Bridesmaid Duties


In honour of a hilarious (read: demented) link my friend sent to me (read here), here is my open letter to my future bridesmaid…

To my lovely Bridesmaid….

As you know, you have the honour…nay, the privilege of being a bridesmaid on what will be hopefully be one of many days in my life. It also goes without saying that it will also be one of many days in your life too, and you should treat it accordingly. However your work, social life and liver function will take a back seat to what I want, and if you don’t agree then don’t think you will be relieved of your duties, oh no, you should be so lucky! My sister will be the Maid of Honour, and she’s in charge under me. Don’t bother her or me with trifling nonsense like “I don’t know what strawboys are”, “the sheep are trying to escape” or “I just got hit by a car”… WE WILL ACCEPT NO EXCUSES!!!

You will undoubtedly have a big role in this wedding, so before we go any further I need to clear a few things up. If you cannot answer all of the below questions to my satisfaction…well, let’s just say we may need to have words:

  • What’s the difference between Red Aftershock and Mickey Finn’s?
  • Can you dance the Siege of Ennis?
  • Have you ever attended mass in Knock?
  • “Beer then wine makes you feel fine. Wine then beer brings on The Fear” Discuss.

In addition if I hear any of the following statements, then I will have no choice but to assume you are below par for my ‘vision’ of the day:

  • ‘DJ Tiesto has some class tunes all the same’
  • ‘Did you hear Crystal Swing have a new album out?’
  • ‘No thanks, I’m just having the one’

It’s a safe bet to say the wedding will take place at some stage in the future. Until then, I demand to know about any holidays, days off, doctors’ appointments or bathroom breaks you intend to have between now and whenever the wedding takes place. Mainly as I’m nosey, and this is a good excuse. The wedding will be…somewhere. The hen night will be…somewhere else. And the detox/rehab session will be the final port of call. Cliché I suppose…but let’s face it. It’s an half Irish wedding.

As this will be organized over two different countries, certain expectations will need to be met. For instance, you will probably need to wear a dress. Penny’s attire need not apply, however we may consider Dunnes boutique as Mammy Mulligan says its gone up in the world…

If you decide to accept my offer of being bridesmaid then be assured I have certain expectations: 1.) DJ Dave is to be prevented from talking through each and every song – no-one cares that he goes to Electric Picnic every year. 2.) Artic Roll for dessert is a right, not a privilege. 3.) You are to mind the Mammy and make sure that she gets up to jive for at least 2 songs. And finally 4.) unless at least 3 people are hospitalized from drink, I will consider you have failed in your duties…Though I will probably settle down if you offer to do the Muppet Dance.

We will need to be in touch a lot which means I need a quick response in replying to my messages – a 2-3 minute timescale is acceptable. I will excuse a delay only if you are in the West of Ireland. Everyone knows that’s a dead zone with cat reception. Please continue to send me funny pictures of dogs though. I love those.

Finally, ever since I sobered up and remembered I said yes, I’ve been dreaming of this day. I want to share it with those who mean the most to us, and those who can take a joke and hold their drink. You only get one chance at having a wedding you want… but as that cost a fortune, I’m grand with this one. If you don’t think you can make the wedding or the hen, then consider yourself unfriended on Facebook. Yeah, I’m that serious.

Unless you can get back to me within 26 seconds, the deal is off. “This is really going to be the most awesomest wedding EVER!!!” says no-body I want at my wedding…

Lots of Love!!

Ireland: A Translator’s Guide


Recently I met my friend from the States for lunch. While we were talking, we discussed how much what an Irish person says and what an Irish person means can cause so much confusion upon delivery. This flexibility in language is fairly consistent in pretty much everything relating to Ireland. Therefore for the benefit of bewildered non-Irish people everywhere, I give you ‘Ireland: A Short Guide’.


There is no problem on earth, simply *none*, that cannot be cured by a mug of tay (or tea as it’s also sometimes called…) Broken up with someone? Crashed your car? Bitten by zombies? Throw on the kettle and fire a teabag into a mug and feel your problems slip away in no time. Obama could clear up quite a few things by inviting a few round his for a nice cup of Barry’s and a slice of madeira.


Sport in Ireland is like politics in America. You live or die by your choice. There is no middle ground. There is only GAA. (And soccer, rugby, horse racing…but I digress) GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) sports cover hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders. All of which require nerves of steel, and a penchant for a healthy dose of violence.

The Mammy

The backbone of every Irish family, the matriarch is a force to be reckoned with. She will have cleaned the house, done 140 loads of washing and driven the length and breadth of the country to deposit various children to schools, sporting events or parties all before 10am. I have seen a 6 ft twenty stone man cowed by the 4 ft nothing ball of fury that was his mother. Worse than the outward show of rage is the withering ‘look’ that could silence a Pope at 100 paces. There isn’t a single Irish child alive that didn’t the ‘look’ at some stage for acting up during Mass. I still do, and I’m 30.


