24 September 2007

Oh Iona, how I miss you, oh my soul cries out for thee...Oh Iona, Oh Iona, Oh Iona, stand by me...

How good are The Skids? Celtic punk at it's finest, to be sure. Gotta love the Paddybeat, although good luck deciphering the lyrics...

There's something about the Irish accent which makes your voice sound deeper. I've yet to meet an Irish person with a high-pitched voice...even the girlies sound gruff and intimidating and like your mum. Which, depepnding on your socio-sexual proclivities, could either be a good thing or a bad thing.

This is my last week in Dublin and I've mixed feelings about it. I love the town and the people but I'm thoroughly sick of living in hotels. Add to that, the lock on my you-beaut giant novelty suitcase decided to pack it in due to excessive abuse from baggage handlers and the only way I could get it open last night was to have at it with a sharp knife. Suffice it to say I need a new suitcase.

Was in London for the weekend looking at houses again. I found this mob called Nicerooms who are a kind of like a virtual landlord. This really super rich guy gives his management company a load of cash to go out and buy whole blocks of houses and renovates the shit out of them. They then rent it out to the hip young things from the finance sector, flush with all the new money and bad taste that comes with an economic boom. I figure by the time they work out that I'm just a working class oik I'll have hooked up with a wealthy Lady Penelope sugar momma type and be burrowed in like a colonial tick into the fat pasty bottom of mumsy and daddy's estate in the country. Show me the ponies!

Speaking of ponies, there's a bit of a feral horse problem in the suburbs of Dublin. Apparently "dah harses" are breeding like crazy and just roam freely about the place causing all sorts of horsey mischief. They sent the army in to shoot a bunch of them but all the street urchins ganged up and pelted them with rocks when they tried to get near. Someone in the government wised up and is now teaching the kiddies how to properly care for their prolific pony pals.

So anyway, I fly back to London on Saturday and will be sleeping on the couch at Finsbury Park for a couple of nights before moving in on Monday. The place is in Surrey Quays which is a trendy new area on the river near Canary Wharf where all the hot young bucks like me (and the women who scorn them) are flocking. The house is a 6 bedroom townhouse with a decent back yard (very rare), huge kitchen and massive lounge room on split levels. The rooms are huge too...I've forgone one with an ensuite cos it was an extra £50 a month and the communal bathroom is massive and there'll only be two of us using it at any one time cos everyone else has an ensuite. Sometimes my logic amazes even me.

Haven't been doing much touristy stuff lately, although I'm desperately trying to get my hands on some tickets to see Bill Bailey doing his new live show at Wembly Stadium. They've pretty much all sold out but there's a couple of places where you can get good seats at a bit of a mark up if you know the right doodz.

Xmas plans are firming up (ooh err!). I plan on flying in to Canberra on 13th Dec and will spend a week with the kids before they go to Adelaide for the hols. I've then got two weeks to kill over Xmas and New Years so anyone who wants a piece of me better start making with the invites cos demand is high and dates will fill up quickly. I'm really looking forward to catching up with everyone and will make efforts to spread myself around. Plus, if you want any duty-free goodies put your orders in.

Hope you're all good, talk again soon.

17 September 2007

Musha ring dum a doo dum a da...Whack for my daddy-o...There's whiskey in the jar...

Not much going on this week...

The Gaelic Football final was on this weekend which meant I had to do the hotel shuffle again due to all the hotels in the city being totally booked up. Gaelic football is like a cross between Aussie Rules and soccer - it's played with a round ball, has a netted goal and two uprights, and doodz punch the crap out of each other. Occasionally an Australian team comes over here to play International Rules with the Irish but last year it deteriorated into a huge brawl so there's doubts about whether it'll be held again.

Let's talk about crisps, baybee! That's right, crisps is what they call potato chips over here and there's about a gajillion different brands but only 3 flavours: plain, salt and vinegar, and cheese and onion (Hunky Dorys do a Buffalo flavour but you can tell it's not real buffalo). Cheese and onion is the most popular flavour, no complaints from me, but they're all trying to out do each other with variants like Mature Cheeder and Caramalised Onion. The really posh ones still have a tiny rind of potato skin around the outside. Yummo, stick it up your bummo.

Apple are announcing the european release of the iPhone this week, oh baby! I'm signed up with O2 who are supposed to get the contract for the phone so all I have to do is swap out my sim card and I'm good to go. In your face, Paul! I'll call you so I can listen to your tears of envy.

