Monthly Archives: December 2011

Don’t you go getting any ideas now, d’ye hear?

I never sampled this one. Should I? Can anyone speak from experience on this brew? Or do you have... wait for for it... wait for it... no eye deer.

“Don’t you go getting any ideas now, d’ye hear?” Who said that to me? Teachers, girlfriends, police officers…. Er… my mind has suddenly gone conveniently blank.

But I can’t help it. Something will occur and I’ll seem to drift off for a moment. Here’s what happened earlier:

Scene – at the bar. A neighbour (by which I mean a fellow villager, not the fellas on either side of my house) leaves his lively table and arrives beside me at the bar to pay his tab. He looks at the printed out bill.

Neighbour: (Quietly) “How much is that? I can’t read it.”

Barman: “£34.35.”

Neighbour: (loudly) “Is it? Right…” (digs out his cash card)

Another drinker from my neighbour’s table: (shouting) “How much is it?”

Neighbour: “£200. And I only came in for a half.”

Laughter from the table. The barman puts the PIN machine on the bar top and my neighbour slots in his card. And then pauses.

Neighbour: (to barman) “I can’t see the numbers. You’ll have to put them in.”

Bar landlord: “Don’t worry, he knows the PIN numbers of half the people in the village.” Continue reading

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The unkindest cut at Christmas

Christmas can be a stressful time (courtesy of Carl D'Agostino - click on the pic)

Dear readers. This Christmas please give some thought to those poor misfortunates who will not be having a Happy Christmas this year.

(No I’m not talking about over worked mothers or abandoned dogs, just pay attention willya?)

Wrenched from their homes… Cut off from their roots… Forced to stand alone during the seasonal festivities – often in a corner.

They may find themselves taunted as people surround them with gifts – only to remove them all for distribution to others.

"Feed me elves. I poop presents." A sad case of a tree pushed beyond endurance.

They may find themselves bumped and barged – even trussed up with electric wire and deprived of rest by a 24/7 ordeal of flashing lights.

No point in looking to those around them for help – they’ll probably be surrounded by grinning pointing mobs, delighting in the “show”.

When that torture ends, more indignity, abandonment or confinement begins. They may find themselves dumped in skips, stuffed into attics or even…

Sorry, it’s shocking, but it has to be said… Or even dismembered and burned.

Ah, look at the poor wee thing... He's pining for his pine.

This year, dear reader, please remember – A Tree Is Not Just For Christmas, It’s For… oh for goodness sake.

Let’s just get an artificial one. Less mess and you don’t have to worry about their “forest friends” pressing their beaks and noses against the window looking in with sad faces.

But Continue reading

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Trust me I’m a doctor…

Trust me, I’m a doctor… or a nurse or an anaesthetist or a radiologist or just a bloke painting the corridor wearing a white coat. Easy mistake to make. Happened to a mate of mine. The people who collared him were overwhelmingly grateful that he’d saved their son’s life. He hadn’t the heart to tell them he was only there to give the walls another layer of ghastly green.

But hospitals and their long-suffering, truly dedicated, kind hearted, plastic glove stretching, tonsil tickling, into ear peering, chest listening, just bend overing, won’t hurt a bittering, ooh that looks nastying, trust me I’m a doctoring and please… just relax, lovely lovely staff – are on my mind for two reasons.

I know that a sainted reader of this very blog will be working in one over Christmas. And also – the Loose Bloggers Consortium threatened to shove me off my trolley if I didn’t write something about hospitals. (Ha! Too late – I’ve been off my trolley for years now.)

So in honour of those caring souls sharing their Hypocratic benevolence on hospital wards at this time of year, here’s a guide to the abbreviations they use. (Just so the rest of us can be quicker on the uptake and not force them to waste time explaining themselves.) Those of a sensitive disposition may scroll straight to the bottom for the less offensive video.

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Thank you Culture Northern Ireland

Thank you Culture Northern Ireland for giving me a £100 Amazon voucher (for winning a writing competition completing a survey). And thank you Gerry Anderson and politician Gregory Campbell for helping me spend it. Well, to be more precise – they had a row. But Continue reading

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My great disappearing act

That's me dying the first time - on stage.

My great disappearing act took place at the height of my professional theatrical fame. For the princely sum of £5 and a bottle of Fanta (a night? or was the £5 for a week?) I trod the same boards the feet of Liam Neeson, Ciarán Hinds and Adrian Dunbar had before me. I played the eldest of Macduff’s sons in Shakespeare’s Scottish play at the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.

My main role was to die defending my Mum against the king’s hired killers – a bit of dramatic struggling and swooning after being stabbed. But it wasn’t all action. Oh no – I had lines too. A couple of Yeses and then that immortal exclamation.

Thou liest, thou shag-hair’d villain!

That’s what everyone remembers from that play, isn’t it? Never mind all that hubble bubble toil and trouble or being steeped so far in blood. Oh yes.

On the final night of the run, the usual murder happened. (Obviously I could have beaten the killers if I’d wanted, but I had to let them get away with it for the sake of the play. Just wanted to make that clear.)  The murderers fled, leaving the bodies of me and my mother and brother strewn across the stage. Then the lights went down completely, leaving the stage in complete darkness to allow us to drag our carcasses off stage.

As usual, I quickly nipped through the side drapes, but Continue reading

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Culture

The Loose Bloggers Consortium said: Write about culture. The Fountains Abbey pub opposite St Mary’s Hospital immediately came to mind. A plaque on the wall claims that the bacterium that led to Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin could have wafted out the pub window along with beer fumes, across the road and into the window of his office – leading to the contamination of the culture in his petri dish. The rest is medical history. (And good news for some of my World War Two relatives.)

But I saw a different memorial more recently. While I was joining the great and arty to commemorate Ted Hughes the other day, a stone in memory of people who served in Malaya caught my eye.

The inscription read:

To commemorate the work of all those men and women of the British race who served Malaya 1786-1968

They shall come from the east and from the west and shall sit down in the kingdom of God

The pic I took was too rubbish to show you. There are better ones here, along with one of the Queen Mother unveiling it.

But the inscription raised questions for me. The British race? What is it? Continue reading

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Ted Hughes at Poets Corner in Westminster Abbey

Last night I joined the ceremony dedicating the memorial to Ted Hughes at Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. (See photo at the bottom.) It felt historic – and thanks to Seamus Heaney and Juliet Stevenson, also moving Continue reading

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