Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Little Red Hen.

I went shopping today and bought a fabulous new…….dishwasher!  Of course the first problem was how to transport it home. There was no way it was fitting into the back of Roxy!
I can just about get a weekend case into Roxy’s boot.

My sister came to my rescue with her bigger vehicle. Then problem #2 arose. How would we get it out of her car and into my house?
I rang my sister-in-law to see if my brother Finian would be around to help.
“We are heading out for a while but we’ll be back in the afternoon.”
“This is the problem with being single,” I moaned. “I don’t need a man for sex but I need one for situations such as this.”
There was a slight pause at the other end of the line and then Marese sighed.
“I’m sorry to disillusion you Noeleen, but even if you have a man, you’re still like The Little Red Hen and you end up having to do this things for yourself anyway!”
That burst my bubble!
A Happy Ending……..
My sister and I got a small trolley and succeeded in getting the dishwasher out of the car and into my kitchen ourselves. Yipee!
See, I don’t need a man…..oh wait a minute. It’s not installed yet.
Where did I leave Michael (the plumber)’s number?

Monday, December 23, 2013

Sharing milestones in someone's life.

Many (many) years ago I was having my 30th birthday party in Harry's hotel in Kinnegad. A bus load of Leixlip Musical and Variety Group  (LMVG'ers) made the arduous bus trip out of The Pale into Redneck country. Aboard that bus was a young 15 year old called Karl Harpur. He remembers it with very fond memories as it was the first time that he had a drink.
Don't blame me. I didn't buy it for him.
In fact, it was such a rite-of-passage, that when Harry's was knocked down several years later, Karl went into a mild state of depression!

A year or two after that fateful night, a planeload of  LMVG'ers went to Rotterdam for a weekend to see Karl's brother Gary who was singing in Riverdance. Emer, Karl and I were wandering down the street in Rotterdam, when Karl opened his wallet. Something fell out and landed before us on the pavement. Karl's face went puce and he tried to scoop it up before our eagle eyes could spot it.
Too late! It was a condom!
Poor little Karl nearly died as us "auld ones" saw what it was. Of course, being the mature, responsible teachers that we were, we slagged the arse off him!

Much later that night we had all retired to our rooms. Suddenly we heard a scraping at our door and a pitiful voice whispered
"Can I stay with ye tonight? My room mate has scored and I can't get into my room. I've no where to sleep."
"Ok Karl.....but just be aware. You'll have no use for that condom here!!!"
"I promise I'll keep my clothes on!"
He was just happy to have a place for the night!

That was then and this is now.
Yesterday was another milestone in his life, his wedding to the beautiful Jen.

I was very happy to share in their day.

All I can say is
"Karl, I hope you know, that condom is WAY out of date by now!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I'm easy to find!

You would think in this day of Google Earth and sat-navs that giving directions would be very high tech. Obviously not!
I ordered a Christmas present from Amazon and was a little worried that it wouldn't arrive on time. On Friday I was at home, just after getting my holidays. There was a knock on the door. When I opened it, there was the courier with my parcel! Happy days.
It was only when I brought it in and looked at the envelope I saw that he had obviously stopped in Raharney to ask for directions to my house.
I love the fact that my house is located by the phrase
Go past Shay Murtagh's. It's the middle house with the Red Beetle parked outside!

Friday, December 20, 2013

I had a "Wicked" birthday.

My favourite musical of all time is "Wicked". I first saw it on Broadway about five years ago. I didn't really know much about it, only that it had something to do with the wicked witch from "The Wizard of Oz". I was totally blown away by it. It's the only show I've ever been at that had a standing ovation....at the interval.
A few years later I was with Leixlip Musical crowd in London for a Musical binge. They were heading to Wicked on Saturday afternoon, but I wouldn't go. I was afraid that it wouldn't be as good as I remembered and the magic would have been ruined.
It arrived in Dublin this Christmas so I decided to risk it. What better way to spend my birthday.
Thank God it lived up to my expectations.
I love the song "For Good" which Elphaba and Glinda sing, as they are parting ways. It is all about how much they meant to each other and the fact that they will never meet again.
Anne turned to me and said
"You know that is the song that Jenny* has booked Maeve* to sing at her funeral? Now I can't have it at mine."
* Two of the women from our musical/drama group.
Coming out of the theatre, the songs were swirling around our heads.
Anne was humming the tune
"No one mourns the wicked."
Anne stared at me, her mouth hitting her chin. Then she managed to utter
I was blocking the way out as I was bent in two laughing.
Then Anne said
"You know. You're right. I want that at my funeral. And I'm going to state in my will that YOU have to stand up at the altar and sing it!"
That stopped my guffaws.
"But Anne, you know I can't sing."
"I know. So I know you'll be absolutely bricking it. SO I'LL HAVE THE LAST LAUGH FROM THE GRAVE!

