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Apr 21

The Wild West – the endurance test.

Posted on Sunday, April 21, 2013 in Jobs, Philosophy, Strange and Unusual, Taboo, The Asylum Experience

I didn’t know a whole lot when I entered into this. I knew that a documentary was being filmed about eight transition-year kids (all aged 16/17); four of whom were disabled, the other four able-bodied. One needed regular medication doses, and one needed a wheelchair.

None of the children knew where they were going, but they knew they were going somewhere.

I was employed as a chaperone, along with another lady, let’s call her Curly.

As an introduction weekend, we all were to spend a day or two in Connemara, Co Galway. Curly phoned me the night before, nervous as I was… when I met her on the platform I knew everything would be okay. She has a way about her that I probably don’t need to describe, I don’t think I could anyway, she fell into that category of people that you seem to have known for years.

We yakked together on the train all the way in, and met everybody else at a hotel in Dublin. Worried mothers grasping arms and whispering secrets into out ears. I felt so overwhelmed all of a sudden, at the vastness of my responsibilities.

I went from having three children, to eight. Thank God for Curly.

We rode into the West and had the craic and some sangwiches and a bit of an auld sing-song, as you do. I couldn’t believe how quickly the kids bonded together. They were a well chosen bunch.

At a pit-stop, the kid in the wheelchair, let’s call him Joel… he hinted that he needed to pee. I brought him to the jacks and we did our best with the narrow walls of the petrol-station bog. I hadn’t realised that he needed help with everything, so when he asked for my help I was honoured that he could be so comfortable with me so quickly. There’s something about exposing yourself to others, trust is a huge thing, and to be trusted so quickly is a wonderful compliment. We made distracting conversation and I found out that he was an avid reader with a love of Xbox.

The other kids were quiet with us at the start, but we made ourselves as accessible as possible with smiles and funny faces like eejits on crack. They hadn’t realised that we’d be there for the whole adventure, I realise in hind-sight. When they figured this out, they accepted us wholeheartedly as mammies. They even named us ‘Charlie’s Angels’.

Connemara was HARSH.

There was a storm, shortly after we arrived. Our comfortable hotel was completely isolated from phone or wifi for our entire trip. Joel commented that a re-make of ‘The Shining’ could be filmed here and I agreed. It was a sort of side-ways rain that pelts your skin like pins and needles. Bleak slamming and howling noises were to be heard at night, early starts for water activities came all too soon.


I was impressed by the participant kids and their commitment to effort, I mean really impressed.

There were two ‘mentors’ employed on the trip… one I’ll name Fawn, because her eyes reminded me of one. When she was sixteen, she got meningitis and had to be put in to a coma. While she was under, she contracted the MRSA bug and was given her last rites. She now survives as an amazing woman, presenting and researching for TV. She wears prosthetics, but you can’t really tell. The other mentor was Mr Out of This World (so dubbed by the teenagers). A handsome chappie, I couldn’t get a grasp on him at the start (that’s what she said).

I got to have a drink with the crew at the end of the day, I’m glad they accepted me so quickly… their histories and biographies extremely impressive. They were lovely people with dry wit and funny stories and I couldn’t wait for the next chapter.

The kids found out about our destination at the end of the Galway trip, on camera. They were going to Costa Rica… their woops and screams tingled the hairs on my arms. Of course we had to try to re-shoot that moment several times which you’d think might dilute their enthusiasm, but it didn’t.

I couldn’t believe it either.

I went home, helped to host an Easter Bonanza, and then moved house two days before the air-plane for Costa Rica took off.


Feb 1

The Loser

Posted on Friday, February 1, 2013 in Arty Farty, Philosophy, Rantings, Something to think about

Well sure, now and isn’t it a while since we played a game?

– I don’t like your games, I always end up being laughed at.

Well isn’t that the point, to have a laugh?

– Not if I feel bad about it, no.

But if there isn’t a loser, there can’t be a winner, can there?

– I agree, but what does losing mean if it’s all the time?

It means you haven’t found the game you’re good at yet.

– Find me a game that I’m good at and I’ll play with you so.

Sure I don’t know what you’re good at, will we just play cards?

– I don’t know how.

I’ll teach you! You’ve a face like a tomato, you need something fun.

– I don’t want to be taught, I just want an easy life.

Sure if you can’t be taught then how will you learn?

– Eventually.

How’s about we get a grip?

– That’s easy for you to say. You’re not me!

Yes I am.

– Fair point.

So what will we play?

– I don’t want to play anything, I just want to watch TV.

