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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Real Sex for Grown Ups. Holy Night.

Last night I found myself drifting on the living room sofa, stealthily mesmerised by the Christmas trees lights. Quieted at last.  In the window the dark night was illuminated by a slice of light from the quarter moon, the life in the house dimmed, banked down behind me.  It came to me that I had not stopped to draw a breath since August. Not. Until here I am corralled in the moment, fallen into a little pocket of eternity. The boy's anguished electric guitar sounds break through from time to time and I do believe the boss is singing somewhere in the house. The beautiful one sleeps, my husband is in bed with the Headache, and I am here in my house in this moment..

Sex is all in the mind.
A Headache though! My fault. It was my newly formulated Timetable for Marital Lovemaking that did it. "How often times a week do you think?"  I asked him. "What's average? healthy?, advisable?  Tuesdays, thursdays, sundays, I thought?.. Maybe bonus days!... which can be um awarded. After all dear man, what with chauffeuring, cooking, shopping, cleaning, arguing, laying down the law, cobbling together complex compromises with adolescents and that sort of thing,  not to mention earning a crust, its a tricky thing giving sex the good clear focus it requires, carving out the essential sexual space as it were.. Its like a...a.. sort of rebooting thing Angel,  no need for panic now. The Timetable is like a re-setting, to like grown up, middle aged rumpy pumpy, conjugal coupling and... well...basically... sex."

                              ....actually in your head
Ok,  Ok, I know it was naughty, but on the other hand, his recent complaint made me thoughtful. There is a question begging an answer here. Like how do you do sex with your partner/husband/loverman, when you are grown up? Its not the sweaty anxious obsessive stuff you filled your universe with as a raw young person. That swoon of passion filling a largely empty, available  universe, otherwise flirting with half hearted schooling, alleged educating. But all to soon your careless skitishness is intruded on by a job, a bank loan, troubled broodings on where's its all going?, what's it all mean, and God how it's all empty, actually tedious? I don't say you want to think this, its that pesky universe again.

                                                            ..... your probably quite crazy head.
To illustrate, I once came on a dear friend shivering on a park bench some little distance from our shared house, my accomplice in working hard and living fast back then, one chilly Sunday morning. "What? Why?. Qu'est-ce que c'est" I asked her . She told me with an air of  tragedy that she could not go home until the man brought back by her in triumph the night before had left the house "so I am watching the bus stop I directed him to" she went on," but he doesn't come! I mean it all seemed so lovely last night, but now, oh now he wants us to have breakfast in town. And I can't actually recall his name, and I mean it's all so alien, and all I want to do is go home and curl up in my divinely solitary bed. Oh do you think he'll ever leave!!!! " It seemed she had bounced out of the bed of passion, flung on some clothes and told him she'd be off, early Sunday morning shift in the Chocolate Factory doncha know. Oh and the bus stop's just across the road. hmmm

                                                                                         ..... only in your head
And then there is the rest of your adult life till middle age. Sex mostly sidelined by the fruit of your loins. You might work up the effort when you can face having another one but basically you are too busy, too exhausted, too too distracted.

                                                                                                                  .... sex is in your
But, not for ever. .You're not done yet.! Oh no! You get the last kid upright, physically and mentally. And psychically the pure light gathers force and shines, unnoticed by you,  and here it is again, and its wide and deep, and basically better than you ever knew it could be. Practice, familiarity, passion resurging, makes you wonder if sex was not for making babies after all, but for this, intimacy, union, transformative surrender to the universe of good hot coupling.

Anyway, there's still the cooking, the shopping, the cleaning yada yada  yada, and so the Timetable. And as I hope you can see it was not produced entirely in a spirit of mischief and revenge. I pad upstairs in my bare feet and in to the dim bedroom, hearing the dogs baking in the fields behind the house, the occasional truck swish swishing on the rainy motorway, and slide into the marital bed. My husband's gentle snoring shifts,  stops. "Yeah. Well.  The hell with spontaneity then. Tuesdays, thursdays, sundays, whatever" he mutters.  "And also bonus days my darling" I reply.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Screwed not Dancing.

The boss on this her fourteenth birthday takes herself and girlfriends to see The Hunger Games,  and likes it very much. "A bit darkish, maybe?" I probe, "a bit edgier than the first film?".  "Darkish, yeah. It was.  Dark.  Better.  It was great!"  Right. Better because darker then. Afterwards they eat in Eddie Rockets. That too she says was great and also better, " 'cos we like went on our own, and I mean I paid, and after we got the cab home you sent  together on our own.  And thank you.  It was you know independent,  grown up. So yeah, thank you. It was, we all felt, great."

"I mean it's an unlikely and precious thing to be given thanks, to be permitted to warm oneself a little in a rare fine glow of appreciation. Without one's own prompting! It's actually quite disconcerting!" I puzzle to my husband. "So, right, do you think  I've cracked it this time? Do you think in fact that this time maybe this one will dance with me through the adolescent quagmire. Step light with me over the bruising terrain. On this my fourth and final try?  Do you think?".  "Nope!" he said "Screwed!" he said. Just face it, baby, chances are, not dancing you're screwed".

He tells me how she'll dance me dizzy, dizzy, how she'll  twirl me round in circles till I know that everything I thought I knew about her was a story,  just a shadow of her shimmering, her solipsistic   truth. Says he wants it on the record when I find that she is leading, deftly spinning me and others that he warned me, he's Cassandra, yeah he warned me that I'd better watch my glide"!   "Yes... but... no but.. NOT this time, angel,  this time, I think dancing".  "Maybe baby BUT and for the record I think you will find, actually screwed".

Oh. Well we'll see. And he undertakes to pick up the pieces. Should the need arise.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Leaving home (some day). More Sex.

The beautiful (and adamant) girl is completing her College Application choices for next year.  "Perhaps you could maybe put down eh Business Studies? or uh... Law!,  or.... or Languages... combined with eh Business Studies or like Law. As I mean a third option, fallback position, so to speak, darling."   "Pardon!?  Why would I do THAT when I am taking English and Drama, or I am taking  English and Film, or possibly I am taking Film and Drama. I'm not actually like DOING anything else. Or don't you think I can get the points? Didn't you see my pre mock results? I mean hello?!". I have seen 'em. She has a point.  She needs more points for the chosen option than for any of my ridiculous suggestions. And she's on track. My vision of the beautiful girl as self supporting, comfortably established, launched!, sooner rather than later is fading fast. "Well, I mean maybe the chosen option will actually yield a living wage" I harrow to my husband. "Yeah. Maybe baby, maybe. Or,  she will be exhausting the arts department on your ticket for the decade. Either or."

"Well  I'M thinking of goin' local, the IT, Institute of Technology you know.  You'll save a mate's getting wheels you know... SO I have a lift.  Until you've sorted me with a car. Nothing to worry yourself about here! "  My husband asks the hopeful boy what he would be proposing to study. "Don't know yet.  Havn't decided.  I mean I could do anything. The way I see it.  Pure History maybe,  I'm like good at that. Do they do that there?  Or Archeology! Architecture! Agricultural Science! or, I know,  Vetinarian!  I'm really like good with animals. As you know. Like how many years would THAT take me?". "More than you'd think", I mutter brokenly.. "Maybe you could ASSIST the vet" the boss says kindly   "And, you know,  it will be weird for me when they have both gone AWAY to College. Kinda lonely",  a thoughtful and not unhappy light in her eye.

"It WILL work itself out in the end, angel. It will, you know, unfold as it unfolds, follow its own strange trajectory,  take its own mysterious course. So. We must just go with it, like roll with it,  have faith in the universe. And like also the teenagers" I finish magnificently to my husband, he having by that time cooked the dinner, fed the dog, driven the beautiful girl to drama, gathered in the boss and boy from the darkening night and the suck of a teenage swarm on the road.  "Yeah" , he says, "yeah. Or maybe we should get down on our knees and pray. And afterwards  call one of those helplines, tell them where to get me, tell them there's two of us here, tell them how I'm worn to the bone, pinned to the mast,  may not actually be getting ENOUGH SEX". "Pardon!!!!!!????"  "S'ok," he hastens to add, "I mean I've grown accustomed,  I 'd actually miss 'em if they ever did. Leave I mean. They can stay. Bless them. Also their babies, lovers, hordes of little friends. And you, you can let me know when you have a window, no pressure, I'm basically always at home. Though off to fetch the beautiful one, first."

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Save the Children Stupid!!

 Home ( before I take off my coat)

"Yes, I know. It was bad. Very bad. Grounded? Right. OK, And anyway I have things to do. So that's good" "Eh?" "Yes, I'm making you know like designer christmas cards? for the like Hand Made  Christmas Card Market.? And you won't like have to give me too much money this Christmas, becuase I  will like sell them?. Do you think many people would buy Hand Made Christmas Cards?? Well there is always the family. We could like go visiting THEM when I'm done"

Oh she's very good, my boss. And the christmas cards will be very good too. It all started on an indignant high for my part. You know, the kid is missing when you get home, not seen for hours, no phone on her,  finally turns up at 7pm hot on your heels. "Where?" I asked my husband. "I mean its dark, cold,  alien, out there. AND no phone, no credit, no coat". But like I said, she's good, tipped the wind nicely out of my sails. Easy peasy I guess. "I'm thinking Boyfriend!" my husband  offers. !?!?

And on upstairs,( first floor).

