Monday, 27 September 2010

Clapped-out on a hard lesson

The clapped-out Corsa seems to be having a nervous breakdown - that or a midlife crises. Either way the experience is as uncomfortable for me as it is for itself.Only last Wednesday the wagon engulfed itself in smoke at the beginning of a dual carriageway, leaving me and two dogs on the horns of a dilemma. Should I save myself from what might have been the start of an inferno - leaving the mutts to their fate? Or should I spend the last seconds before conflagration, attaching them to leads -( assuming I could find same).I'm not proud of the fact that I saved myself first. Needless to say this was not the end of the story. In due course, the smoke cleared. I retrieved my mobile and discovered that I had just run out of credit. This was odd since a couple of days previously I had topped up and should have had plenty of juice left in the Vodaphone well. But no - some days earlier I had attempted to ring a friend and got his messaging service. I left him a trailer of the news I had and listened as the phone imparted all sorts of strange groans and such. Suddenly I was through to my mate who informed me he was in Paris. What I should have done was close the connection, immediately. What I actually did was tell him an edited version of my news - thus wiping out my credit status with the Vodaphone bank. Next time I tried to make a call, I was in the doghouse. They wouldn't let me talk to ANYONE. Not even other 087 customers. So there I was on the hard shoulder , the smoke clearing and two dogs sitting in the back seat looking deeply aggrieved. Happily, I was saved by a charming young man with and iPhone. Imagine. Not only that but his car was a million miles away from clapped-out corsas I have known. Its a funny thing about disasters. Sometimes they come disguised as learning experiences. That was the case here. For after much nerve wracking and some extraordinary good luck they ended up teaching me much about life ( with a capital L). On this occasion I discovered that all the drama was down to having too much oil in the engine. In a racketty life as an intuitive unpredictable driver I had never heard of this one. And neither had the other woman who actually poured the extra two litres into the engine.You live and learn, I suppose, though mind you, the dogs are not all that mustard keen to get back into the wagon.

Monday, 26 April 2010


The last time I tried to record the arrival of the cuckoo in Kylebrack the machine let me down.

Saturday, 24 April 2010



half past eight,I'm watering a few tubs and suddenly life changes gear.Close by, maybe in a tree, I hear my first cuckoo for two years. And there's no mistaking the sound. It is irristible.If I were a female cuckoo, I'd drop everything and follow the call.Thrilled with my connection to the life force and thinking of the happy conjunction of the cuckoo and the swallows now crowding the skies, I retire to breakfast and a little lie down before the day takes off.
On the radio Fi Glover is doing her thing and Alvin Stardust, a name I vaguely remember from my racketty past, are excavating his past when as the sig tune comes closer I hear Fi say,as if she had just invented the phrase, that something "would not happen anytime soon".
Oh Fi - how could you. Any Time Soon, indeed. If there's an overused catchphrase that gets right up my jacksy it this terrible overused three words. God, it gets to me. What's wrong with"don't hold your breath" as a way to indicate the likelihood of delay. That at least has some wit about it. But " any time soon"! I'd be prepared to lay money on it being American in origin. When I was a kid you might be told to "hold your whist".And you knew exactly where you were.
If there are any more sloppy incursions from America, I may be forced to write to the B.B.C.
I had a German here this afternoon. He's a man who can turn his hand to anything - but it turns out, not to-day. He's about to turn the chaotic rear of my house into an ordered arrangement of raised beds in which I intend to plant amazing combinations of " stuff". He arrived with a measuring tape. I wouldn't be surprised if he even had a spirit level handy., His conversation consisted of details of how my plans might actually be turned into reality. I was almost speechless with admiration. And then he said he'd be starting sometime next week. Shit. This fella has been in Ireland for a long time. I fear he may have been here too long.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Friday, 9 April 2010

