84% intellectual.
|Excellent! You have a powerful mind backed by a good amount of knowledge. Keep cracking books and nothing can stop you.|
|My test tracked 2 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Knowledge vs. Intellect Test written by rattytintinface on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test|
1. The secret of enjoying Christmas is to have very low expectations.
2. When dealing with pet urine stains on mattresses go easy on the moisture, heavy on the borax.
Eventually I was free and as I drove towards Cully I could feel the tension mount. Would Bert have remembered the roast potatoes? Would they pass the Zoë test of approval? But I kept saying to myself ‘low expectations, low expectations.’
I got in to find Bert playing a blinder in the kitchen. All was going well and the roast potatoes were sorted. . Then there were big hugs for Katy and Mark. Zoë and Dave had not turned up yet. And where was Hannah? Katy breaks the bad news. The Wean is very ill, has not been up all day and Harry de Cat has pissed on her bed.
Hannah is very ill just because she is and it has nothing at all to do with the big feed of drink she took on Christmas Eve. She has decanted herself into the freshly appointed bed intended for Zoë et al and I go upstairs to pet her and be sympathetic and to put my new tips about dealing with cat piss into action. By 4.20pm I am ready to start Christmas and by this time Zoë, her beloved and their new baby have arrived. We do present opening and I am very pleased with all my presents.
Dinner was good but Hannah was unable to partake. She went back to bed with a couple of flu tablets. After about an hours sleep she got up and requested Yule Log (homemade by Zoë), which soon set her on the road to recovery.
After that Christmas was the usual whirl of chocolate, alcohol, family, turkey, wall-to-wall dogs and chocolate. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now I have a confession to make. Since moving into this house I have not read a single book. I suppose I’ve been too distracted. So I had decided to get stuck into one over Christmas. But which one? For I have a yard or more of unread books. I took inspiration from Jimmy Porter who said that the two worst books he read in 2005 were The Lovely Bones and The Time Traveller’s Wife. I’d read The Lovely Bones a couple of years ago and liked it a lot so I reasoned that if Jimmy hated it and I loved it then I’d probably appreciate The Time Traveller’s Wife too. Finished it a couple of hours ago and thought it was pretty enjoyable. I can see Johnny Depp playing Henry in the movie. Thanks for the tip Jimmy.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
1. You cannot get a fingerprint specialist on Christmas Eve for love nor money.
2. Nor can a police photographer be had on Christmas Day for the (living) bite-marked, kicked and gouged.
3. Girls can be incredibly vicious to other girls.
4. Some policechildren are starting to realise their job is shite.
Christmas will start tomorrow at 4pm.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
I was tagged to do this by Claire
The thing is I don’t actually think I am weird so I found this a little bit difficult. I used to be weird but I’m alright now. That said my loved ones tell me I still am but I’m sure they don’t mean it.
1. I speak to my animals as if they are my lovers and I speak to my lover as if he is a dog.
2. When I am driving from my local garage to my house with only dogs for company I sing ‘in tongues.’
3. I do not like to sleep in a room with cupboard doors or drawers ajar as I believe it is better to keep the monsters lurking within contained.
4. I find certain cloud formations frightening.
5. I wear a pedometer in bed.
I’m not tagging anyone directly. If you feel like doing it go ahead. Sorry Claire
but I think rules are meant to be bent.
Friday, December 23, 2005
Nelly: Good morning James. I'm here to collect my hand-fed, big-breasted, opera-lovin' and organic turkey if you please.
James: Why certainly miss. What's your number?
Nelly: (rather crestfallen) Number 93.
James: William! Number 93 is here for her turkey.
William brings out the big bird. Nelly feels a little sad. This is one turkey who''ll never listen to Madame Butterfly again.
James: That will be seven million pounds pleaseAnd this is what I'm thinking. It is a terrible thing to kill a turkey. You take away everything they are and everything they're ever going to be.* And I'm also thinking. See thon James. Robbing bastard.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
What date is it Hannah? The 22nd?
I can't believe I've all my Christmas shopping finished! I've never had it finished so early before.
Aye. Me too. We're well ahead of ourselves this year.
And I've got most of my wrapping done too. I'm usually doing that at the last minute on Christmas Eve.
Aye. It's great to get it redd up.
Oh God! I've just thought of something. Zoe is never going to like the book I bought her! I've never once heard her express an iota of interest in blah-blah-blah.
No. Me neither.
Oh God! What will I do?
You could give it to Dad. He likes blah-blah-blah.
But I never get Mick a present. Anyways what will I get Zoe? I can't face the town again. And I thought I was finished....
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
He hails from -
a. Rasharkin b. Rostrevor c. Randalstown
He likes -
a. Bono b. Jeremy Clarkson c. David Blunkett
He is -
a. 20 something b. 30 something c. over 40
He used to be -
a. a rent boy b. an altar boy c. a lady boy
He often walks through -
a. The Kalahari Desert b. The Mountains of Mourne c. The Streets of Baltimore
Whilst walking there he once encountered -
a. a leprechaun b. a flesh-eating zombie c. a lizardy thing
Then he -
a. slew it with a sword b. asked it to marry him c. wet his pants
He works -
a. in Starbucks b. for the Council c. in a top secret government research bunker
His favourite hobby is -
a. sleeping b. demolishing sheds c. sorting out his inland revenue payments
He grows excellent -
a. clematis b. cannabis c. carnations
He drives -
a. a Ford 4000 b. Nelly mad c. a Mercedes Benz
He plays -
a. the bagpipes b. the banjo c. the tin whistle
He calls his car -
a. Catalina b. Caitlin c. Catriona
His car is -
a. yellow b. orange c. tangerine
He knows a lot about -
a. thermal underwear b. thermodynamics c. thermaphrodites
He is often seen wearing -
a. sandals and socks b. black converse all-stars c. patent leather slip-ons
* Collection only. Decorations or lights not supplied..
