Life's a bastard...but sometimes it lets up

The life and times of an ordinary Dublin girl. Follow her journey as she finds out working from home really ISN'T about watching Oprah all day and that perhaps men aren't really all bastards.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Justice my bum!

WHEN I started this blog, I had intended to keep it lighthearted enough, with possibly a bit of news/current affairs thrown in just to make myself seem brainier than I actually am. However, I read an article in the newspaper yesterday that made my blood boil and I had to share it.

It concerned a court case where a guy who beat a tourist so badly that he's now in a permanent vegitative state, was sentenced to seven years in prison. Seven years. For beating a man into a coma. Not only that, but he was also involved in several other crimes so he got three years for this, two years for that and two years for the other...all adding up to seven years but to run concurrently so in actual fact he'll probably be out of prison in two to three years.

Is that what this country has come to? You can beat someone so severely that they become permanently physically and mentally disabled, unable to move, walk, speak or do anything for themselves and you get two years? If I were in charge (and hopefully one day I will be) crimes like this would be punished by 20 years hard labour, at the very least. The victim of this crime has been sentenced to probably more than 20 years of a nightmare so why not the same for the culprit? Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating going back to the bad old days where prisoners had no rights and were beaten and starved, etc. But I do firmly believe that crimes like this should be severely punished and that those involved should only get the very basic human rights of food, shelter and safety. Apart from that I'd have them working 12 hours a day building community centres. Or landscaping gardens for the elderly. Or a multitude of other hard physical work that might go some way towards repenting for their crimes.

And I'd keep them in prison for a long long time. In this particular case the culprit was only 19, so will probably be out of prison in time to celebrate his 21st birthday, very probably without having learnt any lesson at all.

In cases like this, people often blame the Judge for not passing a harsh enough sentence, but I believe a total overhaul of the justice system is required so that awful violent crime is dealt with severely. Perhaps the Judge in this case had no choice but to impose this sentence and if he had been harsher maybe there might have been an appeal and the criminal might have got off scot free, who knows? All I know is that many of our laws and prison sentences are antiquated and need to be changed and changed now.

I have to admit to being sickened by the crime itself as well. Where did all this violence come from? How could someone be filled with so much hate that they would beat someone into a coma? Is this what Ireland has come to? Maybe I'm wearing rose-tinted glasses but I always felt relatively safe here, thinking that violence on that scale was limited to places where law and order has broken down. But the scary thing is that incidents like this are not a rarity anymore in Ireland, which leads me to believe that not only has law and order broken down but that the moral fibre of Irish society has also been torn. People don't seem to bat an eyelid anymore when they hear of crimes like this as even murder has become a regular occurence here. I think we've become too desensitized to crime and very little shocks us anymore, which is wrong.

Ok, that's it, I'll get off my high horse now!

Friday, October 14, 2005

The trouble with men...

THE trouble with men is that they're not women. Now before you think I've come out of the closet and am about to come over all lezzer on you, let me explain. I've recently come to realise that men are TOTALLY different to women. Something I'm sure most of you know and you're all currently staring at the screen going wha'? What's she on about? But hear me out.

When a woman texts or calls a man "just to say hi" what she really wants is for the guy to text back with "I miss you too" or "thinking about you too". What she doesn't want to hear is "I'm in a meeting, I saw you yesterday, eff off." And when a man texts a woman with "how're you?" what he wants to hear is "I'm already naked, get your ass home" not "my mother is here, get your ass home". You see the difference?

I've been dating men since I went to college at 17 and it's taken me nearly ten years to realise that men and women are different. Do you remember the episode of Sex and the City where a male friend of Miranda's tells her that the guy who promised to call and then didn't, wasn't in fact eaten by a herd of elephants but was "just not that into you"? Well that's what this is for me. I'm FINALLY getting it! Women and men are total opposites.

To illustrate, men never seem to see the need to make plans in advance. Going out for them means having a shower and sticking on some Lynx, all of which can be done in a matter of minutes. What they don't seem to understand is that it's not the same for women. For example, here's a typical conversation between me and a Potential Suitor or PS for short.

Me: So that was a fun date, how about going out at the weekend?
PS: Sure, I'd like that, I'll call you to arrange it.

Cue several agonising days waiting by the phone for said call which doesn't materialise until Saturday at about 6pm.