Or profanity to call it by its proper name. There is fluidity and eloquence with Irish swearing that doesn’t (usually) come across as offensive. I don’t know of many other countries where calling someone a f*cker straight to their face won’t gain you a black eye and a mouthful of broken teeth, but instead will be met with laughter and most likely an offer of a drink. The person you insult the most is very likely to be your best friend and inserting swear words randomly into every sentence you utter is perfectly acceptable in pretty much all circumstances.

The ‘Craic’

(Pronounced ‘crack’) Saying you are going out for a bitta craic does not mean your friends now need to stage an intervention, but instead means going out for a laugh. The craic can be found anywhere, whether it be driving at 90 miles an hour down a boreen that’s has more potholes than actual road, walloping a hurl off someone’s head for no apparent reason, or drinking enough to land yourself in A&E at 11.30am on a Tuesday morning getting your stomach pumped, saying you did it ‘for the craic’ is a perfectly valid excuse. No jury in the land will convict you. Just don’t quote me on that…


For such a small country, we have produced some amazing music that has reached a global audience. I’m not talking about the diddley-di soundtrack of Darby O’Gill and the Little People, but artists such Mundy, The Cranberries, Sinéad O’Connor, Bell X1, Thin Lizzy and ok, if I have to, U2. I apologise on behalf of all Irish people for Westlife.


No matter what time of the year, this can be pretty much summed up in one word: Shite.


Given that the Catholic Church had such a hold on Ireland for such a long time, it’s no wonder that there are such divided opinions. If I started on this topic, I would be here until next week and still wouldn’t have even scratched the surface. Therefore all I will say on the matter is anyone who wants to know anything about religion in Ireland should be directed towards watching Father Ted. No need to thank me.


We’re nothing if not colourful with our language, and many of our expressions can carry a multitude of meanings. Below are a few phrases, and their fairly flexible explanations:

‘A right dose’ – This can be meant in two ways; a.) Very sick e.g. ‘I had a right dose after a feed of 15 pints. The last one was obviously off…’ Or b.) An irritating person. ‘He’s been hanging round so long, he’s giving me a right dose’.

‘Holy Joe’ – A religious person. Avoid at all costs as before you know it, you’ll be conned into taking an organised tour of Ballinspittle’s moving statues just to get away from them.

‘Having a good gawk’ – someone nosey having a good look e.g. ‘He was having a good gawk around the place’

‘Eat the head off’ – is what happens when someone is very, very angry with you. Conversely ‘Eat the face off’ means kissing. (I don’t make the rules…)

‘Cute hoor’ Contrary to what this looks like, it does not refer to an attractive lady of the night. This refers to a clever person who isn’t often caught out.

‘Murder’ and ‘Deadly’ are not acts of crime (normally…) To say something is ‘murder’ means it’s fairly difficult, and to say something is ‘deadly’ means it’s great e.g. getting a ticket to the match was murder, but when we got in, it was deadly!

‘Yer only man’ – something or someone that you can count on e.g. after a dose of drink, a feed of pints and a fry up is yer only man.

Answering someone with ‘I will yeah’ means this will never happen. Ever.

And finally…


No list in Ireland would be complete without a nod to the drinking culture of Ireland. Much like the Inuit’s and their words for snow, we seem to have an almost inexhaustible amount of words for being drunk. The below is just a small sample of the many (many…) terms for drunkenness:





Circling over Shannon





No, I’m afraid I don’t know why either.

Builders who haven’t got a clue… (Parody song)

There’s a long standing joke on Twitter between myself and a few people about a Van we have. Here is a parody song dedicated to them to be sung to the tune of ‘A Boy Named Sue

Apologies to everyone else as this won’t make much sense – normal service will be resumed shortly! 

Well Niamh kicked off just before 3

Said she wasn’t leaving supplies for Liv & me

Just this old can a’ tar and an empty bottle of booze

Now, I don’t blame her for flippin’ the lid

As the meanest thing we ever did

Was earlier on, we ran over her shoe…


Well we must have thought it quite the joke

‘Cause while Liv was roaring, she spilt her coke

It seems the Van was filthy the whole night through…

Still, with an open road, and lights turning red

With a roof to fix with no strips a’ lead

I tell ya, buildin’ ain’t aisy when you haven’t a clue.


Well, we moved right quick with lights on full beam

But outside Limerick, my thirst was keen.

We moved from snug to snug – they all looked the same!

Then Liv made a vow (after many jars…)

That she’d fix the wonky stool in the bar

And near killed the man who fell off and cursed her name!


Well, we hit Louisburg round mid-day

We’d seen the sign and knew we’d gone astray

Still, we thought we’d stop and have ourselves a few.

When we spied an old saloon caked with mud

And in swaggers a Guard thinking he’s a stud

And Niamh starts to sweat and says “What’ll we do?!”


Well, we knew when we spied the Guard it could fare bad

We’d a van-load of gear, no papers were had

He’d a right nosey ould beak and an all-knowing eye!

