Friday, October 30, 2009

Announcing my Triumphant return to the Internet!! (sort of)

Greetings, strangers. Time for a big long blog-post. Following my bloma (blog coma - thanks SpankyLuvsIt!!) I have a lot of news...

Well, it was a bit hit-or-miss there as to whether or not I’d ever be allowed to return to the joys of the blogosphere, but yes, after much wrangling, internet caféing and free wifi-ing, the cool cats from TalkTalk Internet have come into the Über Flat, drilled a shitload of little holes, had some fibre-optic fun and viola, the miracle of (second) life continues.

Well, sorta. I’m still obliged to steal wifi from my neighbour, because, well, the hyper-efficient technicians won’t be ready til THE 12TH OF NOVEMBER to finish the job (!!!!!!) which is a rather poor show. Apparently it's thanks to the postal strike which is currently ravaging Britain. I don't really understand how slow letter delivery stops me watching porn studying online.

So how the bally heck have I been? Well, thanks for asking Mum, but basically since I’ve moved to facking Landin my life has taken a turn for the hectic. I made the move, bad back and all, got settled, and lay on my bed, relishing the fact that I had an apartment. Being the crazy son-of-a-gun that I am, my flat-mate Sparky and I decided to have a ‘crazy housewarming party' a video from which I will put up soon :)

Then, London life began. To begin with, let me just inform you that my post-grad course takes up an oppressive six hours...every other Saturday. That’s right, I’m so hardcore my course can’t even be on a weekly basis. Using the power of mathematics that this means I (theoretically) have, on average, 165 hours free every week.

Things I’ve learned #1: Con + 165 hours of free time = Con the Weird Sociopathic Caveman.

For a week I lived a weird sorta-unemployed/sorta-kept man existence, tottering about, unshaven and feral, trying to capture urban foxes and rogue pigeons in my nocturnal haze. Too much time in a city where I really have very few friends meant that I was alone, with my thoughts, all the time. Not good.

I did actually go on a date (as mentioned below) with a lovely young lady who I drunkenly met on the bus (see story above) but after a rather eventful evening, she turned the gender table round and played the ‘That Bastard who never called me” card that I have previously played in my life, allowing Karma to amble up to me, laugh coldly, then kick me square in the bollocks.

Ugh, women are pigs.

Anyway, yeah, so I had tonnes of free time (I had so much free time, I weighed how much free time I had: 178.64 metric tonnes of time, to be precise) and had turned into nocturnal savage (or rather reverted to my truer, nocturnal savagey self) big deal. Sparky, with infinite patience took me to Ikea, and tried firmly to nail the final hetero man-love nail into our tiny gay coffin and I became a housewife. Now my house is filled with flat-pack furniture that all has a name. My desk is called Kistrud, the soft furnishings in the living room all have names like Scandanavian popstars and there was once a famous tennis star called Bjorn Borg.

So yeah, following the advice of the man-wife, the mother, several ex-girlfriends (who still ‘look out for me’) and my thrash NY gal-pal, the Novelista Barista, I decided to get a job.


Okay, so I tended bar all through college. It’s a perfectly good job, and I'd never for one second look down my nose at anyone who decided to do it for a living. It’s pretty tough, and despite all the hype, it’s not glamourous in the slightest. On the plus side; there’s always work for a trained bartender, and the induction to a new job doesn’t tend to take longer than inspecting the beer cellar to see which pump system works with the kegs, and becoming acclimatised with the Cash Register. However, picking WHERE to work is often the most important thing. I’m Irish, and I live beside an area called Kilburn. 20 years ago that would have been the start of a joke, but now thankfully the area’s a little more diverse. The remaining Irish community are typically a little older, the majority in their 40’s-50’s, and I went to work in their pub.

