An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Thursday, July 31, 2008  

HI everyone

My crashed big time this morning when some US and UK tech blogs linked to me. We're working on getting it back up. In the meantime thanks for the emails and support. Apparently a row is taking place on sites as to whether or not strawberries and muffins are an appropriate motivating tool for employees.

Update: Cuil has made this announcement. 50 million queries...unbelievable.

posted by Sarah | 16:46 6 comments
Monday, November 07, 2005  

Blog move

This blog is moving! I have moved to a new site! ( Hope you all approve. The new site gives me a bit more functionality and it's kinda nice to have my own domain name. The entire blog has been moved so old posts will still be there, altho, the comments didn't migrate, and I haven't categorized all the posts yet. If you have my blog on your blogroll, I'd appreciate it if you'd change it to the new address. Any suggestions and comments welcome.

posted by Sarah | 17:40 4 comments
Friday, November 04, 2005  

Sarah's blog

I am planning some changes to the blog - all will be revealed soon. But one thing that came up was the name of the blog. Irish readers will be familiar with the meaning of the name GUBU (grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecendented, as per Haughey's famous statement when murderer Malcolm McArthur was found in the home of the Attorney General). But I am not sure if this appropriate any more since it's domestic matters that seem to keep cropping up now. Should I change the name? Feedback welcome.

posted by Sarah | 13:42 5 comments
Tuesday, November 01, 2005  

What's a modern girl to do

Maureen Dowd in the NYT elaborates on women in the movies. A long article, but here's a relevant bit. All about how men still want to marry down and women want to marry up.

"Moviemakers these days are more interested in exploring what Steve Martin, in his novel "Shopgirl," calls the "calm cushion" of romances between unequals. In James Brooks's movie "Spanglish," Adam Sandler, playing a sensitive Los Angeles chef, falls for his hot Mexican maid, just as in "Maid in Manhattan," Ralph Fiennes, playing a sensitive New York pol, falls for the hot Latino maid at his hotel, played by Jennifer Lopez. Sandler's maid, who cleans up for him without being able to speak English, is presented as the ideal woman, in looks and character. His wife, played by Téa Leoni, is repellent: a jangly, yakking, overachieving, overexercised, unfaithful, shallow she-monster who has just lost her job with a commercial design firm and fears she has lost her identity.

In 2003, we had "Girl With a Pearl Earring," in which Colin Firth's Vermeer erotically paints Scarlett Johansson's Dutch maid, and Richard Curtis's "Love Actually," about the attraction of unequals. The witty and sophisticated British prime minister, played by Hugh Grant, falls for the chubby girl who wheels the tea and scones into his office. A businessman married to the substantial Emma Thompson, the sister of the prime minister, falls for his sultry secretary. A novelist played by Colin Firth falls for his maid, who speaks only Portuguese.

Art is imitating life, turning women who seek equality into selfish narcissists and objects of rejection rather than of affection."

Scary stuff. Is this true? Are men pissed off with challenging wives?

posted by Sarah | 13:02 12 comments

Trick or Treat

Hallowe'en has passed and I am outraged. I hate to begin rants with "when we were young" BUT when we were young all the children on the road got together weeks beforehand and began our preparations. We collected stuff for the bonfire and sorted out our "puca". There should be a fada on that "u" and it's pronounced pooka for the non-Irish speaking reader.

We created a whole performance that was done in each house on the road (maybe about 6 at the time). We had a song, a poem, an Irish dance, we even played bloody recorders or tin whistles or something. Costumes were of course homemade. An aged aunt in Lonon would occasionally send Hallowe'en masks and these were a big deal. The family being visited would applaud our efforts. Then we collected our rewards and had our party with all the usual traditional games.

What do we get now? They arrive in dribs and drabs. I had one pair last night. I opened the door and here were two professional made up witches. Girls about 9 or 10. I did a big greeting and admired the costumes. They just stood there like morons with the mother hovering in the background. I gave them lots of encouragement. Asked them was I going to be tricked. Asked them who they were. They couldn't even say "Trick or Treat" or introduce themselves. Just stood there offering big shopping bags. I gave them a few lollipops and fun size smarties boxes. They may have felt short changed. I am not sure what the expected rewards are. But I felt short changed. Are all modern children that socially inept? The mother was nice and I had a chat with her. My lot will sing for their supper. I am determined.

posted by Sarah | 12:50 2 comments

Domestic update

First: a triumph. I want to formally acknowledge the brilliance of using washing soda as a stain remover. Previously I used it solely to clean out drains: pack into the bath or shower drain, pour on boiling water or for impressively explosive results, boiling vinegar, and hey presto, clean drains. BUT, recently started to use it for those nasty tomato type stains that NEVER come out. Just soak item in water with washing soda, and wash as normal. Perfect results. AND you don't have to use those incredibly expensive products like Vanish. Washing soda is about €1.50 per litre and Vanish about €15 p/l (for the Oxy action gel thingy). This even worked on linen napkins I assumed would be ruined after a coffee incident. They are like new.

