Sunday, September 27, 2009


Since Friday I've been staying with my grandmother, the English one. Before this summer I hadn't seen her in about six years, thanks to my galavanting around Ireland and the US, so it's nice to have the chance to catch up with her in her dust-free, granny-pad, drinking pots of tea and talking about all the weird ad whacky things on tv.

The weekend has been lovely; the sun is shining, my bed is unbelievably comfortable and I've even managed to hijack the wireless from the people next door, so I can write on my blog. The house is such a grandma house; as I type, there are little porcelain statuettes and collector plates staring at me from the mantelpiece while china dogs look dolefully out across the photo populated/tea-collection-storing cabinet set and the abundance of cushions and sofas that litter the living room. There are spindly little tables that don't seem to have a purpose, and a gargantuan tv with approximately seven billion channels.

This all sounds ideal, right? But there is a problem, I am on death's door.

The reason? My grandmother likes to feed me.

That's a good thing, I know. I'm also aware that it's a little bit silly to be complaining about being fed, but the sheer amount of food is awe inspiring.

It's a bit of a joke that I don't eat or sleep that much, and that I'm a bit pale and skinny. Now I'm staying in the 'land of perpetual sun' for a short time, I'm red and skinny. Enter the grandmother. If there's a lull in the conversation, or if the tv goes to commercials, inevitably the question will come, "do you want something to eat?".

Usually I try to say no as politely as possible, but today I thought I'd be a bit daring and call her bluff. So whenever any food was offered I accepted, like a culinary 'Yes Man'. Big mistake.

Between 2 and 9pm I had the following
1 - Bacon sandwich and tea.
2 - Another bacon sandwich and tea.
3 - Cheese roll with bottle of beer.
4 - Cup of tea and scone (and some biscuits)
4 - Several bottles of beer.
5 - Steak and Kidney Pie, with peas, roast potatoes, carrots, cauliflowers, gravy and bread.
6 - Bread and butter and tea.
7 - Several more bottles of beer.

Now, I'm absolutely stuffed to the gills. I feel like my weird innie/outie bellybutton is going to turn into an outie. As I sit hear watching 'Doc Martin' on television, I'm getting foodsweats and my feet are numb. That is scary, but I'm still drinking the beer.

My gran just offered me some pilchards on toast, I'm fucked.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Arthur's Day

It's been quite a while since my last post. I'm currently back with the aunt/unc combo of S&D in their lovely country house. Life has been pretty hectic this last while, so I'll just fill you in with what's been going on.

So I spent about 9 days lodging with Em and her landlady n' daughter, and had a really nice time. They all made me feel really really welcome, and it was a lot of fun to hang out with them in the house, watching tv or a movie and swapping gossip and scandal. As the only guy in the house, I even managed to earn some Guy Points by fixing some fuses and the oven. Huzzah!

As I said in my last post, the flat-hunting wasn't going very well. It's an horrendously boring, expensive and soul-destroying task, and requires a horrible mixture of intruding on people's lives (if they haven't moved out yet) and dealing with (sometimes less-than-ethical) estate agents. One of these guys, we'll call him 'Gordon', was so sleazy and cocky (and looked about 12) that all of the shitty grief-holes he showed us were unappealing. Another guy, whilst very nice, took us to places that my hetero life-partner (Mark, but we'll call him Sparky) had already been shown around before I came over.

Then...we found it. The Über-Flat.
Nestled half-way between the paradise of West Hampstead and the bustle of Kilburn, in a small quiet street called Netherwood, the flat is great. A split-level two bedroom, it's got a large living room, a nice kitchen and dining room, and loads of storage. Upstairs, two big bedrooms and a bathroom. It's in a really safe area and has a big heavy gate for security. I love it. It's even the upper flat in the building, so it covers the 'Zombie Invasion' criteria. The best aspect is a small balcony with a corner table for eating breakfast, and a load of space for planting a few plants/herbs/vegetables.

The only problem is the move-in day. The flat came onto the market because of a family crisis for the current tenant (which is sad) which means he has to go home to Portugal. We were supposed to be moving in on the 28th of September, but it looks like we'll be waiting another week.