Yep, not some trendy gastro-pub, or an understated favela, I choose one of the only proper Irish pubs in Kilburn; a dark, sordid grief hole that caters to the local expat community. Three things about the expat community in Kilburn:

1) They’re tough, very tough. Most of them came over as construction workers in the 60’s and 70’s and spent the years since working 15 hours days, drinking themselves blind and spending the rest of the time getting arrested by the charming not-at-all-anti-Irish constables of the Metropolitan Police during an era when the Irish in Britain were viewed the same way that ANYONE Arabic/Middle Eastern is viewed by the gun-toting chaps in US airport security – with deep suspicion. These expats are of a slightly more sturdy breed.
2) They drink. A lot. Most are what we would now call ‘functioning alcoholics’. I did a few of the not-at-all-depressing morning shifts, and for a while I was convinced that some of the customers were suffering from severe Parkinson’s disease, they shook so much. These same people would drink a few pints and after a while be as eloquent and witty as an Oscar Wilde/Charles Bukowski smoothie. Most of the punters would come in straight after work and sit, drinking with an assembly-belt efficiency before tottering home hours later.
3) They don’t like change. I was the youngest of the barstaff, a little sprat of a thing, and I was also a very obvious interloper. Being professionally not-very-tough and also coming as a graduate with a weird hybrid accent meant that I was very obviously not ‘one of the lads’. When people asked what I did, and I said either ‘Trainee Lawyer’ or ‘Writer’ I’d either be called a bastard or a queer, before getting a cuff on the shoulder and having something growled at me to the effect that I ‘was alright for a Northerner’.

Anyway, I liked working there, but the hours weren’t enough to financially sustain me and I kinda spent two weeks in the habit of drinking every day after work, which is something I’d rather avoid if I don’t want the old ‘drunken Irish’ stereotype thrown in with the rest. Also, in a bizarre twist, a man calling me a 'cunt' came in one day waving a saw around because I had apparently refused to serve is made up of the little spontaneous moments though eh? The boss also was a bit unpredictable, a 51 year old hormone-grenade preoccupied with The Change. She’d either be incredibly sweet or yell at me for nothing at all (eg – shouting at me for the amount of overspill caused by too much pressure from the gas system. Seeing as I’m not really qualified to tamper with an elaborate underground gas system, I was at a bit of a loss to respond.). When I told her I was quitting, she sulked with me for 6 hours, then gave me a hug and told me I was welcome to drink there any time. Crazy Menopause.

Do you have a soul? Feel like it’s a little too much of a burden? Fancy having little pieces chipped away on a daily basis? Then you should try telesales. Ugh. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I enjoy spending 8 hours a day in an overheated underground office calling strangers, so to get paid for it is a treat.

Ps – unsurprisingly, I quit this job too. That’s right, yesterday I left the place, and I don’t ever think I’m likely to cold-call an unsuspecting member of the public to persuade them to do ____________.

So here I am, right back where started, a bum. I still have my soul though, and there’s a really cool girl I met recently at a party. We’ve texted a bit, and I’m gonna be loosey goosey and keep it cool.

So, how are y’all?

Ps – I know this is a helluva long post, but I’ve been away for too long . I’ve missed you so much, faceless void of hyperspace...let’s never spend so much time apart again, okay?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Quost about London so far.

Yes, quost! My internet is so precarious that I barely have time to write full words, so they run into each other. This is a quick post.

So, the last time I blogged, I was a pathetic cripple. Now my back is all fine, and I have a lovely apartment. The only problem is that my internet is not yet set up and I have to rely on the unintentional altruism of 'homa', the only wifi that my computer can freely pick up on. Homa is only available from about 6pm - 9pm, so I wait, all day, eagerly trying not to refresh the useless Firefox startpage, counting down the seconds til I can productively procrastinate. Homa also does not allow me to upload photos or any 80's doing-up-the-house montages will have to wait til we're set with our own hub.

I've been job-hunting. Like flat-hunting, but with less self-esteem. So far, the only luck with the search has been for some really random ones. An example of the type of mental jobs that I only seem to be fit for:
-Lollipop man,
-Shop Assistant at a military surplus store.
-Doorman at an experimental theatre.
-Male escort (disn't really look into that one, just saw lots of ads...)

I was told that I couldn't be hired at one place (despite the ad saying 'Help Wanted') because I wasn't "a hot girl innit?" which was rather a blow to the old self-image.

Damn body fascists.

Anyway, tomorrow is another day, and I can go print off a million CV's and be a bloody job-hunt fairy.

As soon as I get the internet for true, I'll definitely put up some videos (or vlog posts, as the kids call them) for all to enjoy.

ps - I had a date last night. It went well. Possibly more to come.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Brokeback Luggage...bested by a sock!