"It was HIM" the beautiful girl tells me, "It IS tobacco smoke, BUT it was him". She doesn't actually stop playing something classical and fluent on the piano, as she assures me that she herself may have taken a drag but it was the Boy's cigarette, and anyway she hardly ever....I mean how could she?...can't afford them, her friends get cash from their parents for like a few drinks  on nights out and other like  needs,  "but not me. Ho no, not me". "I'm thinking  nicotine plus what?" my husband calls.!?!?

"Nope. It was HER," and anyway he doesn't smoke, not  hardly ever,  maybe like  a drag to keep her company, and  anyway he can't afford....and so on and so forth and... "I WILL NOT HAVE IT IN THE HOUSE" I say, and also "You may do what you choose when you go out in the world. Make your own choices then, pick your poison, undermine and pick apart the good health I have tended in you all, but not yet. And...and then it won't be on my watch...and.. and.." I come to a stuttering stop, catching a distinctly wry and long suffering  twinkle in the boy's nordic blue eyes. That wind has deserted the parental sales again. Oh well. "I'm thinking you gotta laugh" my husband mutters. !?!?

And upwards to the marital bedroom

In the blessed peace of there  I listen to  the beautiful one's trilling fluent scales on her piano,  the masterful slam of the front door and unmistakeable stride of the boy gone towards the gate, all six foot one of him undiminished by the cigarettes he does not smoke. Beneath me on her bed sits the boss fashioning the finest of hand made cards, calmly planning the purchase of presents, mascara, chocolate. But not cigarettes. No.  An idiotic habit she thinks. Her siblings idiots she thinks also.

"Stop thinking!" "Am not!" "Yes! you are! I hear you thinking, thinking". My husband  comes to fetch me for dinner where I sit lost in knotty twisty dilemma. I order him to take himself out of my mental processes, where yeah,  I am....mulling, twisting, wrestling with work related turmoil and imponderables, the slipperiness of teenagers. He asks me how I think I  have advanced  things with my fruitless broodings, and if I realized the unflattering displacement all this is causing  to my facial features. Hmm. There is no point, I think much later on from the deep deep peace of the marital, there is no point in trying to control anything, ever, at all. And when the whirwind gathers you up, the only think to usefully do is hang on. And wait, hopefully, for deliverance. In due course. Stop thinking.

Musings in the Wee Small Hours.

I wonder if the enthusiastic policemen who snatched  the two Roma children from the bosom of their anxious families, the ones also who made herculean attempts to transmogrify a twenty four year old Australian woman into a lost girl ripe for the rescue feel as I do about the pointlessness of one's efforts to control the bad stuff,  one's enthusiastic blunderings to get a handle on the world?

And then there was Sweetie, virtual girl bait, the lifting of a stone to reveal the predatory feasting horror of men on children via the internet. Tip of the iceberg. Devouring of the innocents. And the free for all of the Beast on children orphaned by Tyhoon Haiyan. Can we do nothing?  Are we helpless in fact?  Forever barking up the wrong tree, forever backing off from the one true fight we have to fight and win ruthlessly, unflinching, whatever it takes. My husband awakes, sighs histrionically, pokes me in the ribs. "Stop. Thinking."

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Hearing voices, Valerian overdose, Reaping the whirlwind.

 Last week I spent a day in the Family Law District court with six hundred or so other souls, waiting, waiting, for our cases to be reached. There being upwards of two hundred cases in the list to be dealt with on that same day . We waited, pushed on top of one another in a smallish Foyer, having standing room only with very little in the way of  of seating, as the hours ticked gruellingly by. Marriage breakdown, questions of custody and access to children, domestic violence, all matters bringing  us to that place.We were tormented in not  knowing when our cases would be reached, and straining to hear a court clerk who stood on a chair and called out cases in batches periodically over the heads of  the anxious crowd. In the evening my kind husband presented me with a cup of Calming Herbal Tea, with, as I told him, enough valerian in it to fell a horse. I wasn't looking to healthy he said. I told him to go easy on his spoonfuls of herbals. It's the voices, I told him echoing, insisting, whistling insanely  in my poor frazzled head, clamouring to be heard.

 .                                                    .......(fairly) desperate lawyers
                                                                                                                                                              "OH NO! You can't LEAVE! Yeah I KNOW You've been here since 9.00am.  I KNOW we're 189th in the list, I KNOW there's no where to sit, you need a cigarette, the bathroom, to feed the meter,  get some coffee, phone your sitter. I KNOW. But you can't actually leave.

"Get through that list? Oh yeah he'll get through that list,  keep going untill he does. He doesn't adjourn. Not for any reason. Ever. I mean adjournments right,  why do you think there's two hundred cases in the list? AND adjourned  where??   Onto another list, that's where.. He's like... like the Lone Ranger here, he's gonna like deal with every thing. How? like a knife through butter. In his own sweet way. Like short, bewildering but definitely, when you leave, OVER.. He'll be the last man standing when darkness falls".

"Evidence? He doesn't do evidence. He  hasn't got  time for evidence. He does decisions. And when your case is called start talking from the door on your way in, get in first, before like the other guy, make sure it's your voice he hears. Hey,  it's a small window, you don't want to overload the guy, its a  finely balanced edifice in there"?.

"All wrong? Yeah it's all wrong. but hey, at least you get a decision! And if you don't like it, well hey  go out there and.... AGREE, concur, parlay with your ex husband, lover, partner, one night stand.  Forget the war, forget the battering he gave you, the way she made your babies hate you, the bedsit she won't let you bring them to, the way he left you broke with young children he lavishes useless stuff on come Sunday just because he can. Get back out there and sort it out yourself."

                                            ..........(like) cattle driven off a cliff

"But.. this is important. Sensitive. Delicate stuff. Is't it? It needs time. Patience. Careful consideration. Doesn't it? This is just not going to end well.  Is it?

"Don't know. . Here for five hours now and just managed to grab a seat. Still, I think my ex is gone, he's like,  you know, claustrophobic. Standing like cattle in a pen for six hours solid's not his thing. Hah!.

"Legal aid?, you're kidding. I paid  €600 to mine. For this. Still she looks pretty green around the gills too. Keeps telling me to let her do the talking, she does. Because we won't have much time, she says.  Be ready, cos we won't know when it will be called, she told me. Be prepared, we won't get much of a hearing, she thinks. But, also, not to worry she say, we can appeal.  It's the luck of the draw, also, we can appeal. Could come out right, who know's,  we can appeal.  But anyway but  yeah she says  we can appeal".

"Divorce? Forget divorce. We were going to sell the house, go our ways, agree time spent with  the kids. Now he lives it in the dining room, house is a war zone, bank won't let us sell, negative equity you know, all that. And we have to get a protection order, safety order, barring order, stop a killing, go on medication, get one of us out,"
                                                   .........a whirlwind for the reaping.

And so the day wore on, the gathering evening light penetrating the high court house windows at  the Family Law District Court  folks. Where I  gratefully found a wall to lean against by afternoon (standing room only for this party). Grimly humorous. More grim than humorous. I grimly think about how everything has shifted in Ireland in recent years. A quietly building  tsunami of people having a marriage split, a relationship break up, a fruitful one night stand, and this is what we offer in the fallout.

We need a dedicated nine to five, five day a week Court, stoopid. With  mediators, councillors, social workers attached.  And judges who choose the work, are given a chance to judge,and to learn how. .  Expensive? doesn't have to be, it's a question of planning, vision, recruiting the good and interested people.

And if we don't well,  then we stand over a  system that does actual harm.. Does anyone have any idea just how many children have major decisions made about the trajectory of their lives in  this system? Effectively minced  along with their parents at the end of  this bizarre assembly line. We will answer, are answering already  to a generation, in our  failure to meet this need.  Better to have no "family Law" courts at all. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Australia. No babies. No judgement. .

                                                  TRUTH                                                                                                     "Did they come out of the computer for their holidays? Did they?" So said the infant niece of my first born son's  wife, he, she and the three children having come home once again from Australia to visit.
"D'u think its the vitamin D from the sun that makes them like glow" the boss wonders.   "Hmm, yes, probably"  I muse, taking  pleasure from that glow, from actual presence, and also from the ease of conversations without the three seconds pause of  Skype and Facetime.
"Do you think it will be long before we see them again? Will they ever come home again" asks my watery girl, as they leave.
Truthfully, I think not. Employed, glowing, prosperous,  established in a fine circle of friends, why would they? For what come back? They are planning to buy a house ohmygod. How we all swore never to do that again! Australia and they are a fine fit, thanking you Australia. You won't regret it I think.
"Someday baby. Maybe " I tell a kind untruth.

                                           THE WHOLE TRUTH
"Nope. Don't trouble yourself. Don't actually bother. Don't  basically lie.....DON'T  tell me it doesn't hurt!" "Nnnnno, I'm not saying ....I mean its a very particular kind of pain.....not like.....I mean it sort of builds and builds and then.... gone.....builds and builds and then.... "   "Stop!That sounds like even worse. Like actually awful!"  "Yes, but it's's a... um ..fruitful pain. And...and I mean the most wonderful high, of your life, when it  like you know arrives." "Yeah, yeah and then it howls and wails and slobbers for YEARS. I'm NEVER EVER  DOING THAT"  I wonder why I am in effect trying to sell motherhood to the beautiful girl? We don't want that, after all. Not for years and years and years.

But I want her to understand. I want her to see. To know it's not  a conspiracy of women to soften the edges, to lure free spirits on to the horror the horror. I want her to have an inkling of  the unique and transformative nature of labouring and giving birth. The act of being torn open, the car crash trauma an essential component even . I want to tell her .....  everything. The truth.  The whole truth. I want to tell her. Oh well I guess she will, having asserted how it isn't for her, come to the yearning aching need  for what grows inside her when she gets there, however she gets there, like the rest of us. One day. Maybe. Most likely.

