Friday 19 December 2008

The Friday Album Cover #27

Apologies for the lack of an album cover last week.

A hearty mix of an alcohol and boogying on Thursday night, coupled with the room spinning more than is normal for a Friday morning, meant there wasn't much movement inside the embassy this time last week.

Last one before 2009.



Happy Christmas & a similar new year.

Thanks for reading - all 4 of you..

I can assure you, I've enjoyed reading your blogs more than you've enjoyed reading mine.

Thursday 18 December 2008

Joe le Taxi

I took a taxi into town to meet some friends for a few drinks last Thursday.

(is it just me or does anybody else suffer from an overwhelming urge to snootily declare "Home James, and don't spare the horses" when entering a taxi?).

The driver seemed like a genial enough fellow. In his mid to late 50's, he had the accent and the slow, relaxed manner of a man with a strong rural background. The type of man who has his dinner in the middle of the day, pronounces the letter 'u' in the word film and whose car runs on a special breed of domesticated reptiles (pet-turtle).

On passing through a junction where a ruddy cheeked, fresh faced Templemore graduate stood on Operation Freeflow duty, more concerned with claping his hands and stamping his feet to stay warm than actually ensuring the traffic flowed smoothly, I innocently asked a question that resulted in 15 of the strangest minutes of my life.

"Do you think the guards make the traffic any better?"

"Ah they do yeah.... though a lot of the time its worse"

"Riiiggghhtt!"

"What do you think of Operation Freeflow yourself?"

"Well, I drive a motorbike during the day so I don't really notice"

For some reason, he took this as an invitation to chatter inanely about vintage cars. Except he didn't call them vintage cars - he called them veteranage cars. The first time I simply assumed I had mishead him but soon I was in no doubt. He was definitely saying veteranage.

For the next 15 minutes he crammed the word into the conversation more times than one would think possible. Certainly more than was strictly necessary. It was quite clear that we (or rather he) was talking about vintage cars - yet he still felt the need to qualify, just in case there was any doubt, that he was referring specifically to vintage cars. Or veteranage cars if you will.

He told me how he was a big fan of veteranage cars, how his family and friends were all veteranage car enthusiasts and how he loved spending his Sunday afternoons on veteranage car runs.

To underline his love of veteranage cars, he proudly informed me he is a member of the Irish Veteranage Motoring Association.

"You know", I thought "I think you'll find it's the Irish Vintage Motoring Association. I know that AND I'M NOT EVEN A MEMBER".

Finally, he told me about some American veteranage car dealers who, through the Irish Veteranage Motoring Association, were put in touch with a veteranage car loving friend of his. His friend, he assured me has an extensive collection of veteranage cars which he keeps in what, according to his description, resembles a small aeroplane hanger.

Well, when the veteranage car dealers saw his veteranage car loving friend's collection of veteranage cars they were so impressed they offered €10 million to buy them on the spot.

"€10 million" I said, trying to sound sufficiently impressed, "they must be pristine.

"No", he replied "they're his".

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Mr cab driver don't like my kind of skin

From breakingnews.ie

Supermarket refuses Adolf Hitler cake request

The father of three-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell called for more tolerance after a New Jersey supermarket refused to produce a birthday cake with the child’s full name written on it.

Heath Campbell and his wife, Deborah, are upset not only with the decision made by the ShopRite store, but also with angry internet postings in response to a newspaper article about the cake.

Heath Campbell, 35, said people should look forward, not back, and accept change.

“They need to accept a name. A name’s a name. The kid isn’t going to grow up and do what (Hitler) did,” he said.

After ShopRite refused the request for the cake as inappropriate, the Campbells got a cake decorated at a Wal-Mart in Pennsylvania, Mrs Campbell said.

About 12 people attended the birthday party on Sunday, according to Mr Campbell.

Mr Campbell said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because “no one else in the world would have that name.”

He said his ancestors were German and that he had lived all his life in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

The Campbells’ other two children also have unusual names: JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell turns two in a few months and Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell will be one in April.
Mr Campbell said he named his son after Adolf Hitler because he liked the name and because “no one else in the world would have that name.”

It amazes me that there are still people like this in the world.

It astounds me that such people are allowed to breath (No typo here my friend - although stopping them breeding would be a good start).

It befuddles me that (presumably) a desk jockey for the state processed a birth cert bearing the proposed name for the child.



Hurrah for ShopRite though!

Monday 15 December 2008

Red and yellow and....

"Something pink"....

... is what the CPF's nephew said when asked what he wanted for Christmas.

Despite additional interrogation by his parents, no further details were forthcoming.

Best of luck with that one then!

Thursday 11 December 2008

Eat a Renault Four with salami in your ears

I think I may have an ear infection.

Well, either that or at some point since yesterday afternoon my left earphone has grown considerably (or my left ear hole has shrunk considerably).

(Bonus points for identifying the song the title lyric came from)

Thursday 4 December 2008

The Friday Album Cover #26

Pop quiz, hotshot!

The Friday Album Cover #25

Before getting to the actual business of this weeks effort, I'd like to draw your attention to the following (taken from Friday Album Cover #5)

It should be noted that we here at Ambassador Towers don't personally endorse or recommend any of the albums featured in the Friday Album Cover series. Although we may own some of them, that does not necessarily mean we like them, think they are any good or even know anything about the artists who recorded them.

I get the impression correctly guessing this week's album cover will serve as a good example of how one can be both a winner and a loser at the same time.

Question is: does anybody want the glory that much?


Wednesday 3 December 2008

There's a splinter in your eye and it reads REACT.

Chatting to a friend on MSN Messenger earlier.

TBA: I went over to PC World at lunchtime

J: Anything interesting?

TBA: No - you really have to watch what you say over there though.

J: Why?

J: Ha ha ha.

J: Never mind.

Funniest. Reaction. Ever. (for that particular gag)

Ice, Ice, Baby

Like an extra from Band of Brothers: I can't feel my legs.

Today, my ire will be reserved for the following.

  • Fog lights - It is not foggy you retarded cretins. Turn them off. Just a quick question of etiquette: If you were driving a car would it be wrong to shine one of those 2 million candle torches out your back window as a gently reminder to the numbskull behind that the weather conditions do not warrant the use of the "funky lights that make my car look cool".
  • People who, when making a right turn controlled by a filter light, refuse to move into the junction so they might avail of breaks in on-coming traffic. A filter light is used for a reason - if they wanted traffic to wait for the green light before making the turn, they would have put a second red light there. Quit holding everybody else up.
  • People who don't flick their indicators on until they are actually mid way through their desired manoeuvre. At that point, the biggest indication you are making a turn is the direction your car is facing - rendering the little orange Christmas lights Audi so thoughtfully put on your car redundant. And while I'm at it, when you do actually bother to use them, it is merely an indication of your intended actions. It does not confer an automatic right to barge into the space I am currently occupying. I have enough to worry about - what with the ice, the two wheels and my delicate skeletal structure.


Pah!

Tuesday 2 December 2008

Money, Money, Money

Was chatting to a colleague on MSN when I noticed the small advert in the lower left hand corner. (Click to enlarge)



If I was looking to sell a car I'd be hoping to sell if for a lot more than just €30

Monday 1 December 2008

The Friday Album Cover #25

... will appear on Thursday.

Thursday 27 November 2008

The Friday Album Cover #24

Busy day ahead so some rescheduling was required.