He was big and bent and gray and old,

We looked at him, our blood near cold

Then Niamh sez “I know you! You’re from Depot too!

We’d catch up, only now we must fly!”


We worried he’d see through our lies

But he went to sit down, and to our surprise

Offered us a mangy dog with a bit missing off his ear!

Rocky had little hair and fewer teeth

Still we took him on, and out into the street

Shaking and a’ Strooling and near dropping with TB…


I tell ya, it was some gaze

Passed by in a Woodbine haze

I started to bray like a mule that we had no kittle to bile

We heard Niamh cough then I heard her curse,

“Wind down the windah, we’re in reverse!”

Liv sat back looking at us and knew we were off by miles.

The Guard said “Lads, these roads are rough

If ye’re to make it tonight, ye have to be tough

There’ll be no more snugs to help ye along!

Now I’ll give ya that dog, and I’ll say goodbye”

And we hit the road heading to Athy

Only stopping at Mother Hubbard’s when we were so far along.


Liv said “Now we just got through one hell of a night

And I know we’re late, but T needs a light”

So we stopped at Londis and stocked up like you do.

We pulled out in the Van, heading on the lay-by,

N drinking tay, Liv singing up on high

Heading up to M’s still not having a clue…!


Well, she got all choked up and gave us each a bun

And we fixed her roof using a glue gun

And we came away with a different point of view.

And we think about it every now and then

Every time we try and fix sumtin’

Well…if ever you have a job for us, I think…

Anything but glue! I still hate that game!

The Joys of Commuting

As some of you may already know, this week I (by ‘I’, I mean Ninja Tom…) had a bit of a run in with London Midland. This is the complaint letter I so dearly wish I could send…

Dear London Midland / London Underground / Provider of Public Transport in London*

(*delete as appropriate…)

I would like to take this opportunity to give you a round of applause in thanks for the impact you have had upon my social life. Who knew when I moved here eight years ago that I would get to make so many new friends on my commute!

What fun we have together when the train announces its arrival. I do so appreciate you being consistent in your time keeping – I fear some people would be quite alarmed if you arrived at the time that you are meant to. After all, there are those of us who quite enjoy waiting on a cold, wet platform day after day. It’s especially kind that when the train arrives, that you make us wait even longer to open the doors so that by the time we can finally board the train, we are able to enter in to the spirit of the Olympics by rugby tackling each other and vaulting over bags and bicycles in the doorway in order to get the ‘golden ticket’ of the last remaining spare seat which is, most mornings, as elusive as a unicorn. It’s nice to have a bit of healthy competition. Why save sprinting for the gym?! I also just *adore* spending twenty minutes being up so close to a complete stranger that I can get a nicotine or caffeine hit purely from breathing in. It’s so kind for some of them not to lessen the impact by brushing their teeth first!

In fact, it’s such an experience that I get overjoyed every couple of days when I hear some little scamp has made off with some important signaling equipment, or copper from the lines. It means I get to spend even longer with everyone – barring of course your employees who seem to disappear into the ether at the first sign of a delay! On these occasions, I love that you are so thoughtful to play little games with us like ‘Platform Rotation’ It’s great to get some exercise by running through the station when the train is announced giving us approximately 37 seconds to run the 3 miles to the far side of the station to get on. With people leading such sedentary lifestyles nowadays, you really are very socially aware to think of our health like that. It also helps us to develop our psychic abilities when you change the platform at the last minute but don’t tell us.

I doubt I am alone in saying that I have some fond memories of the characters I have encountered on my journey. Take the time that young fellow exposed himself on a packed carriage, or the time that young lady must have ate something that disagreed with her, and was forced to expel it quickly all over the floor…what larks! With such wondrous experiences, it’s no wonder you are able to increase the fares by so much each year. It’s not like we are in the middle of a recession or anything and can’t afford it! I had a good run of it in my late teens / early twenties, but I’m sure there’s still a viable kidney that I can auction off to pay for next year’s ticket…

No, we of course agree to pay these fares for the sport. After all, it’s not like you can’t take alternative measures if you happen to work in central London, now is it? It’s easier to travel by train you proclaim! Well yes of course it is, when the alternative is having to sell your soul / firstborn (whichever is of greater value) to pay for parking, and that’s before you take in to account the congestion zone charge…

Still, when else would we get to see such magnificent customer service skills in action? Take the delightful gentleman that I encountered this week whom I shall call…Graham. How he laughed when he was presented with an annual season ticket that had been used for over eight months which had faded. Funnily enough, we had stupidly believed that using a paper ticket printed with ink daily for a sustained period of time would cause it to wear out, but we were so thankful that Graham set us right on that account. Apparently the ticket in question should have remained in pristine condition, and the fact it didn’t was a criminal offence. I now know it should merely be kept as a decoration, and be untouched by human hands. We were cast back from the barrier and ordered to the Principal’s office… Sorry, I do of course mean the ticket hall – not that you would have known the difference from the tone Graham used.

