Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Easter. Calvary. A Little Ku Klux Klan

                                                                 STEPFORD CATHOLICS                                                    "So where do you think they are all going" my husband asks for the umpteenth time "I mean where? And what for?.  I mean some of 'em seem to br carrying their shopping!. Are they shopping!"  We are sitting outside a Bodega,  at the apex of two narrow streets in Seville at two in the morning, in this week of Semana  Santa drinking Jamaican Rum, talking, talking, as the People walk down towards us, veer around the table where we sit, and  up to our right.  A surging and ebbing sea of souls  increasing in speed and mass as the night lengthens. We, he and I,   absorbed in our habitual  never ending conversation  give scant attention to what we have observed  for hours, days, nights now  in Seville, until the dark energy in the mass of people jerk us from our cocoon, our  rum fuelled talk. . "Not  going anywhere"  I murmur , "Processing. They are in Procession after some...some Totem Pole, some standard bearing Priestly One long gone by. Massing. Mindless. Stepford.  Stepford Catholics."

                                                                  A LITTLE KU KLUX KLAN                                               We arrived in Seville as Semana Santa, the Spanish holy week, kicked off.  We knew we'd witness all that jazz, but really didn't know at all. It's sum of parts, a mystery.. We schlepped around in the light and heat of day,  doing holiday things, remarking on the people out on the streets, the women in lace mantillas headdress, the frocks of  formal black short enough for showing of elegant leg, arm in arm with the sharply suited men. They glide in and out of churches, walking, walking , always on the move. They  mingle with  the pointy hated Nazarenos, (Capirotes)  cloaked from head to toe, sinister in the cone like hat with slits for eyes to see, obscuring  the face. A little Ku Klux Klan. A little carnival.  All day Tuesday, Wednesday, we watch the smiling people. At midday they  gather  at  the Bodegas for beers in the sun  before or after observances. We are charmed, yes, and only slightly discommoded by the crowds.

                                                       SHAKE  ROLL AND SHIMMY                                                          It is for us a series of vivid visuals adding up to something only these cool and fined boned people understand. We are content to marvel at its stately unhurried progress, the richness of the costumes concealing the sex even of the wearer; a little unsettled on coming on the silent  lines of  of faceless Nazarenos in Procession  as the evening wore on;  a little melancholy at the dolorous brass band play:  astonished and giggling at a large square float  carrying effigies of  Christ on the cross and  Mary the Virgin. The float is supported and propelled underneath by unseen Spanish men. We get this, as we see it bopping at the entrance to one of the myriad churches as plentiful as pubs in Ireland, watched by a tense expectant crowd.  The thing dips sharply  and slowly slowly enters under  the ancient arch. " Oh hey, they have to get it in! they must be on their hunkers. No!  no,! on  their knees! to get that great edifice under the broad stretch of the arch". The crowd roar triumphantly as the the float shimmies monstrously into the dark space beyond.

                                                          GET ME ANOTHER RUM FOR THE LOVE OF GOD             And so to Thursday, Maundy Thursday and the early hours of Friday.  The massing crowd, marching now in increasing urgency, children among them, till they flowed behind and before us on their way.  I ask my husband to get me one more rum for the love of God, disturbed. unnerved. .

                                                          NEVER SAY FOREVER DONE                                                    "It was a procession babes!" I assure him, later. "I looked the whole thing up on the internet!. The Counsel of Trent, you know,  dreamed up the entire thing. to draw in the People"  It was Good Friday evening, Christ crucified at three o'clock, and the people fallen away. " I guess we just don't do it any more in Ireland, not really, no,  never did this version  anyway, but  still here...I mean  what about the paedophile priests?, the affluence?.... but..but you know when we did do it,  we did it good and dark and now we are forever done.

                                                                    CALVARY                                                                          And so we go home to Ireland and off to see the film Calvary on Easter Sunday night, and hey we have our holy week anyway. It was a flaying, shattering heartbreaker of a movie. Christ was good and agonised,  condemned, tortured, abandoned, and nailed to the cross, in all  terrible beauty. It's cast of unforgettables,  Developer, Publican, Doctor, Guard,  Lost woman, Suicide, Widow,  Murderer, Priest, snatched you up and squeezed you relentless  for it's duration..  The people cynical braying victims, flagellating church, state and bankers, shapeshifting into the mass, blame shifting the despoiling of children onto to the priests. Until, finally,  the sweet and exotic concept of forgiveness. We are where we are.  God in art.

