Pending Guidance

I would like to begin by stating that despite making a list of healthies from my various cook books last night, and despite purchasing some of these healthies (pears, kiwis, various nuts and seeds for snacking, ingredients for my Lebanese salad which is a regular make I must admit) I also inhaled a scone the size of my face earlier.

I had to, for I had to deal with the social welfare again.

I turned up to my ‘guidance’ appointment at the allotted time and walked into an office run entirely by old and obese people.  My being ten minutes early seemed to cause some consternation amongst the staff, and the older lady that barely greeted me at reception went running away almost immediately to find somebody called ‘Billy’ (names have been changed to protect the useless).  This left me with an obese lady who had been standing at the reception as if propped up, who then looked out the window and shuffled away.  Then an obese man sat in the reception chair and wondered aloud how people sat ‘in this fucking thing’.

I took a seat beside some boys who smelt like cigarettes and was immediately called in to an office to see Billy.

Do you know who Lily Savage is?  He didn’t look like her but with a Dublin accent, sounded a bit like her.  He looked like Lily’s creator, Paul O’Grady, but seemed to have computer printed pictures of a wife all over his bulletin board, alongside, bizarrely one of a very young Jennie Garth of 90210 fame (who knew she used to be so chubby?).

  

Billy and ‘Mary’ then proceeded to have a long and deep and meaningful conversation about the data base on Billy’s computer NOT stating that I had been ‘engaged’ despite being to an ‘engagement gathering’ (see previous blogs for that golden nugget of time-wasting).  Cue lots of keyboard bashing which achieved nothing except sighs and declarations by both that I was ‘pending’ – something which appeared to be a Very Bad Thing.

I had been handed a folder, I looked through it and discovered that it had glossy colour photographs of the office I was marooned in and a printout of a Powerpoint presentation about what they were supposed to be doing in this office for me.  In the Key Words and Actions slide it did not say ‘pending’.

 

Papabear’s Great Wall of Potatoes

‘’I’m going to Beijing,’’ said Mammy, about a month ago.

 ‘’Why?’’ I said

 ‘’It’s in China,’’ she said, and continued with her tea.

And now that Mammy is scaling the Great Wall, Papabear is scaling the equally challenging situation of feeding himself, perhaps for the first time in his life.  What makes everything worse is that all the nice people – Lilsister, Sisinlaw and possibly Babybro – are all on their jollidays too – leaving me, the Tough Love (that being, tough without the love) Queen left, to assist him in all his queries, but not actually do anything, because it is my belief that a 64 year old man should be able to feed HIMSELF and then clean up his own mess afterwards.

Prior to The Departure, I contacted both Mammy and Papabear to discuss menus, costings and allergies/fussiness.  Both sighed heavily and proclaimed that all was lost, as Papabear is useless.  I asked him how he went at peeling potatoes, because in my eyes, should you possess a potato, and nothing else (except possibly a functioning onion), you can create a feast.  Papabear explained that he could not peel a potato and my heart sank.

‘’At all?’’ I cried, wondering how this man calls himself Proud to be Irish.

‘’Atall atall.’’

 ‘’Can you light the oven?’’

 They call it a deafening silence for a reason.

So after what was described to me by Lilsister as an evening fraught with despair, Mammy (at my insistence) carefully instructed Papabear how to turn on the oven, and grill, and how to peel a potato.  Papa now had the makings of a meal, and was therefore entering the world of adulthood, and not quickly enough in my humble opinion.

It was decided that I should visit Papabear after work, so we could make our dinners together.  This gets me out of the house and away from my tenants, who are very nice, but people, so I don’t really want to deal with them.  Papabear’s job is to peel potatoes so I don’t have to, then get the oven heated for any meat products that I am making that night.

‘’How many potatoes should I peel?’’ he asked.

‘’Depends on the size and what we’re having.’’  I replied, thinking no more of it.

‘’I’ll peel four potatoes each time you’re coming down,’’ he enthused.

‘’Grand but if we’re making mash you could peel extra so you have some left over to make potato cakes with the next day,’’ I offered.

‘’I’ll peel six potatoes every day,’’ he cried.

‘’No not every day, just on the days we decide to have mash for example.  Or if you want to have some left over to fry the next day.’’

‘’If we’re making potato cakes and frying them then I’ll peel eight potatoes every day till you tell me to stop.’’

