Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Just a little prick

Today I had an appointment to get my vaccinations for Kuala Lumpar holiday. Now I'm not a squeamish person but I can think of several things I would rather be doing that getting injections, thank you very much.
Then I got this photo from my hostess Ger, taken on a girlie night out in KL.

That's Ger on the right.

All I can say is
Needles? I don't care if I have to get a horse tranquilizer.....bring it on!!!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Y' Abu Dhabi do!

It was a wet and miserable Thursday evening. I had pulled a muscle in my back and was! I was particularly cranky and not in the mood for cooking. So I went into the local restaurant after school to be served my cooking or washing up involved. As I waited for my meal to arrive I took up the newspaper. There, emblazoned across the front was the headline
Teachers being lured to Abu Dhabi.
I immediately began reading about how our young teachers are being enticed to the idyllic world of Abu Dhabi, where they will earn double what they would get in Ireland, if they ever manage to get a job here in the first place, which is highly unlikely! It went on to list all the advantages to living in the Middle East, namely glorious sunshine all year long, tax free wages, free accommodation and free flights home.
I wept into my Chicken Caesar Salad! Granted when I went there in 1999 it wasn't due to a downturn in our economy
In fact I missed the whole feckin' Celtic Tiger while I was away!
Rather I went for the craic. And now as I looked out at the rain streaming down the window, I could have cried....what do I mean "Could have?"....... I did!
My first year in Abu Dhabi was probably the best fun of my life. There were 33 new teachers from all parts of the world starting in my school, so we were all experiencing this new life together.

When I got home I looked up my photos, to depress myself even more. I came across these photos of one of our first parties there, held in Jonathan and Owain's apartment in 2000. We are all now scattered all over the world. I am still in contact with a large number of us, but am curious to know what everyone else is up to.

Jonathan (Let me entertain you) Gray

Lorna John and Kathleen Ryan

Michelle Batey and Barbie!

Joe Black and ....I have No Idea!

Karen (I think), Laura Griffin, Nicole Fisher and Myself

Sam Iken, ???? and Olivia Boyce

Gerardine O Dowd and Owain

Alexa Giorginis and Alisha Collins.

To all those teachers considering heading off to the Middle East I say
Go! Now! You won't regret it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Like father, like son.

Ideal world

On my way to my school every morning I pass by a few other Primary schools. On Monday morning I noticed a dad walking his Junior Infant son to one of these schools. I noticed him because he (dad) had his arm in a cast.
As a result, I have noticed him every morning this week. Seeing as I'm not like clockwork, sometimes I meet him at one end of the village, other times he is nearer the school, depending on how late I am!
This morning I felt like stopping the car and shaking him. The reason......?
Every single morning he has been walking along....texting as he does so. He completely ignores his son who is ambling along beside him. I can't say for sure, but maybe this is the only time of the day when they can have a father-son chat and have a little bonding. There are loads of things he could point out and I'm sure millions of questions he could answer IF HE WOULD JUST PUT DOWN THE FECKING PHONE AND LISTEN TO HIS KID!
No wonder kids are now starting school with very limited vocabulary despite the fact that we live in "The Age of Communication" arse!
And, No parents. You don't have to buy the latest DVD that will teach your child the top 100 essential words. All you have to do is TALK TO THEM!
There, rant over!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Betrayed for 30 pieces of silver

"What is with those kids today? They're traipsing in and out of my classroom like it's Heuston Station."
I was on yard duty and couldn't help but notice the constant stream of traffic. Then it struck cynical, embittered ole me!
"Of course, it's Valentine's Day! No wonder it's a hive of activity."
I wandered nonchalantly into my room and caught the class heart throb standing at his desk. In his hands were two blood red cards.
"I see you're popular today," I commented.
"Yeah, but I've no idea who they're from."
"Here let me help. I can recognise everyone's handwriting!"
This comes from months of having to work out whose test paper it is, despite telling them umpteen times to make sure their name was on it. Payback time!
The first one was homemade. As I looked at its slanted writing, mixed use of upper AND lower case letters, I thought
Jeeze, have I taught these kids nothing about card and poster making? Back to the drawing board next Art lesson!
Handwriting was well disguised though. No joy.
The second card was shop bought.
I read the verse out in my best Shakesperian accent. I can't remember it all, but the ending went something like....

