Friday, November 13, 2009

Drama Queen’s last stand

It is with great regret that the family of Joan “the drama Queen” announce that the voice has been silenced but the spirit released!

Drama Queen’s last stand was a mighty battle worthy of songs and stories. We live in her love and ask that you remember her in the way that you knew her. Let her life inspire you as it has inspired her family. Rejoice in the little things and the young people in your life  as she did. Listen to others and tell your stories with strength and pride.

We hope that in touching you she will live with you as she has lived with us, as a beacon of love.

Monday, October 12, 2009


clip_image002Little Liam

He’s very much a person, little Liam.

He toddles round the room

exploring things,



will it open?

What’s inside? Dare I look?

I’ll close the door then try again.

Hurray, it works!

When little Liam looks happy

a smile lights up his face

that is infectious.

Two bright eyes meet yours

and suddenly

the day is filled with happiness.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Poem

Wait for me.

River winding to the sea, wait for me.

Rippling gently, rushing slowly,

Take me with you, keep me buoyant,

Pushing ever onwards, make me free.


Whisk me in your steady current

Bobbing briskly with its force,

Undeterred by sudden torrent

Keeping ever a clear course.


No time to wait, to hesitate,

Stagnate in boggy marsh;

Drawn by undertow and flow

Through terrain however harsh.


Immerse me in the endless sea.

Winding river, wait, oh wait for me.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sunday Morning at Tulferris


Sun shines, leaves aquiver

Trees of red and brown surround

Dappled paving, windows glitter,

In the woodland not a sound.

Golf course basks in light supreme

Sun reflects on shiny clubs

Chipping to the nearest green

Muffled clunk of ball on steel.

People move and voices chatter

Under sky of cloudless blue

Overlooking ruffled water

Breakfasts nourish life anew.

Cleaners clean and Hoovers hum

Last night’s debris all has vanished

Bags are loaded into cars

To our homes again we’re banished.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Frank Poem 4TFE

He flew me to the moon and sprinkled my life with stardust.

He lulled me to a comfort zone when I was feeling most alone.

No lover ever swung to the sound his songs more than me

And he raised my game in pursuit of fame,

Massaged the frown from my brow when I was down

As if he knew what I was going through when, in the wee small hours, I was tempted to  have one more for the road.

He taught me to reinvent myself, to do it my way, time after time and saved me from getting eternally caught in the tender trap.

And now, although it’s over; its over, he’s gone, the melody lingers in my heart every time I listen to him sing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Maze Zing

I’ve had an amazing time! 

I even learned to rhyme a sonnet here and there;

to sup soup in the sun, sat  in a garden chair;

bring kids to the zoo with an elephant in tow;

light a fire with words (in my gifted way, don’t you know);

I was watered, fed and minded in the most delightful way

by some people who, each one of whom, had loads and loads to say

about history and and memory and stag-nighters and the like,

One even, in the morning, round a lake did have a hike.

Others lay and gobbled ‘Irish’ from the comfort of the bed.

(The sour ‘ould wan’ was given a plate of prunes instead!)

Then we listened to the radio to some outrageous chap

who claimed that he liked rivers (full of water, like a tap).

We appreciated grandeur and sat in a gracious room

until refreshments were delivered. Then to the cars Voom Voom!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Electric Shocks

Niamh should have the tent up by now, wellies not needed, but by the look of the sky here at 12.30, I wouldn’t put them far out of reach.  Even thinking about the delights in store down there leaves me exhausted (from envy).  I’m never in the right place at the right time.  I even missed Glastonbury, for God’s sake.

Colm is ready to strut his stuff on the big stage, should be fairly petrified this minute, but once he sees the audience out front, he’ll be fine.  He’ll produce his shy, charming smile - then blast them out of it.

David is basking in the glory of being short-listed for Sean O Faolain – such an international list, isn’t it?  Why am I not surprised?  Bravo Dave. We’ll all be rooting for  you for the major award (the cream buns will be on you if  you win actual cash.)

Louise will be reading her wonderful story to the group.  I bet there’s a prize lurking there too.

And Matt is probably terrified about his radio performance in the morning on Liffey Sound fm 96.4 at 11 o’clock.  We’ll all be listening to your Home Show.

Is this the end of the summer season, or is there more to come?  Well, in radio land there is a whole feast prepared to keep us going for the cold(er) months of autumn and winter.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Group Work

There are groups, and there are groups.  I’ve visited quite a few in my time and I happen to think that ours is pretty good any way you look at it.

We have a constant number of about a dozen.  We worry that we will be overwhelmed by new people – we are a Library Group so have a commitment to being open to the community; but somehow we stay at that number without any culling, as people come and go, new members join, some take a break to do a course, or write a novel.  We have been lucky that no Prima Dona's emerged – nobody monopolising the session, no cliques, no power grabbers – and no shrinking violets either.  Even more unusual I'd say is the quality of the writing, the generous and relevant robust comment on work read, the balance between prose and poetry.  Strangely, no jealousy either when a member collars a prize that we all feel we could nearly have won – with a bit of luck!

The cream buns and coffee available on-site afterwards are a nice bonus!).

The Teen Group run by Niamh is another plus, because now and then others of us get involved and the young voices and attitudes increase our store of knowledge and keep us on our toes.  Sometimes I learn much more there than at our own two hours – their humour is so instant, so un-moulded and free from inhibition.

The Speed Writing exercise we use at the beginning of each session not only wakens us up, but challenges the brain to snap into life.  The amazing variety of contributions that emerge never fails to delight – from objects as diverse as Wire Brushes and Feathery Fans -  and more often than not these ten-minute-to-create masterpieces re-emerge weeks later, as short stories winging their way to competitions.

Some of our group have spread their wings into Poetry Slams and Electric Picnics and that enervating sort of thing.  Our new Radio  Star has recharged the batteries of those who may have been slouching or a bit jaded as they are prodded into putting together pieces suitable for broadcasting, and gives a vehicle for showing work, selecting themes and music to match and generally letting the listener discover something about the kind of people who have an urgency to put words on paper.

But, of course, Blogging has practically taken over the lives of most of us………

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


My claim to fame today is in remembering a meal I shared with the late Senator Teddy Kennedy in March of 62 or 63.

Working with Aer Lingus at the time, a gang of us were sent to the USA for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. I opted for Boston rather than New York, because I am a lazy slouch. The walk down 5th Ave is rather long; in civilised Boston they used a motorcade.

First night there we were at a function which was attended by the Senator and his wife Joan. He was handsome, she was pretty, I had no interest in politics and had other fish to fry. I hardly noticed them. Especially when recovering from the humiliation of dancing my way through the first several bars of the US National Anthem, not recognising it.

Boston Parade was super. Next day (Sunday) there was another one in a place called Holyoke. There was a major dinner-party afterwards. My friend and myself were late and all the places at the top table with all the dignitaries were full and we had to sit together in splendid isolation at a table set for 4 in the middle of the room. We bitched for a while before devoting ourselves to stuffing our faces. We hardly noticed the cheers and applause when another guest arrived, a handsome brute, obviously popular, who shook a few hands here and there then joined us at our humble setting. My friend paled and began to chatter while kicking me under the table and introducing both of us to the man who since became so famous. Needless to say the local lasses were green with envy, which in retrospect was most appropriate.

The Senator was a charming man who entertained us royally (if a Democrat can do that) and it is indeed an honour to have met him. May he rest in peace.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Two Crows


Silent sentinels sitting on the apex of a pitched roof

In the half-light before the sun is up

Black-uniformed facing to the east,

Then shifting imperceptibly to the north,

Like the backward hands of a compass clock.


I wonder do they chat about the tortoishell cat skulking in the shrubbery

Seeking a stray mouse, an earthbound fledgling?

Or spot the sunflowers ease yellow fingers to full length,

Stretching supple necks, rousing sap for strength to raise their heads

to worship once again their fiery god?


Do they see the silent jet steaming high above,

white ribbons trailing, on its way to London, Paris or perhaps Peru,

Somnolent souls cocooned within

heading for holidays, making mercy missions,

or facing home for another year of post-recession recriminations?


Do they hear the pink dangling bells of sweet, fairy-filled fuchsia;

Gossip about Gretchen, our plaster goose, broad bill upraised to the trumpets of white mallow moving gently on the whisper of a morning breeze?

Do they revel in the reddening creeper?

Do their noses get the whiff of fading roses hanging limply?


Do they see me behind my window pane,

Watching them watching me,

Wondering at their ability to stand immobile,

While I sit restless, passing wakeful hours

poisoning an already over-loaded system with caffeine and tobacco?


No signal, but one hops atop a chimney cowl,

Ruffles feathers, pecks at some discomfort then resumes her place, facing her mate.

He stretches on his talon tips and sidles towards the west,

Eyes darting left and right, blinkered shutters

Clicking pictures of essential information.


