Monday, April 14, 2014

The educational adventures of ...

After spending a few months moping about having no job, no money, and no prospects for the future, I got an unexpected e-mail that threatened to change all that.  In their infinite wisdom, UCC decided to offer me a place on the Professional Masters of Education programme.  What this means is that I'll be doing Secondary School Teacher Training.  I never thought of any of my old teachers as being Professional Masters of Education, but then again, they qualified under the old system which was the H-Dip (the new PME is like the Dip on steroids, or maybe just the Dip with jumped up notions about itself).  So if everything goes well, in two years time I could be an actual grown-up with an actual qualification looking for an actual job, which is easily the most outlandish statement I have made to date.

I always thought I would make a good teacher.  This was because I was focusing on the three Cs of  corduroy, crosswords, and cups of tea while ignoring the teaching part.  One conversation with a former teacher revealed that eighty per cent of classroom time was dedicated to discipline, and she seemed to imply that the other twenty per cent was devoted to education without any mention of the three Cs.  What can I do if the students don't respect me?  One thing that I have learned from my life experience (and the father in Everybody Hates Chris), is that people will either respect you or they won't, that it has to be earned, and that if someone chooses not to respect you, then there is little you can do to change that.  A sobering thought for anyone about to face a room full of adolescents who will make it their mission to bring you to the point of mental breakdown.

Fortunately, while there is the priceless firsthand education that one gets from life itself, there is also the more dispensable and often pointless education that one gets as part of an Arts degree.  If there is one thing I have learned from Psychological Studies (the poor man's psychology), it is that fear is more easily instilled in groups of people than respect is cultivated.  The Christian Brothers favoured the classical conditioning approach of finding the mouthiest student on day one of first year, and beat him to within an inch of his life.  They would then sit back and enjoy the silence from there on in, and would only beat the students for their own amusement.  As corporal punishment is now considered physical abuse and has been outlawed, other methodologies will have to be employed to reach the desired outcome.

So the plan is to generate a decent backstory.  No one in their right mind would respect or fear an out of work DJ with no marketable skills who has resorted to teaching.  As I'm now in my thirties, it is reasonably plausible that I was doing something else for my twenties, when in fact I was doing nothing.  As I'm tall, freckled, and a bit of a culchie, it wouldn't be beyond belief that I was once a Garda.  Right now you're thinking "Ha!  Young people don't respect the Gardaí, especially not the failed kind who become teachers!"  Picture this: What about a solid police officer, who one day discovers that his partner (and best friend) is corrupt and had been taking bribes from a local drugs kingpin, causing an argument and fight to break out resulting in his partner's death?  The ensuing grief, guilt, and general disgust had left me so disillusioned that I handed in my badge in an effort to distance myself from my troubled past.  That would posit me perfectly as being essentially a good guy, but also capable of killing a man with my bare hands.  That could work.  Why not take the story up a level and have me as the corrupt one who was taking bribes, and then killing my partner when he threatened to rat me out.  Everyone knew it was me, but insufficient evidence meant that they couldn't make a case, just hand in your badge and nothing more will be said.  Essentially corrupt, amoral, and capable of killing a man with the assistance of some mob goons.  That could work even better.

Anyway, I won't have to worry about that for the time being.  Right now there are more pressing issues, like finishing today's crossword and then hitting up the charity shops to see what corduroy wonders they have to offer me.  There might even be a teacher-tastic geansaí or two waiting for me out there.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Want anecdotes, will travel.

I get a lot of complaints about this blog, mainly about my use of certain language that others deem offensive and unnecessary.  The most common complaint about the blog is that there is not enough of it, the posts are too few and far between.  The problem here is that there needs to be something to blog about, some sort of story or anecdote, and mine is quite an unremarkable life.  I did the whole 'blogging about having nothing to blog about' routine twice, so that means that I can't use that old chestnut again (for at least another six months).  As much fun as it would be to go meta and start blogging about blogging (and then go Inception and be 'blogging about blogging about blogging about ...' ), it would be far too self-indulgent and be the literary equivalent of wanking myself off to the smell of my own farts.  A few months back I accepted an invitation for lunch in a convent, hoping that it would spark off a wacky adventure, or at least an amusing anecdote that would be eminently blogworthy.  Unfortunately all the nuns were incredibly nice elderly ladies, and I ended up having an animated conversation about the music of Ennio Morricone with one of them.  As a mark of respect to them as people and as a token of my gratitude for feeding me, I vowed not to make any mention of that Monday lunchtime on this blog.

