Sunday, September 30, 2007

New broom

Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!
For a moment, I thought the Blackbird was back, but it was a smoke alarm.
"Are you on fire?" I shouted down from where my nose was pinching itself as I poured fresh cat litter into a litter tray.
"There's black smoke coming out of the Hoover!" Herself shouted up. "Well, I don't know if it's smoke or dust."
I took the bag out of the monster and it was indeed warm, not to mention filled with black carbon from our unsuccessful attempts to clean out then light the ancient home heating boiler.
"Maybe some bits of fire lighter got too hot in the dust bag."
"Will I buy another one?" Herself asked. She'd been itching to buy something all day, although to be fair it was something to finish off the kitchen, or, more bluntly, to get me working on sawing and hammering and making rude noises on the floor again. As vacuum cleaners don't necessarily imply agreement with the need to finish off the kitchen project right now, I said I thought it was a great idea. So off she went, the slightly warm and definitely knackered Hoover in the boot of the car. We didn't think it would light up in the boot, but we've had the car a few years now so what the heck if it did, right? The insurance would cover it and Nissan would probably knock a few quid off a late 2007 model for a half charred shell by way of trade-in.
The new model vacuum cleaner is one which is not only made by a famous electrical tool company, it looks like it was made by an electrical tool company. There are shades of Dyson rip-off in its cyclonic, no disposable bag, suck-it-all-up-into-a-glass-jar system. It has several clunky bits which are genuine, no-nonsense, definitely designed by a man features. The heaviest part appears to be the chromed suction tube, which I suspect is a reworked leaf-blower part. It also purrs, which is something new to us and, it transpires, is deceptively disarming. When one presses the huge on/off button, it begins to whirr quietly as the hamster-wheel innards kick into life. Then it starts to pull the framed photographs and curtains off the wall.
"It certainly sucks," I say.
"It certainly does," is the reply.
We shall need a new carpet, I think. I shall have to see after I pull the old one out of the cookie jar it keeps dust in.
I am also missing a slipper.
And I haven't seen the smaller of the three cats in a while. In fact, I wonder if that is the purring noise? She certainly did like sitting on that carpet.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sick Leave


Think I'll put the kettle on.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Not known at this address


"Dear Willie Walsh,

"Please find enclosed the new 'Jesus Jokebook' that was delivered to me by mistake. I'm sorry I opened the envelope, but I was expecting a Dungeons & Dragons rulebook in the post and the hardback copy felt like it through the padding. I note someone has penciled in 'This is a good one' in a couple of spots in the margin. Just to let you know it was like that already when I opened it, okay?

"Willie Walsh."


"Dear Willie Walsh,

"I have sent you this Dungeons & Dragons book that came to British Airways. We do not think it is for me and when we looked you up on the Internet we didn't think it was meant for the Bishop of Killaloe either.

"Willie Walsh."


"Dear Willie Walsh,

"Thank you for sending on the joke book. Its author, Des McHale, will be named as a blackguard from the altar in all Sunday Masses on 23rd September. This wouldn't have been possible if the book had been lost, as the copy was annotated in the margins by His Holiness so I am most grateful to you for sending it on.

"Willie Walsh."


"Dear Willie Walsh,

"I'm glad you sent the Dungeons & Dragons book because I was worried it might have gone to the Bishop of Killaloe by mistake. I wouldn't like to end up like poor old Des McHale after his 'Jesus Jokebook' was on the Joe Duffy radio programme.

"By the way, I received an email from a Mr. McGonnagle, from County Meath, who was upset that you charged him and his wife an excess on their luggage at London Heathrow last week. I took the liberty of telling them their next flight on BA would be free to anywhere in the world and just to say that I had said it was okay when they checked in.

"Best Wishes,
"Willie Walsh."


"Dear Willie Walsh,

"The Pope wants to know if you have any plans to do anything serious against the 'McHale fellow'. Sorry the envelope is torn again, but the postman was in a hurry and as I had to sign for it he had piqued my curiosity as to the contents before I realised it was for you. Anyhow, the Pope would like a reply as soon as you can manage it. The rest you can read for yourself.

"Willie Walsh."