Stretched wings and well-plumed tails,

As one they check their feathered under-carriages,

Then bounce down dull grey tiles inspecting moss,

Breakfasting on unsuspecting spiders and things

That nestle there, unaware they are the prey of predators.


Then with a nod and a wink, or the blink of an eye

They take to the air and glide to their next vantage point.

It’s time for me to put away my thoughts

And seek an hour of sleep before the day.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Hospitals are funny places, or at least they can be if you keep your sense of humour.  I’ve seen more than my fair share in the past few years, but they still never fail to entertain me.

Every three months or so I have an appointment at 11.15 to see a consultant.  Sometimes there’s a huge queue, today there wasn’t.  Still I never get seen before 1pm – and then only for about five minutes.  They don’t do anything, just ask how I am and check bloods (which I will have had taken a week before).  I’m sure they could as easily just send me an ‘OK – See you in 3 months’ message by phone or mail.  

To keep this appointment I have to get somebody to drive me, – not nice when you know this is going to be a fairly regular thing and people have their own lives to live and jobs to do - because I couldn’t walk the distance from the car park to the lobby which is where one gets a wheel-chair.  I leave home at around 10.15 to be in time – not early, just in time. They won’t give you a wheel-chair without a porter, but will let your ‘minder’ take charge for the return trip, so it can’t be for safety reasons.   They park the wheel-chair slap bang in the middle of the narrow corridor where everyone else has to step over it or negotiate their way around you. 

Today I felt quite ill while I was waiting.  I overheard a passing nurse saying ‘that person looks tired’.  Stupidly, thinking she cared, I said I wasn’t tired but felt quite ill.  In my innocence I had said to daughter-in-law who was my transporter, what better place to get sick.  I was wrong.  There was no response of any kind from any of the four uniformed women standing roughly two feet from me who carried on their conversation.

Himself, the King, getting jealous of my relationship with this hospital had taken his turn there and booked in for the past week and a half.  Today I met him for the first time since he went in – but he was going in the opposite direction, being ferried home by another friend.  He had to be out before 11, whereas I had to be in by 11.15.  (All these arrangements had to be made by guess who?  Right, first time!)  Luckily grandson had volunteered to be at home when he got there in case he needed help – hubby had had surgery.  Needless to day both hubby and grandson were starving and waiting for lunch by the time I returned.

In case you think I’m feeling sorry for myself, I’m not.  I met a woman outside, older than me by about 10 years, who had been there since 5am.  Her husband has some as yet undiagnosed illness and they had sent for her to sit with him because he was restless and needed someone to be with him.  She had also spent Saturday  from 7am until 10.30pm on the same errand.  She lives much further away than I do, afraid to drive on the motorway, and has to get her son to get up and bring her there and collect her each time.

Ah well.  I suppose if there were no hospitals it would be even worse.  But it’s a much better idea to stay healthy and not get sick at all!

Sunday, August 9, 2009


There are two golden balls of light sitting where I step into the garden.  Their black faces grin impishly at me as I join them in their worship of the sun, feathery orange hair reminding me of the gollywog, (so non p.c. these days) that used grace the label of the marmalade jar on my mother’s breakfast table. 

But these are blossoms of light, not darkness.  Grown from seed by a neighbour who last year found a similar, but of a long-stemmed variety, dropped no doubt by a truly feathered friend as he feasted on her bird table in her carefully tended flower bed.  I could see it from my window during a period of convalescence, and praised it in poetry in our local journal.  She never commented on this – if indeed she saw it – but out of the blue left these two new babes-in-the-sun on my doorstep with a little card three weeks ago.

Nice things like this have happened a lot in the past few months.  Unexpected words of appreciation, tokens of friendship;  a phone call just to say Hello!;  a flower-pot carefully painted with a much loved line, “When I am old I will wear purple, with a red hat”; a totally out-of-the-“blue pressie from town” which kept me company last night as I viewed a light romantic film on tv.

Like the balls of light in my garden, these gestures lift my spirits, fill me with respect for people who take the trouble to show their friendship and love, and make me want to go on living forever.  They smile into the bleaker hours and dissipate the short spells of gloom.  Their feathery touch is  complementary, not invasive; and they reflect the warmth that showers down.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Inspired by Beedlemama’s Ode to a Sugar Lump (sorry, Sugarloaf) I travelled east to get a closer look and see if I could hear the wind.  Not from the level I was at, I fear, but the mountain looked  impressive and inviting - I almost wished I was fit enough to start climbing.  Naturally, being me, I missed a photograph from a perfect spot.  But what else is new?

Then on to the Waterfall at Powerscourt where (for €4.50 per OAP) I advanced up the closely-planted tree-lined driveway. Beneath the trees the ground was dappled with sunshine.  Fairies & goblins live there, I’m sure of it.  Haven of peace or source of terror. Careful how you approach or you could be drawn into another world.

Round a bend and a magical sight of water tumbling gracefully from the sky, like finest silk, in drops and streams and torrents tumbling effortlessly over hidden boulders.  Tea shop and climbing frames close by where genteel children entertained themselves while parents relaxed.  Some strolled closer for a better view, others were setting off on the walking trail through what must have been delightful terrain.

Me, I licked my large creamy ice-cream which slid along the side of its golden cone (missing a bit here and there I am unashamed to admit) and praised God for the joys of nature.  Then on through leafy roads to Dalkey for a more substantial repast in Ouzo’s main street restaurant – which I also recommend!

Friday, July 24, 2009


I achieved a life long ambition this evening when I read the news on the local radio station.

Not much of an ambition, you may well say, but since I was a kid I just loved the voices on the radio and there is something so, well serious, about reading the news.  This evening when there was nobody else available to do the job, I jumped at it (with almost indecent haste).  I was sorry that there wasn’t anything earth-shattering to report – just bank interest rates, and murderers being sentenced.  Mind you I was able to reassure listeners that Stephen Gerrard was found not guilty of assaulting a man in a pub.

What a shame that this particular prize eluded me until my voice has gone fairly weak, and my breath practically non-existent.  Still, between you and me, I was terrific!   Nobody told me that, of course.  Probably nobody even heard me.  But I got through it with barely a stumble even without a rehearsal, because I was on in another show for the previous hour and only had the script put up on the screen in front of me when we finished.

Move over Ann Doyle!  I’ll be after your job next!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Light & Darkness

Where were you when the lights went out?

I was fast asleep in bed having refrained from alcohol and treated myself instead to a sleeping pill to make up for several lost hours from the arms of Morpheus.  Woke around 1.30 – when lights came on again, I suspect – and was awake for the rest of the night, n=knowing nothing about the ‘outrage’ (whatever that means, not the opposite of in peace, I think).

Hubby, God Bless him, had imbibed usual tincture and dozed off in front of the TV.  When he woke up he had no idea where (or, I suspect, even who) he was.  Couldn’t get light to find his bearings, and whatever else he was missing.  Being resourceful person, he found a torch and made his way to bed eventually, having inadvertently switched on every light in the house and failing to find ‘off’ button for TV.  House was like a noisy Christmas Tree at 2am but Santa failed to turn up.

Daughter, who had partied over the weekend was exhausted.  Partner being away for a few days, she retired with youngest child at around 10pm.  Woke to find house in darkness and two older children screaming downstairs in pitch darkness and with beloved TV gone black.  Having rescued them from this terrible situation (!), they had all just settled down when up-to-then defunct house alarm went off.  So did the alarms of all the neighbours.  It was after 3am before they got settled (except for youngest child who slept through the whole thing).  All were like hung-over demons the next morning.

What have I learnt from all of this? 

a. There’s a time and a place for everything.  Dark is good for sleep.  Light is good for awake.  But if we put all the lights on at night when we go to bed; and shutter our windows and go round in the dark all day, maybe this would seem the best way to live.  I don’t think so, but it’s possible.

b. Sometimes ignorance is bliss – maybe it’s best to be ‘in the dark’ when one can’t influence the events to follow.

c. Having an early night doesn’t guarantee a good night’s sleep. (Mind you, ‘having an early night’ used to promise something else entirely, but that was a long time ago….I’ve forgotten what!

d. If one kept a candle and matches beside the bed (as my mother always did to prevent having to get out of bed to put out the lights after reading for hours – that was before the advent of bed-side lamps) would one be prepared for all eventualities, or would one be likely to either burn the house down, or have that done for one by investigative sleepless child?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Happy 18th

Eldest Grandson is 18 today.  He came as a big surprise when his Dad was 19 and his Mum barely 18.  It was a traumatic time.  For any of you who may face a similar event, I have to tell you that he brought so much love with him (for all of us).

I brought him everywhere with me when he was small, and he was a delightful, undemanding companion.  He’s still the same.  Did his leaving cert this year but no great expectation of wonderful results. I just hope he gets into somewhere to do with radio or journalism for 3rd level or his parents will be disappointed.  He joined the radio station with me about a year ago and does 2 shows a week.  He’s coming on at it and on Monday had the first of his own shows (the others are with two other guys).