Okay, no, before you ask, I haven't been having sex with my suitcase. Whilst my bags and I are good close friends and often go into the mountains at the weekend, I've never had a night-time fumble with any of them.

On the contrary, today I fucking hate my all my luggage. To paraphrase the great Popeye,

'I can't stands (it) no more!!"

As I've made it abundantly clear, the whole 'moving into the new flat' event is something that I'm rather looking forward to. I've spent so much of the last four years moving about, that I've never had a chance to put down any roots. Although I've loved the slightly nomadic life I've led, it has been a bit hard to have any longterm relationships as there's always been a very finite amount of time that I'd been around. Now, I'll be living in London for at least five years, and have a chance to settle down an little bit. Call it some inkling of maturity, but a slightly slower pace will be welcome.

What I don't like, hate actually, and find frankly horrifying, is the process of packing. To paraphrase the great Perry Cox, I megaloathe it. First of all, clothes folding is tedious, and somehow I've failed to learn the male knack of packing light. No matter how cleverly I plan and scheme, or how deviously I try to fold and compress, I nearly always overpack.

This time was no exception.

My suitcase and rucksack weigh more than I do, and yep, right in the middle of packing, my back went. Not in the comical 'oh crumbs, I seem to have nonced my back' but rather in the 'oh crumbs, I think I'm dying' way.

How it happened: The room (which until my arrival at S&D's house had belonged to my little cousin, Mollie) resembled Dresden after the bombing, and I had to collect all the socks and clothes on the floor. I was just out of the shower, in a fetching 70's-avocado-esque towel and staring round the room at the work to be done.

My itunes on random, Venus in Furs was blaring and I set about nakedly picking up my socks. I bent over to fetch a particularly comfortable stocking and with a (shamelessly feminine) gasp of pain, the Lumbar God stabbed me in the back. Lou Reed singing about sado-masochism and me paralysed on the bed, forced to sit bolt upright, it was terrifying and hilarious in equal measures. There I was; beer-bellied, pale and still more-or-less in the buck, gasping with pain and trying my hardest not to laugh. A wall-length mirror gave me a nice view of my own suffering and it was very hard not to point and snigger at the skinny, pale victim: half-scarecrow, half-jellyfish who grimaced back at me.

It got almost hysterical. Several songs passed by and I literally had no idea what I was gonna do. I couldn't even shift my weight or raise my arms enough so that when I slipped off the edge of the bed and landed on the floor, seemingly in slow motion, it was with an almost obscene thud.

Okay, so finally I got up, managed to find some Western Medicine and manned up to the extent that I could get dressed, finish packing, shave (!!) and carry my stuff out to the car. I'm staying in my Nan's again, close to the train station, and I'm getting the 7.30 train in the morning.

So now, as I sit here, a cocoon of pillows around my lower back, I'm still excited about the move, but I'm less than eager to have to deal with the Tube and buses tomorrow with my eight tonnes of junk. I'll be offline for a few days (unless the flat has wireless which it blatantly won't) and will take a few photos when I get settled.

Until then, adieu, I'll post soon.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Naughty Step Democracy and the Death of a Reckless Liver

I don't sleep well, it's a fact.

In the old brain, there's a weird chemical mix-up caused by Nature that dictates that no matter how long I stay in bed, I'll only ever get two or three hours sleep a night. I hate it, but I'm well used to it (as I've been like this for the last seven years) and it doesn't mean that I never rest. In fact, I'm such a lazy bastard that I will lie in until I absolutely have to get out of bed and (grumpily) greet the day.

Usually, the process of waking up is a phase-by-phase affair, with much swearing, rolling over and double-checking the clock. Then, when either my (often ignored) conscience or my (piece of shit Soviet-era) phone goes off, I eventually pad downstairs to s/s/s and have a cup of tea or an espresso. It's a routine that I know well, a certain comfort existing for me in the familiarity and daily annoyance of it.

Today was not one of those day. This is how I woke up. Obviously that's another metaphor, but this morning's hangover was so fucking awful that I yelped.

Yesterday, when I was uptown with my aunt, we decided to celebrate a successful trip to the bank with a pint. Well, two pints. Then, when we returned to the house, we had to celebrate getting home drinking a load of budweiser. Somehow dinner was prepared and eaten and we settled down to watch a RomZomCom with S&D and their friend Ola. Victorious at having beaten Death and lived for another day, we drank and made merry. Then Uncle D brought out Sambuca, and the evening took a turn for the worst.