"Dear Willie Walsh,

"Sorry, but if the Pope wants a cheap flight he'll have to get in touch directly. Who is Mr McHale, anyway? We don't seem to have him on any passenger manifests over the next few weeks."

"Willie Walsh."


"Dear Willie Walsh,

"I have sent an email to Mr McGonnagle granting him a plenary indulgence. It's the best I can do from Killaloe, and even that was touch and go with the state of the dial-up connection here. He replied saying that if he sees the McHale fella at the airport, he'll tell him the Chief Executive is looking for him. I don't know what this means. Is it a reference to one of the Jesus jokes, do you think?

"Willie Walsh."


"Dear Willie Walsh,

"The Pope wanted to know by return what the plan was for the 'Jesus Jokebook.' As the matter was marked 'Urgent', I told him to recommend excommunication for any Catholic that read it. You might drop him a line or an email if there's anything you want to add to that.

"I've also sold about 20% of the shares of British Airways this week and sent €5,000,000 to Mr McGonnagle from Co. Meath. He might be making a donation to the fund for the repairs to the church roof on foot of this.

"By the way, if you receive any writer's guidelines for a Dungeons & Dragons magazine in the next few days, you wouldn't mind putting together 800 words or so, would you? Sure, who could tell the difference anyway?

"Yours Faithfully,
Willie Walsh."

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Our cake stand has a wobble

Practical. That's what a toilet seat is. You know its function. A place to rest yourself before, during, or after a busy day.

So I had no difficulty in joining Herself in a bit of shopping around this afternoon as it involved something practical like a toilet seat.

Our other one was fancy. Too impractical, in fact. Where it sacrificed practicality for fanciness it met rust, and where it met rust it seized, and where it seized it eventually broke.

My own posterior being unfussy, I am unfazed by the absense of a toilet seat, but the rest of the family were too quickly disappearing down the pan and so one had to be had. I approved of the mission.

So it was with some surprise -- although experience should have warned me in advance -- that I greeted the suggestion:
"Let's look at the household section."
Among the household section items were various pieces of packing crates reassembled into designer furniture. There were clocks made from scrap metal the scrap-metal merchants obviously rejected. Picture frames that looked like the bin truck had run over them. And there were ornamental bits and pieces that were trying to be practical in a slightly cream coloured way.
"Oh look!" Herself cooed at a three tiered cake stand -- the kind that one puts the most elaborate of biscuits and tartlets onto when the parish priest comes to call, but hides away in the event the Relieving Officer sends a representative to the house. "You shall have to carry it in the car," she said.
I wondered briefly if this involved wearing the toilet seat like a horse collar, but it transpired that other came in a cardboard box. I daintily held the cake stand (making sure its ornamental finial wasn't pointing at my eyeball in case we had to stop suddenly) on my lap on the drive home. It had little pottery doily edges.
About an hour later, we noticed the yoke was kind of leaning over, like something underneath was melted.
"Do you think that's crooked?" I asked.
"Hmmm," was the reply. It was the kind of "Hmmm" which said, "And why didn't you spot that in the shop, Mr. There's-Another-One-There-in-the-Front-of-the-Display-Lookit?"
So I have to figure out how to straighten up the thing. The middle tier has an off-centre hole.
Ironic, really, as the toilet seat fitted perfectly.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Rules of the Road

So we come to a halt as a line of non-bus traffic streams up Tallaght Village. The bus driver sits there looking at the "Republic & Northern Ireland" delivery van with its indicator on wishing to turn into the grounds of the Institute of Technology. We wait. The van driver waits. The sensors in the road detect the weight of the bus and turn the traffic light green. We continue to wait.

"You'll have to reverse!" one of the drivers waiting illegally in the traffic shouts out.

"Who'll have to reverse?" asks the bus driver through the open window. "I'm in a bus lane."

We wait. Someone honks a car horn.

"Frank," says the bus driver into his radio. "You'll have to get down here. The whole bus plug is filled up."

The traffic moves up a little in the opposite direction. The dog-faced delivery van driver peers solemnly at the bus passengers glaring out at him. He keeps his indicator on.

At the other end, a line of cars followed by a bus approaches and stops at the red light. To the left, a long line of traffic trying to exit the I.T. is stuck because our bus is stuck on the road across the gate.