                                                                 GOD IN ART. GOD IN THE PEOPLE.                                 In Spain I saw him, God. The people laughing, drinking beer in the sun, taking photos on mobile phones of their little lollipop sucking  infants, cutely got up in miniature priestly robes."Look! To me! Look!. look to me!, Angel." Elegant, joyous. God in the people.  I  saw the massing mindless power the church had chained, as here in Ireland, Calvary, the unchained lost, the haters mocking, despoiling what had been venerated and gladly given steam. On Easter Sunday night at Calvary, God was. Go figure.  God in art.  God in the people.


Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Side Shows and Fairy Tales/ Sexing up the Dead

The light is changing,  soft air expanding, buds pushing out far enough to insist on spring. I tell my husband how I was willing to wait a few weeks more,  and now you know here is, like a reward for patience. Everything new again for Easter. The world dying, rising, coming one more time for the people.

I think of childhood Easters, chocolate,  daffodil blaze, church obligatory  every evening with your mother, so that you oscillate between happy and melancholy; standing like stone before the bloody stations of the cross, drowning in the priest chant.   This Easter season I am reading,  reading,  about Grief,  Bereavement, Loss for a course assignment. About Death, which is apparently almost always denied, and we adepts at throwing up barriers, getting up side shows of Sex, Fairy Tales, Religion, between ourselves and it. Good for us. Teenagers in particular, already in the hormone storm,  suffering " Terror of Life"  when dying  is badly handled by hopefully cavorting adults.

In the kitchen. the boss makes a birthday cake with her very best friends, the buzz and noise lapping softly against my thinking. The Beautiful one lies above on her bed engaged in intermittent studying, facebooking. The boy is abroad with his mates. I track him in my mind,  a quick inventory against loosing anybody here. Bereavement.

I remember one such, when I was not yet a teenager, maybe seven, eight years old? A school  girl dies and we are dispatched to her funeral, required to do a guard of honour over the short coffin, stand and say the prayers at the yawning grave. I am a fumbling participent, distracted.  She was naughty, that one, in your face, and so it seemed that death came for the troublesome too. Only the good go early people said . I relied on that. Terror indeed, as I watched the small thing being lowered in the ground, the clods plopping quick to bury, thinking how it cannot be that they will really put her down there, leave her down there. Will not, surely. Leave her..

I hear yet another reading of Oscar Pistorius's love texts to Reeva SteenKamp on the evening news. Oscar Pistorious crouched legless and  bloody over the dead girl, begging, demanding that she live  again, that she be given back to him again. Their everyman  texts of endless for always and ever love belong to the rest of us now  she is dead in time never mind what he did forever her dark  troubling love her own  grim est reaper.

And so to bed, and I lie,  book held loosely in my hand, hearing my husband locking doors, flicking off lights, chatting  with  the dog as he puts him to bed. I have not spoken to him all evening on a point I will not yield, cannot, essential to me. I have not looked at him either least I weaken at the sight of the small  suffering boy  he, like all men puts on like a coat at such times.

I think of how I tumbled after Geraldine, in a way. For a few years into the heavy earth. Into the chilly grip of fear, caught inside a coil of snaking apprehension. And when I emerged, somehow, the dying thing had lost its power to paralyse forever. Yes. Or migrated perhaps to other places.  And so it goes.

I hear him coming up the stairs, the boss now singing in her room, the beautiful one sleeps. The boy still out, I text to tell him  stop! doing what he keeps on! doing, come home!, come home.! He texts to say he's on the way. .All live, all safe, for this night here. I wish good night  to husband, daughters, dog, to sweet Geraldine down there where she lay with me for all those years.  Good night , goodnight, sweet girl, may angels be.


Friday, 21 March 2014

Mammy??Mammy?? Let Them Find Their Own Party!!

                                                            SAINT  PATRICK'S  DAY

The boss and her friends spill giggling from my house on St Patrick's day,  pretty faces painted with shamrocks, sinewy snakes and the like to watch the village parade. "It will be a bit of craic" she tells me sagely, when I ask her why the high.  I go out walking with my husband, and find them deflated in my hallway later on, disconsolate, straining at the bit.  "No good?" I ask.  "No, not" she sighed "It was just....... like.... Tractors?. Yeah! twenty maybe Tractors? driven up the street in a like line? That was it!. Just.... Tractors. I ask her retreating back if the Tractors came down again, in finale,  as the girls charge upstairs to her bedroom.  My husband takes me firmly by the arm and steers me out the door and onward to the Pub.