Secondly, when we moved to the country, I thought, great! I'll have a washing line. I made a big deal of buying one of those whirly bird things and getting it positioned and anchored outside. I've used it a couple of times for sheets. Otherwise, it just seems like extra work: dragging the clothes outside, hanging, watching for rain, taking them in. I just use a big clothes horse in the utility room and if it is particularly sunny carry the whole horse outside for an hour. Generally I just leave the window open or leave the radiator on, and the clothes get 3/4 dry and then I put them in the tumble drier. So my washing line is effectively a decoration. And not a pretty one. So much for urban dreams.

Finally, the guy came to check on our septic tank and gave us a big speech on NEVER using Domestos. I knew these bleaches weren't great for the environment but fecked them down the toilets at regular intervals anyway. Now I am properly educated and know that the sewage disposal works through bacteria. If you kill bacteria, the septic tanks don't work. And bleaches kill bacteria. So does biological washing powder. So I've dumped all the bleach, but I can't part with the washing powder yet. And he says if we find a dead animal we should throw it into the septic tank. It'll make it work must more efficiently. Amazing.

posted by Sarah | 11:48 1 comments
Monday, October 31, 2005  


Out and about today and I came across the Dublin Marathon. I had time to watch the runners painfully drag their feet along in the rain. And I thought. Why? They were suffering. It was so utterly stupid. I just don't get it. Go home. Run a few miles a few days a week. But marathons are for the deranged.

posted by Sarah | 22:07 0 comments


John Waters has written the oddest column. As usual it starts out really well.

"Several of the editors and publishers of newspapers which carried the story have apologised to the Lawlor family for the pain and distress caused to them. But such pain and distress would have been even greater had the story been true. Doesn't journalism have a responsibility in this regard also? The NUJ code of conduct, the sole ethical framework available to journalists, says that only considerations involving the public interest can be invoked to justify intrusion into private grief and distress.

Since Liam Lawlor no longer held any public office, no such justification was possible for the publication of any details other than the stark facts."

An arguable case indeed. Then he laments the decline in standards in journalism in Ireland and that this is due to the rise of the freelance journalist who has a product which he needs to sell and commercial considerations are now a part of the editorial decision. Perhaps also arguable, maybe even true.

To support this case he quotes his own libel action against The Sunday Times some years ago. I think someone had printed an article which Waters successfully argued said he was a bad father. He says:

"And while it may seem facile to blame the Brits, there can be no doubt that much of the downward pressure on journalistic standards here has resulted from the climate of competition between indigenous papers and British imports. Media restraint is today achieved principally by the limits of public tolerance, and some media organisations are working hard to demolish this impediment.A few years ago I was the plaintiff in a defamation action against one of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, the Sunday Times" and he goes on to express his outrage about this case.

It seems most unfair that in order to support his point about the Lawlor/prostitute story, he mentions the Sunday Times. As I have previously mentioned the Sunday Times was the only paper NOT to publish the Lawlor/prostitute story because they thought the quotes from the police were highly speculative and not enough to base a story on, particularly a story in such bad taste. The LEAST he could have done was point out that the ST hadn't printed the story. Fiona McHugh was the only editor who actually made the right call. Very mean minded of him not to acknowledge this. I hope someone at the ST writes to the IT and points this out.

Finally, one does wonder why the INDO group papers were blaming their source for misleading them. He passed on the police quotes (which were full of "likely" and "possibly" and bla blal) and the editors went with it.

posted by Sarah | 19:31 0 comments
Sunday, October 30, 2005  

This week's ST - They’re only entrepreneurs, not gods

Every time a pin-striped politician spouts platitudes about our great fortune to live in a democracy, I feel like spitting. Who lives in a democracy? Perhaps we do for the few hours in the evening that we crash out in front of the telly. For the rest of the time we live in an autocracy. We exist at the mercy of a brutal dictatorship that is the management system in capitalist society.
Cary Tennis of recently wrote: “I do not see how a democracy can survive when its citizens spend all their days under authoritarian rule.” As the decline in voter participation continues, maybe hand-wringing academics and commentators should focus more on the fact that people are conditioned to obey and have no idea how to cope with choice.

