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.

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A Flood of Sorts

Just back from watching Ireland HAMMER Argentenia in the rugby with Panties, Hangsandwich and members of both of their families, not a game I know anything about but that was okay as I had some excellent company, homemade Victoria Spongecake (possibly the best cake in the world?) and the undivided attentions of Panties’ three year old nephew, who kept asking me how his Superman character could get out of whatever particular difficulty he happened to find himself in whilst on his DS.   I had very little to offer, not being familiar with laser eyes, icy cold breath and invisible suits,  not to mention the DS, which just looks like a stupid gadget with two too many screens on it.  My lack of knowledge was regularly rewarded by said three year old running off and checking with his Dad about viable escape options and sad sighs of pity.  At one stage he told me he was three, and how many numbers was I?  I replied ”five, of course,” and he asked how this was possible.  I felt old, and waited for Hangsandwich to pour me more tea.

This is possibly my first social occasion in a while, as I have been in a bit of a funk for the last week or so.  I ended up not going to my social singles occasion, after the bus that was to deposit me at the pub failed to turn up, rendering me late, which was not allowed, and I slinked off home after waiting forty minutes for any mode of transport to turn up (taxis also refused to make an appearance).  This brought on a mini-depression and feelings of uselessness and failureness and general no-life-edness.  Add to this that the one I wink at when he isn’t looking is in a VERY serious relationship and life in general has been very blue, with plenty of black moments.

On such occasions I like to take to the bed and indulge in possibly my most favourite past time ever, which is lying in a warm bed listening to music.  I did this today and for some reason the Take That song ”The Flood” cheered me up.  Maybe it was the way Robbie Williams said ”watch your mouth son or you’ll find yourself floating home” but something ended and I started to feel a little better.  Then I got up and the water has been cut off in my house, but this didn’t cause me to go into a rage, so I must be getting along.  I had a ladywhizz and didn’t flush the toilet, made sure I had enough water for tea, and departed for the social rugby visit.

These are the things I want:

1. Beloved to dump his girl and whisk me away for romantic weekend, and tell me that even though I am incapable of being in a relationship right now, that is fine as he will wait for me to be ready, but sleep with me at every opportunity till that happens (yes I KNOW that this will never come off but I can dream can’t I?).

2. To pass my second horrible financial exam in January and get out of the horrific job I am in and into something that gives me money and a distraction from Beloved.  This is actually possible, as I have full control over studying.  Hurray!

3. To begin to look fabulous.  This week, in the depths of my funk, I began exercising again and already feel a little lighter.  I also only ate about half a tonne of rubbish, as opposed to several of my usual tonnes, and I have noticed that ONE of my bellies has begun to reduce, and that I have a shape to my hips.  Soon I will even look womanly!

4. Mammy’s fake cough is back.   Refer posts from this time last year.  I cannot STAND someone hocking their lungs up on me, let alone someone with nothing to hock.  It gives the hocking action a hollow,dry and cackling sound, and turns my (decreasing!) stomach.

5. To visit the Dublin Christmas markets.  Panties mentioned these earlier and I jumped in the air saying hurray, when are we going and she said she did not want a repeat of last year.  I had no idea what she meant.  She meant that last year, myself and Trevor were to meet her at 5pm at the Christmas markets.  Myself and Trevor met at noon, and went to the pub for lunch, but ended up having dirty pints instead.  At 7pm, after I cried on Grafton Street after seeing the Christmas carrol singers, we met Panties, excessively drunk, and Panties had to drive us both home.  I had no recollection of any of this, until Panties reminded me that, put upon friend that she is, she gave myself and Trevor cupcakes from the markets she had attended ALONE, and that when we got to Trevor’s house, we ate them with tea made by Boo Boo, who was judging us severely.

So the markets should be fun, then.

I Do My Exams and Gerry Does Gaelic

I hate the Institute of Bankers.  I believe I’ve mentioned this fact before.  No they are not a necessary evil in the banking world.  They are just EVIL.

So I’ve finally sat my stupid exams that cost a FORTUNE so I can say that I sat STUPID EXAMS.  Did I mention they cost a fortune?

