The Miscellany

process in process

Let's see. The JB had a big day yesterday. He got his Fellowship (of the Ring! my brain keeps helpfully adding); preparations to leave home find other work accommodation are on-going, though we don't know yet which term he will start fellowshipping in. And, as if that weren't enough, he also passed his driving test. No more white knuckle Saturday morning drives for me, folks, that's right. I am most happy and relieved. 

No news from the US of A. 


I have some processing to do. Feel free to skim/skip, this may very well be dull.

Last week I got empanelled as a juror. The selection process is the most stressful tedium you can imagine; a hundred or so members of fine Dublin citizenry in a large carpeted room with television screens lining the walls. After ages of the tense boredom, the court finally appears on the screen showing the judge and a defendant in a new suit. The registrar announces the crime and starts reading out names. The sight of the defendant and everyone shaking their heads at the crime gives you a sudden chill. This is horribly real. Start praying you won't be called. When your name is called, it gives you an unpleasant jolt of recognition. Oh no. You queue up, you file in to the court,  and no one challenges you, although they throw out two grey-haired elderly gentlemen and a cool young woman.  Apparently you look reasonable; maybe you should have worn your pink runners, or a fake sleeve tattoo? You are sworn in. Your lips feel like rubber but somehow you don't fumble it.
There is some preamble from a barrister about the case and what your role is therein. You are important; you must try and test the case to the best of your ability. You are to "decide the facts" of the case. How can you decide a fact? You are grateful for the other members of the jury, you are not alone, at least. In your meeting room you exchange some nervous we're-in-this-together smiles and some of your number, a tall man in motorbike gear, makes unfortunate jokes and honks with laughter. Fantastic, I'm sequestered here with a shower of eejits, you think uncharitably. 
You're told to come back the next day when the case proper is to start. You go home, but the experience looms large in your mind all night. This is bigger than you are. The next day, there is evidence from a Guard. He has made a map of a family home. Then on a video link evidence is given by the complainant. And then from the complainant's mother. It's really complicated; you are given a large amount of information about the family circumstances. More than might seem necessary. No one says Objection, Your Honour at all, or Hearsay!; maybe that's American. Or Hollywood, but you'd like to say it. Instead you must just sit there and listen. The judge have wigs on, deliberately formal and strange. This bit takes you up to lunch, which you have in an airless dining room. You are not allowed to mix with other juries - as if you would. You only want to talk about the case, but you've been warned not to by the judge, until it is appropriate. You are getting to know your jury members, there's a sort of reluctant bonding between you, though you all keep saying how you'd prefer to be in work, to be honest. Yeah, well, you might as well be honest. You're ushered back down the corridor by your Jury Minder. There's a lot of ushering, and standing in a row beside the wall while another jury is shepherded by. There's another time when you are told to sit on the stairs while a legal moment (15 to 20 normal moments) goes by. Other juries go by, their minders point to us and say they're bold, they're sitting on the naughty step. This is court room corridor humour, apparently, so help us.
Back in there, the next day, and you hear more evidence from a guard. There are startling revelations about the mother, and how a diary came to be in evidence. Again, seemingly not pertinent and embarrassing to know. After lunch the barristers sum up the case.  The barrister for the prosecution is very restrained. He just states the facts as he sees them. But the barrister for the defence is astonishingly skilful, he weaves a case so that you have no option but to draw the conclusions he wants. It is electrifying. You may not like it, but he has placed reasonable doubt in your head 5 or 6 times already. He's staring up at you knowing in his heart that you are reasonable, decent people. He's restrained, he doesn't bully or cajole. He just makes you think things you didn't think before; there's reasonable doubt and so you can't convict. 
To your relief, when you finally come to deliberate, the others agree. Everyone has reasonable doubt. You're grateful for these strangers, they have taken great care with their task. They have thought hard, not jumped to conclusions, have considered it from both points of view. They are not a shower of eejits, as it happens; your faith in humanity is restored, even if it's not in the judicial system. No one feels good about it, but the barrister has done his job and the defendant is acquitted. If you were in no doubt about the seriousness of it all, the drama of the moment when the registrar reads out the verdict to the courtroom, with all parties present, is palpable.

