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.