Sunday, October 31, 2010

What goes around, comes around!

This year is a strange one for Halloween. It falls on a Sunday night, but seeing as everyone is back to work/school on Monday most of the (adult) celebrations happened on Saturday night. This year I went to a fancy dress party in a nearby village Killucan. It was a fund raiser for the North Westmeath Hospice. A brilliant night was had by all. You have to hand it to us Irish. We are in the throes of a depression, facing what is promised to be the harshest budget in decades and yet we still can party! Not only that, we are still aware that no matter how bad things are, there is always someone worse off than ourselves. So we dig deep into our dwindling pockets. Last night raised 4000 euro for the charity, humongous for a small community.

My impersonation of Cheryl Cole after being told that all her acts were being booted out of The X-Factor!

It came to closing time and of course everyone wanted a taxi at the same time. After unsuccessfully trying to order one, Marese decided it was payback time. In light of my previous blog, when I was commenting on parents acting as chauffeurs for their offspring, this seems very appropriate!

Marese rang her 22 year old daughter who was fast asleep in her cosy bed.

"Emma, we can't get a lift home. Can you come up and collect us please?"

"Wha..?" answered a groggy daughter. "Where are you?"

Five minutes later, a pyjama-clad Emma arrived outside the pub and delivered home her tipsy godmother and parents.

Ah ha, now I see. This is the reason people have kids!"

Friday, October 29, 2010

Genevieve arrived down over the mid-term to head out for a night on the town.
This time there was no staying in to watch The X factor over a bottle of wine.
As we were in the car on the way to town we got talking about the programme "Young, Dumb and living off Mum". It's a reality (whatever) show in which a group of totally spoilt 18 year old are put living together in a house. They have been pampered by their parents and have never done anything for themselves. In the first episode they had to go shopping for groceries. Their first concern was how they were going to get there. They had a limited budget so didn't want to spend it on bus fare. And there was no way they were going to walk. Two of them went next door to people they had never seen before, and asked them to bring them to the shop.

The teenagers could not comprehend the fact that a stranger wouldn't leave his dinner, drive them to the shop, wait for them and then bring them home. I mean that's what their parents would have done. They felt it was their right to be chauffeured around.

We sounded like a right pair of aul ones, giving out about the younger generation.
"These young people think that the world revolves around them. Everyone is at their beck and call."
"Exactly. Why couldn't they have walked, got the bus or a taxi. Its time they became independent and stood on their own two feet....literally."
Bah, humbug!
I suddenly burst out laughing at the irony of the situation.
Who was driving us into town??? My brother! I had rung him earlier and asked him to bring us in. He had left his nice warm living room where he had been lounging in front of a blazing fire, driven to my house through the gale force winds, waited for us to get ready, then driven us in to the restaurant and just turned around and went home.
Oops. I guess some of us are still spoiled!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Stuck in a moment

I went to see the play "Bouncers" in Mullingar Arts Centre. Afterwards we met up with the cast in the Green Room as we had worked together previously on various pantos and shows. The numbers dwindled out and the die-hards were left. We had decided to leave but first I needed to go to the Ladies. The toilets were a little way from the main area.
I went into the last cubicle in the deserted toilets. When it came time to exit it, I pulled at the door. Nothing happened. I tugged it harder. The door was stuck fast!
Don't panic, I said to myself as I began to panic!
I put all my strength behind it and it moved approximately 1mm.
This is ridiculous. It's not going to budge. What are my alternatives?
1.SHOUT. No point. I'm too far away from the bar.
2. CLIMB OVER THE WALL INTO THE NEIGHBOURING CUBICLE. I looked at the tiny space between the wall and the ceiling. Even if I had stuck to my Weightwatchers diet I'd never have slithered through that space.
3. WAIT FOR SOMEONE TO COME IN. I was struck by an awful thought.
What if they thought I had continued on home and didn't come looking for me? I'd be stuck here all night!