After my first exam which was on a SATURDAY at the ungodly hour of 9.30 AM YES I SAID AM (thankfully I had a lift from Panties, if I’d had to drive up and not find parking like everybody else I would have stabbed random bankers everywhere) I headed into the city to eat a late breakfast at my favourite breakfast place in Dublin, which is the Kingfisher on Parnell Street (where every meal comes with chips yes even breakfast and no I did NOT eat chips for my breakfast I am in the middle of attempting to be healthy as I am not getting any younger and need to watch the flabby bits or I will never snare anyone in my husband catching net).  After a hearty spanish omlette sans chips, I took a stroll to Parnell Square where another favourite of mine, the Sinn Fein shop, also lives.

Now don’t start on me.  I am no Sinn Feinner nor will I ever be.  But dammit, they do bloody good Gaelic football jerseys.  So in I went, and found the most amazing Dublin football team jerseys that I will ever lay my watered up eyes on, and whilst discussing how fabulous these were with the woman behind the till (who, really oddly, looked UNCANNILY like a woman who came forward in the media years ago in Ireland, to admit that she had a love child with a Bishop in Galway, which was OUTRAGEOUS at the time (but not now because considering what we have uncovered about our unholy Catholic Church in Ireland a mere love child is NOTHING), she happened to mention that I was welcome to continue browzing but to be aware that ”Gerry” was coming in shortly.

”Gerry?” I asked innocently.

”Gerry,” she repeated.

”Who that?” I mused.

”Gerry Adams,” she said, a little wearily?

”Oh.” I said back.

Immediately I rang Lilsister, who IS a Sinn Feiner, and believes that Gerry Adams should take over Ireland, and employ groups of vigalanties to kick the crap out of scumbags, teenagers, and bankers who are not her sister.  Whilst on the phone however, wee Gerry walked in, speaking in Gaelic (Gerry, I’m no fan of yours but bonus points for speaking our native language as your first language) and holding something of a press conference.  This caused Lilsister to go into fits of hysterics, and she begged me to get a photo of him, and with him and obtain his mobile number so she could call him and discuss the campaign for him to take over the country.  I refused all, and tried to be quiet while he began his interview (again, in Gaelic).

After getting some dodgy photos on my mobile phone from 1998, I was spared the embarrassment of trying to avoid shaking wee Gerry’s hand as he scooted out of there rather quickly.  An old bloke also working in the shop told me not to be too disappointed as he was in occasionally and would normally stop for a chat and photo.  I was advised that he often did press interviews in the shop, usually indoors, as the last time he did one outside the shop a cyclist, after tying his bike to the railings so he could pump up a flat tyre, pumped too much and caused the tyre to blow, creating a shotgun like sound, causing the press, politicians and all around to duck and take cover from a potential sniper.  So everything was safely indoors now.

I finished purchasing my football tops (for me, Lilsister and Papabear) for next year, winced at the giant Sinn Fein sign on my paper bag (you used to be able to buy stuff from there in a plain bag, since when have they got so cocky?) and hoped that the people of Dublin outside would not lynch me for my non-allegiance to the party.  I escaped unscathed, even turning down a lift home from Panties, who would frown lots if I had told her I had been in the Sinn Fein shop in the first place, let alone spent money in it, and then bumped into wee Gerry.  The bus did fine on the way home, the bag rolled up into a ball at the window seat.

Niece Love

Starved of BOTH Irish nieces all week after moving back to my old pad, I contacted Sisinlaw about a folding clothes horse (the RUBBISH one must accumulate in order to live alone in a draughty house) and begged her to drop over the required item along with Little Niece N, so I could hug her, put her in between two slices of bread and eat her alive with adoration.

Both duly arrived this morning, and promises of my having more room in my (empty) three bedroomed house than their two bed apartment were taken very seriously, as a bunch of Little Niece N’s toys accompanied them – the noisy ones too, I noted.  There were lots of colours, and things that you could bang, which would make beeping sounds, and animal sounds, and alleged music sounds and flashing stuff – basically Sisinlaw was culling her apartment of anything that would delay the smooth transition of a massive hangover into a dull headache.  Luckily there were books too, as Little Niece N appears to, like her dad and aunt, have a flair for the words, and I am convinced I can teach her to read by three, as my own mother kindly did for me.  So as she grows, she will come to visit her aunt, not for fun times banging multi coloured plastic toys in order to make some weird sort of battery operated fusion of music and noise, but to strict rations of approved books, and beatings if new sentences are not learned by the end of every hour.  Tough love, and plenty of it, is my motto.