You file out for the last time. You say goodbye and good luck to the other jurors. Of course, this being Ireland, it has turned out you know one of them, to see. Of course you do. A woman whom you expect never to see again, despite this, says: No disrespect, but I hope we don't meet again. You have to laugh. You go home; at least it's over.


social media continues to ruin my life

[Future Self! Look, like Magnum PI, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking in the years covered by this blog (2005-2013) all sorts of catastrophic natural and man-made disasters have befallen the world and have not even earned a mention on TPtheEG. Well! I, Present Self, do realise this. I mean, I don't actually live under an actual stone. The fact is I do have reactions and opinions about these things, but they are nothing particularly original and do not add anything to the discussion. And so it has been decided by Twangy Corp that they remain outside of the remit of this blog which shall confine itself to my own mostly mundane and first world whine-ish story.

YABOO to you, Future Self.]

Last week there was stuff to do, in the shape of a Einaudi concert, tax deadline (with attendant confusion and drama) and a choir performance, but now.. let the mundaneity run free!

Social media is ruining my life
All sorts of people are now connected to me via my ill-advised excursion at the hands of the Mad Yoke that is LinkedIn, as whined about at length here. They keep popping up in my email programme - some students, an adoption group contact, to whom I am now reconciled by force. A person with the same name as one of my students, but who is not the student, but a randomer. This is good for me, I (try to) think. I'm getting Out! An editor in the Irish Times, too. Can't hurt, though for the life of me I don't know how I had his email address. But no members of Opus Dei. Phew, I thought.

Then I had the idea of installing viber on my phone. Sister 1 told me how fantastic! it! was! Failing to mention it is the drunker, more outlandish and mortifying brother of LinkedIn. I installed it, all ready to take part in this delightful new world. It did its black (and unauthorised!) magic and the next fecking thing I knew the bloody thing was bleeping salutations at me by the very member of the Opus Dei I was trying to avoid all these years. Serves me right for being the craven, conflict-avoidant worm that I am.

And now I have to woman up and communicate my position to her. Like "reasonable adults".



financial embarrassment

I am down to my last million, here.
I have found a rich new source of anxiety for when I wake up at Gloomytime (4AM). Bills - both Very High Insurance (VHI) - and a shortfall from the Torture Chamber Physio, that I believed was covered by the insurance, but wasn't ("pre-existing condition" - my foot! Or shoulder, in this case)  - plus expenses relating to the Residency (Art Camp, as I have come to think of it) have charged at my account like a herd of rhino and made a big hole therein. Bit worrying, this.

[A jam sandwich I had lying around. Bread, geddit?]

Did you see that Newsnight Special on retirement? (Don't feel left out, people not from these islands. You can easily imagine.) Oh, man. If normal, employed Generation X people won't be able to retire until they are in their mid-seventies, what is to become of the fringey under-employed types like me? We are paying for today's pensioners, (quite rightly, obviously) as the panel pointed out, but that doesn't mean we will be provided for ourselves. The only thing worse than being Gen X, as far as I could see, is being Y. Oh! That's you lot, isn't it? Uh-oh! Lucky you're all such high-achievers, with Proper Careers. You may breathe a sigh of relief.

I am envisioning a future where TPtheEG, the ancient, arthritic version, gets up at 5am every morning to walk out to the DIY superstore in some out of town megamall where she labours painfully all day at stacking shelves for a few paltry shillings, cursing her younger self colourfully as she goes, for being a profligate fool who never saved or had a pension.
(Serious question: is there any point even having a pension? Or are they all devalued and worth shit? Opinions? Explain as if to a five year old.)

As if that wasn't enough, it's tax time, wouldn't you know, which means, as a self-employed person, I must confront the poor financial situation of 2009. It's all there in black and white, dammit. And it was not a good year. Sigh. And I haven't even got on to Peak Oil. Another popular Gloomytime subject! That I'll leave for another day. You may breathe a (second) sigh of relief.

