Monday, January 26, 2009

Foreign Muck

When Matty's other daughters come to visit (which they do regularly) they leave all sorts of strange and unusual foodstuffs behind them. These items are rank poison to Matty for, as everyone knows, a lady of her age and social standing exists mainly on cooked ham, mild cheddar cheese and Marie biscuits. Exotica such as avocados, garlic, parmesan cheese and tinned tomatoes are not for her delicate stomach. Indeed, their very presence in her larder, turns her over all queasy. Luckily I am always at hand to remove these pungent, highly-flavoured items from her kitchen.

But do not let it be said that Matty isn't prepared to try different things. She has a great appetite for some foreign foodstuffs and has never been known to refuse a French tartlet, a German biscuit, a Danish pastry or a slice of Italian cheesecake.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

And The Nominations Are...

I see the Irish Blog Awards are on the go again. I see someone's nominated me. Thanks m'lord.

Now I'm going to take the opportunity to canvass for another blog. Party Down And Go Fuck Yourself was first brought to my notice by S.E.V.E.N. but since then I've spotted the address scrawled on an iron post in Ballymena's Peoples Park. It's the first time I've ever come across a blog being promoted in this way, but then, I have to admit, I don't get out that much.

Party Down And Go Fuck Yourself is a total disgrace. Your mother won't like it one bit. Unless your mother happens to be me. After reading it you will never be able to eat a boiled egg without coming over all peculiar. It's also the funniest and most poignant blog this year and it loves dogs.

It's certainly going to get my vote for best newcomer and popculture blog.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Our Friends From Down Under

Much as I'm loath to generalise, I have to say that I've always found Australians to be very pass-remarkable. And although I'm sure it's got nothing at all to do with it, all the pass-remarkable Australians I've ever met, have been from an Ulster Protestant background. I could even narrow their ancestry to North Antrim.

Let me give you a couple of examples. First there were the cousins from Dubbo, fourth cousins, probably twice removed, who were doing the rounds of the Ulster rellies. She was a quiet enough girl but he was a complete gobshite who'd shag anything that moved and who commented (loudly) on finding a floater in the dunny. Honestly! I could have slapped him.

Then there was Ron's brother, who hadn't even been in Australia that long, but he certainly believed in saying what was on his mind. There we all were, having a few beers, relaxing, and as I placed my feet up on the coffee table, my trews rode up a little and Yerman says,

Strewth! Ya might have shaved yer legs!
In my own house! Honestly! I could have slapped him.

Instead I said,
Haven't you ever read The Beauty Myth?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Year Ago Today...

...found me arranging my books in alphabetical order and moaning about Pearlie. A year has passed and I never did complete ordering my books and I am trying not to moan about Pearlie too much even though she lives with us now.

A year ago I'd never watched a single episode of The Wire and George W. Bush was still in the White House. A year ago I thought my job was pretty secure and that I was well set up with savings.

A year ago Nellybert had no intention of getting married and now we've been wed for five months.

A year ago we had Rosie; today we have Fred.

A year ago I never dared to hope that Barack Obama would be President of the United States.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Matty Effect

The last time I took Matty to Junction One I couldn't find a spare disabled parking space so set off to look for another space that wasn't too far from the shops. But just as I found one and indicated that I was turning in, I spotted another driver aiming for the same place. I looked her in the eye, thumbed in the direction of my ancient passenger and took the space. I'm not usually that assertive but the aged parent certainly does bring it out of me.

We were at Junction One again tonight shopping for skirts for Pearlie. No luck unfortunately as the dowdy old-fashioned ones weren't lined and the heavier ones were too 'trendy' for her. Who could see Pearlie in Per Una? Not me. Being us, we picked up a couple of bits for there is nothing that cheers Matty as much as shopping for new gear. But she's still suffering from that cold and she's not quite herself and I could see she was getting tired.

So there we are standing in the queue waiting to get served and the person in front of us is one of those gypes who doesn't have her purse ready and can't remember how to work the card machine and is generally a div but we waited patiently anyway. Next thing this big man standing behind us says,

I wonder if you ladies would mind if I went in front of you for I'm in a terrible hurry and I'm paying in cash.

And I looked over at Matty and then I said to him,

Well actually we would mind for my mother is pretty tired and needs to get back to the car and besides we're paying in cash too.

Then I ignored him.

As I was telling Bert later, had I been on my own I'd have let him go in front of because it would have been the easiest thing to do. Bert was amazed that any man could think he was entitled to jump the queue in front of an 80-something lady.

By the way - I'm the sort of person who, if I've got a huge amount of shopping, will say to the person behind me with two or three items, to go before me. One, for it makes me feel kind and considerate and two, I hate the feel of eye-daggers in my back.

But I'll suffer eye-daggers for Matty anytime.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Death On The Dreen

Last night Bert had to shoot one of the calves. The vet didn't know for sure what was wrong with it. She thought it might be meningitis but after a day it was clear the calf wasn't going to get better and that it was suffering. It's only the second time he's had to do that to a large animal. He was quite shook up about it but I reassured him that it was the right thing to do.

This morning he killed three roosters.

The local hounds will eat the calf and we will eat the chickens.


Would be dutiful daughter dials number.

Hi Mum! How are you feeling today?

Oh. Is that you Nelly? I'm feeling much better today.

That's good. Listen I...

I can't talk now. I'm going to the doctor.

The doctor? Why are you going to the doctor?

I've got the cold.

I know you've got the cold. That's why I asked you how you were feeling. Why are you going to the doctor?

He wants to see me.

I was just ringing to let you know I can't take you to Tescos tomorrow because...

I wasn't for going anyway.

Right. You can phone me when you get back from the doctor. Tell me all ab...


So I guess I'm a bad daughter today for not taking my mother's cold seriously enough. Oh well. 

