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Aug 17

Gnarly gardening

Posted on Monday, August 17, 2015 in Philosophy, Strange and Unusual

It planted itself by accident one day.

The seed just put itself there when I wasn’t looking

As they tend to do.

It sprouted and grew sideways and everyone told me it looked dead.

Compared to the other trees, its roots ran just as deep but the wind blew in the wrong direction that day maybe and so it is

My stunted tree.

I crouch by the roots some days in the shadows of branches that made their own success and I wonder if the underground tells stories that I can’t see.


My smallest tree grows slowly.


Sometimes I cry tears at its roots to see if that works and the sun shines between its leaves in mysterious ways to make me happy and sometimes my tears are not needed as nature takes its course without me and laughs at my effort

but that’s ok.

I know that some day this beautiful unusual tree will die like a weed deprived of sunlight, no chance for seed.

Like the most beautiful flowering thing above it, though it shines for a while it will wither and create mould eventually and create nurture for the soil beneath

and new seeds will fall

stronger and weaker as nature determines.

And that is the impossible truth.

Jun 19


Posted on Friday, June 19, 2015 in Family, Philosophy

I’m not a non-believer. I’ve seen too many coincidences in my time to deny any sort of higher power. There’s something funky going on out there outside our existence which I’m sure of. Even if we don’t exist at all.

I’m supposed to be a Roman Catholic. So are my kids. I can’t resist a sly snigger any time anyone asks me what my faith is. I’m all over the place, but for my children’s sake I remain stoic and do what I’m s’posed to. I’ve no choice really, it’s all about school availability.

So. What I really like about Roman Catholic society is that their masses get people together as a community. There are a very few other entities out there that can do that. They’re damn good at holding funerals. Even if you didn’t know the poor chap that died, but maybe you used to queue behind him at the post office for your pension fund or what have you, you still nodded and doffed your cap, so that’s you at the funeral paying your respects and scoffing free sangwidges, telling nice stories to the deceased’s family because that’s really all they want to hear and that’s a nice thing, it’s what I’d want in the eventuality of having something awful happen to me or someone I loved with all my heart.

Here comes the Catholic Guilt… when Puppychild was making her Communion I made a concerted effort to bring her to Sunday Mass every week. She remained in the back pews making bored noises while I became hooked on the choir. It’s a good choir. It has four parts. I was a middly sort of singer but I’m damn good at picking up tones and reading music so they liked me.

Then Puppychild finished her Communion thing and I got lazy. She had no interest, no motivation, and I can’t say I blame her. All that chanting. Stand up. Sit down. Baskets of money and people looking at you strangely because you forgot to load up on change that morning or your jumper has dog hair on it. So, I lost motivation too and I feel SO GUILTY.

Morning. Yaawwwn.

Why do interesting things have to always take place in the morning? Especially a SUNDAY morning when you’ve been working hard all week and deserve a lie-in?

I don’t miss Mass. Well I do sort of. I miss the stories.

I miss the choir though most of all.

Can’t they have a lunchtime mass for layabouts and messers? We’re part of the congregation too, you know. We’d even bring coffee and hummous crackers and cactus plants. Probably a guitar too.

Numbers are dropping, they tell me. Not just Mass-goers, but priests and nuns too.

It’s Puppychild’s Confirmation next year, and it was supposed to be Laughingboy’s last May. I’m lumping them together, like a 2-for-1 offer. That’s how it feels. It’s more convenient for a family day out I suppose.

It’s depressing though, how MEH it all feels.

I wish there was more relaxation, more passion, more of a family feel to Sunday Mass. More of an open-ness to individual preferences instead of a fixed regime of closed doors and silent sadness. The Lord is with Thee every day, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. Or maybe He’s a She. Or maybe She’s an It. It might not exist at all.

My poor Grandmothers must be turning in their graves.

Mar 27

The baby’s ringing

Posted on Friday, March 27, 2015 in Family, Quickie

This evening I went to a fundraising salsa dance. I was apprehensive and nervous all week thinking about it but as always with anxiety, it was better than I’d expected. I was sad to leave.