                                          NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH
And then there is another woman's daughter this week who had the ambivalent victory of proving her father a rapist in a court of law. A full and poisoned chalice. A vindication mired in the loss of her father, in private when she was four years old and first violated and in public this day.  "A good wee girl. I believed her." said her uncle. As did her mother, when the child spoke up at thirteen years of age. But then the years passed and no crime was acknowledged,  no punishment marked. The uncle failed to act, the police were not terribly interested. Other fish to fry. Oh yes.

I  have no truck with Gerry Adams.  And yet, and yet. His revelation to the police finally, of his brother's confession of guilt, was a powerful proof in his niece's case. And I am a little haunted by how he went on to reveal his fathers abuse of some of his ten children, though he himself does not recall it.  He did not say whether he experienced it. The abused becomes the abuser, and all surely in the abuser's family  are expected to sing in that circle., take on the yoke of that which may not be spoken, the bad thing carried by each according to kind.

He is brother, son, and uncle is Adams, and there is no simple truth and nothing but..  Not here. Not for Adams who delivered his brother in to the maws of the justice and penal system. Not for a brave woman who tore open a family circle leaving everyone of them  exposed and isolated in the unsupported light .

Friday, 4 October 2013

Ned Kelly/Lovers/ Villagers bearing torches

We took ourselves  to Cavan for a wedding on the weekend, orphans from the storm of family life. We sped along the motorway with a nice sense of the clandestine, though it was a trip punctuated with  news bites from a story just coming in on the car radio about the two young children lured away  from a children's party in Athlone.  The children, horribly assaulted,  escaped through a window and the alarm was raised." Not some desperate fruitless hunt then for little ones whose fate could only ever be imagined", I said uneasily, as we cut the radio off, " there is that at least.  Is there not? " My husband was silent as we arrived and parked.

"I met her on the internet" the beaming groom, long known in that part of the world as The Hen,  began the wedding speech. " That's how at first, and then..... I went to China, and..." He drew the air deep into his lungs to contain his emotion, to go on, when from the back of the room  the loud squawking of a hen and its human bearers drowned him out. The hen was carried to the bridal table and ceremoniously placed to cheers and guffaws. I watched her edgily where she perched on the wedding table by my elbow. She stared calmly back as though waiting with me for the groom to resume his story.

 He did attempt it, but the hen flew into the air to be snatched as she flew, by one of the guests, and sat tucked into his arm to increased cheers and catcalls. Each time the groom  reached  for the threads of his story he was derailed by the mockers thereafter, until at last he abandoned the attempt.

 " She's the love of my life and my soulmate ANYWAY" he roared above the crowd "and oh I know right well your smart remarks, your chinese takeaways and the like. Don't care, it's what she is" smiling down into the loving anxious face of his chinese bride. And she was. They  were an obvious couple.  Peas in a pod. Each other's only other.

" Why, oh why" I asked the man I  married "wouldn't they let him SPEAK?" But he was in the moment,  hooting at the dexterity of the wedding guest who never even rose from his chair as he reached up an arm to catch the flying hen. Earlier the dear man  had been hauled before a venerable old woman on the Groom's side, who after casting about her in vain for his seed and breed, announced "Oh it's you! Ah yes, you were always like your mother" bringing his beloved mother, lost to an aggressive cancer when he was still in his teens, to the wedding feast. And he was Cavan, native and son again.

On Monday's we watched the people massing on on the Garda Station  in Athlone where a man suspected of the frightful assault on the children was held. "What are they waiting for? I mean what do they want exactly?" I asked my husband, both of us blasted and loose after our pretty wild weekend. "Want? they don't know what they want,  they only know what they don't want, angelface"." Huh?"   Don't want to be alone,  be taken unawares,  be prey to the unexpected. There's safety in numbers, ease in the crowd, positive bliss, baby, in laying down the burden of your own adjectival individual tormenting knowing. Yeah"

Maybe baby. But. Smarts, heart and your adjectival  soul's well thrashed in the braying crowd. And I do not forgive that refusal of the Groom's story, though they drank and laughed and  feasted for him all night long.

And you might like to take a look at Peter Carey's True History Of the Kelly Gang if you want to hear the voice of an individual adjectival man..

Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Conversation, two Cultures, Jihad.

Latish Thursday  night.
"Why? Because he said he'd rip my head off, and pull my lungs out through my neck. That's why". The boy explains to me why he is not speaking to my husband. I splutter wordlessly.  He tells me it's not funny. I tell him it's the way he said it. " It's the way HE said it" he volleys back.

Early Tuesday morning
"I can't be dealing with this stuff first thing, I need calm, a soothing cup of tea, I will be off kilter  for the day now. It's the way you put it."  "No, Babycakes.  It is the way YOU put it". "Um yes. Maybe. But. What about the stuff he said to me BEFORE I put it. What about that. And anyway I bloody well will. And besides he knows quite well I didn't mean it".

A little later whilst sipping  Tea.
"The thing is darling man we simply must not indulge in these deadly little exchanges. These bloody ripostes.  THEY can, we can't. Ever. It's, basically,  inappropriate. Yes. It is. AND counter productive.We  Never Forget about the immature Frontal lobes. "Huh"?  "Yeah, feeling, sensation, ready and done. Judgement, rationality, still cooking, needs more time. You gotta keep the adult hat on till the mid twenties, baby. So. Never mind what he said, you say only measured things  Consistency and calm. Firmness, kindness, tolerance. Oh and a canny blind eye in  some things.

As he reaches to switch on the Radio.
"Yes. But, I want it on the record that nobody ever allowed for my frontal lobes. Or anyone else's  I knew. And all my major life choices were made by my mid twenties.  I mean people used to have families by then. Jobs. In the olden days, in a land far away people were hurtling towards middle age by then.

While Sean O'Rourke introduces his interviewee Mr Taufiq.
 "Ah,  yes, and look where they were going baby. The graveyard. And here are you in the prime of life, having it all; three vigorous teens to riff with,  rude good health to play with,  food in your belly, red wine in your wine rack,  and my obliging self  on a loop.. All you have to do is lay down your verbals,  your snappy cartoon violence, and suffer the teenagers. Gracefully".

And so we subside exhausted,.and listen with growing incredulity to that interview with the neurosurgeon  whose wife and  children were murdered in a house fire a few days before.  Listen as he talks with vim and singlemindedness  about his Muslim faith, his rigorous religious rearing of his children, the support and magnificence of his Muslim mates, his fine work colleagues, and so on and so on and so on. O'Rourke is dogged in his attempt to steer him back to the personal, the intimate, the private.  But how will he feel,? won't he be alone?  Nope. No. Faith will sustain him.  But....   Shehnila,  Zainab,  Jamil,  Bilalm,  they will sustain him too?. O'Rourke verges on the shrill.  That ball also drops dead at the good doctor's feet and the interview ends

As  I swing a leg out of bed, I think of emotional incontinence, of a culture feeling the necessity to wallow in, to finger over the pain of others. And a religion that extracts and devours the personal, the individual, from its followers. I wonder if the first  imbalance is preferable to the second. Probably. On Tuesday I read of the White Widow, the Irish woman allegedly leading the charge in the bombing of a shopping centre in Nairobi. I wonder what our eastern brethren the Jihadists think of Frontal Lobe maturity as they hurtle towards middle age and Alllah,  propelled by the mad energy of eternally half baked teenagers.  Arrested essentially..

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Better dead than living. A gathering of Wolverines.

Arrogance, inhumanity, stupidity, mechanical greed, which words best to employ to describe KBC  Bank's  sending of a letter to the bereaved  partner of  Fiachra Daly, dead by his own hand and a homeless casualty of the Priory Hall mess?  A letter  demanding arrears and interest while that Bank awaited full repayment of his mortgage from an insurance company.

The Bank is in the entirely undeserved position where the full mortgage will be met by an insurance company, despite the fact that the all of the residents have had to abandon their homes in the Priory Development, the buildings having proved to be deficent, hazardous and costing a king's ransom to be made good.  The insurance is not for the people, you see. And yet, oh yet, they went after arrears of interest  after the man's death. And yet and even though the dead man's children and his partner are homeless and will remain homeless. The insurance is not for the people.

He never suffered from mental health problems, his partner insisted. And well she must. The existence of such a history might give the insurance company an out. Because that's how insurance companies operate. Wedded to the bankers in the boom, the hopeful house buyer was ushered into into the grinning insurance salesman in the next room as soon as the loan application was signed.  An unholy alliance when the Tiger was on the high roll.

Almost every owner of the home they live in  has a life policy signed over to the bank.  First came the shiny new life policy,  then a glossy application for Income protection. No life policy, no mortgage no home.  No income protection, no mortgage, no...?  That was implied, and it was a stouthearted hopeful  who refused. These are the very income protection policies which do not pay out in most cases now, when desperately needed.  Or are paid directly to the banks.  The devil was in the detail, you see. And the insurance is not for the people.

The Bank in this case got its useless outsized mortgage paid off,  thanks to this man's sucide without mental illness. Tricky but neat.  Inescapable the fact then that any mortgager is better dead than living these fine days. And then the Bank went in for more.

"A demand automatically generated" they offer an outraged public. "We eh will yeah eh of  course eh write it off...when the eh when the policy pays up."   It is grotesque, unbelievable,  bizarre, unpreceded,  a GUBU indeed of an equivalence with permitting Banks to deal with people caught up in the housing crisis. The crisis, another GUBU, defies the usual round of commerce. Only a state appointed body with an authentic brief, or an Icelandic intervention of the people, should be permitted anywhere near Priory hall,  houses crumbling around pyrite, the mortgage arrears crisis. You might as well unleash a pack of wolvernines in a farm yard.