I was very bold and gave him his pressies tonight because although he usually stays here on Fridays, tonight his Dad was collecting him.  Then I listened to his radio show for 2 hours – I have to admit, I did a bit of painting and had a G & T to save me from his choice of music!

I love him to bits!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tenuous Threads

One of the kiddies in the family is ‘special’ – he was born 10 years ago with what the doctors thought one year later was Cerebral Palsy.  The news was devastating.  They put him on a waiting list for speech therapy.  A year later they took him off because they changed their diagnosis to ‘brain damaged’ and there are very few support groups for that.

Last month Ethan had botox injected into his legs to help him walk without falling over.  He can talk, but his conversation is limited.  He heard about a car crash last year, for instance, and he asks about it every day.  His favourite book is the Argus catalogue which he ‘reads’ for hours, turning the pages in fascination.  He goes to a special school and made his 1st Communion in May this year.  His daddy and mammy love him very much and bring him everywhere.  (He is the second-eldest of four kids).

Yesterday Ethan had a ‘grand mal’ seizure and was taken to hospital.  They don’t know for sure what the cause was and are keeping him in for observation before having an MRI scan done.

It makes me realise what a tenuous thread holds us in life.  How quickly a little soul could be snuffed out, almost without any warning.  How terrifying it must be for his parents, knowing how lucky they were to be with their little boy when this seizure happened, and quick witted enough to call an ambulance even before the terrible shaking began.  They will be so afraid it might happen again, maybe when he is alone.

We take so much for granted.  We don’t appreciate each day as a gift to be treasured until something dreadful happens to make us realise it.

Don’t waste a single moment!

Sunday, July 5, 2009


I promised myself I wouldn’t waste the day blogging when I could be getting dressed, or painting a picture, or improving my mind with a good book, or trying to make up a good story in 600 words or so.  But who ever kept a promise – especially one made to oneself?

God, I’m exhausted at that list of things I might be doing.  I think I’ll go back to bed!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


At the risk of annoying all you sun-worshippers, it was a relief to wake up this morning to a sun-less sky and feeling rather more like a human being that recently.  Maybe now my legs will shrink to the size of a baby elephant and I’ll be able to take a deep breath now and again instead of lying, listless, on the couch watching sky.

Maybe a few days of good old Thunder & Lightening would electrify us.

An incessant supply of ‘Murder She Wrote, Law & Order, the bloody SCI, The Practice and that awful oily M Poirot has my brain turned to jelly.  Jim Bergerac has merged into Midsummer Bloody Murders and Have I Got News for you is from so far back that even I can’t remember the political innuendos.

Someone made a fortune from churning out all those lousy scripts you know – that’s the market we should be aiming for -maybe!  To hell with literature, let’s steep ourselves in soaps, full of (b)lather and froth.  We could do a ‘round the table’ murder story some morning.  Hammer out a plot and see who can fill in the best dialogue.  Our characters could include menacing poets, sexual perverts and pub performers.  And of course a few clever-clogs that know all the answers (I bags being one of those, age bringing wisdom and all that jazz).  I think we could do it.

No?  Just a thought.

The urbane John Bowman bowed out from Q & A (he must have a Dorian Grey-like picture in the attic – he hasn’t aged at all over the years) but Vincent Browne rants on interminably.  Ministers head to the hills for holidays leaving us afraid to make plans in case our jobs disappear, wages shrink further, the price of petrol soars  and lawns are turned into allotments to feed the starving –us!  So there’s no sun shining on our economic fortunes either.

Welcome lovely dull July 09.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Just My Luck

I slaved and slaved for hours and hours to finish my latest story and guess what?  Having completed this definite prize-winner I find there are no suitable competitions looking for entries.  The season is over.

By a ‘suitable competition’ I mean a modest little affair, not one with huge cash prizes.  Being a ‘kept woman’ of modest desires, I seek not fortune but fame.  Once again it has eluded me.

I so wanted to join my group-members in the Hall of Fame.  One after another they flourish their successful stories and poems and always I have been lazy and  just too late (or uninspired) to compete.  I raise a toast, join in the applause, and celebrate with them, but inside I bleed with humiliation.  I know how Cinderella felt when they all went off to the Ball.  I empathise with  John Gormley’s discomfort  when he realised that nobody voted for his party. I understand the pain of the Westmeath footballers when Dublin walloped them in Croke Park on Sunday last.

The last ‘prize-winning’ story I wrote seems to have gone astray somewhere because it didn’t feature in the short-list of the comp I had selected.  Maybe I didn’t put enough stamps on the envelope? I know it deserved to win but how could the judges discover that if they never saw it’s magnificence.

One offering was honoured by a short-list in Malahide, but since I can’t remember what story it was and have no way of finding out, I can neither read it over and over again with satisfaction, nor can I boast about it.

So my file of unsung stories grows and grows.

I am my only admirer.  I’ve just begun a new folder (the first, well thumbed, is bursting at the seams) which I keep on a shelf in my room so that I can read the exciting sagas over and over.  They get lonely, poor things, and languish sadly.  I know you’ll think a folder on a shelf is a sad thing anyway in these days of technology but I want to make sure that some day, long after the computer has crashed and distributed my precious words into cyber-space (I know I should have them on back-up discs, but how to file them, where to keep them, who would see them) there is still a chance that someone will find these treasures and I will, at last, be discovered.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Variously Challenged

Challenged by Various, I can’t think of 7 things from the last 24 but the week had a few highlights.

1. Drove through the Wicklow mountains to Glendalough.  Wicklow is tame towards Connemara but has a certain charm of its own, and I do love the Blessington Lakes in the sunshine.

2. Saw ‘The Gandhi’s play the blues on Miriam O’Callaghan.  Young band from Lucan, they did very well. 

3. Sorry the Lions didn’t win the test – but I knew O’Gara shouldn’t have kept his hands in his pockets when the queen came to call.  These things come back to bite you.

4. Got a chance to see some of Jacko’s performances again and feel the excitement.  Great showman but troubled soul – he leaves quite a mess behind him.

5. Started to write again – it’s been ages since inspiration came to call.  I grabbed it and have it locked in the wardrobe.

6. Great banter at coffee after Writers Group. Good company always leaves me on a high.

7. Delighted when Kildare got through to Leinster Final by beating Laois – then watched the Dubs give a real drubbing to Westmeath.  Not feeling so confident now for the Lily Whites.  I think I won’t watch that one.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Surprise part 2

I know I shouldn’t have run away but the sound of her shrill voice berating him was too much for me at that hour of the day. My head still throbbed with the after effects of last night’s binge and my tongue was as dry as a sponge that had been left too long on the bathroom window sill. The brother-in-law had meant well inviting me out for a couple of jars. He knew better than most what it’s like to be out of work with your life in a mess. He had been there himself and climbed back from the black hole he was sinking into by a lot of hard work and a couple of well-placed friends. Ursula had more or less insisted that he pull himself together. I can kind of understand why she didn’t want him slipping back into that situation just because her kid brother couldn’t get his act together and his wife, in her opinion, was a loser anyway.

So when, after discovering me on the sofa in the sitting-room as she got the kids off for their last day in school before the holidays, it was not entirely a surprise to hear her charge upstairs to their bedroom screaming like a virago and calling me names that even the lads on the building site wouldn’t dare use to me. I thought it best to scarper. What inspired me to something so infantile as to go out the back way and hop over the wall into a neighbours garden I can’t imagine. Stupidity and alcohol I suppose.

I slid down into the gap between the rough concrete and a garden shed. You could tell there hadn’t been much traffic here – the rotted branches of exhausted shrubs snapped quietly under my weight. No kids in this house so. They would surely have made a den or buried a pet or lost a ball…there would have been signs. That was a bit of luck for a start. Pulling back a coarse bramble, which repaid me by drawing blood from elbow to fingertip, I edged around the side of the wooden building. Another bit of luck. There were some trees that gave a bit of cover while I sussed out whether the house was occupied and what were my chances of making it to the side gate before I was spotted. It was only then that it dawned on me that discovery could mean screams and alarms followed by police cars sirening their way up the street outside and manhandling me into the back of a cop car, carefully putting their hands on my head to make sure I didn’t damage the body-work. They only do that after they have kicked the daylights out of you – or so it seems from TV.

All clear, no sign of life. Easy-peasy. They’d all be gone to work in this area. No dole-queuing for the smart asses like the brother-in-law – well not yet anyway. Wait till the recession got round to them! Then they’d know all about it. Then they’d be imprisoned in their comfortable residences trying to feed kids on dole money and screaming at one another from morning till night.

