Saturday, August 30, 2008


Eight Things I Hate About Bananas

I don't like the creaking noise bananas make, as you snap the stalk to peel them. I hate the cloying feeling on my fingertips of the sappy inside of the skin. I don't like the weird strings that shear off the sides of a peeled banana shaft. It makes me feel peculiar when there is a bruise discolouring that finely ridged, grey-white flesh. When you bite into a banana it leaves a slightly furry deposit on the outside of your teeth. The texture manages to be both greasy and powdery at the same time. Leave a banana exposed to the air for more than a nanosecond and it discolours to a dirty pale brown as the oils from the banana centre rise and react with the air. The base of a banana has a stumpy little tail with a small stick concealed within it, that clings on after peeling, like an projecting umbilicus.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Taking The Baton From St John

When I was in the sixth form at my English boarding school, the housemaster approached me about my forthcoming application to university. "Now Noreen", he boomed, looking at his racing green socks, "We need to think about your CV". "I've done it sir" I said smugly - and held out a dog-eared piece of A4. "Right" he said, glancing over it - "It's as I thought- nowhere does it demonstrate that you have taken responsibility for anything".

Now, my housemaster was as wet as a mackerel, and could barely control his own bowels, let alone a houseful of feral children - he devoted most of his working life to shirking his duties or shouting in an embarassing manner at House Rugby matches. He was pleasant enough, and given that I had once vomited on his shoes after drinking an obscene amount of wine at a school event, his lack of responsibility in writing to my parents was appreciated. I thought we were at an impasse, where he ran a loose ship, and we, the children, did not ask him for discipline. So this was some neck, I felt, giving out to me about responsibility. "I'm not sure what you mean, sir." I said. "I am in the second netball team and I turn up for matches - I think that is responsible of me. I'll give you that I don't go to all my lessons - but I'm only human. You wouldn't go to double German either if you had to put up with that moustachioed one breathing his halitosis all over the place". "That's enough O'Brien!" he said "The type of responsibility I am talking about, is being in charge of other people. Now remember the time you had to supervise prep for the first year boys?" I defended myself: "Oh come on now sir, that could happen to anyone!" "I have never heard a noise like it," said my housemaster "Bedlam. And the Sheikh's son was wearing your bra. I mean, you must have noticed that we didn't make you a prefect, and I hope you realised why".

Honestly? If they had made me a prefect I would have fallen down dead. Not only would it have shown a staggering lack of judgement, but I would have hated to be a prefect, loathed the thought of it. Wearing a gay little badge and trotting about "busting" people for smoking and "setting an example". I used to get these wan smiles and explanations from prefects explaining that the responsibility was worth the power it gave you- the special place you occupied there, that liminal position between child and adult, service user and serice giver, the great opportunity it gave for input and change - ah feck off.

"Noreen", said the housemaster. "I have been considering your strengths and weaknesses and I would like to offer you a position of responsibility for the religious welfare of the house - as House Sacristan". I stared at him, blankly. "Sir I am a Roman Catholic, This is a Protestant school. I don't know anything about Protestantism - I couldn't do it, I mean, thank you for thinking I am pious enough - but it'll have to be a no". I seriously thought the man had gone insane. How cruel, to make me forge a religious bond with a group of children whose faith would take them on a straight path to hell, regardless of how good they had been in life. And my mother, dear God, my mother, who had told me that it was a mortal sin to set foot in a Protestant "Place of Worship" - who had written, excusing me from the compulsory "chapel for the whole school" despite the fact that even the Jews and Arabs turned up for that one, my mother felt that the polluting atmosphere of the Protestant service would dampen my soul, like a morning fog. I was allowed to miss lessons on Holy Days of Obligation to wander down the high street to the Catholic Church and receive the Body of Our Lord onto my tongue, instead of gibbering foreign languages at a bunch of tweedy old men. If I took this role, it would kill her. I remembered a story one of the nuns had told me years ago, about a child, whose Protestant father hid her shoes, to prevent her from going to mass, so she just walked to mass in her bare feet, to demonstrate her unwavering devotion to Our Lord. I would need to show that kind of resolve, to get out of this corner.

"Nonsense, O'Brien" said the Housemaster "We are Anglo Catholics here - it's very high church, just like you lot, smells and bells, pongs and gongs, decent vestments, latin - you know. I mean good god, girl! It's all Christianity - we're all singing from the same hymn sheet - what?!

