Friday, June 29, 2007

An impatient patient am I

I've been on sick leave for most of the week now and I finally have to admit I make a bad patient! I'm walking wounded, which means a tendency to be bored, which I've managed to keep at bay until today. So, I thought I'd do a bit of minor housekeeping of the personal kind, like perhaps shave three days worth of stubble.

My efforts at anything more substantial have been thwarted by a Fate which wants me to rest and get well.

Take yesterday, for example. I decide that all the visitors who are finding their way to the Blog because I mentioned a B&Q gazebo a few times, and who are looking for instructions on how to put that feckin' thing up, could probably benefit from my experience. So I lug the boxed gazebo out the back and start photographing its component parts. So far so good except for the rain-clouds which, before too long, turn to rain. So I box the whole thing up again and save my draft instructions in Blogger and then realise I'm actually in another cold sweat from the exertion and this bug is NOT going to let me ignore it. Cue stomach discomfort and chills for the rest of the afternoon. I'll finish my materpiece another time.

Today, I thought I'd try something less physically demanding, so I started looking at filling in a tax form. The main receipt I was looking for is no-where to be found, so I sent a text to Herself, who was at work, asking where it might be.

"In the boot of my car," is the response.

"Ah," I send back, and shelve that plan, as the boot of the car is with the rest of the car -- three kilometres away.

So I think scanning some photographs my father took with his disposable camera on his birthday a few weeks back might make for a relaxing, non-exerting, hour or so. But after three scans I find the pics are just too rough and grainy for my scanner to deal with properly. Another minor project on the back burner then.

No chills and no major stomach problems today, but this resting lark is becoming old. The chins are clear of stubble anyway. I suppose I'll just go back to watching television.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

At least I have my health

Following on from cheesy dreams and toothache, I found myself on Monday suffering with stomach ache. And when a stomach the size of mine aches, that's a BIG ache!

There's a gastro- bug going around at the moment and I seem to have got a version. It seemed in my case to only exhibit cramps rather than resolving into anything messier. All the same, I was in bed shivering like a jelly by 9.30 and though I went to work yesterday feeling only a little sore, I decided to take today off to chase off the very last of the bug.

Update on the seagulls: Three of us were looking out the window at the puzzling seagulls on Monday when a small brown blob of fluff on webbed feet scuttled across the roof tiles! The pair evidently have at least one chick, possibly two. Yesterday the parents spent quite a long time away but came back in the late afternoon. I suppose they were out shopping.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cheese before bedtime

"Excuse me!" I said over the garden wall. "Excuse me!"

The waiter didn't reappear. I was furious.

In the background, the cats jumped around a pair of chattering magpies that fluttered about in pibald circles on the lawn. I left them to dance and stepped back in through the back door into the crowded kitchen.

"Babe," I said. "That fellow is ripping you off!"

The waiter had peered over the garden wall in his white shirt and black waistcoat and told Herself that there had been too much salt used with the meal. It would cost another €1 on top of the bill.

He had already charged €0.90c for the same reason on our previous bill. If it happened again, I was going to challenge it. And it had.

"Where's the bill?" I asked. Herself handed me a booklet that fell in fan-folds onto the floor as I fumbled with it.

"Look!" I said. "They charge so much already that they can give you a whole waiter's book as a bill!"

I flicked through the white pages and came to a multi-coloured one which listed the menu and the accompanying prices. The menu clearly stated that the prices already included the cost of salt.

"I knew it!"

I pulled a salt cellar from the counter and tried to explain.

"This is our salt cellar," I said. "How are they supposed to know how much salt we've used anyhow? Do they weigh it beforehand? Do they?"

The crowd milled about and I lost sight of Herself. She was somewhere to the front of the house, speaking with someone at the open front door.

I went out the back door and looked fruitlessly over the wall for the waiter. My father's neighbour, Billy D, gazed out over his shoulder through next door's kitchen window at the melee of cats and magpies.

I awoke to Herself sitting on the side of the bed.

"I'm glad we turned that mattress yesterday," she said. "I didn't move the whole night."

I groaned, thinking about the cheese sandwiches I had had before bed. Always a good idea at the time, but always the cause of the strangest dreams. I told Herself about the salt.

"I didn't move either," I said. "I was weighed down by a block of cheese."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

None can compare with the cliffs of.... Tallaght?