Do you recognise this picture? Scruff guards the portal of Zoe’s blog. He usually lives on the Dingle Peninsula but for the next three months he'll be living with Nellybert, Paddy and Rosie while his owners, The Kerryman and Our Trish, are in Thailand.
As might be expected Harry de Cat is not too pleased. That poor cat has not had his sorrows to seek. And after he'd only just got Pearlie's cat battered into submission. Now this.
I went to Denelm Mill to buy a duvet and as soon as I got through the door I needed to pee. Very badly. Not being quite as free-spirited as David Walliam's urinating pensioner I asked an assistant for the use of the staff bog. Before I did so I made up my mind that if they were sweet about it I'd do some extra shopping there. And they were, so I did.
TK Maxx. Sorry about all the mess and confusion I caused. But it is your own fault for having such a messy shop. You see I kept changing my mind about the items in my basket and wherever I was I'd jack them out so picture frames among the gift soap sets and size 18 tops lurking among the size 10 bottoms galore. Who cares? Hannah does. She says I am just the sort of customer she hates.
Then I went to Primark but everything there was vile beyond belief. It all looked like it had been screwed up into a ball, flung into a crate and left lying about some seaport somewhere for about six months while the Chinese argued with the rest of the world. And who knows? Maybe it had.
Of course my Christmas meats are already ordered at my local butcher with whom I am on first name terms.
Good morning James. Set aside for me one of your finest, big-breasted turkeys. Let it be a happy contented turkey hand fed by its loving farmer-owner and let it have spent many relaxing evenings watching Emmerdale with the farmer's wife, while she stroked its fine plumage and fiddled with its wattles, all the time whispering fond endearments in its ear. And if it's not too much trouble let it be one whose favourite composers are Handel and Puccini and whose delicate turkey ears have never been polluted by the likes of Eminem and 50 Cent.
Why certainly. Now what's your name again?
Moser! I tell you this every year!
Then this morning Paddy and I went for a brisk walk in Portglenone Forest and had it all to ourselves apart from the man from Clinty Quarry who was cleaning the paths in his special path-spraying lorry. A lot different from Sunday mornings when the Forest is stiff with athletes training and harriers racing. Last Sunday Hannah and I got some brave eyefuls of the young lads in the tight lycra trousers.
After our walk I patronised the Mission for Moldovia charity shop where I purchased a hand painted Clarice Cliff-a-like plate from the Tunstall pot bank. It will look well with a pile of my home made mince pies on it.
Then it was Portglenone's finest grocery vending emporium for the Big Christmas Shop. An excellent shopping experience all round. I like Portglenone. But I wouldn't want to live there.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I missed the best picture. I heard an almighty crash and ran outside expecting to find Bert mangled under a pile of rusting corrugated iron. Instead I found him gleefully surveying the dismantled roof. He said,
"Pulled it down with the van."
"You should have called me. I'd have liked to have seen that. And get a photo."
"Didn't know it would come down quite so spectacularly. Anyway I was worried I'd only trail my back bumper off and I didn't want you to take a photo of that."
Suppose he's right. But it was a missed photo opportunity.
Monday, December 19, 2005
And now I have a confession to make. Adam! Stop reading now! I am really looking forward to 'Brokeback Mountain'. I lurrrve that sort of thing. Two gorgeous men. In cowboy outfits. Keeping their boots on.
But today when I arrived home this afternoon after mopping, cleaning and shopping for Matty I was ever so slightly peeved to find that Bert ‘hadn’t lifted a cup’, which is local parlance for completely ignoring domestic tasks. Instead I found him on top of the turf shed allegedly dismantling the roof. Says he,
“This is a good thing to be at isn’t it?”Oh yes Bert. Excellent idea. The house is upside down, it’s Christmas in five minutes and we’ve got lots of people coming. When I was writing my Christmas list of things to do I had ‘dismantle roof of turf shed’ right at the top just before ‘order turkey’ and ‘buy presents’.
His Aunt Lizzie came in for a chat later on and I was having a bit of a moan about his undomesticated ways. She said,
"Of course he was very badly spoiled when he was a wee boy. Never had to lift a finger. His father would have wanted him to go outside to help him with the cattle and his mother and his Aunt Tilly would have said ‘Sure the child will catch his death out in that cold air. Let him stay in the house where it’s warm.’”Later that evening Clint was in and I asked him if this was true.
“Is that right? That would explain his hatred of cold and rain.”
“Oh he was ruined. His mother and Aunt Tilly were that afeart he would catch something. They always had him well happed up in hats and scarves. He would never be allowed to wear anything darned or patched. Everything always had to be the very best of quality.”
“Is that why he was called Dandy at school?”
“It likely was.”
“It’s funny you should say that for I said to him once that I’d bet he never had to wait his turn for new shoes.”
“Shoes! They had him in at the best shoe shops in the town getting his feet measured and all for fear the shoes would hurt his poor wee feet.”
“I’ll say it was. He was spoilt rotten. He got every thing he wanted and never had to do a hand’s turn. “And what was Bert doing when Clint and I were talking about him? He was enjoying being the centre of attention. He just loves people talking about him no matter what they’re saying. His only quibble? He says he was called ‘Dandy’ after Dandy-Long-Legs. I said it’s Daddy-Long-Legs. He argues it’s ‘Dandy’ around here. Clint disagrees. He says it’s definitely Daddy-Long-Legs around here. And in those days Clint only lived at the bottom of Bert’s lane.
“Lizzie said Pearlie kept him in great style. Had he a velvet suit and a lace blouse then?”