And still the band wagon of nest feathering, pillaging goes on, and a man, an ordinary man, father, lover, would be protector of his people is better dead than living to the State.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Black Hearts and Bankers.

 I was all week long keeping my head just above water moving too fast. You know the kind of thing, kids back to school, work demands, everything kicking off in autumn. A blurry week of appointments, trips to the cash machine, bringing the law down from the mountain one more time to recalcitrant teenagers. Car trips back and forth, hither and yonder, punctuated by Radio soundbites,  tunings in and out of  interviews with Bankers being asked what they were like doing for the distressed (mortgagors). Questioning of  A.I.B Bank's David Duffy  and his ilk, by the Government Committee tasked with establishing whether the Banks had done what they were like told to do. As in like offering loan  restructuring, or like write downs even,  or like anything,  like at all.  Like?

Doing? what were they doing? Why, they were writing letters, warning bad 'uns, wrinkling out dastardly Strategic Defaulters, and protecting,  they were like protecting deserving taxpayers. "They are....protecting....??? they are ....Ahh no, noo,  that's not right. That's just wrong,  that' just....back up there....that's not....right."  And my merry go round shrieks to a  halt.

"Gotta tell you" I tell my husband " gotta say before my head explodes, that basically, you know the banks?, well they got VALUATIONS before they handed over the cash for your house.. At the time I  mean, they messed with your head, they got valuations, made you pay for it, and told you  it wasn't for you it was for THEM. And no valuation, no cash, no house. So you did, you paid for it, AND you got other certificates about the planning, the services, the build, BUT you don't get another VALUATION because why would you? It's a no brainer, because they got one didn't they? They  wouldn't  let you have the money if it was  wrong would they?. Noone told  you "oh hey  hold up there, can't rely on that!, better get your own."

So why are we now hearing  this tricky disingenuous stuff  from bankers? Why not a class action against the Banks for the difference in the current  value of your house and the mortgage on it.  Negative equity take a bow.   Two thirds of all mortgages holders from the long boom era are in serious negative equity. Now that would be a powerful  class.

And one more thing.  I wonder if Mr Duffy might give me a business loan for my ace business idea to set up an on-line game.  Pius Banker types hunt down Strategic Defaulters with weasel words and loaded letters, winner takes all the  cute taxpayer lambs.

And that's all.  Too busy redirecting soul traffic here. Everyone in my house is in love. Everyone. Even my youngest daughter, my baby, (spanish students) (a seriously fetching spanish boy).. "Dangerously volatile, a chemical cocktail  zinging round our house, a triple whammy" I tell my(disgruntled) husband.  Study, exams, music practice, sleep, all  in jeopardy here. Gotta keep the show on the road.  Somehow."  "Yeah, well maybe, but what do I have to DO  (to get some attention around here).  You want chemicals step on over here,  feel my black and chemical little heart. Baby." Yes, everyone.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Leonard Cohen Knows.

I am occasionally  blindsided  by a  television soap scene, a piece of  acting in your mundane two to three episodes  a week soap, that  is quite simply a tour de force. An actor who over time and quite superbly makes a part their own. An Eastenders fan,  I was blown away by  character Jean Slater's recent scenes as she tethers on the brink,  struggling to manage the derailing high of of  a new love affair, and the agony of deciding whether to tell the beloved of her Bi polar disorder. It is good stuff on so many levels. To place a mental illness squarely into the human context, to show and tell what that means, to put the person first, the illness incidental; that is worth something.

There is a drive now to insist  that mental illness is an illness like any other, that  the sufferer is human,  is not possessed, not  alien, not other.  This is not a simple matter.    Sufferers of metal illness have traditionally been driven out, put aside, to assuage our haunting  fear of madness maybe. We who are periodically on the brink.  And then there is the fact that the extraordinary suffering caused by  mental illness surpasses all other suffering, more or less..

And that's not all.  For the acutely mentally ill among us,  we have to offer only  the drugs, the anti psychotics. . These are not fun drugs. The pathos and the bravery of the Eastenders character when she speaks of not choosing this, not wanting it, but anyway she has it, so get over it,  reflects I think the personal via delorosa of people obliged to submit to a deadening drug regime in order to be acceptable to the rest of us, to be allowed to live side by side with their family and friends.

 The folks who do not stick with this regime are in the deviant corner, judged,  labelled non compliants.  And as to side effects, why  we have antidotes for those, more drugs, so that  the constant plaintive wail of protest from the afflicted can be denied,  ignored.  Has to be,  we have nothing else,  have to keep pharmaceutical firms sweet,  ain't going back to the drawing board on this one no way, and, anyway, how easy it is to have our way with such lost and wandering folk. Our arrogance is breath taking indeed.

A woman then, describing  her condition, her ordeal, is invaluable, dragging  us out of the bunker, bringing us to acknowledgement, engagement. AND AFTER THAT I DO BELIEVE THE ONLY THING IS TO ACKNOWLEDGE OUR OWN INADEQUACY. And assume a proper humility, wonder even. I have some experience of people in that acute state, as yet undrugged, and have wondered about that which is revealed. What mystery, haunting, visitation, is coming through that other, altered, mind. Can we be so sure it  is only for smothering, snuffing out?

There being a crack in everything letting the light in to mess with the words of leonard cohen come down from the mountain to tell us one more time.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Sprinting Summer/Murder of Innocents..

                            Oh yes indeed,  it is the last week in August,  time's up for the teenagers, school's open for business.  I told them this day would come, but still, oh still, oh lord where did the holidays go?  Three whole entire months gone gone and gone, the days speeding up till August is sprinting past in a blur of images,  bombardment in stereophonic;
                                                         waving goodbye to a distracted  boss at the Gaeltacht in Carraroe, as she wheeled round to join the ecstatic disco queue;  collecting the same heartbroken girl from the train station on her return home,  listening to her sad description of the three rail carraiges of home bound adolescents  breaking into renewed weeping at each train stop ("what! the boys too!", my husband can't resist);   stumbling by painful degrees on the party carnage in our house after the beautiful girl's illicit unparty,  cue emotional (her) enraged (us) scenes with the beautiful one,  leading to niagerous weeping (her) and recidivist smoking (us):  the same girl tenderly cradling her newborn girl cousin, breathing reverentially the baby essence from the downy fragile skull through her edgy ring pierced nose:
                                                                           the week just past in Ballymoney Wexford,  a nostalgic sandbuckets and spade holiday snatched at the scrag end of summer, though we have no builders of  sandcastles now to speak of,  soft sunwarmed sand under grateful bare feet,  dog (we brought the dog) darting delightedly in and out of curly waves,  wasps bomb diving past your nose for sandy sandwiches, a million lady birds caught on the car windscreen, sticking in the children's hair;  guffawing teens sprawled watching dodgy dvds at night, sniggering at eachs others red faced contortions to preserve modesty under towel at the beech;
                                                                                       "It's Enid Blyton, picture perfect, beech world this, complete with rollicking waves, incidental caves, the blue sun sky" I tell my Cavan husband.  She used to hope for smugglers, adventure, mysteries down here when she was a little girl  "and now I know that's like never actually going to happen" the boss chimes.  But I don't know dear girl.  The smugglers maybe not, but looking at your dazzled  daffy grin these days, I can't  discount the rest;
                                                                                                  that picture in the newspaper of the  Carlow man, murderer of his two young sons, handcuffed to a guard,  two men head bowed in tandem looking helpless into some abyss. You think of those others who dispatched themselves successfully, so that they might never again see daylight,  endure a conscious knowing what they had taken, snuffed out as though it was their own to take.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

No Ordinary Worms. Perseids bearing Twins.

Oh hey, you know, the Recession in the EU?....over.  Austerity in the .... oh yeah.. peripheral, the peripheral  not  so much.  The Taoiseach he is adopting a you know CAUTIOUS Approach, he has like International Markets and all to reassure.  BUT, you know, Consumer Confidence has improved,  there's a um like  Slight Increase in GDP AND the actual European Central Bank has allowed they won't be hiking interest rates for an entire year or so. Oh and also, for the Coming Budget  the government is thinking really hard about Not Cutting Again Deeper  OR Investing in Jobs ... either/or.  For the people. our cup is full,  the wheel has turned, the cavalry has arrived.  And...and... with one bound,  our hero politicians jump free!" "What? what?"My husband is abstracted  this evening.  A problem with slugs in his tomatoes. But I persist. I have questions for the elected ones, on the six o'clock radio news.

The thing is folks, you're late. Your shrinking qualified recovery is late,  way late for some lost souls. Take a look at our thrashed economy,  our crumbling  infrastructure,  our emptied country.  Just this once,  open up your eyes and look.  Before you carry on up the recovery.

See those blind and vacant shop fronts lining every street in Ireland, see the hunch-shouldered shabby folk standing in the weather,  in the slowmoving snaking queues feeding in through the peeling door of the social welfare office. Flick a sideways glance at quiet barely populated restaurants,  desultory solitaries in pubs. See the threadbare look on cars, buildings,  the people.  Hear the silence,  the hush of absence of those already gone, and those others who have exited on the end of a rope or other desperate means,  overwhelmed by debt, ruin, disappointment.