With images of my father slowly making his way through a sack of roosters at the sink, like some slightly old and male version of Cinderella, I became the sighee and told Papa to do whatever made him comfortable.

Christmas Stories: Homeland Night

So ”Homeland Night” rolled around on Tuesday, which meant only one thing – a meeting of myself, Panties and Hangsandwich, this time at my house, where I was doing the cooking (a mean shepherd’s pie if you must know – zero degrees outside requires comfort food inside) and the others were bringing dessert (cakes from a French patessiere  – HEAVENLY).

This being my first Christmas in my house sans Exhimself, I have made it as festive as I can without the expense of adding a Christmas tree – there are candles everywhere, including some horrific reindeers and a Santa carrying a giant sack of goodies (which happens to be a candle holder – tack central anyone?), tinsel and some strategically placed lights.  As trees are SO expensive and I earn a pittance, I was just getting used to the idea of not having one, when I flung opened the door on Tuesday night to be confronted by a giant box and a hatted and scarved Panties who declared ”Look what I stole for you!” which turned out to be a tree, swiped from her place of work, stuffed into a box, along with some decorations and more tinsel, also stolen.

It’s not many friends that will steal for you, let alone for something that you’ve convinced yourself you don’t want, and then through your protestations, take out, fix up, decorate and light, while you check to make sure the potato on your shepherd’s pie is nice and crunchy.  Then decorate your pictures with your lights, and wrap yet more lights on the bannisters of the stairs and squeal with delight when it’s all lit up and ready to go.   This was accompanied by some deep sighing from Hangsandwich, who helped throughout, with lowered eyes, knowing he was powerless against the force that is Panties’ Christmas Spirit.

We ate the pie, inhaled the cakes, discussed Homeland’s shortcomings in Season 2 and after they left and every day since, I’ve switched on the tree and sat and watched it with a growing sense of joy.  And when Little Niece N came to visit and I helped her walk up the stairs to let her turn on the switch for the lights on the bannister and watched her eyes light up with astonishment when they came on, I silently thanked the universe for a woman who believes rugby players shouldn’t fight so much as it’s just MEAN, and who sees no issue with taking Christmas trees from a dull office and placing them in the home of a friend who has been much in need of Christmas cheer this year.   It’s good to be clear on what the right course of action is.

All Pain and No Gain

In an effort to be fit and fabulous for my upcoming social mingling disaster tomorrow night, I did a slight run on Sunday.  I say ”slight” because I was actually walking but felt buoyed up by listening to my 80’s music on my walkman, and broke into a slow trot for most of the second chorus of ”Train of Thought” by A-ha.  Now it is Tuesday, and I have pains in my legs, hips, back and arse (literally – I am actually struggling to sit down) and I am feeling frumpy and forty.  I should be a triumph tomorrow!

To combat the fact that I am unable to move, rendering exercising out of the question, I am attempting to eat less and failing miserably.  I cooked a batch of scones after my excessively not long run and then purchased jam and cream to go with them – delicious, but not diet material.  I have also been suffering with chronic PMT and have had to turn to chocolate much more regularly than normal.  So myself and my hormones should be in peachy form by tomorrow night.

Running Back Home

Keeping the running spirit alive this morning, with several 8 second bursts intertwined with listening to Freddie telling me that he would rock me, to which I spluttered along and most amazingly, did not get a stitch afterwards!!!  Must be improving.

Luckily just as the rain kicked in, Mammy spotted me as she drove by, dropping my little Niece N back to Babybro and Sisinlaw, who took the night off from parenthood to inhale alcohol and chickenwings at one of Dublin’s bigger comedy clubs.  I swiftly obtained a lift from Mammy, and brought little Niece N back to the hungover arms of her daddy, and got a cuddle and babykiss for my efforts.  I perked up, revived, and strolled back to the apartment for a big wash as I was very sweaty.  I was only awoken from my cleaning operations by Hangsandwich appearing at the door with a tupperware box filled with cupcakes, lovingly prepared by Panties this a.m. and driven over, delivered and deposited to her ever grateful friend. 

To think I could have stayed living in Australia, with their wine, fine dining and silly accents, when all this awaited me.  I was a fool to ever leave.