I began to remember the stories associated with the building. It is situated on Gaol Hill just across from the Court House. In previous centuries, condemned prisoners were brought through an underground tunnel to the old gaol to await execution. So of course stories are rife about the Arts Centre being haunted.
I had always dismissed these stories as being a load of codswallop. But suddenly being faced with the prospect of all the lights being turned out and having to spend the night on my own, made these stories much more plausible.
Just like the Hulk, the adrenalin began to course through my veins. My muscles began to pulsate and expand. Though happily not to the extent of bursting out of my clothes!
I got on my knees, slid my hands under the door and yanked, pulled and tugged. I could feel it beginning to give!
A final gigantic effort.
The door scraped slowly open until it came to the few centimetres. Suddenly it swung open......hitting me on the forehead and sending me flying backwards!
I picked myself up and made a hasty exit, just in case it swung shut again.
I've seen that happen in all the best horror films!
Whan I rejoined my friends, had anyone missed me? NOT ONE!
"Oh you're still here Noeleen. We thought you had disappeared home!"
So I would have been there all night! Shiver, shiver, goosebumps!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I'm glad I don't have to write this in Ogham!

"Well done on your History tests. There are just a few answers that I need to go over.
What game did the Celts like to play back in first century Ireland?"
The class chorused
"Fichell, which was a type of chess."
"Excellent. Now they did not play Scrabble or Snakes and Ladders!
N dramatically slapped his forehead with his hand.
"I knew it was one of the boardgames. I just couldn't remember which one."
Seeing as the Celts used a form of writing called Ogham, which consisted of lines caved out on slabs of stone, I'd love to have seen their Scrabble board!

Archeologists have just discovered the first blog!

"OK, next question. In the 16th century what plants did Sir Walter Raleigh introduce into Ireland?"
"The potato and tobacco."
"Correct. Now as far as we know he did not bring cocaine into this country."
Bless them. they are still at that innocent stage where they know he brought in something harmful, and in their eyes cocaine and tobacco are on an equal par!

Thinking about it, maybe he did! I mean his cloak was big enough to cover a big, mucky puddle to let Queen Elizabeth walk over. Then I'm sure he could have used it to conceal his haul as he passed through customs!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I..I..I...I'm Staying Alive, Staying Alive!

It was one of those dull, dreary autumnal evenings. Returning home after a challenging day at school, I wearily pushed open my front door. A pile of mail lay at my feet.
Is it even worth bending down for? I asked myself.
Let's see, special offers from Aldi, my O2 phone bill and....what's this white envelope? It's not my birthday til December.
I opened it.......and burst out laughing. Don't you just love it when something totally unexpected lands on your doormat!!
Flashback to last weekend.
After our Turkey reunion dinner/drinks, we were in high spirits.OK. lets call a spade a spade. We were all quite merry. My niece Emma and her friend Katie joined us. When I see the two of them, I thank my lucky stars that I am not still in my twenties.....I couldn't cope with the competition! They are GORGEOUS, witty and independent women. (and let's face it, you've seen the photo of me in my twenties with the dodgy perm!!)

When some people get a little too much to drink they sing/dance/fight/cry. But not me. I talk. I become very vocal on a wide range of subjects., nay I would even consider myself an expert. I have seen my audience's eyes begin to glaze over, but do I stop? NEVER. I think that if I talk a little more I will become much more interesting.Mental note to self.
You don't. JUST SHUT UP!
Obviously the topic of onversation on this particular night was
"The Single Woman and her Sparse Opportunities for Hosting a Party."
Over the years I have attended engagements, wedding, christenings, First communions,Confirmations hosted by my friends...and all thoroughly enjoyed by moi! But the last occasion I had to celebration (apart from birthdays which everyone has) was my graduation which was back in the year 19never-you-mind.

Surely the fact that I have made it this far and am still alive is cause enough for mirth and merriment.
I promptly forgot about the conversation, but obviously the girlies didn't!

Here is their slightly doctored card!

