Monday, August 27, 2007

What is "Cheer Up Card" etiquette?

Herself and I were wandering around a local shopping centre a few days ago and in one of the greeting card and general souvenir sections I spied, in passing, a "Cheer Up" card.

I was so surprised (and was on my way out of the shop in the next moment to viewing it), that I didn't actually get too close a look at the card. I think it mentioned that the recipient's Guardian Angel was going to arrange for nice things to happen in the next little while. It didn't explain how the person sending the card knew this. Nor did it seem to reveal exactly what the etiquette for sending a "Cheer Up" card was.

Would you send a "Cheer Up... they can do great things with plastic surgery these days" message?

Or "Cheer Up... you still have a second one" card?

Or maybe "Cheer Up... the insurance will probably cover it"?

The mind boggles.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I hate plumbing

GeyserAs the keyboard floats by again on its circuit through the dining room on its way to the sink hole in the kitchen floor, I have just a few moments to record for you the fact that I hate... no despise... plumbing in all its forms.

That is not in any way to denigrate that portion of people who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of professional pumbing, of course. I have grown in admiration of these folk. I am speaking only personally and from my very limited but, unfortunately, most recent DIY experience.

I have quite literally been baptised in the mysteries of tube cutting, compression joints, non-organic olives and faulty stop cocks over the last few days. I have found that I could not cut a piece of pipe straight if my life was to depend upon it. I have wrestled with brass fittings and adjustable wrenches, stubborn copper pipes and infuriating bends and angles. I have literally been thrown in at the deep end.

As the lapping around my ankles grows more insistent and I really should be thinking of carrying the television up the stairs, I should like to give you my few DIY tips and observations for home plumbing while I can still think of them. They are:
  1. You can never have too many lengths of copper pipe. The first time you bend one into a facsimile of a novelty drinking straw by accident you will know this fact is true.

  2. You will always attract helpful people while sawing copper pipe in the back of your car at the local DIY store. When I say "Helpful", I mean "trying to be helpful." The first man who grabbed the end of the pipe and held it as I was sawing it so that we might close the boot was indeed quite helpful. If he'd stuck around until I sawed the ends off the other two lengths of pipe, it would have been even more helpful. "Bend it," was the advice of the second helpful passerby. He proceeded to throw his purchases into the boot and bend the last foot of the second pipe I was sawing to demonstrate how useful his advice was. Quite apart from being left with a pipe whose last few inches were bent into uselessness, I was then unexpectedly involved in sifting through the purchases which were mine and the purchases which were his. He left, contentedly, with (I think) only his own goods. Herself stubbed out her ciggy and got out of the driver's seat to hold the final piece of pipe. I don't think I could have benefited from a third plumbing Samaratin. "Swallow it," he might have said. And by that stage I might have tried.

  3. Never trust a compression joint, nor written advice on how to make one. I took to heart the article which off-handedly advised one not to turn the nut too far as this might flatten the pipe and spent two days fixing leaks while awaiting disaster if the wrench actually tightened anything.

  4. Metric and Imperial measure aren't the same. Witness my fancy taps and the Frankenstein's laboratory in the cupboard beneath the sink.

  5. Cheap and cheerful waste kits are neither cheap nor do they lead to much cheer. You should find a big bag of O-rings and keep them handy. The ones which come with the kit are made of regurgitated winegums dipped in starch.

Tomorrow, if I can lasso it as it circles the paired animals on the slowly sinking chipboard ark, I shall install the dishwashing machine. I am so looking forward to it already.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Holiday how are ya?

I'm coughing up sawdust tonight following a marathon session of cabinet building, drilling, jig-sawing and the divil knows what in the name of getting the never-ending kitchen project finally finished.

Tomorrow, I plan on some waste pipe installation to go with our new sink-and-a-half set-up, then demolition of the last hanging on part of the original sink and pipework.

My drill is starting to show signs of wear and tear to match my unhappy lungs.

It is looking promising though.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Trippin' to Malahide

So we ended up in Herself's aul' haunt, Malahide. Every time I go there, the tide is in. But I'm reliably informed there's a beach under the waves not far from the Sea Scout's HQ. Of course, the dunes start further along the coast and eventually become Portmarnock, but that's probably another story and one that would likely go way over the head of this out of towner.