Ah yes. Don't you just love the conversations that only best friends can have!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Two Turtle Doves

Today in class they had to illustrate one line of that old chestnut
Twelve Days of Christmas.

This made me laugh.....

Monday, December 16, 2013

Glass half-empty, half-full?

I have always considered myself to be a fairly up beat sort of person. I try to look on the bright side of things. I'm not  prone to major panic attacks. I'm basically happy-go-luck........or so I thought.
These mornings have been particularly dark and dismal as I have been driving to school. As I haven't been shopping recently
Correction. I have been shopping but not for silly things like groceries!
I popped into Centra in Ballivor to get a sandwich for lunch.
As I was standing at the checkout, the woman beside me said.
"Oh, is that your car parked at the door?"
My heart lunged in my chest, I could barely breath and all the following scenarios flashed through my head.
Scenario 1:
I had forgotten to put on the handbrake. Roxy had taken off down the incline, crossed the road and caused a pile up in downtown Ballivor.
Scenario 2:
The drive across the bumpy bog road had caused Roxy to overheat and her engine had spontaneously combusted and she was now engulfed in flames at the door.
Scenario 3:
A group of teenagers waiting for the secondary school bus had gotten bored, taken a penknife to Roxy's soft top, which was now in tatters.

Obviously the woman saw these horror stories flash across my face and quickly added.
"Oh its just that it a really cute car and I'd love one!"
Phew. The waves of relief rushed through my veins.
That's all? Thank God.
I mumbled a few words of thanks and raced out to see for myself.
There was Roxy, waiting patiently for me.
I was still in a bit of a state when I got to school.
I guess I need a bit of work on my zen-like persona!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ghost of Christmas past?

Christmas shopping time!
I was perusing the aisles of the chemist looking at various smelly things in glittery boxes. There was a very respectable suited gentleman standing in front of the items I wanted to examine. He was oblivious to me as he was talking animatedly on his mobile phone.
Not wanting to be rude I stood for a moment to try to catch his attention. Then he uttered the immortal words to his friend on the other end of the line.
"The sight of you in that mankini will stay with me forever."
I, of course, burst out laughing.
He glanced up and suddenly realised that he wasn't having a private conversation. His voice was booming all over the shop. He turned puce, twirled on his toes and raced out the door.
I must say, I couldn't get this image out of my head for the rest of the day either!

Monday, December 9, 2013

My first brush with Show Business

Someone asked me the other day when did I first become interested in Drama and all things jazz hands. I cast my mind back as far as I could.
The problem I had then which I still have now is that....I can't sing! So I learned at a very early age the art of miming. I also had my first crush when I fell in love with Little Jimmy Osmond!
Donny was far too old for me.
So I do remember being hauled out in front of a crowd in Granny Keena's kitchen. I stood in front of them and with a hairbrush in my hand I mimed along to this song.

The sound of their tumultuous applause rang in my ears and from that moment on I was hooked.

I haven't heard this song in decades but do you know what?
 I still remember every single word.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Dark Night Rises.

For the second time this week my house was plunged into darkness because of a power cut. Luckily I had a few matches left from the last time. Have you any idea how many it takes to light a lorryload of tea-lights?
Once I had a bit of illumination, I was at a loose end as to what to do.
"I'll listen to some music. No wait I can't.
"Xposé has started..... Nope. Can't do that either."
"I'll make myself a nice cup of tea. Feck, can't."

After many attempts I decided on seeing what all the settings on my new camera can do.
Here is my fireplace in the sitting room.
Anyone who has been in my house knows that there is no way it is that big in real life!
Whoever said the camera never lies, was lying!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thinking outside the box.

I'm NOT a Christmas person!
There is only one thing I hate more than putting up decorations, and that's taking them down.
Bah, humbug!
This morning as I was crossing the schoolyard I saw a group of my kids waiting around.
"Will ye go into the classroom and take the Christmas Tree out of the puppet theatre and decorate it with whatever is there?"
Only too delighted they sped in, and I went to the staffroom for my morning cuppa!