I got the call to come home to feed baby Pixie but by the time I’d arrived, wasn’t she asleep?

I strung around with Baby Daddy, watching Netflix and playing MarioKart as you do, until he fell asleep. I cleaned the kitchen and then sneezed several times. I took this to be a sign. Husband began snoring loudly as he mostly does.

So, I practiced my midnight piano. Very gently on the keys did I press and loved every minute oh so quietly until I heard the baby cry.

I stopped mid-stanza and ran into the baby bedroom which I share with the Accidental Terrorist who exclaimed:

“Would ya ever fckin turn off your phone!?!

I wasn’t sure if he was referring to my piano playing, or the baby crying.

My phone remains as ever, on mute.

I took her into my arms and breast-fed her while practicing Clair De Lune. It’s one of the best memories I’ll ever keep… her falling asleep like that on my pedaling knee while the rest of the house dozes.

Not that I can play it so well yet! But we’re getting there, my baby and me.

Jan 28

Keep the head down

Posted on Wednesday, January 28, 2015 in Family

I had a baby, did I tell yiz?

Ever since that first moment I knew I was pregnant I hid her, even before I took the test. I knew she was there and I didn’t want her to be. Isn’t that awful? I felt guilty for introducing a new life into this already over-burdened world, into my already over-burdened family, an over-stretched entity that seems due to explode at any second. And yet, part of me relished her as my girl, my secret, I loved her from the start like nothing else. It just felt like she was premature, it wasn’t her time to be here yet. I hid her bump under baggy clothing, willed her to be small so that nobody could see her. Counselors didn’t really understand, when I tried to bite that bullet.

And then, after too short a time, she was born.

She was so tiny, way smaller than my other kids were at birth. I did that. I willed her to be tiny. They looked at me with sideways looks and made me stay in that awful hospital for an extra night. She was having none of it though, she fought, and fed, and fed and cried and wanted nothing but to be held. I wanted nothing but to hold her, and that still remains. I give her my everything, my breast, my heart, my almost neverending gaze when I can spare it.

Within one month, she’s already almost twice the size she was when she was born, out of sheer stubbornness and willingness to overcome the awful spell I put upon her. She also shits like a sailor, to put the icing on the proverbial revenge cake.

But there is so much to be done!

I ignore the messages reminding me that my EMT skills are eagerly awaited.

I ignore the calls from friends who want to shoot the breeze because I can’t foresee any time in the future when a single coherent sentence could possibly escape my lips. Sleep deprivation is something I’d laugh about but is really not all that funny.

Laughingboy is being managed mostly by The Accidental Terrorist whose back is already under strain; he gave way this evening and finally collapsed in pain. Laughingboy is 48kg dead weight now so that’s hardly surprising even with the hoist system we have. Both will have to remain bedridden until I can figure out what to do.

Sir Fartsalot is four years old now, and has taken to peeing himself at weird times, exorcist style. Not being a child psychologist, I can’t figure out what to do about that other than mop him up and hug him and send him on his way.

Puppychild is ten years old. She figures out how to socially manipulate people and is very good at it. So, whereas she would normally be torturing and wise-cracking members of her family, this evening she has been following me around asking me what she can do to help even though she has a real cracker of a strep-throat infection on her right now. I fought with her to go to bed through her stubborn insistence, she knows too early the definition of a parent’s lot.

Through this crazy evening I’ve been itching to write a fictional story through which I can vent this inability to tear-up and scream. It would have been an amazing story in which our heroine admits her weakness and becomes stronger through some unbelievable and unexpected entity and would leave you, the reader, breathless.

There isn’t such a story however there is only this, a vague stop-gap of an apology of a story. The truth, that’s all.