Tallaght Town Centre and two large gulls appear to have made a home recently on top of one of the pitched rooftops. I can see one of them from my office window, on the north face of the clock tower of County Hall, one sitting in the niche of a louvred ventilator. When its mate appears, the two greet each other with many "Shree! Shree! Shree!" calls that remind one of being at the seaside.

Someone speculates that perhaps the sitter is one of this year's young, still being fed by a dutiful parent.

I don't know enough about them to judge, but it looks to me like they're considering nesting on the rooftop. It is sheltered from the prevailing wind. It overlooks a courtyard that isn't accessible to the public. There are several fast-food restaurants in the area from which an enterprising gull might, conceivably, glean enough discarded food to raise a chick.

The nesting theory gained a little ground yesterday when the sitting gull maintained its position even during the worst of a number of thunderstorms that swept the area.

We are quite a way from the sea, though, and I wonder if nesting is a viable option. I shall bring my binoculars tomorrow. If nothing else, it should worry my colleagues in the opposite side of the building as I peer out the window and focus in one something unseen over their heads.

[Pic by User:Dschwen at Wikipedia Commons. Republished under terms of GNU Free Documentation Licence]

Friday, June 22, 2007

Going sideways

As the 75 bus pulled out before I could set my booted foot upon it and as I had spent an afternoon at work stuffing envelopes, I was not inclined to turn up my nose at the prospect of a single-decker 49 bus which appeared ten minutes later.

I usually avoid these ill-conceived monsters like the proverbial terminal cough and bursting bits. They are constructed so that the last two-thirds of the bus contains the majority of seated passengers. One sixth ahead of that is for luggage, and between the luggage racks and the driver's compartment is an aisle which rapidly fills up with standing passengers such that one fat, tired, and incredibly annoyed person who happens to look exactly like me, can't get to the front in time to alight at his chosen stop.

This evening I would have accepted a lift in the back of a dung-carrying donkey car.

"I'll find one of those seats for wheelchair helpers or something and sit in it. Bugger ability!"

So it was that I found myself a single seat jammed in behind the driver's compartment and a luggage rack. I was sitting sideways on in a passably comfortable position like a cork shoved into a bottle. The world went by like a microfiche reader.

Whizz! Greens, brick reds, flashing indicator lights, No-Through-Road signage, pink and bottle-blonde blobs of people waiting at the side of the road for other buses.

Clunk! There's the front door of the Tallaght SuperValu, framed perfectly in the window. Western Union money transfers done here, I see. Free car parking for 2 hours around the corner. The unseen traffic signal changes and we lurch away again.

Wheee! The building site on the southern side of Tallaght Hospital jumbling by in horizontal, tubular lines, poles and scaffolds, dark cavernous unfinished rooms, piles of dug-up earth, large wheeled lifting machines.

At the roundabout -- where we Clunked! briefly to a halt again to let traffic by -- the centrifugal force almost pulled me out of the niche I was sitting in. I gripped a handhold and counted in my head how many times the bus would be turning right. Once more, on this journey, at least for me. At the next turn I was ready and didn't get sucked out too far into the aisle.

Wheee! Unfinished walkways and galvanised rails, stainless steel posts and loungers sipping drinks at the tables outside the Metro bar.

Then warp-speed ahead! The limestone wall of the Priory shot by in perfect parallel lines, its crooked lines of mortar merging together in long, unbroken, mermerising horizontals. I looked away. I was feeling queasy at the sense of speed and the lack of anything to fix my gaze steadily upon.

On the floor where it had rolled was a shiny penny. I looked at it in the dust and chewing gum until my light headedness went away.

People got on and looked at me in surprise. I was facing the doors as soon as they opened. Even the bus driver sits facing away. A man spoke in Arabic on a mobile telephone and argued with the driver about his fare while trying to carry on his mircowave-linked conversation.
"Two stops! Two stops!" he said loudly. "One euro!"

"Bottom of Old Bawn Road!" the driver said loudly back to him, punching the button which spat out the ticket.

The Arab man took the ticket without acknowledgement. Then he had a loud conversation down the rear of the bus on his telephone. After two stops he got off and carried on at the side of the road, sometimes making gestures the person on the other end couldn't see.

Cold air blew in at me. I was glad my shoulder bag was resting on my lap and giving me some protection from the weather.