I edged through the trees and caught the sleeve of my shirt on a wizened branch that hadn’t even the strength to tear the surface of the shiny material when I pulled it away. Jaysus! There was a dame lying dead in a chair about fifteen feet away! A navy & white sheet was thrown over her – and there were white flowers all around like a bleeding funeral parlour. That’s why I hadn’t noticed her. Her hair shone in the sun as if she had already turned into a saint or something – you know the glow they have in holy pictures? Christ, what will I do? They’ll think I murdered her! My legs went weak and I had to hold on to the tree to keep me upright. Should I go back and face the screamers in the house I’d left or take my chances of slipping past the body and out the side gate?

I decided to face the music and head back the way I came and as I forced my feet to carry me, there was a tiny movement from the body and a white, be-ringed hand reached towards a glass that stood on the ground beside her and lazily twirled a cocktail umbrella …..

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summertime Surprise

I slipped out of the shower and wrapped a light Spanish wrap, bought on an almost forgotten holiday abroad,  around me, tucking it firmly into place.  My hair streamed droplets onto my shoulders when I dragged a wide comb through it and as I massaged moisture cream around my face and down my neck, I  stood at the window looking down on the garden. 

It was another scorcher!  Blue sky, not a wisp of a cloud in sight.  The garden chairs were arranged somewhat haphazardly under the mock-orange tree which glowed translucently,  white petals completely still.  I padded down stairs in bare feet and poured a glass of icy juice, adding, just for fun, an orange cocktail umbrella, a souvenir of another occasion that had been sitting in the press preserving its memories.

Down the two shallow steps to the patio – well, it was a patio once, now the gaps between the concrete slabs were bulging with wild flowers and tufts of grass, but it still retained a rather shabby elegance.  Heat from the plastic seat of the not-at-all elegant garden seat oozed through my cotton wrap and I lay back and sipped the icy liquid.  The heat was  intense now and the air seemed to hover around me.  I was lulled by the humming sound of bees in the shrub that clung the length of the brick wall, camouflaging the ugly garden sheds of my neighbours and turning my concrete jungle into a secret garden.

A rustle in the leaves of the tall pear tree disturbed me from my reverie and I glanced lazily in that direction.  That was when I saw him………

Sunday, June 7, 2009


I have added a new string to my bow.  Yes, for this weekend, I became a political pundit.  Two of us spent nearly 6 hours on local radio reporting on the count for the Lucan Ward in the Local Authority Elections in South Dublin County and it was a terrific experience.  We had two reporters and a technical man actually attending the count in the Basketball arena in Tallaght who kept us up to date on the  figures and got interviews with a lot of the candidates, and there we were in a steamy studio (the day was roasting and the ‘air-conditioning’ very basic) number- crunching (in a manner of speaking) and trying to predict the order in which the final listings would be made.  I can tell you here and now that my experience in creative writing was a great help, because I have no party affiliations (although, naturally, some preferences) and no ‘insider information’ that could add to the knowledge that I had gleaned from the papers and listening to other radio shows.

We were promised that the first count would be complete at 4 o’clock.  In the event, it was after 8pm before the announcement was made, so we had plenty of time to fill with comment and memories of past counts etc.  and thank goodness I was not the one pressing the buttons to put us on and off air.  Maria, my co-presenter played a blinder in that department.  And Fran, our technician worked the thingamajigs so that we could hear the reporters phoning in.  When our stint  was almost over food arrived and cups of tea – my vocal chords had almost dried up by then, and I was totally exhausted by the time it was over.  (Not a G & T in sight until I got home to my own nest and treated myself somewhat generously).  But the ‘buzz’ was terrific and I was really interested because I know most of the candidates for years.

One of the things that struck me was how nice most of them when they were interviewed.  Campaigning over, there was hardly any of the bombast and repetition of ‘party lines’ we had been hearing for the past few weeks either on the doorstep or on radio and television debates.  Instead they were generous, magnanimous men (we didn’t get an interview with the only woman on the list) who praised one another in victory and commiserated in defeat.  I don’t know how those who do badly coped with the rejection when they find out how far short of the target they fell.  The hours of slogging around estates day after day trying to convince bored or angry residents to put a 1  or 2 opposite their name must have left them totally drained.  The ones who did well will be bolstered by the flush of success, but for the others it must be some come down.

Today we did an hour covering the European Election count which wasn’t at all as demanding, particularly as our ‘roving reporter’ came up with some good interviews and they were nowhere near being able to guess where the final seats would go.  Those results are still not in as I write this.

The turn-out of voters in this area was almost 50% – that means that half of the people didn’t bother to vote.  If they had all turned out I wonder would the results have provided us with a completely different set of victors, or would things have just balanced out?

Anyway, it’s all over for another five years or whatever the duration of a Co. Council is, so its back to the hum-drum for me.  Maybe I’ll start writing again.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hey! Hey! I’m a Winner

Honoured is the only word that comes to mind!  Selected as a Blog Award-winner by Various.  I’m told I should publish the award, list seven things I like, and issue further awards.

I can’t do the first, so that will have to wait.

What do I like, then?

1.  Sunshine & flowers & birdsong.  Things to nurture the inner self

2.  The buzz, buzz, buzz of the media world that keep the mind alert.

3.  A G & T Sun-downer brimming with ice, preferably outdoors, overlooking the sea while waves crash on the rocks or turn on the sand.  Gives me the courage to share my scintillating conversation with all and sundry.

4.  Grand-daughter’s excited face as she invites me to come and see her play Polonius in a half-hour production of Hamlet on Thursday next. (She’s 10).

5.  Tuscany in late summer, driving on on wonderful roads to visit Sienna – stuffed full of olives and tomatoes and local wine.  Restaurants with crisp white table-cloths and shining glasses and silver cutlery and staff ready to dance attention on me and cater for my every whim. (They don’t come cheap!)

6.  My Visa Card – that makes life possible whatever the bank balance.

7.  Writers Morning in the Library, surrounded by friends and being challenged to pen an interesting piece on an impossible topic.  Not to mention cream buns.



Blog Awards

Hax Attack (see link on home page).  Such a clever guy this is.

Various: Always fresh and exciting (or at least excited) about something. She’s not a comfortable cushion – but so vivid and colourful!  And such a slave driver.  I don’t know how laid-back Mr VC keeps up with her.

Oubliette: My weird friend who can find philosophy pouring from the mouths of babes and can conjure up a plot from a whisper flying through the air.

Matt Bolton for his intriguing poems.

Beedlemama who I hope will keep us informed about the prospective move to Wicklow – if she can get the car out of the clamp.

Hello? Hello?

Is there anybody there?  No?  I’s 8am, for God’s sake', and the sun is shining and the birds are singing their little hearts out – and you are still asleep?  I’ve been waiting since half past four to have a chat.  I’m exhausted by all this good weather and good humour and you good-for-nothings who have nothing better to do on a Bank Holiday morning than have a rest!  No wonder the country is in the state it’s in (do I mean state as in condition?  I guess so.  We could hardly be in any other State than the one we’re in, but I digress….)

Are you aware that the birds cheat a bit?  At 4.30am they open their little beaks and serenade me.  But at 6.30 not one was to be seen and only some fairly tuneless twittering could be heard.  (Obviously they were on their PCs too).  And by careful scrutiny I discovered that the pair of Luvvie Dovies I’ve been nurturing all spring were cavorting in my neighbours garden (the one around the corner that I can only view by hanging out the window at the front of the house.  The resident there had challenged me last week when I said they were MY doves.  He claimed they were his.  There could have been a nasty day in court if I hadn’t spotted them this morning, double-jobbing in a manner of speaking.   I will have to report them to Social Welfare first thing tomorrow – or should it be Finance, or Justice?  The very idea of them claiming welfare from two houses is dreadful – and who knows where else they’ve been?   Perhaps if I stick my head out the small window in the bathroom I can accumulate further evidence with which to challenge them.

I ventured into the garden in my best negligee to check on my veggie patch and give something to curb their thirst.  My two courgettes are flourishing, although I saw signs that a snail may have been sussing the place out for a more menacing visit tonight.  My half-a-dozen scallions look just about ready to fill a sandwich some day soon – apart from the ones that visiting grand-children seem to have mistaken for sea-side sand yesterday.  They alas are lying sadly stricken in scattered clay.  But the carrots are still healthy enough – all nine of them, squashed together in a tiny pot because I never thought that they would take root.  And my mini-strawberry bush is dotted with delicious looking red fruit shat should make a delectable dinner for visiting elves.

Exhaustion was setting in by now and I when I heard His Majesty (always an early riser) leaving to get the morning paper I decided to head back to the bed and wait for my morning cuppa and and daily serving of world news to stimulate my brain.  Unfortunately, in a fit of indoor-gardening I think that maybe a pint of tater was too much to pour on the cactus plants.  They are looking a bit soggy.  But the wonderful sunshine that has been here for (whisper, in case it hears me) the past three days and looks fairly settled will sort them out in now time.

So, up you get!  I have left everything ready for  you – no chores to be done, so off you go and enjoy!