Your hair is shiny,
Your eyes are yum
But best of all
you've got the.....
open card
Sexiest bum!

He never batted an eyelid, just grinned a lopsided Bieberesque smile and said
"Well, if you've got it, you've got it"
and wandered off out the door.
I espied two of my girls in a hoop laughing at the door.
"Girls???" I enquired.
"Oh it wasn't us Miss."
"But we know who it was."
"Oh tell me!"
"No Miss. We can't."
"Ah go on. I won't say anything."
NO WAY! Our lips are sealed."
"Go on, go on, go on!"
"Never. They're our friends and we'd never tell on them."
"I'll give you a homework pass!"
"Oh, it was Anne and Orla*"
* names have been changed to protect their identities!!!
It only took a nanosecond for them to change their minds and betray their BFF. They were soon racing out of the classroom clutching their homework passes as if they were the golden tickets to Willie Wonka's chocolate factory!
News travels fast in Schoolyard land. I had no sooner rounded the corner when I was accosted by one of my boys.
"Miss, why did they get homework passes?"
"Because they snitched on their friends."
His eyes lit up.
"Oh, if I get more info for you, will I get one?"
"Of course."
As he tore off on his mission, I called after him
"Make sure it's good and juicy. Homework passes are harder to win than the Nobel Peace Prize!"
By hometime I knew it all, who had sent a card to whom, who wished they had gotten a card from whom, and who was jealous of who!
I didn't say a word. This info is filed away in the back of my mind. Hey, I have five months left with my prepubescent hormonal charges.
Forewarned is forearmed!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Highway to Heaven

I got this fabulous story from my friend Sinéad.
Her sister, brother-in-law and their three young daughters were heading down the country for an aunt's funeral. When they got to the toll bridge there was a bit of a tad-to at the barrier. Dad put the money in, but it spewed out again and the barrier didn't raise. He tried again, same thing happened. Irate drivers were beginning to honk their horns behind him. Suddenly an American drawl came over the intercom.
"If you wanna reach your destination, you gotta put your money in the basket, Bud."
The girls thought this was hilarious and were still giggling over it when Dad eventually got the barrier sorted.

They made it to the funeral mass. It came to offertory collection time.
As the wicker basket was passed under the nose of the four year old daughter, she proudly announced to the silent congregation in her loudest American drawl
"If you wanna reach your destination, you gotta put your money in the basket, Bud!"
There was a sharp intake of breath and her parents didn't know where to look. But as if it was a Mexican wave, all shoulders in the church began to shake in silent laughter.
You have never seen Catholics dig so deep into their pockets in all your life. In fact, I think the priest wants her to make a guest appearance at 11 o'clock mass every Sunday!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My tribute to Whitney

I have just watched a tribute programme to Whitney Houston and I can't believe how saddened I am by her death. The really sad thing is that I am not shocked
shocked would be if.....say Michael Bublé was found in similar circumstances.
Unfortunately her deterioration has been well documented over the past years. It did seem somewhat inevitable. But that doesn't make the utter waste of talent and beauty any less heartbreaking.
Being in my hayday in the 80's I was very aware of the comparisons that were made between the two music divas of the day, namely Whitney and Madonna.
Whitney was cast as the clean living, gospel singing, perfect role model, singing  innocent type songs , such as "How will I know?"
Madonna was her nemesis, a bra-exposing, loud mouthed "slut", who was singing  risque lyrics such as "Like a virgin."
What do you mean, she wasn't an actual virgin!
It was generally believed that it would be Madonna who would meet an untimely ending, due to the fact that she was probably up to all sorts of no good.
Seems we got that horribly wrong as well.