“Well I don’t know about velvet but he had a wee corduroy suit he wore with a bow-tie.”
“The dressy thing didn’t stick with him?”
“No. He rebelled against that all right.”
“Lizzie said he never did a hand’s turn and hated going outside when it was cold.”
“Och sure the mother and him were always wrestling each other for the seat nearest the fire. She was as bad as him. The two of them would be sitting at the kitchen table cutting out and pasting into scrapbooks or some other fool carry-on and the men would be outside raving with hunger and not a bite ready for them to eat.”
Sunday, December 18, 2005
But at least Jazzer makes excellent roast potatoes so she cannot be all bad.
Friday, December 16, 2005
Do you know where I’d rather be? I’d rather be sitting in a lovely peaceful dentist’s surgery having a tooth pulled.And a couple of hours later when I was sitting in a lovely peaceful dentist’s surgery having a tooth pulled it wasn’t half as great as I’d imagined. And now I’m sitting here still zombied on antibiotics and painkillers and wearing my pretend teeth and they are not as awful as I’d imagined. Things can only get better.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
|You Are Somewhat Machiavellian|
You're not going to mow over everyone to get ahead...
But you're also powerful enough to make things happen for yourself.
You understand how the world works, even when it's an ugly place.
You just don't get ugly yourself - unless you have to!
And such a shame about my eye tooth. Wrenched from my jaw in a marathon two hour session at the dentist this evening. Old age is a terrible thing.
And such a shame about my old age. If you'd told me ten or fifteen years ago that two very handsome young men (one the spit of Ewan McGregor) could be sitting at one end of the house, with only Hannah, Bert and Ploppy Pants for company, while I sit here at the other tapping out this blog I don't think I'd have believed you. I'm so immune to 'all you pretty things' these days.
And you know they are making a very lovely noise with their geetars and their sweet songs so I might just venture over there. Ploppy Pants is raging. These Thursday music nights are not just as bluegrassy as he'd like them to be. It's all Hannah's fault.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Today I said to Bert, "Will you go into Cully with me and we'll see about getting a Christmas tree?" He said he would and I had just put my coat on when he said, "You know you'd probably get a wee fir tree out in the planting." So out we headed to the fields. I've only been round the start of the planting so far and it's mostly oaks, ash, rowans and the odd Scots pine so I wasn't holding out much hope for a decent fir tree. But he led me deeper into it and right at the edge there were quite a few firs. I had no idea they were there. "How many are there?" I enquired. "Oh. About a thousand," he replied. The biggest problem was getting one that was small enough as the smallest were about 7-8 foot.
Women who worked at home would wear an old skirt that had once been a good church-going skirt, a layering of jumpers and cardigans and a flowered apron. When outdoors she would add a headscarf, an old coat and a pair of wellington boots. Trousers were never worn, as these were not considered ladylike.
Bert’s mother still adheres to these ancient dress codes. Whilst at home she wanders around in an assortment of ill-matching garments, which will include a layering of polyester and acrylic skirts. She always wears a flowered apron and a pair of Bert’s old deck shoes. Many of her clothes date from the early acrylic years and are indestructible as long as they are kept away from naked flames. Being canny (and Cully) she sees no need for replacing these vintage garments. Her other better clothes are kept for special outings, Church etc.
Last week Pearlie asked Bert to take her to visit her sister Lizzie. As it was only Lizzie she was going to see she decided against changing out of her ‘wearing’ clothes. On the way she asked Bert to stop at our local garage to stock up on wild bird tucker. She gave him £10 and instructed him to spend £5. Meanwhile she waited in the van. But then she had a change of mind. Bert said he was gathering up her purchases when she suddenly appeared in the shop foyer screeching at him, “Bertie, Bertie, ye may spend the whole ten poond on the wee birds!”
This is what he told me.
God it was strange to see her standing there in her old wearing clothes. Y’know I never give her clothes a thought when she’s at home for I’m that used to the odd way she dresses. But to see her standing there among normal folk looked so rare. Back in the van I was having a giggle to myself about it and she said, “What are you laughing at?” and I said, “You! And the cut of you standing in the shop with your apron and all the rest of it,” and do you know what she said back?
“Those that knows me knows I hae better; and those that disnae, disnae metter!”
Monday, December 12, 2005
Mother (to daughter) : That room of yours is a total disgrace. Clothes lying everywhere! When are you going to tidy it up?
Mother (to daughter) : That blog of yours is a total disgrace. You haven't posted anything since the end of November! When are you going to update it?
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I know. I know. It's me that posts these pictures on Flickr but it is funny (peculiar) the ones that get looked at the most. After all I also post pictures of flowers and kittens and myself and nobody hardly ever spares those ones a glance.
The recent surge in peeks at the toe picture is partly due to Adam who has been sending people the link suggesting that they might be going to see something sweet and cute like a darling little kitten. The boy has a delightfully wicked sense of humour. I'm sure his older siblings must treasure him.
I'm not going to link the toe picture here but if you haven't seen it and you really want to see it trot over to Flickr and you'll find that someone has helpfully tagged it barf.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Christmas Cards: None received. None sent. None will be sent.
Christmas Tree: As usual a proper fir tree will be purchased.
Christmas Decorations: None apart from the tree.
Christmas Work Do: I didn’t go to this for fear of in vino veritas. Also I despise cabaret. God knows what I’d have ended up saying or doing. And that crowd of cute hoors I work with have had too much in the way of drugs training for anyone to get away with alternative stimulants.
Christmas Bonus: Gratefully received. I bought pears and parsnips with mine. Ooh Mr Founder you are spoiling us!
Christmas Dinner: I’m looking forward to this. All my girls will be there. And two of their partners. Sadly Jazzthefunk cannot join us until after Christmas.