After second breakfast of scrambled eggs and tea and juice, myself and Sisinlaw gossiped whilst N, ignoring ALL the toys brought over for her, proceeded to run from the front door, through the hall, to the kitchen, past the dining room where we were seated, into the living room, out into the hall again, back into the kitchen and so on, whilst making a panting noise that sounded eerily like a little dog, flapping her hands, and generally just enjoying having space to be en eejit in.  This went on for about forty minutes, and only stopped because we told her she was making us dizzy, and not because her energy levels reduced in ANY way.

Afterwards, Sisinlaw popped out and we put N to bed in the spare room, with her teddy and a blanket, and I watched Only Fools and Horses for the two hundredth time, and laughed myself silly.  Hearing noises, I ventured upstairs to make sure nobody was dead or being murdered, but my fears subsided when I realised it was N, woken up now, and singing to Ted.  I picked her up, and was informed that it was ”bounce time” meaning she gets to jump on the bed in the other spare room (bouncing strictly forbidden on my own, by children and adults alike as I am a sad old spinster who never brings men back to the house).  After literally throwing, bouncing, pulling, pushing and tickling N for about half an hour, I was fit to collapse, and nearly cried when Sisinlaw walked back in, and took over bouncing duties.  They left, and I ran up to Mammy for tea, and to go on a kettle buying excursion, and when we returned, there was Sisinlaw and N at Mammy’s house, for another visit – which was fabulous, as I then got to play football with N, then see saw (where I am the actual see saw) and chasing, which has caused early onset heart attacks.

Sisinlaw left to pick up Babybro from work, leaving N with me, Mammy and Papabear, the latter making fart noises and causing hysterical giggles from everybody.  We received a text half an hour later, from Babybro, advising us that Sisinlaw had collapsed in a heap in bed, and he would be available to receive his daughter should we wish to deposit her back at his home.

An overdose of niece love and affection, and to add to my lovely warm glow, Panties has just texted to say she has bought a giant Avoca scone for me at her yummymummyladieswholunch thing (bleurgh) and can I come over to eat it soon.  Yes I can Pants, yes I bloody can.

Sulk Off – It’s Me or the Cats

Panties’ cats aren’t speaking to me. 

This has been confirmed by Dragon, Panties’ mother, who works in a vet’s place for some reason and therefore knows everything about all animals, as far as I am concerned.

Feeling tired last night, and being car-less due to extreme poverty, I stayed in Lilsister’s apartment as I needed her to do my hair this morning (as I am now OFFICIALLY 38, my hair has decided to celebrate by not only turning it’s grey bits snow white, but becoming white in more places than usual, resulting in many tears for my lost youth).

Hair sufficiently covered up, and any signs of old age dyed out of existence, I returned to the two cats in Panties’ house, in which I am house-sitting, allegedly to let burglars know it’s not empty, but really, because I couldn’t wait to have some alone time in a three bedroomed palace (albeit with menopausal cats).  As a treat for my absence, I decided to give them their smelly wet food (they usually eat smelly dry food) and was shocked to discover that they would not eat it!!!  It’s not expired, it smells as horrible as usual, and they usually climb all over each other to eat it, so a quick call was put to Dragon, who informed me that the cats were not happy I had left them overnight, and were refusing to eat the food in order to tell me so.  Two can play at that game I thought, and promptly told them to get out into the back garden to sulk, so I could have my own sulk indoors.

Having said all this, it is a MARKED improvement on two years ago when I last house-sat, where on two separate occasions I was brought the bodies of little birds, one dead and one very much alive, by the cats, which upset me greatly, and Dragon informed me that this was because they loved me.  If that is love, I believe I will take the grumpies any day.

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.