Last week a friend asked if I'd be willing to drive my van over to England to pick up a record collection that was for sale, but had to be collected before the end of the week.  This would mean driving from Cork to Wexford, a few hours on a ferry, then driving from Wales to Hastings (the south east of England, almost France) and then all the way back again in the space of twenty four hours.  He'd cover all costs, give me a few euro (as well as a few records) for my troubles, and on top of that he said it would probably make for an interesting adventure to blog about.  I said: "YEAH, LET'S DO THIS!!!" (it was every bit as enthusiastic as that), but when we sat down to do the sums it turned out that the trip was not financially viable and would have to be scrapped.  Just as I was resigning myself to a future devoid of amateur courier antics and anecdotes, I got a phone call from a production company who were shooting a horror film in Cork and needed some props brought down from their workshop in Dublin.  When I asked what sort of props, the reply was a load of dismembered mannequin parts.  If driving to Dublin to fill my van with a load of fucked up shop window dummies is not the makings of a fine anecdote, I don't know what is!

The deal was that I had to be in Dublin city centre for nine in the morning, so I had to get up at four to get my porridge and scrambled eggs into me and be on the road at five.  As I was going to be sitting in my van for hours on end, there would be no need for a jacket, and if all went well I could be back home by lunchtime and in the gym in the early afternoon.  I sped off into the foggy darkness with the heating up and the radio on, and at around half six all the lights on my dashboard lit up at once.  This is never a good sign, but if they flashed on and off in a discodelic sequence it would probably be a bit more pleasing.  I pulled into the hard shoulder, popped the bonnet, and used the flashlight on my phone to see if anything was amiss.  As I'm not a mechanic, the only diagnostic test I could run was to see whether or not the engine was still there (which it was).  So I hopped back into the driver's seat and turned the key to hear a repeated clicking noise that sounds absolutely nothing like an engine roaring into life.  I tried this a few more times and then the dash lights started flashing on and off in a discodelic sequence, which was almost as good as having a fully working van.

So I called my insurance helpline for breakdown assitance, and when they asked me where I was, the best I could come up with was in the dark and fog, about halfway between Cork and Dublin.  I then called the film production crew and told them that I hope that they and their mannequins burn in hell for all eternity (fortunately for them I don't believe in an afterlife, so I didn't mean a word of that).  So after about two hours of sitting in an increasingly cold van, the tow truck showed up and towed me to Cashel (it turns out I was up beyond Thurles, so had made pretty good time up till the point the van crapped out).  The nice tow truck man said that it was probably a mechanical fault, that it looked pretty serious, and that I might want to consider saying my goodbyes and digging a sizable hole for my two ton friend's final resting place.  He said they'd run a few more tests when we got back to the garage (checking under the bonnet again to make doubly sure that the engine was still there) and that they'd call me when they had an answer.

As stated previously, I have a belief that there is some sort of governing force in the universe that is shunting everything about in a seemingly random manner, but is really indicative of a grand design.  So, why does the universe want me to be in Cashel of all places on a foggy Thursday morning?  Having boarded at a nearby secondary school, there is every possibility that I will bump into one of the attractive girls who was in my class (but way out of my league), who will admit to having always fancied me but was too shy to make an approach.  Who knows, maybe it will be a case of she didn't fancy me then, but it has not escaped her attention that I have grown more handsome with every passing year (note: it has been thirteen years since we sat the leaving) and that she now realises how much she has to have me.  Hopefully she won't ask what I do for a living (out of work funk dj, it's a step below out of work actor on the food chain) or the reason I happen to be in Cashel that day (my clapped out pikey wagon was rescued by the paramedics earlier that morning and they are now trying to resuscitate it - hardly the greatest line for wooing a lady).  The best way to allow this to happen would be to get a newspaper, and sit in a cafe with a pot of tea doing the crossword while I let the universe work its magic.  The universe got interrupted about halfway through my tea and crossword, as the garage phoned me saying to come over as they had some news about my van.

The problem was neither mechanical nor serious, but electrical and ought to be an easy fix.  I can't remember the exact wording, but it was along the lines of the alternator was the main cause of it, and that he had done the equivalent of putting a plaster on the wound so that I could drive back to Cork and get it seen to by a dedicated auto electrical type.  After doing a wee bit of research online, I decided against using the guys who were highly recommended but way over in Mayfield, as after dropping off the van I'd have to walk all the way home again, and then trek over at a later stage to pick it up after it had been repaired.  Instead, I'd make the smart move and just bring it to whoever was closest to me.  I got on the phone and he said it would be first thing Tuesday morning before he could see me, but that was cool as I didn't expect to get it sorted immediately on the Thursday before Paddy's day.