Still looking?  See the others who stay to struggle with depleted social supports, to care for the sick, the incapacitated,  the disabled. Those ones who could not leave. Watch the young loiter useless and redundant on the streets, only the web welcomes them, our Education System being slowly dismantled, stripped back to a preserve for an elite again. That's Our Health system over  there,  tossed after Education,  deconstructed, taken incrementally, assisted by the  people's reluctant  pained  surrender of  exorbitant insurance cover.  I SAID ARE YOU STILL LOOKING..

Enda Kenny's party animals.  Yeah they acquired the roof over their heads,  cars to get about in,  vitamin D boosting  holiday sun,  a second house even for a pension fund. How they aspired. The authors surely of their own misfortune. Now how they rue the day, and how they  revert to the proper level of want,  reclaim the historic  birthright. Only forty years after all since the austere eighties. They can tap in to living memory can't they.They can learn to be poor again can't they?

And now go back to your recovery safe in the knowledge that, although so much has been dismantled, the political classes and an old old system has  preserved itself,  has  managed even through the long recession to pay you and your buddies way above European, American standards even.  Close your eyes and smile.  Go on! You know you know the cavalry comes for you.

"The thing is these are not regular worms baby,  you gotta see 'em,  they are monsters,  they have teeth!  Know what I mean?  Snarly teeth! Tomatoes,  lettuce,  cucumbers; gone, gone and gone!  And the thing is Angel Face YOU CAN"T SEE THEM IN THE LIGHT!  You only see 'em in the blackest night  They take the colour of the plant they're feeding off.  I mean your mother's garlic and lemon in water remedy isn't in the ball park here honey. Know what I mean?" "Yep, yes, do, know exactly" and I pass the dear abstracted one a cup of strong sweet tea.

Later on we fail to find the Perseids in an unyieldingly clouded night sky.  He and his sister came here in a shower of shooting stars and now it is his birthday, she having returned to the stuff they came from many many star showers ago. 

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Zombies a Gathering. Lambs on the march.

A tale of two parties, a song in two notes:

We go to Galway on Sunday to see our blissful boss in the Gaeltacht,  stay overnight.  "And at least we know the beautiful girl will mind the house, in the company one of her little friends as agreed......... which is reassuring darling.... no?" My husband snorts.

We return to tell tale  signs of partying. You know the kind of thing. All the windows open, the dustpan and brush on the landing,  the very air unsettled. My husband becomes increasingly disturbed as the evening wears on, finding many empty mineral bottles in the bin (he is carrying out a  full investigation by  now), stray shards of glass on the living room floor,  the TV aerial askew in a permanent way,  his stuff moved about in our bedroom. The beautiful one is taxed with this, the evidence presented.

"A Party? No. Well....Ok I mean  N brought a naggin of Vodka, yeah, and we had a a few like drinks,  yeah, and we..and we....went to bed.....You SAID  N could stay.  Shards of glass?? well I don't know about that,  TV aerial?  nope..... don't...... Well  yes, there was SOME dancing' but..... your bedroom?,....well... you know I put N in there because SHE's gentle and I put C in the boy's room,  and.... and well ok Ok C was here and also R L and D came, and yes yes they  each brought a naggin of vodka, but I mean we were not DRUNK, like  do you know how much vodka you get in a a naggin?.  And I mean I did clean up the boy's room after.....  the boss's room looked ok.  And,,,so .... NO there was nothing GOING ON  in the boy's room but C you know, she  smokes,  and.. um...  hasn't you know much stomach for alcohol.'....but...  No! no boys! I mean like R  and  C  wanted to have some but I said no, and now look at the thanks I get, I mean hello? it wasn't actually a party, it was it was a,....mixers? well some of the girls wanted to make shots, and NO! N n D were not like  drunk when they fell on the tv aerial, AND ANYWAY WE DID NOT TRAUMATISE THE DOG".

"I could forgive all else  but what they did to the dog" my husband says sternly ." No! the dog's not all right!  He is withdrawn,. He is not himself. What do you mean what do I mean withdrawn? He is SHOOK. And.. how would I KNOW what they did to the dog, but they did it. And there WERE boys! How do I know? I'll tell you how I know, some one was moving my antique bullet collection around in our bedroom, the boy's fishing stuff has been gone through. You' re not going to tell me a girl would have been interested in that stuff. And besides I can smell it. Smell what? Disturbance! smoke! booze! What's wrong with your Nose!?"

Things got  heated, took a turn for the acrimonious here. BUT we have agreed, he and I, to differ on what actually happened and she, the beautiful gig, has agreed, even though she never did it in the first place, never ever to do it again. "The truth" I say sagely, "lies somewhere in the middle. Sweetest heart".  He snorts.

Burn now or burn later:

Later on, to take his mind off the war, I asked him  if he thinks that strategic defaulters, in the frame on  the airwaves in many and mind numbing discussions about mortgage arrears,  are in fact A GOOD THING..  "I mean, you know, if The Banks and The Regulators are calling us names,  it has to be  good. Strategic defaulters or lambs to the slaughter,  baby cakes,  pick your corner, choose your Moral Hazard, now Bankers are exercised about the state of your soul. Least you burn in the next world,  instead of roasting helpfully in this".  He, having reverted to tobacco after the Party  that Wasn't,  sniggers in a fine fug of smoke.

One last thing:

On the Radio I  listen to the Canadian woman, attacked on the street by  a randomer  drunk,  describe her ordeal,  haltingly allow when pressed that she might come back to Ireland one day, does not blame anyone over here.  She is too generous. She has been maimed, irreversibly.  It is  not an unlikely incident. Walk through any Irish population centre these evenings, and you will witness the march of the Zombies. Loose, sloppy, labile people drinking on the streets. It is spreading; encroaching, infectious behavior. Not very long ago, if you wanted to get degradingly drunk, you had to do it within the four walls of a pub, and the rest of the folk could walk unmolested in the streets. Not now. Our gardai turn a blind eye and we tolerate it. Until, that is,  some one whom we invited back here to shake down (Gabriel Byrne take a bow) is blinded. And then we lie to ourselves about who is to  blame and what exactly goes down in this place.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Dilemmas/ Dilemms/ Fugitive time.

The Nun's Dilemma.

"You can see exactly what a teaser it is for the nuns, angel, can't you? in their sisterly deliberations.?. " My husband blows out vapour from his E cigarette thoughtfully. ""Like will we pay the full whack ? as  REQUESTED  by the government? to" compensate" the Magdalene women?.  Like what will we get away with here? I mean what can they stick us with sisters? Oh it's a fine calculation indeed and indeed separating the wheat from the chaff, I mean, on the one hand there are those that can prove it, nail down the  long years of slavery in the laundries in a court of law. And then there are the others. The  raggedy people, sisters, the dispossessed,  the fallen, the unwanted, unclaimed, illiterate, broken, so they were. So who would doubt that such people would  seek to filch the cash from us, sisters,  traduce us,  sisters. Who would credit their shaky testimonies  in a court of law?.The law is an ass sisters.  Government's  a pushover.  Enda Kenny's a wuss.  We say no! We can't pay,  we won't pay. AND, also, and  in addition, and besides, we are elderly, infirm, sisters. God bless us and save us and gather us in..

I dare say he will soon enough, and congratulate them too for all the no account women  they helped to break, dispossess,.  And how  particularly impressed he will be that they held on to the cash they made on the backs of the raggedy people too, even in their elderly frailty. Oh, and  you can indeed take it with you, dear heart. We were all misinformed.

Minister  Rabitte's Dilemma.

"As if the poor man did not have enough real issues to wrestle to the floor, he must now have an policy on internet porn. I mean one feels for him, darling, one does". My husband has disappeared behind a cloud of e vapour now.  "But never mind.  He  has decided.  Censorship is not the answer,  an Opt In requirement  from internet providers not appropriate, no.  Never mind brave David Cameron in the UK and  the outpourings of parental fear and loathing for the toxic muck children are captive audience to. Never mind the hardcore porn  twinkling across our computer screens  to stun and entrap, never mind that it dances in on quite unrelated searches, never mind that children are the most active and constant users on the internet., never mind that parents are engaged in a desperate struggle to contain  internet use.  After all its not like drug pushers is it, minister,  giving out free stuff to schoolchildren, to hook and enslave.Oh  no. Not. Never mind that your daughters and mine, minister, must fight off the young male predators made and  unleashed, with a self image cunningly planted of sex object and slave to damn them in a loosing battle. Never mind that or the damage beyond mending , minister. Never mind, never mind..

Fugitive time.

The summer school  holidays dwindle, sucked down times' sink hole, and the autumn term is nearly on us. .The Boss phones me from the Gaeltacht, where she learns  to babble in her native tongue, breathless and brimming with stories of FUN times. Games on the beach, boys,  singsongs, boys,  ceilis,  boys.  The Irish classes the only fly in her ointment, but never mind  'cos its great, and she loves it,  and  there's like two whole more weeks,  and she's gotta go now or she'll be late for the  FUN. The boy sends me photos of the latest fine salmon he's hooked,  in heroic encounter between himself and fish. The unlikely sun graced fishing days merge into one another and there are many many still to catch.  I ask the beautiful girl if she's not bored in her summer spent sitting on the grass in the park with her familiars, tossing out drawling ironies, casting ambiguous pearls before lounging grinning boys.  Soon to be over, I tell her, and she back to school. She looks at me puzzled,  tells me " No, not bored, not over,  there's ages, there's heaps of the holidays left.  I shut up and watch Autumn come roaring in behind her, with Christmas after it, and hot on it's heels, University, ecstasy, agony, accountability, taxes, death..

