Monday 29 September 2008


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?

1.3%......Seeing 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....


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.


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 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.