The early bird will definitely have the advantage - although hopefully it won't be too obvious.

For some reason this seemed like it would be a simple enough album cover to replicate. Anything but - you have no idea how many times this was started, re-started, scrapped and started again. In the end multiple save points allowed me to roll back only the most recent changes. It was the only way it was ever going to get done.


Tuesday 25 November 2008

When I look back at all the crap I learned in high school..

Every Monday evening I pick up a couple of iced buns from the local shop, get on the bike and head over to Granny Ambassador's where we discuss the latest goings on in the lives of her batty old friends over a cup of tea.




My route always takes me down Davitt Road, along the Grand Canal, and through the sweeping right turn onto Dolphin Road (see the map above - drawn using MS Paint naturally*).

Due to the angle at which the roads meet, it is possible to come through the junction at speed (possibly as a result of putting the hammer down to make the lights) without the need to worry about running wide and becoming over-acquainted with the sturdy oak trees lining Dolphin road. A quick counter steer of the handle bars, shift your weight over to right hand side of the bike and she glides quickly and smoothly through the bend.

Last week, while travelling in the car, I found myself coming through the same junction a little on the fast side. I quickly learned an important lesson in physics (one I don't remember Mr. Meany ever covering during my leaving cert years):

The turning force generated by shifting your bodyweight about a vehicle is inversely proportional to the weight and speed of the vehicle on/in which you are travelling.
I did briefly consider opening the drivers door and hanging my arse out - if only for comic value - but, realising it wouldn't have the desired effect (and would probably result in a nasty bout of road rash), I resorted instead to more conventional methods -panicking, braking hard and frantically turning the steering wheel - to help me negotiate the turn.

Having (just about) navigated the turn I continued on my way at a more sedate pace - and extremely glad I had chosen to wear my brown jeans that evening.


* May not be true

I don't get those pop and idol shows...

I don't get those pop and idol shows
Everybody knows that the good things take a little longer

Myself and the CPF are off to see the very good (wonderful actually) thing that is Duke Special in Dublin's Olympia Theatre this evening.

Can't. Wait.

Monday 24 November 2008

I'll tell you the setup for the worst joke ever...

My grandfather spent some time in hospital recently. During his stay he was told he needed a pacemaker. Ironically, it was the pacemaker that finally killed him.

The man was 92, I don't know how they expected him to keep up with the little Kenyan fucker.

So goes one of my favourite one liners.

Chatting to a friend while out for a few drinks last week, the following conversation ensued.

E: Something happened during the week that reminded me of that joke you do about your grandfather in hospital.

TBA: Oh?

E: I love that gag. Totally didn't see the punchline coming first time I heard it.

TBA: Well it helps if you don't telegraph it too much.

E: Anyway, I told the missus during the week... hated it. I don't think she even got it.

TBA: [on a wind up] Ah I'd say you told it arseways. Its all in the delivery.

E: No I told it perfectly - exactly the same way you do.

TBA: Oh? Maybe your timing was off. Let's hear it then.

E: Right so...
My grandfather spent some time in hospital recently. During his stay he was told he would need a triple by-pass. Ironically, that's what finally killed him. The man was 92, I don't know how they expected him to keep up with the little Kenyan fucker.

TBA: Seems fine alright.... I guess everybody's sense of humour is a little different.

Friday 21 November 2008

The Friday Album Cover #23

I got back to the embassy a shade the wrong side of 4am last night/this morning.

A good night was had by all - but right now I am still a little sleepy, the spin in on the bike having blown most of the cobwebs away.

Right - lets get this over with so SW can get back to work.


Thursday 20 November 2008

Did ya get healed?

Last July the Supreme Court struck down the controversial risk equalisation scheme which forced other health insurers to compensate the VHI for covering older, more costly subscribers under its community rating system.

Naturally, this led to fears that older people would, at best, face soaring premiums or, at worst, be refused cover.

Yesterday the government attempted to assuage these fears by announcing plans to provide €300 million in tax relief which will effectively subsidise the cost of health insurance subscriptions for people over the age of 50. A levy of €160 per adult subscriber and € 53 for each child will be imposed on all health insurance companies to fund the proposed relief.

Today's Irish Times covers the story and, Minister for Death, Mary Harney's comments:

"We believe that there is a lot of scope for the companies to subsume some of this, if not all of it," she said. The Minister said that in a very competitive market the health insurance companies would be able to compete not just for younger people but for older customers. "It will make older customers attractive."

Brilliant!

That's the kind of health service we need - something that's a cross between Casualty and How to Look Good Naked.

Roll on the foxy pensioners - still no foxy nuns though.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

You should've kept your mouth shut

Liverpool footballer Yossi Benayoun has hinted he is beginning to get fed up with his lack of playing time at Anfield.

In a piece carried in today's Telgraph, the Israel international suggests he may leave Liverpool in search of more regular first team football.

Among a series of quotes attributed to Benayoun is this little gem...

The fact that I have spent so much time on the bench, while there has been a winning formula on the pitch, tells you everything


Not exactly doing yourself any favours there matey!

Got a gun, 'fact I got two...

In light of the public outrage following the tragic death of Shane Geoghegan, Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has indicated his intention to introduce a ban on handguns as part of the fight against gangland crime.

Yep , that oughta do it.

If there is one thing we know about our numerous crime gangs (who murder indiscriminately with apparent impunity) it is that they are meticulous in ensuring their hand guns and automatic weapons are sourced, paid for and registered through the proper legal channels.

Perhaps a blanket ban is a bit much though - all they really need to do is add the following questions to the registration/application form (I presume there is one):

Name: _____________________

Gang: ______________________

Paul Williams Assigned Gangland Nickname: ______________________

Reason for Purchase (delete as appropriate):
.....New gang member
.....Threw last gun in Shannon after murder of innocent ballet dancer
.....To wield 2 guns at once so I look cool like the guy in 'Desperado'.
.....In case I ever meet Pat Kenny/Barry Egan/Gavin Lambe Murphy.


If 'Pat Kenny' option: Do you promise to make his death as slow and painful as possible: ______


Can you say "kneejerk reaction" children?

Tuesday 18 November 2008

A working class hero is something to be...

Yesterday evening, with my asthma acting up, I maturely opted against making matters worse by playing indoor football. Instead, I stayed home and finally had a chance to catch an entire episode of "The Apprentice".

While modestly entertaining, something was not quite right. It might have the same title. It might operate on the same premise, with the same smug, over confident contestants and the same challenge-based format - but something is missing. The contestants lack the vicious, back stabbing, dog-eat-dog, win-at-all costs attitude of their American and English counterparts.

Let's face it, the only thing viewers of The Apprentice are really want to see are the boardroom confrontations at the end of each episode. They expect to see contestants fight tooth and nail to stay in the competition - justifying decisions, hanging fellow competitors out to dry, laying blame, pointing fingers and explaining poor performances.

In contrast, the contestants in the Irish version appear meek and apologetic. One would almost think their sole aim was to avoid offending anybody rather than landing the plum job with an equally plum salary. Each of Dr. Bill's criticisms is met with an "absolutely" or "I agree 100%" - there is no effort to explain their own point of view. Mistakes are admitted too readily and hands are too often held up in contrition.

Last night, after one of the contestants had dug himself into a hole by first agreeing with Dr. Bills opinion that his performance was pathetic (absolutely!) and then by admitting some of his decision making hadn't been the brightest, a fellow competitor attempted to dig him back out by mentioning how well he had worked.