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Doing what comes Naturally. Doris Lessing

Same as it ever was..............
                                                                                                                                                                  " I would have ground my heel into his foot,  I would  jabbed him good and hard with an elbow,  I would have finished him off with a slap across the back of the head. I would yes.  BUT, in addition,  I have many questions arising  Babycakes, that beg an answer I think you will agree ".   My husband takes a deep breath, girds his loins and assumes the position ( interest). We are  reading a newspaper article about Deputy Aine Collins  pulled on to the lap of Deputy Tom Barry and held there, in the Dail Bar during an all night session to debate and vote on  the Abortion Legislation.  "I mean right, first,  WHY would anyone have access to alcohol, be drinking, in the midst of THAT debate, or when voting on any pending legislation for that matter. Why? Was it because it was at night, darling?. Or...or  was the debate like over, or was he like having a break,  or was there actually debating as such ?  Was he  just like  shooting the breeze maybe before he resumed the  debating?  And if he was finished debating didn't he have to go home? Didn't he have to drive? And what about his like cognitive functioning? I mean lets see, it's late at night, he is debating, he is voting, he is tired,  and he.... what?  needed another drink? before going back into vote as he was told by the party leadership ? having first had an assurance from his local priest that he would not be excommunicated for so doing, apparently.  So,  Ok, he was not  going to need much in the way of  smarts then.  So,.... I mean,..... WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?
                                            same as it ever was............................

And also SHE, why did SHE not grind her heel  into his foot, elbow him hard  into the ribs, give him a  good hard slap across the back of the.....? Why?  Can it possibly be that this kind of thing is a regular event? Do you think?  Happens all the time?  And,  with  this shower of frighteningly  anachronistic throwbacks, nobody notices. Pays it no mind basically. Because they are just that. Hidebound tribal minded men, heads wired to an old old tune, arrested in time. The club. Letting in only their own kind,  and a handful of compliant  women. ...... And don't you think THAT'S why there is so few women in politics  Dear One? I mean what red blooded, self respecting  woman could jump through those hoops? Or want to? And never mind the other reasons, Dearheart,  childrearing, work life balance, a paucity of testosterone. yadda yadda yadda. They won't let you in darling,. Not. Unless you speak their language. Lapgate is their language. There you have it. Caught on camera. Captured in light.. Yeah.

                                                                                    same as it ever was....................................

"And then, and also, Sweetest Heart,  we had Fannygate! Senator David Norris telling  female senator Regina Doherty that she is talking through her fanny, the Regina monologues ( he is a Wit!) as a press release on  abolishing  the senate in being discussed ( Brillant notion.!)  (Lets!)  He tells her and later Senator Lorraine Higgins, that THEY have only been in there a wet weekend, and HE will not apologise, is not being sexist., no.  Though, on the other hand,  he would  be prepared to debate the matter intellectually and academically. So he would. Same thing then, same old story, same as it ever was. He is speaking as he always does down the Senate.  And proud of it. "Tweet this" he says after.  It's what they  do,  how they  talk, who they are.  And he is in character, talking through his back bottom,  dribbling through his Penis. (that's for Regina)." My husband sees  the point exactly,  as the dear man always does.

                                                 But Doris Lessing knows.

In the cool of the evening I finish off Doris Lessing's book  " The Sweetest Dream" .  The ending blows me away. She wrote this book in 2001, and I, being up to my neck in infants, missed it until now. Decades ago her book Shikasta sustained me in its vision at a low ebb in my life, my inherited catholicism fluttering  useless to me in a roaring wind. This book concerns three women, starting  in the sixties. Her womens'  heroic struggle in the rearing of  adolescents was wonderfully observed and illuminating.  Sucked me in. She blamed the hardships, the messy recalcitrance of teenagers,  on  a sort of  generational derailment after the second world war,  where I have put affluence and a dodgy message of entitlement in the frame with my own sweet horrors.  Same as it ever was?  Whatever,  you are catapulted from family life in London to immediately post liberation Africa  in the third section of the book, where  her  painfully salvaged  adolescent girl, a doctor now, goes doctoring,  in a scalding story line of savage waste and boundless loss. Yeah,  Doris Lessing knows.  Knows life.  Knows women.   Knows Africa.   She knows.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

So Summer, So Shameless, No Judgement.

"So yeah  I suppose you're missing the children by, you know, now?". "Eh, well,  um. Nope. No. Not. At all"  I gain in assertion and heart  in this reply to my drinking companion, another mother, whose children, like mine are dispatched  for the holidays to be enjoyed by  their respective and well rested  fathers. "Well....right...I mean,  yeah. Um  I don't..really.. miss mine either" and we laugh ruefully, outed..

The thing is that  I don't know myself in this second week of absence. I'd swear my speech has slowed, tone dropped an octave. In fact, not having multitasked for all that time, reality has expanded around me to reveal all sorts of vistas, normally blurry and postponed. I have, ie cut a swathe through nagging bills and paperwork; applied on line  for a course in Philosophy long hankered after; had my teeth cleaned and polished; put in evening hours in the garden reading and chatting to my gratified husband whose project the garden is. I have bonded with the dog.

My husband has restored his beloved Internet Radio, my last year's birthday present, to its pride of place on the kitchen shelf, the WI FI being permanently on in this absence of the Facebook enslaved.. American, Chinese, Australian accents sing and chatter in podcasts,  a backing track in our kitchen as he puts together piquant gourmet offerings for two .No, really.

I tell him that its hardly decent to delight so in one's childrens' absence. He asks me if I realise that I never make it through a meal, a TV programme, a shower even without a  burning question, a warring escalation,   an urgent demand that cannot wait, will not wait,.must not wait. And as one of them  is done, the others, barely, lie in wait. . "Sure ",  I say," its either an arse or an elbow always"  I am a juggler of three slippery sticky balls, and that's the way they like it.

My phone is heavy and blinking  with unanswered Call Me's!  Requests for money, adjudications on disagreements with Dad, an accounting as to what exactly I am up to in their absence, no doubt. My heart is light, my head is lighter, "and after all Dearheart" I tell my wallowing spouse, "the summer's short, and life is shorter and soon, oh so so soon the autumn bounces in and  THEY'LL BE BACK"


Friday, 5 July 2013

To Hell or to Galway..

Mr Hallappanavar is to sue the Health Service Executive and the Galway hospital where his wife was left  to succumb to advancing sepsis, as she lay surrounded by doctors, nurses, and magical  medical charting. The fact that five TDs,  the majority of  elected representatives there, who voted against the very limited Abortion legislation now presented are from Galway has supported his decision, he says. Yes. Quite.

If I had standing, I would sue the Hospital likewise, and  also the Government  for this sorry, inadequate and messed up piece of legislation  ignoring as it does foetal abnormalities, conceptions following on a rape, while busy busy busy calculating how many  psychiatrists it takes to certify suicidality. Our very own Angels dancing on the head of a pin.  The holy toes well clear of  the waters of choice, a woman's right to choose.

So much thrashing about regarding suicide. It  must be included to legislate for the X case, mustn't it? But....but.. guaranteed to open the floodgates isn't it? Oh..oh... and also to encourage suicidal folk. And let's not forget all those women calculated to feign suicidality,. And now let's all jump down the rabbit hole of  medical meanderings as to whether abortion can ever be antidote to suicide. We haven't done that one yet.  Its a red herring . In Galway, in the broader  medical community, the psychiatric contingent, there is a rump hell bent on control, on preventing this decision going to the childbearer. I suppose it's Catholic, certainly Conservative, and simply elitist in mind set..

I don't know those women. The other women, in the actual world struggle, agonise, and decide about abortion. I listened ten years ago to a dear friend's account of her London  termination, an English nurse asking her sternly, insistently, why she cried as she lay on her post operative bed. "I told her that I was, yes, I was. Yes, but  it would pass. The sun, piercing the Venetian blinds made blinding  wavering bars on the counterpane, the strange London accents carried on the breeze through the open window. I remember that." And she, though lost in blackest sorrowing for a period when she returned, told me that she never regretted that decision, never quite knew if it was the sense of exile, the catastrophic hormone drop,  her body's mourning  for what had been surrendered, that made her cry so bitterly.

I wonder if we might perhaps untether Galway, let it go. Send all the crazies, the elitists, the mealy mouthed hypocrites there, to have the Catholic/paternalistic/witless country  they are due.. Offer any pregnant woman who wants to take a chance that chance. And we might live in the struggling here and now, our laws supportive of the terrible and unavoidable decision we each must make to live.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Caught on Camera ,Captured on Sound, Least said soonest mended..

Every picture tells a story;

"Oh well of course she won't stay,  not after that" my husband  is looking at the striking photo of poor Nigella  Lawson, ashen faced and inward looking, in last sunday's Sunday times. "Why not?" I ask him. "Is it because of what Mr Saachi did? Or because of the photographs?" He doesn't get this distinction. I tell him I think it's difficult to believe it was the first time, or even the second. It looked like  a well oiled groove,  in view of what he had to say about it, " grabbed her for emphasis" " just a discussion" , and that he made a statement to the police "to clear it up" stop it dragging on etc . And in her description of him as an "exploder" ( enough said).

No,  the difference now is in the accidental snapshots, unstaged, inadvertant, and so bearing silent and independent witness. Every domestic abuse is alike in the fiction, the lie, told by the abuser,  and accepted by the abused, as to what is happening.  Being behind closed doors, there is no one to disturb the fiction that allows your life to go on. The photographer who snapped for 27 minutes was making a living but his snapshots made the lady herself as much as the rest of us audience to a shocking and inconvenient truth.