A few minutes after first thing Tuesday morning, I pulled up in the disabled spot outside his premises and sat there for another ten to fifteen minutes waiting for him to turn up.  He said it was probably worn brushes, that it wasn't a big job, and it would be done by that evening.  I handed over the keys (assuming he'd pull the van into his workshop to get started on it), and then went over town to sign on.  It was after six that evening before I remembered I had a van to collect, and when I tried ringing him there was no answer.  I walked up the road to see if he was on the premises, but it was all locked up and my van was still in the disabled spot since that morning (I have a very distinctive parking style, I'd recognise it anywhere).  On closer inspection it turned out that the driver's door was unlocked and the bonnet had not been closed properly.  I had mixed feelings about this: on the one hand everything that was in the van could have been stripped out.  On the other hand, it showed that he had been working on it.  Further inspection showed a "Parking Disc Required" sign on the street, so I could be in for a world of fines for that day.  There is nothing to do now but suck it up.  Besides, the van is probably done, I'll be able to collect it first thing in the morning.

Except it wasn't done.  It was the alternator alright, but instead of it being the brushes (the most common fault and the easiest fix) it was another part (slightly less common, but not all that difficult to fix), but it should be done after lunch, call back around two o'clock.  Which then became around half four,  which in fact meant around six, which was actually about twenty to seven.  In the end (i.e. about two hours ago) I was just happy to have my van back, even if it did take longer and cost a wee bit more than planned.  Now all I have to do is sit back with a nice cup of tea, and worry about how on earth I will pay for the parking fines that come from two days of being in a disabled space without a disc.  I might even have a few figrolls while I do this.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Be dental with me

I try my best to be a good friend, to be comforting to my nearest and dearest when they hit a hard time, but it's not always possible.  Frequently I'll meet someone who has failed their driving test, and I'll do my darndest to comfort them with "You were probably just unlucky, shur the nerves alone is enough to make anyone fail", or "I hear the tester is a right (insert gender appropriate word for genitalia here)", or "They probably have a quota of people to fail each month so they can make money off the retests", or whatever other heartwarming gems I happen to have close at hand.  My forlorn friend will then start to perk up and ask how many times I had to take the test before passing?  Unfortunately my answer is along the lines of "I passed it first time, but that was only because I approached it with seriousness and took plenty of lessons beforehand to make sure I was adequately prepared and guaranteed to sail through it."  This has the magic effect of completely undoing anything uplifting that was said previously.

Similarly anytime I meet someone complaining about wisdom teeth acting the wiseguy, my response is usually (pulls face) "Oooh, tell me about it?"  When they give me a sympathetic look, I then have to elaborate that they will have to tell me about it as my teeth are perfectly straight: I've never needed braces, and my wisdoms pop up like pretty maids all in a row, never needing to be pulled, excavated, or demolished like most other folks.  Having to endure the glower that follows is pretty painful I tells ya.

Everything comes at a cost though, and in exchange for perfect teeth I have been given gums that tend to act the bollocks from time to time.  Two of my last three visits to the dentist have been because of an infected gum flap (or to use the medical term, scumflap) around a wisdom tooth.  When one feels a wisdom tooth coming up, the appropriate thing to do is give the area a thorough brushing to help keep it clean and help erode the (now useless) gum flap.  Four years ago I felt a wisdom tooth coming up and I thought "Oooh, that's a bit tender, the sensible thing to do here is to keep the toothbrush out of the hurty zone" which then led to bits of food getting stuck under the gum flap, making it all nicely infected.  So when it got so tender and hurty that I could no longer speak or eat, I then thought it wise to visit a dentist.  When I explained that my mouth hurt like fuck, she then asked me to open wide so that she could stick medieval instruments of torture into the very area that hurt like fuck.  After satisfying her desire to make a grown man cry, she then wrote me a prescription for very strong antibiotics, told me to take better care of my teeth/gums, and visit the dentist more often.  You betcha I will, I've learned my lesson this time for sure!