"Well, hmm, I guess they take the tractors out as a sort of prelude to spending  the National  Feast Day in the Pub?" I shout at him in the packed and howling Village Inn.  He doesn't answer. He has a pint of Guinness to work on. "Do you think they are like Vintage Tractors? that sort of thing? I asked him earlier, on our walk, as we came on the Tractors starting out. Do you think that maybe there will be something else, a..a..float maybe, or a ..um..Band?"  "Hah! they wouldn't be vintage in County Cavan anyway " he said,  "and sure what would  they bother with a Band for?"as we watched them trundle up the street, each one sporting the Irish flag at the back, driven by grinning farmers all.

 I tell him I feel I ought to go home, pile the teenagers in the car, and bring them somewhere good and worthy of their shining eyed excitement. " I mean, what an empty pointless thing, for young things looking for colour,  drama, carnival!" He grabs me firmly by the arm, and tells me to stay put "Let 'em find their own party",  he adds  " or more likely, let 'em give it up!, come down the pub like everyone else! as soon as they are old enough, of course.", he adds hastily.  And that my friends is everything that is or ever was wrong with this country, in a nutshell, on St Patrick's Day.

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                                                             OTHER  MOTHERS  

"Though I am not like asking?, my friends actually get like €50 from their parents for you know,  a  um few drinks? when they go out, on like every Friday night, every Saturday night. And often also on a Wednesday Night?  I , as you know hardly go out at all, only want $10,  a lift there,  for the two of us,   am prepared to arrange a lift back myself,  but will need, you know, a lift home tomorrow night, and will also need.... Leaving Certificate? what  do you mean my Leaving Certificate,  I cannot be expected to study twenty four seven!,  morning noon and night!, I have a life! I have a boyfriend!, I am eighteen years old! nearly!,  more or less!,  am my own boss!  So..... can I? can you??  will you?? Mammy??  Mammy??"

I ask the beautiful one if she thinks her friends' parents might like adopt her?, and hell, take me too? to work in the kitchen maybe.? She sniggers and glides of happy in the notion that that's all arranged.

Later on:
"No! I snap at my spouse, I did not agree, not as such, not to everything,  not entirely but ...you know... .. Lately I have been staring down the tunnel of her leaving. Off to college, gone,  forever more or less, the fabric of our family loosened, boss and boy filling her vacated space, not her,  never her again. .My husband assures me I am being premature....will be supporting, transporting,  feeding for a long time yet, there being many a slip between cup and lip you know... never count your chickens you know... This is a jolting interruption to my anticipatory grief.   The thought that that departure will not actually come is basically disturbing.

"So, ok, darling, fine, fine, fine " I tell him,  "My name is Irish Mammy, I am addicted to Mammying,  well in a small way,  in the halfpenny place really when it comes to some of the heavy weight Mammies,  but still..." .  "Yeah, well , the Infant Teenagers,  you better make the 'em brush up on their survival skills, you better make 'em arrange their own lifts, do their own laundry, and Ohmygod pay for their own drinks, Angel, you'd better start".  I assure him that I'm on it, and also that he should get a load of what other mothers  do for their children,  THEY wouldn't rate me in the mammy stakes.  So yeah, I'm on it, have been for years, have tried,  have fostered self reliance, some, but the truth is friends that hell is Other Mothers here.

Yes!  Irish women compete, persist in Mammying way past appropriate. There is no off switch here. There is no generational shift either. Not like you might imagine. On the contrary,  we have ramped up the nurturing good.  We bind our children to us with food, cash, sanctuary against the cold winds, the relentless exactions of adulthood and the world.  Nope? Not you? Really? Ever felt that creeping paralyzing sense of guilt on refusing your  little one's demands, that sinking feeling of unworthiness to be an Irish Mammy in Ireland among all the other Mammies who know how to mammy better so much better than you do?

