Sunday, 28 December 2008

whatever next -groin strain?

It would be hard to imagine anyone less given to athletic excess than me, so it is with a real sense of grievance that I have named 2008 the Year of the Muscle.
I always thought that to irritate your muscles enough for them to hit back, you had to make excessive demands on them. Runners, or long distance walkers would expect the odd twinge. Lunatics taking to the side of precipitous cliff faces deserve all they get. But not me.Before I even turn in the bed, I check that everything is in order and ready for lift-off. And yet.......In 2008 I have pulled absolutely everything at some stage.My back, my legs, my hands knees and bumpsidaisy have all had their creaky turns. Most spectacular among these was the magic night when levering myself into a standing position I inadvertantly pulled an already damaged part and ended up in the local ER. Ever since I have adopted a furtive air whenever an ambulance passes, in case the paramedics within recognise me.
Then last week, distracted by the joy of Christmas, I hauled myself out of the car, in a movement which, in retrospect may have been a little bit on the balletic side, and did a sort of twirl thing on my right leg while the left one kicked perkily in the air. Whatever. The thing is that this morning I found myself hobbling in a serious manner and after running down the source of the pain I discovered that I must have pulled a muscle, heretofore unknown to me,in my groin area, sort of. I'm being vague here because I've never heard of anyone as sedentary as me getting into this sort of trouble and the problem is, who do I go to to get it fixed ( in view of the rather delicate area of its location I loathe to call on the local physios). Lets hope the Deep Heat works.
Another thing - while attempting, unsuccessfully to get onto my dashdoard, I found myself reading the blog of Chay Eltha 7, written in the most exquisite Arabic script. Needless to say it went over my head but Mr Eltha has had 34 comments to his blog. I've only ever had one. Ever. What's wrong with me.
For those of you interested in world affairs I have plans to close down the year with a definitive rundown on the state of the world - groin permitting . Watch this space.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Season of goodwill

From fifty yards it was hard to say if the figure was human, or say, a beached whale.It was certainly mammalian but since the lakeshore in Loughrea is at least 30 miles from the ocean, it was unlikely to be a creature from the deep. There was another clue. The creature dressed in pants and jacket was waving to attract the attention of the driver of a clapped out red car parked nearby.When this didn't work, the figure started waving a walking stick, vigorously. Sounds that were suspiciously like the word Help were also shouted without result. As the rain fell in a fine steady drizzle, the driver of the red car stayed put while what might have been an emergency unfolded before him. Suddenly another car arrived and glided slowly to a stop under some adjacent trees. This car was driven by a retired local man, well known in the community and to the figure now stretched out on the wet ground. The figure called help but all that happened was that the man opened his car door to release his equally ancient terrier from captivity.
By now the figure had been lying in full view without anyone coming to see what was going on for approximately 20 minutes.
It was a day just before Christmas, the rain was heavy, and the woman for it was a woman,lay on the ground. All things considered, it was unlikely that she was sunbathing.
Then a white car drove in. The driver saw the woman waving. He stopped, came over and after a struggle managed to yank her to her feet, damp but otherwise unharmed.
Little did he know it, this strange young man, not even a local, that on the 10th of December he would become a 21st century Good Samaritan.
Unfortunately the woman was more shocked than she thought and failed to ask his name and having helped her back to her car, he drove off.
All of this happened, just as I've written it, in a country once famous for it warmth and humanity.
This year, once again, Irish people will put their hands in their pockets to contibute to allieviating starvation and poverty in foreign parts and other Irish people will congratulate themselves on their natural goodness to the needy. A headline on the news also flagged up the statistic that this great little country drinks more take-out coffee, eats more take-away food and buys more condoms per capita than any other similar country.
All in all I just can't wait to hear the jingle of Christmas carols announcing the arrival of the season of goodwill.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

A sudden case of Tourettes in Limerick

It was as the historic bulk of King John's Castle receeded behind me that a sort of " skittishness" set in. Ahead, somewhere, was our goal- TKMaxx purveyor of cutprice bargains to the innocent. The problem was that the shop was in Limerick, a city so "edgy" in the Irish zeitgeist as to send my adrenalin racing. And when my adrenalin races, I have a tendency to Tourettes Syndrome. The result was predictable. Choruses of horn hooting fist waving and foul language,accompanied our progress from roundabout to roundabout, and that was just from me. My friend meanwhile sank deeper into her seat and had gone strangely silent - as had the dogs who were staring out the windows and pretending they had nothing to do with me. And then, out of the blue, there we were , outside the shop and ready to go.