We like to think our society is open, that we live a free life. This is an astonishing delusion; most people are not free at all. We rejoice as one authority figure after another is brought down by an increasingly independent populace. Then we simply replace one authority for another. The priests, the teachers, the doctors, the guards; one by one they collapsed. So we dusted off their pedestals and hoisted up The Entrepreneur.

Work is our religion and the tycoon is the new god: the all-knowing, all-powerful alchemist who can turn sandwiches or cable into gold.

True, there must be work. People must go to jobs and in those jobs someone has to take decisions. But somewhere along the line the cult of the entrepreneur rose and mesmerised us into believing that the Messiah was coming and, this time, he had a great business plan.

We all know completely overworked people. Tasks fall on their desks and they can’t say “no” because they are terrified of being labelled a bad employee. Their families struggle on, waiting for their loved one to come home.

Trade unions are increasingly restricted to the public sector. In the ice-cold atmosphere of the private sector, they are a dirty word. Worker organisation equals destruction in the minds of the MBA androids churned out by business schools. The misery of the individual is the price of greater glories like Growth and Q3 results.

Anyone who feels that they have to slave at their desk past 6pm should ask themselves what their reward is. Are you going to get a lot of extra money? Or will you please the boss. If it’s the former, fair enough. If not, more fool you. Of course the boss will be pleased if he can wring more work out of you at the cost of a pat on the back or a few pints on Friday evening. But he’s laughing at you. You wouldn’t catch him working his behind off for anyone else.

Countless studies have identified that successful business leaders have narcissist personality disorder. It’s a condition found in many serial murderers. A narcissist has grandiose ideas about their own abilities. They think they are great and everyone else is dense. A productive narcissist can galvanise people around a vision and in tumultuous times, this can be a great thing. But, as Michael Maccoby once observed in the Harvard Business Review, a successful narcissist can be a danger to themselves and the people who work for them. “Rather than try to persuade those who disagree with him, he feels justified in ignoring them... The result is sometimes flagrant risk-taking that can lead to catastrophe. In the political realm, there is no clearer example of this than Bill Clinton.”

These are the characters we idolise. Entrepreneurs are invited onto committees and think tanks. We put Donald Trump and Jay Bourke on the telly and ask them to bully us. They turn up at conferences to advise us on how the world should be run. Anyone who expresses a spirit of resistance to the slavish culture of long hours and obedience is darkly dismissed as lazy, foolish or socialist.

The tough-talking entrepreneurs of today have done great things for consumers, created jobs and huge wealth, mainly for themselves but also for others. But have a chat with the people who work for them. How many hours a day are they actually outside the office? Are they nervous wrecks waiting for the next phone call? Are they watching their backs all day? I knew my relationship with the corporate world had reached a turning point when a well-known management consultant, nicknamed The Sniper, shook his head at me and declared: “You are the most unmanageable individual I have ever met.” His tone was part rebuke, part dismay. I was thrilled.

Since then I have cheerfully made myself unemployable and rejoice in the knowledge that only catastrophe or millions will see me work in the war zone that is an office again. I’ll never be rich, but I couldn’t care less. Today I am my own person, not a worn-out cast-off on someone else’s path to enormous wealth.

To the under-rewarded pawns of our Celtic tiger success, I say, turn off your mobiles; you have nothing to lose but the approval of an enslaved society.

posted by Sarah | 21:01 2 comments

Ferns Report

Everyone is still reeling from the Ferns Report but the consensus is that the Bishops are the ones with the real case to answer for protecting the monsters (and there is no other word) who abused the children. There is more to come. Apparently Maynooth College would provide a report in itself. This has got to break the hierarchy. They deserve to be broken and I hope they have to fork out every last penny they have.

However, what I cannot get over and will never understand is how ordinary people turned a blind eye to what was going on. Parents who refused to believe their children - one boy could barely walk when we came home and had blood on his clothes and the parents did nothing. Teachers who let priests call kids out of class and didn't notice anything odd when they came back - they'd been raped. Holy groups who burned copies of local newspapers if they reported on actual court cases involving priests. It's just beyond belief that adults could think that children could make up this stuff and that they felt they couldn't say or do anything to protect them. That's the horror behind the horror. I am so glad I wrote that column a few weeks on the so-called bonds of our past.

