Monday, May 26, 2014

How do I get back to Mullingar?

“Miss, are you going to see One Direction at the weekend?”
“Of course. I’m bringing my niece.”
That was the conversation that I had with my class last week, before their three sell-out concerts in Croke Park. It was the truth; I just left out the fact that my niece is 27 years old and really didn’t need me to bring her! What can I say? I’m not a snob about my music. I like and listen to a wide range of tunes, including some of One Direction’s. Also the fact that Niall is a local Mullingar lad gives us an unmerited sense of pride.

The last time I got the opportunity to see some Westmeath men play in Croke Park was back in 2004, when we won the Leinster Football Final. I haven’t been there since. So I have to grab every opportunity, however slim.

That’s the reason why myself, my sister and her daughter were sitting in the largest crèche in Ireland on Friday evening. We were the only group that didn’t have at least one under 10 girlie in tow. But we didn’t let that phase us. We sang, clapped and cheered along with the rest of them.
We did draw the line at the ear-piercing screams every time Niall appeared on the screen!
I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Then came time to get out and get home. It must have been a nightmare for the organisers. They would be used to holding music concerts that are normally attended by adults, yet this audience of 80,000 consisted of at least 75% under 10's. Hats off to the ground staff, they were excellent. They got the crowd out in an orderly fashion, no panic, no pushing.
 An announcement came over the system
“Will you please follow the instructions of the stewards when you exit the stadium. Even if you have been here before and normally depart in a certain direction, please follow their instructions.”
Dilema #1
So it was that when we exited we were all herded to the left, despite the fact that Roxy was parked in Clonliffe College which was just a few 100 metres to the RIGHT! Being placid people, we followed like sheep. We soon realised that there was no turning back. We stopped and spoke to a nice steward (of which there were plenty). When we explained where we wanted to go, he shook his head and said that he was sorry but we would have to walk around, taking about 45 minutes.
“What?” we exclaimed “But we have a pregnant woman with us!”
“Well you can try going back, but I can’t see them letting you through.”
“Right Lauren,” I announced. “If you’re asked, you’re seven and a half months pregnant, not five.  And if they insist on us walking the full way around, pretend to burst into tears!”
“What do you mean “pretend”? I will burst out crying!”
It worked! We swam against the tide and arrived back at Roxy in no time.
Dilema #2
The whole college campus, including the sports fields, was used for parking. There were thousands of cars there, and of course we had been directed all around the area and eventually did the circuit and were parked at the back of the college building which was near the entrance/exit.
But if we did the correct thing, we would have had to drive back around the campus, wait for all the other cars to filter out in front of us, which would have taken at least three hours. I saw a car turn in the opposite direction, drive down a little lawn embankment, across a kerb and hey presto! It was on a side road heading straight for the exit!
Okay, Roxy. Let’s see what you’re made of!”
Off we sped, held our collective breaths……and made it. We were on the home stretch. 
And then we sat….and sat …..and sat. 
Nobody was moving anywhere fast. After twenty minutes we had moved about a metre. To pass the time we were listening to FM 104. It was buzzing all about the concert and getting people’s opinion on it. The presenter suddenly asked
“It seems to be all young people who were at it. If there are any “older” people  who were there, let us know what you thought!”
“Quick Geraldine. Ring them. What else have we to do at the moment?”
Not thinking she would get through Geraldine rang.
 Panic! She got straight through to the researcher. We heard her explain.
“Well, we are a 50 something, a 40 something and a pregnant 20 something stuck in the car-park after the concert.”
“Brilliant. We’ll call you back.”
And that’s how we found ourselves on the national airwaves.
“And where are you trying to get back to?”
“We’re from a little village just outside Mullingar.”
“Mullingar? I suppose you know Niall?” he asked, a little sarcastically.
“Actually I know his mother Maura and his granny,” announced Geraldine proudly.
“Really”, he squealed, suddenly getting more interested.
“And not only that,” says Geraldine, looking over at me. “My sister fancied his dad Bobby, when she was 16!”