Until two years later when once again I found myself in the very same position getting the same prescription for the same strong antibiotics.  I pointed out that it was only happening on the left hand side of my mouth, and maybe this was indicative of a sinister scheme my gums had hatched against me?  Without even acknowledging my clever wordplay, the dentist told me that it was only indicative of neglect, and that I really ought to visit more often.

That was two years ago, so it was with a certain pride that I rocked up to reception to make an appointment when there wasn't even anything the matter.  I'm just here for a check up, what the hell, how about just a scale and polish instead!  So will I book you in with the dental hygienist?  Why not, shur I don't even need to see the dentist, aren't I great?  The hygienist was an attractive woman, who did her best to assert an air of stern authoritarianism so that I would take her seriously as a professional.  This plan backfired somewhat, as anyone who has been following my "Fortified MILF" series of erotic novels knows that I have a thing for stern authoritarian women.

So after much wincing and washing of teeth, I was told that for someone who neither smokes nor drinks red wine, I have an impressive amount of staining on my teeth.  Impressive was not the exact word she used, I think it might have been shocking, but deep down I could tell she was impressed.  There was also a ridiculously big buildup of plaque on the inside of my teeth, and my gumline was also receding.  I then asked if this was God's way of punishing me, as although my hairline has remained intact he was now pulling back the gums as an act of divine retribution?  No, it's a sign that you're brushing the outside too hard and the inside not enough.  So how long before my gumline grows back to normal?  Never!  Take better care when you're brushing, start flossing, and on the way out make an appointment to see me again in six months.

Friday, February 14, 2014

So, the weather, huh?

Some people really hate small talk.  It's too insignificant, they'd rather get to the core of things and really talk about the burning issues of what it means to be.  Personally, I love small talk, absolutely adore it, the more banal the better.  If it comes down to a choice of plumbing the depths of the human condition or having casual chitchat about baked beans vs. spaghetti hoops, I will always opt for the latter.  (Although if you were to ask me to choose between a world without beans or spaghetti hoops, the jury would be out indefinitely.)  There's nothing I enjoy more than turning to the other person at the water cooler in the gym and saying:

"So, you're filling up your bottle?" 

"Ah, yeah."

"Me too.  (pause)  It's taking its time today.  Must be low water pressure."

"Ah, yeah."

"That's me done now, see ya."

"Ah, yeah."

So banal it's beautiful, and I wouldn't have it any other way.  The favoured topic round these parts is the weather, and there's been an awful lot of it lately.  While everyone is talking about the many fallen trees and the general inconveniences caused by the code red storm, the general consensus is that it's a miracle that no-one was hurt, killed, or seriously injured.  I can't help but notice that this is expressed with relief tinged with disappointment.  Not that anyone takes joy in hearing about the suffering of others, it's just that you can't beat a good story.  Something along the lines of an unsuspecting husband coming home to find a tree had fallen on his house, killing his wife and her lover while they were at it.  Or a husband who suspects his wife is being unfaithful, and ignoring all warnings to stay indoors, leaves work early and drives home hurriedly only to have a tree fall on his car killing him instantly, while his wife and Ernie the Milkman are busy churning butter in his marital bed.  Who knows maybe we could marry both scenarios and have the wife, husband, and lover fall victim to falling trees simultaneously.  Right about now I'd like to point out that the fictional couple is childless, so there will be no orphans in this scenario (I might like a juicy story, but dammit I'm not a monster).

The only harrowing tales I've heard from the recent Code Red storm have involved satellite dishes coming off the side of the house (OH NO), or tweets and facebook statuses along the lines of "Electricity gone, can't make a cheese toasty :'( #FML #EffUCheeseSandwich", "iPhone nearly out of battery and no way of recharging #ThisCouldBeMyLastTweet", "Found my in car charger, can keep tweeting about tweeting almost indefinitely!".  Thank God these tragedies are now behind us so we can start moving on again.

My own stormchasing tale of woe involves driving home from the pool on Wednesday morning when an empty wheelie bin got blown out in front of me.  Although I really would have loved to bust through it A-Team style, instead I braked up, turned on the hazard lights, and returned it to the driveway from whence it came.  This is a worthwhile story for two reasons.  The first is that it illustrates that I am not the type of scumbag that will mess with another person's wheelie bin (even though it would have been a lot of fun).  Secondly, this is the only time in my life that I have used my hazard lights for something other than illegal parking (flicking on the flickers has the magical quality of turning illegal into semi or barely legal, if only everything in life had hazard lights). 