I'm truly saddened.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My lovely bones

The next time someone mades a snide remark about all the time teachers have off in the evenings, I am going to smack them in the mouth.
What has this Primary school teacher just spent a valuable hour of her life doing? Let me enlighten you.
Earlier today during Science lesson.
"Right everyone. We are going to do an experiment on bones to see how important calcium is. In your groups you are responsible for collecting the materials needed. If anyone in your group has roast chicken for dinner you can get some bones from that."
"But Miss, it says raw chicken bones. Does that not mean that they can't be from a cooked chicken?"
I read it properly.
"Very good. I was just testing to see who was paying attention. Of course they can't be from a cooked chicken. I will get the bones, you get everything else."
After school in Tescos.
"Okay. Where do I get whole chickens?"
I put my hands up and admit, I have only ever bought chicken pieces, all nicely cut up, packaged and clearly labelled as to what body parts they are.
My luck was in, there was a special offer on a poor lone chicken.
These are recessionary times. Every saved cent helps.
Later that night.
"Oops almost forget about that feckin' chicken. Shouldn't take long."
Now, I've never actually cut up a bird before but I've seen enough Jamie Oliver masterclasses for dummies to know what to do.

Posed by models....obviously!

My first shock was when I took it out of the wrapper and took off the string that was tied around its legs.
I mean, it didn't have a head or feathers, but I could definitely identify its legs and where its little wings had been.
That's not supposed to happen. I've never eaten food that actually looked like the way it did when it was alive.
Taking a deep breath, I got started. It was easy enough to cut away two plump chicken breasts. I was quite pleased with my work.
Great, two dinners.
But then.........I couldn't get the drumsticks off. It would mean cutting/breaking/cracking bones and my stomach just couldn't take that. I then tried to get at the carcass. Try as I might I couldn't get through the skin, sinews and flesh. By this time I really was feeling ill, but I had a Science lesson to get ready.
I turned the body over. Yeuck, that was worse. Turned it back.
I hewed and hacked my way through it and after what seemed like hours I managed to salvage
My kitchen counter top looked like a scene from CSI: Raharney. There was flesh, skin but no bone all over the place. I rubbed and scrubbed but I couldn't get the slimey, greasy feeling off my hands. I took one look at the mound of meat that had been produced and promptly threw it in the bin.
"That's it. I'm becoming a vegetarian."
I am now totally traumatised and will probably not be able to sleep tonight due to recurring nightmares. To top it all off I know the kids will groan and complain tomorrow.
"Ah Miss. Why do we have to do a full class experiment instead of having enough bones per group to work with. Why couldn't you get more bones?"
 Class, be very careful  what you wish for!
Croke Park hours, me arse!

Easy like a Sunday morning

The grass is always greener on the other side. It never ceases to amaze me what little things we envy in other people's lives.
It was noon on Sunday before I heard any sign of movement from Genevieve's bedroom. She sauntered down to the kitchen looking relaxed and refreshed.
"Do ya know what I enjoy most about your house?" she asked.
I tried to think of what it could be?
"You always have magazines for me to read." that it?
She continued.
"I can't remember the last time I could spend the morning in bed reading a current magazine, without someone clambering all over me."
"Whoa. Too much information I don't really need to know what yourself and Vincent get up to on a Sunday morning!!!"
"I meant the kids."

Monday, February 6, 2012

An average Saturday night in Mullingar

Saturday night saw myself and Genevieve heading into Mullingar for dinner and a catch up chat. First topic of  conversation was the aging process!
"What I hate is the fact that you think you are holding your own and you look pretty good for your age. Then suddenly....wham, you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror and you do a double take.  Who is that person???" I complained.
"My problem is with forgetting things. I can't remember where I've put my keys, or what I've just been talking about." Genevieve added.
"Excuse me, are you ready to order?" our waiter interrupted.
"Certainly," we replied and gave our order.
As he walked away Genevieve turned to me with a quizzical look on her face.
"What were we talking about before this?"
"Eh, memory loss?" I replied.
Our guffaws of laughter had everyone turn to look at us. I thought we were going to be thrown out!

We soon forgot all our worries and woes. We headed off down the street seeking mirth and laughter. There was a slight drizzle falling so Genevieve put up her umbrella.
"What on earth is that?" I asked.
"Oops, I picked up Sadhbh's Barbie umbrella by mistake!"
"Well I'd rather drown than be seen under that."
In order to avoid untold embarrassment, we went into the first pub we passed. The place was jumping.
"Why is there a gaggle of girlies thronging the dj's box?" we wondered.
Being the nosey types we made our way through the crowd. We soon saw the reason.
DJ Bressie!

