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July 2008


For no particular reason, other than my general obsessive need to document everything, I feel compelled to note that:
* The other day coming to Dublin I saw a man with only one arm on the train. Now, I am convinced I see amputees wherever I go. Oh, I think, that boy has one arm too. What a coincidence! Oh, wait a minute, he has it hidden behind him.
Or, Oh, I think: that woman has only one arm. Now, this time, what a coincidence! oh. No, it's just the angle she's holding it at.
What is this mad desire for coincidence?

* Spike has renamed some species.
The animal formerly known as
Badger is now Panda
Rabbit is Piggy
and Tigger is Magpie

Please take note. Henceforth: The Piggies are disappearing into their warren, the Magpie is doing some bouncing and is the only one, and Panda is eating grubs in his set.

As you were.

The unveiling

Here is my design for the ThisAm*ricanLife tee-shirt design competition. My dorky passion for TAL is well known (in this house especially). Well, after all, he is my friend, Ira Glass. He said so himself.

Godspeed, design! Represent me well, for you will be judged by the actual staff of TAL. Swoon.

I've been around the world

And so. I find myself back in the parents' house, relying on the crows in the field once more for entertainment. They (parents) have departed for a cruise to the Norwegian fjords. Which sounds attractively fresh and blue. The lack of other forms of distraction are leaving me with pleeenty of time to ruminate and dream, and stare out the window at crows as above. The non-eventful days slip by punctuated only by Smokey's (Oldest Horse in the World) feed-times. (What passes for) my
mind concerns itself only with why Jenny won't eat her food, and if Smokey is sore on the right fore, and if so when will the farrier come to trim his feet?
That kind of thing.

There hasn't been a lot of interest in the apartment. Apparently the market is flooded at the moment, although allegedly this will change soon. I have had some interest from an Indian couple - professional, tick, non-parents, tick, non-party types (apparently! could be planning brothel for all I know), tick, non-owners of untrained chimpanzees, ticketytick - in fact, whose only negative is they are not sure if they are staying longer than 6 months.
Hmm. I feel sorry for them though. Maybe I will let it to them. (Although Zonny is not impressed with idea of repainting place again in January, I am thinking with the lack of wild chimp as above, there should be no need of such).
Whole reluctant landlady thing a bit of a drag. But must be grateful and realise it allows me to keep myself in a way to which have become accustomed. (ie. with avoidance of proper job, the dreaded FTJ (Full-time Job. THE HORROR).
Must be grateful. Ooh! phone ringing. The excitement! Shan't answer though, in case couple as above. Not ready to decide.
Hmm, woman saying other couple not interested. As far as I could hear at any rate: the message was not so much breaking up as it being total silence with intermittent words breaking through. Sigh. Reminds me a bit of internet dating, this whole letting thing. When will The One come along? When will my Prince (or tenant, in this case) be here? (if you haven't seen Snow White with adult eyes this may be lost on you). Might be salutary to write a bit about that. Make me grateful for the JB, count my blessings, etc. Ugg. They were horrendous, in some ways, those internet dating days - being pushed by loneliness way out of my comfort zone, but had a certain gambler's thrill too - I didn't mind chatting and emailing online, and indeed I liked the degree of control it offered, but the first date scenario was terrible. My pre-date anxiety was awful. Although, the emailing thing wasn't great either. I really had to grapple with my prejudice as far as the fairly ubiquitous poor spelling and semi-illiteracy went. And as I have mentioned before, what with my own mother being a member of the Language Police, seeking out poor usage and incorrect spelling wherever she goes, (even on holiday probably. As I write, she is probably clocking a Norwegian cappuccino with only one p), this was challenging.
Although, am I remembering a certain, what was it, Rhyce? Yes, I am. He was actually rather clever, someone who'd been to gifted school, I think, and was working for the UN, or NATO, or another acronym, in Philly, if memory serves. So I have to concede that he may have been a good speller.