Christmas Turkey: Got to be a big one.
Christmas Pudding: Undecided on this. We much prefer Zoë’s amazing Chocolate Guinness Cake.
Christmas Drink: Oh yes
Christmas Party: Boxing Day
All this and I’m working on Christmas Eve from 3pm right through to Christmas Day 3:30pm. Sure it’s a dirty oul job but somebody’s got to do it…..
Friday, December 09, 2005
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Now at that time my father kept a couple of sows and soon after I came home with the new baby one of them pigged. As usual there was a runt in the litter and he was brought into the house for hand feeding. This became my job so it meant I had two babies to feed. The piglet was always fed first as he squealed a lot harder than Zoë.
The morning of the Health Visitor’s first visit Zoë, the pig and myself were the only ones at home. I’d fed the pig and nursed Zoë and I was just about to give her a bath. I had the baby bath ready on the living room floor and I was undressing her when the door knocked. Oh no! My first visit from the Health Visitor and the baby is half-naked and unwashed. I invited her in. She sat down. I decided to abandon the bath for fear of accidentally drowning the child owing to my state of nerves but still went all fingers and thumbs and couldn’t operate the poppers on Zoë’s babygro at all. I felt sure the Health Visitor was watching me and thinking that I was a very ineffectual mother.
Then the piglet started to squeal from his box beside the Rayburn. “What’s the noise?” the Health Visitor asked. “It’s a baby pig.” I replied. She looked a bit nervous at this for she was from Belfast. “It’s OK,” I said, “It can’t get out of the box.” Just then the piglet chose to make a liar of me by jumping out of the box and looking around expectantly. The Health Visitor gasped. The piglet came over to me and snuffled at my feet. Then he got into the baby bath and had a little paddle about. He climbed out of the bath with his little wet trotters and sniffed at the Health Visitor’s feet. She screamed and drew her feet up as if the pig was going to bite her. I managed to lay the unpoppered Zoë down without dropping her and got the pig back into his box. I closed the lid on him and set an iron on top of it to keep him from escaping again. I was mortified and thought that the Health Visitor would be horrified that I was rearing my baby along with a pig.
I spent the next few days anxiously waiting for the Welfare to take Zoë into care. I truly believed that the authorities would take a very dim view of her being reared in close proximity to a pig. But no one came and I began to relax again.
The next time the Health Visitor came her first enquiry was for the pig. Well I suppose babies were in every house she went into but pigs were not as common. I told her that he was strong enough now to fight his own corner and he was back in the pig house with the others. She seemed pleased at this although whether it was at his having survived or being back in the shed I do not know.
She turned out to be a great Health Visitor and visited me regularly with little mention made of Zoë. She brought ice cream, which we shared and we would talk about life and books and stuff. She introduced me to CS Lewis’ non-fiction writing for which she had a huge admiration. I cannot say I got much out of them for I much preferred the Narnia books and the Space Trilogy.
It’s all the talk about the Narnia books that has brought Joan the Health Visitor back into my mind. In our house it was Ganching who was the first to read the Narnia Chronicles. I was a bit older than the recommended reading age (mid-teens) but I loved them anyway. The Christian allegorical part passed me by but I do remember thinking along these lines ‘Aslan reminds me of Jesus,’ but being Catholic reared I took that to be heretical and pagan rather than Christian. I guess I just didn’t get allegory then.
"Madonna scares me."
"Why does she scare you?"
He shuddered and said,
"She just does."Personally speaking I think she is a shite singer. Her voice is thin and dreary and I couldn't be bothered listening to her. But is she scary? I bet Guy Ritchie thinks she is.
"But don't you think she looks really fit in a leotard? And great for her age like they all say?"
"No. I wouldn't have wanted to see her 20 years ago in a leotard. I don't want to see her now in a leotard."
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
|The Movie Of Your Life Is A Black Comedy|
In your life, things are so twisted that you just have to laugh.
You may end up insane, but you'll have fun on the way to the asylum.
Your best movie matches: Being John Malkovich, The Royal Tenenbaums, American Psycho
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
This post is for Jazzthefunk. Hannah says this isn't her favourite picture. Something about not liking her nose. But I like the picture and I like her nose.
"Presently, Ormo sell the widest range of bread and morning goods in Northern Ireland where it is famous for traditional Irish breads and unique recipes for soda and potato farls, barmbrack and wheaten bread."Yesterday evening I went to the local supermarket and bought a packet of sliced wheaten bread. Feckless as always I failed to check the sell-by date. This morning Bert remarked,
When did you buy that bread?
Well it’s foosted and its sell-by date was the day before yesterday.
Right! I’m taking that back.
So you should.
He then goes to help himself to another slice.
Put that down. I can hardly take it back saying it was mouldy and you with the half of it in ye!
So I returned and I was rather firm with them. Said that I wasn’t happy. Stressed the disappointment we’d felt on sampling our morning goods and finding them stale. Pointed out that a day past the sell-by date was unacceptable.
Yay! £1.09 returned to my pocket and a free loaf.
The last time I complained about a bag of rotten pears I was nice about it and only got my money back. No complimentary pears.
Then we made up this song.
And here's to you Mr Henderson
Stick your mouldy wheaten up your hole….
I hadn’t the nerve to sing it to them in the shop. I think I’d have blown my chance of getting complimentary morning goods.
Monday, December 05, 2005
1. Bono Is Dead
2. Bono is regarded by many to be the leading authority in the world…
3. Bono is nominated for another award and you can go vote for him...he is currently in the lead;). Basically he is nominated for the Most Inspiring Person ...
4. Bono is nominated for yet another humanitarian honor…
5. Bono is an egomaniac. He knows this and frequently apologizes for it…
6. Bono is on a crusade to help Africans fight the AIDS crisis, reduce their nation's massive debt and improve their health care.