Guess I better start planning the party!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Allez les Blues........Raharney Blue, of course

Sometimes I miss the bright lights of city living and wonder why I've moved to the slow living of village life. Then there are other times when I just love the sense of community that comes with country living. This was one such weekend.

Sunday was the County Senior Hurling Final. I remember our first month in Abu Dhabi. Us Irish were heading to Heroes bar to watch the All-Ireland Hurling final. Our Australian friend Michelle was beside herself with excitement as in Australia, to hurl means "to vomit"! She couldn't wait to see how the teams scored. And when we told her that you got a point for scoring over the bar, and a goal (equivalent to 3 points) if you got it into the net, she shrieked in anticipation! She was very disappointed when she saw the players with hurley sticks hitting a ball around the pitch.

I was watching an American baseball match one evening.....why, I have no idea! One of the players caught the ball from quite a distance and the commentator nearly ruptured an artery, saying how"brilliant,marvelous, unbelievable" the catcher was.

Yeah, he was good. But if that was hurling he would have made the same catch, only while being chased by at least three other men waving sticks in the air, hell bent on hitting that ball, even if it was still in his hands! Now thats skill!

Back to today. Raharney,my village, had made it as far as the final. There was a mounting sense of excitement as the big day approached. It was great to see all the bunting, flags and posters up to wish the team the best of luck. I was driving through the village on Sunday morning when I saw the most fabulous sight. There were three generations of a local family, namely a granduncle, nephew and grand nephew, in the centre of the village, pucking a hurley ball from one to the other. Thats how the skill is passed down from one generation to the next.

How come I could have my camera with me in some random place like the dentist's, but I haven't got it with me when I see something that really should be recorded?

I went into Mullingar to see the match..along with everyone else from the village. Now I do not come from a sporting family. I did play on the camogie team til I was 16. Then the fear of a broken nose/teeth made me give up the sporting life for a life on stage. But when I see the Raharney team I get a, possibly misplaced, sense of pride. It is because our family name Lynam is emblazoned across their chest! Dad's building company have sponsored the team for many years. Granted, it's Billy O'Boyle who was probably responsible for that, but who cares???

I experience mixed emotions when I see all the kids wearing their jerseys. I'm sad because they have no idea who Tommy Lynam was, despite the fact that they are wearing his name. But on the other hand I'm estatic that his name is still out there.

Match was heart stopping stuff. Raharney were winning by four points for most of the first half, only to go in one point down at half time. Two minutes from the end we were five points down and staring defeat in the face. A fantastic goal from Paul Greville meant we were only two points behind.

Then a free for us in front of the goals! Brian Connaughton stepped up to take it. I don't know how any sports person can function under such pressure. If he went for goal and got it, he would be an instant hero. But if he missed, then he would be persona non gratia. In fact he would probably be 80 years old, having a quiet pint in the corner of the pub and someone would go up to him and say
"Why on earth didn't you take your point back in the final of 2010. We could have gotten another score after that, and won. It's all your fault we gobshite"
Villagers have long memories.
Anyway, up he stepped to the mark. He raised the ball on his hurley and struck it cleanly. All I saw through my fingers was the back of the net rattling. GOAL!
What followed was the longest minute of our lives until finally the whistle blew and we were one point!
Proud moment. The older man in the picture is my neighbour, Tommy McKeogh. At 87 years of age, he never misses a match, be it U8s right up to seniors. He is definitely our most ardent fan!


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sizing up the situation.

I was swishing through the clothes on a shop rail, convincing myself that I was only looking and there was NO WAY that I was going to buy anything. On the other side (of the rail, not the afterlife) was a mother and her approximately six-year old daughter. Daughter was having a lovely time choosing totally inappropriate skirts for her mom.

Eventually she must have chosen one that was semi-suitable because Mammy replied

""Yes that's nice."
"Ok. I'll get one to fit you," replied very helpful offspring. "What age are you?"