Well, as I’m sure you can imagine hilarity ensued when we got there, but there was no record of the ticket being purchased. It’s so nice to know that paying well over £2,000 a year grants you the privilege of being treated like a piece of shit. Some people pay good money for the same kind of treatment in certain nefarious circles, so I should count myself lucky that I didn’t receive an invoice and a demand to pay for dinner too.

Well, I must be off as I need to douse myself in anti-bacterial lotion before stepping on to the train home. If only everyone had a journey like mine, I feel certain the world would be a more interesting place…

Yours sarcastically,

Another Delighted Passenger

Choice. When enough is enough.

This blog is a departure from the type of things I normally write, so if you do choose to read any further I would like to warn you in advance that it is an emotive and sensitive issue so best not to read if you are in bad form…

Yesterday I read the story of Tony Nicklinson, a man who had suffered a stroke in 2005 which paralyzed him from the neck down, and as a result of this, lived with locked-in syndrome until yesterday where he died at the age of 58.

This news came just six days after he lost his ‘right to die’ case which he had battled with in court for years. He wanted assurances that anybody who assisted him in ending his life would not face prosecution. In a statement issued through his lawyers at the time, he said “I am saddened that the law wants to condemn me to a life of increasing indignity and misery.” The judge presiding over the case said that while it was deeply upsetting to all involved, it was for parliament and not the courts to decide if the law should be changed.

While this case is indeed deeply upsetting, it is by no means a one off.

Although there is a well-known facility in Switzerland that caters for people who have made the decision to undertake euthanasia, in this and many other European countries, to assist a person’s death by bringing them there means facing prosecution and possibly a criminal conviction.

Several cases have been brought in to the High Courts over the years, and the people involved have become high profile due to the topic involved.  Understandably, the subject raises many concerns, and due to its sensitive nature is bound to evoke a very strong emotional and moral reaction in people.

I cannot speak for the law as it would take someone far more educated than I to argue over the legality of the case, but what I will say is that personally, I feel very strongly that if a person suffering from a progressive or incurable illness decides they no longer wish to prolong their life, then they and not any court should have the right to make that decision.

I say this with heartfelt honesty, as I watched my Dad die at the age of 48 from Motor Neurone Disease.

My Father first became ill at the age of 45 in 1989. At that time, he was a self employed Auctioneer & Estate Agent, Salesman, and a farmer combined and worked 6 days a week. He seldom drank and smoked about one cigarette once a year if at all and due to his work, was physically fit and active.

He first noticed there was a problem when he was unable to open a car door with one hand, but brushed it off until he was unable to ignore it any longer. Like most men of his background, my father had a fear of doctors, and only when my mother forced him to did he finally agree to go see one. Despite being a nurse since before they got married, my mother didn’t know what was wrong either. When he went, our family doctor could not identify the problem, and sent him for the first in a long line of tests. At the time, I was the youngest of the family and was six years old. My sister was nine, and my brother was twelve.

Over the next few months, he got progressively worse and each doctor and specialist he saw in Ireland conducted all manner of tests. They each advised a different course of action, but without giving any firm prognosis as they said they did not recognize the symptoms, so could only refer him to the next consultant. In between waiting for specialist appointments he tried everything the doctors and everyone else had suggested. He went dairy free and gluten free for a time (which did little but leave my brother and I with a lifelong hatred of soya milk), he tried acupuncture despite his pathological fear of needles and he also saw multiple faith healers. Only when he traveled to Dublin to see a consultant (his sixth in Ireland) who referred him to a neurological consultant in London was there any kind of hope of finally pinning down what was happening.

By this point, approximately a year and a half had passed since he first started showing signs of illness. By the stage my parents traveled to London, his muscles had begun to deteriorate and he was only able to walk for short periods of time and often only with assistance. My mother told me years later about that trip, and how the journey was painful for him as he was unable to stand for long and was physically weak, so it was difficult to manage the luggage, travel by plane and train and helping him walk. They returned from their journey with the only new knowledge being a circle on my father’s hospital notes saying ‘Query Motor Neurone Disease’. The only reason my mother knew this is because whenever any of us ever went to hospital, it is her habit to take the hospital notes somewhere private and read up on them herself, as she knew no doctor will tell most lay people the full story. The consultant sent them home with a letter for another specialist, but did not tell my parents what the letter contained. Once out of the consultant’s office, my mother opened the letter and the same diagnosis of ‘Query Motor Neurone’ was written.

When she got home, she looked it up in her medical encyclopedias as she had never heard of it before, and read that it was incurable and the life expectancy was anything between 1 to 10 years. At that point, only 1 in 50,000 people contracted it, so it was still a relatively unknown illness.

My mother made the decision not to tell my father, as she believed that he would not want to have known how serious it was.