Saturday, January 10, 2009

How To Stop Smoking And Gain An Accomplishment In Three Short Days

Father Gerry's method of quitting the weed is so good I almost wish that I still smoked so I could give it a go. So for those of you who tried and failed to stop smoking this New Year why not try the McAteer Plan? Prayer (even to St Jude) is not necessary but you will need to clear your dairy for three days. And you'll need to buy a tin whistle.

So here it is - the McAteer three day plan for giving up smoking. Father Gerry knew he had to do two things to successfully ditch the habit. These were - shorten the day and keep the hands busy. The first part wasn't too hard as he was a self-confessed lover of the scratcher, the second part was where the tin whistle came in.

  • Day 1: Father McAteer stayed in bed until one o'clock in the afternoon and went to bed at teatime*. During the short time he was out of bed he set about learning to play the tin whistle.
  • Day 2: He got up at dinnertime** and didn't put the whistle down for a minute until he went to bed at eight that evening.
  • Day 3: He rose at midday and played the whistle until his usual bedtime.

On the fourth day Father Gerry woke up a non-smoker and an accomplished tin whistle player.

It must be noted that Father McAteer was still a layman in those days. He was his own boss and could arrange the day whatever way he chose. Still, give him kudos, it was quite an achievement.

But what, you might ask, if you want to try the McAteer Plan and you already are an excellent whistle player? Well you could try the bagpipes or the banjo or if you have cranky neighbours living close by you could take up crocheting or needlepoint. Where there's a will there's a way!

The McAteer Plan is taken from Better Late Than Never... Memoirs of Father Gerard McAteer, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1983 at the age of sixty-five.

*Teatime - around six in the evening
**Dinnertime - Between midday and one a.m.

Friday, January 09, 2009

The Death of a Hare in Fairloch Moss

I’ve been reading the memoir Better Late Than Never... by Father Gerry McAteer, who came from around Matty’s part of the world. The Wee Bro bought it for her and she devoured it in two days. I’m taking a bit more time over it as I keep rushing to the internet to google stuff that he’s writing about. A chance remark that he spent time cutting turf in Sloggan Moss ‘above Randalstown’ lead me to an account of an event in 1835 referred to as a bog burst. It was fascinating. I got the OS maps out and found out exactly where it happened and some of these days I’ll be going for a wander around it. But I’ll have to mind my step and keep a bit of a lookout in case it swallows me up or carries me off. It seems there is far more to fear in the bog than falling into a moss hole.

The bog began swelling on the 17th September. It had reportedly rose to a height of 30 feet before starting to move forward in the late afternoon. It moved slowly forward for several days, first in a north-easterly direction then changing course towards the west. By all accounts the people of the country watched anxiously to see what it might do next. moved but little until Friday the 23rd; when about three in the afternoon, it rushed suddenly forward with the speed, as the peasants expressed it, of a race horse: they found it impossible to keep up with it. It was while pressing thus rapidly onwards, that a hare, pursued by some boys and a dog, leaped on the bog, and, jumping from tuft to tuft, succeeded in reaching the centre of the morass, where it was seen struggling for several minutes, but at last disappeared in the torrent of black mud that flowed down upon it. The dog followed; but terrified at feeling the ground moving, as it were, from right under his feet, and gradually giving way, leaped off again, and ran away with his tail between his legs, evidently much frightened. (Hunter, Magazine of Natural History, Vol IX, pp251-260)

By the 25th the travelling bog reached the River Maine where, over a period of several days, it was carried into Lough Neagh.

And fortunately there was no injury or loss of life apart from the hare and the salmon and trout killed when the bog entered the river. The fish did not go to waste for they were gathered up in their hundreds by the country people from miles around.

The Belfast to Derry mail coach was greatly inconvenienced as, by all accounts, it took forty men many days to clear the debris from the main road running between Ballymena and Randalstown.

I've found this account engrossing to read about but what does rankle me is, I knew people, people from 'around our doors', like Paddy Heffron and even my own father, who might have had first hand accounts of these happenings from their own grandparents. It's far too late to ask them now.

My next blog will give an account of how Father McAteer renounced the evil nicotine. It's so good it needs to be passed on.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


It won’t be long now until the greeting ‘Happy New Year’ can be put away for another twelve months. Surely it will only be a matter of days before people stop asking, “How did you get Christmas over you?” The usual reply to this question is, “Oh quiet. It was very quiet.” I was asked this myself today, “So how was your Christmas? I suppose it was quiet?” “Not a-tall,” says I. “It wasn’t a bit quiet.” “What!” says he, “You’re the first person I’ve heard of that didn’t have a quiet Christmas.” “Well,” says I, “It would be hard to be quiet with two mad parties, countless visitors, relations, animals, Bert’s carpentry project, six carers in and out every day, an’ oul targe ensconced in the good room and me on the gin for a fortnight.”

There were times during Christmas when I dreamed of a long weekend in the Mournes. That would be just me, one dog, a stout pair of walking boots, a pile of books and four bottles of wine.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


unconcerned, originally uploaded by NellyMoser.

Fred needed some kitten medication for which he needed to be weighed.

Just put him on your baking scales, said Bert.

He'll wreck them, said I.

As it happened Fred happily cooperated with the weighing process.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Nawsome To Awesome

Ganching (gently) recently reproached me for my use of the word 'awesome'. She suggested that some people might think I was trying to 'sound young'. I took this on board and decided to consult a 'young person'.

Kermie, my sister says that I should reconsider my use of the expression 'awesome'. She feels that it is not age-appropriate. What words do you think a person in her mid-fifties should use when she wishes to suggest 'awsomeness'?

He thought carefully. He answered,

Spiffing? Splendid?

I think he's got it. Thanks Kerm.