As this morning was only a code orange storm I cycled to the pool in my waterproofs.  The trip to the pool was alright, but the horizontal sheets of rain that normally reside in Connacht decided to join me for my cycle home.  My rain gear meant that all the water bounced off me and ran down to my shoes, which turned into two puddles before I was halfway home.  My glasses are not equipped with wipers and defoggers, so visibility was poor and brakes were non-existent as I sped down Douglas street in the school rush bottleneck with violent crosswinds interjecting from the many side streets. 

The worst part of this is that it will make for interesting small talk at the gym water cooler, and interesting small talk is the last thing I want.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Age Old Funky Cough Mixture

New year, new mix!  As always, it is of the utmost importance that I talk you through the genesis of this mix.  Being the complex creative individual that I am, it is very necessary for me to explain to mere mortals how such a thing could come into being.  (Really it was a case of play one record, then another, and another, and so on, and so on.  But to add an air of mysticism to the affair, I feel it's only right to pretend it was rooted in a complicated back story.)

December was a busy month for me.  For anyone else, the amount of hours clocked up would have resembled an ordinary working week, but it was a busy month for me.  On top of the extra DJ slots I was doing, I maintained my swimming regime, and got caught in the rain a few times.  So when Christmas rolled around, I felt suitably frazzled with a nascent headcold working its magic on my nose and throat (my ears were grand, so this meant I did not need to see a specialist).  Thankfully it was in the developmental stage for the two days I was at home for the holidays.  This meant that I could break the world record for the amount of dinner stacked on one plate (which was then cleared leaving only gravy streaks) on Christmas Day, and then challenge and defeat the previous days feat with the leftovers on Stephen's day.  My family are understandably proud of my accomplishments.

Stephen's night was a code red storm, and everyone was advised to stay indoors for its duration.  For some reason, I took this as a direct challenge to my masculinity, and decided that me and my van ought to show the storm who's boss.  So after an hour and a half of very cross crosswinds, deep skiddy puddles, and the eminent possibility of running out of diesel, I made it to Cork in one piece, gloating to myself about how mother nature is my bitch.  This is in direct contrast to the amount of Hail Marys I said aloud on the drive down, and how I swore to get a Lady Of Guadalupe custom paint job for my van if I got delivered safely to Cork.  This still might happen, as several burrito restaurants have opened in the city centre over the last year, so it's only a matter of time before the Mexican community here opens a custom body, paint, and rim shop.

The next day I awoke to find the storm had stopped, the sun was shining, and my throat felt like two enraged golf balls had taken up residence there.  Swallowing a spoon of honey was an ordeal, but fortunately I had no appetite so eating was not a pressing issue.  The only thing for me to do was take a leisurely stroll in the crisp sunshine, to get some fresh air and whatever vitamin allegedly hides in sunlight into my system.  The great thing about living in the city centre of a small city is that it's impossible to go outside without bumping into somebody you know.  This is an even greater thing in Cork, because everyone here is pure daycent and sound.  So it was only when I bumped into the obligatory pure daycent and sound somebody that I discovered I had lost my voice.  It wasn't even a comical fully mute voice loss, it was a pathetic raspy whisper that hurt like fuck and made the seasonal smalltalk even more poignantly pointless.  If you don't know me personally and are unaware of how I normally sound, I'll take the time to point out that the absence of my deeply sonorous Welsh baritone was a huge loss to humanity itself for those few days.

So on top of my sore throat and absent voice, I also acquired an annoying cough.  This might lead you to say, aren't all coughs annoying?  This one was particularly annoying as it wasn't a deep chesty cough that would result in getting up satisfying gobs of frogspawn for every five minutes of hacking, instead it was just a painful, dry, scraping thing which sounded like a chain-smoking cat unsuccessfully trying to expel a hairball.  As if feeling my pain, Greta's glowplugs had given out, which meant she was finding it harder and harder to get going in the cold winter mornings.

So as an homage to the ill-health of me and my van (we're together nearly a year now, so we pretty much constitute a single entity), the working title of this mix was originally: "Cold Morning, Spluttery Start: A Vinyl 'n' Benylin Creation".  It was since re-jigged to "Dr. Herringbone Dread's Age Old Funky Cough Mixture", for reasons that are now unclear, but are probably something to do with my bunged up head and all the Benylin extra drowsy I was taking to get me through the day.  It's also available on CD, but if you're feeling make and do-ish, the front cover is above and the back cover is below so feel free to print, cut, and glue your own copy!