7. Bono Is Flattered by Rolling Stones.
8. Bono is good for business
9. many people question whether Bono is "really" a Christian, due to his notoriously bad language, liberal politics, and rock star antics
10. bono is also Italian slang for "sexy"
I must say that I was a little bit shocked at the number of hits this search turned up.
What is it about the squat Dubliner that inspires this heady mix of hatred and adulation?
|You are Agnostic|
You're not sure if God exists, and you don't care.
For you, there's no true way to figure out the divine.
You rather focus on what you can control - your own life.
And you tend to resent when others "sell" religion to you.
Sunday, December 04, 2005
“We might lose the house. We might be very poor.”What did that mean? I hardly dared to ask. I couldn’t comprehend what losing the house might mean. Maybe living with Granny? Horrible thought. As for ‘very poor’ I thought I knew what that meant. It meant nothing to eat but dry bread and water, crying hungry children, being barefoot in the snow and no Christmas presents.
I remember praying very hard in Chapel that we would not starve. Then I passed the 11+ and I was going to The Convent. I knew Mammy was worried about the price of the uniform but she got it all anyway except for the jumper and the scarf, which the nuns sold themselves at a ridiculously high price.
So I started The Convent. Maybe it was nerves or maybe it was a particularly chilly September but it was very cold. The uniform was so cheap and shoddy you could have spat through it. The rumour was that McKillen's bought it in for a pittance, sold it to us for a fortune and gave the nuns a kickback. The blazers were warm enough. They were probably made from the bits of felted up wool sweepings from the Lancashire factory floors, dyed navy blue and sewed into an ugly box-shaped garment with a posh badge and braid added on afterwards to give it a bit of ‘class’. But the sadistic nuns didn’t allow us to wear the blazers inside so we froze. They kept the central heating turned off too. Within a couple of days at least half the girls had bought a school jumper.
After the first week, there were only a dozen of us without the jumper. I was so cold I could hardly think. By the end of September, there were just two of us, myself and a girl called Eilish. And then there was just me. My humiliation was total. Or so I thought. For there was a lot more to come.
Mammy finally scraped the money together to get me the jumper in October. I honestly don’t remember what it cost but it would probably have bought her enough wool to knit the entire family jumpers. Oh aye, I forgot to mention that we weren’t allowed to have home knit jumpers.
Oh, The Convent! It was money, money, money all the time. At least once a week Sister Diabolical would sweep into our classrooms and announce that we were taking up a collection for the poor starving Black Babies in Africa or the poor starving White Babies in Dublin and we were all to bring in at least two shillings the next day. We were to ask our mothers as soon as we got home. Of course, I never mentioned this to my mother for fear of worrying her and then got roundly humiliated the next day when they took up the collection.
Then there was the PE kit. We were to have tennis rackets, hockey sticks, this kind of a skirt, that kind of shoes. Once again this was never named by me at home. So I spent my entire first year in an agony of shame and dread and consequently never learned a thing.
Then Sister Benedicta took a pick on me. She thought I was a scruffy tyke and she was right. She sent me out of class one day to comb my hair.
“Nelly Moser, your hair is a disgrace. Go to the washroom right now and comb it!”So I went to the washroom and looked in the glass. My hair was untidy, too curly and tangly. I had no comb so I tried to fix it with my fingers but it was no good. I was terrified going back to class because I thought she’d have another go at me but she never even noticed my hair was no different.
Then there were Sister Diabolical’s surprise fingernail inspections. She’d sweep in and go round everyone and inspect our fingernails. Humiliation for anyone whose nails were less than pristine. We’d all be frantically using compass points to clean them before she got to us. Once after failing inspection I got sent to the washroom to give them a good scrub and when I got there I scrubbed and scrubbed till they were nearly bleeding. Then Sister Benedicta nobbled me at break time for having all these white soap flecks on my jumper.
“Nelly Moser, you dirty, dirty girl. You’ve been eating ice cream and got it all over yourself!”As if. As if I had the money for ice cream.
In those days it was a small school with just the two streams. We’d all been streamed on the first day. The second class was for those who’d scored less well on the initial tests and a lot of them were being paid for anyway because they hadn’t passed the scholarship. But at least their families were wealthy enough to afford the fees.
After the first year, I got put into the second stream because I’d performed poorly in my end of year tests. I was mortified but in the good old Convent tradition more was to come. Sister Benedicta was our form teacher. She introduced an encouraging little ritual to motivate us to be smart and tidy schoolgirls. At the end of every month, she’d have a class prize for the most well-turned-out girl. And while she was about it there would be a dishonourable mention for the least well turned out. The prizes were nothing to get excited about – maybe a holy picture or a cheap set of rosary beads. Anyways Mary Teresa won it the first month. Her father was a wealthy businessman and she got a new uniform every term. I got the dishonourable mention. The second month Mary Catherine won it. I got the dishonourable mention. The third time it was Mary Teresa yet again and myself for the booby. After the Christmas term, Sister Benedicta got bored with her little scheme and it was never mentioned again. Maybe she just got bored of humiliating me because by that time I’d gone numb and had stopped reacting. Bullies need a reaction.
I begged and begged Mammy to let me leave after the third year. I told her they’d probably throw me out anyway. I did no revision for Junior Cert and failed Math, French, Irish, Geography and History. The parents relented and I went to Antrim Tech to do a pre-Nursing course. I learned to enjoy school again and when I wasn’t top of the class I was second. I also smartened up my act and became one of the most well-groomed girls in my class.
Incidentally, Sister Benedicta was her real name. She’s probably dead now. I don’t really care.