A woman jumped on suddenly through the open doors and said to the driver:

"Can I ask you a question?"

She was sober, but obviously didn't spare herself on food or drink.

"How do I get to Sundale?"

She added: "I'm driving."

"Oh, you're driving? Well, go back to the Tallaght Bypass. Turn left and go up to the pub there at Jobstown..."

"The one near the petrol station?"

"Yes. Turn right there and go down to the roundabout. It's around there..."

"Thanks!" she said and rushed off, jangling cheap jewellry. I couldn't see her car. I was facing the wrong way. The bus creaked along a little way before the doors closed again.

At Firhouse, a young man stopped the bus, got on and dropped a coin in the slot.

"One Euro, please."

"Bottom of Firhouse Road!" the driver exclaimed, and punched the ticket machine button. The man looked at him warily from under his fringe, took the ticket and went to sit down.

At the back of the bus, a black girl who had paid the child fare was wondering if the driver would remember shouting "Templeogue Post Office!" The tension was unbearable.

I looked at the arrangement of the bell pushes. The last one was to my left and I would have to step down from my bucket seat and reach the wrong way with my left hand to press it. I couldn't tell its colour, which somehow annoyed me. Was it a blue bell button, or a red one, or some other colour? I pressed it and a muted "Ding! sounded in the driver's compartment.

The world spun back into a recognisable going-forwards scene and the driver deposited me safely at the bus shelter on Ballycullen Avenue. I was the only one he hadn't announced a destination for out loud. Strange, I thought, and walked the 100 yards or so home, facing forwards all the way.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Early rising 4.00am

Toothache woke me up this morning at 4.00am and I lay there in bed trying to find a comfortable place to put myself until five.

I tried covering my head with a duvet to keep the side of my face warm that was trying to thump on out through my cheek. I fluffed up a pillow and lay my puss on it. I even went to the last resort of draping the soft, cotton fabric of my housecoat -- a sure-fire cure for everything insomniac -- across my head without success.

I have three stumps of teeth that need to be uprooted. Two quite happily attack me from time to time but have been soundly whipped through the careful application of antibiotic treatments and horsepills. The third has, until last night, rested rottenly in peace in my upper mandible somewhere beneath my right eye with only an occasionally inconvenient habit of catching a piece of food in its gory depths. Then this weekend came the feast of sugary drinks, wines, spirits, beers, cakes, buns, biscuits, ice creams, syrups, chocolates and puddings that obviously had it throw in the proverbial towel and start throbbing like a good thing.

This evening, though feeling sleep deprived, I am somewhat more comfortable, back as I am on the pills diet and nicely swaddled in codeine.

If I come by money I shall ask the dentist to apply a gallon of stump killer. Until then, I am not looking forward to my bed.

Friday, June 15, 2007

When your week at work has reduced you...

... to a drooling wreck, there is only really one link to add to your collection:

Thursday, June 14, 2007

No Pity

Some people think that cats' faces are expressionless. This is one of a set of pictures of Buttons taken by me lying full-length on the floor and using a miniature tripod. Click on the picture to see a larger version.

You might have been in the wrong political party anyhow, missus

RTE radio's Morning Ireland programme, this morning. Twenty percent of the environmentally-savvy Green Party are ticked off that the party will be going into government with Fianna Fáil:

Interviewer: "Will you be resigning your membership of the Green Party over this?"
Lady Green: "Yes I will... And we will be gathering next week outside the Dáil to protest and burn our cards."


New recipes for Spam, Part 3

Lots of spam. Not too many amusing combinations this time. Except for:

  • it's Kristen Or abalone
  • Get Ink from MyInks and save The job you want
  • tell me whether you like it Weird, isn't it
  • Beware of fake pills. Pay only for shipping.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Thomas Lynch

I was watching the RTE television programme, Arts Lives, the other evening and it introduced me to Irish-American poet and undertaker, Thomas Lynch. I like him.

This 40 minute video of him reading from his poems and essays is something to download and keep safe.

Edit: Another 30 minute video here.

(The videos above are sourced from the Internet, and are not part of the RTE programme referred to earlier).

Sunday, June 03, 2007


We need one of these in our office.... More fun from the folks at the Lair of the Crab of Ineffable Wisdom. If easily offended by bad language, do not visit.