Let’s play ‘what happens if you only have a week left to live!’ What would you do?

– Sleep.

That isn’t true. I bet you’d get a degree in Metaphysics or something.

– You have a lot of faith in me!

That’s because I am you.

– Is that what you’d like to do?

Not really. I’d go out and go crazy.

– That’s kind of pointless though.

So is sleeping.


So what will we do?

– Write a blog post?

What about?

– nothing.

What’s the point in that?

– I dunno.

So let’s play a game!

– Let’s play ‘leave me alone’? I have things to tidy.

You’ll go crazy if you don’t play.

– I think it’s too late for that.

So you think you’re already crazy?

– Maybe.

But if you were crazy then you wouldn’t realise it so therefore you’re not crazy.

– Shut up and leave me alone.


– I hate you.

I’m your inner child, you have to listen to me or I’ll broken your face.

– Fair point. What are we playing?

Let’s play ‘Hide and Seek’. I’ll go hide and you have to find me.

– That might take a while.

I have all the time in the world. You love me though, I know you’ll find me.

– Eventually.

I hope so.

– Me too.

Jul 23

Grabbing life by the balls

Posted on Monday, July 23, 2012 in Family, Philosophy, Strange and Unusual

It was at 9 bells last Saturday night… I had homemade pizza cooked and served. The toddler was in bed, the Laughingboy settled and Puppychild was ready for her bedtime film. I paced in the kitchen. Nervous energy. Wanting. Needing.

The source of my anxiety was the fact that there was a group of people meeting far away, the fact that nestled in the Southwestern part of Ireland there was about to be a kick-ass bonfire of peers that shaped me in my teenage years, people that I hadn’t seen in about twenty years. I needed to be there.

I put this to the husband man who thankfully relieved my anxiety and told me to fuck off.

So off I fucked.

It took three hours to drive there… that’s pretty much the longest time it takes for somebody anywhere in Ireland to drive from one point to another, not counting the Northern Territories. Unless you’re driving from Wexford to Donegal… which is in fairness a very worthwhile waste of four hours. Pittance to Americans and Africans and Europeans, but your diesel is cheaper so shurrup.

I got there at midnight. I wandered along a blackened beach with my torch and found nobody. Just a pile of wood.

I wandered back to the pub, the hub of a very tiny community and found twenty people there. Twenty people who were very surprised to see me. I met a girl with whom I’d shared various schools (far far away from there) for the best part of twelve years. We noted that it was indeed, a very small world. It seemed somehow, meant to be.

The group made its way to the beach, and lit the bonfire with the firelighters I’d brought. We sat around the blaze and re-counted old stories and laughed, and slagged, and when the conversation waned the guitar was brought out.

Problem was, nobody played guitar really, so it was handed to me.

I played them my best Rocky Raccoon, and my Rhiannon, and threw in a Redemption Song for good measure. Come running home again Katie was in the repartoire somewhere, as was Black is the Colour as it usually is in Ireland… Street Spirit made an appearance at some stage, as did Black Boys on Mopeds.

I kept playing, and strumming random things.

They said the sweetest thing.

“K8” they said… “You’ve travelled a long way for no reason, you’ve helped with the fire, and you’re making our music. Already you’ve made this party ten times better.”

I tell you what. That compliment alone made the diesel money and the unreasonable compulsion and the risk seem so much more worth it.

The party went on…

and on…

until 6am.

I pointed out that there was a lot of crap to be cleaned up so we did that. We gathered cans and bottles and bits of plastic and binned them and threw burnable crap on the fire.

That was when I sort of fell in to said fire.

Bonfire casualty, There's always one feckin eejit that falls into the bonfire.


It doesn’t hurt that much now, it’s wrapped, and seen to. The doctor gave me a lollipop for knowing how to treat second degree burns and sent me home to think about what I’d done.

What with a broken wrist, and now minor burnage… I haven’t been able to shake anybody by the hand for over two months.

Is there a psychological reason behind that?

I don’t know.

I don’t care.

It was fun, and it made me feel better about myself and I’m happier having taken that risk. That’s all that matters in life, I think.

Jun 7

How to not lie awake at night

Posted on Thursday, June 7, 2012 in Philosophy, Something to think about

I lie awake sometimes at night and think of all the things I should have done or said. Thoughts of embarrassing moments cross my memory and I shudder and cringe and re-live horrible moments in intimate detail. Torture. I take things too seriously sometimes, maybe. It’s good to force those feelings out they say, focus on the positive. Guilt is a useless emotion.