Record in Sound;

Up to last Monday  everybody suspected that they knew what went on in Anglo Irish Bank in 2008, leading to the Bail Out, the Bank Guarantee. Everyone suspected that they knew, and now they  know what they suspected. Take a bow the Irish Independent newspaper. On first hearing the Anglo executives Bowe and Fitzgerald on the Radio, my Husband thinks it is a parody, a Laurel and Hardy style slapstick.  And all week long I can not help but wonder if the Anglo executives didn't  know they were being recorded,  and if they did,  did they like forget? believe they had impunity?, were too stupid to hide their own duplicity? I'm with stupid, and this another fine mess they got us all into.

Beauty in the eye of the beholder;

The (formerly) beautiful girl  has had her nose impaled with a (half moon) piece of metal,  I cannot control a facial rictus of horror each time I look at her. She assures me it is just fine and hip. And cool.  And I  just, basically,  don't get it.  " But" I tell her "but... I do get and occasionally even had nose studs, eyebrow piercings, belly piercings, ear piercing,  but suggests the bovine, to be led by the nose..... and also from the right side it looks like a largish booger....or a pair of insect mandibles..." Luckily, at this stage, basically,  she sees no value and sets no store in what I see, at all. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Lucky, Lucky, Lucky

Examinations over, scholars unleashed, there is a loosening in the house. Teenagers are to be found  randomly sprawling in a  Zen like state in front of the television, making messy stuff in the kitchen, rapt  before the laptop in the hall. Ditto their friends. My husband has a hunted look. "S'ok " I tell him," s'ok,  just a change of pace, besides, two thirds of them will soon be going west to delight their father.  And,  hello, today's the Summer Solstice don't know you  know. Our anniversary! And we are still standing. Still married! Still.".

I tell him about that interview with the eminent Professor on the Radio during the week. Eminent I explain,  knows what he's talking about. Yeah, second marriages, hopeful  nuptials of the middle aged,  it's the new romance. So what are the chances Professor? Is sex on the table, intimacy on the cards, like should the  blushing recidivists have troubled themselves at all?  Umm, well  yes, provided for this time round they knock the Boozing on the head, both parties desist from shovelling their own manure on the marriage by ie  owning   their own stuff ( counselling!! reflection!! God forbid!!), and work to maintain good physical  health. That latter meaning you can keep doing it till you'r ninety two", I add.

He is wearing his mulish look now. "I think you'll find, baby, that boozing is FOR your issues, and, basically,    you  keep on doing it, like most folk,  for as long as you possibly can. Which, in my case will be as long as there's breath in my body"  he finishes magnificently. "Yeah. Well. But the thing is that that's all well and good when you'r lumbered with infants, obligations of support and maintenance, your own naivety. This is a sort of second age, my darling, a noble calling to partnership". He is looking distinctly apprehensive now and I ask him if he wouldn't like to go down the Pub to tease things out, celebrate our union etcetera.

Much much later, he asks me tenderly if I am sorry now. I tell him if I hadn't found him I'd  be looking for him still..And the looking was tedious in the extreme", I add.  "But... however..and leaving that aside....." I labour on,   "No buts," he says "no buts, no booze, no pesky issues.  Lucky, lucky, lucky, we and all the other middle aged saps with breath in our bodies, fires in our  limbs, and time and space to sex and love. Still".

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Radio Rage.

In the morning my Radio tells me that  the fat beaming infant is to be removed from Infant Formula follow on Milk packaging.  Huh???  To promote mother's milk fresh from the breast, stoopid.. " Just tell it like it is why don't you"  I hiss at the radio, on the hunt for shoes, knocking back a cup of tea. "So. They take the smiling baby from Infant Formula tins,  breast feeding spreads like wildfire, and like, maybe we tattoo the displaced smiler on the proselytized woman's breast"? My husband blinks.  What  does (follow on) Infant Formula milk and displaced babies  have to do with him? Other than to comment on how they are doing it also to cigarette packets ! The Nanny State. Yeah.  True.  But its not that,  baby, it's this.

I know breastfeeding. Done it.  Multiple doses of mastitis,  nipples chewed raw, niagaraous leakings et all.  Been the mother of monster babies.   Glugging their way from right boob  to left boob,  now give me that bottle of formula for afters, babies.  Growing exponentially, fed them till reduced to two tortured boobs, and then combined breast and bottle till weaning.  I know babies who were fed purely  and devotedly on breast milk, ethereal creatures in the main, and NOT less prone to infection, colic, obesity later on.  Just don't buy it.  Breast feed as best you can I say, but don't be fooled by the fervent  hard sell. It's tricky, unpredictable and not for faint hearts. A degree of heroism is required, but then you will have done childbirth.  Just  remember that babies starved to death before infant formula, and women sat from dawn till dusk under sucking maws till weaning
And so to work. On the car radio I zone into a story about the Australian government's boast of reform of its' parole system,  as it emerges that the rapist and murderer of  Irish woman Jill Meagher had been convicted of raping more than twenty women, usually while  on parole,  prior to her murder. That's why he murdered her you see.  Parole is now instantly revoked if you are in the frame again. Well done the Australian Government.  I mean why?  Why was he let loose in the world to do it again and again and again? Is it because he was sorry? served his time? and rape is a sort of personal blip? and real men don't,  more than once, twice, three times, four times, five, six,......uhh  twenty,  twenty times? Except for  a tiny minority, maybe?

 I think of the another  Irish woman, Lynn Meagher,  who, on  returning to Ireland from India where she went as a volunteer,  wrote an article in last Saturday's Independant newspaper  to say she would not be returning any time soon, such was the level of in your face  sexual harrassement she suffered from Indian men.  Beautiful country and all that. Spiritual. Lovely people, women, the ocassional man.  Not  a minority thing  in India then. It seems to come to this,  that many many  man will rape if they can. Get away with it. And in India you absolutely can. In Australia a little more difficult maybe, but basically, if you are prepared to do the time you can. Get away with it.

You do it once, I think, as I snap my radio off,  you do it once you will do it again. You do it once you tear apart the very fabric of one woman's being.  So, one strike and you are out. You do it once , you are locked up for life, unless you are sorry enough to be chemically castrated. If men were vulnerable to rape in the same way, this is how it would be.  So,  OK,  we are not going to do that, Fine.  Just tell it like it is.

In the evening I leave three well fed and watered teenagers to the Cinema. On the way the beautiful girl tells me how she would like love a part time  job, but they are like soo hard to come by.  She stings me for €60 for tickets and eats.  Driving home in the grey and rainy evening I listen to a worthy on the radio argue with  apparent sincerity  that the middle aged in Ireland are living high on the hog, the young forced to emigrate, having been quite dispossessed.  Hmm. Yeah. Well.  I think of being a young woman in Dublin,  the damp sparse flats,  the constant  frozen queueing for occasional buses, the black market jobs.  Washing glasses, cleaning houses, scrubbing floors to live, to get by, to get to college, to stay in college.  At least three computer programmes running in your head, most of the time.   All such a crock, I whisper,  switch to Lyric.

I used  to bundle up the eldest,  take him with me to the cleaning jobs,  stairs and landings in a fine and fading Georgian house. A good gig.   I sat him below me two stairs down a time  as I scrubbed  three flights from top to bottom,  gave him the next episode in a never-ending story as we went. Down,  down,   passing  the stringy faded women,  the  whiskey drinking country men,  raggedy solitary folk,  prone to sticking small change in the eldest's infant paw. I kept the story coming,  least he wander off to the shadowy yellowing landings,  the silent closed doors out of my range of vision. We were together, he and I.  I knew where I was going. He knew that too.  Today,  I posted his birthday cards across the planet to Australia. 

Friday, 7 June 2013

School's Out.

School's out. The boy's head is in Mayo, fishing for Salmon, his body nearly after. So Ok, he has some pesky exams to do, the Junior Certificate even, but hey he's on it and besides, as he said when I asked him this  first day  if he was a bit nervous maybe, a little apprehensive perhaps,  "like what's the point,  sure it is what it is". And then, an afterthought " hey d' you know are my jeans  like clean for the cinema after?".

School's out.  The beautiful girl has an eye to the  imminent birth of a new cousin for added babysitting to fund the parties,  the brief summer dresses,  the mascara,  her real life, weeks and weeks of it, till September. Next year  the Leaving Certificate,  she's scared and she's eager, and afterwards, stretching endless,  mysterious,  her beautiful life.

School's out. The boss offers to wash the car, wash the dog, wash the windows, sort out the myriad books threatening to engulf us from room to room. She wants money for stuff. The Gaeltacht in July,  more  brief summer dresses,  high topped Converse shoes to match, the mascara. She drifts away from us, in the throes of  the washing, the polishing, the  hoisting, her tender new teenage form taking shape as she dreams. "What else?" she asks, each evening.  Bored, bored, bored already.

School's out. Summer is spectacularly come.. Nature, held back, made to wait, flings out blossom, colour and scent.  White laced  Hawthorns elbow in front of the flowering Chestnut trees,  reaching above to push into the next tree and the next and the next along the singing river where we walk, hip to hip, body to body, melded..  Birds carol, insects drum, scents explode. Interrupting, rude, exuberant, intoxicated with the ferocious kick of it all. At last. At last.

"Ah you know, YOU'LL be finished someday soon" my father told his moaning children as he ferried us home from school one September day "but sure I'LL have to keep going in and out to school forever" looking vague eyed down the long line of his eleven children as he spoke  He's finished now. I'll bet he shifted gently where he lies in Moone graveyard and sniggered at the boy's insouciance, his fine and untroubled verdict that it was what it

Saturday, 1 June 2013

A Breach of Trust/ An Awakening.