Home baking

"Have you ever eaten one of my sponge cakes?" Herself asks me, the other evening, as we are watching television.
"Nope," I say, swigging my beer.
"Didn't you know me when I used to bake sponge cakes and butterfly buns and flans and maringues?"
"Er... no."
"I shall make us a sponge cake at the weekend."

Come the weekend there was a crisis of ounces verses grams. I was entertaining my father in the other room and so I couldn't help much.

"Look it up on the Internet," I said.

An hour later I was eating.... something.... sponge-like....

"Do you like it?"
"Er... yes...."

I chewed at the lump of fruit-topped, cream-filled yellowish stuff. Having to chew or gnaw at a sponge cake is probably an indication that it hasn't come out right.

"I think I didn't get the measurements right," she said. "And I think there was something about folding the mixture rather than beating it."

I seprated my upper teeth from my lower ones with an effort, long enough to say:

"No, babe. It's fine, really."

There was a definite clunk when a piece of leftover spong hit the bottom of the kitchen bin. I could feel strange protestations starting up in my gut.

Herself Googled for sponge cake recipes.

"I know what went wrong!" she shouted in to the other room. "I'll make you a proper one tomorrow!"

So, today, I'm eating a wafer-thin sponge-cake that hasn't turned out either. But it is lighter than yesterday's.

"I know where I went wrong. I'll make another one tomorrow that will be right this time. I promise."

My gut is thanking Heaven that we're back at work on Tuesday. It might not have survived an extra day of sponge making.

"You can write about it," Herself said. "On condition you write a sequel when it turns out...."

Watch this space.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hail fellow...

"Is that an MP4 player?"


"What's the memory?"

"Dunno. 2,000 CDs, or something."

"How much was it?"

"I don't know. It's my sister's. €180 or something."

"You paid €180 for 2,000 CDs worth? That's good."

"I don't know. My sister got it. It might have cost more."

"Do I know you from somewhere?"

"You might have seen me around Jobstown."

A pause.




"Have you got a smoke?"

"Yeah. Here. Something better."

"You have some."

"No. I don't want any. You have it."

"Are you sure?"


The conversation turned to who knew who and who had prayer meetings every Wednesday because they were Born Again Christians. And getting out of jail.

"I spent three days in a bed and breakfast. And two days on someone's sofa. And two days in a hotel. And I went to them and said 'I need a place because I've spent three days in a B&B and two days sleeping rough and two days in a hotel.'"


"What's your phone number?"

I just wanted the traffic to move so the bus could take me home.

I only have an ordinary music player. I've only been in a B&B on holiday. I've slept rough twice, because I chose to. To me, Cloverhill is on the way to Liffey Valley Shopping Centre on the back roads. Lucky.

Culture shock

The bus pulled in at the terminus at The Square and in keeping with tradition the passengers disembarked and the engine was switched off and somebody started to complain as the driver tried to go on his break.

"You're late!" the middle aged Dublin woman said to the African in the Dublin Bus uniform who was trying to wave her off the step so he could shut the door.

She stepped back down onto the pavement.

"I've been waiting here for hours and then you just go on a break!"

The driver calmly closed the door. He said:

"How many hours?"

There was a definite look of surprise on the woman's face. Not only was she, a native Irishwoman, being addressed by a black person, but also by a black person in a position of authority. It was evidently a shock to her system.

"How many hours have you been waiting?" he asked. "One hour? Two hours...?"

She looked at him in bewilderment.

"Half an hour!" he said. The bus arrives every thirty minutes or so.

She retreated to the relative safety of the bus shelter. No-one else joined in the argument on her side.

"That's right," she rallied. "You go on your break now and get your cup of coffee or whatever it is you're getting."

The driver spoke quietly to her and I couldn't make out what he said. But her reply must have included something along the lines of

"And what are you going to do about it?" because he then said, loud enough for all to hear:

"I can refuse to take you on this bus. All of these people can travel. You cannot."

He turned and walked off in into the Square.

Ten minutes later we boarded the bus. The complaining passenger politely proffered her fare and was given a ticket. A few stops on, a friend joined her. They spoke cheerfully abut the weather and about hospital appointments and stuff like that. Then after a quarter hour their voices lowered and they whispered together. I wonder what the subject was.

Nice one, driver. I think.