Friday, December 02, 2005
So I got all the ingredients to make the Another Place gourmets my yummy scones. Except I didn't get buttermilk. Because I had buttermilk. But I hadn't buttermilk. Because Bert had drank it all to wash down his boiled beetroots.
I am very cross.
Hannah and I were watching this tribute programe tonight on George Best. Being in her early 20s and totally uninterested in football Hannah only knew George Best as a famous alcoholic and Calum's dad. Sure he has been famous for his drinking for a lot longer now than he was famous for football. But being just a bit younger than George I can well remember his glory days and how proud we Norn Ironers were to have the Best (in every sense) footballer hail from our part of the world. George, like Alex Higgins and Van Morrison (working class protestants all) are our Belfast Boys made good, our fellow countrymen who transcended all sectarian barriers and made us all proud of their achievements.
But last word to Hannah.
Ma! Calum's not a patch on his da, is he?
I could only agree.
This is a first for Paddy as he ran off on his own without his Leaderene, The Fat Bitcher Rosie. His starting point was our old abode.
We are pretty worried and have been down there at regular intervals throughout the evening. We can only assume that he is lost. He's a bit thick and needs the intelligent collie to show him how to get home. Fingers crossed he makes it back tonight. Last time he went missing we found him in a far-flung field with his head stuck in a bucket.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
D'ye want a boiled beetroot? They're still warm.
Wise up! At this time of the night!
I bet Pearlie would like one.
I shouldn't be surprised.
The next day I remark.
I was over in Pearlie's just now.
Oh? Did she mention the boiled beetroot?
She just couldn't stop talking about it she was that made-up. She thinks you're a helluva son. Says she can't wait to go to her club on Tuesday to tell everyone about you boiling her beetroot.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
But it got me remembering a crowd we occasionally socialised with around 20 years ago. There'd be house parties where the women would be sitting around po-faced discussing babies and curtains. Meanwhile some of the men would be writhing about on the floor, fondling and snogging each other. Quantities of strong drink would normally be involved. Most of the men taking part in these rituals were ruggedly masculine, ambitious and have gone on to become successful businessmen in the Ballymena area.
I would not like anyone to think that the gentleman pictured took part in any such activities but he was (briefly) a Marine.
Today during a team meeting the fire alarm went off. And there was smoke. So the fire service were called. Because I'm not part of the regular team meant that I got designated as gofer during the meeting which is, of course, much better than taking minutes. Part of my gofer duties involved escorting the firemen up four flights of stairs. Of course I went up them as nimble as a mountain goat while the firemen lumbered up behind me puffing and panting. They said it was because of all their heavy gear and I believed them. So there's me surrounded by firemen, no actual fire and I'm thinking this is as good as it gets. My firemen were much more rugged than those in the picture above.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Tonight I made a chicken pie, pineapple & coconut scones, cheese scones and a cherry tart.
I have already walked close to five miles today so a bit of extra eating won't hurt. Sure I might as well. While I still have teeth.
You’re so lucky Nelly. Bert’s that easy-going. He never gets in a fluster about anything.
I’ve heard this from envious women hundreds of times. Usually I’d agree with them. Who wants to live with a control freak or someone who is always getting stressed out?
Bert takes his easy-going nature from his late father. He rarely let anything ruffle him too much. This was a very necessary character trait that stood Johnny in good stead in his dealings with Pearlie whose very favourite hobby is making mountains out of molehills.
But sometimes Bert’s relaxed attitude can be a little too relaxed.
For instance take this morning. I’d already left Hannah to the bus stop and taken Rosie on a two-mile walk. I got back to the house about nine fed some toast into the toaster and put the kettle on. Bert was still in bed but I didn’t mind that. It meant more peace and quiet for me.
I wandered into unfinished room where the computer is and started to work on my ‘Things To Do’ list. Then I heard a funny noise, sort of a scritchy noise. Must be Harry sharpening his claws on the cork notice board I thought. I looked round but Harry wasn’t there. The noise was scritchy and plinky so I had to investigate. Aargh! Water dripping from the ceiling, running down the walls scritching on rolls of sandpaper and plinking on paint tins. I ran upstairs.
Bert, Bert get up! We’ve got a flood!
He rolls over and opens one eye.
A flood! Water pouring through the ceiling and down the wall! Do something!
He rolls over again and pulls the duvet over his head.
Bert! Aren’t you getting up! Do something!
Ach! It’ll be all right for a minute or two.
I shall draw a veil over the next bit. Suffice to say the words feckless, normal (as in not) and Ian & Clint (as in what would they think about his unnatural reaction to a household disaster) were uttered.
Anyway he did get up then and immediately scoffed at my diagnosis of the cause of the problem.
How could the water be leaking through the roof tiles when the room above is dry?
He only did one annoying thing after that which was to ask me if I had done anything with the crowbar that was leaning against the corner of the dry stone wall. Bert I am a woman. I do not have any use for crowbars. But after that he was all business lifting floor coverings and floorboards and quickly diagnosing the problem as a leaking joint in the central heating system. Then he phoned the plumber and chatted to him about it in a very pleasant manner. He got some advice and went and fixed it.
Personally I think he was far too nice to the plumber but there you go. And if you’re reading this Jay you can tell plumber boy I said so.
So what was I doing while Bert was doing all this? I was drinking coffee and eating toast and cherry compote. But afterwards I did make Bert his favourite breakfast of porridge, brown sugar and cream.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
So I decided to change it to a randomised one. Which means that everytime you look at my blog you will see three random photographs instead of the five most recently posted to Flickr.
But the thing is last July I was in Spide City during the Twelfth of July parades and I took and then posted quite a lot of parade pictures to Flickr. Ironically of course. And the first couple of times I checked those pictures were featured.