PS: So I'm calling like I said I would [all delighted with himself] Fancy a night on the tiles tonight? Meet you down the local in an hour.
Me(through gritted teeth): It's Saturday night at 6pm, did you just expect me to be sitting here with nothing better to do?
PS: *In a bewildered tone of voice* But I thought we agreed to go out this weekend?
Me: Yes but you never rang to arrange it IN ADVANCE [me shouting this last bit]

Do you see what I'm getting at?

And before you think I'm just a twisted bitter cynical oul hack (which I am) it's not just me. Most of my friends complain about the exact same thing and in fact I know one girl who is on contant Date Stand-by, complete with full make up, short skirt and perfectly coiffed hair just in case her fella calls her at the last minute wanting to go out. When asked why she goes to all this bother she claims it's easier to have herself permanently ready rather than to row with the guy over his total lack of arranging-dates-in-advance skills. Cos he doesn't get it and she said if she has to look at his sick-calf expression one more time as he tries to explain himself she's going to shoot him. But I digress.

It's almost like a revelation to me. Men and women are different. Men and women see things in totally different lights. It'd be SO much easier if both sexes thought the same...but they don't. I can almost hear the bells going off as the Gods of Dating cry "she's finally got it!"

So when I get a text from an ex at 4am asking me to take him back I NOW know that he doesn't actually mean it! When a man takes me on a date and looks into my eyes and tells me he thinks our children would be beautiful I NOW know he doesn't actually mean it! When a man takes my number in a pub and swears blind that he'll call within 24 hours, I NOW know that he doesn't mean it! Because this is just what men DO! They're not mean or nasty or malicious...they're just men!

And I know that there are probably men reading this who are just raging with me now, furious at the injustice of it all, because they've been walked all over by a right cow and ALWAYS make plans in advance so I'll make a concession. Yes, there are some bitches out there. But I'm not trying to say men: bad, women: good I'm just trying to point out the differences between the two and how they react to each other.

So much like Miranda (but without the fabulous Manhattan lifestyle) I've come to terms with this revelation and I think it might actually help me in my quest to find the perfect man. Men and women are different - brilliant!

(Oh and if I DO find the perfect man I'll secretly steal some of his DNA so he can be cloned and given out to all the single ladies out there. My gift to the Sisterhood!)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Overheard in the Social Welfare Office....

I OVERHEARD the following exchange in a Social Welfare office in Dublin and just had to share it. It never ceases to amaze me how brass necked some people can be!

Drunk man to official: Where's me cheque, I need me cheque, I've a family to feed you know.
Official: You were supposed to pick up your cheque on Friday, it's now Monday, the officer you were dealing with won't be here til tomorrow.
Drunk man: Yeah, yeah, I know I was supposed to be here on Friday, but I got arrested, righ'?!

Followed by the purest silence I've ever heard outside of the top of the Alps! There's just no response to that is there?

Mammy Dunne: the trials and tribulations of...

ASK anyone in the world if they'd like to work from home and the resounding answer would be "too right, I'd love to work in my nightdress and watch Oprah all day". And up until a week ago, that would have been my reaction too.

Who wouldn't want to get up late, stay in their nightclothes with unkempt hair, blissfully make-up free, with daytime television on in the background and get paid for it too? (Well apart from those annoying people who claim to love their jobs, big lick arses).

Anyway, let me burst your bubble's not like that at all! Having recently gone from full- time office based employment to freelance work from home, I'm now starting to realise that maybe this home/work thing ain't all it's cracked up to be. Not least for the fact that I'm now in contact with my mother all day every day. (For a variety of reasons, I've recently had to move home, it's a long story.)

Now don't get me wrong, Mammy Dunne is a lovely woman so she is. The salt of the earth. Kind to children and animals. A good cook. The Great Worker of the Washing Machine and Iron. But she also knows best and knows everything. "Would you not get dressed like a good girl in case someone important comes to visit?" sez she on my first morning gleefully 'working' in my pjs at the kitchen table. ("Someone important Mam? Like who? The Pope?" sez I. "Don't be smart, I meant the gas man" she said huffily, sweeping the remains of my breakfast away in one easy motion even though I wasn't finished. That taught me.)

So off I sloped to get dressed, muttering under my breath and slamming every available door - and trust me when you live in a tiny council house, there aren't that many doors to slam - reverting to my teenage years. I was very close to screaming 'you're not my real Mum' a la Kevin and Perry but I caught myself just in time. "You're typing awful fast, you'll give yourself the arthritis" was another gem she came out with while noisily throwing together a Shepherds Pie later on that day "and you'll have hands like an old woman's" she added cheerfully, just to totally make my day. As we speak I'm constructing an office in the corner of my bedroom, simply to prevent myself from stabbing her over and over while howling "I like not brushing my hair, I don't work in an office anymooooooorrrreee".