Haven't heard about the houseboat as yet, which is annoying because I need to move out of the Finsbury Park place at the end of this week and I haven't got anywhere to go as yet. My project here in Dublin finishes up at the end of the month and as yet I have no idea where I'm going. I'm trying to extend my stay here but the people I'm working for are a bit tight so it'll take some convincing. Mind you, I'm a little sick of living in hotels...would be nice to find a place where I can settle down...livin' free in harmony and majesty, just like Grizzly Adams...except without all the bears and crazy mountain folk.

Weather's weird this weekend...nice and sunny on Saturday, rainy and windy Sunday, overcast and gloomy today. Missing home...looking forward to coming back and seeing y'all at Xmas time.

10 September 2007

Requiem for the Croppies

by Seamus Heaney

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley...

No kitchens on the run, no striking camp...

We moved quick and sudden in our own country.

The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.

A people hardly marching... on the hike...

We found new tactics happening each day:

We'd cut through reins and rider with the pike

And stampede cattle into infantry,

Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.

Until... on Vinegar Hill... the final conclave.

Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.

The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.

They buried us without shroud or coffin

And in August... the barley grew up out of our grave.

You can crush us, You can bruise us, But you'll have to answer to...Oh the guns of Brixton!

Was back in Old Blighty for a few days as I had an interview for my National Insurance Number, which is the UK version of the tax file number, but works more like a cross between superannuation and the dole. Every month the Guv take a bit of your pay and sock it away as national insurance. Then, if you're ever out of work, you can draw on the NI to see you through till you find another job. Seems like a pretty sustainable system, but the irony of it is that when you apply to come to the UK you have to declare that you're not gonna go on welfare...but you can't go on welfare unless you have a National Insurance number which you can't get unless you've got a job.

Have to start thinking about somewhere else to live as the chick whose room I'm in is back at the end of September. I looked at a couple of places on the weekend, one in Bermondsey which is an awesome trendy area just aching to be taken down a peg or two by a suave hipster like me. The room was pretty good, nice and spacious, but unfortunately it just didn't rate compared to the second option which is...wait for it...a houseboat! That's right friends, a houseboat on the Thames. How awesome is that? Frickin' awesome, is the answer to that question. Actually, the Thames itself isn't that awesome...it's like the Charnwood of rivers. But the boat is cool, huge open living areas, central heating, a fireplace, plenty of room for roller skating on the flat deck up top. There's a south african chick there at the moment looking to get two new flatmates and I reckon I'm in with a chance. She's pretty easy going and laid back and we got along really well. It's part of a small community of houseboats, and there's a communal dock nearby with areas for bbq and basketball and even a pool so wikkid parties are the cote de jour (that's french for "the shiznitz", I think).

I've put my name down on the waiting list for the studio audience at Top Gear. Currently there's 300,000 people ahead of me so if they start filming an episode every day they should get to me by the time I retire.

I'm back in Dublin now...Ah, Dublin...where the skies are gray, the beer is black and the streets are washed with the vomit of martyrs.

I'm not a big fan of other people, as well you know. But I'm forced to spend a lot of time surrounded by other people (thank you very much, Albert Camus) so I tend to do a lot of observing and judging of complete strangers in order to discover ways in which I might find them even more annoying and therefore deserving of my scorn. I don't understand how people can travel thousands of kms to another country simply to do whatever they would have done if they'd stayed home. Why would you come to a city like Dublin, culturally rich and steeped in history and charm, only to pursue and indulge in bland shallow corporate American culture? On any given weekend the streets are thronging with tourists who spend their whole time looking for a Starbucks or Burger King and are decked head to toe in either Hard Rock or Thunder Road Cafe merchandise. The same tourists who seemingly spend the working week choreographing their slack-jawed meandering dawdles en masse so as to continually get in my feckin' way. Oh, and who decided it was suddenly fashionable to spit in the street? Your body manufactured that saliva for a reason, you dirty feckers, so perhaps you might do the rest of us a favour and keep it to yourself. And the next sweaty American gobshite who asks me what part of England I'm from is gonna get a swift kick up the arse.

You might have noticed that I have taken to the word 'feck' with some gusto. I've added it to my list of words which sound rude but really aren't, like 'frock' and 'banal' and 'shunt'. It's awesome because it sounds like you're swearing but you're totally not because in Ireland it's the equivalent of 'darn' or 'bloody'. It's brilliant in its subtlety and subtle in its brilliance. Plus, they say it on Father Ted all the time which is hilarious.

I found this awesome poem inscribed on a monument at the National Museum called "Requiem for the Croppies". It's about the farmers who rose up to form the Rebellion that kicked the Brit's arses during the revolution. It's a real testament to the bravery and sacrifice of the Irish, and quite moving. It was written by Seamus Heaney one of the four Irish poet laureates which I think is Gaelic for "insane piss head". Anyway it's brilliant so I'm reproducing it in my next post without asking anyone's permission cos that's how hard I am.