When the bell went I returned to my classroom to be met with this sight.
They could not find the angel to put at the top of the tree so they were extremely creative. They decided to use props from our props box to turn the entire tree into an angel.
From the back it looks lovely....
Lots of tinsel, check.
Curley hair, even if it is illuminous green, check.
Wings, check.

However, it is a different story from the front!
Specky specs check
Beard, check.
Vampire teeth, check.

Definitely my favourite tree ever. It's staying!

Monday, December 2, 2013


I was wandering through the aisles of the newsagents, perusing the women's magazines. Every single cover had a picture of Kim Kardashian.
What is she actually famous for?

Yesterday I sent off my column for Hello Alanya.
Then I called into the local shop to pick up a few groceries. And there I was again on the front page of.......The Meath Chronicle!

I'm definitely Keeping up with the Kardashians.
Did ya see what I did there, did ya? Huh? Huh?

Friday, November 29, 2013

True Sportsmanship

Taking part in school's sporting competitions is a two-edged sword.
There is the physical exercise aspect of it that is so important in a country where now 5% of our five year olds are classified as obese.
Also it is great character building to be part of a team. The discipline that is required to train in all weathers will surely serve the children well in other areas of their lives.
But the down side is the pressure that is put on the children to win, both by teachers and parents. I have been a witness to the "well-meaning" abuse that has been shouted out to children from the sidelines.
Then there is the disappointment of not winning.
Though being a teacher, I feel that this too is an essential lesson that every child needs to learn.
You win some, you lose some!

Our girls' football team took part in the Schools County Final for the second year running. And for the second year running, they lost. This is despite the fact that they played their hearts out and left their guts on the pitch!
One girl in particular played a blinder of a game. She was in centerfield, scored goals and points from the forwards and blocked many a save in the backs.

Yesterday our school received a letter from our winning opponents. In it they complemented our team on the sporting and spirited way we had contested the Final. Their teacher commented on the girl who had played so gallantly and never gave up. In the letter he enclosed one of his teams winning GOLD medals and said that she deserved it for all her efforts.
I thought that was the most fabulous thing ever.
It's easy to be gracious in defeat, it's not always easy to be so gracious in victory.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Grid lock.....Irish style

People don't appreciate how quaint it is to live in an idyllic Irish village.
 Reduced pollution and property tax.
Community spirit and squinting windows.
Fresh air and silage.

Those who live in a city have to contend with traffic jams and grid lock.
This is what caused a train to stop in our parish....

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Photographic Memory Stick

The priest was in today looking for photos of the Living History Day to put on the parish website.
"No problem," I said. "I'll put them from my phone onto a USB key and give them to you."
I connected up my camera and downloaded the photos. I put them in a folder on the memory stick and was about to give it to him when I decided to check it.
 Not only had I downloaded the photos of that day....but I had downloaded all my holiday photos from Abu Dhabi!!
Imagine if they had been posted on the Parish website!!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Living History

Baconstown school was established in 1842 and in order to do our bit for The Gathering we are having a reunion. We are thankfully in a newer building across the road from "the old school". As it is a pre-famine building the façade of it has been preserved while the inside has been renovated and used as a community centre.
In class we decided to have a Living History Day, where we would spend a day as if it was the 1900's and we were attending the old school. The kids did their research by interviewing grannies and grandads, looking at the school records and any old photos we could find. We got permission to spend our schoolday in the old building, where parents brought any old desks, posters or whatever would add to the atmosphere of the day.
Of course, not wanting to be left out I got into character too.
Never one to miss an opportunity to get into a costume!
To make it more authentic I got the loan of a "High Nellie" bike. Needless to say I DIDN'T cycle all the way from Raharney. I parked Roxy around the corner from the school in a neighbour's driveway and went from there.
One of our younger pupils, whose granny lives in the house, saw me arrive and practice a few circuits of the yard before I ventured out on the road.
She rushed into the school playground to proudly announce to everyone
"Granny is out in her dressing gown teaching Miss Noeleen how to ride a bike!"

Under strict instructions
"Don't pull the front brakes."
"Get off the bike going around that dangerous corner."
I set off for school.
I made it there in one piece. You can imagine the excitement of the kids, seeing their teacher making an absolute fool of herself!
I must admit the day has been the highlight of my teaching career...so far.
I have a few years left!
The effort that the parents and kids put into their costumes, hairstyles, lunches made it seem as if we had really stepped back a hundred years.

The old classroom was set up with the original desks and the children had to write on slates. We tried our hand at Old Irish Writing.

They did very well!

Of course it wasn't easy writing while being squashed three to a desk.