One more thing:
I bought these ovulation tests a few months ago, not realising they only work with the relevant Blearclue contraption until after I took the cellophane off. They are otherwise untouched, and if someone (anyone? please?) has splashed out on the monitor, and would therefore have a use for them, I would be very happy to be get shot of the silly things. Let me know, and I will post them wherever, very happily. Every time I open my beside locker drawer they mock me:


seven things that maketh me to smile

Several aeons ago, the lovely May tagged me for this meme. Thank you, May. I love this sort of thing. I have been wading glumly through the drear the past week or so, not helped by further dreams in which I die, so it seems high time I did it.
(Obviously I don't believe that superstition that says if you die in your sleep you die in your bed, as I am still alive, and have thus disproved it. Hurray. However, I may have to revise opinion if I do in fact die. Un-hurray? I will update you from beyond the grave, in that case. Something for us all to look forward to!)

It's not easy to confine myself to seven.


1. Our local park, which has a walk up a slope underneath big old chestnuts, a foot-bridge over a high river, and, occasionally, bonus ducklings.

2. My bed, especially when freshly made with clean sheets. I have always loved my bed, since long ago when I was a baby and my Grandmother inquired: Does that child ever get up?

3. Being silly. When we were addicted to watching The West Wing on DVD, for instance, I used to sing along with the theme tune, as tunelessly as possible. Very therapeutic, I tell you. Somehow that lunatic habit, embarrassing enough in this early manifestation, mushroomed as if it had a life of its own into the JB leaping to his feet at the beginning of the show and doing interpretative dances to the theme of ER, complete with punch to the air, along with Dr Benton. Don't ask me how that happened.
It was a slippery slope. Oh dear, I am a bit morto now.

But one day, I'll youtube him, and the world will be united in laughter.

4. Free-wheeling down a hill on my purple bike.

5. Coffee - which my system mistakes for a Class A drug - especially with friends. Oh, coffee-time!  So much fun!

6. Internet radio - listening to the world, through a magic black box. I love the intimacy of radio - the way it becomes a soothing soundtrack to your daily life, filtering in the sounds of all across the planet.


7. Making stuff. Fixing stuff. Growing stuff. And the ping that you hope for when you put the stuff out there, in the world, of course. Life would be meaningless without the ping.

And for my taggees I choose.. you. I can't possibly restrict myself to seven of my blog comrades. Sophie's Choice! Ce n'est pas possible! Non, non, the very thought is making me speak bastardised French. So you, reader, are enjoined to share your seven. Please?

Your alive and kicking, or at least twitching slightly,

No 1: New Cork, New Cork

I won an award! (Thank you, May. Your encouragement really means a lot to me).

I am shaking my memory vigorously, like a child with a piggy-bank, to see what could possibly be in there that might be of any interest. Seven things seems ambitious, but we'll see.

Oh, here's a thing, though it's not really about me, as such:

[How I imagine her].

1. My great-great-great-great grandmother was Lithuanian. As far as we know, she arrived here around 1880, presumably fleeing the pogroms, (she was Jewish). I could never quite understand why someone would choose this country above richer, more cosmopolitan places. Lack of choice maybe? But how desperate do you have to be to emigrate to a country that was recovering from a devastating famine only 35 years before?

And then I found a possible answer on the internet:
The refugees, the story has it, were dropped off in Cork at night, by unscrupulous boatmen, who told them that they had reached New York.



Oh dear. I went on a bit. Tell you what, I'll stagger these, the better for your head not exploding. No 2 coming soon.

Technology vs Twangy

My facebook account has been deactivated. Some spammer might have/has assumed by identity, and could be spraying spam around like a madman with a hose. I am having some weird alienated Orwellian vibes. For I do not exist anymore. I am a greyed-out unperson. I am not a clickable option.