swallow - twice

Friday, and one of my hospital days.This one promised to be more action crammed than usual since it also included an anniversary do connected to the University. Greatly to my surprise it is fifty years since the otherwise prestigious University in Galway, handed me a BA degree. At the time I didn't stop to think why they had done this extraordinary thing but since then, depending on my mood, I've ascribed it variously to a temporary loss of mind or a deliberate decision to see the back of me, permanently. Either way this entirely undeserved distinction was enough to get me into journalism at a time when the owners of Fleet Street's greatest papers(with circulation figures that seem miraculous to-day)were smitten with the belief that only a transfusion of University educated people could raise the intellectual tone of the popular press. It is arguable that in the whole history of Grub Street a more baseless idea was never inflicted on a long standing profession , especially one with delusions to seriousness.Today, you can't get into the business without a degree.One look at the red tops, and indeed the remaining " proper" papers will tell you how wise this decision was. Anyway, fifty years on from the day when I got my piece of parchment, I am still on the go and though a natural loner, I decided I'd go to this do. But before turning up to the University for the bus tour of the Campus, I took Mr Giggs to Silver Strand for his first look at the sea. For a nervous dog he took to it very well - lured on to the beach by the cries of children and the yelps of other dogs, all of whom were enjoying the first real taste of warm weather. It was at this stage that I looked up into the clear blue sky and there dipping and wheeling like trapeze artists on speed, were two swallows.I've never been able to resist that first sight of swooping, gravity defying glory. And to have two of them, doing a choreographed duet in the sky above my head was almost too much pleasure for one day. I packed Giggsy in to the back of the clapped out Corsa and set off for the College. Very soon, the bus arrived with a load of other ancients and we set off for the tour.We hadn't gone far before I realised the wisdom of going my own singular way.These were the sort of people who sat unmoved by everything . They seemed to be wrapped in a sort of comfort blanket of sullen silence.At the first opportunity I baled out knowing that if I stayed around any longer I'd start swearing. Especially since a good number of the women seemed to former nuns. God know's what the men were. I didn't notice that they were all that closely attached to any women but that's not uncommon among the long married. and so forswearing the delights of the celebration dinner, Giggy's and I headed for the hills, eyes glued to the sky in the hope of more swallow sightings.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

april fool

I seem to have done it again. On April Fool's day I posted a blog titled Spring and managed to lose it before I pressed the right button. I fear its time to face the fact that I am not a natural blogger. When I started this nonsence it was with the intention of subverting the Irish state. Sadly I couldn't hit the right tone of vituperative outrage. Jokes, ( poor ones) crept in and in the end I found myself leading a one woman campaign against the county council's plans to build a chemical loo on the most obvious scenic spot on the lake shore.The loo was opened, no-one gave a shit, and now it has become another leprous symbol of a country gone to the dogs. And then, at last the penny dropped.I was the only one reading my blog. The revolution curled up and died. Then of course, the government, or what is laughingly called a government in this beknighted island, took over and proceeded to implode. Or at least in any other country it would have imploded before being lined up, marched off,and eliminated by the outraged citizenry. Of course we'd have been left with the problem of who to replace them with.In Ireland the whole apparatus of government has been so totally corrupted by the dominant FF party that all the rest of the mob in Leinster House,by buying into the ethos of mutual back scratching, would just adjust the system to suit their particular needs. And the country as a whole is so conditioned to passivity for which i blame the catholic church that they can't be arsed.The pols would just call it something different, and go on milking a willingly stupid electorate as before. What'll happen in the end ? Personally I'm inclined to favour a termporary take-over of our " sovereignity" by a hand-picked gang of Northern Europeans all deeply imbued with Lutheran ethics. Ten years of having the noses of our political leaders stuck to the grindstone as against deep in the trough might have a salutary effect.
On the other hand the upright Lutherans might get a taste for democracy " Irish" style and become more Irish than we are. Its happened before....


Friday, 2 April 2010


judging by the reluctance with whick i approached this blog, you might almost think I had a reader, or better still was expecting to be paid. Since neither is true,its surprising that it took me till well past noon before i worked up enough steam to sit at the keyboard and attempt to infiltrate the blogger website.its all down to the number of bees currently buzzing in my bonnet.I could start with my reflections on how best to avoid weddings ( surely the most boring manifestation of allegedly polite society). I don't know which is worse, the terrible clothes or the fact that noone will give you credit for telling the truth. Mind you, its almost as bad now at funerals. Time was when you could have a good day out at a funeral.mind you that depended on the amount of booze on tap. I had a friend, now long gone, who only attended the obsequies of people known for their bibulousness. I was almost at a funeral this week. In the event I turned up late for all the ceremonies but in time for the feed. This was taking place in a room to which you had to walk down three steps, like you were making a modest entrance. Since I'm wobbly on my feet, this involves me hanging on for dear life to a handrail while balancing the descending hip on my sympathy stick.Reaching floor level without incident I noticed that the eyes of the Loughrea contingent were focused on my progress, eyes hungry for calamity. Disappointed once again they swivelled back to the soup. later that day I found that the post had arrived with an invitation to a celebration dinner organised by the alumni organisation of the university which once, in an act of undiluted altruism, awarded me a modest and undeserved degree.Luckily,in those innocent times, it was enough to get me into journalism. Nowadays, the best I could aspire to might be a chance at being a Dara O@Brian substitute on some godawaful smart aleck post ironic " comedy" show. But back to the serious business at hand. For the first time in many years I have to do some clothes shopping. Once again luck is at hand in the shape of my granddaughter who will be my official " shopper". Thus I feel confident that making an entrance apart, I can face the prospect of turning up at the 50th anniversary of the occasion on which I became a kosher graduand - as I think they's called.