Geez, how much do they love Thin Lizzie over here? There's more Thin Lizzy tribute bands over here than there are U2 tribute bands, and just about every shop you go into has a plaque proclaiming that someone from the band urinated in the corner in 1987. There's even a statue of Phil Lynott in the main street with a big old bronze 'tache...like a guano-laden tribute to "P0rno Joe" Ceddia. Love ya, Joey!

Bit of a surreal moment the other day: there was an ad on tele for Harvey Norman. They've got, like, 9 stores over here and they've got an Aussie guy doing the shouty "Crazy prices! Bring your truck, bring your trailer!" voice-over, which just cheapens the whole thing, really. If you thought tele in England was bad, man, tele in Ireland is shite! 13 channels all the same and none of them know what they're doing.

Ok, so, well go on wit' yerselves. Keep the letters comin' and I'll be thinking of you all...well, most of you...actually very few of you. Whatever. Feck off!

3 September 2007

When life looks black as the hour of night...a pint of plain is your only man...

This weekend we had the All Ireland Hurling final which, admitedly, sounds like a bunch of Irish people getting drunk and throwing up (which happened, but that's incidental) but is actually a pretty cool sport. For those of you who don't know it it's one of the hugest sports in Ireland even though it's only played at an amateur level. It was played in the Crowe stadium which is absolutely feckin' enourmous and seats almost the entire population of Dublin. Limerick and Kilkenny were playing off for the title (which Kilkenny won easily) in possibly the most bizarre game in the world of sport. It's basically a 2-hour fight with a ball thrown in to legitimise the use of an oval. I reckon the guy who invented it got the idea from watching a bunch of street kids re-enact Mad Max 2. I'm not too clear on the rules as the the concept of a foul is tautologous to a game where the ultimate aim is to bludgeon enough of your opponents to death so that there's nothing in the way of the goal. It's pretty much just every sport you can think of all thrown in together and is an absolute blast to watch...especially when the wooses with face masks get smashed in the head, which I think is worth a point.

But the real highlight of the weekend was touring the Guinness Storehouse. Oh baby! That place is huge! 7 stories of beery goodness. You know when you're getting near the joint cos the whole world suddenly smells like a dodgey casserole. There's a whole lot of info on each floor about various stages of the brewing process and the ingredients used. It's a common misconception that the water for Guinness comes from the River Liffey. Eeeewww, as if! It actually comes from the mountains up near Wicklow. Back in the 1700's, Arthur Guinness got in trouble from the local council for drawing more than his allotment and when the town sherrifs came to switch it off, he went at them with a pickaxe. Go on wit' yerself, Arty, ya big man! I reckon he may have been sampling his own produce just prior, what do you reckon? Another common misconception is that Guinness is black...it's not. It's actually a deep deep red colour. Are you feckin' kidding me? No, god's truth...red. About halfway up you get to the testing lab or, as I call it, Paradise. They let you try a sample of their newest brew, North Star...Hey Azza! There's this new type of Guinness called North Star which was brewed last year and you can only get in Ireland. It's deadly! It's grand! It's fantastic! Don't worry, champ, I've got you sorted with a couple of bottles...no need to send away. Anyhoo, it's not a bad drop but after the third or fourth free sample they tend to give you the hurry along, the stingey feckers. I got to become an honourary apprentice to the Guinness Master Brewer so my certificate should be along in the mail presently. At the end of the tour you go to the Gravity Bar on the 7th floor which in theory should give you a glorious panoramic view of the whole of Dublin, but in fact gives you a glorious panoramic view of the back of sweaty american tourists' fat heads. But you get to have a complimentary pint of the good stuff so the sweet sweet liquour eases the pain. I don't know whether Guinness tastes any different over her but damn that free pint was good. Plus I got a little Guinness paperweight as a souvenier with a drop of Guinness in it for emergencies.

Work's a bit of a drag...same old same old. Which is what I expected I guess but getting shuftied all over the place from one week to the next makes it hard to meet people. One of the cool things about The Company is they really look after their people. There's plenty of paid for nights out and fancy parties - we have our Xmas party on a boat on the Thames - and stuff, but the best thing is every week they bring in two huge baskets, one full of fresh fruit and health bars and the other full of jaffa cakes and bikkies and chocolate. We just hoe in and chow down, it's awesome! Now I understand why they have subsidised gym memberships...

Heading back to London early as I have an interview for my National Insurance Number, which is the UK equivalent of a tax file number. I'm working on my plan for Xmas time and all going well should be hitting Canberra around the 13th or 14th of December. Get in quick, some dates still available.

Hope you're all well and I'll try and get the Storehouse photos up ASAP so you can continue to live through me vicariously.