Monday, May 25, 2009

It’s been a week

I only realised that it was a week since I wrote anything here.  It’s the social whirl in which I live!  All go…

Monday I visited the hospital (again) – nothing new, just ‘come back in 3 months’.  It seems that none of my symptoms are related to my illness – isn’t that great?    I’m sick alright, but not of any of the things that are bothering me.   And it only took 2 1/2 hours queuing up to get that result.  Still, they were all very nice, and I wasn’t paying for the car park.

Conor’s Confirmation on Tuesday – I excused myself from the church part because seats are limited on these occasions and I hate when they all have to move up or squeeze in because Granny is here! (Incidentally I love Confirmations, even thought they go on for ages.  And today’s young man is particularly nice).  Anyway we all went for lunch in a lovely informal happy gathering.

Wednesday is Radio day – a news programme with three lovely friends.  We have a very pleasant hour discussing whatever is in the news at the time.  The publication of the Ryan Report on Industrial Schools/Orphanages etc was not a nice topic but you deal with whatever is on the agenda and it is good to be able to give a point of view.  I have no idea how many people listen – it’s local radio – but we do our best to inform and entertain.  I’m afraid the political scene these days leaves me cold.  Most of the candidates/parties seem only interested in slinging mud at the others and the standard of debate is very poor.

Thursday is Newsletter day – I did a piece about the birds that visit my garden.  Heaven knows they give so much pleasure that they are entitled to be praised.  The place is alive with them – an amazing number of different species.  I wish I knew all the names but I’m afraid my knowledge is very basic.  The Newsletter day begins at around 10am until lunch-time (sometimes later for me because – surprise surprise -I talk too much).  Back again at 7.30 or so until we finish printing sometimes after 10pm.  Thank goodness for modern technology.  It used to be midnight or beyond before we finished.

On Friday there is another radio show – about local events this time.  In between there are grand-children coming in from school to be fed and ferried here or there.  Saturday is Writers Day (this week – it’s once a fortnight and a total joy).   Sundays I collapse!

So, here we are again…..another week started.  I met a woman in the Supermarket today who liked my piece in the Newsletter this week.  That makes it all worthwhile!  Sorry if all this is boring and mundane, but I can only tell it like I see it.  It was a good week!

And Various will be back at the end of this week to entertain you with more up to date stuff or you can check out Oubliette’s You Tube! ‘Mama’ is relaxing in Portugal after her exhausting Rugby season.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Soggy Sunday

I shouldn’t be writing this at all.  I mean, there is no good reason why I should try to encourage you to join me in the awful boredom of this soggy Sunday.

A wet day is a wet day, you might say.  It was bad enough this morning when there was a real shower of rain, bouncing off the windows.  This afternoon just drifted into miserable dampness, grey skies with clouds barely moving as they drift on a small breeze too high up in the heavens to rustle a leaf or cause the pampas grass to sway gracefully.  It’s 9pm now and the first glimmer of light is just appearing towards the south but I think the moon will keep her face hidden as night falls.

Our Christening yesterday was lovely – about thirty of us in the church, at least half of them children.  Baby is just 8 months old and had a ribbon around her tiny strands of golden hair.  Her timing is excellent.  Just as the drops of water were poured over her head she gave a glorious bellow of disapproval, then resumed her normal cheerful countenance.

Eight of us adjourned for lunch to a  hotel by Lough Ennel near Mullingar,  the others went off to start the celebrations, but didn’t plan to eat until later. It would have been nice to go for a walk by the water, through the colourful shrubs, but the rain threatened all the time so we just sat for a while.  The carvery lunch was good and plentiful and came in at less than a tenner each which didn’t do the pocket too much harm as I proffered by Visa (himself wisely can never remember his number).

Manchester United took possession of the FA Cup without scoring a single goal; and Newcastle went down 1 – 0 to Fulham – I kept my eye on the telly in the corner so that I wouldn’t miss any important piece of news.  It’s the journalistic streak in me.  I like to keep my finger on the pulse of the world.

Tomorrow I have a hospital appointment.  It’s pretty damn demoralising when most of ones social engagements begin with a needle extracting blood and end with a “Make another appointment on your way out”.  Time was when a social outing would begin with a Gin & Tonic and finish with a headache!  Oh Dem were de Days!

Im going to tackle the TV again and see if I can force it to entertain me.  I’ve read a book and a half in three days so just can’t concentrate on any more right now.  Oh heck! I’ll pour a G & T and pretend I’m on my way somewhere…….

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Scary Sunny Saturday


You may well wonder why I’m blogging on such a delightful sunny Saturday while my friends are busy brushing up their writing skills at our Group morning?

Well, I have a day off, that’s why!  Like many a family during this month of May when the ‘Flowers of the Fairest’ are in bloom all over the place (and my courgettes, both of them, are doing very nicely too, thank you for asking) we have a religious milestone to celebrate.  Three, in fact, and all in the one family.

Almost thirteen-year-old girl was confirmed last week.  Nine-year-old boy received his first Holy Communion yesterday with two others from his special school.  And baby-girl will be christened this afternoon.  Isn’t that a lot of things to be thankful for and to enjoy?  A joint party will accommodate cousins and friends at a bun-fight later on in the day.

Mind you, days like this are not without their pit-falls.  Did I get a boy-card or a girl- card for the particular centre of attraction, and did I manage to send them on the right days, and did they arrive in time?  Have I left somebody out or put the wrong gifts in the wrong parcels?  Mistakes like this shouldn’t be important, but they are in these days of sophisticated children who never miss a trick.  No doubt all will be revealed when I see them.  I should have done what the younger folk are doing and waited to bring the cards etc with me.  But one can’t think of everything, can one?

If the sun keeps shining, and I arrive in time, and my feet don’t give out, and my pocket isn’t totally depleted by grasping little fingers I should have a marvellous day.  And by blogging away for myself I’m sure I have contributed to my writing practice and won’t feel guilty for deserting the troops as they share their carefully honed pieces in the lovely room in the Library.

Best be off, time is of the essence…..

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lazy Bloggers


As soon as the various cushions scattered themselves abroad the blogging stopped!  No insights into the deep minds of those whose fingers tap out pearls of wisdom for the general edification of the creative writers.

I can understand that many are recovering from the wonderful wedding day where the interior decorating was exciting as cushions of all kinds rotated among the guests and we all raised  glasses to the good health of the bridal couple – some of us perhaps raised our glass a few times more often than was good for our own well being, but I have heard of no disastrous results so far.

Why do weddings make us all dewey-eyed and sentimental?  I suppose it is the eternal hope that love will stay and grow with the years, and that life will be kind.  We are hoping for it for ourselves too, of course, not just for the ‘happy couple’. 

I do hope they enjoyed our gift which was chosen with love and decorated delicately by Oubliette’s flexible fingers. 

I must go now and try and complete the task set last week by the most energetic one among us and create that poem……

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Up The Airy Mountain..

It’s the fine weather, you know.  Makes everything look better.  Why does anyone go abroad, one says smugly, when everything is so much nicer here.  Lovely little country, green and golden.

That’s how I felt today as my Fairy Godmother whisked me away to her mountain fastness.  I didn’t even have to do any driving, just loll back giving the odd direction -  just to show that I was, in fact, alive.

Daffodils, tulips and grape-hyacinths nodded a welcome in multicoloured rows – all planted by the diligent fingers of my hostess.  Birds pecked at feeders fat with peanuts, the males outshining the females in their striking plumage. Lovely airy house with wonderful view across the glen. Labrador frolicked at the sight of human company, miraculously trained not to intrude into the sheltered sunny-spot that overflowed with window-boxes of herbs and fruit (and cabbage plants waiting to be transplanted).  What industry had created such a haven, and didn’t expect me to do anything except enjoy it.

It is a place where fairy-tales could be imagined – I’m sure I saw some peeking through the trees as we sat there. 

I just know its going to be a lovely summer.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I’ve always been fascinated by detective stories and detectives. It’s strange, because I don’t really like the murders, just the solving of the puzzle.  Can’t take the blood and pain, but like the brain-work.

I suppose Miss Marple was the first detective  I came across  in books.  Once I saw the films I went off her a bit.  She was so old, for a start, and maybe it also was because she was a bit dithery and I could see into my future and feared I’d end up that way. 

I should have mentioned that in the main, I like my detectives to be male and handsome.  I find it makes it easier for me to read the book or watch the screen happily.

There was Stratford Johns in ‘Softly Softly’, a TV series in the seventies.  Kids were either strapped into chairs or let loose on the street (depending on the season) so that I could watch that at 6.30pm without fail.  There was Inspector Wexford ( a bit slow he was), followed by Bergerack,  (I still like him, John Nettles, I mean, in Midsummer Murders although he gets through an awful lot of bodies ),  Then there was the wonderful John Thaw as Inspector Morse.  We built a ‘family night’ in our house around him when the first series began.  A women’s night, with my daughter and the transient girlfriends of my sons, complete with crackers and pate and red wine.  Ever so sophisticated. The men in my life usually found the programme too slow and tedious, but of course we girls were all half in love with Morse and didn’t care how much opera he listened to, beers he drank, or time he took to unravel the tale.  Now that a couple of years have passed I have even become quite fond of Lewis – the replacement of Morse in the series.