To be resisted, women, to be beaten back with a stick as you give your wee one a mighty boot up the backside into the world. Otherwise just  ask yourself how you're going to manage to mammy on down into decrepitude,  how persuade yourself to keep on going  past the slender window of middle age when you might have managed to live your beautiful life, oh finally, yes!, to the nursing home, the crumbling bones, the  incontinence, your mind flying off in advance of your grateful departure.

Ask your self  how your hand reared darlings will manage your slow, messy leaving. How administer the merciful drugs even, to hasten your end.  If that was what you wanted.  How return to their own adolescent children after,  be all in all to them as you have been.  It's never too early to start  letting go though it may be too late.  To feel the unbearable lightness of your own unburdened  being. If you have the courage for it.

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Friday, 7 March 2014

Bad Catholic. Sugar Baby Love. All them Rotten Apples

On Ash Wedneday the boy advises us all that he no longer considers himself to be a Catholic. "Of course I am not, actually,  one now" he says "and I mean when you consider all those like big cars those you know Bishops have,  never mind  what what's his name the Pope says about poverty, why should I be? So I'm not".  Right.  Ok.  Thats like that then.

When I was  twelve years old I advised my father  that I no longer believed, and Catholicism, Mass going was no longer  for me. Oh how quickly, in his  scorched earth response, he let me know that that was not my decision to make. On Sundays, marched in front of him with the others to Church and priest, I decided, nonetheless.  It took him at least a year to notice my silent refusal to partake of the body of Christ, to line up for the holy communion.. "Every barrel has a rotten apple, contaminating the others" he thundered, scorched some more. I persisted. Rotten,  adamant.

Now, my daughters ask me what I am giving up for Lent. "I mean I'm giving up all chocolates, sweets, fizzy drinks"  the boss says roundly. She has an ulterior motive however, she is intent on living healthily, nurturing a beautiful mind.  "Me too.  And sugar in my tea" the beautiful girl chips in. "It will be great. Though hard.  Very hard" she adds. She also has an ulterior motive, the beautiful frame to maintain.  I ask the boy if he too is practicing umm self denial  this year. "Yep!" he says,  "Of course!" "And eh what might that.... "It's private" he snaps.  Oh.  Right.  My husband and I indulge in vulgar speculation in the privacy of the marital bedroom. "Girls?" he says, " drinkin' and smokin'?,  misogynistic rap? What you think? Or..or... I know, being obdurate!, being loud!, being breathtakingly rude.!...."

In my twelfth year, before I shrugged of all forms of organised religion, I though perhaps I might be marked out for a nun. I practiced prayerfulness, a sort of self flagellating piusness, in a tormented away. The thing about it was you knew that resistance was futile, if you were chosen. In fact it was most likely you wouldn't want to, and your obduracy would be hacked away at by God. I developed a compulsive facial twitch that year. At its end I delivered myself,  took a chance on going to hell in a hand cart, and cast the heavy cloying cloak of holiness as far from me as I could fling. I cast after it the bloody, oppressively melancholy stations of the cross at Easter,  the shuffling herd like observance at Mass.  In spirit then, in body later.

The beautiful girls come downstairs on Wednesday, heavy eyed, pasty faced, glum. "???"  It was the Pancake Tuesday pancakes, the sugar high"  the boss explains. Ah yes, they wanted to make their own this year, asking only for quantities of Sugar! Nutella!  Rasberry Jam! from me. "We will do it" they announced "no need for you to get involved".  And they did. They started with a stack for breakfast, they flipped up another after school, and had a pancake cook out after dinner. By that time they had quite run out of Nutella.  "What on earth's the matter with 'em" I asked my husband, listening to them shrieking in the kitchen, giggling helpless about the kind of stuff they usually will not let me hear. Hmm. "Sugah!" he crooned, " Sugah Baby Love,  Love you baby love,  Sugah High!"

I asked my boy if he had been denied the Nutella, the Sugar,  the Rasberry Jam, where he sat calmly in the kitchen reading his war book, bopping his head to Tupac. "Nah" he said,  "I can handle it better is all. I pace myself. I eat it all the time".  I sometime wish I could bend back time,  introduce my son to his grandfather, be a fly on that wall as they tell each other whats what, what's not, what they will and will not have,  the bottom line, the way it is,  the end of story.

Friday, 28 February 2014

No Booze! No Sex! No Projectile Vomiting At this Party.