I'm not really complaining though. Hell, at least I've found somewhere, and have a nice place to stay in the meantime. I feel a bit bad about the guy who we're moving in after, but there's nothing that can be done, and it's good to know that the new landlord let him quit his lease without taking his deposit or trying to squeeze money out of him. It seems like an omen that he'll be a nice guy.

For the rest of my time in London, I went to a few museums, and tried to soak up a bit of what London's about. The Imperial War Museum in Lambeth had fascinated me since I was brought there at the age of 9, and it's still magnificent. I also had the below-mentioned meeting with the Firm, for which I had to shave off the fuzz, and saw the people with whom I'll be doing my training contract and working for a few years. They all seem lovely.

We went out for drinks a few times, and they all seem like a good laugh.

All in all, I'm very happy with how the flathunt went, and when I move in, I'll post some photos.


I'm currently in Kent, and every day I'm taking the kids on the two mile walk to school, across fields and through woods, it's very beautiful. Again, more photos to follow.

Finally, today (Thursday 24th September 2009) is a very special day, as it marks the 250th anniversary of one of Ireland's most famous exports (after Riverdance, music and Colin Farrell's libido), the black velvet; Guinness Stout.

So, to honour this beautiful day, I'm walking up to the local pub The Bull, and ordering a pint of the black stuff to be drunk at the exact time 17:59.

Happy Arthur's Day y'all, and sláinte!


ps - I've completed another of my 101 things to do. Number 38 - Find a flat in London.
Completed - 2/101

Monday, September 14, 2009

In London

So, I'm in London now. It's really exciting, but rather tiring.

I came over on Saturday (12th) doing the whole 'Thoroughly Modern Millie' dancing-down-the-street thing (except without the racist newspapers) and really loving the crazy buzzing vibe of London. I'm staying with my friend Em as a lodger, up in the Zone 4 Essex wilderness of Woodford. Her landlady is a lovely woman, and the house is really nice and comfortable, so it's a great base from which to launch my flat-finding expedition. Woodford is in the extreme North East of the town, and the area where we're looking for an apartment is on the Jubilee Line, to the North West of there's lots of commuting going on.

Flat hunting isn't a lot of fun. We saw six properties today and only one stood out, but what a flat it was. It's a multi-level two bedroom apartment wedged between W. Hampstead and Kilburn, about 6 minutes walk from the W. Hampstead tube station, and it's perfect. So if you're reading this, then think happy thoughts that tomorrow the lovely guy from the estate agency will tell us that we've got it.

Apart from that, it's going well here. I have a meeting tomorrow with the Firm at lunchtime, so I've been forced to complete one of my 101 Things to Do without much conscience thought. As I can't really walk into the uber-slick corporate law environment looking like a member of ZZ-Top, I've had to shave the beard.

So to conclude:

- Please think happy thoughts for the hella cool apartment later in the week.
- I've completed 1/101 tasks. Huzzah!!!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Off to the London!!

So World War Three. Whilst I love my family dearly, the arguments have been getting more frequent, the silences a bit frosty and a slight misunderstanding (caused last night where i got my brother drunk and then, this morning had a blazing row with my dad) today. Luckily, the little apocalyptic argument that occurred vented the 'stration and now all's kosher again.

However, now on to the big news. I'm leaving. It's not you it's me. I'm getting up at 6, getting a coach to Belfast City George Best Airport, getting an aeroplane to Heathrow and officially going 'over the water'...again. Moving away has me excited.

So, although this is a small post, and quite non-descript, it's actually a massive turning point for me.

I'll be offline for a few days while I settle on a flat, but I'll try to take lots of photos, and may be needing some commenting advice on flats.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Very short Repost

My good buddy the Novelista Barista is having a BONANZA this week. To celebrate the (admirable and enviable) feat of attaining 200+ followers, she's decided to give away rather spiffing bracelet. All you have to do is be a follower and post a comment here.

Best of luck!!

Monday, September 7, 2009


I got this idea from the lovely hostess of Live in Imagination who in turn got it from the Day Zero Project.

The Mission
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (i.e. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (i.e. represent some amount of work on my part).

