The Uncanny



A couple of weekends ago:

TWANGY, seeing an opportunity to bond with DAZZLE, (the three-year-old niece) while the rest of the family are engaged in an interminable game of Capitalist Market Forces Monopoly, extends 'claws' and roars, experimentally:
Rrrrrar! I'm a tiger.

DAZZLE smiles indulgently.

TWANGY: What are you?

DAZZLE: I'm a people.

How deflating.


Further conversation, this time with a student:
ALEX(not real name!): So, in relation to.. I just want to understand. My head is wrecked here. When you copy a file, where is that?
TWANGY: Emmm. Well. What? It goes on to the clipboard.
ALEX :  But.. where is the clipboard?
TWANGY (not feeling terribly patient at this point): It's just out there, Alex. In virtual space.
In your computer's RAM or something, Alex.
ALEX: But. It's  just these notes don't talk about the clipboard. I think these notes are a bit...
TWANGY considers a rapid exit out of the window.

Speaking of the Hotel Tallafornia, and the "learning" that takes place therein with my unemployed would-be designers, it should come as no surprise that we are dealing, per usual, with the Usual Suspects. The same ould cast of characters. There's the one with the attitude, there are the moaners, there are the gigglers, there are those afflicted with shyness, those encumbered with laziness. The sickly, the smart, the motivated, the dense. 'Twas ever thus, was it not, teachers, educators, librarians? The moaners were moaning at me last week, and I had this lightbulb revelation: these people (whispered The Little Voice of Obviousness) are not my friends. In this relationship, here,  it's my job to hold the thing together, and be respected.

This is stunningly self-evident, I do realise. Maybe it's the chronic informality of the Irish, but up to now, I have always assumed that friendliness, a general enthusiasm for the subject, respect for their efforts and a pretence at a flat hierarchy would see me through this teaching gig. Now, I realise that to act as if there is no difference between us, except that I just happen to be standing at the other side of the table is just not going to work. After all, I am in charge of time-keeping, and there is money involved in that, this being a state-sponsored training course. So, how to play it? Shall I become (gets carefully into American character) a 'hardass'? Would this be better for all concerned? Thoughts on this welcome. What is your style?

I've told you about the hotel as venue of higher education in this brave new world, haven't I?
We are in the one heated room on the fifth floor of a mostly empty office block, (itself mysteriously part of the hotel), surrounded by empty offices like this:


It's so fantastically creepy, like some weird art installation. The other morning, the previously abandoned and chilly reception area had leaflets scattered around and a big poster over it:
Presumably they checked-in-but-can-never-leave the night before? Yet no sign of them since.
And then, odder yet, and, to use  The Young People's favourite word, 'totally random':

Bridge tables sprang up overnight. Bridge tables. 

What next, friends? The Annual Trapeze Artists' Convention? The League of Capuchin Monkey Handlers? YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE.

Rest assured, I will keep you posted.


on the dotted line

So, the shoulder is improving, but at such a slow pace, it's like watching trees grow. Day to day, you don't notice it, but somehow it happens. (Or so I hope).

The last time I went to the sports physician in the fancy, metal-scaled, Frank-Gehry-rip-off clinic, she referred me to a surgeon, whose specialty is The Shoulder, so he could tell me if it needs an operation.
But every means of communication has failed in the attempt to communicate with this illusive man - post, fax, email, smoke signals, thought transfer and most recently, hand-delivery, in person, to his pigeon hole - all these only resulted in his secretary denying all knowledge. I don't know how many times I rang the various secretaries trying to just make the letter go through. It seemed really, really extra mad because his "suite" is only upstairs from the referring physician's room.
That's right, it's in the same building.
Strange, I know:


I am only theoretically annoyed about this because, in a way, I don't really want be "seen" by him. Maybe this is unfair, but I fear surgeons see a problem and want to carve cut you up slice and dice solve it with surgery, rather than any other kind of intervention. Is this how he'll "see" me, as a floating, disembodied shoulder?

If anyone has any insight to offer on this (or any other matter), please pass it on.

[Aside: do you think surgeons are secretly embittered because their title is Mister, instead of Doctor? I always wonder about that. All those years of study, operating on and explaining things pointlessly to semi-conscious people, with none of that instant reverential respect that the Dr prefix inspires? I would be a bit miffed, I think].

This morning though, the stars must have been arranged in the pattern of a sub-scapularis, or maybe the moon was in the House of Surgery,  for finally I got my appointment to see Mr ShoulderMan, for later in the month. Unless I myself am repelled from his door, of course!

Time will tell.

universes collide

Oh my. I just ate a half bar of chocolate.
(No regrets).

An extraordinary thing happened to today.
Some back story first.
At one point in my illustrious career I worked in a localization dept with a crowd of rather glamorous multinational translators. (FIGS and Brazilian we used to call them). Amongst these were a scattering of Irish people, and among these few, was International Man of Intrigue, KD. KD was a not-the-marrying-kind, fairly outrageous character, with the ability to at will pass under the radar - at times charming, at times cutting, but clever as a cat, and as cute as a fox. Everyone knew him in the company. I remember he lived in D9 the first year or so we worked in the company. He'd pedal off in the evening to the little room in a terraced house that he rented for a modest sum. Later, I went to parties in his new house on the rather cool Capel St, with a big roof top terrace where you could drink your beer under the stars.

We all left the company, one by one, after a couple of years, in search of something new to do. KD, whose default attitude was one of discontent, but whose brain was brilliantly Machiavellian in its manouevres, stayed on to the bitter end, and, calculating his every move to the second, he picked up both his redundancy and achieved the maximum profit possible with his share options.
(*Share options! Ah! How very 1998*)

Years pass. I end up in the USA working at making cartoons for a mad millionaire, and he ended up in Barcelona, the better to live in the style he so dearly wished to become accustomed to.

We stay in touch, if sporadically. He and various Spanish friends came to stay in my apartment. LC sees him when she is in Spain for a conference, and is shown around all the gay bars, to her amusement. Whenever I see him, it's like we have never been apart. We are friends, after a fashion, but with limits. I am too suspicious and have too long a memory to disregard his less kind commentaries, and the way we women are interchangeable to him. (I am offended that he is immune to my charms, to be honest. I could be anyone! Does he not realize how fantastic I really am? ;0)
But he is sweet, funny and self-deprecating too and we rub along quite well for the short times we spend together.

Cut to the present day: I come home from the weekly visit to the Homestead to squeak open our front door on a pile of post. I pick one up and it is addressed to KD, at our address.
Yes. To the aforementioned KD, sent from a government department who still has his address here, after all these years. Here, at our house. So this house, our house, with the characterful floorboards and bumpy walls, was his house in D9 in 1995, where he rented a room (this room I am in now) from a man, and from where cycled into work everyday to work with me.

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.