But my favourite Detective has to be Brunetti in the stories by Donna Leon.  Not only does he solve crime in the wonderful setting of Venice, but he appreciates good wine and gourmet food, adores his wife (bless her heart, I don’t resent her too much) and his two quite normal children.  He introduces me to that wonderful place as he takes note of the streets he walks along, and the boats he hops on and off.  And  he manages to bring romance to the readers of the books who (in my experience) range in age from 30 to  well, a lot older…..  You should check him out.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Did you know?

Did you know that there is a ‘talk like a Pirate’ Day – I think its the 14th September. I know a lad who got detention because he wouldn’t stop even after lunch-break, replying to serious maths questions, ‘arr, it be around forty-five point nine, surr’

I think Hallmark invented this day – and probably designed cards to go with it (or the other way round, whatever…)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Half Full or Half Empty?

Normally I’m a half full person – my glass is half full (unless I’ve been tippling, of course, in which case it’s actually empty but I still hope for another little drop).

And so it was over Easter.   Sun danced in the heavens.  No, I didn’t actually see it this year either, but I nearly did!  Two minutes earlier and I would have witnessed this sight that my father got us out of bed for every Easter morning.

Garden looked lovely, leaves sprouting as if they had just invented the idea of recreation.  Birds singing from 5am since the clock went forward – especially the lovely blackbird opening his yellow beak and dropping wonderful sounds into my head.  No 1 grandson moved garden stuff around creating ‘bird place’ with seeds and bath and shoving the sprawling rosemary bush, covered in its blue spring outfit,  back into some kind of shape.  I’d prune it if I had the heart and the energy.

Even the fact that a lingering cold still has me wheezing and coughing didn’t damper my ardour.  I reigned supreme in my domain and drank in the beauty.

And then today the sun vanished – or was it my brain that had gone grey?  Crows and pigeons raided the seeds, scaring off the Great Tits and the Blackbird, leaving only the brazen robin picking up the husks.  Sky was leaden and low.  Everything was too much trouble.  I’m sure I saw a black dog (just a little one) lurking in the foliage around the garden shed.

Now I’m going to get a big rock and throw it at that black dog ; and get a glass that will be entirely full, at least for a little while; and turn on my radio and hope that Seamus bloody Heaney will have stopped reading his poetry interminably as he was this morning. 

I mean I love poetry and stuff, but some days, y’know, you are just not in the mood for beauty!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Why can’t I write when I want to? 

Why do I keep seeing flaws in my story even before I get a word on the page?

Why did I take the brush and destroy a reasonably good painting, just because it annoyed me?

Why do I want to cook loads of things at a time – enough for the next four days, when all I need is just one meal for right now?

Why do I lie in bed when I have loads of things to do, staying there until it is just too late to get even one thing done, then moaning at myself all day?

Why do I not go to bed when I’m tired, and hang on until I

a) can hardly get upstairs or

b)get new life and sit up till 2am watching something stupid on TV?

Why will I not do my homework for meetings etc when I have time instead of waiting until the last minute?

I am a mystery to me!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


(Found this from some time ago….and they’re still going on – thought I’d give it a whirl!)

Tribunals sit for years and years
Confirming our most awful fears
That those elected to take charge
Were making their own fortunes large
By marketing their eloquence
For bye law rulings that were dense;
And making sure that they got more
For a successful Section 4.

Bewigged persons buzz round
Sometimes claiming to have found
A case in nineteen forty nine –
A legal case, not one of wine –
That said a witness was a fraud
Because he kept his loot abroad.

Our hero first was Gogarty
Who had the nation roar with glee
As he told how he met with Ray
Without discussing actual pay.
When he asked if he would get receipt
For payments that had been discreet
Was told that he was out of luck
(The very words were, “Will we f**k?”)

Charlie Bird reported well, ‘e 
Told us nightly on the telly
The ins and outs of this and that
Of all the cats that got so fat.
While RTE with Vincent Brown
Provided the best show in town
With actors playing Liam and Ray
‘Negotiating’ in their way
For money that we now repent
Was not in our best interests spent.

A meeting that took place (or not)
Disturbed the tribunal a lot.
Amnesia hit their brains collective
Until a counsel found defective
A statement made by Bert the Boss
Saying he was at a loss
To deem an hour of chit and chatter
As if it was a serious matter.

On and on Tribunals go
Round and round and very slow.
And all the guys that made the loot
Do not seem to give a hoot.
They know that they’ll get off scot-free
The sufferers are you and me.
It seems that if you want to screw
The Law or Inland Revenue
for loads of money – you’re in luck
‘cos nobody really gives a damn!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Playing the Gee-Gees

It’s been a long time since I placed a bet on a horse.  I was quite a punter in my time, having been reared in Co Kildare, (where they would bet on two flies crawling up a wall). nurtured on Naas Races and Punchestown and weaned painfully off the gambling by a severe shortage of money when  I moved into my first flat.  Luckily I preferred eating & drinking more than the excitement of the chase and found that if I didn’t buy a newspaper and read the runners of the day, I wasn’t tempted.

But I have this friend, you see, who simply loves Cheltenham.  His pleasure in the famous festival is infections and yes, I fell at the first fence.  I badgered him for tips and he duly obliged with a list for day one.  My consort was agreeable enough to go to the Bookies for me.  Being royal, I don’t carry money, of course  so he wasn’t surprised to have to foot the bill.

Somehow or other my tipster friend made quite a few bob on the day, but it cost me lots.  I suspect he did more serious research after parting with information to me.  Nothing daunted, I harassed him again for the second day – this time I made sure not to get the list till just before the ‘off’ for the 1.30 and sent His Majesty the King off again – protesting this time, but I waved my sceptre at him so he quickly put his crown in his pocket along with some small change.

I had a wonderful afternoon watching the wonderful animals pounding on the green turf, seeing Ruby Walsh stand in the stirrups in celebration of yet another win, imagining the  pop of champagne corks as owners and trainers bubbled with excitement.

But there’ll be no champagne in my kingdom tonight.  Only one of the recipients of my regal approval showed in the first three – and he was doubled with an even slower equine specimen.  The contents of the Royal Exchequer are sadly depleted and I may have to declare a recession.

I wonder has my friend any tips for tomorrow?  Must send him a royal text……

Monday, March 9, 2009

Next Time Around…

I’m definitely going to be a Consultant.  I don’t care what it takes, I’m going to do it.

Went to see one today.  Took €200 from me without batting an eyelid. Well, that’s a lie, his secretary who was the one who insisted I pay, batted plenty.  And carried out all her business with each customer in a clear loud tone in a rather small room.  We all know exactly how much each person paid, and whether they had cash or visa.  I reckon that for the forty minutes I was in the room he pocketed at least €800.

The actual time with the great man was maybe 10 minutes.  He was a leg man and didn’t think much of mine.  Maybe if he’d been a boob man things might have been different.  Anyway he wasn’t impressed with my legs and said maybe he might treat them in a few months.  I got the distinct impression that he thought I’d be dead by then and wouldn’t have to bother.   Just as well, the treatment could have been very expensive and probably wouldn’t have worked anyway.

I had to pay another €4 to get the car out of the car park, and of course forgot to pay at the machine inside so had to make a second wobbly journey into the premises.  I told you I was losing my mind, forgetting everything.  (And thanks for the suggestion.  I did look behind the couch, no sign of it there either, but I did locate that missing gerbil).

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Detective Work


St Anthony used to be the ‘main man’ for finding things when I was a child. He was particularly reliable, it was said, if you paid him, and indeed, in most churches there was a box with his name on it where you could remit your donation or bribe.

I’m afraid I hadn’t much faith in the powers of this early M. Poirot. Firstly I was too broke – or perhaps too mean – to pay for things that were lost. When you’re young there are very few things important enough to worry about their loss for more than a few hours. At one stage I used sell raffle tickets for the holy detective, but that didn’t improve his willingness to search for free for things that I had been careless with – maybe my fecklessness put him off too.

With maturity I obviously treated my belongings with greater respect and it was rare enough that I had to trouble the dear man for any favours. Things didn’t seem to have the same propensity for disappearing when I was in the whole of my health and in the prime of life. Training myself to look for things where I had last seen them proved valuable, so the occasions when I scrabbled frantically for keys or rings or letters awaiting posting were few and far between. My formula was rather like one of those problems set in primary school.  Add this and that and take your first thoughts from it.