The village is decorated with just-at-end-of-season hanging baskets of flowers which make a pleasant scene. The traffic is bloody well unbelievable, though. I had planned on taking pics of a few shop fronts for posterity but no matter what direction I pointed myself a convertible with build-in blonde or an SUV with God-knows what in it hove into shot.

Malahide Hardware had the fittings for our curtain rails we'd been searching for off and on for the past year. So I bought some to make more work for myself and will probably be found with drill in hand again this weekend straightening the rails out before Herself decides in another day or two that the whole lot need to go in the recycling bin.

Duffy's is the spot for lunch in Malahide. Very friendly staff and boiling hot food make for a perfect combination. I had the Lazagne special -- lazagne with a side order of boiled vegetables that must have been put in the pot so fresh they didn't realise they'd been pulled out of the gound yet. Herself went for roast beef that almost melted off the fork into the mouth. Herself's brother poked his head around the corner just as we were ordering, which was a pleasant surprise. We stuffed ourselves and waddled off down the side streets keeping a wary eye on the traffic warden and the reminder on the parking permit of when we should leave to avoid a ticket.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


"Are we there yet?"

"Don't start."

Good journey out to Drogheda on the M50 and then the M1.


"Oliver Plunkett's head. Where is it?"

"There's no head here!"

It was in the 25-foot tall reliquary, near where the lady local was lighting a candle for her presumed good intention. One severed head, some rib-bones and a hip later, we found ourselves among the ladies of the town in the Copper Kettle coffee shop, enjoying a cappucino.


The waitress, almost dislocating her neck to see what's going on among the passersby on the street below tipped over a milk jug onto the floor.

"It's hot in here," Herself said.

Drogheda is a nice-looking town with several spots of historical interest. It's hilly, so walking shoes are a good idea. I had mine, anyway. There are lots of people bustling about and plenty of shopping. Off Laurence Street is a new mall which is still awaiting tenants, but there are plenty of single shops and boutiques along the streets. One gets the impression that there is a lot going on in the town that our fleeting visit couldn't cover.
Lunch was served in the Westcourt Hotel. Always a good idea to go where the locals are eating, and this was very busy. "Family friendly" is the term I'd use. Ear-plugs an option if you are not too family friendly yourself. Food quite good, but suffered a little from the perennial problem that carvery's have, i.e, the food goes cold quickly.

We took a quick jaunt over to Newgrange, remembering along the way that the only access is through the visitor centre at Bru na Boinne. So we took a few quick snaps over the hedge and headed for home.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Days of birds and heavy weather

These past few days. Firstly on the top deck of a bus sweltering along, looking at all and nothing. I noticed over the back gardens of houses off the Old Bawn Road a flock of starlings sweeping upwards. One would arc lower using the downward fall of its trajectory to gain speed then turning the angle of its wings slightly, pulling up, up into the sky, high, higher than I had ever seen them flying before. Something about their dancing skywards puzzled me. Then I realised they were hunting. Catching flying ants rising in the heat.

The birds' wings, stretched wide out to lift them on the hot air the princess ants and male, winged ants were soaring through in invisible clouds, would suddenly twist and fold in an anxious stall as the bird almost stopped to snap up another pair of mating insects.

Further down the road, great flocks of seabirds spiralled upwards over the parklands, following the swarms. White wings upraised they swooped gracefully and plucked at the air.

No-one among the footballers or walkers or commuters stuck in traffic noticed them.

This evening, walking down the long concrete foothpath towards home I noticed scurrying platoons of ant attendants rushing frantically about, encouraging latecoming princesses in lacy wings to take off onto the dull breeze in the torid heat and run the gauntlet in the sky.

Far off towards the mountains a column of hundreds of pairs of white feathered wings blazed in the sunlight, a beautiful ballet of death and of life. The children, bored with summer holidays, didn't look up, but went about the business of who was playing with whom and who's pick it was.

Nothing ever happens in Firhouse, no doubt they'll say.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Escaped traffic lights recaptured

A herd of traffic lights which had made a sensational escape from a depot of South Dublin County Council overnight were recaptured and corralled in Firhouse this morning.

