Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Life Changing Email...

Insert funny pic here...
Do you sometimes think about how this next thing you are going to google might change your life?  And if you don't google it right then you have missed your chance.  Sometimes I am about to type it in (the life changing google) but I'll suddenly forget what it was.  And I spend the next half hour racking my brain; trying to remember what the hell it was I needed to google.  Often I won't remember, it'll be gone, and I'll lament over that amazing lost opportunity.

Leaflets through the door might have the answer.  Or the post.  When I get home I can't wait to check it out. Especially parcels. "What could it be?"  It's probably the pair of gloves I ordered three days ago. But. It could be something else, right? Something - incredible!  Like what?  Just something... FABULOUS!

And emails.  My inbox.  Every day I check it I think "this is it, this is the day when something amazing will be there."  The email that changes everything.

It wasn't there today.

Maybe tomorrow?

Monday, 12 August 2013

No Way Sis! Or "How Me and My Best Friend Nearly Got Kidnapped."

When Oasis announced a date in The Point back in 1997, me and my friend knew we would have to be there. We were fourteen years old and while my walls were plastered with Liam's ugly mug, my clearly more intelligent friend, had it hard for Noel. Back in those days there were two options for music fans looking for tickets; call the ticketline or queue outside HMV Grafton Street. Now, calling the ticketline sounds like the better option, right? But the problem there is, every gobshite in Ireland thought the same. It was never a safe bet. And we needed those tickets. So, for us, there WAS no other option. We sat down and planned our queueing strategy.

This wasn't any old gig. Oasis had just released "Be Here Now" their fasted selling album to date. Everyone wanted a piece of them. Queueing would have to be an overnight job. And we knew we had to start early, maybe seven or eight o clock in the evening. We were really excited about our expedition. It was going to be fun. In town, late at night, among like minded Britpoppers. Sure we'd all buzz off each other, have a sing-song. Great craic altogether.

Can't decide if it was his hair or his moves that did it for me...
We left my friend's house on the big night. Got the 11A in to Trinity College and practically sprinted up Grafton street. A few metres away we could see a line had already formed; Those at the front, veteran queuers, grinned smugly as we passed them by. They sat on fold out stools and drank steaming, hot tea from thermo-flasks. They had sleeping bags, torches, backpacks stuffed with food, heavy winter jackets and woolly hats. We had a packet of Mikado, an itchy blanket and a drool stained pillow.

We turned right at HMV and followed the line of dedicated fans down the side of the building, looking for the end of the queue. We got to the end of the street and turned right again. The queue continued on. I looked at my friend despairingly. We walked past the crowds of devoted fans until we had to turn right again. I could feel those tickets being snatched from us before we even got a whiff of them. Finally we reached the end. But HMV was miles away. "There's no way we're getting a ticket back here," I remarked to my friend. She nodded in agreement,"we're fucked alright." We plonked down on the ground for a sulk. "Alright Hazel?" A voice I recognised greeted me. I looked up. There in front of me was a lad I knew from the youth club I frequented. I said hello and before you know it he's asking us to come queue with him and his mate just a few feet from the front of HMV. We leapt up off our holes and followed him around, smirking at all the losers we had only just passed. My friend and I couldn't believe our luck, we exchanged stupid grins as we followed the lad.

We ended up right around the corner from the front door of HMV, like RIGHT around the corner. We couldn't believe our luck. The lad had a friend with him and we all sat down and started the chat. It was only then I began to realise that I actually hated this lad. He was a total creep, a bit of a mentalist and had tried it on with me before on a youth club trip. When he moved closer to me I started to panic. My friend was getting on well with his really cute and totally sane friend and completely oblivious to my dilemma. I jumped up from where I was sitting and legged it off on my own, not sure where I was heading but just glad I was getting away from the lad.

Sexy, sexy, Noel Gallagher.
The HMV queue had attracted quite a lot of attention at this stage. There were crowds of people all over Grafton Street. I wandered round the place feeling so sorry for myself. This was supposed to be fun but I was having a shit time. I plonked my arse down on the side of the path and was about to start crying when these two men came over and started talking to me.  They were in their thirties or forties, I reckon. It's a long time ago now so difficult to remember exactly what they looked like.  They asked me what I was up to and I told them about queueing for tickets.  They looked at each and smiled and one of them proceeded to tell me that he worked with Oasis and could sort me out with tickets.  That I needn't bother queueing with all these eejits and sure he might even be able to get me some back stage passes.  I couldn't believe my luck.  Out of the whole mob of people on Grafton Street, they had chosen little old me to bestow these tickets upon. They asked me to join them down in Burger King for a chat and I jumped off the ground, grinning and nodding like a dumb animal.  But wait! I couldn't go without my friend, I told them.  The men glanced at one another with the same look of uncertainty. You've a friend with you, they asked, what age is she, why isn't she with you? I told them she was fourteen the same as me and they seemed to relax.  They told me to go get her and meet them back at the same spot.