The rate things are going in the Dept of Ed. we'll be back to that soon!

Their lunches consisted of brown bread, butter, an apple and a bottle of milk.
No low-carb diet for teacher today.

People wanted to know if they brought a sod of turf for the fire. Of course they did!
Then it was outside to play, traditional games of course.

Our main reason for the day was to reproduce a photo that was taken outside the school circa 1914.

Okay lads, line up at the wall.

Right, watch the birdie!

And the photo was taken....

Which all goes to prove....
Oh and I also discovered the beauty of being able to use the cane, when your principal gets in your way!!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

School-1950s v's 2013

Our school is 170 years old and so we are getting ready for the Reunion/ Gathering.  In my research, I came across this piece!

I believe the right way is somewhere between the two!

Johnny and Mark get into a fight after school.

1950s- Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up best friends.

2013- Police called and they arrest Johnny and Mark. Charge them both with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it. Both children go to anger management programmes for 3 months. School Board of Management hold meetings to implement bullying prevention programmes.

Billy breaks a window in his neighbour's car and his Dad gives him a slap.

1950's- Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.
2013- Billy's Dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is moved to foster care, joins a gang and ends up in jail.

Mark gets a headache and takes some asprin to school.

1950s- Mark gets glass of water from Principal's office to take asprin. Headache goes. He passes exams and becomes a solicitor.
2013- Police called, car searched for drugs and weapons. Mark expelled from school for drug taking. Ends up a drop out.

Johnny takes apart leftover fireworks from Hallowe'en night, puts then in a paint tin and blows up a wasps' nest.

1950s- Wasps die.
2013- Police and Anti-Terrorism Squad called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, investigate parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated. Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly in a plane again.

Johnny falls over while running during morning break and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. She hugs him to comfort him.

1950s-In a short time Johnny feels better and goes on playing games. No damage done.

2013- Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What did you say? What did you mean?

We were studying a poem in class called "First Day at School" by Roger Mc Gough. It is written from the viewpoint of a Junior Infant. In it there is a part where the child has obviously misunderstood certain words.

" What does a lessin look like?
Sounds small and slimy.
They keep them in the glassrooms.
Whole rooms made out of glass. Imagine."


"Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea."

We were having fun telling about words we had misunderstood when we were younger. One of the boys told this great story.
His neighbour's dog kept coming into their garden and every time his mother saw him, she would say
"There's that little fecker in the garden again."
He thought that this was the dog's name.
All was fine until one day the neighbour was having a cup of tea and polite conversation in their kitchen. He looked out and saw the dog entering the garden. Wanting to inform the neighbour of the whereabouts of her dog, he proudly announced
"Oh look. There's your little fecker in our garden again!"
He said he didn't understand why his mother gave out to him later. After all it was just the dog's name, wasn't it???

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Kerb crawling....with a twist!

Names have been changed to preserve the reputation of the people involved!
Having arrived back on home ground I met up with the "girls" for dinner in Mullingar.
The term "girls" is used loosely here, as will become more evident later on in the story!

Dinner was, of course, accompanied by a few glasses of wine. Much later in the night, we all piled into the designated driver's car.
The streets of Mullingar were very empty, lit by some solitary street lights.
Just setting the ambiance here!
As we were being driven up the street we saw a group of young fellas, aged about 19 to 20 years,  walking on the pavement. Áine, the driver, let out a hormonal, teenager-esque scream.
"Oh look! It's NIALL HORAN!"
Ah yes, the bold Niall was home for the weekend as it was his nephew's christening. What a lucky baby, having a member of a soon-to-be-the-first-billionaire-boyband as your godfather!
Áine is a big One Direction fan. Her teenage daughter has no time for them as it would be soooooo uncool to like the same band as your mother.
We were a bit taken aback when Áine sped up the street, whirled around the roundabout and came back down the street, after the boys.
"What are you doing?" we screamed.
"I want to get a closer look."

She pulled up beside them, beeped the horn and rolled down the window.
Now bear in mind that we were the ones who had had a few drinks, while she was stone cold sober. Yet it was us that slunk down in our seats,, trying to cover our faces in mortification!
 There was silence for a moment and then a voice rang out
"Oh look. It's a car full of auld wans!"

Áine was a bit miffed. But as we pointed out, they were perfectly right to say so, we were all old enough to be their mothers! And what if things were reversed? What if we were a car full of 40 something year old men who beeped at a group of young girls?
"But it was Niall Horan!" she wailed.
It doesn't matter. The poor child deserved a night out with his old school friends, without being harassed by "auld wans"!!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A must-see.