I'd hate for anyone to think that I am an Orangey because I'm not. They wouldn't have me anyway because I am a Catholic and even though I'd have a little bit of time for them, in the name of multiculturism and all that jazz, I still feel that they are a sectarian organisation.
Incidentally I got Banana Girl to put a Flickr badge on her blog too. She's got some interesting pictures on there.
An abscess under a tooth .
My Dentist is wonderful but a million other people think so too and I could not get an appointment. Just a prescription. I thought it was working but the abscess seems to be bigger and stronger than the antibiotic.
Then I lost my denture and had to go to work with a gappy smile. But given my current form it was more like a gappy snarl. I told my colleagues that I couldn't wear it because my mouth was too sore but that was a lie. It is thoroughly lost. I look like a bag lady.
And tonight I must sleep yet again in the high bed in the clouds.
It will be better than the vile bed I slept in last night.
Last Night In Spide City
Wakened at ten past three by buzzing noise. I thought it was the emergency phone and staggered out of the vile, spongey, single bed to lift phone. Hello, hello.... Nobody there. The buzzing continues and I realise it is the front door. It might be the police so I lean out the window which is on the same side as the staff flat but quite a distance from the front door. It is not the police but a wee spidey shite in a baseball cap who is leaning on the doorbell. I say,
What do you want?He looks at me amazed. As far as he's concerned I'm three doors down. What can this wild-haired madwoman with the gappy snarl want with him?
I said what are you doing ringing that doorbell? What do you want?And he did. Sometimes I wonder why these young men aren't much ruder to me but no doubt they are afraid that I will mount my broomstick and fly after them.
I want in here.
Well you can't come in here.
Is that here too?
Aye it is. Who do you want?
I want to speak to Ivan.
Get a grip on yourself. There's no Ivan here. Now clear away off.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
My long awaited new bed was delivered yesterday morning.
It's much bigger than it looked in the workshop. I hate it. I shall need a footstool to climb into it.
It's actually quite comfortable.
It feels strange. I nearly broke my neck getting out of it to go to the loo in the early hours. Afterwards I lay and seethed and wanted to go back to my own house. The one we sold to Clint.
I hate the new bed. And the new house.
Rosie likes it. She lepped on to it like a young thing and slept cosily all night.
Paddy isn't limber enough to get up there. He hates it too.
I suppose I'll get used to it. It is comfortable. And new.
It makes me feel old not being able to lep into it like a young thing. And my bedside table is about a foot lower than it. I'll break my neck....
Hannah says I'll get used to it.
Bert thinks it's funny that I hate it. He says, "You liked it well enough in the shop."
I've got a better view from its heights.
My view is of the turf shed.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
While I’m in the mood I’m also going to exercise sisterhood and flag up ol’ Ganching who has decided to offer us the benefit of her great wisdom by offering lifestyle coaching on her blog. She has already given Mr Bolan from Fenland some very strict and no-nonsense advice. I see a media career looming as Ganching has all the charm and firmness of Trinny & Susannah mixed with the astringency of Janet Street-Porter. She should go far.
|The Cure Shares Your Taste in Music|
See their whole playlist here (iTunes required)
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Got up early and fought my way through two sets of school traffic to take Hannah to work. Did not get road rage even once although I did note that there were several idiots who were out and about in thick freezing fog with nary a light to be seen. Cretins.
Drove carefully to Matty's and did some cleaning for her. She is getting her cataracts done at the weekend and will notice things like dirt and dust so best make sure there isn't any to annoy her. Poor soul cannot tell whether she's looking at a blue tit or a chaffinch these days so will enjoy having keener sight.
Then took her to Randalstown shops. We did not see Goth wearing python. Probably too cold and foggy to take python out.
Observed accident on A26 on the way home. Recalled Matty saying that she felt a bit selfish only praying for Bro and Nelly's safe journeys. Decided not to tell her that her failure to pray for entire driving population of Norn Iron had resulted in mishap for someone.
Went for walk with Paddy in People's Park. Got yapped at by park official as per usual for walking Paddy into children's play area. Smiled a saintly smile and thought that if my job was sweeping up leaves on a freezing morning, I too might yap at general public to relieve tedium and frustration.
Resisted urge to go to T.K. Maxx.
Went home and found that Bert and Jamie had managed to drag themselves from their pits. Allowed them to laze about all day whilst encouraging them to believe that they were helluva dudes. Jamie helluva dude for making lots of coffee, fixing speakers on PC and employing feng shui on kitchen furniture. Bert helluva dude for hanging picture and oiling kitchen table and stapling lace to bathroom window so that McSquirter will never again see Nelly at her toilette.
Collected prescription from chemists and took Rosie for a walk.
Did housewifely tasks and collected Hannah from train.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Straight after work I was up at the Moat Bar's off-licence where I purchased one bottle of red wine and one bottle of gin.
Reason? Hannah's boyf was making supper and I didn't have a clue what kind of a fist he would make of it so I thought to myself, 'Hey! At least if he's a crap cook and the meal is inedible I'll still be smiling.'
And guess what? The food wasn't half bad and now I'm smiling squared.
And one of our good friends the Shinner social worker turned up. He shared a glass of wine with us even though I tried to put him off by telling him I'd purchased it in an ultra-loyalist bar. "Cheers," says he. "Just goes to show what a multi-culturist I am."
Overheard today in Harryville -
Is it right enough that Geordie Best got thon new liver of his of the DHSS?Just imagine a queue of DLA-entitled drinkers at the broo all applying for new livers.
How's about ye mucker? Ye in for a crisis loan?