Funny enough, that didn't compensate for the total lack of physical spark. And neither did the lovely lab he had, called Abe. Although Abe, yes, Abe was quite a catch.
In no particular order the dates were:
Charlie, the unrepentant alcoholic and DJ, who had cocktails every evening, and became morose by 9pm. Richard, broken-hearted recently divorced corporate manager that I met in New Brunswick for an Indian meal. He told me I looked like Nicole Kidman (which I really don't, more's the pity) and that he could touch his toes without bending his legs, not because he was supple or anything but because he had exceptionally long arms. He seemed nice, but deeply wounded after his divorce and we never got past 2 dates.
And, Ryce/Abe as above. That was about it. No need for a second date in any of those cases, needless to say.

My beloved JB, I have been around the world looking for someone who could spell, and tick my boxes - how strange that I should chance upon you, half a mile from home in Dublin, with your clear green eyes, your PhD, your sweet rebel heart and your rather inaccurate spelling.


[The young JB]


So. I have put it off for as long as possible, but now, we must enter the tricky territory of Irish politics.
For last week I encountered a species I had hoped was extinct. The Orange-Breasted Unconstructed Loy*list from Ulster, or OBULU, as I shall refer to him, he of the peculiarly narrow-skull and the remarkably short sight. In the space of the 15 mins I was in his company, he managed to nail his colours decisively to the mast at least 3 times, and be in no doubt, those colours were UK red, white and blue.
I, on the other hand, instinctively and cravenly donned the Mask of Neutrality. Like all Irish people, I have been indoctrinated since birth in these subtleties - and believe me, I was as impassive as a stone.
(The Mask of Neutrality reminds me of that part of the novel 1984, where the protagonist talks about how it is safest when in front of the Big Brother cameras to adopt an expression of mild contentment, betraying no extremes of happiness or sadness).
And so:
Twangy, signing docket: And today's date is..?
OBULU: Aye, it's the 11th, (and, somewhat extraneously, some would think) I know that because tomorrow is the 12th.
Twangy, just aware enough that the 12th is the day a certain Northern Irish community go marching around in a somewouldsay jingoistic manner, instantly assumes the aforementioned Mask of Neutrality from under which no emotion can be perceived, and makes no response, betraying no extremes of happiness or sadness.

A few minutes later, we are discussing the bargain prices offered by his company.
OBULU (words to the effect of): oh aye, mai company is great. We like to make You Boys down here look bad!
And then, as Twangy remarks that she is happy that they are disposing of the packing that comes with the mattress and bed-head (aside: btw, bed-heads are a shocking, unbelievable price! much more than the mattress - definitely gap in market there, for anyone with a staple gun, some yards of faux suede, and the will to make waves in the bedding market)
OBULU, "joking": Well what you're dealing with here, is a Northern Irish organisation!
Twangy (felt like "joking" back): Ha ha, as long as it's not a PARAMILIT*RY ONE!

But I didn't. To make such a comment would be in clear contravention of the rules of the Mask, and doing that is not for the weak of courage or conviction. (Like me, it goes without saying).
The episode prompted me to think in a depressed manner about the acquired and unnatural sensitivity we have to these subtleties, learned from fear, over years of the Troubles; and about the duplicity that growing up in that situation fosters in you. One voice, oily and diplomatic, is the one you use in the world, out loud, another is the rebellious and angry one you use inside your own head. It made us used to thinking simultaneously on two tracks, it made us like a resentful child of an alcoholic parent, it stunted our growth, in the end.
And the sad thing is, it is obviously still so, for some of us.