Mid Term.                                                                                                                                               At At Mid Term we go to watery mysterious County Cavan, myself having laborously disposed of the teenagers in various cunning ways. The boss gone west, the boy scheduled to spend his days working on the Uncle's farm,  his evenings allocated to friends and relatives. The Beautiful Girl carries on with her adoption by the Beautiful Boyfriend's parents. I am lying on the smooth bed in the deep deep quiet of  a  hotel bedroom  in Sean Quinn's fantastical hotel when the text comes in.  "Your dog found in the local (pub), please come get him".  "Oh" I say from the Zen space I have achieved,  "Oh. The boy must have let him out again, as he left the house for his Aunt's. "No" says my husband "No. The boy is in our  house partying with his disgusting mates, and there is not a thing you can do about it. Nada. Nothing". The boy's phone appears to be dead.

Next Morning
"Yeah, yeah, just got back, got the dog, yeah, from the um pub.How did I know he was there? What difference...I mean he was actually at the front door, when I got back, yeah, yeah,  saw him thought the um window.  How come I?...alright! ok! so I was here last night, had Joe  and Jack over for a few...anyway why should't I be able to...yeah yeah just Joe n Jack, that's all,  no party, no prob"  So I put it  firmly out of mind. Snatch back the greatly anticipated time out.  "After all"  I tell my husband," after all, sufficient onto the day is the evil thereof  etc etc, don't you think darling".  He takes his face out of a largish cocktail, post swim and sauna, under the marbled ceiling of the Quinn Taj Mahal and nods vigorously.

Home again. A slow unveiling.
He begins a delicate sniffing as we walk back into the house, my very own sniffer dog spouse. My stomach tightens at the prospect ahead. My bubble bursts. Yes oh yes, it was a party. The evening is a slow unveiling. Broken sweeping brush in the kitchen, the chopping board smashed, empty vodka bottle on the mantlepiece, cigarette ashes scattered in unlikely places, and strangely, one of the rockers from the rocking chair lying madly in  the front garden. "I uh tidied up like you said" a cowed boy offers, "It was uh the dog who smashed the chopping board". "Right " I say, "right, well I' m off to bed now,  we will discuss this tomorrow".  "And we will " I assure my disgruntled spouse, "when I'm. like,  fresh, and decided on penalties. Now I have seen the fall-out. Tomorrow".

Disgusting.
In the morning I escape gladly to work. Penalties are set out for the boy when I return. "Well that's that", I declare heartily,  "he had to do it, so did I, now it's done. Over. So, did my recording of Eastenders take do you think, angel?  Let's just  see". But oh, dear reader,  so not over. "Your new printer?  probably never work again. Probably. I mean I did my best to mop up the beer, but... ." Huh??  "Yes! I have been finding things all day. Disgusting! I mean I think I got em all. And... disgusting!"  I had got into the most recent dark doings on Eastenders when these sepulchural utterances sound from my left side, where my husband was, I thought, quietly reading. .

It was the projectile vomiting he particularly objected to..
I hold Eastenders.  I inspect. There is a slop of beer on the printer lid, which I mop and remove. "Well no harm done, ." I utter brightly, wondering why he, the prophet (of doom) hadn't actually mopped it up. I have regained the thread of sorrow in Eastenders when  "It was the projectile vomiting that I particularly objected to.... look over there on the wall, and also the cigarette burn to your painting"!!!!!!

Hysteria
I hold Eastenders. I call the boy down, hysterically. He assures me earnestly that the brownish marks on the wall are not in face vomit but the Beautiful girls  iron tonic spattered on the wall by Smoke n Sam, who got completely out of hand, weren't actually invited,  "and I just could't stop them if you want to know the truth, and I 'll never ever have people over again after that" he finished in an actually  aggrieved tone. (masterly)

Confession is hard on the nerves.
"Right!" I said "Right!, I want it all. I don't care what it is, I want it all. I will not have this drip feed of horrors, and that includes you to" I tell my husband. Right,  so, anyway,  there was six boys at the party, booze, music, and some mayhem. That was Smoke n Sam. Who were not invited, but came anyway, and fell on things, sneered at the boy's interventions,  that kind of thing. Oh, and also splattered the beautiful one's iron supplement  tonic about in disgust when they discovered it was't actually alcohol."  I shove a cloth into the boy's  hand,  "Wipe! I say.  " Tonic Smonic.  I know projectile vomit when I see it.  Simpleton!"  my husband utters. The boy flings the cloth at his head. "Retard"  my husband hisses.  I dispatch a shaken boy to his room, confession is hard on the nerves after all, ask my husband is HE done, and return to the East End. " Letting him off the hook" comes a mutter, stage left."Off the hook. Of course you don't care either about the girls clothes, the cheap handbag,  the condoms, in that corner over there I found" !!!!!!!!!
                  