I ran off to get my friend, I couldn't believe our luck! Imagine, BACK STAGE PASSES to OASIS! We'd get to meet Liam and Noel and Bonehead and the other guy. When I got back to our spot I found her wearing the face off the cute lad. I pulled her away from him and explained about the men.  (Un)Luckily she was as thick as me and we ran off together to find the men, like two excited little puppies.  I spotted the two men and rushed over, introducing my friend.  They reiterated what they had said about the tickets and asked us to walk to Burger King with them.  We followed them down the road, grinning at each other like two Chesire Cats on Crack.

The Coveted Ticket.
We reached Burger King at the end of Grafton Street and the two men found us a table downstairs.  They bought us some food and we sat there eating in silence.  And this is when things started to turn weird. They were talking to one another, whispering and stuff.  My friend looked less excited than she had before. In fact I noticed that she looked a bit scared. And that made me scared. The men finally stared at us and blurted out what we were beginning to realise. "Eh girls, we were only messing about the tickets." We said nothing. "Yeah," the other guy started, "the whole Oasis thing it was just a story, having a laugh ye know." I looked at my friend,
she was giving me a "let's get the fuck out of here" look. But we didn't want to be rude.  I mean, we didn't want to insult these could-be paedophiles/kidnappers - the Irish in us just wouldn't allow it. So we sat there. And they sat there. They asked us about ourselves. I felt ill. My friend was pinching my leg. Finally my friend spoke,"I'm going to the toilet, I mean, I need to go.. to the toilet." She got up and digged me in the arm. I jumped up and followed her.

Once we were in the jacks we breathed a sigh of relief. We agreed not to go out again until they'd left. We peeked out every few minutes. They stayed for about half an hour. Then they were gone. We snuck out and scanned the restaurant. No sign of them. We went upstairs. We saw the door. We ran. We ran all the way back to the creep and the cutie. We sat down. We stayed there. And we never spoke about it again, did we?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Irritable Gene.

This post was inspired by my cousin's Facebook status update.  She commented on how she was always got stuck next to the annoying people on the train. This time in particular was a woman making noises while she enjoyed a snack.  The direct quote: "the lady beside me is sucking on a Calippo (long cylindrical ice-lolly) like she has no teeth". The image and sounds that conjured in my head, ugh! Soundtrack of Hell, track no 1. Woman sucking Calippo with no teeth.

I understood what she was going through, not just at that moment but every day.  For I too am that person; the one who gets stuck next to the kid who has his music so loud I can hear every beat of the headache inducing, hardcore dance tunes that escape through his earphones, or the old lady who sniffs every two seconds instead of taking out a tissue and blowing her poxy nose.  I am the girl who has to sit next to the man who hasn't showered in a year and keeps digging black wax from his ear canal.

But it's not just on the bus or train - this happens everywhere.  Everything annoys me. In the canteen my ears twitch as I hear people preparing soup.  I build myself up for the inevitable sipping and slurping that will follow. That or I leave the room and have lunch at my desk.  At my brother's house I clench my teeth as my niece kicks a ball against the wall outside; bang, bang, bang.  Christ - can you not just tell her to stop!  In my own home I am tormented by the hissing sound from the radio. "Can you hear that? I can hear it, it's so annoying." My husband's answer: "just ignore it."  Oh, but if it was that easy...

I was at the cinema with my friends a while ago. It was not a good experience. Getting me riled up at the cinema is like shooting fish in a barrel. There are so many irritants just waiting to be discovered.  The guy with the barking cough, the woman who seems to use her bag of Minstrels as a maracas, the kids who whisper "Why did he do that" to their parents every five seconds, teenagers who kick the back of your chair...  The list is endless.

Anyway, this time was particularly bad. Some guy behind us wouldn't shut up with a running commentary through the whole film. Another person was checking his Twitter feed on his phone, lighting up the place whenever he got an update. But the most annoying was this guy who got up out of his chair five times during the film. FIVE TIMES! He was sitting right in front of me and I was ready to kill him by the end.

As we left I said it to my friends and they looked at me like I was mentally deranged. "What are you talking about?"  "I didn't notice anything." "Why didn't you just watch the film?"

But... how could I watch the film with all those distractions? Couldn't they understand that? Apparently not. Their question: "Why be looking around you if you know it's going to piss you off?"

Why indeed?