I stopped dead in my tracks and caught the mother's eye over the clothes rail. We gave each other a knowing smile

"Thank God grown-ups don't size their clothes that way. Things are bad enough!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


"Bye. See you tomorrow," I called to my colleagues,"Have to go to the dentist and get a filling."
"Yeah, right," they said knowingly."Is that Dentist McDreamy?"
I have just discovered the first pitfall of secrets!
"Is that why you're wearing those funky shoes?" Marie asked.
I had a flashback to that episode of Friends, the one where Phoebe fancies one of her massage clients. He can only see her feet as he lies on his stomach with his face peering out opening in the couch. She gets a pedicure and a cute little toe-ring. When the others see this, they exclaim
"Oh my're toe-flirting!"
I'm far too mature for that sort of carry on!!!

An hour later I was sitting in the dentist chair. He pressed the lever, my head went back and my feet went up!!!! Then McDreamy said the immortal words
"Wow, great shoes!"
I got a fit of the giggles, not a good thing when you are about to get an injection that would numb an elephant's mouth.
Here are the flirting shoes.........

Now I would like to immediately point out that I did not ask Mc Dreamy to stop drilling while I took a photograph of my shoes. I mean, that would be far too weird.

He left the room while the injection took hold. I just reached over and got my trusty camera from my with-in reach bag and kinda just took a photo. There's nothing strange in there???

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Random Question #2

"Five more minutes til Lunchtime", I consoled myself. We were nearing the end of Religion class, which can sometimes be a minefield. 12 year-olds can come up with some sticklers of questions. I know what my answer would be, but I am very aware that it may not tie in with the Catholic Church's teaching. And as I am employed by them I try to toe the line. I adopted the same policy regarding the teaching of Islam when I worked in a Muslim school.

Thought I had escaped unscathed, when M put up his hand.
"Miss, if Jesus hadn't been crucified, would he still be alive today?"
The answer seems obvious,
"Of course not. That would make him 2010 years old!"

But if you stop and think about it.....

If you go with the teaching of the church, then Jesus is the Son of God and if he could rise from the dead, then why couldn't he live for ever???

So I gave the standard answer.
"Excellent question M. We'll ask Fr. Michael that the next time he comes into the class."
Phew, that's me off the hook.
If he throws it back to me, as he has done on several occasions, I will quote "Father Ted".

Now that would be an ecumenical matter, Father!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Saturday night saw Gwen and Jenny leave the bright lights of Celbridge (!) and venture down to rural, rustic Raharney. We had organised a Turkey reunion as we hadn't all met up since our hols.Of course there was the obligatory banter about how remote my house is! I was on the phone to them as they were approaching the village and telling them which way to go.
"Oh, hang on a minute Noeleen. We're coming to a bush. Which way do we go? "Tee hee.
"That depends. If it's a Hawthorn bush, turn right. But if it's a Blackthorn one, you have to go left." Very funny.

Taxi arrived, we collected Marese and Emma and headed into Pasta Bella in Mullingar. I know it wasn't a very Turkish restaurant but we discovered a connection. As we were laughing over something that had happened in Mamuthlar, the waiter exclaimed
"I am Turkish. I am from Alayna!" which just happens to be the next town.
What are the chances of being served by a Turkish waiter in an Italian restaurant in Mullingar!

Meal was fabulous and the craic was great. When the bill arrived we had a brief moment of guilt (but only very brief!)

The food bill came to 98 euro.
The drinks bill came to 103 euro!
This is what's known as a Balanced Diet!!!

As we were walking across the Market Square the girls were distraught to see barriers around the statue of Joe Dolan.
"But we came all this way to get our photos taken with him. What's the story????"
"So many people have been standing on the podium, it's getting a bit shaky".
"Oh, I see", they replied in a civilised way.

Later that night or should I say morning, as we crossed back, the temptation became too much I'm afraid!!!!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A serious blog.