 It was Smoke n Sam what done it.
I hold Eastenders. Well,  friends, after some anguished grilling on my part, I establish that the girls clothes consisted of  a cardigan and bag, retrieved by the triumphant husband from the closet where he had flung them. Exhibit A! "Cheap" he sniffed,  "Plastic" holding the bag at arm's length. As to my horrified vision of used condoms scattered about my living room, there were two, still in package, tucked into a wallet. Now in the bin. Don't know if that too was cheap, or plastic. I climb the stairs shakily. The boy is in confab with his sister in his bedroom. "I said all" I cried, "All ". "How am I to find any sane course between you and him down below?. How am I to do right by you all,  with this bowl of maggots to go on, this gradual torturous reveal. I want it all.  Now. Or I'm off. Permanently."   The beautiful  girl glares at the boy, "Tell her!"  " Yeah,  Ok, right, there were like  two girls, from my year.  But they left at twelve.  Collected by their father" he finishes  piously.  "Was there sex!" I roar. "Mum!"  "Listen!" I say," I wasn't there! This is my house. You are my children. I am responsible.  How old were the ..." "No", said the boy hastily, nothing like that.  It was Smoke n Sam who brought the condoms. Nothing to do with the rest of us. I couldn't get them to leave. Told you. That's all"

On the Cruel Hook.
I am in my living room, staring at a blank TV Screen.  My husband is gone to bed. After I told  told him what I thought  of his drip feed, his projectile vomiting, after he told me what he thinks of my childrearing, my blind eye, my letting people off the hook.  "No hook!," I mutter to myself " no one is going on the  hook in this house. " The beautiful glides in the doorway, asks if I'm all right.  "That's it" she says kindly, "I've had it all from him and so have you. Forget about the condoms, someone always brings condoms to a party. Forget about the other stuff. He is sorry about the other stuff.  Really.  Sorry. "Yes, but, darling" I say,"I am responsible for what goes on in this house"  "So what!" she says,"nothing um really bad happened.. He had to do it, throw a party, now it's done, he won't be doing it again.  Did it myself, only  bigger! better!, remember? (no!).  Now,  I'm past that sort of thing. So will he be.  Also no one could like vomit up the wall like that" she grins and leaves me to my brooding.

Brooding.
I think it must surely be possible to hire,  like,  muscle.  A swarthy  Russian say, to house sit when you take a bare few days away.You could set him up with a Six pack of beer, pizza, the names and ages of the teenagers. Leave him at it. Ask no questions.  Pay him a reasonable fee for his trouble.  I revisit my old plan to offer my house to a team of psychiatrists for research purposes, charge them a reasonable fee to keep the place running,  move to Havier, Spain, , where I would live in the heat of the sun, reading , writing, in solitary Zen like balance. Occasionally I would skype.

What does it mean?
The boy slithers in to tell me he has found the broken wooden rocker between his sheets,  in his bed, "What I mean is, is he like trying to tell me something?" I tell him I will ask and get back to him. ( I now understand that, much earlier, when I was happily absent,  the same rocker was flung back and forth between man and boy in a zinging altercation).  I return to my  my reverie.

Once We Were Bastards
In Cavan, we went to see the mass grave of the girls who burned to death in the Cavan convent in the 1940s, locked inside by grim nuns as the flames gained purchase, least the townspeople might see them in their night attire. I am a bit haunted by this story and my husband remembers the grave from his youth, a bare fenced in plot with brief granite headstone. At first he cannot find the grave, and when he does he tells me that it has been made over, a layer of fancy gravel, a marble monument, the girls names listed at the bottom. The nuns have pride of place on this glossy marvel erected by the sisters  to express their sorrow, as it says. "Thats  Ok then" I tell him, "All in the past, all  washed clean in the tears of the  nun. Not. Better to have left the bare granite thing alone, better to have written  "Once we were Bastards" than this revisionist mawkish rubbish. Then maybe they, and the rest of us  who let it happen would all be washed clean it the blood of the lambs babycakes. No?"  He has no answer for me.