Burning BumBums and Steak with Singles

A very disturbing message from Scarydancer via Lilsister earlier this afternoon, which I THINK was morning for the both of them.  Calling from her jollidays house further into the suburbs, she told me that Scarydancer needed me to do him a big favour.  Being stretched out on the bed at the time, chilling to a number of Madonna ballads, I was highly uninterested.  ”What is it?” I dribbled.

”He needs you to call the fire brigade,” she confirmed ”as his asshole is on fire.”

It seems that too much consumption of three for ten euro beers at the pub near their jollidays house, coupled with a burger n onion rings meal, has given rise to feverish beershites which have caused much pain in the bumbum area for poor Scarydancer.  I winced inwardly, as I thought of my own several beer consumption last night, firstly whilst reading the paper and then more at Panties and Hangsandwich’s house, where I was fed an excellent steak and baked potato meal, and got to meet the only other single in Ireland aged over 35, a friend of Hangsandwich, who appears perfectly at ease with his lot.  It is a great relief to know that these people actually exist.  I DO have my eye on an unsuspecting 36 year old, but naturally I found out he is girlfriended, so I had to put my husbandcatching net away there.  Will it ever get an outing?  Tune in to find out.

Work, Beer, Tea – it’s Friday

I’ve followed up my beer buzz with a cup of tea…not rock of all ages material, and it’s made me feel bloated, alone and ugly, as it’s Friday night and here I am sucking beers and then falling at the last hurdle and succumbing to tea.  The shame of being 37 and nine tenths!!!

It’s been a long week, for no other reason than it just HAS, and it’s rained every day.   Work continues to be awful, with no respite from the abuse, hatred and general rudeness that is the Irish population when dealing with their bank.  Ah, we truly are scumbags, raised in the back of toilets, judging by some of the language and colourful death threats I receive on an hourly basis.

I’ve moved seats and am currently surrounded by a group of girls, which horrified me initially, but seems to actually have turned out okay.  The girl beside me has a make up bag the size of my actual handbag, despite being at least 18 years younger than me, thin and not requiring much maintenance, but there you go.  Bear in mind my handbag needs to accommodate my book (hardback), my giant purse, umbrella, hat, various notes that I write to myself, my pens, phone, keys, sunglasses and my net for catching potential husbandvictims, so you can imagine it’s size.  So that should convince you that there is a SERIOUS AMOUNT of making up going on.  However, myself and the Glamorous One seem to have forged something of a friendship, based on our love of food and our raging hormones.  I may have secret crushes every five seconds but I don’t wander around the staff canteen trying to take sneaky photos of unsuspecting males, like my friend there, or walk around a nightclub in a circle trying to catch someones eye.  FOR AN ENTIRE NIGHT.  Good tips for me though, should I find my eye wandering over lunch or ever end up in a nightclub again.

The girl behind me is actually worse, and even has a creepy ”I’m coming for you, boy” look, which makes me squeal like a girl every time I catch her doing it.  It involves a trout pout, one eye closing and one opening, and a vigorous nodding of the head, to ensure the victim knows she’s a-coming, and she’s ready.  She is also obsessed with my ex-team leader’s arse, which she insists is like ”two eggs in a hanky” despite my protestations that it is flat, and ugly, and he is a pigperson anyway so he cannot be fancied. 

Aside from this it has been an uneventful week, broken up only by Ireland being hammered in the European football matches, a fabulous evening eating Babybro’s stew with little Niece N and Sisinlaw, and the departure of Scarydancer and Lilsister from the apartment as they mind Scarydancer’s parent’s tiny dog whilst they have their jollidays.  This has meant many beers for me, with my music playing while I dance about and try not to fall over every time I try to lift Scarydancer’s new weights.   Sigh.  My flabby arms beg me to reconvene, and soon.

Freddie Mercury sings to me in the background, and advises me to be free with my tango, and on that note, I will drain my cup, tidy up and hit my lonely bed for what I hope will be a deep, beer induced sleep.

Dirty Pints and Catching Billy’s Eye (Part 2)

The swan song of Saturday night came when myself and Trevor fell out of the Italian restaurant, with Trevor loudly belching her appreciation of her meal, probably ensuring nobody else enjoyed theirs.  Outside, a woman actually jumped as Trevor continued to let rip. 

Back on the streets again and with a hunger for more dirty pints, we happened upon a pub which Trevor declared herself and Boo Boo never went to, and went there.  