I wasn't sure about writing this blog, but its not to tell my story but rather to warn everyone to be more careful.
I realise that I have lived a wild and reckless I'm not talking about sex, drugs and rock-and-roll. I'm talking about taking risks as regards the sun. Yes,like practically every woman (and men) of my era there were many times that I put on a smidgen of sun lotion and lay for hours under the beaming rays of the sun, in order to achieve that in-vogue tan. And then of course there was the move to the sun-drenched Middle East where there was year round sunshine.
As a result I have become very vigilant, nay bordering on the paranoid, about freckles, moles or any type of blemish that appear on my skin. I was sure my doctor was fed up of me beating a path to his door every couple of months to check out what always ended up being totally normal.

During this summer I was shaving my legs...I know, how uncool, but I really wanted to go swimming and the hair wasn't long enough to wax (too much information). I nicked something on the calf of my leg.
"Hmm, that's strange. It looks like a pimple. Must go to see the doctor."
And it got put on my list of things-to-do, somewhere between
1. Get Roxy serviced.
about 7. get lawnmower fixed.

It was when my sister-in-law had a mole removed from a similar area on her leg that I got around to making the appointment.
I was so used to Dr. saying
"That's harmless" every time I showed him a suspect blemish, that I got a shock when he said
"Oh. I'll remove that."

A week later, all was removed and I was told I'd get the results in a few weeks.
Four weeks went by and there was no result for me every time I rang. As people kept telling me "No news is good news. If there was anything wrong, you'd have heard by now." True.

So when I rang on Monday I was relieved when the receptionist finally said "Oh yes. The results came in today. Just wait a moment til I get them."
Listened to a few bars of Greensleeves.
"Em. Can you call in to see us please?"
My heart stopped and I barely remember making the appointment. As it wasn't for two days later, I had moments of swinging between
"Every thing is fine. He just wants to check the wound"
"Oh my God. I have cancer and I'm going to die."

Eventually I found myself in the doctor's reception waiting to be called in. It's amazing the things that go through your mind in such circumstances....or maybe it's just my warped mind. But I had a flashback to this weekend's X-Factor. The singers were interviewed just before they went in to face Simon Cowell to see if they had gotten a yes or a no verdict. There was lots of tears and announcements of
"What he says to me can alter my life forever." More tears and wringing of hands.
But now I felt like screaming
"You have NO idea. What this man is about to say to me can definitely alter my life."
I was called in, trying to guess the outcome by how he greeted me/was sitting/ made eye-contact.

To cut a long story short.... the news was better than I'd expected, but not as good as I'd hoped.
Yes it was a skin cancer. Of the three levels of skin cancer, mine was in the middle bracket. My doctor reassured me it had been fully removed and no further treatment is needed. Thank God for that. However as I am susceptible to it, I have to be extra vigilant by
1.looking for anything new no problem I do that anyway.
2. Avoid all further exposure to the sun Eh what does that involve?
Further discussion resulted in me discovering that the two things I love most in the world are potentially a no-no.
1. Turkey. He didn't come right out and forbid a sun holiday but he hmmed and hawed and said that further exposure would be a big risk. Fair enough.
2. My car!!! WHAT??? Dr was explaining that people aren't aware that the rays coming through their windscreen are very dangerous. I looked at him and gulped
"I drive a Beetle convertible.......but the weather in Ireland is so bad I've barely had a chance to use it in the past two years."
Again, he didn't ban Roxy from my life, but he did warn me about the importance of sun block.
He then said he would do a full body exam and check every inch of me.
Being a woman I had the totally irrational thought that
"Feck. I haven't waxed my legs since I had the growth removed. If he can see anything through the hair, good on him. (I know, too much information again!)

So the story now is.........I have the all clear but must be extra-extra vigilant.
Factor Duffle coat, here I come.

Now the reason for writing this blog is not to be melodramatic or to seek sympathy. Hey, I am cancer-free and have a new enthusiasm for life! I just want to tell everyone, especially my fair-skinned friends who spent so many glorious days in the sun with me, to PLEASE, PLEASE check for anything irregular. And if you have even a teeny tiny fear, to go to your doctor, the sooner its dealt with, the better. Mine looked more like a pimple than a mole, so you can't be too careful. Don't think you're wasting your doctor's time. It's their job.