Friday, 14 February 2014

Outrageous Pants. An Open letter to Miss Panti Bliss.

                                                      Search for the One True Victim                                                             I spend a goodly time on Monday trawling the net for newspaper articles on Ms Panty Bliss and her showdown with the "Homobhobes".  I do this despite my husband's pronouncement that no sensible  person would give it another moment's thought, what with life being so short and all.  "Yeah" I said, "Maybe, but I have had a busy week, all this has been coming at me via stray snippets, random broadsides and I am more confused than I like to be. I mean She/He and They all seems to be The Victim. So who did the bad thing? Who was wronged. Who did 'em wrong? Who am I rooting for? He/she or they? Who?"

So now I am up to snuff on this. Even listened to Miss Panti's oration in the Abbey on U Tube. And here's the thing:

the Net did it
Miss Pant Bliss  aka Rory O'Neill is the Victim, the oppressed. Oh yes indeed.  He asserted on The Saturday Night Show that the absent others were guilty of homophobia and the TV station paid compensation to them in consequence. So, even though in her opinion they were,  the Station folded, behaving as though he was "some kind of a defamer" (as he explained). And, also, he was the recipient of hateful hurtful e mails spewing from the Net. Hmm

The TV station is the Victim. Oh yes indeedy. Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, if the parties will excuse my poetic licence, they offered a right to reply to the litigious defamed. Spurned. They offered a carefully worded gingerish apology. Spurned. And, finally,  they offered cash.   Accepted.  Thereby saving the people squllions that WE might have had to cough up,  if the station was sued.   Failing to ignore their own legal advice indeed o the basis  that Miss Pantis opinion was final and absolute.  And they are now the subject of hateful hurtful  mail spewing from the Net. Hmmm

The Iona Institute and the Journalists thus branded were the victims. Yes! They were falsely accused! Their reputations besmirched!  A Right to reply?  Why should they! Apology? A halfhearted equivocal thing you wouldn't spit at, without the merest mention of the Defaming Person . So. That just left the cash then. And now they are the recipients of hateful hurtful e mails spewing from the net. Hmmm

Like  I said,  I listened to Miss Panti's oration at the Abbey as a sort of grand finale and I have this to say to you, Miss Panti:

Open letter to Miss Panti Bliss

I mean who is this middle aged woman you are so bloody patronizing about ?  Pleasant, inoffensive, well meaning  but sadly quite against same sex marriage. Though not in an active way you know. I know middle aged woman and I say Panti you are oppressive, presumptuous, and basically sexist in your view thereof.  I am very sure some women are for and some against, and some just couldn't care less, but what about middle aged men? This is offensive. And impertinent. And while on this subject, it is not true to say that the Bad People who are actively against same sex marriage are denying you rights that other folks have. You too can marry a person of the opposite sex, leg shackle yourself to a person of opposing chromosome (x n y forever) just like the rest of us. Yes. Now throw that slice of reality out of the pram after the Civil Partnership Act if you will, my opinion ain't actually absolute, unlike your own.  Oh Homophobe. Oppressor Oh. 

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman.
As to youths in cars throwing milk cartons, I daresay a bunch of testosterone driven youths in a cluster, knocking back a pint of milk after a hard night out,  cos they are so hard, might look at you in all your glory, feel the unsettling uncoiling of doubt in their gut about their own manliness, and reach for an empty carton, but hello? try being an actual woman as you walk past a rabble of road workers, or other priapic gangs of men being manly.  It's like life, you give it back, you move on.  You are a woman Panti, you are in the world, you put it out there, you gonna get some wrong stuff back.

So get off the stage Ms Panti Bliss
And the Homophobic country your  cloying anodyne middle aged woman lives in? So that she just can't help herself?   Though she hasn't got the balls to push it?  A question for you. Would that  be the  same country where Homophobia is such a no no that  accused  people so called will sue rather than let the accusation lie,  and you can ramp it up, call absent others Homophobes on national TV and work yourself up into a state of fine victimhood when they push back?