It was sticky, sweaty, and full of ugly people so terrible in the face department that me with my makeup now running down my face and a new hole in the back of my top, looked positively classy and attractive.  SO attractive in fact that I immediately caught the eye of a man I can only say looked like a ”Billy” – a rotund and teethy individual practically wearing the brown suit that is in the wardrobe of all eligible bachelor farmers in their mid fifties.  He flashed me a smile and I sat in the only available seat in the pub, which was directly in front of the ”band”.  Billy moved on, catching the oddly shaped eyes of two extremely large and undressed females, who were only too delighted with the  free vodkas and cokes bought for them.  I focused on who was the ugliest of the ”band” and in my drunken haze, could not figure it out.    I DO recall the piercing in the singer’s lip, which kept catching the one light working in the bar, and finding it quite distracting, and wondering why he drank dirty pints instead of dancing or ad-libbing for the many guitar solos.

We ended up moving to the back of the pub, near the pool tables, inhabited by younger scumbags, and discussed the hazards of immigration with somebody who was on the way to Tanzania to work in a quarry.  We all declared that leaving Ireland was shit, and that our government should be shot to death for allowing thousands to depart our shores each week for the unbelievable privilege of seeking actual work.  For shame, Ireland’s politicians!!!

Trevor has since been told by neighbours that she was seen slumped forward at this pub, but as I was sitting right beside her and didn’t see that, I can only refute these ungrounded claims.

Afterwards, Lilsister advises me that I called her to sing the Irish footballing anthem, Ole Ole Ole, but had to stop because I had fallen in a bush.  She tells me the voicemail was initially full of singing, then banging, then foul language, then pleas for Trevor to pull me out of the bush, then more singing, then complaining because now that Trevor had fallen into the bush nobody would be able to pull anybody out.  I have no idea how long we were in the bush, but I do remember that afterwards Trevor seemed to have a sudden lease of life and brought me into a field, and told me to run around it three times.  I could see it was a big field, so while Trevor skipped off, I patted the wet grass as if a pillow, and lay my weary head down.  Trevor eventually figured out that she was alone in her mini marathon, and joined me to look at the night sky and argue which lights were satellites and which were celestial beings.  It was extremely comfortable and I have no idea why we got up in the end.

Back at Trevor’s we were thrilled to discover that Boo Boo had left us soggy chips in the microwave, with plates, cutlery and cups already filled with teabags – as if knowing we would be incapable of  obtaining these items ourselves.  We inhaled, went to bed, passed out, and only rose to find headache tablets.  Trevor wisely told my niece, Little NN, not to go and disturb her visiting auntie as she was very sick in bed, which I was.  Boo Boo took Little NN out to swim, and when they came back, I lay on her bedroom floor and told her the reason I couldn’t play with her princess castle was because I was closing my eyes and visualising the story she was to tell me, and please tell it quietly.  Trevor stepped over me to tell Little NN that her auntie had to be driven home now, and I suffered a two day hangover, only helped by the coffee cupcakes Trevor had baked for me to take home.

The Madonna Car Sticker Bought in Cambodia

Last year, whilst trudging around Cambodia alone as ExHimself, based in Australia at the time, didn’t find the idea of seeing this aincent country appealing, I happened across an odd little shop filled with signs, musings and fancy quotations.  It was there that I saw what I believed to be a car sticker:

”IN MADONNA WE TRUST”.

There is nothing more to be said.  I immediately bought it and posted it back to Ireland, to Trevor, where I knew she would love and treasure it.

Unfortunately it turned out to be a normal sticker, not meant for a car at all, but Trevor prevailed and stuck it up on her new fancy double oven, in her newly designed kitchen, and promptly took a picture of herself, thumbs up, in front of it.

I received that picture in Melbourne, where I was alone, missing my mad family and wondering what the hell I was doing moving here with Exhimself, who, true to form, had promised much but delivered nothing once he got back into his homeland.  I cried when I saw the picture and missed my friend.  I showed the photo to Exhimself who declared that Trevor was too proud of her new kitchen and fancy double oven to ”ruin” it with a car sticker that had purple writing.  This made me very sad.