Life is good!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dentist McDreamy

This afternoon brought my routine check-up with my hygienist and my dentist. Is there a more unappealing job than looking into people's cavities? Well I suppose a gynaecologist comes a close second!
First up was the hygienist. She is an absolute pet....but I still dread her because of the poking and scraping. I was lying back in the chair looking up at the plasma screen on the ceiling,which was obviously there to relax and calm me down.
Relax, me arse!
There was a programme on about the state of the Irish economy, and about how the government is pouring billions of the tax-payers' euro down a black hole and that it will take us about 600 years to claw our way out of it! It would have been less painful if she had stabbed me in the eye with her plaque scraper!

And then down the corridor to my dentist...

Have I mentioned that my dentist has to be the most gorgeous man I have ever seen? He is the only dentist in Ireland that never has to say
"Can you open your mouth please?"
as every woman's jaw hits her knees when she sees him!
I think he actually had to tell me to close my mouth a little bit, on one particular visit!!!

The examination started. I don't know why dentists haven't perfected the art of asking ,what us teachers know as "closed questions." That is, basically any question that can be answered with a "Yes" grunt or a "No"grunt. Anything that requires a longer answer is a waste of time when you have a mouth full of dental paraphernalia! If you try to answer in a sentence you end up sounding like a cat swimming through a bowl of porridge.

One of the pieces of apparatus that was in my mouth was a little vacuum for sucking up saliva. But in my case, it is strictly for the drool spilling from my mouth as I look up McDreamy's nostrils!

I tried to focus on his conversation which was about his holiday in his villa in Portugal with his (probably impossibly beautiful) family.
I suddenly thought

Hold on a minute. The one thing I regret is not looking after my teeth properly when I was younger. As a result I have spent the equivalent of the annual budget of a small African nation on rectifying them in the past few years. I bet I've paid for that villa.

Surely that qualifies me for at least a time share in it.....with or without the company of the dentist!!!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The night Joe Dolan's car broke down.

I got a call from my friend Theresa during the week to say that a couple of the Raharney girls were heading into the Mullingar Arts Centre at the weekend to see a play and did I want to go?
"Sure." I'll go to anything once there is the chance of a bit if craic. "What play is it?"
"The night Joe Dolan's car broke down."

If you have seen my blog from July you will know that Joe is Mullingar's claim to fame. We have a statue to him in the Market Square and we also have a bridge named after him. Now it seems that his memory is ensconced in the Arts!
I wasn't holding out much hope for a dramatic night but toddled along anyway.
Boy, was I wrong!

I haven't laughed so much since we skinned the cat (metaphorically speaking of course, not physically....before anyone contacts the ISPCA!)

It was set in a country pub in Cavan. We were only four rows from the front so felt we were there. I was going to order a vodka and diet coke! The characters were so well played, you could rename them as actual people from our local pub. One of the hardest thing to do is to act drunk. People invariably go over the top and overdo it. These actors had it down to a tee. One of the characters wobbled as he sat down on a stool, and Theresa and I put out our hands to catch him!

I have an aversion to stereotyping the Irish as a race of drunks......but after the performance of our esteemed Taoiseach recently, I really don't have a leg to stand on. As he didn't have either...allegedly. (Phew, that gets me out of a libel action, doesn't it??)

When "Joe" arrived on stage, the place went crazy! I've never been to a Joe Dolan concert (I swear) but it if was half as energetic as this performance, I'm really sorry I never went to one.

I love coming out of a play/concert/show and just buzzing. And this show had the ingredients to do this in bucketfuls.
I know the play may sound very regional but if you get a chance, go to see it. You won't be sorry.

Afterwards we went across the street into Caffrey's pub. As I sat and listened to the banter that was going on around us, I had to take a reality check and see if I was back on the set.

Does Art imitate life, or does life imitate Art?