My first born for a song by BellX1 performed at the Olympia

Nov 18

Canis Canem Edit

Posted on Tuesday, November 18, 2014 in Family, munchies


is how this post might start off, but not being a fan of sensationalism, I shall lead you into the story gently:


I have a very select attire when dropping the kids off to school… or even being in public generally. I’m not a pyjama wearer, merely a grade above that. Converse runners, tracksuit bottoms or jeans if I REALLY want to impress a crowd. Hoodies, floppy tee-shirts. I never brush my hair in the morning, I don’t own a vanity station and most of my makeup products have gone-off.

Back straight, head up, shoulders back (hood up) is the way I would normally present myself in front of other parents at the school. I get my usual ‘See ya later Mom!’ from the elder, and a leg-hug and hip-kiss from the younger who has only just begun in Junior Elephants and then they’re gone. Other ‘Moms’ in their jogging attire go off to jog and invite me along in a well-meaning sort of way, but I usually go back home to bed because sleep is a right, not a privilege.

The odd time, I’ll become engaged in ‘Mom’ conversation but other ‘Moms’ know by now that I don’t do weather speeches, or talk about husband’s cars or golf lessons… I like talking about designing posters for upcoming fundraisers, logistics of marketing same, or maybe Yoga and how to breathe through your day when you’ve had sod-all sleep the night before. These are rare occasions. Fake smiles and nods are what I’m used to, before we all crumble back into our tarmacadam’d lives.

If I could post my children to and from school, I would.


This morning was different. I was chatting to aforementioned Yoga-person when I noted that most usual ‘Moms’ were acknowledging me more than usual, and unusually less towards my Yoga friend. She was getting very dirty looks indeed… in fact, she was hanging on to me for longer than she usually would. Instinct told me to keep quiet, wait for the lull, wait for the moment of confession for there are usually scandalous confessions in times like these.

There were tears in her eyes before she’d even begun her story.

She brings her 11 year old dog to school while dropping her child off as a norm… she’s been doing that for as long as I’ve known her, about six years give or take. It’s a golden Labrador named Ploppy. I know it well, it wet-noses the palm of my hand when I visit and benignly settles at my feet, all but offering a fluffy back to place my teacup while I talk to its owner. She’s an old girl set in her ways, just like me.

Last week, a small child teased the dog while on its lead. He circled her, stared her in the eyes and growled and mocked but didn’t touch her. She snapped, and bit him under the eye, he now has an impressive scar which I try not to stare at. I’m not sure how long this process took, nor what was involved.

This happened in a school playground with every other mother (apart from me as I was on my way home to bed) watching.

She received eleven phonecalls and text messages that night,

‘The sooner that dog is put down the better’

‘You shouldn’t have let your dog do that, what were you thinking?’

‘I want to be visiting that dog’s grave by next week so I can spit on it’

These were the comments she was getting about an old family dog who reacted to a stimulus. I have a dog. I warn my children about other dogs, about how they should be respected. Stray dogs should never be approached. Dogs on leads should only be petted with their owner’s permission, if a dog tries to attack you, NEVER run away… play dead, curl up. The usual stuff that EVERY parent should teach their kid.


What do you think? Have you ever been in a situation like this? If a dog bites should it automatically be put to death or should the circumstances be examined?

I feel sorry for Yoga friend. If the jury decides that her dog is to be killed, her kids would be gutted. But rules are rules, a child is scarred.

If you were the local vet and you knew this dog, what would you say?




Nov 4

For Shame

Posted on Tuesday, November 4, 2014 in Fiction, Something to think about, Strange and Unusual, Taboo

I hadn’t reckoned it would wind up this way, my head on hard pillows with everyone looking at me funny like they are now. Most don’t know what to make of me, some think they have me all figured out and want me punished for my sins. But, I’m not really sure what I did wrong.

I’d always hated those dances Mammy made us go to, it was only because she’d made me a fancy dress which had ‘nearly broke her fingers’ she told me… I like the music they play for us, but the magical atmosphere they promise is always ruined by the strangers there. Especially that fella with the red cap. He’s always there, and looks at me strangely always grabbing that chance to whisper things I don’t understand into my ear. I would have been miserable at that dance that night if it wasn’t for Joe.