Easier said than done though is that lark, focusing on the positive I mean… it seems easier to beat oneself up.

But then adults are always hard on themselves, it’s in our programming. We’ve been told to be responsible and to support ourselves or the book will be thrown at us and it’s that, probably, that forces us to rebel on some level. I’m thinking to myself though that that’s where we’ve been going wrong.

I’m an adult, yes, but I shouldn’t have thrown away childish thoughts. I shouldn’t have assumed that every birthday should be the funeral of the years that have gone before, they’re still there, still within me, looking for approval and acceptance. We’re like trees, you and I, with rings inside counting our age… but trees don’t let their inner rings die, they keep them inside and it’s those rings that strengthen and support the adult tree as it grows, and we should be the same.

We should be allowing that inner two-year-old or thirteen-year-old to take part in everyday life, and we should embrace our five-year-old selves and love it and educate it and let it take over now and then. It’s natural. Feeling guilty is pointless. Blame the kid inside and be done with it.

When you walk into a room and you’re on your own and you spot a tea-cosy, put it on your head. When you see an errant traffic cone, rob it. If you see a patch of grass with daisies on it, plonk that arse down and start making chains. Sleep with a teddy-bear. Make mistakes.

Try it, if you feel like you know what I might be phaffing on about… feel your past ages and remember them, and remember how you felt at each stage. Let that kid judge you for a change, let it ask questions and answer them as honestly as you can because nobody else is listening. Listen to it cry and hug it, and let it giggle and make rainbows with garden hoses. It’s not lost, you just can’t see it anymore but it’s still there.

I sleep better sometimes, spooning with my inner seven-year-old me. She’s a messed-up kid and she has no idea what she’s talking about but then again, neither do I.

May 17

My sweetest downfall

Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2012 in Family, Music, Philosophy, Rantings, Strange and Unusual

So there you have it! Gots me an x-ray today that says I don’t need no nasty support pins inserted into my buggered wrist. Turns out wrist is not so buggered! I started popping some homeopathic Symphytum 6c a few days ago and the weirdest thing happened… it worked. The cracks on my distal radiator have faded to thin wee lines within a week. But of course that could be a coincidence. Whatever. Four weeks left of no driving.

This wrecks my head.

No driving.

Or does it?

I’ve been pardoned from all sorts of things. Previous stresses have just… melted away. The flu that’s been farting around my chestal area has disappeared. Stressed-out-woman-flu. Gone! Baths are a pain in the ass with a fibreglass arm, but I can’t bite the nails on my right hand so they’re kind’a pretty now. Ying and yang.

I can’t look after the Accidental Terrorist in his post-operative state, though, that’s a bummer. He has to spend his birthday this weekend in an old folk’s home. I haven’t found the silver lining in that one yet, besides an opportunity for bets on aul’ones in wheelchair-races down hill-slopes.

A spare xbox would definitely cheer him up though, and I’m sure as hell not giving up mine!

Not looking at anybody.


But the worst thing of all is that I have to give up Laughingboy. He’s booked away for ten days, umpteen bags are packed in the hallway. Nebuliser meds, feeds, kangaroo bags, tubes, syringes, baby wipes, funky rocket pyjamas… he’s been there for most of the week already, he came home yesterday temporarily and I missed him.

I put Florence and the Machine on for him and spun him ’round on his roof hoist sling even though I’m not supposed to and gave him a head-scratch with my new nails. He’s a sucker for a head-scratch.

As I tucked him in, I did the usual under-cover sweep of arms and tubes to make sure one would not reef the other causing eruptions of stomach gunge (as you do), and as I did my hand was grabbed. Laughingboy has never really done that deliberately before. He squazzed my hand tightly and gazed into nowhere and purred quietly, his gaze fixed on something out the window. Or the window itself, or a far away galaxy maybe. I stayed until he loosened his grip. The chicken nuggets got slightly burned, but it was worth it. He’s going away tomorrow, I’m going to miss him so much, the sort of hurt I wish they could put pins in.

Jun 24

Buried Treasure

I was clearing out my bookmarks this evening and looked what spilled out!!

The Labyrinth of Genre

Floaty-mouse images of Dublin City in June 1961 and June 2011, a then-and-now sort of collection. Look at all the dinky cars! (Stolen from Jo :)

This is what real love looks like.

-US Actress Tina Fey’s ‘A Mother’s Prayer for Her Child’; it’s as though she’s inside my head.

10 Words You Need To Stop Misspelling Read these, and write them out twenty times, you naughty children!

How to make a gift box out of a bank note. For when you couldn’t be arsed buying that voucher.

