Archive for May, 2009


Is this why I went to college? No, it is not!

I’ve been working today, cooking chips and flipping burgers. I’m doing it as a favour for someone over the bank holiday weekend. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. It’s undeniably true that I could really do with the money. I know it’s wrong to be so picky about jobs in this age, but I can’t help but feel I should be doing more. Even the part-time job I had in college was better than this.

Anyway, in light of this recession, I’ve decided my dog should choose how I vote in the elections next week. I’ve come to believe Frank is an excellent judge of character. When strangers come to the door, he usually offers them one of two receptions: low short growls just to remind them they’re being watched, or all-out barking as if to say, “turn around and fuck off back where you came from.” On the other hand, when my brother brought his girlfriend over for the first time, he was happy to lie quietly at her feet, panting contently and letting her pat his forehead (the dog, that is, not the brother). Clearly a good sign. As for the politicians, so far, every one of them who has come to the door has gotten the “fuck off” treatment.

I don’t bother to engage with them. I ignore completely the local, national and European bullshit they’re peddling. I don’t even bother to complain that I’ve spent almost a decade in college to flip burgers. I just see how controllable Frank is around them. The ones who don’t get him agitated are the ones who’ll get my vote. So far I’ve been left wanting.


Typo Wednesday

And I thought the €1.28 million to be paid by religious congregations to industrial schools victims – as reported, twice, in today’s Irish Examiner – was minuscule. Check out this nugget from the Dungarvan Leader.

Dungarvan Town Council is to start a number of housing projects in 2009/2010 thanks to a new Housing Capital allocation of €2m combining with a temporary overdraft of €5 taken out next here.

I know getting much credit from banks is difficult these days, but Jasus, a fiver?


Maybe it’s just a phase

Most people are pretty impressed when a cat and a dog get on well with each other, but I’m begining to suspect these two are a little too close.


Green shoots are not jobs

It has always amused me how certain words and phrases can become part of a general vocabulary, simply because they’re part of some event that’s a major news story at the time. For instance, I lived in Galway when the water supply was contaminated with Cryptosporidium. Do you think anybody in the city, apart from the scientific types, had even heard the word “Cryptosporidium” before this? Yet suddenly we were all experts on it. It even earned its own nickname: Crypto. It sounds like a type of chocolate bar.

At the moment it’s the recession. It seems to me that it permeates every conversation uttered by any person in the land. Even discussions the rugby last night placed the match within the context of a recession. Apparently the win is just the boost to the national spirits we need. This is, of course, bullshit. If there is anything to cheer up people losing their homes and life-savings it’s not a bunch of Blackrock cityboys winning a rugby match.

Prior to this recession, few even considered such a concept. I’m not convinced the majority of people even knew what the word meant. Back then, it was carbon footprints and such that bothered us all. Now the subject gets barely a mention, which leads me to conclude that global warming was fixed and this event has somehow slipped me by.

The next phrase to land of everyone’s lips seems to be “green shoots”. We’re all on the lookout for these green shoots. A somewhat sustained rise in house-sales in Britain: green shoots. American banks paying back some of the bailout money: green shoots. A couple of green shoots appearing in Dad’s vegetable patch: green shoots (ok, those are actual green shoots. It’s gardening season in the Foley household).

I had to laugh during the week when Cowen had the nerve to mention the green shoots in a wildly optimistic speech to the party-fold in Slane. There’s a detailed critique of the speech here. The problem with green shoots of course is that they’re not likely to survive an administration preoccupied with tax-increases and spending cuts. In year’s time when we’re still in the same hole, this speech will be another marker of a government that doesn’t know what it’s doing. But then, this was not a speech for next year’s benefit. It was a desperate attempt to generate some good news to dilute the humiliation FF is going to face next month.

By the way, what happened with Swine Flu? Is that over now?


It’s burnt on the outside but frozen on the inside so it evens out

It’s fair say that I’m a reasonably talented cook. I won’t be giving Delia Smith anything to worry about any time soon, but I have my moments. I make a delicious stew, and a Bolognese that’s head-and-shoulders above the average studenty understanding of a Bolognese. I have a rudimentary understanding of what herbs do what, and my speciality – Thai green curry – has occasionally been said to be the best outside Thailand.

I say this not to boast, but to provide a backdrop for what happened yesterday, when an attempt to cook the simplest of meals resulted in a display of a near amoebic level of intelligence. I was asked to prepare some frozen southern-fried chicken breasts and oven chips. It was also suggested I do the sausages that were – I was told – in the fridge. These I elected to grill, which is pretty much where my mishaps began.

After placing chicken and chips in the oven, I turned on the grill to begin preparing the sausages. However, after searching the fridge I came to realise the presence of sausages was a misnomer. “Dammit,” I thought realising we had to make do with chicken and chips. So I picked up a newspaper to read while waiting for them to finish.

Some moments later, my brother entered the kitchen and rather nonchalantly said, “grill’s on fire.” It seems that when I realised there were no sausages, I closed the door of the grill but forgot to turn it off, resulting in a small fire. I fear I’ve traumatised our poor dog while tearing out the back door with a flaming grill-pan.

This was the highlight of the event, but by no means the only incident of note. I put the fire behind me and checked the chicken and chips some moments later, only to find they were stone cold. It transpired that I had turned the dial that switches on the oven, but failed to turn the one that sets the temperature. We were going to have to wait another half hour for something to eat.