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Disneyland Paris - Big Swinging Mickey*.

The Sleeping Beauty Castle in the rain.
First things first, I have a confession to make.  I hate Mickey Mouse.  And so does my husband.  We are definitely more "Looney Tunes" type people. I didn't even like Mickey Mouse as a kid. Instead I grew up watching Elmer Fudd chase Bugs Bunny with a shotgun singing "Kill the Wabbit!" Daffy Duck was a personal favourite - a selfish, mean spirited duck who you rooted for all the same. There was something 'real' about Warner Bros. cartoon characters that Mickey Mouse et al just didn't seem to emulate.  Disney characters were too white washed, too wholesome. Too boring.

So you might ask - "Why the hell did you go to DISNEYland?"  And to be honest, it's a questions I ask myself now.  Why did we go to Disneyland?  The best I can come up with is because of the funfair rides. The year before we spent a day at Alton Towers and just loved it. Rollercoaster after rollercaoster, it never got old so we thought maybe Disneyland would be the same.  And in some ways it was.  Disney has some great fairground rides.  But it's just... Well, the amount of cute, colourful and shiny ribbon clad crap you have to wade through to get to the rides.  That is what made Disneyland Paris one of the great disappointments of my life.
And in the sun, fabulous!

The queue at the hotel was the first slice of reality served to us in this "land of imagination".We had to wait an hour to check in. This was after getting up at four in the morning and travelling by plane and coach for the past ten hours. We were exhausted by the time we finally collapsed onto our itchy polyester lined Lightning McQueen style beds. We had a quick sleep before leaving for the big D.

Before you reach the parks you have to walk through Disney Village. This is just shops and restaurants. Although each store has a different name, they are essentially the exact same. They sell Disney stuff. You immediately notice the prices. Disneyland is bloody expensive. We checked menus outside the restaurants/fast food places/sandwich bars; all of them are hugely overpriced. You pay €3.50 for a can of coke, a large coffee will set you back €5.75. The next thing you notice is how many people don't seem to care about the prices. Children wave their new Tinkerbell Fairy Wands, while their parents prance around in velour Mickey Mouse Ears. Little girls pose in sparkly Cinderellla dresses and boys twirl bright Star Wars Keychains on their fingers. You can hear the chorus of "I want, I want" at each shop door you pass.  Mammies and Daddies trudge past, pushing buggies that creak with the weight of countless shopping bags; stuffed to the brim with every piece of conceivable Disney merchandise you can imagine.

What are you smiling about? That cost €5.75!
By the time we reached the actual park we were losing faith. But the sight of Sleeping Beauty's Castle restored our excitement and we began to run towards the entrance. Once in we looked around, taking it all in and wondering what we should do first.  It looked great. Disneyland Park is set like a village in the "Old West".  Lots of old style buildings but with a cartoonish feel that makes it kind of surreal. But as we inspected further we realised this was just like any ordinary street. Yeah, you guessed it - loads of shops. We couldn't believe it - having just escaped from Disney Village with our wallets intact, we were now affronted by this; shop after shop after shop.  Each one filled with the same candy coated, sweet as pie, rhinestone decorated crap as the next.

You have to pass two streets before finally reaching something that isn't a shop.  The first ride we wanted to go on was "Big Thunder Mountain." We found it only to realise it was closed down for repairs - or as Disney like to put it "refurbished for our future enjoyment." It wasn't that big of a deal - we found other rides and they were surprisingly good. "Space
Mountain" was seriously fast and scary.  The Tower of Terror (In Disneyland Studios) had us screeching with fright, leaving out hearts in our mouths as we stepped off the haunted elevator.  The Aerosmith Rollercoaster was also very fast with loads of twist and turns, making it unpredictable and great fun.  There were a couple of other rides marked as "thrilling" and all of them were good but overall there just wasn't enough to keep us entertained for more than a few hours.  The majority of rides at Disneyland are for little kids.  We did have fun just walking around but Disneyland is very small and it's not long before you've covered everything.  The highlight of the three day trip was The Light Show.  It took place near midnight in the park. Laser images were projected onto the Sleeping Beauty castle and we were treated to a show piece of Disney's "best bits" - lots of singing, music, popular characters and amazing effects.  It took us by surprise how much we enjoyed it. I would highly recommend anyone who is going to stay for this dazzling spectacle, thoroughly enjoyable!  That's enough niceties now, back to the giving out. This is supposed to be a moany blog after all.