And one more thing
Its not as though I never made the accusation myself, you know. My primary school going children were sternly reprimanded  more than once for calling childish opponents "gay".  "I mean you must not use the word as a term of insult darling" I would say.  "People are gay, as well as not." I would say.  "Why not" I got back, "you didn't  hear what he called me!" I was passionately told.  And anyway, he is/isn't. And besides, he called me gay too, first!"  The teenagers being a  little more circumspect, but only a little. However,  let me tell you they are not choosey in their range of mortal insults. And you could call  them Racist, Sexist, Homophobic if you had a mind.  I, having climbed out of the rabbit hole, take the view that all this is beyond homophobia, beyond politically correctness. It's the developing sexual person anxious-anxious always as to who they are and  what they are.

And  yet, did I give up? Leave them at it? The hell I did.  No way.  I just stopped trotting out the P word to describe something far more complex,  utterly more nuanced. And when they grow beyond all that, when the music stops in this human  game of musical chairs, and they are seated in the gay seat, the straight seat, they will each sit as equals, with nairy a victim in sight or sound.

I am available for an Abbey Oration if anyone is asking.





Friday, 7 February 2014

No Sick Stuff in this House. No Teenage Kicks No Kinky.

He doesn't actually drink.
"Yeah, yeah , think it was the pizza. Oh yeah  definitely the pizza, last night. Yeah."  The boy is at his blandest to an enquiry about  my early morning encounter with his shoes, planted on the hall mat, encrusted with vomit. I mean it was Saturday, it was early, and I only just registered this in passing on my way to a meeting. I was quite tempted to bat the memory away, turn a blind eye as it were. But I gird  my loins for a blistering interrogation.

Not really.
He persists. Yeah, he met up with his friends last night. Yeah he came back after midnight, and yeah  but ... No!  He doesn't actually drink, hardly ever, not really. Well OK OK he may have had a few drinks, but so what?  Why can't he have a few drinks?.   All his friends have a .... , and am I actually saying he CAN'T have a few drinks? Well I can forget that. And anyway he hardly ever only on a Friday, would never ever have more than a few. Like?  Three say, or four maybe. What do I mean four what?  What do I think he means?.  Cans!, cans!, and no he's not  totally underage. Well, but he doesn't actually buy them in the PUB, and besides he paid for them himself,.didn't he? He has a  Saturday job, doesn't he?  And besides what did I do when I was his age, and also and he has already said, it wasn't  drinking, IT WAS THE PIZZA!

IT WAS THE PIZZA.
I tell him that's a crock, and  if he does it again there will be most Severe Repercussions, and I'm on his case, and now I'm leaving him to reflect on what I've just said. I exit stage left.

He will sleep on the sofa.
I  almost make it to the deep deep peace of the marital bedroom, when I am nabbed by the beautiful girl who wants to know if her quite as  beautiful boyfriend could't stay at ours next Saturday night, "because you see we're off to a party thing,and oh NO alchohol! what do you mean alcohol?,  over our way, and how is he to get home after, unless of course you might be able to give him a lift?" but anyway not to worry, she often stays at his, and so...."Often stays at his! But.. but surely only once or twice, and only after I had spoken to his mother. Surely?..and and.... Leave him Home?. No I will not Leave him Home, why should I....and also where would she be proposing  he sleeps? Anyway":.

Naturally.
She arches an elegant eyebrow, "Oh sleeps? Why on the sofa naturally,.IF that's what you want. Whatever. Don't know what the problem is. Never a problem at his. And HIS mother is cool. And very strict. As well". Plus she is eighteen years old. Almost. Can do what she likes. So can he. So can he or can't he. Stay?. I tell her I'll get back to her. Later. "On terms.  With consequences" I throw over my shoulder as I dive through my own bedroom door..

 One day baby.
"I'm gonna leave you now, to get your Severe Repercussions in a row and ready to fire" my husband says, who is of the opinion that I'm peeing in the wind, so to speak, ought to give it up, let it go, bow to the inevitable. "But first perhaps, we should have a little rest" he smirks thoughtfully. "Minors," I say "both of 'em, minors. And I intend to pee away,  frustrate, limit, make tricky - tricky all boozing, fornication and other delightful freedoms, until they reach the age of majority. And roll on the age of majority.  And after that they're can clutter up their own heads with their vomity shoes, and sleeping partners, you and me baby will be out to lunch, busy busy doing esoteric things. And also having ACTUAL good long rests.