What followed this was months where my father’s health deteriorated even further to the point that he was no longer able to walk unaided, or do relatively simple tasks like shaving, washing his face or going to the bathroom by himself. When I was eight years old, I had to feed him, help him dress and help when he needed to go to the bathroom, as he was unable to do any of this himself. At the very end, his speech went to the point that my mother had to write the alphabet on a piece of cardboard, and he had to painstakingly blink at each of the letters in order to get his point across. Each sentence took minutes, and was frustrating and painful to watch. Before he got ill, Dad was physically fit due to his work, yet at the time of his death 3 years later in 1992; he had lost over 2/3’s of his body mass.

All through this, my mother looked after Dad at home. She woke up several times a night to turn him over, as he was unable to even do this anymore. She was sleep deprived, and must have been chronically exhausted. She watched her husband and the father of her children waste away in front of her, and faced a future where she was a widow at the age of 47.

Dad was a devout Catholic throughout his life, so I have no doubt in my mind that even if he had been offered euthanasia, he would have declined it. Yet that does not mean that that option should not have been made available to him if he so wished. Those who have lived or are living with seeing the person they love fade away, yet who know in their heart and soul that all that waits ahead of them is more pain and suffering should not have to fear prosecution or a criminal conviction if they agree to be with them at the end.

Tony Nicklinson and many more like him have fought extensively for the law to change on this matter. I hope that one day the law will take these stories into account, and decide that it is up to the individual involved to decide when enough is enough.

Tony Nicklinson is survived by his wife, Jane, and two daughters, Lauren and Beth.

Office Space

Be under no illusion, the modern office is a potential minefield which requires stealth, a first degree in psychology and the patience of a Saint in order to navigate. Be prepared. Here are some of the most common issues, and the means with which to deal with them.


The Feeder:

Frequently found in the kitchen/canteen or surrounding areas, the Feeder can be either your worst enemy or your best friend depending on how hormonal you are feeling. Can never seem to take no for an answer, and takes it as a personal slight if you refuse food or drink for whatever reason. Is probably personally responsible for approximately 0.000239% of the hole in the ozone layer by boiling the kettle ten thousand times a day ‘just in case anyone fancies a cuppa’.

The Situation

Joan from Accounts has spent the weekend baking for her children’s school party and just ‘happened’ to have five thousand buns going spare. You have just started a new diet/are hanging from the night before and are counting points/about to puke on the carpet, yet there are only so many times you can refuse her persistent prompting without reverting to knocking her out.

The Solution

There are two possible solutions in this scenario. First solution involves an Ally McBeal flight of fantasy and will undoubtedly involve a lawsuit, so unless you are as wealthy as Richy Rich and crave the fame a trip to the Courthouse would bring, I’d skip that in favour of solution two, poison her food à la Flowers in the Attic, and stand back to witness the fall out. If you are extremely lucky, you may also manage to take out creepy Bob who works on the fourth floor. Bonus. 

The Scene Stealer:

You arrive in on Monday morning with the glorious news of your sisters impending nuptials, a new arrival in the family, or depending on those you let into your life, your mates release on bail at the weekend and instantly, the Scene Stealer comes along and steals your thunder so fast you would swear you worked with John Terry.

The Situation

You arrive in the door bursting to tell everyone about the romantic holiday you just booked with your partner to the South of France which is the first holiday you will take together, and Tracy in Marketing butts in and goes on for twenty minutes about the girls holiday she took. In Faliraki. Fifteen years ago.

The Solution

Next time this person interrupts someone’s story, butt in with one of your own. If your story has nothing whatsoever to do with hers, all the better. She starts talking about her kids birthday party, you start talking about the relevant merits of differing toner cartridges. She begins a story about buying a new car, you start talking loudly about the new brand of cheese you just bought at the weekend. She will soon get the message, hopefully before you gain the reputation of being an ignorant cow. Either way, you won’t have to deal with her upstaging bullshit any more.

The Weeping Woeful:

Misery loves company, right? Wrong. In my experience, Misery loves Misery, with an extra side of moaning. This person could win £15 million in the lotto, and will complain about needing to buy a new wallet to fit all their extra sponds in.

The Situation

Your department just won a luxury weekend trip away to a 5* day spa in the company wide annual raffle…when Jim from Facilities pipes up that he will need to cancel his newspaper that weekend, but the paperboy doesn’t always pick up his messages so it probably still get delivered, which will alert the local burglar to know he is away as his paper won’t get picked up outside, so he’s likely to get robbed and the burglar will end up claiming squatters rights and Jim is bound to end up homeless and destitute…

The Solution

Unfortunately in this particular scenario, there is only one possible solution. Develop narcolepsy. Fast. Each time they begin to speak, close your eyes and pretend to drop off. Where possible, dribble and scratch intimate body parts to make it more effective. No one will question your diagnosis, and Jim can find someone else to bore the hole off.