Another thing I miss now that I'm at home is office gossip. There's not much to be had here it has to be said. Mammy Dunne's idea of gossip is to tell me that Mrs O'Brien in number 46 put out a very full rubbish bin for the bin man, "so she must have had a party or something, or maybe cleaned out her cupboards". Quite. And as for Daddy Dunne, if the gossip doesn't involve members of the current Government or a sports personality, then he's not interested. Oh he's quite happy to talk about "that shower above in Dail Eireann" but who snogged who in the pub is beyond him. "Wha'? Snogging? What's tha'? That wasn't invented in my day. Now shag off, I'm reading The Star." And that's on a good day!

My days of hanging around the photocopier chatting or sneakily e-mailing colleagues with all the latest news are over and now that all of that distraction is out of the way, I'm finding I actually have to do some work. It's amazing how much you can get done when you're not playing Virtual Car Parking (try it, it's hilarious) for five out of the eight hours of the day.

Lunchtime isn't the same as it used to be either. I used to have a choice about what I ate, where I went, who I went with etc. But not now. Oh no, now a hang-and-cheese-sangwich on white bread it plonked in front of me with amazing timing at exactly 1pm every day and that's that. "I suppose you'll be wanting fancy bread and sun-dried this and hummus that and parma ham the other?" enquired my mother when I moved home. Delighted I replied "Er, yes, that'd be lovely" only to be nearly knocked over by her shouts of "Well you're not getting it. It's good plain ham and cheese or starve" followed by a gimlet eyed stare at my hips which suggested she thought I should take the latter option. (Actually I could do with losing a few pounds....ok ok, a few stone!) And before you ask, I've offered to buy and cook my own food but Mammy Dunne wasn't having any of it, backed up by Daddy Dunne who sensed a row and as usual dived for cover by siding with Mam. "Sure why would you want to be wasting your money, don't we have a freezer full of food" they implored like the good Catholic parents that they are.

So I'm full to the brim with "good plain" food. Steak and kidney pie anyone? How about a nice fry up? Chicken breast up for grabs? Overcooked beef and watery vegetables? I'd taken to mooning around the 'fancy' aisle in Tesco, salivating over the plump olives and tender salmon, gooey cheeses and range of Italian oils, trying to remember what they taste like. Until they asked me to leave. I was upsetting the other customers apparently with my moaning and wailing. (They had to pry a bag of vine tomatoes out of my hand when I left, it wasn't pretty.)

And don't get me started on trying to get anyone out for a drink after work. Oh no, that doesn't happen anymore either now that I'm working from home. Drink is strictly reserved for the weekend and weddings, according to Mammy Dunne. "Sure Our Lord himself only drank at the Last Supper and the Wedding of Cana which I know for a fact were both on Fridays" she said piously, delighted with herself "and what's good enough for Our Lord is good enough for you" she finished putting an end to my musings that I could tap away on my lap-top while sipping on a chilled chardonnay.

So all in all, my first week of working from home hasn't been what I'd imagined, though I have to admit to taking a sneaky hour off on Tuesday to watch Oprah, which gave me a guilty little thrill. (It was about man-eating sharks, it was brilliant. You don't feel it when they bite your leg off apparently and you're grand afterwards.) However, who knows what the future will hold and once I get my working space sorted away from the clutches of Mammy Dunne and eircom deigns to activate my broadband line, things might get a little more bearable. I'll keep you posted! (The picture is the Blessed Virgin Mary..or Mammy Dunne as she likes to call herself! I haven't worked out how to do captions yet!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Bring back carrier pidgeons!

I'm writing this in red ink because of The Rage. Note the use of capital letters! Yes, dear readers, I am now officially boiling with rage. The reason? I've spent the last hour trying to set up this bloody blog and I still have't a bog's notion what I'm doing! Do you know how hard it is to upload a photo? Well do you?!

Ok, calm calm. I THINK I may have finally gotten the hang of things, but if you hear any large explosions in the Dublin area over the next while, that'll be me. Spontaeneously (sp?) combusting!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ignore Me! post

Jesus Mary and the Carpenter! Ignore the previous Me! post, it was put there by accident while I was trying to upload a picture of myself. Anyway, am going to try again, so this time it might work. It's hard work this blogging isn't it? And you know I bet no-one will ever read this. Sob! So go on, if you're out there, drop me a comment..please!

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