Somebody should really explain that idea of the show is not to talk themselves out of a job.

You have to wonder if in a regular job interview, upon being asked...

What would you say is your greatest weakness?

these monkey's wouldn't reply

The drink... definitely the drink.


And dat, as dey say, is dat!

Friday 14 November 2008

The Friday Album Cover #22

3....2....1.... Go!


If you're happy and you know it...

According to the latest Irish Times /TNS mrbi poll, 18% of people are currently satisfied with the performance of the government while 27% of people are satisfied with the performance of Fianna Fáil.

Although 18% may sound like a low approval rating, it means that just over 1 in 5 people think the government are doing a perfectly adequate job. Look around you - if this poll is to be believed, every 5th or 6th person you see thinks that:

  • Removing the automatic entitlement of over 70s to a medical card
  • Putting the lives of young girls at risk by halting the roll-out of a cervical cancer vaccine which has been shown to be cost effective - all for the sake of a measly €10 million
  • Withdrawing funding for remedial and special needs teachers and, at the same time, increasing class sizes to among the highest in Europe
  • Delivering an almighty clusterfuck of a budget.
  • Failing to address the bloated, expensive public sector - particularly the large administrative contingents in those departments worst hit by the cuts.
  • Putting the taxpayer in hock to bail out banks who found themselves in a precarious position due reckless lending practices.
  • Proposing a scheme to prop up wealthy builders/developers who, thanks to their myopic greed, are left with with projects they can't finish and units they can't sell
  • Having presided over the greatest economic boom the country has known, failed to set aside any funds for when the inevitable downturn finally came.
... is all in a good day's work.

Why is this number so high?

Exactly how many bankers, builders and members of the Cowen/Harney/Lenihan/Hannifin/Coughlan families were included in the sample population?

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Takin' Care Of Business

"The Man" is sending a man from the good ol' US of A on a whistle stop tour of Globex Corp's european operations. At each location the big kahuna will speak to employees about different aspects of the business and the strategy for handling the current economic climate. I'd like to think he will also glad hand well-wishers and kiss babies.

The news of his planned visit sparked a flurry of activity in the office last week.

The red carpet was sent to the dry cleaners, the fine china was polished to within an inch of its life and the stack of questionable reading material (your OK and Hello magazines of course) have been thrown out.

It is now impossible to walk past the office manager without her spitting on a tissue and giving your face a quick wipe.

It also spawned the following email....

Hank Scorpio*, Global President [and glorious leader] of Globex Corp, will be visiting the Dublin office...In order that our office looks well, B and I will initiate an office tidy. Specifically, we want all surfaces and tops of cabinets and presses to be cleared of clutter. As this also includes desks which may be currently uninhabited, please look around your division's area. For paper to be dumped, use the bin for shredding and recycling, beside the printer.Boxes may be stacked up near the exit for the cleaners to take away. Anything left lying around is likely to be binned.. Press doors should be kept closed, especially the paper press beside the printers.

It goes without saying that the kitchen needs to be kept tidy, so as ever, please stack dishes and cutlery in the dishwasher, not in the sink or on the work top.If you have cereal boxes stored on the top of the presses, please find somewhere out of sight to keep them. Please check around the area you are working to make the job easier for those concerned. In our own interests, it is important that we create a good impression next week.

Clearly in the current economic climate, it is natural to be a little edgy when it comes to the whole aspect of job security. Surely this clean up is going a bit far however - even for the small consultancy services arm of a larger indigenous parent company which was recently consumed by a multinational hardware distributor. (I'm sure people expect Mr. Scorpio to enter the building with a large stack of P45s under he arm.)

If anything we should be making the place and ourselves look a bit messier. By discarding pizza boxes about the place and not shaving for a few days we could make it appear as though we don't have a second to spare because we are insanely busy and essential to the smooth operation of Globex Corp. By being excessively neat, tidy and organised we are creating an impression of a workforce with time on our hands.

Cleanliness may be next to godliness but I doubt it is going to save any jobs - unless you work in sanitation. (Which we don't). I can see it now - back in the oak-panelled boardroom on the mothership:


We knew this day was coming gentlemen - the credit crunch has reached Globex Corp. We need to shed some weight.


How about the Atkins diet? I've heard that's good.

I wasn't talking about us as individuals- obviously we will continue to earn obscene salaries and enjoy massive perks - I was referring to the company. The company needs to save money. Jobs will have to go.


How about those snooty Europeans. Always looking down on us with their culture and food and... and.... their history.

I like where you're going with this. How about that Irish consulting company? We never offered any consultancy services before they came bundled with that other company we bought. Why don't we cut the little leprechauns with their freckly leprechaun heads loose.


Oh... wait...I was in their office last year. It was very clean.

Cereal boxes?


Nowhere in sight!

The French then?



*Not his real name.

Tuesday 11 November 2008

Has anybody here seen my friend Bobby?

Apparently, in 1968 Robert F. Kennedy said

There's no question that in the next thirty or forty years, a Negro can also achieve the same position that my brother has as President of the United States, certainly within that period of time.

I bet he wishes he'd stuck $20 on that....


....and not been shot.


I thought I saw him walk up over the hill with Abraham, Martin and John

Monday 10 November 2008

My friend works for the national health...

Dr. S and I were already in situ on 2 barstools in Neary's on Saturday evening when GW, coat collar pulled up against the night, and the ever charming P arrived.

About 2 weeks ago GW decided to begin cultivating a beard. When Dr. S and I had seen him the previous week he was sporting about 10 days growth and looked like a man who might at any moment form a Republic of Loose tribute band (or whip a bottle of Buckfast from beneath his coat).


Dr. S, an easily excitable type at the best of times, was clearly amazed at the development of GW's facial hair. Stopping just short of stroking it lovingly he marvelled at its virile bushiness.

"Wow!" he gasped (with the amazement of a child who has just had a €2 coin extracted from their ear), "its gotten so long and bushy. Its much thicker than when we last saw it".

"Did they not teach you this stuff in medical school?" asked GW "or were you just sick that day?"

The movie will begin in 5 moments...

I learned two things this weekend:

Thanks to years of listening to Gift Grub on Today FM, I am incapable of sitting in a cinema without saying "In fact ah...." when the Irish National Federation Against Copyright Theft (INFACT) notice is displayed. (I doubt I'm the only one)

It is a more difficult than you might think to pee standing up while wearing a crash helmet.

Friday 7 November 2008

The Friday Album Cover #21

I recently read Jack McCallum's outstanding "Seven Seconds or Less" - a fly-on-the-wall account of a season the Sports Illustrated journalist spent with the Mike D'Antoni coached Phoenix Suns basketball team.

Like all NBA coaches, D'Antoni diligently prepared his team with a meticulous, attention to detail. Hours of video footage were watched and analysed. Training sessions were tailored to suit their next opponents. Strategies were drawn up and discussed. Finally, each player was given a 10-page dossier highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of their opposite number.

Yes despite this, D'antoni firmly believed that his players shouldn't be overly concerned with strategy and tactics, arguing that a player's natural talent was more important, particularly when it came to adapting to the fluid nature of the game. To this end, at the top of the third page in each and every dossier was the line "If you get this far, come see me".

Nobody ever came - the players trusted their own abilities (and those of their team mates) preferring instead to just get on with the game.

I wonder if the album cover preambles are in some way similar. Do you cut straight to the chase in an effort to beat sheepworrier to the punch.




