Monday 25 October 2010

Either I’m ridiculously handsome, hideously ugly, a wizard, or they’re just blinded by love!

Pootle pootle, here I am, driving into town, pootling in a slow steady stream of traffic. Pootle pootle, there’s a bloke who wants to turn into this road from a side road. 

The cars in front of me are easing along pootle pootle style, so I stop, flash my lights, smile at him and wave my hand in a gesture that suggests I won’t smash my car into the side of his car, should he want to join the main road now.


Now! Come on mate!

He sits and stares at me with gaping vacant eyes, his face and body frozen, zombiefied, wretched.

Oh bloomin’ Nora, not another one!

Over the last week I’ve been letting the same amount of fellow drivers turn in, turn off and turn around in the road as I usually do, but for some reason they have been acting collectively bizarrely.

It matters not whether it’s a young lass in an Opel Corsa, a granny in a Nissan Micra or a male sales rep in a suit in a Toyota Avensis. As one they sit and stare at me, gormless and glassy, suddenly having lost the use of their limbs, their minds and any desire to acknowledge or show signs of life.

As I have stopped in the road to let them in, the traffic builds up behind me, and others become impatient. So then I drive off, and then, of course, they drive out into the road, causing me to break sharply in an effort not to smash my car into the side of their car.

So this time I’m just going to wait, be more patient; see how long it takes for Grizzly Graham here in the VW Golf to beam back down into Galway.

But he just sits there staring at me like a waxwork on holiday.

When I mentioned this recent phenomenon to the Snapper, she suggested rather generously that all these drivers must be blinded by my radiant handsomeness, to which I pointed out that they uniformly wore a horrified and sad expression in their catatonic states. They looked like they had seen the most despicably evil and disgusting image the universe could ever offer the driver of a 5 year-old hatchback. 

Being protective, she countered that maybe I was, in fact, a wizard, and when I swept my arm across the air to motion them to pull out, I was in fact casting a spell upon them, enchanting them into dreamy timelessness. I told her to cut down on the Harry Potter, whilst secretly liking the idea of being a street sorcerer.

The only other possibility is just too sad to contemplate: that they are, in fact, in shock, because somebody has offered a random and simple act of courtesy. 

No, no no no, I don’t want to believe that minor manners and minuscule generosities are perceived as outrageous outbursts of love, throwing normal behaviour patterns out of the window.

I much prefer to live in the world of the hunky, ugly or magic options. Those make much more sense.

Thursday 14 October 2010

The Strange Case of the Anti-Smug House.

Sunday midday, and I’m daring to feel just the slightest bit happy.
If I was bold I might even say smug. 

Life has been hectic and fairly horrible for the last few weeks, but now there is a chance of a breather. 

The Snapper is off at work until 6. 
The lemon, garlic and thyme have been crushed into butter and smeared all over and inside the chicken. 
The spuds, parsnips and onions are prepped and ready for roasting. 
Dalooney is coming over later, when the three of us will sit down and feast and drink wine and do what Sunday does best.

But right now I have a few hours of calm, peace, solitude and boy, do I need it.

Stepping outside, I stroll idly along the garden wall where the sweet peas are tall and tattered in their autumnal decline. For some reason I take pride in coaxing every last blast of flowers out of them, so I tweak and push and nurture them for a while, loving the fact that the only sound I can hear is my own breathing. 

Time for a peeper, so I head back into the house, but - what? 

The back door will not open.
I try it again, and again, again, rattle bang kick and swear out loud. 
Try it again and again kick kick shake it curse and swear curse and swear Lord Kildare and kick it again.

There are times in all our lives when we are guilty of locking ourselves out of our own homes. We close a door that has a Yale lock behind us, and then stamp our feet and wail and berate ourselves for our stupidity.

But this is different. 
I have not locked myself out of my own house. 
My house has contrived to lock me out. 

The back door has a Chubb lock and a heavy old sliding bolt, so there was never any thought of caution in my head when I earlier closed the door behind me, to keep the warmth inside. Yet for some reason (which, despite the inanimate nature of the building in question, I can only assume is malicious), the house decided that it would move its sliding bolt across its back door frame and leave it resting in its locking slot on the wall.

Sunday midday, and I was daring to feel just the slightest bit happy. 
If I was bold I might even have said smug. Now I’m knocked back, tipped off the top of my little mountain of joy, plummeting groundwards, back into the black hole of despair.

Get a grip Adley. 
Breathe, count.

I’m stuck outside my own house, on a cold cloudy grey morning, with no mobile phone, no money and no key. 

Oh, and I’m in my slippers. Hoo - beedin’-ray.

