Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Aimsir Láithreach

We were in the middle of a riveting (!) Irish lesson revising the past, present and future tenses of all the verbs. Told you it was riveting! We were doing the Aimsir Láithreach (present tense).
 See what I did there! I can't help teaching, even in the middle of a blog!
Anyway we were coming up with all the phrases that would tell us that we were in the present tense.
gach lá,
gach oíche,
gach seachtain,
 gach mí,
gach Satharn,
gach Domhnach ,
gach Luan.......
 "Basically, if you see "gach ANYTHING" use the aimsir láithreach."
 One bright spark piped up "Does that include Gok Wan???"
 Ah, Gok, my fashioniasta hero! I met him two years ago. He was doing a book signing in my nephew's bookshop in Dundrum. Several female members of the family decided to go up to see him.
Gok, that is, not Damien! Sorry.
 Outfits were planned with the military precision of the invasion of Dunkirk. Nothing was left to chance. In fact, if it was my wedding day I don't think I'd make as much of an effort for my husband-to-be! When we arrived at the shop queues of women were meandering around the bookshelves and out the front door. It was like Disneyland.
 "Why are all these women coming to see him? He's gay!" exclaimed Damien.
 "Exactly. That's why," I explained. " When he compliments you, you believe it because he knows what he's talking about....and he's not trying to hit on you!"
  We slowly snaked our way towards his table. Bless him, there was steam coming out of his biro, he was scribbling that hard! The larger than expected numbers meant that he was under pressure to catch his flight back to Britain. I approached with my/his book in my sweaty little hand. He took it, wrote furiously in it, and looked up to hand it to me. He then uttered the immortal words...
 "Oh, I LOVE your style." My heart sored in my bosom. I took a quick glance over my shoulder to check that he wasn't actually talking to the woman behind me. No, he was smiling at me.
"Really," I squealed,.
 "Darhling, I think you look A-MA-ZING!" My time was up so I was quickly ushered on by the staff. I didn't walk out of the shop......I FLOATED! I will bring that complement to my grave with me and I will die happy. In fact, whenever my hair has frizzled, zits have burst out on my nose or someone has brought me down with a derogatory comment, I repeat my mantra.
 Gok said I look amazing, Gok said I look amazing, Gok said I look amazing........................................and suddenly all is well in my world.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Guilty, as charged.

There is concern in educational circles about the inability of our children to communicate.Granted they can text, e-mail and "facebook" at the speed of light, but many of them lack the ability to string a couple of sentences together to hold a conversation. Age of Communication, my eye! They are now actively encouraging increased conversation time in classes. I have no such problem in my class. My main concern is trying to shut them up sometimes! I plan to start a lesson with a five minute discussion on the topic......only to find ourselves going off on a tangent, and having a heated discussion on a sonewhat related topic half an hour later! As Confirmation time is fast approaching, we were talking about taking the pledge "to abstain from alcoholic drink until 18 years of age". It is such a sad reflection on our Irish culture that alcohol is so glamourised that the majority of our teenagers will drink well before that age, despite the Holy Spirit,pledges and laws! Anyway, off we went on our tangent again! The kids started talking about drink-driving campaigns that they had seen on TV. This is a very worthwhile topic, so we'll go with it. I think it is too late to wait until they are obnoxious teenagers who don't listen to any adults, before starting to talk about the stupidity of drinking and getting behind the wheel of a car. Much better to get the message across while they are still innocent kids who believe that Teacher is always right! Maybe, just maybe, in a few years time, one of them will be a) getting into a car to drive with a skinful of drink on them b) getting into a car with another gobshite who has been drinking ........and they will have a flashback to 30th March 2011, think "Wait a minute. Ms Noeleen said this was wrong"......and get a taxi home. I can only hope. This conversation caused M to share with us "Miss. I was stopped by the guards, on my horse yesterday evening!" Much hilarity ensued. "......and were ya breathalysed?" Guffaws of laughter. Then I was hit with the million dollar question. "Miss. Can you be arrested for drunk-riding?" A cold shiver ran down my spine. Oh God, I hope not! Admit it! How many of us have committed that crime at least once in our lives???

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spare Body Parts


I was watching the news this morning (while gulping down my Weetabix) when an item about organ donation came on. It seems that the Government is considering the idea that we automatically denote our organs unless we sign an opt-out form!

So they will take as much as they can from us....even in death!

This reminded me of something that happened to me a few years ago. I was in hospital the night before an operation. I was lying there contemplating life and the possibility that I mightn't wake up from the anesthetic. I suddenly realised that if the worst came to the worst, my family might not be aware that I wanted to donate my organs.