A man gets out of an unseen vehicle and walks around the front of the bus. He walks up to the van driver and says something to him, waving the van off. The van driver looks at him impassively. Finally, after a ten minute stand off, there's enough room to move off and we make a run for Tallaght Village.

"Frank, you'll have to get the guards to go up there. I don't know what's going on."

Bad driving, that's what's going on.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for a guard to arrive on a Friday evening either.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Into the outdoors....

"The grass needs mowing," Herself says. "I suppose I could manage to get it done when I finish the breakfast, the ironing, the washing of the kitchen floor, the hoovering...."

"No it doesn't," I say from behind the safety of the television remote control. "It was only done three weeks ago."
"One of the cats got lost in it yesterday."
"That cat always had a poor sense of direction."
"And it's going to rain. If it rains, the grass will be a foot taller in a few days and then I'll have to mow it when I finish the breakfast, the ironing, the washing of the kitchen floor, the hoovering..."
And so I find myself in the savana that is our back garden, pootling about with a faulty electrical hover mower. Every time it goes over a blade of grass that has the audacity to stand upright, the little plastic disposable blade thingy breaks and I have to stop and fit another one.
Oh, and I really hate electric strimmers. It's now official. No matter how I try to wind the replacement cord on, it becomes entangled and unusable. Or it unwinds completely into a deadly, flying weapon that puts cats and me to flight.
"I'm never using that again," I sulk, stomping by with the mower past Herself, who is making progress with a steam iron through a mini-Mount Everest of wrinkled shirts while hoovering with the other hand.
In the front garden, it begins to rain. I am on the grass verge by the road, overlooked by dry neighbours drinking tea and standing smugly in their living rooms looking out. They mowed their grass yesterday, or course, when the weather forecast rightly predicted dry weather. So, I can't stop now. It will only satisfy the neighbours.
The clouds make a noise like a toilet flushing. I mow on.
Sheets of water pass vertically before my eyes, some of them on the way back up having bounced off the ground. There is a hammering sound on the outside of my cap, which is now a lot closer to my head than when I started out. Small blue sparks are rising from the mower. From time to time its "Errr-uhh...!" noise fails and drops to a sputtering gurgle.
I mow on.
I can't see out of my glasses any more, so they dangle precariously from the tip of my nose where a cataract flows from the peak of my cap.
At last, as grey smoke begins to rise from the extension lead, I grab the mower, wind up the flex as best I can, and gallop for the house.
"Is it raining?" Herself asks sweetly.
"Grumph!" I say, squelching towards the garden shed with the dripping mower. I throw it bodily through the doorway and slouch back into the house, drenched to the skin. I dry off, change my clothes and get to sit down at the computer.
Five minutes later a voice comes from the kitchen:
"You wouldn't just sweep the grass off the path, would you?"
Just popping out then.
I may be some time...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Can't live with them... can't broil them over a slow heat....

Visit A very large gentleman who goes to the same gym as me (the one which involves standing by a counter and lifting containers of beer continually to one's mouth and swallowing the contents) was standing in a car park the other day speaking with a woman. If hairstyles are an indicator of attitude to life, then his was no-nonsense shorn-baldy goodness.

As I passed with my ponytail swinging good-humouredly from beneath the cover of my classy baseball cap, I noticed a Mini-He about three years of age standing on the kerbside.

"Look at that man's hair!" the small one uttered in frank astonishment.

It is doubtless a source of great wonder in the world of this young man that humankind is not monopolised by the louse-phobic styling of a shorn pate.

"Quaint," I thought. "My hair, young man, may be down my back but yours is... down on the floor! Hur! Hur! Hur!"

As I sloped off into the distance in seach of a bus-stop, the cry went up behind me, fading slowy into the distance:

"Look at that man's hair!

Look at that man's hair!

Look at that man's hair!"