Cursing once again, I set the temperature and returned to the newspaper. A few minutes later I became aware that the kitchen was filling with smoke. The fire alarm went off as I was trying to figure out what was happening. It seems that even turning the first dial was beyond me. Instead of turning it to oven, I had instead switched on the secondary grill that lies inside the oven.

Thankfully, despite the adage about smoke, there was no fire this time. The food, however, was nicely blackened. We eventually got to eat it. It was fine, but not worth the stress caused by making it. The ironic thing is that if I was asked to make something even slightly complicated, none of this would have happened.

The good news is that I haven’t been asked to make dinner today.


Vote for me, I’m not Fahey

I got a tremendous shock upon a trip to Galway on the weekend. As I stared out the rain-soaked bus window I noticed a campaign poster that seemed to be for Frank Fahey. “What the hey!” I though. “He’s a TD. Why is he campaigning now?” This shock was made much worse when I saw the same poster a few yards later and noticed it had the Fina Gael logo on it. I’ve had a few dealings with Fahey in the past, and I’m sure anyone who knows him will agree he’s possibly the purest example of a Fianna Fáil true believer. Even when he lost his job as Junior Minister in the Justice Department, he could be found repeating the party lines and pontificating on the brilliance of Bertie.

As it turns out, the Frank in question was not the Frank. Rather, he’s Frank Fahy, a true-blue Fine Gael man who’s running in the Galway local elections. He just happens to have a similar name and comes from the same area as the FF scourge of Irish fishermen. Of course the physical similarities between the two men are marginal, and I can only explain my confusion as the product of impaired vision caused by the shitty weather over the weekend.

The incident got me wondering about the condition of our current government. Are they that unpopular that it’s at least plausible that the likes of Fahey might have jumped ship? It could hardly be surprising. I mean, as well as refusing to admit that their laissez-faire policies and over-reliance on doomed markets have exacerbated this recession, we lately have Conor Lenihan et al suggesting that the dramatic drop in support for the government is a result of the tough decisions they’re having to face. They’re effectively saying their unpopularity is our problem because we can’t stomach their bravery. In my opinion, it’s this siege mentality that’s infuriating people, and the reason they’re likely going to be slaughtered in the upcoming elections.

Frank Fahy (the FG one) clearly recognises this. Check out this piece from the Galway Advertiser, basically declaring: “I’m not Fahey. Don’t fuck me over by confusing me with FF.” These elections are going to be so disastrous for Fianna Fáil that there’s a fear they’ll also be bad for people who vaguely resemble Fianna Fáillers


Online services for the jobless

It has occured to me in the past that I should be doing more here to provide a service for other unemployed people. As this is such a problem these days a blog like this would be most useful if it served as a kind of hub for people looking for work. Well, I think this can be considered a start.

I received an e-mail during the week from a crowd who published this article online. In their words, it’s 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources to Help You Survive Without a Job. They argued that readers of this blog might find it interesting and I agree. Most of the services and information comes from an American perspective, but much of its appeal is universal and and of value to people on this side of the pond. I think I’ll link it in my blogroll later. In the meantime, enjoy it here.

I’ve been too lazy to examine every link listed (though they have listed me so they can’t be that bad). If anybody finds anything illegitimate let me know, though it all seems above board to me.


“It’s all ahead of you, like a wheelbarrow”

Last night I was engulfed by a sense of melancholy. I was watching High Fidelity (again) on BBC 1, and though I very much enjoyed it (it’s one of my favourite films, based on what is undoubtedly my favourite Nick Hornby novel) I couldn’t help but feel a longing for a certain ex-girlfriend. It wasn’t simply because it deals with the breaking up of a relationship (though that was surely a factor); it’s more that this is the kind of film we really would have enjoyed watching together. Also, much like the film’s hero, we used to enjoy making little mix-tapes for each other. Music was one of our things. In fact, I’m still proud of my last Valentine’s Day gift to her, a collection of the least corny and cheaply sentimental love songs I could think of (Yo La Tengo’s ‘Our way to fall’, Sultans of Ping’s ‘Let’s go shopping’, that kind of thing). Now I don’t want to give the impression I’m still in love with her and want her back. It’s not that I still miss her, but occasionally I do and last night was one of those times.

I’m normally not one for whiney navel-gazing (disagree if you want to), but I think on this occasion I can be forgiven. You see, today’s my birthday. More than that, today I turn 30. I no longer have any rightful claim to the adjective “young”. For fuck sake, I’m practically middle-aged.

Of course this is something everyone faces, if they’re lucky enough to live that long. I shouldn’t think that I’m anything special. I do, however, feel entitled to a level of introspection today. I’m 30 years old. I had always assumed that whatever path my life would take, it would have at least started by now. Yet here I am, directionless and penniless. I do have a good I idea of what I want from life, but no clue on how to achieve it. It’s not just the joblessness. It’s everything. I’m single and living with my parents. I have friends, but nobody I can say is a real friend, if you know what I mean. Family aside, the closest living things to me are a disobedient dog and a neurotic cat.

I’m also bothered by the sense that I wasted my 20s. Ok, I got an education, and I did travel a bit, but nowhere near as much as I would have liked. I really feel I should have partied more and learned to enjoy myself. I certainly should have had more sex.

Anyway, never mind my neurosis. If you’ve reached 30 you’re probably laughing at my pathetic ramblings. And if you haven’t, as one well wisher recently told me, it’s all ahead of you. Like a wheelbarrow.

This aside, if you’ve been wondering why I haven’t updated in while, it’s due to an ironic combination of being busy with other commitments and too lazy to post. Sorry about this.