Hey, I wouldn't need them anymore.

As it was late, I texted my sister-in-law Marese.

Marese, just to say, if I don't come out the other side of my operation, I want to donate all my organs.

A few moments passed by.

Obviously Marese was mulling over this, thinking I was being very morbid.

My phone beeped and I got the reply.

Great stuff. Can I have your boobs?

Friday, March 25, 2011

When Foxy met Roxy

I heard a radio documentary a while back about the effect the Arctic conditions of this winter would have on our environment. One result is the lack of food for our native animals and so they would come into urban areas around our houses in order to eke out a dinner.
Now I certainly don't live in an urban area......but I have rarely seen a badger/hedgehog/fox in my six years here. That changed this morning.
I looked out my kitchen window to see a fox walking as brazen as you like, towards my house.
Word has obviously not spread around the animal kingdom that they are wasting their time coming anywhere near my house in search of food. There is none inside it, never mind outside.
Old Mother Hubbard seems positively excessive compared to me!

Because I have been gallivanting around the country with "Tom and Viv", I haven't been near a shop in order to buy vittles! I would love to plonk the meagre contents of my cupboards on the table of "Ready Steady Cook" and exclaim
"Make something out of that...I dare ya!"

Foxy sniffed around for a while, realised that he was wasting his time and wandered off in search of more lucrative pickings.

Sure she's cute, but she's not a hen!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Valley of the Dolls

This weekend saw us traipsing all over the country again with "Tom and Viv". Donegal on Thursday, Galway on Friday and Cavan on Sunday. Overnight stays saw us in various types of accommodation. On Friday night Gwen and I stayed in a B&B in Glenamaddy, courtesy of a lovely lady, Mary. She was a typical Irish Mammy! As soon as we arrived we were treated to tea and curranty buns. It's a strange concept, the idea of allowing strangers into your house. Of course every visitor is going to have a little snoop around and make judgements.
That's my favourite part of "Come dine with me".
Mary loved her knick-knacks. Every wall was covered with photographs, all documenting important family events like graduations, weddings and christenings. Window sills were strewn with ornaments which told of far-flung holidays....if you count Ballybunion! Glass cabinets were bulging with china dinner sets and tea services.
I am sooooo not a clutter person. I have a grand total of four framed photos in my house and a minimum of nonfunctional items. It's not an interior design decision. Its just the less clutter, the less dust!

I needed a little lie down before the evening's performance so I headed to my room. I was taken aback by the sight of the shelves groaning under the weight of Teddy Bears.



They're cute. I'm just glad they're not dolls. All those eyes staring at me would freak me out.

The next morning we headed into the breakfast room. And there they were, peering down from the top of the dresser.........

I was so unnerved I could hardly eat my Full Irish.

I said "hardly". If the vacant glare of dolls did take away my appetite, I would have them all over my kitchen. Who needs Weight Watchers?

When I eventually returned home, I looked at my house with fresh eyes. If I ever considered taking in paying guests, what would they think? I scraped that idea pronto, as it would involve a major tidy-up.
How can my house get untidy when I am rarely in it?

As I looked around I got a surprise. I hadn't realised that I have amassed a collection of dolls over the years, but they are way scarier than Mary's!
Mine are all either headless........




.......or bodyless!


I'm sure a psychologist would have a field day with me!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shovin' Connie around the field


We are getting all patriotic in our class seeing as our big feast day is fast approaching. After reading that one quarter of Irish people cannot sing our National Anthem from start to finish
This number is further reduced when applied to our Rep of Ire football team at any international match.......
I decided it was time to increase the odds.

We all know the air of the song but the actual words are a bit hit and miss.
The title of this blog is not the last line of our anthem, contrary to popular opinion.

I was going over the words in class. First line
"Sinne Fianna Fáil."
There was immediate uproar.

"No miss, that's out of date. It should now be........
Sinne Fine Gael!

So, the question is.........what should we be singin'?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dagger Looks

Following on from my blog about "Things that go bump in the night" several concerned friends and family members have asked
"What do you mean you have a dagger in your house? Where did that come from?"
Its an ornament.......that just happens to be very sharp!
After living for five years in the Middle East, it's only natural that I would have amassed an array of Arabic bits and bobs. I didn't want my whole house to resemble a harem! Their furniture looks fabulous when it is bathed in glorious sunlight which bounds off the brilliant white walls and reflects off their marble floors. It doesn't have quite the same effect in the dull and dismal excuse of Irish sunshine. So I have restricted my Abu Dhabi belongings to the hallway.