Naw. I'm in tae see aboot gettin' mesel' a new liver.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
In my experience there are two kinds of social worker. These are the goody-goody social worker and the druggy-druggy social worker. Goody-goodies are usually greatly resented by their clients whilst druggy-druggies are often admired and respected. Unfortunately most of the druggy-druggies spend half their time out on the sick suffering from stress because, as Richard Ashcroft so eloquently puts it, ‘The Drugs Don’t Work.’
My colleagues and I may work in the social care field but we are Not Social Workers. We don’t have the professional qualification that brings in that extra several grand per annum but often the Not Social Workers are educated to a high degree. Among the Not Social Workers that I have known and know are holders of degrees in Archaeology, Media Studies, English, Journalism and Philosophy. In those rare quiet moments when we can tear ourselves away from discussions on how best to improve the levels of care and support that we give our clients we can, thanks to our educational qualifications, hold some very intellectual and enlightening conversations.
Why only the other day I was hearing all about La Tene scabbards found in riverbeds in Ireland and then a critique of the later novels of Philip Roth. I found myself at a disadvantage with the Roth discussion, as I had never progressed beyond Portnoy’s Complaint. It was suggested that this was probably for the best, as I’d likely find his later works far too shocking and offensive owing to my advanced years. It is a well-known fact that the older one gets the more tender one’s sensibilities become and the more easily shocked one is.
I myself hold a B.Sc. (Hons). in Social Administration & Policy but this is a very boring subject and no one wants to hear a thing about it. So for non-work related convo topics I have to fall back on things I read about in Heat and tales about the ‘Olden Days’. Funnily enough I’ve never yet encountered any Computing-type degree holders among the Not Social Workers. So while we former Philosophy, Journalism and Media Studies students are cleaning out cupboards, doing shift work and being verbally abused by the dispossessed all the computer wizards are sitting in cosy warm offices, minting money and writing their blogs in work hours. Sigh!
Friday, November 18, 2005
Young Rainey: I was in the Mace in Randalstown today and this hardcore Goth girl came in and you know what she’d got around her neck?
Hannah: A collar?
Young Rainey: No! A snake!
Nelly: A plastic snake?
Young Rainey: No! A real live snake! And you know those women who work in the Mace – they’ve been there since the Mace was built…
Nelly: You mean since Randalstown was built?
Young Rainey: Yeah right! Anyways they say, ‘What’s that you’ve got round your neck love?’ and the wee Goth says, ‘It’s a snake.’ And they step back and go ‘Aaagh!’
Nelly: What kind of a snake was it?
Young Rainey: Oh maybe a bull python or a rock python.
Hannah: And did she have a collar round her neck?
Young Rainey & Nelly: No! A snake!
Nelly: Can I blog this story?
Young Rainey: Aye, if you want.
Nelly: What shall I call you? Young Rooney?
Young David Rainey from Randalstown: You can call me whatever you want.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Well – last week Zoë took me to Captain Cook’s (all things cooky and kitcheny) and I bought an array of excellent cake, bun and pie tins.
Then last night I had another go at the pineapple and coconut scones. But I have not yet got to grips with my new oven. And so I grilled them instead of baking them. They turned out a bit flat but were fallen on with gusto and glee despite their pancakish appearance.
Tonight I have baked an apple tart and while I had the surfaces all messed up I thought I’d make another batch of scones. Hannah showed me how to work the oven and they have turned out well appearance wise.
Mind you I did get a bit involved in blogging and nearly burnt them.
It’s Thursday night (music night) and apart from Bert, Hannah and myself we also have Jamie & Glen & Johnny & Billy. I’ll have to see if I can unload some of my goodies on to them.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
I think this incident proves her point. We were walking through the Castle Centre car park in Antrim today when a woman of grandmotherly age called to us.
“Excuse me! I wonder if you could help me?”I was a little dismayed as I saw she was struggling with one of these modern baby push chairs and I have no hands for those things a-tall. But not wishing to be surly I went over to help her.
“It’s my grandson’s push chair. It folds up flat but I can’t get it to fold and if I don’t I won’t be able to get it in the car. It’s this lever here - if I pull it can you push it?”I took her word for it and got ready to push while she pulled. I’m seriously clueless with things like that. Then Matty steps forward.
“You pull that lever there.”It wasn’t the one the woman was fiddling with. Matty reaches over and pulls the correct lever and the pushchair immediately folds flat. The bloody woman didn’t even say thanks. I think she was flummoxed that a woman of great-grandmotherly age was the one to solve the problem. Matty didn’t even notice her lack of civility. She was far too busy being chuffed with herself.
Tell me, where did you piss last night?
Nelly’s bed, Nelly’s bed
All over Nelly’s legs
Then I shiver’d the whole night through
Poor cat, poor cat, where did you go?
I went where the cold wind blows
To the sheds, to the sheds
Where the sun don’t ever shine
And I shiver’d the whole night through
Old Nelly was a hard working woman
She was fast asleep in her bed
I pissed all over her feet & her legs
Then she fecked me out to the shed
Poor cat, poor cat, what did you do?
Did you piss on Nelly last night?
On her bed, on her legs
Then she fecked me outside
And I shiver’d the whole night through
Oul cat, oul cat, what did Nelly say?
She said ‘You fecker, you’re getting dumped,
In Portglenone, Portglenone,
Where the sun don’t ever shine
And that I’d shiver my nine lives through
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Then the first couple of bars of 'Oh Superman' started. I go,
"Ooh Laurie Anderson!"
"Laurie who?"Laurie Anderson's 'Oh Superman' made number two in 1984. Not that long ago a-tall.
"Never heard of him."
"She. She's a woman Haven't you heard of her? That was a really big hit."
"Never heard it before in my life.When was it out?"
"Oh it's not that long since. Maybe 20-25 years ago. You'll have been lying about Berry then by the dried up bed of the River Murray drinking cheap port with Uncle Lushy and the rest of the crew."