With children flown the nest and consequently less 'important' matters needing urgent attention, I have discovered that my ability to locate mislaid minutiae is diminished. Often I have no idea where I last saw the missing object – because I don't bother thinking of anything at all most of the time......until I need to post that letter or take the car out. Mobile phones are the greatest offenders in the ‘going walkabout’ stakes, I’ve realized, especially when they have been carefully switched off to conserve energy so can't be called to heel by the tapping in of a few digits. I have also discovered that objects can be like chameleons – mutating into invisibility when missing, then reappearing in a place that I know I have already searched fruitlessly. My car keys do this regularly at noon on Sundays – just the time I am due to leave the house to go to Mass. The solution to that particular problem proved simple enough. Take off one’s coat, put the kettle on and make a cup of coffee. It was magic. The keys reappear right there on the table beside me just as I have completely abandoned hope (and thoughts of going to church) and am ready to enjoy the caffeine boost. Conscience, I am sad to say, doesn't always win as I make a choice between the two alternatives.

I have lost faith in St Anthony’s ability to find really difficult things. I mean, I know for a fact (and for many years) that he is no good for restoring lost virginity so why should I think he can find unimportant things like keys and phones? But I’m thinking of turning again to him for help. Because sometimes I think I am losing my mind. Tranquilizers would only make my situation worse, and medical science hasn’t yet progressed very far in the mental restoration field.

St Anthony might be the only one who can help me.

Friday, March 6, 2009


My Blog is being aggressively rejecting.  I have tried to post a few but they disappear into cyber-space and do not appear on my page.  So if you have been condemning me for laxity, I plead innocence.

The gremlin first of all hit my pc, freezing the cursor and refusing access to Emails – my life-line of communication with the outside world.  My Engineer is busy studying for his Leaving (and playing his Xbox) so hasn’t had as much time to place at my disposal as I would like.  The fact that he is financially comfortable for the past few weeks may have something to do with it.  Oh, wait till the recession hits him and his tune (heavy metal) will change rapidly.  In the meantime I am considering bringing in re-enforcements.

While relieved from the chore of Blogging I have a) painted myself into a corner, so to speak – walls and tables bedecked with half-completed efforts, decreasing in quality as the days went by and my arms grew tired. and b) sowing scallion and courgette seeds in small containers that lurk on the windowsill but show no sign  yet of  sprouting slivers of green.  My what wonderful salads I am going to present to my non-vegetarian family in April and May.

My novel is no further advanced but I have an idea for a ‘Forbiden Love’ 1500 word entry for Saggart.  this unfortunately may have to be scrapped as the plot took a sad turn towards un-healthiness.  I blame peer-pressure.  I once was a nice clean-minded person.  that was a long time ago, I fear, the the deterioration increases in fortnightly leaps into the sordid. Last night I had a dream which included several experiences that I have never even read about, never mind had happen to me.  I think the Pinot Grigo may have had something to do with it.

I need advice.  should I a) change my friends b) cut out the vino or c) thank my lucky stars for inert brain activity?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sweet Auburn

I've been so lazy - no blogging in the past week.  No nothing else either I must admit.  Lots of plans though, none of which have been carried out.

I have a plan that I will carry out though.  Have been invited to go for a painting-weekend, starting on Friday afternoon.  There will be 10 of us sharing two houses.  Arrive early afternoon, dine 'at home' and discuss the work for the next day.  On Saturday paint 9.30 - 12.30; lunch 12.30 - 2 and paint again till 5.30 when we will get all dolled up and go out for a slap up dinner.  On Sunday morning we will complete our painting and head home early afternoon.  It will cost around €200 in total.

Now doesn't that sound wonderful? 

I know a couple of the people on this trip - but have no idea how good they are at painting.  Me, I'm pretty bad.  That's no being humble - perish the thought - just an honest assessment of my capacity.  I really enjoy the concentration needed to get the bloody paint on to the bloody canvas despite the best efforts of the bloody brush to thwart me.  I had one winter of classes - but I was starting from way back - you know, no flair, little imagination, just a bit of determination.  Last year I painted following the directions in books, or copying pictures I like.  I have two of them here before me.  One is of the White Cliffs of Dover, viewed from across a cove.  The houses in the foreground are ok and the sea is rather flat but it is nice to waken up to.  The other is a cornfield with a gate in it.  Not very beautiful, you would think - and you're probably right.  But this is one that I followed the instructions for, and threw it there disgusted when I was finished because it looked a mess.  But hey presto!  When I put a mounting around it I grew to like it.  It has a certain 'je ne sais pas' quality that appeals to my weird brain.

Anyway, that's me fixed up for the weekend.  I just hope it's not cold and that the snow doesn't come back; and that I don't get drunk and disgrace myself (mind you, I'm harmless enough, just get even more boring and fall asleep, sometimes even before the people who I think are listening to me and much impressed with my wisdom  nod off).

If I paint a masterpiece I will photograph it and show it to you all - once I find out how to do that.  My blog won't let me post pictures unless I join something or other.  I'd join if I understood how to do so as long as it wasn't expensive.

Excuse me now.  I must check out my paints and brushes and apron and pallet..........

Monday, February 2, 2009


Alright so, who is snuggled up in bed or in front of the TV?  Who got home from work in less than 4 hours (that's what it took my daughter to travel from city centre to here tonight)?

My front garden has a lovely snowman, complete with carrot nose and rain-hat, built by Shona, (10) all by herself.  He stands proudly, facing the house so as not to scare the passersby.

Back garden is covered in snow and bathed in a pink light that glows - don't know whether its a combination of street lights reflected on snow clouds or whatever.   Daughter only got car this far, couldn't get into the drive, so left car here and continued home on foot with Shona leaving older daughter. wise enough not to brave the elements, to stay here with computer, her IPod, and all mod cons provided by Grandma.  One hopes that schools will be closed tomorrow to save us all an early rise.......

Do any of you remember snow like this?  The last time I can recall is on a Saturday/Sunday in January 1981.  You are all too young to remember that. There was no milk delivered to shops, no bread either.  Milk was dispensed from Hayden's Farm - up near Superquinn - we all togged out and went for some, whether we needed it or not, and it was a great adventure.  A friend brought me bread from the city on the Monday. 

No doubt 'Uisce' will have had an amazing adventure.  Cushions will have braved it to work.  Domestic will be out throwing snowballs with the boys......  I'll be watching Inspector Lindley or whatever Sky has to offer and making loads of soup and other nourishing things ......  

Monday, January 26, 2009


Two nice things happened.

On Friday morning I spotted the first snowdrops in my garden.  They are little devils, you know, snowdrops.  You can check them every five minutes, then turn your back and there they are!  It always make me feel good when I spot them - it means that spring is definitely on its way!  And God knows we need every little thing that might cheer us up these days.

Then today a friend brought me for a drive.  We went down the N6 as far as the turn off for Kilteel, Eadestown, Blessington arriving in Ballymore Eustace in time for lunch.  Ballymore Inn - wonderful food, lovely atmosphere and friendly staff.  Eat too much, of course, but what the hell.

Drove back via Valleymount, Ballyknocken, Kilbride etc.  The sun was shining, lake was placid reflecting mountains and sky - utterly utterly beautiful.  I recommend that trip to anyone whose spirit needs lifting.  Only about 50miles round trip too.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Hair

I sat and dined with a friend of mine

Exchanging views on the latest news.

There came a dramatic pause, to think

And sink my chin in the cup of my hand

For dramatic effect. I didn’t expect

To get a prick of a nylon tag or a piece of wire -

I thought I’d expire!


I applied myself to my prawn avocado

(with excessive bravado)

And kept the head down and tried not to frown.

While taking the white linen napkin

To refresh my lips after generous sips

Of a Sauvignon Blanc to recover my poise;

And under that guise very calmly

I probed and I pondered the fact

That ‘twas just as I feared - I was growing a beard!


Should I wax it, or pluck it, I wondered. With luck

If I did the job right it would shrink from my sight.

Conversation was stilted

It wilted and died on its feet.

My friend was upset by my lack of response

To the pearls of great wisdom that fell

From his lips. It was hell,

But I never could tell my dilemma.


Dessert came at last and he left all alone,

As I pleaded a need for ablutions.

A ghastly reflect in the neon lit glass

Showed no flaws, not a spot or a blemish.

My chin smooth as could be.

Was no comfort to me,

‘Cos I know it was there

I felt that damned hair!

Monday, January 19, 2009


My Blog has taken on a life of its own - re-publishing an earlier piece and offering it as new.  I wonder could I patent this kind of 'bi-locational blog? ' It would save me having to think up things to write and at the same time make you all think that I am very busy indeed. 

I never got the mushroom pack in fact, and had quite forgotten it.  Must keep an eye out for them.  But I won't ask in Woodies again - the nice young man there told me all about 'tunnels' and 'manure' and all sorts of things that mushroom apparently need if they are to grow into the lovely things I like to fry with garlic and butter and loads of black pepper and pop on top of my minute steak.  Normally I might have been interested, but at the time I was desperate for two more Christmas presents so couldn't really appreciate his helpfulness.