Now I hope you appreciate the subterfuge that I had to go through to get this grainy photo. All the other girlies were openly taking photos of their crush. But we were beyond that. So Genevieve just "happened"  to stand in the vicinity of the stage while I took her photo. But you know I'm not great at photography and didn't I miss her completely!

At least this one is clearer....though I have no idea who that guy is on the right!

MUCH later on the way home, Genevieve managed to meet the only person who didn't run away in horror from the Barbie umbrella!

Now where will they put the statue of Bressie?

Sunday, February 5, 2012


Genevieve and I hadn't managed to catch up for the past two months. Little things like Christmas and the New Year got in the way. And then I was busy doing the panto while Genevieve's school was involved in a whole school inspection. In our 25 years of friendship I don't recall her ever being so stressed. Thankfully it was finished this week and that called for a girlie night out to unwind.
I hadn't realised exactly how long it was since we met until she arrived with my birthday pressie in hand!
Actually as a child I hated my birthday being at Christmas as I only got presents once a year. I always wanted my birthday to be in July. Well, if the Queen can have two birthdays, why can't I?
So it was really nice to be able to rip open a present in February.
While in the kitchen, Genevieve looked around and asked
"What's that on your wall?"
"Eh, it's a calendar, you know, the thing with dates on it."
"But why is there a semi-naked young man on it, showing off his quite impressive abs."
"Oh that. Well you see, last year one of the topics for debate in class was Team Edward or Team Jacob. The girls asked me which team I supported and I said Jacob's. Then when I opened a Christmas present from one of them it was a Taylor Lautner calender. I didn't go out and buy it for myself."
"But that's wrong Noeleen. What age is he?"
"Emm. About 19 I suppose."
"If he was in Lucan Community College, I'd be his Year Head Teacher!"
"Oh for God sake. Forget about school. Anyway, it would be wrong to discard a gift from a child. Also, it is functional. I look at it and know the date. And that's my story and I'm sticking to it."
"Really. Well, we have been looking at it for the past few minutes, so without peeking, tell me......what date is it today?"
"Oh, heck, let me see, I think it's, wait, it might be....were there numbers?."
"My point exactly!"

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ain't no mountain high enough

Three of "my" boys were on the TV this week. They had taken part in "The Mountain", a programme that combines science and physical skill.
A bit like "The Crystal Maze" for kids.
One important round depended on a tie-break question.
"What is the fastest speed that a bird can attain?"
As I sat on my sofa watching it, I let a sigh of relief.
"They should know that. We learned only last month that the peregrine falcon can reach a speed of 220 miles/hour."
Sure enough they wrote down that answer and were correct.
However, I was amazed that when they were asked....
"And how did you know that?"
they replied
"Oh we learned that in school three years ago."
When I got my hands on them in school, I wanted to know why they had misled their audience.
They looked at me as if I was simple.
"But Miss, saying we remembered it from three years ago made us seem WAYYYY more intelligent!"
How devious, how cunning, how brilliant!
By the way, they won.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beyond excited!

Easter time is approaching and thoughts turn to far flung exotic places. However this year I was on a bit of a downer. All my female friends have gone and found themselves partners
Happy for them
But that leaves me without a travelling partner for holidays.
Sad for me.
So I got to thinking about the friends I have dotted all over the world. One friend I really wanted to catch up with was Gerardine. So I sent her a message. It went something like this...

"Hi there Ger, I was thinking about holidays and wondering if your offer to come and visit you still stands?
I paused here for a moment. You know the way you blurt out that invite, even when you don't always mean it??? Maybe it was that way with Ger. Oops, better give her an opt out clause!
If you already have plans for Easter, there is no problem."

A few moments later came the reply
"Oh my goodness. I'd LOVE if you did."
Oh happy days.
This evening I booked my ticket and am on my way to .........
Anyone I have mentioned it to has wrinkled their brow in deep thought and said
"Isn't that where Raquel went off to when she left Curly in Coronation Street?
That's the very place!

So now I have pressing matters to attend to like the mandatory holiday diet and planning of holiday wardrobe. People just keep saying
"You lucky bitch! Imagine having a friend in Kuala Lumpar."
I know I am........but on reflection I have to point out that I had a major part in steering her life in that direction.
Please excuse this reposting as it sums up a pivotal moment in our lives.
Woo hoo!