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Friday, 24 May 2013

Seventeen.

                                                                 SEVENTEEN
                                                                                                                                                                 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 to...to..  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"

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Stepford wives/ Sucides/ Mary Gauthier sublime/

"Turn it off. Turn it off. Turn it offff." My husband raises an eyebrow as he flips the radio off switch,  mid sentence, slicing into the words " suicidal ideation".  Relentless, depressing, predictable.  I knew it was coming of course, the abortion Bill is in the drafting stage. We have the barest most pared down provisions  at last, three tiny cowardly faltering steps for womankind. One obstetrician's say so where a woman's life is in the balance, two obstetricians' say so when it is merely at risk,  one obstetrician  and two psychiatrists where there is a risk/threat  of suicide.

Nowhere in there will you find mention or requirement for choice or  contribution  from the woman requiring the abortion. The discussion is largely on the part of  minority catholic crazies,  politicians peddling the party line, the traditional  line, the line to re election, and  the occasional real life actual  woman  struggling to be heard.  Possibly one of the eleven women per day going to or back from the UK for an abortion. But not so much. These women don't count. They are not the ones we legislate for.  It's for the others. All the pregnant Stepford wives. You know them?

And then there are the suicides. The meagre provisions on offer hang in the balance, on account of all the suicidal pregnant  women, particularly those many many who  might be pretending.  And besides and in fact and indeed abortion you know is not a remedy for the suicidally  ideated, an assertion trotted out  witlessly,  ad nauseum.  Is  Suicide now  defined as  a symptom of mental illness? Are we unable to acknowledge the possibility of suicide as existential choice? The victim in the X case was not mentally ill, she was raped and asserted  to be suicidal if forced to carry her rapist's child. This was a fundamental existential crisis, leading to a choice of suicide, and so it was recognized to be by the Supreme court and by every rational  civilized  person in this country.,

Rape, the prospect of carrying a non viable fetus, a disastrously unplanned pregnancy, any of these might well lead a woman to such an existential crisis.  We carry a child for nine months deliberately intelligently, a herculean labour in fact. We do not do it lightly. We do not do it forcibly. People choose suicide in intolerable situations That is a fact. No one  can dictate  what is existentially possible for another. The  current  debate is a fudge and  an insult to women who must make real choices.

Later on, when I think its safe to come out, Bishop someone or other is faithfully quoted on the news .... abortion can never ....not a  treatment for suicide ideation .... must never be allowed....... put at risk   innocent life of the unborn.....!!!! I ask my husband to take the radio down stairs and put in in the garden. Why oh why would anyone quote the catholic clergy now? What place have they here? They  don't really  care for children do they? We know they have two modes when it comes to innocence and vulnerability, no exceptions,; they prey, or they cover for up their pervert priests. We  know they would be doing it still, if they had  not been exposed, dehorned, dragged kicking and  screaming, into the light.  So hey, not concern for children, for morality then,  A power play, stoopid.

"It's' ok honey, s'ok,  they're  gone" my husband turns the radio up up up  for  Mary Gauthier. Devine existentialist  Mary Gauthier  come among us to the land of Stepford  for a week,  and now she's on the radio.  He pulls me down beside him  on the back door step, and we listen under the tentative barely warming sun.

                          Now that same frown's in my mirror/ I got my daddy's blood inside my veins.
                 Fish swim/  birds fly/ Daddies yell/ Mamas cry/ old men sit and think /I drink.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Russians are coming.

.                                                 Crazy
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             "Oh you know, I mean  I don't think I'm actually getting through here",  My husband hands me a restorative glass of wine.  "Yeah,  not. I mean he resists, he argues, he contradicts, he presents counter arguments as  energetic as they are, dear God, just plain daft.  "You were supposed to study for one hour"  I say. "And I did. What do you mean supposed. I did"  he says. "Didn't"  I say.  "Timed you from the moment you collapsed on your bed with the school book and your earphones in  to the time  you collapsed on the sofa, with the TV  remote and your ear phones in.  Twenty  minutes. Tops ".  "No"  he says "No. I think you'll  find it was actually thirty five  minutes in fact. Cos it was English, And I'm good at English. So thirty five minutes is as good as an hour when it's English".  "Now just back up there" I manage. "Just hold on there a second". He doesn't.  "And YOU don't seem to realise, I mean has it ever occurred to you that your life would be so much easier if you'd stop with the crazy rules..just trust me, I mean  my friends parents never.. eh... bother them like this ..and now I am just not doing any more study  ever at all, thanks to your picking on  me, no more EVER.  AND you have only yourself to blame"   he finishes,  romping home.

                                                     Russians

"You see" says my husband as he pours me another " You're just not talking his language".  "Huh?.  "Sure. You gotta tell him it's a war, it's a  war and  we need  an Accord.  Second World War tell him.  He is Russia, the boss she is Greece carefully weighing up the merits of all sides,  the beautiful girl is Belgium, just wants peace, just wants quiet, just wants  to get on with her own more important stuff, but us, we are the Allies. He can't actually win without us. He might be the Russians, baby,  but we have the inside track. He needs us, he knows it, so tell him to shut up and do it.. United we just can't be beat.

                                                   Because we are are the Allies.

 Right. Well.  That helped.  I mean yeah,  Greece, Belgium and all the Russians are plotting, stropping,
marauding through our house, but that's basically Ok . We have the inside track, we're all over it ,  we have strong liquor. We are the Allies.