This week's album cover is another easy-peasy classic. I had some trouble with the nose as usual. However, although it may not match that on the original cover, I'm sure it was right at some moment in time.


Thursday 6 November 2008

...Crazy for tryin'

If I'm destined to get nothing done today, I think it is only fair that everybody else should find themselves in same boat!

All you have to do is click on the ball.

Monday 3 November 2008

Country Feedback

On Friday evening we paid a visit to Kildare to see the CPF's highly strung sister and her delightful children (aged 4 and 7½).

The adults sipped wine and chatted about adulty things while the children and your intrepid Ambassador plonked themselves cross-legged on the floor surrounded by numerous toys and a veritable EU mountain of sticky, gooey treats (the swag from their trick-or-treating expedition) .

The highlight of my evening was showing my four year old nearly-nephew how his Spiderman walkie-talkies could be used to generate eardrum-busting, rock-star-like feedback. Needless to say I was the recipient of some choice text messages on Saturday morning!

I'll take the blame on that score... but somebody else must have taught him to kick the coffee table over before smashing his Fisher Price guitar through the Hi-Fi's speakers!

(Apparently they also found his Little Tykes Coupe had been crashed into the paddling pool)

Friday 31 October 2008

The Friday Album Cover #20

I was sure album cover #19 wouldn't last too long and with the benefit of hindsight I think it's fair to say, I may have been misguided in that particular belief.

So, confidence shattered and stuck for time, this week's cover is simple and (possibly more importantly) world famous. A real early bird's one!

Cue sheepworrier in 5...4...3...2...1...

Thursday 30 October 2008

The Friday Album Cover #19 (Side B)

No takers on Fridays effort then?

It was meant to be 0898 Beautiful South by The Beautiful South (who split in 2007 citing"musical similarities").

Here is the original:


I thought it was a pretty decent likeness myself.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

The wind was sighing, and the day was dying

At lunchtime on Saturday, while walking along the banks of the canal near Mountjoy Prison , I looked up and was surprised to see three normally nocturnal birds perched in the branches of a nearby tree.

One sat near the top of the tree while the remaining two were on branches lower down.

The owl triangle!

Friday 24 October 2008

The Friday Album Cover #19

It has been a good week.

The new albums from Duke Special and Ben Folds have been purchased, listened to and thoroughly enjoyed.

I did a gig last night and managed to fill 15 minutes without using any material - and it was good too (which caught me by surprise). Of course, it helps when the guy from the anti-litter ad (the boys and the girls in the fashion parade) and a woman who works in Arnotts lingerie department are in the crowd. Sometimes it all falls right into your lap.

The only downside was my complete un-preparednesses of this weeks album cover which comes from the early 90's. If the face in last weeks obfuscated matters then the outlook is bleak.

And now, on with the show....

Thursday 23 October 2008

Vitamin V is good for me.

I have just received what may be the funniest spam e-mail I have ever had the privilege to read.

Menthol Viagra - fresh breath and fresh impressions!

I'd love to see the television ad for that!



A sprightly looking pensioner, dressed casually in chinos and a blue cotton shirt, walks into his kitchen carrying 2 empty wine glasses. As he does so, he looks back over his shoulder and calls "more wine dear?".

An unseen female companion replies seductively - "oh yes please!"

While pouring the wine he addresses the camera:

"You know, they say life begins at 40 but its hard to maintain that Joie de vivre when Mother Nature won't let you enjoy the.... finer things in life to the extent to which you are accustomed . Regular Viagra helped with some things but my chronic halitosis was another problem entirely. Then I found these...."

He picks up a bottle of the tablets, displaying them to the camera before giving the contents a rattle saying...

"Menthol Viagra.... it has all the magic of regular Viagra...AND it freshen's my breath. Not only that, but I save on my monthly prescription costs as I don't need to buy mouthwash to treat my halitosis"

Making his way back to his companion he pauses before entering the room and says "Menthol Viagra - fresh breath..."

He pauses to give a conspiratorial nod and wink before resuming with a slight inflection in tone.

".... and fresh impressions."

He smiles and we see a twinkle (complete with customary ding sound effect) from his sparkling white teeth.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Some days have bouncers and won't let you in

Negotiating Dublin's rush hour on two wheels can be a tricky ordeal at the best of times. Your time is spent, constantly on edge, wondering is she too busy putting on make up to see me, does he look like he's about to change lanes without looking or will I fit through that gap (and if I won't does he look like somebody who would be upset if I took his wing mirror with me)?

When filtering through traffic in this manner, what I like to call "catching a bee-baw"* is probably the finest thing that can happen. Essentially this is when some vehicle with blue flashing lights and a screeching siren zooms past, allowing you to travel unfettered in its wake as other cars, trucks and buses part like the Red Sea before it.

Of course, things don't always work out as planned - for example, a bee-baw can break read lights while I, as a rule, don't like to.

Or, you could decide to sit in behind a convoy of garda motorbikes, army land rovers and a Paddy Wagon transporting John Gilligan from Portlaoise to Dublin for a court hearing. (It would appear gardaí suffer from severe paranoia when a man on a black motorcycle, dressed all in black with a dark visor on his black crash helmet suddenly begins following their little convoy - but that's a story for another day).

There there are the days, like this morning, when you find yourself behind a garda biker in no particular hurry to get anywhere. On such occasions, the man on the bike with the blue light becomes the world's ultimate authority on where that fine line between filtering legally and riding recklessly lies.

There were 6 of us, tootling along behind him like the best behaved bikers the world has ever known.

It felt like the journey in took a month!



* In all likelihood nobody else has or will ever call it this.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

It's a kind of magic!

My mastery of mathematics ain't what it used to be.

The revocation of automatic medical cards for over 70's in the budget speech was implemented in order to save €100 million.

Following the subsequent (and apparently completely unexpected) public outcry, the weekly income limit for eligibility was increased to €240 per week for a single person. This may have been a panic measure but it certainly wasn't a U-turn as it was in keeping strictly within the parameters outlined in the budget.

Today, in another non U-turn (no... really!), Brian Cowen announced that the income limit for a single person is to be increased to €700 per week. In addition, the government will enter into negotiations with the IMO for a reduction in the fees received by GPs who treat over 70's medical card holders. All of this, according to this morning's statement, will ensure the "savings required by the budgetary framework" are maintained.

So, 95% of over 70's will be entitled to automatic medical cards and some future negotiations may see some reduction in the fees paid to GPs, yet they can claim this non-U-turn is budget neutral (i.e. it will still save €100 million).

Mathemagicians!

Monday 20 October 2008

Wouldn't it be nice...

This blog recently registered a hit from Niceville, Florida.

Intrigued by the name - Niceville should really be a fictional town name used in a Superman script or a childrens fable (where the neighbouring town would be called Meanieville) - I did a bit of googling.

It was previously named Boggy Bayou, but the name was changed to attract more tourists.

Admittedly, Niceville is a marginal improvement on Boggy Bayou - but so too is Moderately Damp Bayou. Unless a town was originally called Murderville, renaming it Niceville probably isn't likely to result in a drastic rise in tourism. A bit like the Australian national anthem, "Advance Australia Fair", Niceville doesn't set the bar of expectation particularly high. (Would The Nice Canyon, The Nice Wall of China or The Nice Barrier Reef receive as many visitors as their great and grand counterparts?)

Mrs. Bradshaw, my Leaving Cert English teacher, absolutely forbade us to use the word nice in essays, maintaining that constant overuse in everyday conversation made it one of the tamest, least descriptive adjectives available. We could, she said, use it as a proper noun but she would prefer the absence of adjectives to the presence of the word nice.

They had carte blanche - the could have pushed the boat out and picked the type of place name that kicks you in the shin and demands you pay it a visit. That they didn't, instead favouring a cautious, conservative option, probably tells more about the towns folk than the new name ever could

If my Niceville reader ever returns, may I suggest the following alternatives...
  • Fantabulousville
  • Freeliqourville
  • Drunkandeasysinglesville

Thursday 16 October 2008

The Friday Album Cover #18

Is it just me or is The Friday Album Cover coming around more frequently than it used to? It seems that no sooner have I poster one album cover, then sheepworrier has guessed it and the next deadline comes whoosing by!

Contrary to what first impressions may suggest, this week's album was not recorded by Nick Cave after he had been horribly disfigured in an out of control house fire. The head of the artist in question is, in fact, a more reasonable size and in proportion with the rest of his/her body.

If you don't pay too much heed to the head area it may look reasonably similar to the actual album cover.

Off you go!

[Edit: It might help to look at it cross eyed]


Thursday 9 October 2008

The Friday Album Cover #17

"The Man" sent me off to the glamorous surrounds of Amiens Steet this week. I have spent the latter half of the week working for a certain semi state body (whose internal newsletter is wittily titled "The Gasette") and observing the coming and goings at the nearby methadone clinic. Oh yes! Nothing but chic cosmopolitan hubs for me. In addition to listening to the half-baked notions of the fine Dublin citizens gathered below the window I have witnessed what, to me, is a completely new phenomenon.

There is a set of pedestrian lights outside near the client's office. At lunchtime today I stopped by them, pressed the button to summon the little green man and stood at the roadside waiting for the lights to change. After roughly 30 seconds a man stopped beside me, jabbed his finger at the button 5 or 6 times and joined me in waiting for the signal to cross.

Why did he feel the need to press the button? Did he think I am unaware how pedestrian lights are supposed to function? Perhaps he was under the impression that the lights would instinctively understand that his desire to reach his destination was more urgent than mine. Or maybe he felt pressing the button a number of times would convince the lights to change quicker - in much the same way Daddy Ambassador seems to think clicking his mouse button harder somehow encourages his PC. I don't know if the various etiquette books in publication cover such scenarios - but if they do, I can only imagine the following is the correct response.

Thanks God you're here. That's the kind of radical, outside-the-box thinking I could have done with 4 hours ago. Do you know I've been standing here, racking my brains, trying to remember what I was forgetting. I'm going to be so late for work

To say I was dispatched to Amiens Street at short notice would be an understatement. My departure was so swift that the latter half of the week was spent fretting over the half complete album cover on my laptop back in the office.

They say desperate times call for desperate measures so, unwilling to break the emergency glass in order to retrieve The Beatles "White Album", I went for something super-simple yet super-classic. The early bird will definitely get the worm this week.

Monday 6 October 2008

Baby we can talk all night!

T-man has just pointed me in the direction of this - a thread following last weeks VP Debate on a site called "Rapture Ready"

Scary stuff!

When you pull that dead man's hand, your gamblin' days are up.

From Reuters:

Bus with gamblers flips in California, 10 dead

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A bus traveling to a casino in northern California ran off a rural road and overturned, killing at least 10 people, the San Francisco Chronicle and other media reported on Monday.

The newspaper's on-line edition said police confirmed 10 passengers had died and more than 30 others were injured when the charter bus left the road and rolled over into a ditch about 60 miles north of Sacramento on Sunday night.

Local television stations showed the crashed bus in a muddy drainage ditch where it landed back on its wheels.

Rescuers had trouble communicating with the passengers because many spoke Lao, a California Highway Patrol officer told the newspaper.

The bus was travelling to a casino resort in the farming town of Colusa.


Talk about dicing with death!

Closer than close!

It's getting closer. Almost tangibly close. Not tangible in the strictest sense of course - but soon I will be able to point to a 2 inch square on a Violent Veg calendar and say "That...[pause for theatrical gulp]... that is the day I will be married" (Not marred).

While we are both looking forward to being married, I think it's fair to say the act of actually getting married is being viewed with some apprehension as neither I, nor the CPF, particularly enjoy being the centre of attention.

The slimmed down format we chose to adopt means there aren't many pieces to the "big day" puzzle and, by extension, there is not a great deal to organise. Yet, every decision made, every deposit placed seems like a giant step towards next June.

On Saturday morning the CPF took my future mother-in-law to see the dress had she tried on (and loved) two weeks ago. Before they returned, the order had been placed and the dress paid for in full.

In time honoured tradition, I want to know nothing of the shape, size, cut or colour of the dress. Yet, convinced I will lose all composure* upon seeing the CPF walk up the aisle, I find myself in the peculiar position of wanting to know just a little of what to expect lest I am rendered speechless by the vision of beauty before me.

At present, all I have to go on are the following texts the CPF received from her father ..

I've heard all about the dress. Am sworn to secrecy but some of the words used were 'fabulous', 'beautiful' and 'simply stunning'.

and sister...
Mam says your dress is beautiful. Very elegant. You will look gorgeous in it.

Aren't I the lucky one?


* I cheerfully admit that I expect to lose my composure and cry like a big girl on a number of occasions throughout the day.

Friday 3 October 2008

The Friday Album Cover #16

One from my teenage years this week.

I don't know many people who possess (or even know of) this album so hopefully it won't prove too obscure.


E-Hug #3

It's that time of the week again:

Last week's question and results:

How do you usually write when using a pen or pencil?

32.4%.............Print
18.6%.............Cursive (handwriting)
24.9%.............Personalized combination of the two
24.1%.............Sometimes one, sometimes the other

No big surprise that "Print" was the top answer.

The question on everybody's lips this week?

Have you ever whitened your teeth?
  • Yes
  • No
  • Whitened what?

Presumably the last option was included for employees from the deep south who may not have been aware the word tooth has a plural.

Monday 29 September 2008

Daysleeper

At twenty past two on Saturday afternoon CPF and I were sitting comfortably in the Abbey Theatre awaiting their production of Wilde's 'An Ideal Husband'.

We had fallen into bed at stupid o'clock after spending the previous evening dancing our little cotton socks off at the wedding of a friend and, ably assisted by the cosy darkness of the theatre, tiredness was beginning to catch up with us. Eyelids were drooping and fighting the urge to curl up and go for a quick nap was proving quite a challenge.

Looking around the auditorium, we noticed that, it being a matinee performance, the average age of the audience was at least 102.

"It looks " the CPF said with a grin, "like we won't be the only ones at risk of nodding off"

There was to be no nodding of - not even a hint of it. Everything about the performance (sets, acting, costumes, production, lighting) was thoroughly captivating and nothing short of fantastic.

Friday 26 September 2008

E-Hug #2

Hot off the presses is this week's corporate hug from the evil overlords benevolent management at Globex Corp!

The answers to last week's poll are in....

If you were to permanently lose one of your senses, which one would you rather lose?

62.5%.....Smelling
23.5%.....Tasting
6.5%......Touching
6.3%......Hearing
1.3%......Seeing

....so now you know.

Now on to this weeks burning question.

Presumably, with the international banking crisis and $700 trillion rescue strategy hogging the headlines, you are expecting something recession related. "How do you think Globex Corp will manage in the current financial climate?" or "How do you think you will be affected by the credit crunch?".

Well, prepare to be disappointed.

How do you usually write when using a pen or pencil?
  • Print
  • Cursive (Handwriting)
  • Sometimes one, sometimes the other
  • Personalised combination of the two.

Three things struck me about this:

If they have to clarify what "Cursive" is, exactly what class of gimp does Globex Corp employ in the US?

If the need to explain cursive handwriting is indicative of a typical staff member, shouldn't the question be "How do you usually write when using a pen, pencil or crayon?

Finally, why isn't there an option for "Like a 5 year old - head resting on your arm, tongue sticking out from the side of your mouth, breathing heavily, deep in concentration".

The Friday Album Cover #15

A bit busy at the minute so no pre-album-cover small talk.

The intention to go into a little more detail was there but time really wasn't a friend this week.

It's a piece of cake anyway....




Enjoy!

Thursday 25 September 2008

He's riding hard to catch that herd, but he ain't caught 'em yet

The CPF has been shopping for wedding dresses. (Well, a wedding dress, I would hope she's not planning on a number of costume changes on the day).

Given the course her normal shopping expeditions take, it is more than a little impressive that she has already found a dress she loves and feels comfortable in.

A friend recently thrust her veil into the CPF's hand so she could get an idea how the dress will look once all the extras have been added.

Don't ask me why (or how) but the veil is currently hanging from the ceiling of the spare bedroom.... and it frightens the bejayus out of me everytime I see it.

Its not because of any commitment phobia and I certainly don't have any doubts about marring* the CPF.

Its just that the fucking thing looks like a ghost!

*[Edit:] I will of course be marrying the CPF as opposed to marring her. No commitment phobias you say? Oh Mr Freud, let me help you up - you seem to have slipped

Tuesday 23 September 2008

It's the dirty story of a dirty man

Reading one of the Sunday papers over breakfast this morning, a short, filler article caught my attention.

Apparently Cecila Ahern, author of entertaining chick-lit books (e.g. "PS, I Love You") and woeful chick-flicks (e.g. 'PS, I Love You'), has no interest in penning a biography of her father, amnesiac scoundrel, Bertie Ahern.

Quoth Celia:

I write fiction and wouldn't be able to take on something of that magnitude.

I would have thought the whole "writing fiction" thing would make her the perfect candidate.

Unless of course she meant that Bertie's account of things is just too fictional - even for her?

Friday 19 September 2008

The times they are a changing.

Our company is owned by an Fortune 500 corporation.

Since the takeover we have been bombarded by weekly Friday emails full to the brim of corporate bullshit. It's your typical American motivational win-one-for-the-gipper, e-Hug.

And they don't even have the decency to include a crudely drawn album cover. It does contain a weekly poll though. A weekly poll which has the potential to be the source of much merriment.

Last week's was: If you could travel through time, would you rather visit the past or the future?

And the results:

50% : The Past
32% : The Future
16% : I don't want to travel through time


Upon reading stuff like this you have to wonder what type of bible belt, puritan, flat earth gobshits call themselves my colleagues.

Its a hypothetical question! Doc Brown isn't strapping them into the DeLorean, hair fizzy and manic, glasses askew yelling "We'll never get her up to 88mph Marty"

You don't want to go into the future and get the winning lotto numbers or see what happens when all the oil runs out?

Or maybe go into the past so you once again have the opportunity to tell your Dad you love him before he dies. Or maybe get a decent education?

This weeks question is: If you were to permanently lose one of your senses, which one would you rather lose?

Right now I'm thinking "sight" - then I'll never have to read one of these awful emails again. Your intrepid reporter will bring you the results of this week's poll as and when we have them.

Thursday 18 September 2008

Misleading Headline of the Day #1

From today's Irish Times.

One in Four calls for national abuse strategy

They've certainly changed their tune!

The Friday Album Cover #14

Here, a little earlier (as advertised) is round 14 of The Friday Album Cover.

You know how, when you select an image file in Windows* Explorer, a thumbnail preview of the image is displayed?

Well, when the file containing this week's album cover is selected, the thumbnail preview is a damn good likeness.

When the file is actually opened in MS Paint? Meh... not so much!




Off drinking and paint-balling (or something equally fun and mucky) with "The Man" for the weekend - have a good one!

* Boo! and indeed Hiss!

Wednesday 17 September 2008

The Friday Album Cover #14

"The Man" has plans for me on Friday.

The Friday Album Cover =14 may appear tomorrow instead.

Failing that expect to see it the following Friday as normal.

Consider yourself forearmed.

Them big words ain't cool....Dumb it down

I think it's fair to say that as a child, being more concerned with He-Man and Transformers cartoons, I didn't watch many documentary-style television programs. That's not to say I wasn't aware of the genre's existence.

Daddy Ambassador used to watch them - serious adult (not in THAT way) shows like Dispatches, Panorama, Horizon and Today Tonight that dealt with the weighty issues affecting the world.

Although a different topic was covered each week they always appeared in the TV listings under the same title - Dispatches, Panorama, Horizon. Presumably this was to create a brand name synonymous with the consistent integrity and journalistic standards each individual series strived to achieve. Suitably grave subheads differentiated between individual episodes. For example:

  • Dispatches: The Case Against War
  • Dispatches: The Key to Watergate
  • Dispatches: Public Service, Private Profit
  • Dispatches: Immigrants - The Inconvenient Truth

All weighty, serious, straight laced issues I'm sure you'll agree.

Last night's TV listings included this little gem of a documentary:

Help, I Smell of Fish

Talk about the dumbing down of the media!

(I'm picturing sea gulls hovering overhead, under the false impression that you have concealed the days catch from a small fishing trawler about your person).

Tuesday 16 September 2008

But trust me on the sunscreen…

There are number of rules of thumb and truisms that crop up repeatedly when reading about or discussing motorbike safety.

For example, a crash helmet can be bought for anything from €60 to €600 leading people new to biking to often ask "How much should I spend on a helmet?" The will almost always receive the following answer.

Well first of all what you do is you think about your head.... and you think about how often you use it during an average day... then, based on that, you decide how useful it is to you and by extension how much it is worth spending in order to protect it.

Another common one is "All the gear. All the time". Essentially this means that even on the hottest days of summer (i.e. the day the Leaving Cert begins and the day the schools start back in September), when every fibre of your being wants to head out on the bike wearing just shorts and a t-shirt to enjoy the weather, you should still put on the same heavy armoured gear you would wear in the depths of winter. The logic being that it is far less hassle to have a shower than a skin graft.

Then there's the all encompassing, self explanatory "make sure you try to keep it rubber side down" and my personal favourite, the perceptive:

Most motorcycle accidents are caused by the nut which connects the saddle to the handlebars.

So this morning I set off for work determined not to be the nut connecting the handlebars to the saddle.

NOT a good idea in hindsight - probably should have taken my hands out of my pockets and put them on the handlebars!

Monday 15 September 2008

Who's gonna plug their ears, when you scream

About 5 years ago, the CPF and I were walking down Wexford Street in Dublin.

We have just been to see The Walls perform in what was then the Mean Fiddler. It had been a tremendous gig - their usual set list had been liberally sprinkled with a couple of songs from their days as The Stunning, a cracking cover of Tom Waits' "Going Out West" and, in closing, they aired a new song called 'Drowning Pool'* - a roof-lifting, vitriolic diatribe directed at some of the shady characters who operate in the music industry.

As we walked, still in a sort of post-gig euphoria, we chatted enthusiastically about the gig, music in general, manufactured pop (which we both despise) and the numerous acts who have graduated from the 'Louis Walsh School of Shite' TM (the band had sarcastically dedicated Drowning Pool to Louis).

As the CPF was making a point about how unfair it was that honest, hard working bands have to slog it out on the circuit for years while saccharin sweet, candy floss acts go straight to the top of the charts, a huge Bentley stopped in traffic on Aungier St. caught my attention. "Jayziz", I thought "that looks like Louis Walsh".

"Honey? Is that Louis Walsh over there"

As she looked, Mr. Walsh noticed us looking in his direction and waved a wave that said (to me) "Yes, I am pop svengali Louis Walsh" and smiled a smile that said (again, to me) "Feel free to prostrate yourself before my majesty".

"Louis?" I shouted.

He buzzed his window, probably hand-made by Indonesian orphans, down about 4 inches.

"YOU'RE A FUCKING BOLLOX!"

And he just grinned. He grinned a grin that said he didn't care what I thought. A smug wealthy grin which made it abundantly clear that money, and not the artistic merit of the acts in his stable was all he cared about. Then the lights went green and he moved off.

"You're a bollox Louise" a disgusted CPF chastised. "You are more intelligent than that. You are more articulate than that. You have more class than that and you were certainly raised better than that".

Suitably humbled, I turned to her....

"But Honey, I didn't have time to explain in depth why I think he is single handedly killing the Irish music industry. The lights were likely to turn green at any second, I couldn't exactly walk over and start a lengthy discussion during which I could ask him give it a rest with the auld boy bands. I had a limited window of opportunity to have my say and I needed to go for something that summed him and his enterprise up in as little time time as possible".

The CPF still likes to remind me about this from time to time and, while I will freely admit it wasn't my finest moment (for that was obviously letting Ronan Keating have it in Heathrow airport) it was a tactical decision made in the heat of the moment and I stand by it.

* Mail thebadambassador@gmail.com if you would like a copy. Of course, it will be distributed on a trust basis - I assume you will pay the appropriate loyalties to the appropriate parties"

Don't you know, don't you know, don't you know?

I'm getting off my stage
The curtains pull away
No hyperbole to hide behind
My naked soul exposes
Whoah.. oh.. oh.. oh.. Whoah.. oh..
.....:
.....:
.....:
These words are my own
From my heart flow....

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that these words are in fact not those of Natasha Bedingfield!

On what basis is this preposterous claim made?

Nobody else seems to pronounce the word hyperbole as hyper-bowl - as if it is some American sporting extravaganza. (Watch the Mississippi Mudslingers take on the Harlem Harlots in this year's Hyper Bowl, only on Fox).

One would think if the aforementioned words were those of the irritating songstress, she would at least know how to pronounce them.

I suspect the only hyperbole in evidence here is Ms. Bedingfield's clearly outlandish claim.

Friday 12 September 2008

The Friday Album Cover #13

It's Friday again and the weekly album cover is where its at. Although I'm beginning to think I may have set the bar a little too high this week (if you'll excuse the unintentional pun). All was going well - until I got to the main focus of the album cover. There was clearly a definite lack of forward planning.

See how you get on.


Thursday 11 September 2008

Hey you, up in the sky...

I saw a crane being erected yesterday.

No - I didn't see a woman suggestively stroking one of these....



or one of these....


I'm talking about a tower crane - the type seen on construction sites all over the country during the building boom.

"So?" I hear you ask?

Well, apart from the irony of seeing a crane erected while the construction industry has more or less been brought to its knees, before yesterday I had never witnessed a crane being erected.

Last year you could look out our bedroom window and see at least 40 cranes - their blinking lights (blinking in a flashing on and off sense as opposed to the mild swear word used by grannys) like a feeble fireworks display during the winter nights.

I have driven up and down the country and all through Dublin city and seen hundreds, if not thousands, of cranes - yet I have never seen one being erected. One minute they are not there, you turn your back to make a cup of tea and there's six of them when you come back!

So why is this such a big deal?

Well before yesterday I was convinced that they must have grown them.

I was sure, the construction industry planned well in advance saying "We'll start building a hotel here in 2003 - better plant a few cranes".

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Laz'rus dig yourself

I turned 30 on Monday and I have a shed.

Entering my thirties doesn't bother me - I still don't feel a day over 29. The fact that I own a shed however, that I have accumulated enough "stuff" to need one, makes me feel like the crest of the hill is drawing ever closer - and soon I will be over it. Not only that, I'm convinced I'm turning into my Dad..

When cleaning out the old shed before it was torn down, the CPF and I spent an evening sifting through its contents, deciding what to keep and what to bin. Occasionally she would hold up something like an old plastic tub, a small stick or half a milk carton and say "Bin?". And I, ignorant of the logic driving my thought process, would reply "Nah hang onto it - it might come in handy".

I had no idea how or when they might have come in useful. I couldn't even begin to suggest a possible future use for such items - but you never know, someday I might find myself in a situation where I'll think "half a milk carton would be just the man for a job like this" and I'll be able to go to my shed (eek!) and retrieve it. Unfortunately, this is exactly the same conversation I witnessed Mammy and Daddy Ambassador have in their shed a hundred times over. Often in the same night.



If the truth be told, I don't actually own a shed at present.

I own a bit of a shed.

It is only 3 blocks high and, as sheds go, it wouldn't be useful for storing much.

With no roof, it wouldn't offer much protection from the elements and the absence of a door means it is not the most secure structure in the world.

For the moment, I own a series of small walls!


Isn't that all archaeologists ever find during excavations? A collection of small walls - and from this? "Well we can tell from this series of small walls that this was a castle/some stables/a gymnasium/a brothel/a library/an internet café"

Maybe they've just been finding unfinished sheds?

Monday 8 September 2008

I like it too much, move over darling

Although I don't have the correct statistic to hand, I remember reading that the number of bikers killed on Irish roads each year is hugely disproportionate.

Motorbikes and scooters represent about 2% of motorised traffic, yet they account for something like 13% of road deaths each year. That sobering, if not entirely unexpected, fact has never caused too many sleepless nights in the embassy - I am not afraid of dying such innate vulnerabilities are part and parcel of biking. There is nothing to be done but accept that you are willingly placing yourself at increased risk and get on with things.

However, with plans for a wedding (and hopefully children) in the pipeline, my longevity is suddenly more of a concern - which is why I decided my high visibility vest was no longer offering sufficient protection. You see, the little sleeveless (off the shoulder) number I had been wearing was quite small - if I wore a backpack (which I do most days) it was almost completely hidden from view which, I think you will agree, is of little use.

On Saturday, for the princely sum of €60, I purchased a full size, illuminous yellow, rain jacket which is so bright you could probably see it from space.

On Sunday, I put it on over my regular bike jacket (with all the padding and zips and what not) and went for a spin. It was magic - everybody moved out of my way. One man was so eager to move over, he almost moved over into a ditch*. I can only assume they thought I was a bike cop. (Either that or the jacket was blinding them)





Of course, given that I wear this helmet....



...I can only assume they thought I was some kind of renegade garda enforcer.

Maybe I should get a white lid and see what happens.