The other day LFriend and I took it upon ourselves to be tourist in our own town (This is very happening, by the way, kind of in the spirit of a staycation in the USA where what with rapidly ascending petrol prices, it has become de rigueur to lurk close to home for the holiers) and made a visit to the exotic and intoxicating Smithfield, the famous horse market in Dublin 7. Nowadays on market day the horses clang their iron shoes and swing their quarters a few feet above the underground cinema called the Lighthouse. It has a groovy bar, with complementary olives and 4 cinemas with variously coloured seats. It's cool, let me tell you. We went to see The Visitor, whose main role was beautifully down-played by Richard Jenkins. So charming and unexpected, sad and real. Also unexpected was the possible appearance of this man - my ex- who shall be known as, let's see, Ted M. I spied him before in this ad (he's the one at the end. I had my doubts about this being a good idea - I mean it was paid for by the Republicans. BLEAH)- and he was a waiter in Marci X, too, so it is not impossible that he should appear as a stall holder in this NY film. It was so strange and strangely a thrill to (possibly) see him again. I hope he's well. He looked it, if it was him.


Brother of Twangy arrived yesterday with family in tow, to dump, (how uncharitable of me), loan me a car. He suddenly acquired a new family estate and the old vehicle can no longer be accommodated on the rather fashionable but crowded Ranelagh street he lives on. (He is the conventionally successful firstborn of the family. I, well, in the tradition of the secondborn/youngest, I am doing My Own Thing). You might think this lack of space would give him pause, but no, this is Brother we are talking about; he gave me half an hour's notice. The Brother. Ah, The Brother. How I admire his insouciance, his lack of planning, his optimism, and mostly, how it all works out for him, invariably, in the end, or even before that.
It's not the first time I have "received" a car. At one point, an unroadworthy orange Beetle followed me like a shadow, from apartment to apartment, occupying my allocated parking space wherever I went. Ah, Orangina. I almost miss you. I had to go to a place with (shock!) no covered parking, to shake her off. My parents, on the other hand, are still the "minders" of a vintage light blue Merc with sharkfins, which has only been driven once in the last 10 years, and on that occasion broke down and was found to have flames coming out of the engine.
While she was over, having a look at our new house, Brother's partner, Flossy, pointed out how very very many more photos of her first born I have in my house, as opposed to the total lack of photos of the secondborn, which unfairness I should understand, being one of those underappreciated number myself. And so, I make amends: Dazzle(She is so sweet now. The tummy problems seem much better and she is all bouncy and cheery, smiling and making little chatty noises.) When they left, I jumped into the car, and drove around amusing myself by pretending to be a normal suburban person. Well, a rich normal person, with attendant status symbol in the shape of an Audi. 'Tis a far cry from the purple bike, I tell you. It was like visiting a parallel universe - I drove to the supermarket, a big one, and stocked up on icecream. I drove to the MegaHyperDIYwarehouse, parked in the huge carpark. Even so, even after the fancycar experience and the visit to the Other Side, I still think it's more fun on balance to be the second born, creative (albeit poorer) one, with the alternative career, though, rather than the firstborn who has to deal with all the pressure and attention and -ehem- photos. Photos! all the time, with the flashbulbs! How tiresome!
Which is what I will tell Dazzle, as soon as she is big enough to understand.

Allow me to hold the door, sir

Coming out of the lift in the apartment block yesterday I held the doors for a grown man who was sitting astride his bicycle, as a small child might, as he pushed it clumsily down the hall, into the foyer and out of the two sets of double doors.
I wonder if he mounted the bike inside his apartment. I wonder if he said to his flatmate (for somehow I cannot easily envisage a wife/girlfriend): "Well, I'm off for a cycle!" as he jumped aboard.
Speaking of doors, an uncommon amount of requests for gently worn clothes are posted through ours, in our new house. People in this area (de real oul Dubs) must have a reputation for generosity. Or being insane compulsive shoppers, maybe.
The JB is visiting his Dad, (who is affectionately known to us as KDiddy). While he is there, for a week or so, he will be painting his father's bedroom. It is the Year of the Paint. JB has already painted our house, nearly all thereof, and my apartment. That's a nice JB, there.