I finished out the bottle of Benylin and have my voice back again.  In a bid to earn some man points I changed Greta's glowplugs myself.  This was ultra manly as I cut one of my knuckles in the process, and also got the kind of black dirt under my fingernails that can only be removed with a penknife.  (She is now starting with a rejuvenated purr and feels like a completely new van, in case you were wondering.)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A vanny splendored thing

Greta recently passed her DOE, and I, like the proud parent that I am, have been gloating about it to one and all.  Listening to me harp on about the achievement, you'd swear that I built her myself, and hand tuned each part to perfection on the eve of the test to ensure she'd get through, when really all I did was replace one of the tyres (it was knackered, which may not be the most politically correct thing to say when talking about a Hiace) and give her a bit of a wash.

I had been meaning to give her a bit of a wash for a while, but could never really bring myself to do it.  I bought her in February, then spent several months fluting about on mucky Irish back roads, and now that it was coming towards the end of October, it still didn't seem like the right time to visit the car wash.  Rose Royce would be turning in her grave, except she's not dead, nor is she an actual person.  Fortunately, as stated previously, the universe is a funny creature, and things have their own way of working out.

On the Friday night of the Jazz Weekend, I was driving home after a gig when I saw a tall brunette in tight black pants and a hot pink top lurch across the street about 20 yards ahead of me.  As I was passing, she flagged me down asking for a lift home.  I was about to explain I'm not a fuckin' taxi and I could do without her vomiting all over me and my van's interior thank you very much.  It then occurred to me that as she was in such a state that she was willing to get into a van with a complete stranger, then perhaps it was quite inhumane to leave her to fend for herself on the streets of Cork.

She then flopped into the passenger seat, told me the name of her street, and I asked if she would be able to give me directions?  She said of course she would, and then passed out.  This left me in a wee bit of a pickle.  What does one do in such a situation?  It's simple really: we're close to my place, I'll just carry her in, tuck her in to my bed, I'll sleep on the couch, and when she wakes up in the morning, I'll drop her home.  This all sounded great in theory, but then it dawned on me that regardless of how chivalrous and gentlemanly my intentions may have been, if she were to wake up at any point in the middle of this plan's execution, I would find myself saying the immortal words: "I know how this looks, but there is a perfectly innocent explanation as to what's going on here..."

Plan B was to leave her asleep in the van with a blanket over her, and stick a Post-it on the dashboard explaining that although she appeared to be down a boreen in the middle of nowhere, she was actually in a bizarre vortex between Southern Road and Old Blackrock Road, and it would only be a matter of navigating a series of treacherous potholes to get safely back to civilisation.  Again this sounded like a great plan, but the reality of the situation was that I was all out of Post-its, and as it was way past Cinderella time and into the wee small hours, there was no hope of getting a fresh pack (Greta is not fitted with bull bars, so ram-raiding Eason's was not an option).

As her name was still unknown to me, and prodding her shoulder while saying "Hey you, you there!" was not eliciting any sort of response, I knew a Plan C was needed.  This involved the very straightforward act of going in to my flat, checking her street name on google maps, then heading over there and using whatever force was necessary to wake her up and drop her off at her front door.  Well done Doctor, you've done it again!  So as we pulled out of the vortex, she was awoken by a particularly aggressive pothole.  I then explained that I had stopped off at my place for something and was now going to drop her home, and she then explained that she was going to get sick.  She then rolled down the window, hung her head out like a highly intoxicated red setter, and spewed her guts up all the way home.  She then thanked me for the lift, and apologised for any vomiting my van may have endured over the course of her tenure.  I said there was no need to thank me as I was happy that she got home safely, and there was no need to apologise as I considered her not getting sick all over me and and the van's interior as the best possible outcome in this situation.  Besides there is heavy rain forecast for tomorrow, so that ought to take care of it.  When I got home and surveyed the damage (in the dark) it didn't seem too bad, nothing a nice heavy downpour wouldn't fix.

As with all things alcohol related, the cold light of day was a lot less than forgiving.  Admittedly the streaks were impressive, and I did feel a wee bit CSI-ish as I examined the pattern and tried to glean what angle her head was at, how fast the van was going, what the prevailing wind was, and just how much she must have been drinking to conjure up so much vomit.  She had managed to Pollock the passenger door as well as a large chunk of the sliding door, and was considerate enough to spray both of the handles so that it was impossible to open either door without touching the intimate details of her stomach lining.  However hard it rained that day, it didn't rain hard enough.  I would have to wash my van.