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

DIY : Some during and more during pics

So, the kitchen has basically gone from.... this stage... and this stage....:

To something a little beyond THIS STAGE:

Monday, September 10, 2007


"Now," Herself says. "Don't get mad when I say this. But..."
I am lying on my back on the tiled floor of the kitchen, staring wildly at the ceiling.
I have not washed any part of my anatomy in, we think, three weeks.
It is possible I have not spoken with anyone other than a cat in a month.
My hands are claws into which only some of the simplest, most primitive tools with which one hits something very hard fit.
I have sweated 321 litres of water.
I have wrapped my belt three times around my waist.
I have eaten only some crumbs from an upended toaster found in the cupboard beneath the oven.
I am blind.
I am repeating to myself, over and over: "Make it work. Make it work. Make it work."
She says:
"The door of the cabinet is on crooked. It is obviously higher on the right-hand side than on the left."
I whimper.
My eyebrow, over my left eye, begins to twitch uncontrollably.
And yet I find myself on hands and knees with screwdriver in hand adjusting the screws of the hinges of the cabinet door.
My knees shall probably never work properly again.
My spleen has given up excreting whatever substance a spleen is made to excrete.
"Make it work," I mutter.
"Make it work."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Irish Blogs let-down

I run (or have run) a couple of sites in the past in which I know other browsers (the people, not the IE/Firefox thingies) have felt they've invested some time and energy in supporting. And I know what it's like to feel a need for change, modernisation, a revamp of the whole set-up.

I've also been a frequent visitor to an online site or service over which I've had no direct control but have enjoyed and made a part of my browsing day.

Irish is one of those sites that has insinutated itself into that contented part of my online mind. It is usually the second or third stop on my browsing schedule. This blog is listed there and it shows up when I update. Love seeing the title and the first few lines of text among all the other, more popular blogs. And, of course, enjoying the read of interesting topics that comes up in the list by other bloggers.

Over the past few weeks, the Irish Blogs site has been radically altered and is no longer the plain but beloved destination it once was. Instead of a no-nonsense list of fairly-recently updated blog posts, the aggregator is now divided into "Popular" and "Latest" and "Other". It also doesn't appear to update towards the end of the week at all. And the "Popular" posts don't cater at all for the likes of me: a non-conformist, erratic who likes to pick and choose what he finds interesting, as opposed to being told what it is he should be reading.

I hope that the tenent of "If it ain't broken, don't fix it" will sink in and some of these changes be reversed. I'm all for changing things about and I know one cannot please everyone. But this is just a bit too radical a change.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Number games and dragging knuckles home

Yesterday was a fine day for walking short distances, so I naturally chose to walk a fairly long one. I thought brownie points would surely be in the offing if I bought the correct drill bit to make those round holes for hinges on non-standard cupboard doors and if the end result was another door in the integrated kitchen... this time a door on the washing machine. I was right on the idea of the brownie points, but boy was I dog tired when I finally got home the long way via the DIY store.

"One!" somebody shouted up above in the building site which is the Arena by the Tower Hotel in Tallaght.

"Two!" someone shouted back.


I have no idea what was going on, but the two gurriers walking in front of me did what any self-respecting mischief-maker would do in the circumstances: one of them shouted:


"What?" came the reply from Number One.

"Eight!" shouted the gurrier pretending to be walking lamely along on the crutches. Answering calls came from Numbers Two to Seven until the whole lot were in a babble of constructional confusion somewhere in the lofty heights of the partly-glazed building. Finally, someone shouted:


and the whole lot of them resumed their collective task. Whatever it was.

On the new Firhouse Road I was struggling. It was a hot day anyway, but walking the type of road that has no bloody turning is bad at the best of times. I had pictures in my head of walking from town in the days when the last bus left at 11.00pm and the beer was still unfinished. Then that long road by the Spawell, which one hit just as the three-hour walking fatigue was setting in, looked endless.

When I flumphed into the driveway the black cat flattened himself on the top of the wall and looked at me with inky black eyes. I couldn't be bothered. He only recognises me if I follow his rules and I was not in any humour to play.

The door fitted well in the wind up. I suppose the mere stiffness in my legs this morning can be credited to crawling about on hands and knees on a kitchen floor looking for dropped screws: one way of coming down gently from exercise. This morning I was a pound and a half down. It occurs to me that if I wish to avoid the diet pills now, then the only way to lose weight is to exercise along that kind of scale. Bugger that. I gladly accepted a lift from a workmate today.

What to do and why to worry anyway?

I'm off to bed.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007