Joe knows me, he knows my moods and I know his. He doesn’t snatch hard work from me like most boys do, he hovers and helps and cracks jokes. He’s great at catching chickens. At dances like these he never asks me to do anything I don’t want to… we keep each other from being lonely is all. I don’t know how to explain it.

I escaped that night, the fog of heavy meaningless noise drove me away. That, and the fella with the red cap. Joe saw me leave and followed me to the barn where he listened to me cry and showed me how to make a Saint Bridget’s Cross with straw to distract me. I fell asleep with the noise of cackling music in my ears with him beside me and I felt safe.

The noise had gone when I woke, startled. All was calm and silent, but  when the glow appeared at my feet I started, desperately wondering where I was and where home was and wasn’t Joe here somewhere?

The glow brightened, it turned from wisps of gold and silver into a grey form with enormous wings and heated me up with its presence against the cold wind in the barn and it terrified me but I knew it was more like a firework in its overwhelming state, under its own control. It told me I was to have a baby, that this baby was to be the saviour of something… I was to look after it with every grasp of energy I had, my path ahead would surely be difficult. Saviour of what? The man in the red cap?  Difficult how? The apparition had dissipated before I thought to ask it questions.

To say I walked home in a daze would understate it. Joe caught up with me not long before I reached my front gate and commented on my paleness, he claimed I’d seen a ghost which maybe I had… I don’t know, I can’t remember. Either way it was why he held my hand as I reached my front door to confront Mammy, which was maybe our undoing.

I explained to her what had happened, every detail. Her face decreased into a state of scowl that eventually made me realise that I’d made a mistake in telling her the honest truth, especially when a few weeks later my blood didn’t appear. She told me For Shame. She asked me what my elder priest brother would think and cursed Joe’s parents. Then she sent me off to this place.

This is a place with endless laundry and meaningless power. I’m made to pray and work and confess things I didn’t do and meanwhile my stomach grows bigger with every passing week and still Joe visits me, but not Mammy. I keep thinking of that ghost, and what it meant by saviour. Even when those nuns beat me and tell me my child is not worthy of me,  even when this thing inside me, whatever it is… beats the inside of my navel and pushes my abdomen around like the demon they tell me it is, I know it’s pure. And it’s mine.

It kicks most when Joe is there at the gate, when I’m supposed to be picking weeds from the garden… he whistles to me and the bump in my tummy jumps in reply. Joe shows no remorse that he didn’t put it there and I don’t worry that the bump will have to go away someday, but because of him and the ghost I know that everything will be okay.

I’m not sure what that something is and I’m not certain what okay means, but that something is definitely not the nuns. Maybe it is these women my baby is to save?

I hope so, for the sake of the women around me and for the sake of mankind, I hope so.


Aug 29

First Draft… a letter to be filed under ‘BIN’

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2014 in Family, Jobs, Rantings

There is a worrying situation developing here in Ireland regarding the construction of a new children’s hospital. I say developing, it may already be too late. Millions have been invested into the construction of a fancy new hospital, the skeptic in me prophesies that this new building is less about family and child-welfare and more about lining the pockets of architects and land developers, big brown envelopes, that sort of thing.

This new hospital is to be placed in the worst area of Dublin you could possibly imagine. I have friends from tough inner city ghettos who are dubious about hanging around this area for too long, even to catch a bus. They’d rather skirt around the area even in torrents of rain and hellfire. Cars have no idea how to manoeuvre the spurious crossroads, trams and trains have pre-booked the area making it a hub of transport confusion. It’s a big cramped half-erased yellow-box-junction broken-glass no-signage-whatsoever many-laned mess.