Anglo Catholic is one of those terms that makes me feel instantly tired, it is so frequently misused. The true definition of an Anglo Catholic is an English Catholic -one of those hardcore fuckers with a priesthole in their house, singing Faith Of Our Fathers, refusing to be set on fire by Protestants, withstanding centuries of pressure to switch to the other side -an entirely belligerent, English solider of the One True Faith. Anglicans, however, who describe themselves as "Anglo Catholic" are just fucking stupid. Having incense in your church does not make you a Catholic any more than it makes you a hippy. Are you frightened there is blood in your host? No? Then Fuck off, Proddy and stick your incense up your hole. And now, as a result of Anglican "Anglo Catholicism", I had a group of first year boys to occupy, for thirty minutes a week of religious discussion. How utterly, fucking appalling.

So I thought quickly, smiled sweetly and accepted the role with good grace. I remembered that people could baptise their kids in an emergency, to make sure that the innocents did not end up in Limbo, in event of their death before receiving the Sacrament of Baptism from a priest. Why then, I reasoned, could I not baptise the children for whom I was religiously responsible myself, using the BVM shaped bottle of holy water my brother had brought me from Lourdes? I had to be subtle about it, so I would just rest a wet finger on their heads and then silently to myself, I would say "I baptise you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" and during the course of our meetings, I would ask a leading question like :"would you say you agree with the devil, or would you be more inclined to renounce him and all of his works?" and you know what boys are like, they will agree with pretty much anything a woman says in order to get her to shut the yapper. By the end of my post as a House Sacristan, I had baptised forty thirteen- year- old boys. I'll see them in heaven.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


An Unusual Offer

This old woman I met, was trying to get me to ride her son. That sounds bizarre, but it is not the first time it has happened to me - in fact most women in their thirties who do not wear a wedding ring, will have been approached by matchmaking mothers, a reasonable number of times. The mothers are usually panicking that their single sons are fruits, and figure that thirty -something women with no wedding rings on, will shag and marry just about anything in sight. So they get in there, these old ladies, and offer the ride, on behalf of their male children. I have two sons and will be doing exactly the same in twenty years time if they haven't got their lazy arses married - sidling up to the most flexible women in the yoga class, and going on about my boys, and how they have the largest mickeys in the world, or something. It is quite normal for women to lose the dignity in old age, when they are on a crusade for grandchildren.

The man I was being offered, may well have had the largest mickey in the world, however that was not the point on which his mother was trying to sell him. After explaining to me that he was astonishingly tall and handsome, she delivered the winning line: "He is an anaesthetist, you see". I really did not know what to make of that. I suppose the benefit in having an anaesthetist as a life partner would be that you could sleep through the dull parts of the marriage, which for me would include the wedding, as I hate weddings, and probably require me to remain under for many years and come around at his funeral, and although that would make the most of his professional skill, I think it would be a terrible waste of my life. As a couple, one half of whom was an anaesthetist, there could be some fun, I suppose- like, he could surprise me with an epidural before we made a trip to the supermarket, and it would be a great laugh to try and walk about and get the shopping, with the bottom half of my body all numb and wobbly, or he could lovingly give me a pudendal block, and then we could have sex and see how weird that was, but, no matter what anaesthetic tricks he had up his sleeve, I am sure the novelty would wear off fairly quickly.

Anyway - I did not want to be rude to the woman, as her motives were well-intentioned, so I asked "Oh really? Which hospital is he at then?". "Oh he is not at a hospital" said my suitor-to-be's mother. "No, he is a freelance anaesthetist". Sweet Jesus! What is the world coming to. People wandering about the streets, freelancing their trade: "Would you like a bit of a nap now?". "Count down from ten to one, that's the way", or touting themselves on the internet, selling numbness. So I spat a lot when I talked to her, and tried to make one eye look in a slightly different direction to the other, there is nothing like a cod eye to put off a prospective mother in law, and soon she was hovvering around another woman, talking about the famous people her son has put to sleep, the mental old hag.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Suffer the little children

My sister Maud takes her enormous child to a baby music class, where he can caterwaul and wallop drums and generally enjoy an atmosphere of singing and jollity. Unfortunately the fun is undermined by a bossy whore, who insists on trying to teach a bunch of infants less than a year old baby sign language.

I have nothing against adult sign language - why would I? It helps deaf people to communicate and because it is silent - there really isn't much to complain about. OK - if I were being really fussy, I have to say I am not a massive fan of the mouthing of words silently that goes along with some sign languages - and to be honest if I were deaf myself, I would give that a miss, as most people can have a stab at lip reading, but very few people can work out what is being said with the hands. No , sign language is cool, precisely because you can sit on the bus and talk to your mate about the gargantuan size of the woman's arse in front of you, without her or anyone else knowing how uncharitable you actually are.

Non-deaf children, and babies who are only months old, well the last thing they need is to be learning a language with their hands, it is enough just to concentrate on the business of growing larger and not getting meningitis. Having a secret language to talk about arse size is not a priority for the pre schooler, this age range should focus on learning to babble simple words, at their own pace. I've heard a range of mewling harpies on the subject of baby sign language, explaining how it "helps the child to be able to communicate better". Bollocks it does. Screaming until your face goes puce is an extremely effective way of making sure you get fed, or indeed anything else you fancy. Signing "titty" to your mother through the bars of your cot while she snores away in bed won't get you anywhere.

