Friday 24 February 2012

Fear not loyal colyoomistas - there will now be a short pause of a week or two while I move house, but the colyoom will return as soon as possible!

Wednesday 15 February 2012

Is other people’s misery spoiling your comfy existence?

Despite many Irish people feeling most comfortable when times are hard, it’s bloody difficult to be depressed or down-hearted around them.

Unlike England where it’s perfectly acceptable to respond to ‘How’re you doing?’ with a diatribe of disaster, here in the West of Ireland there are only 3 acceptable answers: Mighty; grand; not a bother on me.
Or, if you’re lucky, all three joined up in one gutsy fanfare:
“Mighty grand not a bother on me!”

Trouble is, not everyone is feeling grand. Lots of people are feeling terrible, yet they’re not finding it easy to talk about their situation.

Thankfully the start of this year has seen a tide turning in my life. The last 4 years have been exceedingly difficult, from the death of my father to the demise of the freelancing market, but the Snapper and I soldiered on through many tests and hopefully, (almost whispering now, peering this way and that around imaginary corners so as not to tempt fate) we’re on the up again.

However I could not fail to notice how unacceptable it was to say “Yeah, life’s been really hard for 4 years now!”

Just not on. Not in the streets of Galway. You can maybe have a bad day, or a bad dose that lays you out for a week, but nobody here wants to listen to matters as dark as ‘bad years’.

Nuhuh. That’s just pure self-indulgence.

Except that everyone has bad years, and it’s preposterous to pretend otherwise. Much-loved colleagues for whom I worked many-a-year became subtly weary of my incessant hard-luck stories, while I bit my tongue, refraining from apologising sarcastically that I was sorry to mess up their happy job situations with my oh-so imperfect existence.
Wherever we’re at in our lives in the First World, there’s billions of humans worse off elsewhere. We’re all familiar with the concept of ‘Compassion Fatigue’, that scourge of charities whereby donors, weary of being bombarded by too many worthy causes, stop giving altogether.

A few too many famines chucked in with a couple of earthquakes and a tsunami and we’re not picking up the phone to pledge credit card help. We’ve done our bit. What’s the point anyway? Shit happens and it always will.

Yes it does, yet sometimes it happens neither to you nor the stranger in the Third World, but to the person sitting next to you on that Galway bus.

So please, let’s not become too quickly tired of the problems of others.
If you have a job then let your friend give out about not having one.
If you’re healthy then allow the neighbour to complain about her painful hip.
Let’s not allow compassion fatigue to creep into the way we deal with each other in our everyday lives, because that compassion, worth infinitely more than 40 shades of green and cead mille failte, is what I adore about the people of the West of Ireland

Tuesday 14 February 2012

"I Love You!" - Three words that can mean so little!

Here's a colyoom from 2007 that dares to ask if there is anything less romantic than Valentine's Day!

I love my woman. She loves me. She knows it and I know it and lots of other people know it too.
Sometimes quite out of the blue I become burdened in the chest region, and I have to tell her I love her. Sometimes it's when leaving or returning from overseas; after joyous acts of kindness; intimate moments... there is no definitive list.
The point is that there are certain moments when saying 'I love you' is perfect, and there are an infinite amount of other times when it is pointless.
So harsh. So cruel. So 'male', I hear the females out there cry.
Well yes, as male as male can be. But did you ever wonder why men tend not to say 'I love you' as much as women?
Did you ever consider that it may be because, for us, those three words really mean something?
To us men it seems like women play for some kind of Fantasy Love League, where each time they say 'I love you' they score a point, and when their partner says it back to them they score five. Every text, phone call, trip to the loo for a peeper, all can entail the need for profound emotional exchange.
It used to be all too easy to try and pin it down to old-fashioned stereotypical behaviours, but they are outdated. Women these days are out there, sisters doing it for themselves, so surely they do not need the same constant reassurances that their more constrained predecessors longed for.
To us blokes, the constant reiteration of the Three Little Words does nothing more than diminish their power. It's not that we are incapable of feelings. Despite appearances to the contrary, we do not lack the full emotional panorama.
It just looks that way because women have for centuries carpet-bombed the Arena of Lurrrve with their very particular version of romance.
Take Valentine's Day. Please, take it. (arf!)
Is there a day out there more lacking in romance than the fourteenth of February?
Don't you dare accuse me of being bah humbug about this. I am absolutely not attacking romance, but rather launching an assault on Valentines Day, that killer of romance, murderer of amore.
Valentine's Day is to romance what New Year's Eve is to spontaneity.
Each of those occasions carries obligation: a list of places to be, acts to perform, clothes to wear and for god's sake be happy.
Can there be anything worse, or indeed more pointless than being forced to be happy?
Well, yes. Being forced to be romantic, because that, to me and I suspect millions of other men, is impossible.
Just because we don't fit into the framework of romance as constructed by women, we are considered devoid of romance.
But what, pray tell me, is romantic about obligation?
What is romantic about having to do something on a certain day?
What is romantic about everybody doing the same things - eating chocolate drinking champagne eating heart-shaped food in suddenly pink restaurants -at the same time?
Absolutely nothing. To this male, Valentine's Day is something you do to keep 'Her Indoors' on board, and if that makes me sound horribly unromantic, then you couldn't be more wrong.
I love romance. I adore being romantic, and I'm saying that as a bloke who loves beer and football, a man who prefers to wake up with someone who has different bits.
Being romantic gives me a thrill of excitement that I hope will be imparted to my woman.
Sometimes romance is about being thoughtful, thinking what she might like, or love to do, and then planning it, and presenting it as a surprise.
Other times, romance is a random and sudden act of love or kindness that exhibits consideration and, ideally, a special and insightful understanding of herself, executed in a way that nobody else could.
Romance can be a tingle; something unique - perchance an occasion on which to utter those Three Little Words, and give them back the power that they deserve.
I love you.
And look, see here! See what I have done to show you that this is true. See this romantic act or gift or evening or drive or meal or act of love. It shows you that I mean what I say when I say I love you.
So yes, we men know what romance is, and we know what it is not. We know it's not about having to do anything. Romance is not an obligation, and it can never be a duty.
Romance is pure unadulterated pleasure, a selfish excitement at the thought of the smile that will be implanted upon the face of your loved one.
So don't be disappointed if we men don't conform to your own very female construct of love and romance.
We love the power of love so much we do not want to go on and on about it. We do not want to say it 40 times a day, precisely because it becomes pointless and worthless, and then, well, then what is left?
We do not love romance when it is ordered from us like dinner from a waiter, yet given the chance, we are full of it. Just because our notion of romance doesn't come in the girly wrapping paper that you dreamed up in your collective minds' eyes, it doesn't mean men are incapable of it.
Just let us do it our own way.