Arty Bollocks Generator because everybody needs an artist statement!

Oh, and a creepy picture by Lori Nix. Click the image to magnifify it.


Jun 1

0% of full

Posted on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 in Family, Philosophy, Taxi driving

Today is a weird day. It’s not the sort of day I’d normally blog about because its content wouldn’t be the most uplifting, but I’ve entered a pact with another blogger to match him post-for-post, in an effort to motivate each other into prolifickness prolifickity more frequent writing, so here it goes:

My husband of the Accidental Terrorism variety has suffered from a degenerative spine condition for a handful of years now. He’s had surgery before that followed pain of the most extremist type, the type that had him crawling in agony on hands and knees to the bathroom, the type that had him passing out at Christmas dinner tables, a pain that left me wretched with helplessness. Surgery eased the problem, but there came a warning with it; a warning to follow a strict routine of exercise and back care in the years to follow. The warning was forgotten, as were the exercises… and taxi driving took over.

Now, today, The Accidental Terrorist has gone to have operation number two. Laughingboy had been booked into respite. Puppychild and Sir Fartsalot were due to spend a spell in my friend’s house so that I could properly see TAT to his hospital bed and settle him in my wifey ways, but the planets didn’t want it to pass that way for some reason.

Instead Laughingboy suffers a bowel infection, Puppychild a virus and Sir Fartsalot a lung infection. All at the same time do the healthiest children in the world become sick. I find that pretty strange.

And so I waved bye-bye and stifled emotions for the benefit of the children and the heating-engineers and I stuffed it away into a container at the arse end of my soul for later consideration. I hope TAT’s friend is as good a hand-holder as I’d hoped to be, I wonder if TAT feels as lonely as I do despite being surrounded by plenty of people.

Here comes the good part:

I’m a scatty person. As is my mother, and her family… scattiness is most definitely hereditary, I don’t care what anyone says. This means that my mother’s sister’s child is bound to be the same way, doesn’t it?

She stayed with me before, my cousin Diddles. Then she moved far beyond the pale and vowed to visit again but never quite got around to it and time got away from us. It was pointed out to me that it was bad play to keep booking visits and never turn up, but I pointed it out that in the grand scheme of things, scatty people mean well because I know at first hand how it is and I understand and bear no such cancerous Irish grudge on the girl, I’ve got no time for that sorta thing.

We spoke two days ago, she and I. We giggled about willies and spoke of sickness and before I knew it, she had booked herself on the train. She’s trundling her way cross-country to me right now as I write, to come and share the burden and slap the sense of humour back into me, right exactly when I need her, because that’s what matters, right there.

Now all that’s left are the antibiotics, and the waiting…

May 30

Euro forde trolleeee

Posted on Monday, May 30, 2011 in Family, Philosophy, Something to think about

Plain Flour
SeXxXual (O)(O) Chocolate
Dog Food

Shopping lists have so much un-tapped potential. You’ve all found someone else’s at some stage I bet, lurking in the corner of a trolley or forgotten at the end of the packing-counter, used and unwanted and wanting re-cycling. I defy anybody to not read it in the name of good old fashioned nosiness, and I feel it my duty as a quirky citizen of the planet to at least make them slightly entertaining.

I gave this list to my husband today (his virgin shopping trip in our ten year courtship! Yay!) and as it turned out, he brought his mother.


Apr 5

What does instinct mean?

Posted on Tuesday, April 5, 2011 in Family, Philosophy, Something to think about


I could say I love instinct, but that would be a total cop-out in descriptive terms. The truth is, it mystifies me. As a female growing up I’m told that it’s one of my greatest skills, yet every time I try to use it, I fuck it up beyond belief.

Instinct- and that determined little voice that says ‘Go on sure, for the craic!’ are two totally removed entities, as I’m slowly discovering in my old age. The little voice is not to be trusted! like a child who recognises a window of opportunity in which to be silly, it makes it seem like a good idea at the time, but it really isn’t, as hindsight proves.

No, instinct seems to be that thing, that Ono-second after something bad happens when you think to yourself… ‘I knew that would happen.’

Like the following examples:

– You buy a batch of raw chicken legs from a local shop for €1 and you wonder why it’s so cheap, until you break the plasticky seal and a dubious waft of fart makes your stomach contents swirl. Sulphur, an ism of decomposition… fart is bad, instinct tells you that.  Bin.  No-brainer! Gastroenteritis does not a peaceful evening make.