Now, that's one big Mickey!
It wasn't just the lack of rides that left us feeling hard done by. Everything about Disney was annoying. The staff were surly and abrupt, the food was disgusting slop, (the breakfast buffet was a particular stomach churner) the queues were long (and this was during school term time!) and the weather was terrible (not Disney's fault but the leaflet told us Disneyland was 80% covered so we needn't worry about the rain, a load of bollox).

People are probably reading this thinking: What a moany old cow. And I get that, I really do. Why couldn't we just get into the Disney buzz and enjoy the place for what it was? The reason being what I found Disney to be was a commercial, money obsessed, materialised, over priced, carnival. That might sound naive of me. I mean, surely I know that all Theme Parks are commercial, money obsessed etc. Of course I do. It's just that Disneyland Paris was so unashamed about it's greed . It didn't hide the fact that it was just out to line its pockets. In fact, Disneyland's mantra was plastered on posters everywhere for all to see: "Nothing brings a smile to child's face more than a new toy."  It fed on the desires of children and the guilt of their parents. It encouraged the tears and tantrums that led to the wallet being emptied. We watched parents crumble as they passed shop after shop.  You can only say no so many times...

Kieran gets his Disney on, boo ya!
I found that we couldn't just have fun. If we wanted an ice-cream we had to justify handing over €5.00 for what would cost  €2.00 in Ireland. If we wanted to much on popcorn it was again €5.00 - for the tiniest cup. You're thirsty, a bottle of water is €3.50.  It just ruined everything for us. It was the first holiday I had been on where I was checking the prices of everything and making sure we'd have enough to pay for our overpriced and undercooked, burger and chips in the (in)appropriatly named Café Mickey that evening.

After three days, during which we visited Paris as well as Disneyland, we left for home. I can't say I was sad to go. In fact, after an incident whereby the latch in our room took it upon itself to lock us out, we were just sick of the place and couldn't wait to leave.

I dreamt of plain white cotton sheets on the flight home.

*In Ireland Mickey is a colloquial term for a penis.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Who needs a Kong when you've a perfectly good skirting board to chew?


Gaia - our wonderdog!

Things Gaia doesn't like to play with:

1. Her Kong toy, unless it is filled with peanut butter. Then she will play with it for five minutes until the peanut butter is gone.
2. Her rubber bone toy from Zooplus.
3. Her tennis ball with cute doggie prints on it; made especially for fetch with your pet pooch.
4. The "Dog Frisbee" we got when we realised tennis balls weren't her thing.
5. Her cute elephant rope toy for "tugging and throwing fun" from the pet shop in Swords.

Things Gaia does like to play with:

1. My socks - preferably the low cut ankle ones.  She loves ripping them to pieces.
2. The skirting boards.  The one in the kitchen is her favourite. 
3. Kieran's expensive gloves that he bought for working on site.  They are now fingerless.
4. My pink ballet style slip on shoe.  I only have the left one now.
5. The plants in the kitchen.  Nothing like a good old dig in a pot plant.
6. Bills, postcards, leaflets, parcels and/or packages that are posted through our letter box.  
7. The leftovers in the small brown bin.  She likes nothing better than tossing the contents of it around the kitchen.
All the better to chew the shit out of everything you own with, my dear.

So what have I learned?  Never buy toys for your dog as they will find plenty to play with in your house that costs nothing. (Unless you count the time spent cleaning up after your little angel)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Let them eat cake... at THE Avoca

I visited Avoca recently.  In Malahide Castle.  It really is a fabulous place.  The kind of place where I keep expecting to be tapped on the shoulder and asked to leave. Politely, of course.  It consists of a grocery, deli, home ware and clothing shop and at the back there is the famous Avoca Café.  It is yummy mummy heaven.  I hate that word but if ever there was a need to use it it's in reference to THE Avoca.  Parked at the café entrance are rows of Bug-a-Boo strollers, Silver Cross prams and Maxi Cosi travel systems.  Inside the pampered parents share gargantuan portions of Raspberry Roulade with their gal pals (Do you know how many points are in a whole one of them?!) while little Senan chews on stalks of broccoli with side dips: "Oh he just LOVES hummus!"

Let them eat Giant Almond Roulade (with berry garnish!)
Again, I am going off on a tangent...  Back to the story in hand.  I finished my (pretty crappy) cappucino and accompanying (absolutely devine) monster chocolate roulade (that I ate all by myself) and headed to the shop.  I wanted to bring home a treat for my husband and maybe even a little something more for me. I was checking out the baked cheesecakes, banana loaves and chunky rocky road squares when I noticed something written on the boxes.  I picked it up for closer inspection.  Yes, I was right.  It said "Let them eat cake."  With a picture of Marie Antoinette for good measure.  For those of you who were asleep during Junior Cert History - "Let them eat cake" is the rumoured line offered by Antoinette when told starving peasants had no bread.