One of my main wishes in returning to Abu Dhabi was to visit Sheik Zayad's Grand Mosque. When I went to live in Abu Dhabi in 1999 it was being built, and when I left in 2004 it was still being built. Now I know why it took so long.
It has rightly earned its place in the top 25 attractions in the world, alongside the Taj Mahal, the pyramids in Egypt and Petra in Jordan.
 It has been in the news in recent weeks as Rihanna was kicked out of it for engaging in an inappropriate photo-shoot there.
This is how its done properly, pet!
I even had a Princess Diana moment.
We went in the evening time which meant we saw it in sunshine, twilight and darkness. I couldn't understand how the sky was a fabulous purple colour until I later read that the lighting system was designed to reflect the stages of the moon. Lights of a soft bluish grey colour are projected onto the marble. The colour changes over the course of a month.
The interior was even more impressive, from the 12 ton chandeliers......
....to the largest hand-knotted carpet in the world, made by 1,200 artisans.

We paid our respects at Sheik Zayad's tomb. The Koran is recited over it 24hours a day, every day of the year. I presume its not the same poor fella singing it. He looked mighty weary while we were there. Obviously no photos could be taken.
It was dark as we were leaving. I loved the stories of the Arabian Nights when I was a child. And this is exactly what I imagined the palaces to look like.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How did they know?

We went to the Depeche Mode concert after Formula 1. For some reason I remember hearing this story back in the 80's.
 The lead singer said that when they started out they were giving an interview over the phone to a magazine. When the article came out it was obvious that it had been a bad line. The article read
New and upcoming band -  A Patch of Mud!

Alcohol was sold at the venue, but they were much stricter than here in Ireland. You had to get a wristband before going to the bar.

What I want to know is....why didn't they ask me for proof before they slapped it around my wrist???

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Heaven on Earth.

After my pit lane walk on Thursday I have become a Formula one fan. So you can imagine my excitement when Jen told me she was after getting free tickets for us for the weekend races.
"They're PADDOCK CLUB TICKETS", she screamed in excitement.
Now I didn't really get the screaming part. After all I've been around the paddock at Kilbeggan races and it really wasn't all that exciting.
"No, you don't realise", she continued, "These tickets cost $5000....each!"
We were to be guests of Toros Rose. At first we didn't know what team that was, but a quick translation revealed it to be a part of Red Bull. Even better!
Despite the fact that I am a master at packing, even I didn't foresee packing a suitable outfit for such a prestigious event. However I did my best.

I thought I had died and gone to heaven. We were brought up to the reception area which over looked the track.

 From then on we were constantly confronted by waiters who kept us topped us up with a never ending supply of food. I did try the octopus.

Too fishy for my taste.
There was also a constant free flow of alcohol, despite the fact that it was the Islamic New Year. Hardly surprising, Yas Island had gotten an exemption for the day. I made the most of that too.

The highlight of my day, what am I talking about, the highlight of my YEAR, was when Jen and I were brought on a tour of their garage.
And might I add that our Austrian guide was absolutely gorgeous in a cougar/paedophile sort of way!
If yesterday was exciting when I got to see the cars from behind a barrier, I was beside myself with euphoria when we were right in the garage as they were getting the car ready for the practice lap. The tension was electric as all the crew were poised in place. We had to wear headphones to drown out the noise. The instructions were coming into our headphones too.
"One minute to go. Places."
"Fifty seconds....."
I got so into it, I was about to leap in among them and shout
"If you need someone to change a tyre, I can do it...in 13 seconds!"
When he shouted GO, they whipped the covers off the tyres and off Ricciardo sped.
Claus then showed us where the tyres were stored and told us the difference between each type.
If I ever get on Mastermind, my specialist subject will be
"The importance of temperature and air pressure of tyres in Formula 1 racing!"
He also pointed out all the wet tyres lined up, ready for action. They weren't going to be caught out again like they were three years ago when it started to rain during the race....and NO TEAM had unpacked the wet tyres as they thought there was no way it could rain in Abu Dhabi. Wrong!
Unfortunately I have no photos to show as photography is forbidden. I might have been working as a spy for Ferrari!
Back we went to the reception area for more free food and drink. Then there was a talk by the team trainer.

"A driver will lose between 3-6kgs during every race."
I paused with a spoonful of chocolate soufflé half way to my mouth.
That's it. I'm taking up this sport. Feck this Slimming World business. But I think they'll have to slice off my hips before I'll even manage to get in the car!