I stood in Trevor’s kitchen on Saturday night, on my fourth glass of prosecco, and screamed as if seeing that car sticker for the first time.  There it still is, stuck to her extremely fancy double oven (which also appears to have some sort of professional coffee making machine thing in it – is that possible?  Or was I on my eighth prosecco?) and there it will always remain, because Trevor loves it and treasures it.

I declared this story to both Trevor and Boo, and while Trevor made angry fist gestures and I spat out my hate, Boo retreated to the solitude of the living room and watched a home improvement show, I believe silently hoping we would both just get the hell out of his house.

Gaelic Followed by Garlic

Plodding through the work week after a long weekend is tough.  Especially when the forecasters promise rain, rain and floods for the next weekend.  Irish summers ROCK!!!!

Friday was spent in the company of Lilsister, Sisterinlaw and some good friends in a little apartment with wine and beer.  Sisinlaw got quite merry on the bottles of red and kept referring to loving ”sausages” and Babybro in a very leering manner I thought, which was practically enough to stop me drinking any more beer.  Luckily towards the end of the night as Lilsister and I curled up on the sofa and watched Sisinlaw get enraged when we told her she couldn’t spell the name on the Italian wine she was drinking (she could), I was shaken out of all sense of drunkeness as Lilsister repeatedly farted on me, man-style, and scared the life out of me with her noises and scents.    How I am single and she is not will always baffle me.

Saturday was hangover central day, made worse by the fact that Lilsister had offered to babysit not just our crazy little Niece N, but the newborn Star also.  This I found extremely difficult, as I could not deal with the very loud tea party that Little N had to have with all of Lilsister’s teddy bears and outdoor picnic set, as we were also checking that Star had not stopped breathing in her pram every ten seconds.  Sisinlaw had also popped over with her offspring and repeatedly begged her Little N to hug her or kiss her, but to no avail.  The child had discovered that one of Lilsister’s frog ornaments (don’t ask) lit up and this was the most fabulous thing of all, and hungover mothers and aunts and brand new cousins just did NOT cut it.  We went hug-less and our headaches continued unabated.

This meant that by Sunday we were all fine, and myself, Lilsister, Scarydancer, Papabear and assorted friends toddled off to the Croke Park and watched Dublin play the first match of the championship Gaelic football league.  Fabulous stuff, well not really, we looked a little out of breath at times on the pitch, but we had our new seats, much closer to the front than normal as we are officially season ticket holders this year, and we enjoyed all the Dubs have to offer from a much better angle than we are used to.  We do believe that we may be in a slightly more upmarket area though, as every time Papabear called the referee a cunt more people than usual turned around.  Oh well, they will soon get used to it.  I was also able to listen to the lads behind me declare how variety is the spice of life, which inevitably led to discussions of KFC variety buckets.  Sigh.

Dirty pints afterwards, naturally, and this is where it all gets a little hazy for me.  I do know that we were visited by Middlebro and his girlfriend, The Baker, for much of the night, and much singing and slagging was had by all.  A girl came in dressed in the Dublin jersey and sang IRA songs, to the delight of Papabear. 

Somebody from Cork came in and as Papabear sang anti-English songs we hugged and cried about our delight about not being English – it was most moving. 

Then some football players came in who had been coached by Papabear and addressed him so respectfully myself and Lilsister had to put down our drinks and ask them why this was, and why they didn’t call him Papabear, which seemed to scare them off. 

Then I went to the toilets and when I came back everybody was gone and the barman had to open up the pub to let me out, I confirmed his name, hugged him and told him he was alright, because Papabear and Lilsister had said he was a twat.  Hopefully I didn’t say that part.

The taxi ride home was driven by a lovely man who let me sing along to all the songs I wanted and didn’t complain as I hung my head out of the window (”like a dog” according to Lilsister) and played my Dublin football team umberella like an air guitar, and then used it as a microphone.  It truly is a multitasking instrument.

After we got out myself and Scarydancer made garlic pizza bread whilst Lilsister passed out on the sofa, and we found it hilarious when Scarydancer cut the pizza in half as it was really funny that we had two big pieces.  Then he cut it again and we rolled about the floor because smaller pieces were the funniest thing EVER.

Next morning, eating a two day old jam doughnut for breakfast, I contemplated the championship season ahead for Dublin, and quietly berated myself for not having more hangover food in the house. 

Dublin to win, and an abundance of fresh pastries to be held in the house for the forthcoming season.