The Walking Theatre Company:

This person is to be avoided at all possible costs. They are like the Pied Piper of Drama, and attract storylines worthy of an Eastenders subplot. They are usually the friendliest person in the office, but do not be fooled. They are only friendly out of necessity as their social pool gets culled on a weekly basis due to their antics. They are a liability and should come with their own section on insurance policies.

The Situation

Its 2pm on a quiet Monday and the most exciting thing to happen is a new box of pencils got delivered by mistake in the stationary order. Suddenly Ron from the front desk barrels in the door to tell Mandy from Purchasing that someone is breaking into her car and the police have been called. Turns out the car in question actually belonged to her ex-boyfriend Tai whom she met in Goa when he was a knife thrower at the local circus. The office breaths a collective sigh of relief as this is the mildest thing to have happened to her in ages. Things must be looking up.

The Solution

Do not get involved in any way, shape or form with this person if you can help it. If you have made an unfortunate error in judgement and entered into any kind of dialogue with them, hire a lawyer now and make sure your passport is up to date. Sooner or later you will need one or the other. Probably both. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Average Night Out


6pm:              Meet for a quick coffee after work.

6.01pm:         Coffee is nixed in favour of having ‘just the one’ glass of wine as you haven’t seen each other in AAAAGES and have loads to catch up on*

*It doesn’t matter if you had just seen the person the day before. A lot can happen in a day…

6.02pm:          Executive decision is reached – as you are both drinking a glass, it makes good financial sense to just buy the bottle. There is a recession on; you can’t afford to throw away good money. Minor fight breaks out upon discussion of payment – no broken bones, but bruising inevitable.

6.05pm:          Chips are ordered in lieu of dinner as you are both being healthy this week. If in a fancy establishment, suggest ordering frites instead so as not to look out of place.

7.00pm:          Catch up well under way. Sensible advice sought and imparted.

7.05pm:          First dead soldier. Brief discussion takes place in whether to have an early night versus having just the one more. This takes approximately 4.3 seconds.

7.06pm:          Second bottle of wine is ordered. Catch up continues in earnest. Volume and level of smut show signs of being on the increase.  

8.20pm:          If you are an ex smoker surrounded by non-smokers, it is around this time of the evening that you begin to seriously question why you ever quit. If you are out with a smoker, you will have had at least 4 by this point and have just arrived back from the shop where you have bought a box of 20, a cigarette lighter, a pack of Wrigleys and a Twix.

9.05pm:          Decide to call it a night and head for home.

9.10pm:          Arrive at new establishment as the phrase ‘dry shite’ was uttered at the station. You have your reputation to uphold.

9.20pm:          Third bottle of wine is ordered. Conversation is now all out filth. While out in smoking area, begin a deep and meaningful conversation with a crowd of like-minded people. Everything that is said is both profound, yet utterly hilarious.

9.56pm:          You are tagged in a new album on Facebook titled ‘OMG TOTES AMAZE NITES OUT!!!!!’ Take a minimum of 36 new pictures with your newfound friends to upload later.

10.55pm:          Leave establishment as YOU NEED TO DANCE RIGHT NOW!!!!!!

11.05pm:          Arrive at first venue that has music and a dance floor. Unfortunate incident takes place outside front door resulting in entry being refused. The wine was clearly of a poor vintage. Your palette is more refined and obviously used to a finer quality. This is the only acceptable conclusion.

11.15pm:         Arrive at second venue. Entry is given as your friend shifted the bouncer two weeks ago and he gives her the glad eye at the door.

11.20pm:          You spend the next ten minutes on the phone to your boyfriend telling them you love them repeatedly. If you are single, start flirting outrageously. Everyone you see is a RIDE!

11.35pm:          You want to dance like no one is watching…unfortunately with the invention of camera phones, this is no longer possible. Several videos are inevitable.

11.40pm:          Find a Jägerbomb in your hand with absolutely no idea how it got there.

11.55pm:          Go to the bathroom for the 14th time that evening. Spend the next 15 minutes consoling the crying girl you just met in the toilet. Leave with the knowledge that you and she are kindred spirits and you will be friends forever. It doesn’t matter that you have already forgotten her name. 

1.20am:          Memory is slightly hazy, but you are certain that you are having the best time EVER!

2.30am:          Closing time. Negotiations with bouncer to remain open begin: ‘jusht ONE more… GOWANYAGUDTING!!!!!’

2.45am:          Bouncer warns you to leave for the last time.

2.55am:          Search for chips is now marked as ‘Top Priority’. Spot food van parked in alley. Decide the burger you just bought has magical properties, as it’s the nicest thing you have ever eaten.

3.15am:          Miss night bus home as you were standing at the wrong bus stop for the last 10 minutes. Trip while crossing the road and break heel of shoe. 

3.27am:          Hail taxi. After 4 minutes, taxi-driver finally has your address.

3.36am:          Stop off at the 24 hour garage for more cigarettes. Get back into the taxi with 2 bags full of crisps, chocolate, pasties and inexplicably, a dogs chew toy.

3.42am:          Get shaken awake by taxi-driver.