The film over, I was sitting on S&D's lovely gargantuan sofa and suddenly I realised that we were all talking bullshit. Lots of shit. We moved to the kitchen and S and I smoked a lot, whilst continuing to promise myself that I was successfully quitting. As the two of us sat, smoked and talked shit, the conversation took a turn for the 'air family laundry' and 'talk about things that bring up waaaay too many emotions' and we both turned into tawdry, teary-eyed puddles of chemical imbalance and borderline alcohol poisoning. Then I made out with the toilet for a while, good bye curry.

Then, I got on the phone and texted AND called a certain young lady. I don't usually drink and dial (apart from an occasion where I called a girl to tell her she had "lovely, shiny hair and a pretty smile" that I don't need to discuss here) but last night I went ahead and did it. Smooooooooth.

Right, I can see you shaking your head in disappointment. Give me a break okay? Everyone's allowed to drop the ball every so often.

So this morning, I woke up feeling like a concrete pigeon had taken a crap on my head, and then the world of Facebook annoyed the fuck out of me. I saw lots of status updates from people I usually think are rational and fair-minded, people I love and respect immensely. Here's why I was annoyed: The Lisbon Treaty

Last summer, on the 12th June 2008, Ireland rejected the Lisbon Treaty. For months beforehand, the different political parties, interest groups, worker's unions and people of note had raped every signpost and spare inch of wall across the whole of the country with posters, clouded up the very finite amount of radiospace and television airtime and clogged up social networking sites, new sites and newspapers with their positions, whether pro- or anti-Treaty. Short films were made with cliché attempts at political satire, and the entire nation was bored fucking senseless with the entire deal. As with most politics, the general public were more-or-less oblivious to the vast majority of the proposed legislation. Most people got their opinions from the hysterics of the 'No' campaign, or the vague uncertainty of the 'Yes' campaign, using the misleading bias of the print media as a sort of ignorance grout, holding together vague notions of what the Treaty could mean. 'No' supporters decried the imminent loss of Irish neutrality (not at all possible under the Treaty without the Irish people ratifying that) and culture while 'Yes' supporters vaguely promised that everyone would become massively wealthy and that we'd all get to have sex with nubile Italian women with loose morals.

Now, personally, I would be in favour of the Treaty. I am a pro-EU guy and think that the streamlining of all the old Treaties by amendment and the coming into force of the Charter of Rights (which for example bans capital punishment) are things which should be embraced. I also wouldn't mind having sex with a lot of nubile Italian girls.

Here's the problem though: the Irish people already voted No, way back in the times of ancient history (last summer) that have gone from memory and passed into fable.

Legally, thanks to the 1987 case of Crotty v. An Taoiseach, any serious amendments to the European Union treaties have to be ratified by the government AND the Irish people at referendum. In 2008 we had a referendum, the people voted no.

Ireland is recognised as being one of the most democratic countries in the world but this seems to be highly undemocratic practice. It was a political embarrassment that Ireland said no, after it's politicians being some of the architects for this new European law, and there was a hell of a lot of pressure on the Irish government because of the reaction of the Irish people. Now another referendum has been organised for tomorrow, the 2nd October.

I ask you, how democratic is that? It seems like the Irish have been sat on the naughty step for the last year, and now will be expected to be good little children and vote as they're expected.What if the 'No' camp win again? Will there be a 2010 referendum? It seems that the silly Irish didn't get it right the first....silly Irish electorate.

It is widely considered that if the 'No' camp win out tomorrow, then the Treaty of Lisbon will die. I sincerely hope this is not the case, as I am a 'Yes' chap. However, the sheep of facebook who say "John Smith: voting YES! and if you say no yur a reetard" are really getting on my nerves. This naughty step democracy is contrary to the political freedom we Irish deserve and hopefully this is only a minor blip. What's more, those who try to beguile and mislead to sway people's opinion are scumbags, simple as.

I think my friend Helen has the most rehreshing insight into this situation, and I urge anyone bored enough to read my blog to follow it:

Helen C
has read the Lisbon Treaty in full and come to a decision- you should do the same!

Damn straight Helen, way to go sista!

So in conclusion, I'm hungover and pissed off with politics. Quelle fucking surprise...