So, to summarize, the powers that be have organized to put a fancy new building in the centre of a very confused city, in a confusing hole of many long roads with traffic lights that are completely out of sync and roundabouts that have no place being roundabouts at all. No parking. No views of green belts. No extra room. Heroin addicts asking you weird questions. No bus lanes for rushing ambulances, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There is, however, a nice area which is free, it’s right beside a flowing motorway. It has building potential. It has lots of accessible space with lots of expansion possibility for education facilities… there’s even room for a maternity hospital that doesn’t sag under the weight of heavy machinery because its floors are too ancient. Developers seem to not want to have anything to do with it, but that’s politics for you. It’s up to public protest now. Jonathan Irwin of the Jack and Jill foundation for very sick children indeed, is tearing his hair out.

I really want to write a letter to help him out because he’s a brilliant advocate for families like mine but he’s just one man, and I’m crap with politics and would be glad of your help, if you have the time.


Dear (insert name of TD or whatever dude has power to do things)


As a citizen of Ireland, and a busy mother, I hope to capture your interest in a subject that concerns a great many like me. I would love to have the time to write passionately about this subject, but I don’t, and I fear that your busy lifestyle and the constant demands for your time are harsh too so in the name of empathy I’m hoping to keep this message relatively short.

Close your outer mind if you can. Lock the doors to external distractions and focus on your imagination, because I’m hoping to tell you a story.


You’re in a car. There’s a baby in the back-seat. It’s a baby that at one time you were very excited about, but now you’re not sure how to feel because some weeks ago you learned that it’s not like other babies, it isn’t developing the way babies should according to the books you’ve read. Doctors have scared you. You’ve scared yourself. Because your baby is broken, you feel as though you are broken too.

There’s something wrong with this child. It gurgles when it breathes. It’s pale and floppy, maybe this child is jerking uncontrollably, or perhaps the weird feeding device that well-meaning surgeons have placed before has come loose and now your baby is starving because you can’t re-insert it.

You live three hours away from the surgeons that can help this baby, according to your Sat-Nav system.

So, you put the pedal to the metal and you drive in panic along relatively vacant country roads for what appears to be an eternity, overtaking trucks, watching mindfully for motorcyclists. You yourself feel in a relative state of control, but you have a loved one – maybe a co-parent, or a sister or a carer in the car with you who is desperate for you to drive FASTER. You’re worried if you’ve brought change for a parking meter… did you switch off the central heating? There may be only a quarter of a tank of fuel in your car but you can’t stop.

Finally, your navigation system tells you you’re 30 minutes away, but you’ve hit heavy traffic on the city-side of a national road. 30 minutes later you feel no closer to your goal because it’s rush-hour, and there are roadworks. You try to de-tour but then you get lost, and can’t return because it’s a one way system which wasn’t signposted. Your Sat-Nav begins to give out to you and you wonder why you didn’t bin it months ago.

Meanwhile your baby is gagging wretchedly but you can’t stop because when you do, irate drivers behind you start to beep incessantly. Everyone is irate now, the whole world is collapsing, and you’re still negotiating cross-roads, you’ve officially lost control and you feel as though it’s a miracle you haven’t crashed by now.

Another 30 minutes later, your blood-pressure is high. There’s a strange smell in the car. Everything seems silent because you’ve blocked it out, good for you. You’re circling around a massive complex, trying to find parking, trying to find an entrance to a beautiful inaccessible building which you are starting to loathe because it’s a monument to your failure. You pass the same beggar many times as you loop around, you try to map his suffering against that of your baby’s, and you are confused. Finally, you find a parking space and discover that it will cost you the price of a three course meal in a fancy restaurant to park there for a day.

You wonder why the powers that be didn’t just build this hospital right beside the motorway you passed two hours ago, maybe your baby would have had a better chance in that case. Should you have called for an ambulance then?

Isn’t it wrong to make phone-calls while you’re driving though? Maybe the penalty points would be worth it, but the overstretched budget on the Irish health system would probably complicate things further seeing as there are very few ambulances out there to spare. You resign to the fact that you live in a country that doesn’t seem to care about people like you. Maybe you should have moved to Canada, after all.