3.44am:          Finally get into house after several unsuccessful attempts to put the key in the lock.

3.55am:          Search bag for phone to call your friend to tell them you love them. Realise you left it in the back of the taxi. 

7.45am:          Wake up on the couch with half a mars bar stuck to the side of your face. A ferocious thirst has you feeling like you have just spent a month in the Sahara, your tongue appears to have been fitted out from Carpet Right and you are desperately in need of a drink. Getting up results in you falling face down on the floor. You realise that you cannot open your eyes properly because you still have last night’s contacts in and they appear to have fused with your eyeballs. Paranoia starts to creep in as you cannot remember large portions of the evening…  

It was the BEST NIGHT *EVER*!!!!


The Rise of the Internet Savvy Mammy


About 14 years ago, my Mum made the decision to go back to work as a Psychiatric nurse after a break of almost 33 years. It was a momentous occasion not just because of the return to work, but it also brought about the necessity for getting her very first mobile phone. My hazy memory seems to think that my siblings and I clubbed together to buy her this, but truth be told it’s highly likely that we just asked her for the cash and went out and chose one for her as it gave us the opportunity to snoop around a phone shop.

Those first few months spent with her new toy (a Nokia standard brick edition) were both frustrating and hilarious in equal measure. It seemed that while she accepted that a mobile would be handy in an emergency, she didn’t seem to grasp the concept that a.) It was meant to be left switched on and brought with you (the clues in the name ‘mobile’), b.) You would not wear out the battery by having a two minute conversation once a day or c.) You did not need to top it back up with £10 credit after every single call.

Trying to impart this information upon my Mam without appearing condescending was incredibly difficult, so diplomacy was necessary but not necessarily employed during this time. We had to channel the patience of the Dalai Lama when trying to explain how any of the functions worked. I lost count of the amount of times that she would ring up to tell you that she was about to send a text message. By the end of the phone call (a short conversation with my Mum tends to last on average twenty minutes) the text was no longer necessary, so that particular function of the phone was uncharted territory for at least the first couple of years.

I still remember the first text I received from her. Where she learned ‘txt speak’ I’ll never know, but it was along the lines of ‘My 1st text. Hi Daughter. How RU? All ok ere. Luv Mum xxx P.S. Call me wen u get dis’ When I replied back to the text, she called me to ask what the little envelope on the screen meant.

My oh my how that seems like a long, long time ago…  

Since then, she has progressed to the point where she sends an SMS birthday cake picture along with a text on our birthdays, she has downloaded a ring tone and changed it by herself, she uses the memo pad to set herself reminders and she has even changed from a ready to go phone to a contract (where she only gets the bill by text – no PAPER!)

Last year when she was due an upgrade, she went by herself to the phone shop and the nice lad in there advised her that she was able to pick any phone she liked in the shop. (About this I’m not surprised, if I were ever to move home shares in O2 would collapse as we spend so much each month on calls…) After spending what I can only imagine as being thirty fraught minutes (for the assistant) she came out with a smart phone. A touch screen none the less. I can’t deny I was impressed at how ‘with it’ the Mammy was.  

But then she had to go and join Facebook.

Since then, I live in fear. When woeful pictures are put up, she comments that they are lovely and wants a copy (No sarcasm involved either. My sister and I are convinced she has the worst collection of childhood pictures this side of the Atlantic. My first school picture looks like an ad for the St. Vincent de Paul I look in such a state…) She has friended a lot of my friends and seems to know more about what’s going on in their lives than I do. When I haven’t written anything on my Other Half’s wall in a while, she called me up to check if we were alright. At one point, I was sure I was going to have to do a stint in AA as she was convinced I had problems after a particular messy weekend which resulted in me getting tagged in several pictures where I was looking a bit on the tired and emotional side.

Where is the Mammy that hadn’t a BREEZE how to check her voicemail by herself? This woman puts me on edge. I am only thankful that I am no longer under her roof as this feels like she’s been through my diary and knows my secrets. I called her up a while ago to tell her about my weekend, only for her to cut me off at the pass to ask me if I had had a nice time out at dinner (which I hadn’t yet told her about) I feared she had developed psychic powers for a moment, only for her to breezily mention ‘Oh I know you were out, I’ve been onto Facebook and saw you were at that restaurant. Isn’t it well for some?’ I’ve no idea how people manage to conduct affairs if this is how easily they are busted.    

The other day I was talking about Twitter and telling her about @irishmammies and how funny it was and how much it reminds me of her when my laughter nearly turned to tears as she said she might take a look at it herself…  

If she joins that, I’m off.

If you need me, just ask my Mam what I’ve been up to.


The Voice (not the show)


Everybody has a little voice inside them.***

On a good day, this little voice will back you. It will tell you the vision with panda eyes peering back at you in the mirror looks fabulous, and will tell you that your jeans most definitely shrunk in the wash. If this little voice is in a particularly good mood, it will even convince you that it is of upmost importance that you immediately run out and buy those shoes / that bag / that miniature pedigree hamster as you deserve it for just being amazing. Sometimes this voice has an off day and tells you that, despite popular opinion, glittery crocs really are fashion forward. This is the voice that if it were a person, you would marry it and live happily ever after.