– You’re dealt a ten and a six of hearts and you suddenly decide that a flush is going to appear and you go all-in, and lose a tenner to a Straight to the Ace. That’s not instinct, that’s that little voice, and it gets the naughty corner for ten minutes.

– You haven’t seen your kid for an hour, it had been called for a while previously and quite frankly you’re pretty grateful for the peace that a neighbourhood child’s distraction can afford. Halfway through your seventh paragraph of peace however, an idea pops into your head. A bad idea that again makes your stomach contents swirl. You wander outside to scout for said child, only to see from far away that it’s crying, and it wants you. ‘That’s mad!’ you might hear a small voice say, and that small voice is told to get back in it’s corner.

– You suddenly wonder if your engine doesn’t need oil and wouldn’t it might be a nice day for a dipstick?

– That voice in your head that tells you that you should probably stop drinking alcohol right about now; the one that if ignored, will involve serious entertainment tax the next morning. Very rarely listened to.

– That strange sound an infected cough makes.

– That oven smell that perfectly timed chocolate-chip biscuits create. Finely-timed instinct is finely-timed.

– That dream, the one where a Boeing side-swipes the M50 in a desperate attempt to land in what are pretty abysmal conditions… the  plastic dream that wakes with a clear memory of colours and numbers in a drastic panic of visions of blood and sweat, what does instinct do with those?! Oh. Premonition, the psychotic cousin of the inner-child… the one who is statistically unlikely to exist, and yet does indeed, according to your sister-in-law. To be treated dubiouslesslessnly.

– The feeling that you should be creating music, instead of watching crap on TV.

– That feeling when the spinach finally hits your lower intestine…

– and you realise all of a sudden that it’s probably a good idea to


What are other good examples of instinct though?! Instinct tells me I need to sleep and blocks any memories I had during the day, instances that inspired this post. It’s quite frustrating really, this constant need for sleep.

Help a girl out?

Feb 22

The pruning of a feeble philanthropist

Posted on Tuesday, February 22, 2011 in Family, Philosophy

I been cut back.

I didn’t notice it at first.  I watched the news and saw people protesting on behalf of the weaker members of society, but it didn’t once occur to me seriously that they were talking about me.  I depend on a Carer’s Allowance, Domicilliary Carer’s Allowance, and Child Benefit for sustainance, all of which were pruned heavily at various stages over the last year or two.  Seemingly overnight, my bank balance hit the pits, the lack of digits instilled a panic in me that lasted all of a week or two.

I’m suddenly walking around local markets with a calculator, trying hard to fit a week’s shopping into twenty euros.  I’m saving up for kerosene and putting three jumpers on my children until heating is afforded, and have had to cancel direct debits to Concern, Trocaire and the Irish School for the Deaf… that bothered me more than anything else.


(Picture: Adolphe-William Bouguereau)

I’d complain about it, and I’d sure as hell put a flea in the ear of any polititian that darkened my door, but I don’t because I’m pretty sure that this is all a good thing in it’s own peculiar way.  What goes up, must come down.  We were rich, now we’re poor, our Grandkids will be rich again, it’s just the way things flow.

Meanwhile Puppychild’s un-learning her materialistic fetishes in favour of jigsaws and chalk, Sir Fartsalot’s savings fund is looking bleak but maybe this will teach him the meaning of money so that when he does someday cash in his savings, they’ll go to the right places.  The munchie cupboard is bare of biscuits and crisps now, instead it homes flour and baking soda… I’ve been meaning to sharpen my baking skills anyway. 

I couldn’t give a flying fuck who’s fault it was, regarding this banking crisis.  Part of the time I think it’s just a conspiracy, something somebody made up to cover for a greater plot.  My vague attempts at beginning a revolution petered out when I realised that we all have very little to complain about, we still have basic rights and services for when we hit rock bottom and that’s a lot more than some other countries can boast. 

The one thing that scares me is Laughingboy.  If things should conspire the wrong way and we are left without free medical aid, he’s bunched.  Would the government let him die?  Probably.  I’d most likely have to start a charity in his name to cover the costs of his equipment and medication and giving my past organisational skills, I’m scared for him, but we’ll cross that gorge when we come to it.

Meanwhile I vote for Socialism.  I don’t care.  Since reading The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists the concept just makes so much sense to me.  I’ll vote for Sinn Fein even though I know there’s no point, but the point is to vote anyway, and I hold out the hope the rest of those feeble philanthropists out there vote their own way too, that this will be a fair election.

But it won’t, and so life will go on…

…but hopefully without all the complaining.