You don’t know what you should have done. Maybe you should have written to your local TD before any of this had a chance to happen, and hope that their hands aren’t tied, that they have some power to invoke a miracle to override corporate inevitability; but maybe you were too busy with a sick child, maybe you were scared that the time spent writing to them would be a waste because brown envelopes are worth more than your monthly Carer’s Allowance so you don’t really matter, and neither does your baby because it’s broken, and doesn’t really have much to offer to its country. You feel guilty about that too, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish.


That’s the end of my story. Thank you for reading it.

I hope that it’s obvious that the enormous funds already spent on the development of the new Children’s Hospital in a volatile spot could have been better spent on a more appropriate site. I hope that it’s realised that such funds would have helped individual families on a massive scale. Waste is a heartbreaking thing.

Please help, if you can, before it’s too late.

Yours Sincerely,


banksy-gray-ghost-2Banksy versus the Gray Ghost








Aug 13


Posted on Wednesday, August 13, 2014 in Philosophy, Something to think about, Strange and Unusual, Taboo, Wicklow walks

I write this for the consideration of those both owning a vagina (even albeit vicariously) and for those that do not. For those that do, I’m sure you’re aware of the phantasm that has been created regarding such a beautifully crafted phenomenon. Most seem to crave it and hate it at the same time… a lot of the worst curse words you can think of revolve around these four simple flaps and the strange secrets they hold between.  Those of us that have a vagina sometimes wonder at it, but we rarely curse it. Its mysteries just never seem to end. For those of you that don’t possess a vagina (even somewhat vicariously) it’s ok, but don’t be afraid to go and find it. It will be worth your efforts, so long as you treat it nicely.

This brings us to Sheela.

Sheela Na Gig

Sheela Na Gig

Síle Na Gigh (pronounced ‘sheela na gee’… GEE you say? Those of you in the Irish inner city working classes might relate to that word. It’s not a coincidence.) Isn’t she beautifully Fugly?

Now at this point, I could bore you with conjecture as I have just crawled my way out of the Wikipedia pit having gained very little information, purely because nobody really seems to know who she is. I could tell you where you could find these figures, and how far she dates back, and I could give you a fully descriptive bunch of theories as to why she exists, but I’d much rather be so arrogant as to let you find these facts out for yourself and in the meantime, give you my own theory.

I put it to you, that in the days of old Irish ancientness, the people were no less insecure than we are now. By proportion, there was just as much judgement, and violence. There was just as much of a likelihood  that those people had just as sharp a sense of humour too.

For example… let’s have a look at the Newgrange kerbstone markings:


Our present archaeologists are pulling their hair out trying to interpret the meanings of those beautiful squiggles.

I say: What is the likelihood that a stoner was commissioned to do this? Did he get busy doodling on a big rock absolutely off his face? I wonder if he realised that 4,000 years later he would be costing researchers a load of cash and time trying to figure out exactly what he was at? I’d say he’d be absolutely delighted, and is laughing his ass off in whatever turf-pile he’s turning into right now.

Same with Sheela, I think.

I mean, there she is, all bald and ugly with her bulbous eyes and weird titties exposing her vulva so gratuitously like she does. The most confusing thing is, if you want to find her, she’s most likely hanging around Churches. CHURCHES no less. Given our Catholic stoicism she’s somewhat of a contra-indication, is she not?

So. Is she really there to ward off evil spirits? Is she a blatant warning, or has she a deeper meaning? Perhaps it was just for the craic…

Here’s what I wonder. I wonder if she isn’t a warning at all, but instead of Buddhist intent. This works for both women and church. Stay with me for a moment…

02 Kilpeck

Sheela seems to be ‘all that glitters is not gold‘, carved into rock. Perhaps the fact that she is so vulgar, so uninviting… maybe that’s her thing. Maybe she’s trying to teach us something.