Sure by this time we had been exalted to the status of celebrities! We were practically part of the Horan family. We lost the run of ourselves and spilled the beans on how we had exaggerated Lauren’s condition to get back to the car and then we had scooted across a little lawn in order to cut out a few hours queuing.
Then we let out a squeal of delight. We moved…….about three metres.
 Suddenly I saw a guard up ahead directing us out. When the presenter heard this, he warned us
“I hope that guard hasn’t been listening to FM104 and heard about your illegal cross country run!!!”
Shit. I hadn’t thought of that!”
Very sheepishly I wound down the window.
“Where are you heading to?”
“If you go over that way, down the North Circular Road, across….”
“I’m really sorry, but I’m a culchie. I only know the one way home and it’s in that other direction.”
He shook his head ruefully and said
“Okay then.  Go whatever way you know. I was only trying to speed you up.”
So it was that after an hour and a prime time slot on national radio we got to the exit, onto the road and then sped home in no time.
Certainly a night to remember. Though the next time we might take Niall's advice and use the Sligo-Dublin train that goes through Mullingar.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Four and twenty blackbirds....

Anyone who knows me, knows my hatred of birds.
Not just dislike, I mean hatred!
When I was young, my mother had to remove the little robin ornaments that were on the Christmas wreaths as I couldn't stay in the same room as them.
Then there was the horrific case last year, when the birds got into the wall of my kitchen through the extractor fan, built a nest and laid eggs that hatched out. Somehow the nest then fell down through some blocks. The birds subsequently died. The nest was impossible to reach, so for three weeks my kitchen stank to high heaven as the bodies decomposed.
This did not make me like birds any better.
The opening into the extractor fan was barred with a grid and so I thought I was safe.

This year I did not get out to the apartment in Turkey at Easter as I was busy rehearsing for Strictly Come Dancing. Our neighbours from home went out to their apartment, which is next door to ours.
When I say "ours" I mean my brother's!"
One day they went into our apartment to check that everything was in order.
A feckin' Turkish bird had gotten into the extractor fan, loosened it, gotten into the press and built a feckin' nest there! The baby birds had just hatched out.
The caretaker was called to deal with the situation.

But can you just imagine if I had gone over this Easter. I usually arrive in the apartment in the early hours of the morning. If I had opened the press to find it full of birds I would have
A) Had a heart attack on the spot
B) Turned on my heels, gotten a taxi back to the airport and flown home on the next available flight.
As my brother said
"Jaysus Noeleen. That would have been a great blog!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stuck on you

Friends on mine went on holiday with their seven year old daughter. While there, they met up with another couple who also had a seven year old girl and the two became good friends. Both families came from Belfast, so when they returned home the girls kept in contact.
When the other girl's birthday came around, their daughter was invited to her party. As Dad is a stay-at -home-dad, he is the one who gets landed with all the parties. He said that he would stay for the duration of it as his daughter didn't know any of the other guests.

As the other family belonged to a different ethnic group, everyone was greeting with big hugs and kisses. Being a typical reserved Irish man, Dad could not cope with this at all! He decided to retreat to the garden where there was a big Bouncy Castle and slide. He figured that he would stand there on duty until all the hugging was over and then he could break the ice.

Over the top of the slide came a young boy with the biggest afro hairstyle he had ever seen....apart from the young fella in Diversity!