Italics - haven't started
Bold - In progress
Strikethrough – Completed

START DATE: Tuesday 8th September 2009
END DATE: Tuesday 5th June 2012

1. Quit Smoking Cigarettes
2. Run a marathon, preferably the London Marathon.
3. Enter the Mongol Rally
4. Complete the Mongol Rally…or failing that; get as far as physically possible without dying.
5. Raise £3000+ for charity
6. Get my driving license (before January 2010)
7. Get my first car. (Not the Mongol Rally one, that one will be held on trust for the person who’ll take possession of it when I finally reach Ulan Baatar)
8. Buy a fitted suit from a Saville Row tailor (this one is a bit ambitious, as the average SR suit costs about £5000)
9. Play, and win a game of vingt et un at the Monte Carlo Casino
10. Have a piece published in a big newspaper/magazine
11. Submit a completed script for review by a production company.
12. Submit a completed manuscript for a novel for review by a publishing house.
13. Begin either salsa or swing dancing classes.
14. Compose three new tunes that can be played by an Irish trad band.
15. Write and perform a 10-minute stand-up routine at the Comedy Store.
16. Have at least 1 more boxing match, for charity.
17. Read Wuthering Heights (and try not to root for Heathcliff.)
18. Shave my head.
19. Travel to Lexington VA, to visit my friends there (must be completed before March 2010)
20. See New York in winter.
21. Travel to Africa.
22. Try Speed Dating.
23. Begin to learn another language, and have made some progress in fluency by the end-date.
24. Learn how to play ‘Pink Moon’ by Nick Drake on guitar.
25. See Yann Tiersen in concert again.
26. See King Crimson perform ‘Court of the Crimson King’ live. Somehow.
27. Make peace with RK, for Karma reasons.
28. Return the books I borrowed from my friend John Lamont in May 2008 – that are sitting on a bookshelf right in front of me.
29. Have a conversation with either Stephen Fry or Will Self.
30. See 10 live stand-up gigs
31. Live nocturnally for a week.
32. Find the exact pub in which I helped my uncle install AV equipment this summer (when I was in England that’s what I did sometimes) It’s called ‘The Aviator” and it’s in some part of SW London.
33. Take a flying lesson.
34. Read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books again.
35. Get tickets to be in the audience for the radio recordings of what will be a TV comedy show. e.g. – That Mitchell and Webb Sound OR Get tickets to be in the audience for an episode of QI.
36. Meet Charlie Brooker.
37. Go vegetarian for a month.
38. Find a flat in London.
39. Punch a racist. Right in the kisser. Preferably a card-carrying member of the BNP.
40. Go to a normal mass (not a wedding/funeral etc) once again just to make sure I’m 100% about the atheism thing.
41. Begin and maintain a letter-writing correspondence with GO’M and J-AS.
42. Read War and Peace
43. Visit Edinburgh for a weekend.
44. Grow my hair long, just to see if I have to patience for it.
45. Get another tattoo.
46. Learn the Czech Song ‘Jozin z Bazin’.
47. Watch every film John Candy made.
48. Drive on highway 66.
49. See the original copydex scroll that ‘On the Road’ is written on.
50. Read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
51. Learn how to cook an haute cuisine three course meal
52. Visit a Turkish bath.
53. Find out how a car engine works, and get a basic knowledge of how to fix it when it cocks up.
54. Buy a hammock.
55. Find a nice tobacconists shop in London, with a nice blended pipe-tobacco to rival my favourite – Peterson’s Connoisseur’s Choice.
56. Visit Cuba and have a proper mojito.
57. Along with my Rally partner – Ruairí Ó Maolain – come up with a spec. outline for a television comedy.
58. Shave the beard…at some point.
59. Buy an overcoat, one that will last for years.
60. Watch the entire Stanley Kubrick back catalogue.
61. Fire a crossbow at a scarecrow, or some other equally alluring target.
62. Arrive at an airport and have someone waiting with a sign bearing my name.
63. Get thrown out of a posh restaurant.
64. .Find a ‘local’ in London that does a good Guinness and a good pint of bitter..
65. Celebrate my 25th birthday in style. (Not too sure how to do this, but it can only be judged after the event.)