So, going back to those of you who do not have a vagina but would dearly love one, what is the wisest course of action on your part? Do you go for the most beautifully obvious specimen, that one that will drain you of energy and credit card capability and probably never put out that much in the end because she is too completely caught up with her own face-value, or do you choose that lady who is the supposed frog? Once smitten she has the potential to realise all of your wildest dreams because she sees the ugly that is in you too and loves it and is not concerned with material value. Maybe she is pretty, but not in the conventional sense. She might have crooked teeth, say, but she sure can play a mean game of darts.

Because Sheela of the Gee sits in Churches above their doors and in courtyards, maybe she was informing infidels of the same theory. Pagans would see her, and wander indoors maybe in the seduction that maybe what lay within has hidden interests, not just surface value. Scrolls and filigree are nice and all, but isn’t honesty more intriguing?

After all, she isn’t scary, she isn’t a threat. She’s smiley and beautiful in her way, with her saggy boobs and labia all over the place like that. She looks friendly, someone you could have over for a cup of tea, and maybe a few rounds of cards. She wouldn’t judge you, or show you catalogs of fancy clothes that might better suit your figure. She would drink out of dirty cups and suggest funny things to do.

She is the most beautiful woman of all, and it is in my honest opinion that we should all have at least one Sheela Na Gig in our lives. If you are not one already, you might look more deeply into her ethos, it’s not like she’s hiding it. If you are, fair play to you, and may God Bless all who sail in you.


Jun 7

Gotham Unhinged

Posted on Saturday, June 7, 2014 in Arty Farty, Jobs, Rantings, Strange and Unusual, Tattoos

Has it really been three months? I should really explain myself, but the explanation albeit potentially cathartic, would bore you to death which wouldn’t be good so close to the weekend.

So. I’ll launch straight in to a story. Or, maybe a snapshot… ten minutes out of my life which summarizes somehow how things should be, or the way things be since last we spoke. I wrote this in the First Aid post at Dublin Zoo, for I had had far too many coffees.

– – –

Among my various other dubious talents, did you know that I’m a face-painter? I’m not a very good face-painter but then again my services are free; so I suppose you get what you pay for.

The trick to face-painting is not in the art in itself as you might think, instead it’s about placating small children, tactfully stopping them from fidgeting, telling them not to breathe in a nice way, and withholding a gag reflex when you need to wipe sticky matter from around their mouths. It’s also very much about the parents. You need to perform rapidly, smile at all times, and ultimately provide them with a wonderful Kodak moment with their little darlings for their social networking sites.

Hey, I’m a parent, owner of snot-streaked ice-cream-caked nose-minors so I understand.

Last weekend, I was volunteering at a ‘Family Fun Day’ (an oxymoron surely?) in aid of Cancer research. It was a beautiful day and the crowds were out in their masses. The queue for the face-painting stand was a half-hour deep. I had been smearing gunk on kid’s faces for two hours, and my back was beginning to hurt.

Next in line was a four-year-old boy. His mother was pushing him around in a buggy and reasonably (and judgmentally enough on my behalf) was quite chubby as a result. His hair was bright orange, and clashed weirdly with his skin tone which had turned an alarming shade of red upon being told that his hand-held console was to be momentarily pocketed.

“NOOOOO, MAAAAAAAA! NOOOOOOO!” he had the sort of voice that would remind you of a wooden chair being scraped across a carpet of birthing dolphins.

Then he noticed ME.

“He wants Batman” she said.

I regarded the kid dubiously. The kid regarded me with a look of pure horror. The brush I held in my hand might as well have been a large bore hypodermic needle. He screamed with pure unadulterated terror, snot and tears streaming down his face mixing unpleasantly with the undefined food stains on his chin.

“I’m not sure he does?” I offered tentatively.

“He does yeah, he’s been whining for face-painting for the whole day, we haven’t been queuing for this long for nothing! Just do it QUICK. BATMAN he wants.” she was becoming unhinged at this stage.

I smiled at the kid through gritted teeth, and told him what an amazing and brave Batman he would make, too. He continued to roar with a grimace nobody could possibly describe in the written word.