The young lad slid down and landed SPLAT on the mat at the end. Suddenly there was a wail, and Dad realised that he hadn't gotten up. When he looked over, the child was flailing his arms and legs all around the place but seemed unable to stand up.
Dad's first thoughts were
"Shit. He's after breaking his neck or his spine or something!"
He looked towards the house, but all other adults were in the kitchen, oblivious to what was happening. He ran over to the young lad, horrified at what he might find. He looked closely and discovered that the young fella couldn't move because.....
Relieved, Dad tried to pull the hair off it. The young fella started to scream even louder at which point the adults did hear him and came rushing out! They were met by the sight of a strange man tugging and pulling at a young boy. Beetroot in colour, he hastily tried to explain, showing the tufts of hair that were in his hands. Luckily they all saw the funny side of it and laughed it off.
Dad made his escape as soon as he could!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A dog's life

Daisy is legend!
A few years ago Marese had to bring her to the vet as she was acting EXTREMELY strangely. The vet diagnosed that she was experiencing a phantom pregnancy and so put her on Valium!
Marese was going to ask for a prescription for herself!
Recently she ( Daisy, not Marese) has been diagnosed with diabeties. Marese has to administer a daily insulin injection.
Finian has recommended a different type of injection for her, but she's still here.
Yesterday I was up in their house when Niall came rushing down from the sitting room in a panic.
"Mam," he wailed. "One of the dogs is after eating my spaghetti bolognaise!"
"WHAT!" replied Marese. "I hope it wasn't Daisy or she'll go into a diabetic coma!"

The two dogs were brought in and interrogated.  Daisy tried to plead her innocence but we had our doubts!

"Me? I never even saw the spaghetti bolognaise. It was Ruby!"

Monday, May 12, 2014

Number 57, please!

Because of the late nights associated with Strictly Come Dancing over the past two weekends, I have been staying with my sister in Enfield. Us dancers have been socialising hard, so when it came to "going home" time I had to ring the local taxi-man
Usually at 3.00am
Night 1:
"Hi there. Can I have a taxi from The Marriott Hotel to Enfield Alarms* please?"
* My sister's business, I figured that would make it easier for the taxi driver to get me home.
Night 2:
"Hi there. Can I have a taxi from Boggan's Bar to Enfield Alarms, please?"
Night 3:
"Can I have a taxi from The Bridge Bar to Enfield Alarms please?"

God only knows what the poor man thought was going on in Enfield Alarms!

As if my sister hadn't seen enough of me over the past weeks, she invited Mam, my sister and myself up for Sunday dinner.
"Nothing too fancy," she explained beforehand.
However I did get a bit worried when I saw this in the window.
I've heard of "Chicken in a Basket", but not "Kitty in a basket."

Luckily, she woke up just in time!

You talkin' to me????

Friday, May 9, 2014

Life Lesson

"Did I teach you nothing about the evils of alcohol!!!"
Shots??? Is that what you young people do in college?

End result!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My past is catching up on me!

So many photos were taken on Saturday night I felt like a royal on tour. However this is my favourite by far. I am flanked by Clare, Jenny, Finnian, Aisling, Marty, Joe, Ben and Lorraine. They all have one thing in common.....

Two things about this make me very happy.
1) I'd like to think that perhaps Baconsvision, Baconstown's Got Talent, Communion, Confirmation and End of Year masses had something to do with giving them a love of performing and the confidence to stand up in front of an audience and just do it.
2) They still talk to me!

I felt like a very proud Mammy!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Strictly the best night ever!

What a night!
After 11 weeks of rehearsals it was the night of Strictly Come Dancing. We arrived at the hotel at the ungodly hour of 2pm in order to get ready for the night. First up was hair and make up. How I wish I had someone to do it for me every Saturday!

Some hair styles turned out better than others!

All of this is very hungry work, so we had to keep our sugar levels up!
No show is complete without a selfie.....Ellen has a lot to answer for!

We were up first with our group dance. You can tell I'm a very strict teacher.....
 We then had a quick costume change.....well actually it wasn't that quick. We had about an hour and a half!

Then was the big moment......our Tango to Phantom of the Opera
I don't even remember doing it. Three months work over in three minutes. Obviously Dec managed to lift me properly, despite my mother's doubts! The proudest moment of my life was when the judges held up their scores.

Congratulations to the winners, Lorraine and Kevin, seen here with Caroline!
All I can say Kevin is that those trousers remind me of the ballroom in Raharney.
"But there's no ballroom in Raharney", I hear you cry.