66. Attend a symphony performance of the Planets Suite by Gustav Holst. Must be accompanied by a date/friend.
67. Play a session with a bluegrass band.
68. Learn to play one song on the mandolin.
69. Watch every episode of The Wire
70. Read either Milton’s Paradise Lost or Dante’s Inferno
71. Shoot a Lee Enfield Mk3 .303 rifle, or a Thompson .45 SMG.
72. Have a reunion with two of the best friends I ever had: Gabrielle DeCourcy and Theresa Dougherty.
73. Plant and grow a lavender bush.
74. Try to blag my way into a gentleman’s Club to see what the fuss is all about.
75. Find a small, reasonably priced Italian restaurant in London that does delicious food.
76. Attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, just to make sure she’s dead.
77. See/Hear Itzhak Perlman perform live in concert.
78. Drive along the Blue Ridge Mountains, just once more. Preferably while listening to Fleet Foxes.
79. Buy a set of Christmas presents that have been 100% thought out, and bought at least a month before Christmas. OR, make a present.
80. Meet two of my online heroes: The Novelista Barista and Nik from Serendipi-tea.
81. Do ‘Morning pages’ for a whole month, to try and develop the habit of writing.
82. Sleep in a coffin, just for a few hours.
83. ‘Get in shape’, whatever that may mean (basically get back into the shape I was in around January/February when I was boxing except about 1 stone heavier and not as skinny)
84. Try to appear as ‘the man in the street’ on the news, but with a pirate voice and a previously unnoticed limp.
85. Teach a Minah Bird how to say a phrase in Irish, or make the noise of an extending lightsaber.
86. Attend a Ray Mears survival weekend.
87. Do something incredibly stupid but cool: skydive/bungee jump etc
88. Show something that I’ve written to my grandfather, great uncle Brian or ‘uncle’ Stephen for their professional opinion.
89. Qualify as an Attorney for the State of New York by passing the bar exam.
90. Meet Alexa Chung, Rosamund Pike or Gemma Arterton and try not to trip over my tongue. (The ‘stretch’ here is maintaining a conversation and not automatically hyperventilating or asking them to marry me.)
91. Drive an Aston Martin DB6.
92. Have my wee sis over to London to see a show for her 16th birthday.
93. Eat a fish that I’ve caught, cleaned and cooked. (Not a huge stretch, but must be a cod or mackerel, caught off Cruit Island in Co. Donegal, which is the greatest place in the world, but a place that I never see as often as I’d like.)
94. Win a pub quiz – in first place.
95. Become proficient with cryptic crosswords and be able to complete the Times crossword alone.
96. Start a vegetable patch or a herb garden.
97. Enter a Texas Hold’Em Competition
98. Read Ulysses again (now that I’m old enough to understand it)
99. Save 12.5% of what I earn for a year.
100. Qualify as a solicitor.

101. Write another list.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Quick post

I'm just after waking up with a beam of sunlight directly in my eyes. Then when, I tried to reach out to stop my mobile from screaming at me, the whole left side of my body was numb from where I'd been lying on it...I thought I was having a fucking stroke or something.

Anyway, I'm for the dentist today to have my first proper filling. NOT looking forward to it, although the dentist is very pretty. That's probably a bad thing though. The last thing I wanna worry about is getting too comfortable on her chair...that would be a classy move.

Also, had the first night of the play last night, playing accompaniment with the band. The theatre's sound guy, who had spent roughly 3/4 of the tech rehearsal and nearly all the dressed rehearsal lecturing us on certain dead-obvious things for the past few days (quote to nervous actor: "make sure you speak into the mike and try not to sound like you're remembering lines.") missed THREE of my cues, so that the organ drone came in late at the very beginning and very end and in one piece my percussion wasn't even heard (yeah, I've somehow been roped into playing keyboard/organ...I'll explain later). The poor guy has his head so far us his own arse he mustn't be able to properly hear the dialogue...

Yeah, this is rambling and incoherent as fuck, but remember the whole 'thought-I-was-having-a-stroke' thing.