Something fell with a clunk while I was driving on Friday.  a nice young man followed me for half a mile to my destination to tell me about it.  Wasn't that an unexpected nice gesture?  We couldn't see anything in the dark.  Hubby could neither see anything there nor, I think did he believe me.  For the weekend every time I went faster than 50kph there was this whirring noise - hubby couldn't hear that either, and don't try to tell me he never drives over 50kph!  Luckily grandson heard it too.

Garage man nearly had a fit this morning.  Undercarriage of engine apparently has plastic floor.  This had disconnected, ripped out all screws etc, passenger side wing was more mobile than it should be - like hanging off!  He cobbled it together nicely but wasn't happy when I mentioned next week's NCT.  Will have to wait and see what the mechanic-detective at the NCT finds.

Party Pooper

I can't go to the party!  Various debilitating symptoms, not agonising pain, made it seem inadvisable to spend the evening looking jolly and watching the clock hoping my taxi would arrive soon to let me flop. 

One gets so scintillating in company, doesn't one?  Full of witticisms and intelligent conversation.  But when you leave the adrenalin-inducing people, it all evaporates and these days, leaves me drained. And tomorrow there is so much to be done.  I have to get the Ham for the Christmas Dinner in my son's house (that and the Bread Sauce are my only chores there).  Visit the hair-dresser perhaps - no, better make an appointment for Monday.  Then lunch with a friend - eat too much, talk too much, drink too much and that's Saturday sorted!

Got my pressies early - but got nothing for my children (all adults) yet.  Still, they are mainly boys who should be delighted that I remembered their lovely wives and children, but yet....  Saw some 'grow your own mushrooms' packs for about €20.  It only takes one operation and then in eight weeks you can watch them popping out of the ground.  Trouble is, I can't remember where they are sold, so unless I get some divine inspiration in the next few hours, that's another good idea gone west.

I wrote a little story for my friend who moved house recently.  It's a short little piece - 800 words or so.  I read it on a local radio show this evening and it sounded good.  On Wednesday night I pre-recorded a show for Christmas Eve with some  friends and I read two other Christmassy stories about children.  It was great to get some use for them - I hope somebody listens and enjoys them.  I'll probably forget to listen myself, and I'm my only fan that I know of. Sinead window 2

This is our little girl, Sinéad.  She's four now but the picture was taken some time ago.  She's all set for Christmas although she's not saying too much about it - she likes to keep her thoughts to herself.  She came to see me yesterday.  She loves the place where I paint, and can open the tightest capped tube of paint in a flash.  She is not interested in crayons or coloured pencils - but she loves the wet tubes of paint.

When Sinéad walks into the room, everyone smiles.  Isn't that a wonderful gift to have?  I'm sure Santa has something really nice in his sack for her.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On Being Helpless

I hadn't intended to Blog right now.  I was just casually browsing. But I notice some comments on my last piece and feel bound to reply.

Ok, so you all know I couldn't move my Blog myself!  Obviously I haven't fooled anyone by my casual, 'I can do anything' front that I present to the world.  However I can, and do!, do cultivate friends who can supply the talents I lack, so it was eeesy-peesy!  I hung around (I lay on the bed actually, the pc is in my bedroom) looking intellectual while a kind angel did the business and an other (younger) kind angel made sure that it was done properly.  If only I knew my password I could probably put in an appropriate graphic.  Angel, please note this deficiency....

So, dear readers of my Blog, you must all learn to delegate -particularly the jobs you don't like.  I mean, I used to be able to change a wheel on the car - but not any more!  Oh no.  I will wait forever for a truly capable (preferably) man to come along.  They do things so well, men.  They are strong, and all-knowing about things that need lifting and hammering and fixing.  Things that dirty ones hands, or get ones hair blown round by the wind and rain.  They bring so much joy to my life, men.

My sons learnt at an early age that their mother knew practically nothing about anything - never knew what was bin day, how to answer questions in maths, remember dates in history, put air in tyres, petrol in tank, work the lawn-mower - that kind of thing.  Putting creases in their jeans made them realise that I couldn't be trusted with an iron, and constant absences (usually in book shops) ensured that at an early age they learned to cook.  My sleeping habits (I sleep like the dead, can't be woken) taught babies how to get through the night without feeds quite quickly and gave them a good reason not to ring me for a lift home when they were old enough to visit hostelries  in other places and missed their lift, fell in the bushes etc - you know how it is.

One draw-back to this independence that I gifted them, was that they didn't really have a system about doing things.  But then, that's what wives are for, isn't it, to teach them to do it their way.  It prevents 'domestics' about whether Mother was a better cook, gardener, ironer etc than wife, so they should really thank me more for my kindness to them in their early years.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Bit of a Rant

How on earth did a comparatively new country - an a republic to boot - like ours come to have such highly paid politicians?  Out Taoiseach, for instance, is the highest paid in the EU except, I understand, Luxemburg.  He gets paid much more than the PM of Britain and the hard-working and dynamic President Sarkosey of France.  Isn't that a scandal, given that our population is so much smaller than either of these countries?

I have always believed that politicians should be paid well - after all we do want to have the best minds available to look after our welfare. I must have been wrong there because it doesn't seem to have worked out that way.  Over recent years facts have been revealed in Tribunals that makes it obvious that to those that have wealth, more is desired.  Extra 'perks'  were received for voting this way or that in planning matters.  Junior Ministries and Chairs of Committees are awarded, not as one would expect, to the person who is most deserving,  i.e. working hard, but to increase votes in the next election.  The result, I suspect, is the current shambles of the Exchequer and the stupidities of the recent cuts announced in the last Budget.

Had nobody at the cabinet table the sense to realise that announcing major cuts against the elderly and school children was asking for trouble?  It seems not.


I am not a lover of reality shows or talent competitions.  I have no desire to see what goes on in the bedroom at Big Brother, watch people eating insects on I'm a Celebrity - in fact I find both obscene.  Talent Shows in general break my heart worrying about the contestants who don't win,  annoy me when I see the likes of Sean Ban Breathneach making no attempt to even try, or ego filled people, sometimes celebrities, making fools of themselves tackling a genre which doesn't suit them.

But on Sunday night last there was a talent show on RTE seeking the best to represent the west of Ireland in an all Ireland show judged by Daithí Ó Shea (it's from the North next week, with Dana as judge).  Some of the contestants were quite outstanding.  There was a little girl who couldn't have been more than 7 who sang along to a tune on her Ipod.  They asked her to come back in a year or two.  Another little girl - the prettiest little thing you ever saw, who had to be disappointed too.

Then there was a young man with an electric fiddle that he had rigged up so that he could be a one-man-band.  He played traditional tunes with such flair and expertise.  New clothes for an old craft.  Amazing.  Last to show their paces were three young lads from the Aran Islands on too.  Two of them played instruments and the third - a wee fellow - danced.  Now they were fantastic, and so unspoiled too.  The tears were rolling down my face with joy at their performance they were so good. 

Both of these acts got through to the final which will be in Dublin I presume in four weeks time (they have to find people to represent the other provinces first).  But in the main, this programme was presented very nicely, with no smart remarks or hurtful comments from the panel.  In fact if it wasn't for the lurking figure of a Seoige - they're everywhere, aren't they? -constantly in the background I might have said that I enjoyed it utterly.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Little Note

All posts from my previous blog have been moved over onto this one, even got the right dates on them!

More Of The Same

I haven't contributed anything for the past week or so.  Got disheartened, I suspect, by the vacarious life that cushions live.  Imagine walking back from town?  Got to be something wrong there, but I suppose it paid off if it got her into such good shape that she was the Best in the Water.  Maybe I'll try it - although I really believe that water is for sailing on or putting in whiskey to be honest. 

Did I tell you that I scribble a bit?  Oh yes.  I too have a novel - but I fear it is languishing in a drawer because the heroine became so boring that I wanted to slap her.  I wouldn't mind, only I have the end of the book written, but just couldn't get her there.  Maybe next year....

But, spurred on by the enthusiasm of another friend who has written a really scary piece - I promise I won't stay in a room alone with her any more! - I did produce a little masterpiece myself.  Just 2,300 words but, like Cushions, I know it's a winner!  Well, I thought it was a winner when I finished it.  Now I'm not so sure, flaws are beginning to show, I know that when I read it out at our group and people contribute their 'helpful hints' I will lose faith entirely and it too, will languish.  But hell, I really enjoyed putting it down on paper.

I dabble in radio too and have a show at 5 today.  Usually I am just a contributor to this 'Drive Time' sort of hour, but today I am in the driving seat, if you'll pardon the phrase, so anything could happen. Have a good friend coming along to participate - mistake really as she's a vibrant soul who will be so scintillating that I'll lose my spot!  C'est la vie - well my 'vie' anyway.  Toujours la meme chose.  Is my French really that bad or can this stupid PC not read?

My picture below is the chimney of the old Hill's Mills on the Strawberry Bed Road.  Just thought you'd like to see it.

Treasury 004


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