Now, I know many historians will say Marie Antoinette was unfairly targeted by the French revolutionists.  She was, essentially, completely ignorant of the world around her.  She wasn't to blame for the poverty of the peasants in a country ruled by her husband.  But at the same time, it was that ignorance that led to the French Revolution.  That's how closed off the upper classes were to the working classes.  They lived in their ostentatious land of brioche, Camembert and champagne, oblivious to the suffering of the masses.  Not unlike the pretentious patronage of THE Avoca., eh?  (Joke!)

And that's why I hate them using that tag line.  That quote represents everything that is wrong with the world, then and now. And Avoca 's use of it shows a total disregard for the suffering of not only those French peasants but the suffering of others that still goes on today and tomorrow and probably forever.  

Surely I am not blaming The Avoca for world poverty?  Have I gone too far?  Wait until you see my post on Abercrombie and Fitch.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Cinema Etiquette.

As a regular cinema goer, I feel I have to speak out about certain changes I have noticed in my cinematic experiences of late.  Maybe it's just a case of generation denial - you know the "In my day..." bladderings of old aged pensioners who seem to have forgotten that teenagers were, and always will be, obnoxious, loud and ugly. But maybe, especially with the popularity of mobile devices, social networking and our growing need to know exactly what we're all doing at all times, I am right to express my concern.

Cinema is no longer a hallowed ground.  It doesn't share the respect that other buildings like the local library or the church still seem to demand.  There was a time when you just didn't talk in the cinema.  When the whisper of an abhorrent adolescent was quickly followed by the angry "shhhush!" of someone who actually wanted to watch the film.  And that was it. No more noise.

In the past three to five years I have noticed the rise in background noise at the cinema. And it's not just from teenagers who don't know any better.  I have heard full on conversations between adults.  Sometimes discussing the events of the film, " What just happened there?" "Why'd he give that to her?" "What did she do that for?" "I haven't a clue what's going on, have you? Gimme some of those M&Ms."  Sometimes just inane chit chat; "Were you watching The Late Late last week, what did ye think of yer man with one arm and no body hair?"  Or sometimes repeating the lines of the film as they are spoken. Yes, this actually happened to me and my friends when we went to see "Django" recently.

Anyway, I digress.  The reason for this blog post is to teach those not in the know how to behave in the cinema. A "How To..." for cinema goers; old and young, regular and sporadic.

Why did you come here - whyyyyyy?

The Grumpy Nut's Guide to Cinema Etiquette.


1. Bring your own grub.  The food and drink at the cinema is extortionate.  BUT if you do this you must remember to take out all snacks before the film starts.  Have them on your lap, on the floor or on the chair beside you if it's free.  Open them if you can. Any actions that avoid rustling mid film are always good.

2. Take your coat off and make yourself comfortable before the film starts.

3. Arrive on time.  There's nothing worse than some tardy git squeezing past you as you try and take in the opening scene.

4. Put your feet up on the seat in front of you BUT only if it, and the seats beside it, are not occupied. Nobody wants someone's stinking Converse in or any where near their face while watching a flick.


1. Hang your coat or bag on the seat in front of you.  This is really annoying for the person sitting in front.  Keep it on your lap, or on the floor (if it's not too sticky!)

2. Rustle.  Just... I mean a small amount of rustling is inevitable.  You have to remove the sweaty rain jacket, get comfy in the chair, open the Big Bag o Minstrels and stick the straw in the Giant Cup o Coke.  But this relentless, never ending... crumpling, scraping, shifting, fumbling. There is no popcorn left in the bag, just let it go!  I can't even describe how annoying - Grrrr!  Just. Don't. Do it.

3. Eat smelly food.  The cinema is not the place for your egg and onion sandwiches.  Or even a tube of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles.  There's a reason cinemas only sell popcorn.  Yes, I'm talking to you, the clueless moron at Skyfall in the Odeon last month. Half way through the film he opens this bag of Tayto, releasing the stench of cheese & onion for all to retch.  And if that wasn't enough; he rustled the bag non-stop for the rest of the film, making sure he got every last crumb.  Smelly food and rustling!  He should be barred for life.

4. Talk.

5. Use a mobile phone/smart phone/tablet etc.  Oh, you're only sending a text are you?  Do you know how irritating it is to watch your screen light up every five minutes you get a text? Really? You selfish arsehole.  Oh, you want all your FB "friends" to know that you are witnessing the premier of "Star Wars IX, Luke Loses His Virginity", do you?  Well we're all trying to watch a film here, shithead! So put the fucking thing away before I stick it up your anus, sideways.

Thank you.