Seamus, my nephew, won't have anything to do with the sign language - he carries on warbling away and banging stuff with his great big hands along to the music, while this one, the sign language fan, is busy rubbing at her face and contorting her fingers into shapes. There might be something to be said for it, if the woman were actually teaching the children to sign useful words - but she is not. Last week she taught them the sign for "Bus Conductor" - fucking bus conductor! Bus conductors are like dial phones, they do not exist any more and even if they did, at seven months old Seamus is unlikely ever to need to buy a bus ticket from one

I understand that for some women with a high opinion of their intellectual worth, the mindless slog of child rearing is not enough for them. But this isn't reason enough to take it out on the poor little kids. No, pushy mothers - eliminate your excess intellectual energy in a different way! - go online and join a Wittgenstein discussion forum, or take an evening class in Cornish or Esperanto, or volunteer at your council teaching local offenders doing community service, to sign the words gramophone, Penny Farthing and toasting fork.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


How Very Fucking Unimaginative

Before I start, I would like to get a couple of things straight. I have not been "thinking about the universe" and I still hate things in space and space generally. I am, however, concerned about the Earth.

Why does it have such a gay name compared to the other planets? See, I would get it if it had been named at the beginning of human life, when we were great grunting oaves, trailing our fingers along the dusty tectonic plates, lumbering, hairy beasts, with no ability for imagination, only a basic limbic system in the brain, capable only of fighting and running away from stuff. Under those circumstances, calling the extraordinarily resourceful home that we live in "Earth", would seem about right. But it was not until the Sixteenth Century, when people were busy painting and parading around in peculiar breeches, that the existence of the planet was recognised. I mentioned this to a man I was talking to in the jacuzzi at the gym and he said "Actually I think it should be called rock not earth, because it is actually made of rock". Well, hmm, yes Gary perhaps. But if that is the case, why is Jupiter not called "Gas"? Earth at least implies a level of fertility which is yet to be proved on the three other rock based planets in our solar system, and what the fuck are we supposed to call them? It would all start to sound like a series of boxing films and that would be even shiter than what we have now. I like the Gods and Goddess names for the other planets and thank god that whore JK Rowling wasn't around when they named them, or she would have had a hand in it: "Smallius Planetus" "Greatus Biggus Reddus" - the fucking meddling witch.

Don't you fuckers bother giving me: "Actually its name is Terra" because Terra is just latin for earth. It still means mud. And you hippies - fuck away off with "Gaia" and that "Mother Goddess" shit. No one calls the earth Gaia, no one apart from cunts. So I think we should have a competition to rename the earth after someone powerful and magnificent - suggestions in the comments please. Don't say Ball Bag.


Monday, August 04, 2008


Your Self Confidence Is Touching, But In This Context, A Little Odd

"Yeah". "Oh Yeaaaahh". "Mmm Hmm, Oh Yeah", sang the Backstreet Boys in their hit single "Show Me The Shape Of Your Heart". Well, that does not make me want to show the shape of anything other than one or two of my out-turned fingers, I'm afraid, and it is all down to the over confidence.

See, I get that if one is lost for words in a conversation, it is possible to buy time with a "Yeah" here or an "Mmm Hmm" there - I am not cruel. I think of a strategically placed "yeah" like a glorified "erm". Or sometimes, to give the air of poise, one might start a sentence with "yeah" as if confirming a thought, before actually coming out with it and telling the people around who do not dwell inside your head, what the fuck it is you actually want to say. A useful tool for the inarticulate, perfectly acceptable. Oh the shape of my heart is heart shaped in these circumstances, I can tell you. Where the shape of my heart starts to take on a few corners is when, in the course of a highly produced and no doubt costly song, the singers start dithering over the lyrics, giving it a "yeah, yeah" as if they are trying to gather the thoughts in the middle of singing - it is just fucking disrespectful- not only to the song writers, but also to the managers, and the people in the studio who are desperate to get the recording all wrapped up so they can go home and drink protein shakes, and to me, the audience, who starts to feel a bit miffed that the lazy fucking popstar hasn't got his thoughts into a logical sequence, before opening his gob and starting to sing in a halting way.

That said, I would actually like to see the shape of a Backstreet Boys heart, as yesterday on the MSN homepage there was a sequence of photographs showing the difference between diseased and healthy internal organs, so now, if I were shown the shape of a heart I would be able to make an educated guess as to the presence of arterial plaque, previous cardiac arrest or poor aortic funtion.

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