Armed with a face-wipe, I began to clear the slimy crud off his face and as I did, a vicious looking rash appeared from behind the mess. Impetigo/Coxsackie/Measles/Thrush… I thanked the patron saint of face-painting for the fact that Batman make-up is mainly north of the noseline and need not go anywhere near this mass of pimpled sores. The kid continued to squirm and scream as I prepared my yellow and black paint.

As the brush neared his forehead, the child’s screams increased with proximity. Time seemed to slow exponentially. A smear of paint finally made it to the spot right between his eyes, Batman’s right ear was an eventual success.

The pain, however, of having a soft-bristled brush applied to that beautiful spot, that point between your eyes, your third-eye if you will… was far too much for him. His eyes widened to the size of teacups and a fresh pint of drool erupted from his mouth as his terror escaped. I loved that kid right there and then, but I don’t know why. He leaped from his chair and tried to run away. His mother caught him firmly by the arm and dealt him two fierce smacks to his shoulder and back.

“SIT DOWN AND SHURRUP!” she yelled.



What a nice childhood memory.

“I’m sorry” I said. “I can’t do this, he doesn’t want his face painted by the looks of things.”


Other people in the queue shuffled, and glanced at each other knowingly.

She clamped the screaming head firmly between her hands and shouted: “DO IT!!” as though I was to pull a septic tooth, not decorate her darling’s face for the benefit of her Internet friends.

“no” I said meekly, and smiled. “Come back later maybe, when he’s more settled.”

“Tsk. Fafussakemuvafrkesferkenjustisfuk…” her cursed mumbles disappeared into the kid’s fiery hair as she turfed him back in the buggy and buggered off.

From that moment onwards, all money that went into the donations bucket beside me at the face-painting booth was made out of paper, not coin, so I’m pretty sure that cancer research benefited from at LEAST a hundred Euros as a result of this family’s dysfunction.

It’s funny how some things work out.

Mar 28

A rose by any other name

Posted on Friday, March 28, 2014 in Arty Farty, Family, Little known facts, Strange and Unusual

The following is a very long and spurious story. I would advise that you drop acid before reading it.

I’ve just returned from an effort to renew my driving license. I think I broke a member of their staff. I offered her acid of course, but she declined and declared that she had to have a lie-down instead.

See, it all began when Laughingboy was born. Because he was born out of wedlock, we decided to give him our future married name in order to avoid having to adopt him again at a later stage (stupid Irish laws etc.)

But, unlike normal people who would assign a married name as the husband’s, my own husband wasn’t really happy with his name as it seems to be jinxed: the majority of marriages on his side of the family wound up divorced. So! We adopted the IRISH version of his name when we eventually tied the knot.

But, we were very young at the time so of course we spelled it wrong and thus our family was given a brand new name, that which apparently doesn’t exist, or at least hasn’t existed in thousands of years. Still legit though, somewhat spuriously.

Trouble is, when you translate Irish surnames into Irish, there be politicks:

Master and Mr are easy… they’re both named Ó.

Females are somewhat more complicated though.

Unmarried ladies are known as ‘daughter of‘ which is ‘Ní’.

Married ladies are known as ‘wife of‘ which is ‘Beann Uí’.

Not being a fan of politicks, I shopped and changed between all three over time between different entities until eventually everything became confused and now everyone in my family has a different name, indeed, I myself have at least four names. I also have my facebook alias name which has also creeped into real life on various occasions so that makes five names for me.

Bonus! This means I can get away with crimes left right and centre, but I choose not to. Does this not count for anything?!?

So, when I went to apply for my new drivers license today, I provided them with all the proper documentation and they got very confused because they didn’t understand Irish. I might point out here that shamefully, all staff were as Irish as a packet of Tayto but their heads still exploded.

“Jaysus but this is all very Irish” yer man behind the counter ironically exclaimed… this statement has various meanings in this country.

So, I reverted to my maiden name and distracted them with magic tricks.

I’m expecting a very strongly worded letter from somebody in the future. I wonder what name they will use.

In the meantime, there is this: