Monday 31 March 2008

It's about time....


The Rose of Tralee is changing its criteria to allow single mothers to enter the competition.

Up until now, mothers have not been allowed to take part in the 49-year-old pageant.

Other criteria require that the entrant be aged between 18 and 27 and not be married.

How out-dated! How behind the times! How embarassing! How very fucking noble of them!

Why were single mothers excluded to begin with? It stinks of the influence the catholic church had (and to some extent, still has) in this little country of ours.

I hate that people need to baptise their children into a faith they may not particularly believe just so their child has half a chance of being accepted into the local state run, tax payer funded school.

As a non-drinker, I despise the fact alcohol is not sold here on Good Friday. How fucking narrow minded do we wish our nation to be in this multi-cultural era? Why do we discriminate against non Catholics, lapsed Catholics and a la carte Catholics who might wish to make their own choices. People of drinking age are old enough and responsible enough to decide if they want to chance a Guinness on Good Friday and run the risk of hell and eternal damnation in the afterlife. Why not treat them like the adults instead of children? Failing that, adopt an all-inclusive policy. Traditional Jewish dietary law bans the consumption of Pork at all times - ban the sale of such products immediately. Sound silly? Though so.

I detest our RTÉ broadcasting the Angelus twice daily. Islam, if I am not mistaken, has 5 daily calls to prayer - why aren't these also broadcast? It all seems a bit unfair to me. I have read in the past that the official RTÉ line that they broadcast a "period for reflection" as opposed to the Angelus. Bollox! It's broadcast at the same time as the Angelus, it is the same length as the Angelus and the chime pattern happens to be identical to that of the Angelus. In any case, who in their right mind would reflect on life and how to live it with the television or radio on - never mind the bloody bells.

The sooner this country is freed from the influence of an organisation that once tried to ban "improper dances... such as polkas and waltzes", Ireland will be a far better place.

Friday 28 March 2008

I will make you hurt....

Ow! Ow! Ow!

From the San Francisco Chronicle...

That said, I knew a kid who ripped a testicle right off when swinging around a lamp post on a rope.

The cover of the maintenance panel at the bottom of the post had ben pulled back at one of the top corners and as he came to a stop his.... well I'm sure you can imagine.

Now he flies on just the one engine.

The Friday Album Cover #6


In my disbelief at O'Dea's willingness to treat us all as fools, and my heart stopping near miss, I almost forgot my Friday responsibilities...

Here, looking like something from King of the Hill, is this weeks album cover....

Meet me in the morning..

Today I had intended to post about Willie O'Dea's habit of speaking from both sides of his mouth.

I had intended to mention how, Mr. Potato Head... sorry, Mr. O'Dea attacks the Mahon tribunal each time the holes in the Taoiseach's "new and improved" (and possibly lemon fresh) explanations are highlighted.

I was planning to contrast this with his convenient sidestepping of difficult questions about his boss using the helpful "This issue should be dealt with by the tribunal" defence. (Yes - that's the very same tribunal he regularly attacks).

But that was before I nearly killed a one-legged man on crutches on the way into work.

I should clarify, I was on the way into work - not him. He was already at work, begging at a busy junction. We only saw each other when he crutched ("step" has to be the wrong choice of verb here, right?) from behind a truck into the middle of my lane. (All children are taught never to cross the road from behind a vehicle which obstructs their view of oncoming traffic - I would have thought this was more important for the legularly challenged. But anyway....)

He stopped dead, the surplus trouser leg hanging limply over the handle of one crutch, a look of sheer terror on his face. I, on the other hand, didn't have the luxury of stopping suddenly - I swerved around him, torn between shaking my fist in anger in a "you pesky kids" kind of manner and a desire to actually stay upright. I'd like to think I left him spinning wildly like some character in a Looney Toons cartoon - but I didn't dare look back.

Quite an invigorating start to the day - it gets the heart pumping and the brain racing - but I'm not sure he'd appreciate if I included this energising ritual into my regular morning routine.

Thursday 27 March 2008

I can't stand up for falling down...

Yesterday I managed, at pretty short notice, to book a couple of gigs for next week - both of which will be MC'd by GW, partner in crime for what seems like the last 200 years and immensely successful stand up comedian.

It has been quite a while since I last graced the same bill as GW so I am very much looking forward to them. For exactly the same reason however, I am nervous and apprehensive in equal measure. You see, GW graces the stratosphere of Irish comedy whereas I, generally frequent more humble environs. Obviously I would rather avoid looking like a complete twonk if at all possible but this goes beyond that - way beyond that.

It has been a long time since I was this excited about a gig, this determined to nail the performance(s). Preparations will begin well in advance I feel. Now maybe?

  • Half decent material - check!
  • Visualisation techniques - hmmmm.
  • Positive mental attitude - errrr..... check!.... no wait... maybe... errrr...
  • Motivational mantra - you wha' Gay?
Oh sod it.. maybe I'll just pick 10 minutes of material, learn it and then practice it repeatedly.

... and listen to 'No One Knows' immediately before hand. No idea why, but it always seems to do the trick.

Wednesday 26 March 2008

I can't get to sleep, I think about the implications...

I woke at 5am this morning with a joke about the 1916 rising rattling about my skull.

Foolishly I began mulling it over, trying to figure out how best to structure it and what other, (very loosely) related gags, I could add to it.

I came up with a few ideas but, as it always the case when convinced I've struck comedy gold mid-slumber, nothing that seemed as impressive in the cold light of day with a cup of coffee inside me.

So, all in all, a bit of a double whammy - not only was I left with nothing of substance to show for it, all the thinking, mulling, considering and structuring succeeded in getting my brain in gear just enough to prevent me falling back asleep.


All I really remember is thinking something about a Bruce Springsteen album for some reason - and then discarding it for being too feeble or obscure (or both).

[Edit: Just to clarify, it was the joke referencing the 1916 rising and a Bruce Springsteen album that was too feeble and/or obscure - not the content of the album.]

Tuesday 25 March 2008

What would you ask if you had just one question?

In the past, I have contemplated possible answers to questions posed in songs.

Today, I pose a question based on the lyrics of a song...

Sting, when you dance, why exactly will angels "run and hide their wings"?

Do you have a history of wing larceny? Also, why is dancing deemed a precursor to such thefts?

Answers on a postcard to....

Thursday 20 March 2008

In a world of pure imagination!

This afternoon, I took a spin over to the lads in Blakestown Tyres to have the bike re-shod.

On the way back to the office, I passed a Lidl Pet Superstore.

What kind of weird and fucking wonderful animals do they think they keep in there?

Presumably they have different breeds of cats, dogs, fish and birds that, while very common in Germany, aren't stocked by indigenous pet stores. (All at knock down prices of course).

Dogs with six legs, 2 wings and covered in chocolate?

A Thrippo maybe?

The (Good) Friday Album Cover #5

What with tomorrow being Good Friday and me high tailing it off to Mammy and Daddy Ambassador's country residence for the weekend, I was kind of caught on the hop as regards an album cover. So, in haste, I've thrown together the effort below.

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.

Finally, before we get to the album cover itself: when I was but a nipper, I remember calling to a friend's house on Good Friday only to be told by his mother "C. won't be coming out today because Good Friday is a sad day". I found it very strange then - and I find it very strange now. Was this a fate commonly imposed by the Irish mother?

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Woh-oh-oh! You're in the army... now!

In other Dublin transport news, motorists on the M50 endured 12km tailbacks when 3 military trucks were involved in a multi-vehicle collision with 2 civilian vehicles. That's 3 military trucks- vehicles that need to withstand the rigours of different terrains and combat conditions - and 2 regular family cars.

Total hospitalised from cars: 0
Total hospitalised from big, strong military trucks: 22

Can you spell frivolous 'lawsuits'?

I would wager my vital internal organs that

  • Numerous claims will be made on the basis that seatbelts, which (with some exceptions that may, or may not, apply here) are required by law, were not fitted to the trucks.
  • Compensation payments which would dwarf the GNP of many small African countries will be made and
  • Our military trucks will subsequently be retro-fitted with seat belts, booster seats and Donald Duck window blinds.

If 22 of our armed forces need hospital treatment after a traffic accident (and lets face it, on the M50 chances are they weren't going all that fast anyway) what will they be like if they are thrust into a combat situation with an opposing force any bigger (or better armed) than a slightly disgruntled hurling team?

"No fair!... He shot at me... Nah nah nah nah nah!... You started it... I did an ow-eey!"



While sitting on the Luas yesterday afternoon a lady got on who, although not elderly, was certainly a good deal older than me. If I had to guess, I would have put her at 50-ish - although maybe she wasn't dressing to advantage, I don't know.

Just as I was standing up to politely offer her my seat, the guy across the aisle tapped her on the shoulder saying "Excuse me, there is a seat here if you would like it?". He didn't suggest she should take it because she was old or feeble looking (she wasn't), he just indicated it was free. Surprisingly, his offer gave rise to some indignation on her part - presumably she didn't think she was at a stage in her life when she should be offered seats on public transport.

So assuming you want to be polite while causing the least offence, exactly how old does somebody on public transport have to look before you can safely offer them your seat? Has it got to the stage where its best to just vacate the seat and hope that (a) the person sees and takes it and (b) they get there before some thoughtless street urchin?

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Got my 'cycle outside, wanna try?

I got my first bike, a Yamaha SR 125, back in March 2001. I was about 21 and fully comprehensive insurance was £800. (Picture included for comic effect)

In 2003, utterly frustrated by a vehicle that could only break the 60mph mark when travelling downhill with a strong trailing wind, I bought a (restricted) 600cc Suzuki Bandit. Although I had more experience and a growing no claims bonus, my insurance premiums fluctuated between €1,000 to €1,400 because the bike was more powerful and the cost of motor insurance in general increased across the board.

In March 2007, after a charming Taxi driver changed lanes without looking or indicating, I had my first accident. Although it looked pretty horrific, judging by the faces of onlookers who witnessed my 40mph 'two and a half somersaults with twist in the pike position' , the bike and I made it home with nothing more than bumps, bruises and some vital appendages stuck on with electrical tape. Shortly afterwards, I bought a new 800cc Honda VFR and, due to another sizeable increase in engine power (33bhp to 110bhp), my insurance jumped from €1400 to €2100 .

So... last month the insurance renewal form arrived asking for a mere €1,600 to insure myself and the bike for the year. Needless to say I was mucho happy to see my premium finally travelling in the right direction. In the course of "shopping around", I rang the good people in Quinn Direct who wanted just €800 to provide the same cover. Woo hoo! A saving of 50%. Then I called Adelaide Insurance in Norn Ireland - THEY wanted just €500. Fan-fucking-tastic!

So naturally, before accepting this wonderful offer (actually, thinking there must have been some miscalculation, I was tempted to accept it right away before they realised their mistake), I gave my own insurer's a quick call to see if they could compete on saving of roughly 69% (DON'T!).....

"Hmmm" said the gentleman on the other end of the line, "they quoted you how much?"


"Oh - well we couldn't match that"

"I see"

"I could give you a 30% discount on your bike insurance if you have a private car insured with us?"

"Right, so if I go and buy a car that I don't need and will never drive..."


"and I pay to insure it with you...."


"You will give me a 30% discount on my motorbike insurance"


"Which, leaving aside the money I have paid to buy and insure the car, will still be twice what Adelaide Insurance want to insure me"


"Ok, thanks for your time. Bye"

So, in summary,

Hoorah! for Adelaide Insurance!

Boo! to Irish insurance companies.

Friday 14 March 2008

The Friday Album Cover #4

This week's album cover demonstrates how useless I am when it comes to drawing faces in MS Paint.

Actually, I can't draw at all - "pencil and paper" or "mouse and MSPaint", it makes no difference.

Here is this weeks... what's the opposite of masterpiece... steaming pile of ???

(Hint: Despite what the chin depicted above suggests, the artist in question is neither Jimmy Hill nor Jay Leno)

Thursday 13 March 2008


According to today's Irish times, top Irish comedian Mary Harney, yesterday said

THE HEALTH Service Executive should adopt "a bold and innovative" redundancy programme.

The report goes on to say...

Speaking during a Dáil debate on cancer services, the Minister said: "If people in areas of administration or management are superfluous to requirements and there are shortages elsewhere, we should take a bold and innovative approach and consider introducing a redundancy programme".


What is all this 'should' business Mary? How about 'will'? Why not say "The Health Service Executive will adopt a bold and innovative redundancy programme" or "we will take a bold and innovative approach and consider introducing a redundancy programme".

Why not use the considerable weight (DON'T!) your position offers and, just for a change of pace, actually implement something, rather than talking about it? Didn't you say, just last week in the Dáil, that the HSE is answerable to you? Surely this includes ensuring the HSE's budget is used to maximum effect, to provide the most bang for the tax-payer's buck?

Our hospitals operate with some of the highest staff to beds ratios in the world - yet we constantly hear about a lack of front line staff. Why is that - too many chiefs do you think?

If I remember correctly, the very reason the HSE was established (apart of course from providing a cosy buffer zone to separate you from the seething general public) was to unify 11 regional Health Boards and in doing to reap the rewards of a more efficient, streamlined structure. But exactly how much weight was shed (DON'T) as a result of this action Mary? You don't know? Can you make an approximate guess even? Ahhh I see, none is it? Any idea why that might have been?

Redundancy packages should have been offered when the HSE was first formed, she said. "However, this approach was not supported politically or by the trade unions."

Ahhh you were afraid. Afraid of waning popularity. Afraid of losing votes. Afraid of somehow becoming unpopular. So, instead of having the courage to stand behind your political convictions and implement "bold and innovative" changes, you chickened out and figured, thousands, millions of Euro spent on salaries for members of HSE middle management with no discernible role was far more desirable than losing popularity or a few votes.

Well I for one am glad to see that one has worked out for you and you are still as popular and cuddly as ever.


Wednesday 12 March 2008

Underneath Your Clothes

In answering a comment on Monday's I'm Coming Out post, I used the word sartorial. It is, I think, a wonderful, tragically under-utilised word that trips delightfully off your tongue.

Something suggests (to me anyway) that the word applies specifically to men's fashions. Given that, traditionally, tailors specialised in men's clothes, seems to confirm this - pertaining to tailors or their trade.

While I'm sure that, in this relatively modern, mostly enlightened, roughly equal opportunities era, tailors deal in male and female fashions equally, I'm wondering if there is/was a specific, equally delightful, word used to refer to women's fashions.

Tuesday 11 March 2008

All your life is Channel 13, Sesame Street, What does it mean?

No proper post today.

I spent the best part of the morning in the hospital waiting after my GP sent me for blood tests. (As I know next to nothing about blood, I would say I failed them all).

I arrived at 10am, greeted by a sign informing me that GP Blood tests do not begin until 11:30am.
After a quick coffee and a read of the paper, I made my way back for 11am thinking I would get the jump on other testees (Don't!) and find myself at the top of the queue. No such luck - 59 people ahead of me. There is clearly a GP somewhere in South Dublin issuing orders for blood tests like they were diplomas from Dundalk IT.

In all, 6 vials of blood were extracted. I'm not sure how much I have left or if the guy who took it might have been the count from Sesame Street in disguise.

Feeling woosey now. Losing... strength. Must... publish... post.

Monday 10 March 2008

I'm coming out...

Saturday morning found me laden down with garments of various shapes, hues and necklines as I wandered like a lost child, shopping for a dress with the close personal friend.

Although the CPF is beautiful and pretty and all kinds of wonderful, she doesn't consider herself to be a girly girl and, by way of extenuating this belief, will often reject garments based on their colour or the very hint of a ribbon or bow, claiming that they are not her or she doesn't feel comfortable in them. As you can imagine, this does have a tendency to rather limit the number of potentially suitable items she can try on and, in turn, generates frustration that there appears to be nothing suitable.

There was a time when I would try to convince her that, such is her level of gorgeousness, she can carry off "girly" clothes very successfully. I would opine that maybe the reason she feels uncomfortable in such clothes, although I may think she looks nothing sort of mouth watering, is that she doesn't wear them too often. Maybe, the more she wore them, the more comfortable she would feel. Those times are long gone however, I have admitted defeat - the lady is not for turning. Anyway, I'd rather her be comfortable wearing what she feels best in than uncomfortable wearing what I think she looks stunningly beautiful in.

Instead I have changed my approach and adopted a role for myself which extends far beyond the "follow me around and hold my purse while I try this on" dynamic other couples seem to employ. I have learned what she likes - they styles, the colours, the length, the cuts. I check for items I think she might be keen on and check they have her size in stock (well, we don't want to get her hopes up only to have them dashed). I chat to her about all manner of inane stuff, I make her laugh and I encourage her to try things on and see how they look.

In doing this I have learned some things very few men know. For example:-
I know that there are more colours than just white, black, red, green, blue, pink and yellow.
I know that salmon can be a type of fish or a colour.
I know the correct names of different neck lines and dress styles - and which ones hide or accentuate the hips, waist, legs and bust.
I can tell what type of shoes/bag/top would go well with that.
I can even recommend the necklace and earrings which would go best with a particular ensemble.

It can be quite disturbing at times if I'm honest - sometimes I think I'm a little too good and that I am mere inches from developing a love of flower arranging or interior design. At one point on Saturday I actually uttered the words "That's gorgeous... it will crease something terrible though".

Well.... I had to go home and saw a piece of wood in half after that, just to restore the balance.

Friday 7 March 2008

I don't like cricket... Oh no... I love it.

100 (posts) not out!


Who'd a thunk it? Certainly not me.

The Friday Album Cover #3

Last night, lying in bed, I prepared what would (hopefully) have been a witty, charming preamble to this weeks album cover.

However, having endured a particularly patience-testing morning during which I visited two (yes, two) different doctors about my blisther (which, as it turns out, is actually something slightly more complicated than your common garden blister), I don't feel nearly half as cheery as the preamble would have suggested - so I've abandoned it by the wayside.

Because I have people to meet (colleagues), places to go (the office), things to do (bugs to write) and my regular doctor does not open until 10m, I decided to go to the Medical Centre which recently opened near Ambassador Towers - and opens at 9am.

After briefly explaining what was wrong, the doctor began searching for the blister using her penlight and tongue depressor. It felt like she had dived in up to her elbows - in fact, I'm not entirely sure a miners headlamp and walking stick wouldn't have been more appropriate. Initially, after pulling my gums and cheeks this way and that she proclaimed that she couldn't find anything. Then, during a second examination, she found it... with her tongue depressor... repeatedly. After stabbing, poking and rubbing it, she withdrew behind her desk, shrugged, and suggested "Wisdom teeth?".

"Not likely, I had them taken out"

She shrugged again then: "I think its wisdom teeth. You've definitely had them out?".

"Oh yes! I remember it very clearly"

She shrugs again and looks puzzled - and somewhat nervous.

"Does it look infected or anything?"

Another shrug then "You should go to your dentist and have it X-rayed - I think its your wisdom teeth".

"Great, thanks, bye!"

So, with little faith in her shrugging, I paid my regular doctor a visit - a visit that had a more traditional outcome. Basically "I've seen it before. I know what it is. I know how to treat it". (In my opinion, those 3 sentences, may be the greatest placebo known to man).

"Ahh yes I see it... this is generally caused by A, B and C".

"A and B don't apply to me".

"Ok... have you also experienced any D, E or F".

"Yes, yes and maybe a little"

"Take this, go for some blood tests come back in a week"

Bish! Bash! Bosh! (Obviously, this is a summarised version of events).

Bad doctors. Pah!

Anyway, here is the album cover.

Thursday 6 March 2008

Life's Little Mysteries #7

Why, whenever I begin to peel the top off a yoghurt, does a tiny blob always shoot out and land right in the middle of my sodding shirt?

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Blowin' In The Wind

The 1500 flight from Munich will be arriving on runways 2, 3 and 4 at 16:03 and 16:04.

Normally I wince when applause breaks out because a pilot touches down successfully - this guy deserves a hearty handshake and a kit-kat chunky....

...and then a personality test of some description to determine why he attempted to put her down at all. If it was me I would have kept on flying.

Heal The Pain

Ow! Ow! Fucking ow!

I woke with a monsther blisther in the back of my mouth.

The pain shoots through my jaw, right down the side of my neck and apparently comes with a dirty, stale taste as standard.

So much for all the water I've been drinking, all the fruit I've been eating and those vitamin tablets the close personal friends thrusts into my hand with a grunt and a kiss each morning.

Tuesday 4 March 2008

You say you will but you know you won't.

Note to self: I really must stop opening my book when consuming the morning's dose of caffeine. I invariably glance at the clock and think "loads of time, I'll just read to the end of this chapter" only to find myself engrossed, 3 chapters further than intended and needing to leave 10 minutes ago.

Every morning while slaloming through rush hour traffic, I swear I will no longer pick up a book before 6pm on a work day. In fact, I'll go one better - I will hide the book. Each night I will stow it in a different location, leaving myself a series of cunning clues - each more fiendish than the next - telling me where to find it. But I don't think I have the time to devise all manner of fiendishly difficult cryptic instructions.

But a good book is only half the problem, the other half is a reasonable employer. One who isn't hell bent on punctuality at all costs and instead, realising that a certain element of give and take is essential, is relatively flexible on start and finish times. Its makes it far too easy to decide you will hang on until just after this news report/chapter/article/episode of Neighbours.

The final half of the problem is, apart from a poor grasp of basic fractions, the fact that I am not at the mercy of rush hour traffic. We all know that, for some unfortunate drones, leaving the house 10 minutes later than normal can result in arriving at the office 30 to 40 minutes later than normal. On two wheels you don't really experience that phenomenon - you leave 10 minutes later, you arrive 10 minutes later. Hence there is no urgency to get out the door, it makes your morning routine a little more flexible.

But mostly its the books. We written, enjoyable, unputdownable books.

Monday 3 March 2008

Life's Little Mysteries #6

Why, when all players may handle the ball, do goalkeepers in Gaelic sports wear different jerseys to the rest of their team mates?

Nothing to do with soccer I assume.

In the past the GAA has had some trouble co-existing with other sports - traditionally, viewing soccer as its arch-nemesis. Therefore, when the GAA introduce a rule or procedural change, it must be coincidence if the same change has already been implemented by FIFA (soccer's governing body). There can obviously be no question of the GAA being influenced by a sport its members were prohibited from playing up until 1971.

For example, when the GAA introduced the concepts of ....

  • red and yellow cards.
  • using a yellow match ball during winter months.
  • using a digital display unit to display the numbers of substituted players.
  • using a digital display unit to indicate how much injury time is to be played at the end of a match.
.. these were all fine examples of independent thinking by GAA officials.