You can see Arabic perfume bottles, dishdash-clad teddy, Omani window/mirror, door converted into a table and a magic carpet.
Very handy during an oil crisis.
And of course, an Omani dagger.
It usually spends its time sheathed in its cover. But I can assure you, if ever I feel I have a need to use it,
like, if I encounter an uninvited "guest" in my house
I will indeed use it.........and ask questions later!


I've just realised, whatever way the light was shining on the blade, it looks as if its covered in blood! I haven't used it yet, I swear, Your Honour!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

An eye for the straight guy!

I have been on many different types of girlie weekends over the years, including Hen parties, spa weekends and helping-friend-get-over-relationship-breakup-weekends.
I met up with some friends that I haven't seen since Christmas.
I won't reveal their names in order to protect their identities!!
As the wine flowed over dinner, talk came around to our relationships.....or lack of, whatever the case may be! One of the girls revealed that she isn't happy with her boyfriend. He isn't making any effort and she feels she is coming second to his dog in the battle for his affection!
"So are you looking for someone else?" I asked, buoyed-up with wine-induced courage.
"I don't want to finish things just yet. Maybe he will change"
NO HE WON'T! Oops, did I say that out loud!
"But I might give a quick glance around and see what is out there!"
And so our weekend was christened
The One-Eye-Out weekend.
A LOT of fun, take it from me!

So I haven't revealed any names just in case aforementioned boyfriend is reading this. But then again, any of my friends' boyfriends/husbands who happen to read this are saying

"Am I about to get dumped? Quick Rover, get off my lap. I have to ring my girlfriend."

Lads, get your act together. Make more of an effort. As they say in all the best Lottery ads

It could be you!!!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Things that go bump in the night


I was in the middle of a fabulous dream at around four o'clock this morning.
I think it involved Danny from "The Script"and a vat of melted chocolate.
I was about to turn over for a second sleep/helping, when
Crash!
I quickly regained consciousness.
"Wha? Where am I? What made that noise?"
You know that moment when you first wake up and you can't differentiate between what is real and what is a dream.
Was it the sound of Danny breaking a window trying to escape my advances or was it a thief trying to get in?
With my heart pounding out of my chest I turned on my bedside lamp.
Calm down Noeleen. The windows and doors are alarmed. If someone has actually tried to break in, it would be ringing by now.
I grabbed my mobile phone and got my brother's number. I didn't want to wake him if it was a false alarm but on the other hand.......it was set ready to ring if I heard as much as a creak..
Nothing...well nothing I could hear over my heartbeat, anyway.
A few minutes went by.
"I can't sit like this til morning. I'll have to see what made that noise."
I got out of bed, put on my dressing gown and looked for something I could use as a weapon.
Dam, my Omani dagger is out on the table in the hallway. What else could I use?
Ah ha, the old reliable............ a can of deodrant.
I opened the bedroom door and peered out into the hall. Nothing.
Do you ever find yourself avoiding looking out the window when you are closing the curtains in the dark.....just in case you might see someone outside? I do.
It was a bit like that now. I went from room to room, slowly opening the doors and praying that I'd see no one there. All windows were fully intact. Whatever had made the noise didn't come from my house.
I wandered back to bed, happy that there was no one there.
It was only this morning that I realised
What the hell would I have done if I had encountered someone in the hallway?
"Impulsed" them into surrender?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Best Job in the World?


After putting up the set on Saturday I was talking to one of my fellow actors in the Green Room.
That sounds soo theatrical, Darhling!
Talk came around to our jobs.
A scary topic to introduce nowadays as so many people have lost theirs.
We are both still employed for the moment, I am happy to report. He works for Yahoo, which I would consider to be a very interesting job. He said that it can get quite boring looking at a computer screen all day. However when he started first, he was responsible for insuring that there was nothing too obscene being posted, so he had to look at porn sites all day to monitor their content!
And he got paid for that!!!
Like everything else in life, it could get boring after a while...or so he said.
When things got monotonous, he would open up The Irish Times online and have a sneaky read. Then whenever his boss appeared he would hastily shut down the Irish Times and say
"I was looking at porn, honest!
Not very many people can get away with that in their jobs!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Borderline hysteria