Over the years I’ve noticed that sometimes, at those rare and splendid moments when I dare to raise the good flag ‘Happy’ and display it to the universe, it can act like a magnet for shite. Before I’m able to declare ‘Life is pretty good at the moment’ the love leeches and sympathy slugs come rushing over the horizon, looking to feast and gorge themselves on my new-found joy and strength.

But this time I was only nibbling a taste of calm. I was barely out of my own personal mire, when my house, my own home of many years, decides to lock me out. 

My afternoon of calm is gone. The anticipated quiet hours of reflection and self-indulgence have been washed down the plug hole of fate, but of course there is a silver lining to this despondent cloud. 

In The Body I have a great friend, and once I have walked disconsolate in my slippers up and down the Prom, trying to find a friend awake who might lend me the use of a phone or a bus fare, himself responds and drives me into town, where I can pick up a key from the Snapper.

Mind you, there is still one more cringing moment I have to endure. After I explain my situation to herself, she heads off to the staff room to get her key, announcing that her poor husband has locked himself out of the house and is standing in the shop right now in his slippers, at which signal, quite naturally, all of her colleagues rush out to take a look at my sad tatty grubby self, and have a good laugh.

While I adamantly refuse to believe that one cannot declare oneself happy without incurring attack from legions of Joy Suckers, I have my doubts about my house. Despite enjoying many good times living here, I suspect the building cannot abide me feeling smug, that minefield which lurks at the edge of happy, on the borders of pride and arrogance.

And then again, maybe I’m going mental and it’s just a house; a pile of stone and wood which happened to rattle the wrong way. 

No, that’s just plain silly. I know when my house locks me out, and that’s what it did.

Why would you do something lovely if you didn't have to?

I love flowers and I love my woman, and sometimes when those two emotions collide I have been known to buy a bouquet for the Snapper. It doesn’t have to be for any other reason than those of love outlined above, but I have noticed over the years that when I spend a little more than the minimum, the person selling the flowers might well hiss and tut and say something along the lines of

“Oh tush tush, been a very bad boy, have we?”

Being generally and daily bemused by the world as a way of life, I’ve never really given this attitude too much thought. Surely men don’t only buy flowers for women as a way of saying ‘sorry’, do they?

Any doubts I might have had about my gender’s behaviour patterns were sadly set in concrete last weekend, when I heard what happened to an excellent friend of mine. 

He happens to be a responsible lover as well as a hopeless romantic, so he was buying a precautionary ‘Pack of 3’, before heading off to visit his girlfriend. Approaching the counter, he asked the male shopkeeper if they sold flowers, by any chance?

The auld fella lifted his head, looked at my friend quizzically and raised an eyebrow.

“Sure, what do you need flowers for if you’re buying condoms?”

Ah, the poetry, the joy.

Wednesday 6 October 2010

Presidential knee attacks opponent's testicular zone!

There’s doubtless a lot of people out there who’d just love to knee their least favourite politician in the groin, but not many national leaders grasp the opportunity to do it to their rivals. 

Step up Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, who was playing a game of football as part of the opening ceremony of a stadium in La Paz, against a team formed by the city’s mayor, Luis Revilla. Apparently Morales and Revilla used to be politico buddies until their relationship fell apart, and evidently the mayor had told his players to take no prisoners.

Five minutes after kick-off, mayoral defender Daniel Gustavo Cartagena slid studs-up into the president of his country, leaving a bleeding gash on his right leg.

As The Guardian’s Rory Carroll reported, the nation’s 50 year-old President “... is not known for indulging critics, let alone people who foul him.”

Morales walked up to the offending defender, showed him his wound and proceeded to blatantly and purposefully knee him in what officials delicately described as the “testicular zone”.

You can see it here,, but first let your Irish imaginations run riot, as you envisage President Mary McAleese sliding on her stately bottom towards the knobbly hairy knees of a shorts-clad Brian Cowen. Gasp with delight as she lands a kidney-exploding dose of crushing pain onto the stout defender of the rich and reckless’ prize bollocks.

Ah me, if only. 

Saturday 2 October 2010

We don’t bleed ill people any more, so why do we cut jobs?

I’m not sure what the definition of an economist is, but if the following irrefutable facts add up to anything more than fiscal nonsense, I may well be one.

Four things happen when you cut a job. 

The employer, State or private, saves the cost of a wage.

The government loses income tax revenue from the employer and the worker.

The worker cannot spend or in any way invest in the economy.

The State has to pay the worker benefit.

So if you’re an economist, or even a philosopher, help me out here, please, because this is your job we’re talking about; your mother’s nurse; your kid’s teacher.

Unless the worker who lost their job was earning a fortune (and we all know how likely the rich are to lose their jobs compared to us proles) how does the saving made by the cost of the wage in any way compare with the cost of the other three losses?

How does cutting jobs help an economy?