* I was riding at around the speed limit, in a non-agressive manner - exactly as I normally do.

Friday 5 September 2008

The Friday Album Cover #12

"Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory"

When you don't have two notes in your head to rub together, you tend to avoid singing when within earshot of other people. This is partly through a fear of being mocked and partly because you have no desire to be held in contravention of the Geneva convention.

The say in space nobody can hear you scream. Well, when tootling about on a motorbike nobody can hear you warble (or indeed murder the modern classics). I like to take full advantage of this fact and sing like a happy maniac inside my crash helmet. I will belt out anything that comes on the MP3 players - from Free Bird to Shiny Happy People or Nessun Dorma.

Nessun Dorma must be quite the spectacle - with only 5 words of Italian in my armoury (Ti Amo. Mi Vuoi Sposare) it must be sung phonetically!

Today, given the weather, the spin into work required a little more concentration than normal so the MP3 player remained on the bedside locker. It was up to me to provide my own song choices - a task to be relished with great zeal. Perhaps unsurprisingly my song of choice was "Here Comes the Flood" from The Divine Comedy's Fin de Siècle.

"Here Comes the Flood", if you aren't familiar with it, would not be out of place in a Broadway musical. It even features a sarcastic soliloquy in the middle. And its catchy. Very catchy. Everytime I listen to the album I find myself singing or humming "Here Comes the Flood" for days afterwards.

Unfortunately, one such time occurred immediately after the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. It was only when the CPF pointed out the inappropriateness of the lyric that it finally dawned on me why people had been looking at me with such displeasure

Here comes the flood
Rivers of mud, baby
Here comes the quake
Evacuate while you still can
Here comes the fire
Our funeral pyre, baby
Here comes the flood
Here comes the blood bath

Anyway, on with the show. One for you 80s kids today.


Wednesday 3 September 2008

Stand and Deliver

"The Man" looks after us pretty well.

Each year "he" takes us away for a weekend of fun and debauchery partying. And not a power point presentation*, getting-to-know-you game or team-building exercise in sight.

Over the years we have been whisked off to a balmy part of mainland Europe to go skiing, eastern Europe to shoot guns and try our collective hand at olympic fencing, the UK for some all-terrain shenanigans before going sailing in Waterford last year. Year on year, as the company has grown, the destinations have become progressively less far-flung - so with the all-encompassing credit crunch, we expect this years event to be held in Coolock.


"The Man" also puts on a pretty good Christmas party - we leave the city and check into a hotel in some rural town and meet for a meal before drinking and laughing deep into the night. Best of all, it is a Christmas party in name only. There is no turkey and ham, no party hats or Christmas crackers and certainly no zany DJ playing "Last Christmas".

A couple of years ago the venue of choice was Cashel and I decided to take a spin down on the bike.


With the emailed directions printed and the winter bike jacket and thermal face mask keeping the December frost at bay, I set off - only to stop after a few miles when it proved difficult, not to mention somewhat dangerous, trying to hold the sheet containing the directions in one hand while tearing down the N7. (Things got a bit hairy at one point when they slipped from my grasp and got stuck on the visor completely obscuring my view). With the directions folded securely in my pocket, and confident that I knew where I was headed, I set off again.

All was going pretty well until I took a wrong turn just after entering Cashel. While the directions had stated the hotel was 5 minutes from the main road, I had been driving for just over half an hour without finding it. As if this wasn't enough of a give away, I had been stopped twice for passport checks at border crossings.

Eventually I found myself in the type of tiny country village that has nothing more than a small shop, 15 pubs and a tree. Time was pushing on, darkness had descended and seeing that the shop was fully lit and the proprietress (who was at least 200 years old) was still behind the counter, I pulled up outside, took off the helmet and headed in to get directions.

A bell chimed, signalling my presence, as I opened the door. She looked up from her paper... saw a man dressed in black motor cycle gear with a mask covering half his face walk into her otherwise empty shop...and froze. Presumably convinced she was about to be mugged or worse, after an initial moment of inertia she jumped up with look of sheer terror on her face, hysterially screaming "Take what you want, take what you want!" I've never seen a facial expression that cried "Holy Shit! I'm going to die" in quite the same way.

Quickly pulling the mask down and making the globally accepted sign-language for [scouser accent] "calm down, calm down" [/scouser accent], I explained that I wanted nothing more than directions - and maybe a packet of polo mints.

You could almost see the tension flood from her body when she realised I meant her no harm.

I don't think I've ever seen anybody look so frightened since - if you don't include the episode with the CPF last winter.


* There are actually a number of power point presentations on our network with file names such as "Company Weekend 2005.ppt" but these are created after the fact and are solely for the benefit of the Tax Man - apparently the weekends are not tax deductable if they are not in some way work related.

Friday 29 August 2008

You are my achilles heel

There is a sign in the office canteen that says "Please place all used crockery and cutlery in the dishwasher".

I can't tell you how long it has been since I heard somebody use the word crockery. They are "the dishes" or "the delph".

A "crockery" should be a place where injured footballers go to recover.

The Friday Album Cover #11

Last night I was asked if, as an "up and coming comedian" I would be interested in serving as a patron to a small but important charity.

After I had picked myself up from the floor I politely declined, explaining that I don't feel I have a big enough profile to be in any way beneficial to even the smallest of charities. In actual fact, I don't have any profile - they may as well have asked a man drinking from a buckfast bottle in a brown paper bag if a patronage role would be of interest to him.

Secondly, bring described as "up and coming" (or a "comedian" for that matter) lead me to question if the woman who made the enquiry had herself been over indulging in the nectar of the destitute.

Madness I tells ya!

And now, on with the show...


An easy one I think you'll agree.

Wednesday 27 August 2008

Some people they call me Jack

During a recent conversation with a friend of mine who works in sales, he made reference to "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People". (Sales - wouldn't ya know it!)

Although I had never heard of it before, he assured me it is an enormously popular self help book. So I looked it up.

The following, in case you are wondering, are the habits or highly effective people:

  • Be Proactive.
  • Begin with the End In Mind.
  • Put First Things First.
  • Think Win/Win.
  • Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.
  • Synergize.
  • Sharpen the saw.

I would suggested that the aforementioned habits could be marketed just as effectively as a Beginners Guide to Serial Killing.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Everybody's Talkin'

Lying in bed last night, the CPF got to talking about the music and works of Thin Lizzy.

She explained why she considers Live and Dangerous to be among the greatest live albums ever recorded.

She marvelled at Lynott's charisma and his incredible talent for writing clever, insightful lyrics.

She compared the beautiful, heart-breaking delicacy of songs like 'The Sun Goes Down', 'Sarah' and 'Still in Love with You' with hell raising tracks such as 'Hollywood (Down on Your Luck)', 'Emerald' and 'Bad Reputation'.

She went to great lengths to outline the influence the band had on other Irish artists.

Just your usual philo-talk really

Running Down a Dream

It's 4am, we're lying side by side in a state of snoozy semi-awakeness....



I just had a great dream.

Yeah?

I was watching a play I have never seen before. I must have literally dreamt it all up. The plot, the characters, their motives, stage directions... everything.

If it was an original idea maybe you could write it. Was it any good?

It must have been - it was on in The Abbey.

Monday 25 August 2008

Its only words

Just in relation to the previous post:

The plural of mouse is mice.
The plural of house however, is houses.

So what's the plural of spouse?

It has to be spice doesn't it?