This turned out to be a very good thing.  In all the months that myself and Greta had been an item, it never occurred to me that the underside of her arches were anything other than black, but it turns out that they are sprayed the same green as the rest of her.  It was also a nice feeling to be dropping a clean van off at the test centre, it's like turning up for court in a decent suit, it doesn't change anything really but can't hurt, right?  This brings us right up to the point where the story began, which is a bit of a shitty ending, but that's how it goes.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Jammed jambs.

The universe is a funny thing.  Our existence is a series of seemingly random events and bizarre coincidences that shape our life course in ways that make no sense at the time of occurrence, but in hindsight it often appears that our journey through life is clearly mapped out by the hand of destiny.  A few weeks back, the glass double doors at the front of my building were jammed.  After about five minutes of trying to cajole them open like a good-humored date rapist, I realised my patience was starting to run out, and it would only be a matter of time before I lost my cool and started kicking in the glass in a fit of rage.  This would result in damage to my deposit, a severed peroneal artery, and a set of double doors that still wouldn't open.  The sane and logical thing to do would be to admit defeat and go in the back way.  The front of my house is on Southern Road (this means nothing to most people in Cork, when I use Irish orienteering and explain that it's between Paddy the Farmer's and The Southern Star they suddenly know exactly where I live), but to get to the back means going along Old Blackrock Road, then taking a turn down a street which appears to be a cul-de-sac. The street doesn't come to an end, instead it morphs into a boreen, complete with hedges, ditches, and potholes that could swallow a small child.  At the bottom of this boreen, you'll find the back of my house, which means that my place of permanent residence is a bizarre rural vortex in Cork city centre. 

As I made my way along Old Blackrock Road, an old woman stopped me asking if I knew how to change a tyre?  Being the good old-fashioned man that I am (sexist but chivalrous), I obliged and got to work.  She explained that she had been there for about an hour, she tried ringing her son but he was tied up with work, and every passing stranger she asked was too busy or didn't know how.  I then explained that it really was her lucky day as normally I wouldn't take that route, it just happened that I was passing because my front door was jammed shut.  I then drifted off into an immensely philosophical abstraction about how the universe purposefully jammed my door so that I could help out this poor, troubled old woman.  Then just as the last bolt was tightened and the jack taken away, her son turned up, thanked me for helping out his mother, and then handed me a tenner.  A proper gentleman would have refused this, as a good deed is its own reward, but I'm flat fucking broke so I pocketed it in the most gracious manner I could muster.  After negotiating the crocodile infested potholes of the boreen, I climbed the metal fire escape and got into my flat, where I cleaned the grime off my hands and did some more musing on the bizarre cosmic coincidence I had just witnessed as I sipped on a mug of heavily honeyed tea.  Maybe it was the tea talking, or the honey had gone to my head, but this was far too beautifully set up to be just a coincidence.  To test out this hypothesis I went down to the front door.  A quick turn of the handle and one sharp tug revealed that, lo and behold, it was still stuck.  Fuck you Universe, I've had enough of your shit.  I spend an hour helping an old woman that I have never met before, and this is how you repay me?  Although I've never read the bible, I'm fairly certain the good Samaritan arrived home to a fully functioning front door after doing his good deed for the day.

Later on, myself and the guy who lives in the flat upstairs used our combined body weight, a claw hammer and some WD-40 to try to unstuck the door.  This was every bit as kinky as it sounds, but unfortunately it did not work.  We could have spent the evening changing flat tyres for every old woman from here to Carrigaline and it still wouldn't have made a difference.  Fortunately, the next day Karma sent round my landlord with a crowbar.  As he is a one-time rugby player and a full-time builder, who weighs well over twenty stone, I feel that the crowbar was just for show.  While he's normally a good-natured jolly sort: a rosy cheeked, black bearded Santa Claus, he is also well capable of turning on the intimidating menace when it's needed (hint: in the four years I have been living here, I have NEVER been late with the rent).  Although I wasn't present when shit went down, I imagine that he approached the stubborn door with crowbar in hand, gave it an intimidating scowl and it popped open of its own accord.

So I guess the moral of the story is that a good deed is indeed its own reward, the universe doesn't give a flying Fallujah about jammed doors, and if you are poverty stricken €10 will buy you a shitload of rice and beans in Aldi.