                                               A WEEK OF  WOEFUL WONDER

On Tuesday evening achy tired to the bone you take yourself to bed leaving the after dinner mess, the lunches, the evening,  to the teenagers. Your very kind husband sets up the Free to Air  TV box in the bedroom and you flick idly through the channels to RTE 1.  " DON'T PUT YOUR FUCKING FINGERS IN IT" a woman shrieks at a small child.  What? What?  Oh.  You had quite  forgotten  that Prime time, having sent in their  undercover girls  to work in  Irish creches, are to air the the outcome caught on camera by the girls tonight. You wind it back to the beginning. "Oh hush" you tell your unwitting husband who walks in in  search of toothpaste. "Oh hush. I have to. Listen".  The sorry sordid story invades the bedroom,  detonates,  shreds your hard snatched peace.

                                                                                                                                                             You wonder about all the Creches not visited by the RTE undercover girls,  about all the years since Creches began to mushroom across the country, all the children, ( how many?,)  subjected to the kind of institutional  regime which you believed to be gone forever. You wonder what tribe is this as you observe the  staff  in the Creches featured,  alike in harsh, shrill verbals, in brutal  detachment. The twisted sisters. You wonder if  they practice what they experienced themselves?

You think about your own childrens' infancies. The baby books acquired, the many many tomes on how best to, what not to ,  what  you should do,  shouldn't do, why you couldn't seem to do.  The endless time, the patience, the letting go required. The learning curve, the worry,  the worry, the worry you and all mothers of infants live. You think of the  HSE reports never made public.  You think of  the others. The ones  who  stood by and did not intervene, the entrepreneurial  ones who own it all, who  take the money and wash their hands of  care or knowing. In the end  you wonder  if it was the same pattern in the religious institutions, the borstal schools, the magdalen laundries, same blind eye, same evil dressed as something else, same tacid acceptance, same old story.

You wonder is it actually possible to trust anyone other than yourself to stay with your own infant children,  to bear with them,  to mirror the daft and  burgeoning personality safely.  You figure it would cost a king's ransom to train up and persuade another to do that right for your peculiarly eccentric little person.   Most of all you wonder how can this be,  that widespread  institutional abuse of young children continues on in this Ireland? And  is it true that the wolf in sheep's clothing has mutated from priest and nun to trusted minder. Will any now dispute that flinging soft bodied infants on to a mattress, shutting out  light and air from small ones  with a blanket,  strapping  questing driven infant limbs down for an hour,  two hours, eternities to small ones; that these are  criminal matters. Or doubt that the blatant and cynical faking of daily diaries for parent consumption is  a bloody minded betrayal of trust and a criminal fraud.

You  wonder if we would have looked,  have seen what was under our noses, what was implicit in the exhausted brutalised children collected at the end of the day,  if RTE had never made this program. You wonder just how many have been snatched from these tender mercies, these low grade abuses.  You  wonder how we could let this happen again in Ireland.  Because we have. We have.  Oh yes, indeed, we have.

Friday, 24 May 2013


                                                                                                                                                                 The beautiful girl is seventeen today. She stands five foot ten in her stocking feet, her skin glows, her eyes shine, her head is full of schemes and dreams of celebrity. She is armed and dangerous with  good vegetarian food,  a permanent iron supplement, height, and  a very good singing voice. What could go wrong? And she is clever, studious, disciplined, an  A student, but that's beside the point as far as she is concerned. She's going to be a rock star.

She is a determined girl. She told us, on her fourteenth birthday that she would from that day forth be  vegetarian  to the hilarity of the extended family, devoted meat eaters all from one generation to the next. . "Oh hey, that 'll never last. I mean just waft some steaming meat  under her nose,eh discretely, at dinner time " my thoroughly  carnivorous  entirely  kindly first son  advised.  "And" a little more alarmed as he considered a meatless existence, " if that doesn't work you can't allow.....I mean you'll have  put your foot down".  Hmmm.  She had wanted this for years at that point,  and I had stipulated a cooling off period, until her  fourteenth birthday. It seemed a long way off when she was ten.  She bided her time and this was it.

"How about the Law, or.. or.. Accountancy,  Science maybe , like um Engineering!", she looks at me blankly, as we discuss her CAO College  choices, to be made at the end of the year. "Arts! You might do a good Arts Degree, combine you know  maths and like  english"   I warm to the task but  her interest is merely polite.   What does that have to do with her or she with it? I think of how I saw a college degree as a way into a life, a source of cash to allow you do all the rest., when I stood in her shoes.  Admittedly It took me a while to get there. But neither I nor any other teenage hopeful I knew  saw celebrity, rock stardom as an option. Well there was the occasional boy who fancied himself as a guitar player, considered it only a  matter of time before he was discovered,  but hey he was for fun. You knew it if he didn't.

 "Darling girl," I want to say "  celebrity's cheap, stardom fleeting. And unlikely. A profession with attendant piece of paper though will actually sustain you in your life. And when your babies come, you will not be consumed by them, or consume them either, you will  mange to keep a piece of you for yourself, a tricky thing that. Go get your ticket to make your way in the world, have some stuff  of your own, when you come to wanting it,  to get it for yourself.  And whether the children come to you  or not, you will be somebody, a contender, dependant on no man or woman either  to put a roof over your head, clothes on your back, food in your mouth  And you will know that you can give a two finger salute to anyone who's asking for it, if that's your pleasure. Now that's so worth having in your head..

But I don't. I too am biding my time. I hope to lead her to it  in slow  time with much cunning. I know the way.


Friday, 17 May 2013

Iceland. A terrible beauty.

I have just about recovered equilibrium after a very heated telephone call  with  my bank. My "Relationship Manager" to you.. There are  many such calls these days, featuring  mortgage, overdrafts, repayment plans, direct debits and that sort of thing.. I do not actually  let it drive me to drink, but do need  take myself to a darkened room to still  my soul after.. This is the new reality these post boom  days.  Financial arrangements have to be re negotiated, and the banks seemingly have to be managed, not to say  wrestled with,  every step of the way. The Bank comes to the table with  a refusal to commit to any arrangement, doublespeak that touches on psychosis and a mix of timidity and cunning to cloud every exchange. I have threatened Ombudsman, the Banks own customer complains syteyms,  the Airwaves (Joe Duffy!)  and I have prevailed but probably lost about six months from my allotted life span on  each bruising encounter. And then there is Iceland. They took this bull by the horns. They did it.. They decided, they acted, bankers/politicians jailed, debt wrote down, an end and a beginning.

I listen to a man describe his dealing with his Mortgage Providers on said  Joe Duffy show  during the week. He is forthright, memorable.  He  jumped through every hoop they placed for him. He submitted  the intimate minutiae of his daily spending on his family,  bowed to the minimum payment they demanded, paid and paid  and decided finally to stop.  He would not continue to deprive his young children, in order   to exist.  There was no end in sight to the deprivation required  before they were grown and he spent.. He would not live like that. He recited a litany of frustrations in attempting to  sell his house.  When he found a buyer, the Bank continued to prevaricate, would not consent to the sale, wanted cast iron proposals as to the remainder of the debt.  So he has taken himself to the UK and is filing for bankruptcy there. Lucky he to be in a position to do so, I suppose. Many people are not,  and must continue fighting a  rear guard action with Banks,  scattering these   mongrel  dogs as they circle.  I think longingly of Iceland.

Later on  the radio  programme, there is the cluster of voices wanting to stick him and people like him to the bargain he made, to the  bed he is to lie on. Hmm,  these people are always the lucky ones, the timid ones, who have not engaged with the boom economy, or did not have to, I think.  Moral hazard, strategic default  and such phrases  uttered unthinking  in denial of boom, bust, bank speculation and rescue. It is tedious, pointless  to hear and I may have to go to the darkened room again. And  think longingly of Iceland.

The boy comes slouching towards his junior cert, a terrible beauty. He has after school study, a determination not to strain himself and  last minute maths grinds to sustain him.. . He tells me that his maths teacher is still "doing  new stuff" on the course. He tells me that he "doesn't get most of the  stuff"  she teaches. She is quite as unenthusiastic about him. He tells me he " like actually  get's it" when the headmaster  in the school takes the maths class in in her absence. He is having late eureka moments with his grinds teacher.

 He is in fact  incapable of applying  himself unless regimented, nailed  to desk and books.  And then there is the Tech Graph teacher, who hauls the absent minded ones in for extra tuition on Fridays, and brought  the boy's mark up to an A because he WILL teach every boy his subject, no exceptions, and so he told me at the parent teacher meeting. I pay for after school study, I pay for grinds. If there is a problem I am told it lies with the child. He is not the only one such. I can think of  some very obvious solutions here. More tough decisions that will never be taken. The boy takes Sunday off,  needs "downtime"   " knows what he is doing" he  calls  over his shoulder as he speeds of on his bike.Hmm  Yeah, a rough beast  towards Bethlehem indeed. . (Apologies to Yeats)

The summer continues to tease us  with a glimpse of ankle, a flash of bra strap, before the cold curtain of winter falls again. My husband is our weather man. An optimistic one at that.. He taps his father's gleaming,  polished  Barometer in the hall, and pronounces the real summer to be  imminent,  starting on mmm  Saturday in fact.  He tells me I have no patience when I call him on it.  Just wait he says, this year it WILL come. It WILL.. I ask the oracle if he thinks they might let me in to Iceland. "Why not" he says "lucky to get you. Me too. Where you go I go. And there's the Midnight Sun you know, summer with a twist, night that's not. You'd fit right in"