It was like finding that Open Sesame really does work. Aladdin's cave lay open before us and we set to work.

I'm proud to say that at this point I had still not bought anything. However since I was there as a stylist for my friend, I was very busy spending her money, (an activity I could well adopt permanently). Then she spotted an occasional table. It was love across a crowded room before she'd even had a chance to touch it. We called for the manager to answer questions about damage and price. By now my blood was really up and I found myself eyeing the approaching Manager. The first thing to strike me was his age. I suppose he was old enough to vote but I bet he had to show ID before they'd serve him in the off-licence. I made a promise to myself when I got my bus pass, never to let a young man pass unscathed, so as he drew level I put out a restraining hand and smiling admiringly I asked if indeed he could be the manager. Surely a man so young and masculine with so much gelled hair could hardly have achieved such an exalted position. While he was taking this in ,I started to rub him gen tly on the chest almost like you'd wind a baby, telling my friend that we might take the gorgeous creature home with us. By now, the guy was perhaps a little uneasy and my friend took over and started demanding money off the table. At first he fought off her assault, but when he saw me bearing down on him again, like a client from some care in the community away day,his resistance crumbled. I swear, a bit more pressure and he have paid us to take the table away. We left the shop triumphant, with the table, a rug and a table lamp - plus a few other bits and pieces we'd somehow managed to pick up. Job done I think.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

A State of Chassis

For awhile during the week I thought my moment had come. Revolution was in the air. In Dublin a conference room full of 1500 pensioners were showing their teeth, or to be exact, their dentures.Wild eyed behind flashing specs, the word Grey Panther had taken on an emerald hue. On the platform stood the sacrificial goat, a Junior Government Minister, helpless and hapless and bleating plaintively for understanding.
The next day they were on the streets again having commandeered every piece of rolling stock on the railways and marching on Parliament. This time there was no Government minister to be seen.
The Oldies were following in the queue by the students, fleeter of foot than their predecessors, but no less impassioned.
By now the only elected representatives to be found in the capital were men and women waving their resignation papers.
In m y neck of the woods even my postman was asking me where we'd end up.
By the Friday I knew the earth really had moved. My good friend and butcher told me that the bottom had fallen out of the greyhound puppy market. For yonks a reliable dog man could depend on getting a grand per pup from the clintele of every pub in the country.The market was big in syndication. Ten boozers ( or sportsmen) would peel off a green one each and qualify as an owner and gentlemen. But then the banks crashed and the economy hit the skids and noone was buying dogs.
On Sunday morning at Mass in the Cathedral, the top priest, a born and bred , dyed in the wool Fianna Failer got up to deliver his sermon and lashed out at the budget. In the congregation a traumatised local politician who is currently Mayor of Loughrea had to choose between politics and faith. He chose politics and walked a lonely walk out of the church( though he claims that when the sermon was over he went back).
Things had come to such a pass that I wasn't terribly surprised when my friend returned from France with the news that things are so bad over there, the French railways won't put on extra carriages to transport protesters to Paris, so they are reduced to gallic shrugs and muttered "merdes"
Meanwhile in Loughrea the tom toms are beating away with news of my night in the hospital . The story is that I fell and injured myself and had to be ambulanced to Ballinasloe. Sadly the story lost its impact when it was admitted that I was discharged .What isin't known is the detail of my night in ER. All things considered, I think I'll leave it that way.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

A night in ER -through other eyes

Dear mum . This Ireland is a strange place for a well brought up young Kashmiri doctor. In fact it can sometimes seem like a gaping chasm, culturewise. Take the other Sunday night for instance. I was called from my bed to the A and E department where I found myself confronting a large old woman wearing only a dog blanket - Allah be Praised. Even sitting in a wheelchair it was clear that very little of her modesty was left to the imagination, (though the legend "Paws" on the spotted garment was some distraction for an animal lover like myself). The old woman was clear, to the point of aggression, that she had not had a heart attack or broken her back. She had , however, torn a muscle in her back and was in severe pain. Eventually the nurse and I decided it was safer to take her at her word, especially since, by this stage her language had deteriorated to what I later learned was called "anglo-saxon". This language contains words which you are unfamiliar with, dear mother, and which I had never learned during the many years I spent becoming fluent in the tongue of the oppressors.There is no adequate translation for such words in Urdu, or Punjabi , let alone Arabic. In fact I had not heard anything like them in all the years I spent in the Ukraine studying medecine and Russian.
She was given a painkiller injection - sufficient to stun a strong ox- and some hours later we felt it safe to ask her if she could stand. She agreed to try, on condition that the nurse and I help her. This we did and slowly, she rose, unfortunately dislodging her grip on the dog blanket. Only the intervention of the great Prophet saved me from impiety. For as she rose, so too did the wheelchair, due to the fact that her unclothed lower regions had stuck to the plastic of the seat.
Believe me, dearest mother, it was a terrible sight and combined with the strange " anglo-saxon" has left an indelible mark on my mind. As I write, I believe I may be suffering post traumatic shock. I can only hope that my stay in Ireland does not continue to hold such surprises. Your trembling son, Naeem.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