This weekend saw me heading North as we were performing "Tom and Viv" in Tyrone and Fermanagh. Gwen and I set off on Friday afternoon.
It was a much less stressful event than the first time I crossed the border in the early 1990s. A group of us from Leixlip Musical and Variety Group were going to the A.I.M.S awards in Newcastle.
A.I.M.S awards are like the Oscars...only much more glamorous!
Two car loads of us went. The lads were in the first car and us girlies followed. We were very apprehensive as we approached the border as we had never entered the North before. We had only ever seen the news reports of bombings and shootings, and despite the fact that it was on the same wee island as ourselves, it seemed like a foreign country to us.
The lads went through the border patrol first and had no problems. Our turn.
We pulled up to the checkpoint and stopped. Beads of sweat were beginning to break out on our brows.
Having baby-faced soldiers pointing rifles in the direction of your car tends to do that.
The window was rolled down and the RUC officer leaned over and looked in.
Gulp.
"Hello, officer."
He looked at us four ashed-faced women and said
"We have had a report that this car has been acting very suspiciously."
My heart stopped and I could feel my blood draining out the soles of my feet. Stories of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four went racing through my brain.
We're doomed.
Who on earth had reported us? The sound of our lads beeping their car horn as they took off, gave a clue.
One minute earlier.
The lads had pulled up to the checkpoint.
"Hello officer."
"Hello there. Where are you going?"
"To the A.I.M.S. awards."
"Fine. Off you go."
"Thanks. Eh...we would just like to say that the car behind has been following us all the way from Dublin. We're no trouble.......but I'd check them out, if I were you!"
The RUC officer looked at our car, spotted four blond women, grinned and replied
"Sure thing. Thanks for the tip-off."
Back to us.
We sat gaping at him. What the hell do we say to prevent us from becoming political prisoners -of -war?
When we saw his mouth twitching we realised
Holy f***! He's actually joking with us. I didn't think they'd have a sense of humour.
We burst out laughing (hysterically, I might add). With a tentative wave we continued on our way.
When we caught up with the lads at the hotel we gave them a well-deserved slap around the ears!
Now, many many years....and a peace-agreement later there was no checkpoint, machineguns or heart attack moments as we crossed the border.
In face the only indication that we had left the Republic was the beeping of a mobile phone with the message
"While you are abroad..........."
So borders are no longer patrolled by armed soldiers, but rather by mobile phone service providers.
And isn't the world a better place?

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Generation Game

Sunday morning and my alarm clock went off at the ungodly hour of 7 o'clock. I opened one bleary eye and thought
What is that beeping noise?
Then it came back to me. Today was Megan's christening, the first one in the family for seventeen years. And I was up the North....so to speak!
We had performed "Tom and Viv" in Tyrone on Friday night and in Enniskillen on Saturday. There may have been a few drinks consumed on either night. But now it was time to get my ass* in gear and get home.
*Roxy
Thanks to Sylvia sat-nav, I was home in record time. I was even in the church before my sister Jacqueline who only had to come from Enfield! Tee hee
This photo sums up the reason why I passed up on the aftershow drinks on Saturday night and dragged myself out of my bed the next morning.........namely, family.
This is my favourite photo of the day. It shows the four generations of our clan.
Great Granny Maureen, mother Lauren holding daughter Megan and Granny Geraldine.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Technological Meltdown


Showtime has started. We are taking part in the All-Ireland Drama festivals with "Tom and Viv", which involves travelling the length and breadth of Ireland. There is only one teenie tweenie problem. I have the world's worst sense of direction. I can usually find a place....after a slight detour or two. But I invariably get lost on the way home. This called for drastic measures. So I called on my niece, Emma for the loan of her sat nav.
"Of course you can. Sylvia Sat Nav will get you there and back in one piece."
See, anthropomorphism runs in the family. It speaks, therefore it's animate!
Off we set and for the first part of the journey things were fine between us. We were on the M50 and Slyvia announced
"Please proceed for 18.6km and then turn right."
Now we're cruising. Oh wait. There's Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. I'll just pop in for a minute.
I indicated and moved off the motorway. Sylvia, who had thought she was on a break, jumped into action.
"Recalculating. In 250 metres turn right."
I ignored that instruction. There were shops beckoning me.
"Recalculating. At the next roundabout take the third exit.
But there wasn't even a roundabout. There were lots of junctions and traffic lights. Obviously Sylvia was getting a little confused.
I kept going straight.
"Recalculating. Recalculating." Definitely an octave higher!
"As soon as possible make a u-turn. Make a u-turn. Dam you."
Are you havin' a laugh? There are four lanes of traffic. A u-turn??
I pulled into the car park and switched Sylvia off before she could berate me for spending money I don't have.
Who needs a husband when you have sat nav?
Some time later I returned to my car and continued on my journey. Sylvia had regained her composure and announced calmly.
"Proceed for the next 13.8 km and then turn right."
She got me there and back without any further hiccups.
Sat Nav is great but I know what would make it better. How about one especially for shopaholics?
"Proceed for the next 19.5km to your destination. However may I recommend that you make a detour to the left where Debenhams are having a sale and happen to have the perfect pair of shoes to go with your new dress."
And one day I'm sure it will happen!