But you do not need Facebook to live! No, srsly. I am not that fond of it, to be honest. It's mildly amusing, but it's so superficial. It doesn't encourage honesty. If I really did tell it what was on my mind, it would jar horribly and everyone would think: Du-ude! Down-nnner!

Also, since I am in the mood for stating the obvious, all sorts of people can find you there. All sorts. Some of whom may be better off left in the past, where they belong. I used to go out with an Italian man, some centuries ago, when living in Pavia and going to nightclubs thrice-weekly with a dedication you see in other people when they train for the Olympics. He broke my heart in tragic and dramatic fashion (or so it seemed at the time), and so it was with mixed feelings that I received his invitation to be friends. Friends! HAH. Don't make me laugh.

Whereas, blogging, that's different, isn't it? Blogging is a first person narrative that cuts through all the distractions and allows real voices to be heard, in the gloom. It has complexity, it has flexibility. It can give people the freedom to be themselves. It makes it so much easier to find the small percentage of people that are Your People out there in the world.
Speaking of which - err - whatever that was I was on about, my SPAM filter is playing me up no end. It deftly nets all sorts of interesting and important emails and cheerily waves in plenty of ones informing me how my tool can grow like a flower.

This is maddening. And it is so very crap (Eircom mail-protector- Grrar!) that it won't resend them, so you can see the title but cannot open it to read it. I can see one from HFF there, and I want to read it! (Sorry HFF! I will get back to you eventually!)

I better go. Got to get some blood test or other, hep or whatnot.

Your non-existent,




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.

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.

The Uncanny, The Good and The Marvelous

Starting with The Marvelous, Brother's baby made a surprise appearance 10 days before her due date. All went wonderfully smoothly. Brother was euphoric. He came in, staring a bit madly, saying:
Now we have to think of a name for the baby, a name for the baby, a name..
(Well. I exaggerate slightly. You know, to enhance dramatic value).
He did seem quite awed though. And a little shocked, perhaps.
Brother's partner F was in great form. Now, yes, she understands why people have more than one child. It's true, the second is easier! It is not a story! Shout it from the rooftops!
We are all so pleased, and after the horrendous events of Christmas 2006, it is all that much sweeter.

They are thinking of a name.

An awe-inspiring task, really. To think of all its uses: the sarcastic utterances of it on the part of French teachers, lovers' whispers, typed in official documents, in passports, scribbled by hairdressers receptionists, called out in doctors waiting rooms, hand-written in hockey team lists, shouted in assembly roll call, in newspapers, in gossip-
(And now I interrupt myself to say my Bullsh*te-ometer just went off the scale. Goodness me, this is complete drivel. How entertaining. I really did just write lovers' whispers. Yes, I did. I should write for Mills and Bo*n. I am clearly wasted here).

The good:
I gave our 4 weeks notice to our landlady (coincidentally the mother of the partner of the Brother, as above, and therefore all joyous herself), for yes, the impossible seems to be coming to pass - our House Is (Said To Be) Nearly Ready, Say, on Friday or Failing That, Saturday. Hurrah! I visited our friend the builder today. The house looks all swanky and nice. In most places, at least..

The uncanny
I was walking by the Irish Canc*r Society on Saturday, on my way up to mind Spike, while his Dad nipped to the hospital. I'd just heard The Marvelous, as above, so it was not surprising that a child in the arms of a woman standing in the wide bay window of that large Georgian building should draw my eye. The woman turned, cupping her hand around the little girl's back, and I saw she, the child, had a tube in her nose. The image struck me chill - a baby, with cancer. It's so wrong.
This morning, paying for my meal in DC.U canteen, with my friends, my eye falls on the Irish Times beside the register and there she is again, that same little girl, pale but smiling, in her pretty dress, with her sweet little face, representing the Society's Plea for platelet donors.
I have of course taken this hint from the universe and I am going to donate - not platelets, because unfortunately I have been struck off the Blood Donors register for having a virus (that turned out to be nothing) - but some money, at least, for which I am sure the Society will have plenty of use.