A Night in ER

A Good Spanking

Wednesday, 1 October 2008


somewhere in the blogosphere there is another marydloughrea.sometimes I can find it and sometimes I can't. This is a pity because my take on Baffle is well worth reading. It maybe that it can be accessed through, or it may not.perhaps www.marydloughrea will do it. who knows? certainly not me.These remarks are directed primarily to by beautiful granddaughter in Moscow. At the moment she's trying to find the local Ikea in the hope that they stock a maxi strength duvet. I hope she reads my thoughts on goji berries for her physical wellbeing is always dear to my heart. Meanwhile her father's mother-in-law,a woman of altogether finer cultural instincts, is anxious that Aoife exploits the baboushka on her floor .We'll see.


Uncharacteristically, I sailed serenely through Meltdown Monday.In fact it wasn't until Tuesday morning when I rang a friend (to report yet another lost foxhound), that I heard about it, at all at all. He was in a gleefull state, especially when he told me that the Government had turned me into a financial underwriter. When he explained that this had to do with my taxes bailing out the banks, I was elated too, since so far as I know, I haven't been a taxpayer since 1979. But of course, as he pointed out, I had been coughing up, through the fact of just breathing, that being the way of indirect taxation.

Later, my son - the Great White Hope of the Duffys- went further by suggesting that I investigate my participation in the Derivitives Markets whatever they are. Thus cresting a wave of euphoria, the crises of the world washed over me.

Then this morning as I prepared my breakfast porridge, a lucid moment opened like a shaft of sunlight through a leaden sky. I was sprinkling Goji berries at the time and realised that there has been a distinct improvement in my mood since I first fell for these dried out little red yokes. Could there be a connection? I went to the back of the Linwoods pack to see the history of these magic berries.Allegedly they hail from some obscure region of the Himalayas and really that's all you need to know about them. But the thing is, Gojis appear to be brilliant at everything. So, could it be that my upbeat mood which appears to have innoculated me against financial doom
and gloom has to do with diet.Am I living proof of a berry induced Nirvana, a sort of instance of Shangri La on the hoof or just my the fact that having no money to invest, I may be the only person in Ireland with nothing to lose.
There's no doubt about it. Its an ill wind.....

Monday, 29 September 2008

Saturday, 27 September 2008


About 20 years ago a jolly group of layabouts and semi-professional drunks started a cod poetry club and called it Baffle. For a long time it was great fun but finally money raised its ugly head in the shape of grant aid to the arts. Passing over any direct connection between the Baffle output and poesy, this marked a tragic decline. In order to get the official money , they had to form themselves into a committee. What followed was inevitable. Some people left and the remainder started to take themselves increasingly seriously.

It was hinted - darkly - that certain "poets" had bought dictionaries and others had acquired Roget's Thesaurus, which they were now consuming like high fibre Goji berries.Under the lash of progress certain Bafflers enrolled in Creative Writing courses and in time were published in various anthologies. The bit of progress now firmly between their teeth Baffle recently designed a new website where, no doubt, all details relating to the annual Baffle Festival, held in Loughrea at the end of October, will be set out.

Down the years one characteristic of Baffle, which it owes to natural eccentricity,( the birthright of all true Loughreaites,) has been its waywardness. And no amount of exposure to modernity has changed this. For I see that the man described as Baffle's "webmaster"is Ian McDonald,whose main claim to fame is that he was convicted of downloading kiddy porn from the internet. It can be argued that this alone makes him unusually qualified for the position since he clearly knows more about "logging on" and opening files than the rest of us put to-gether.This in itself goes against the grain of life in this small and ridiculous town - if appointments were made on the basis of merit or qualification- the whole structure of society would crumble.This is NOT the Irish way. But this is the point we seem to have reached and thanks to Baffle,who are fearlessly showing us the road ahead, we face the uncertain future with our heads held high.