This voice will also be the one to pipe up whenever someone puts you down, insults you or hurts you. It is there fighting your corner, and makes it known that you are not one to be trifled with. It tells useless boyfriends where to go, and horrible people where to get off. Depending on how you feel, it may also have developed an accent that has travelled more than you have. It might have a New Yorker attitude, or a South London snap. Who cares? It’s your little voice; it can sound like R2D2 if you want it to.

If you are unlucky however, this inner voice can change into being the only one you hear when you are at your worst. Despite friends and family telling you differently, this inner voice only points out the bad things, the sad things and the occasionally mad things. It tells you that you aren’t and will never be good enough, that you are too (insert insult here) to matter. This voice is incessant and all consuming. When in this position, it’s difficult to remember the kind little voice that was in your corner fighting your battles and making you feel good about yourself.

Remember the good voice. Treat it like you would a best friend. And if all else fails, fake it until you make it. Your little voice would appreciate that.

***Some even have more than one. I call mine Molly.

The Art of Friendship


When young, friends aid a child’s development and mixing children of a similar age is encouraged to allow the child to grow amongst their own peer group. Cognitive development progresses rapidly during the ages of 8-24 months, and a child’s progress can be much improved upon through their interaction with others. As a child gets older, bonds can form quickly and a ‘best friend’ is generally someone who is picked both due to their geographical proximity to a child, and through a mutual give and take relationship through the sharing of objects or experiences.

When a child grows into a teenager, friendships are tight knit and can be closed circle groups. Who is ‘in’ or ‘out’ is based upon several factors such as looks, personality and the likes or dislikes of the collective group verses the individual. This social interaction coupled with ever changing hormones can be volatile, and as such, life during this period is often fraught with tension. Taste and personality are subject to frequent changes during this time, and in some cases, friendships can be transient affairs. A teenager will often rebel against family and society, and friendships built during early childhood can be passed up in favour of new people whom the teenager has come into contact with through common shared interests.

The stage between late teens – early adulthood is probably the first time people adopt their own individual style, and are prepared to stand by their convictions on tastes in music, culture or film amongst others. This often coincides with leaving home and living on your own for the first time. Habits and behaviours are adopted during this period that last throughout life, and a sense of freedom is felt owing to being away from parental influence or control. Friends made during this time are normally the ones that stand the test of time as it is the first occasion whereby an individual is picking a friend purely by themselves away from any outside influence.  

As we get older, we witness change as a constant and unavoidable presence. Unfortunate as it may be, it can often be the case that people who were close previously can grow apart when one or both individuals change their pattern of behaviour. Occasionally this may be caused by influences outside of their control (such as the breakdown of a relationship) and the change in behaviour is only temporary, but sometimes it may be a longer term issue (such as those dealing with a form of mental illness with prolonged attacks) each case is different. In certain instances, it is a conscious choice for some people to regress in their behaviour rather than modify their actions which can be painful for all involved.

Unfortunately, in some cases you can come to the conclusion that some people, although they may have been the closest person in the world to you at certain points in time, are no longer any good for you. I believe we accept a lot more from our friends than we would accept were it a partner. We accept their mood swings and their flaky behaviour and take it in a way we never should if this were someone we were in a relationship with. It can take a long time to realise it, but sometimes it’s better to let some people go out of your life rather than continue in a toxic relationship with them.

I consider myself very lucky with the friends I have. We have shared ups and downs and have grown together. At particular points, I could not have imagined getting through life without them. Most of my closest friends are ones I have known for a long time, and are spread out across the globe. As I only get to see some of them once or twice a year, having something as instantaneous as email is essential to keep in touch on a regular basis. There are friends I only speak with every once in a while, but they are no less important in my life. Other friends I am in contact with every day and I miss them if I haven’t been in touch several times a week.

In the past ten years, how we make friends has been greatly influenced by the introduction of various social media such as MySpace, Facebook and Twitter. Interaction is instant and moves at an extraordinary pace, and people now have the ability to make connections with individuals from across the world on a regular basis.

Recently I have had the good fortune to become friends with some wonderful people on Twitter through our mutual adoration of a very famous Irish author, and for me it has been an extraordinary thing. These are people whom I have never met in ‘real’ life, but I am in touch with them several times a day. I feel like I have met some exceptional people and I am grateful to have connected with every single one of them.

One of those people is going through an extremely tough time at the moment, and I worry for her like I would had I known her for years. She is an inspiration to me, and someday I hope to take a roadtrip in the van with her… I wish her well, and hope she knows how much she means to us all.

To each of the ‘Tay Swillin Wimmen’, I salute you and I am so happy you gave me a folley. It means more than you could ever possibly know…