Under cover of darkness, the eight-feet high lights had sneaked out a hole in a fence and scattered across parkland into nearby estates.

Local resident, Eilish Okimbawano, told our reporter: "I came out to pick up the milk and there was one standing in my garden, eating the top off my Clematis campaniflora.

"I got it in Woodies in the 50% off sale," she added.

This is not the first time there has been a problem in South Dublin with roadside structures. In 2005, one-hundred directional signs disappeared along the M50. It is thought they migrated to Southern Italy for the winter.

The escaped traffic lights were rounded up by Roads Department staff on overtime this morning and corralled in a temporary compound off the Firhouse Road. A spokesman said:

"We think we got them all back, but it's hard to tell. They're pretty frightened at the moment and will probably just mill about for a few hours before settling down. Once they get used to the new surroundings they should all start pointing the same way."

Reports this afternoon from the Dodder Valley Park area of sightings of two more traffic lights hiding in shrubbery near Firhouse Weir are being investigated.

In the meantime, member of the public are asked to be vigilant and to report any suspicious traffic lights to their local Garda station.

Friday, August 03, 2007

So, this man goes to the doctor....

Pill Shaped USB Courtesy www.vavolo.comAmazing how quickly your six-month duration prescription runs out, especially when you dodged the hard questions about weight and blood pressure the last time because a Locum doctor was on duty.

I gave up drinking alcohol about four or five weeks ago, following my stomach upset, and have lost around a stone and a half (21 pounds, for our American friends; 9.55 Kilos for our Euro pals) since going off the liquid bread. My face has only two chins now instead of three. And bones in it. And I appear to have only one back now.

I know what my doctor is like, though, so I didn't put much faith in making an impression on him with this news.

"Hmmm," he said. I think doctors say that to make a nice noise in their own heads when the ear pieces of the stethoscope are in. "Your blood pressure is kind of okay in that arm anyway."

"I've lost a stone and a half to come here," I said, half-heartedly. "And I've given up booze."

"It's a good idea to cut down," he mumbled, looking at my computerised record.

"Given up entirely," I said. In a moment I would be giving him the paw for a Scooby snack.

"What weight are you now then?" he asked, absently.

I told him.

"How much is that in Kilos?"

"Ah. I don't know. Knew I meant to convert something to something else before I came out.."

We looked at the cheapo model weighing scales under the examination couch. On the dial the maximum it went to was about a stone less than I weigh.

"But I have lost a stone and a half," I tried, one last time.

"Have I ever given you diet pills?"


"To lose weight. Have I ever tried you on something?"

"No... I'm losing weight... No beer... Walking..."

He "Hmmmm-ed" again and printed out a prescription for appetite suppressants.

"I'm not likely to use these...."

"Well, if you feel like you want to, you'll have them."

I was so caught on the back foot by all this I paid my €55 to the doctor's receptionist and next door I just handed the prescriptions to the pharmacist. While he filled them he started asking about whether or not I had a rebate card. Then he got me to fill in a form. Then he got me to sign something. Then the fucker asked me for eighty Euro.

"In the name of Jaysus the-most-fucking-merciful!"

I had to use my Laser card to pay for my usual medicine, a pill for my chesty cough, and a rub for my scabby leg. And for those bloody diet pills I now hear give you the droop and make you lick rusty nails.

I'm still not drinking and I'm still losing about four pounds in weight a week.

Bastard doctors.

My health appears to be someone else's wealth.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Arcade Fire - Neon Bible

A vial of hope and a vial of pain,
In the light they both looked the same.
Poured them out on into the world,
On every boy and every girl.

It's in the Neon Bible, the Neon Bible
Not much chance for survival,
If the Neon Bible is right.

Take the poison of your age,
Don’t lick your fingers when you turn the page,
What I know is what you know is right,
In the city it's the only light.

It's the Neon Bible, the Neon Bible
Not much chance for survival,
If the Neon Bible is right.

Oh God! well look at you now!
Oh! you lost it, but you don’t know how!
In the light of a golden calf,
Oh God! I had to laugh!

Take the poison of your age,
Don’t lick your fingers when you turn the page,
It was wrong but you said it was right,
In the future I will read at night.

In the Neon Bible, the Neon Bible
Not much chance for survival,
If the Neon Bible is true.