However, for the whole weekend I was thinking about the two priests in our parish. One is an old man and I always liked him. He is a genuinely humble holy man. The other is a younger sociable type (who married us and christened our children). He's not a creepy Fr. Trendy type, just an ordinary guy doing a job. I wanted to call into them or phone them or offer some kind of support and really wanted to get to mass this weekend to hear what they would say. Stupid domestic life and events kept me from attending and I've just heard from my mother what happened and I am raging I didn't go.

At Saturday night mass there was a small crowd and the old priest gave the sermon. He was abjectly humble and sorry and apologised to everyone for the awful way that the church had let the people down. My dad went round to the vestry after mass and went to shake his hand. The poor man was standing there on his own and when Dad put out his hand he broke down and wept. I don't how this affected my father as he is not the type to acknowledge emotion. However, it wouldn't surprise me if he had trouble holding himself together. On Thursday evening he had been in my house and sat at the table, still trying to come to terms with the report and the scale of the abuse. He was shocked and appalled and just struggling to take the whole thing in. In most crises he will have some dark analytical comment to make, but this time, he couldn't draw any conclusions, he was just trying to adjust.

Anyway, today (Sunday) my mother was at morning mass and there was an unusually large crowd. The same priest made the same sermon. At the end of mass, he got a standing ovation when he went to leave the altar. I was so glad. This poor old man is watching everything he ever believed in crumble. It so sad that we have these two nice men working away at a pastoral level, burying our dead, comforting the dying and walking the rest of us through the weddings and the baptisms. And above them, the sneaky evil bastard bishops are covering up the most appalling immorality. Hopefully, the bishops will get their comeuppance but not at the expense of our nice priests.

posted by Sarah | 20:19 1 comments
Friday, October 28, 2005  

Harriet Miers

Did she withdraw or was she told to withdraw? Scott McClellan made an interesting slip in his press briefing this morning:

"She called the President last night at 8:30 p.m. He was in the residence when she called him, to inform her -- inform him of her decision."

Maybe he did inform her....

and a little later

"He [Bush] is deeply disappointed in the process. He will move forward in a timely manner to name a new nominee, as he indicated in his letter -- or as indicated in his statement."

Scott had previously referred to Harriet's letter which she had given the President. Not her letter at all - His letter.

posted by Sarah | 20:00 0 comments

Dave Fanning Show

Until next Tueday you can listen to me (oh joy!) on Tuesday's Dave Fanning show talking about the Bridget Jones/women on telly thing.

posted by Sarah | 13:01 2 comments
Tuesday, October 25, 2005  


I've had complaints that I haven't yet commented on the death of Liam Lawlor! Firstly it is with great pride that I must observe that The Sunday Times chose not to publish any of the details about the so-called hooker. Unlike the entire O'Reilly stable, SINDO, Sunday World, and even the Trib. Ireland on Sunday published that there had been reports that she was a hooker but conflicting reports said she wasn't, so they were slightly better covered.

On Liam himself. I met him once, in RTE where he had come in to do a "Later with " show. I can't remember if it was with Fergus Finlay and Frank Dunlop or Fergus with Jackie Gallagher. Frank interviewing Lawlor would have been gas given how up to their necks in planning corruption they both were. Anyway, Liam was in full outrage mode about the Tribunal examining every aspect of his life. He was really convincing (well, to me, who will swallow just about anything) that they were completely out of order. That day they had called the garage where he had bought his car to find out how he'd paid for it. It did strike me at the time that the Rev and the CAB have powers to do these things. Why did it need barristers at 2.5k per day to do this?

However, the wife, Hazel was with him. Now she was impressive. Very composed and full of defence for him. She was a tough cookie. And a lot of those bank accounts were in her name. So either he took her in completely too, or she was well used to the extremely complicated business transactions that he was involved in. I am very sorry she lost her husband, however she doesn't strike me as the type that will fall apart. Perhaps it will get the Tribunal off her back. I presume she can tell them to feck off now and won't have to worry about it any more. Since I have my own anti-Tribinal agenda, I hope she does (even if we are involved in different Tribunals and even if Lawlor was guilty as hell).

He must have had a spine of steel. Other men would have cracked (and didn't Frank?) but he just kept going, refusing to acknowledge for one second that he was on the take. He went to jail and still never blinked - at least in public. But even if he had blinked in private, I think that would have shown on his face. Is this incredible inner strength, evidence of innocence or insanity? Most likely the latter.

Of course the number one best thing about his death is that it wrecked the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis. Ha ha ha. I haven't the first clue what Bertie said in his speech because who the hell was talking about that on Sunday morning? Instead, we all got a nice little reminder about exactly which party was hiding corrupt politicians for the last 30 years.

Finally, it's not a bad way to go really. Which way do you want to die? Wasting away, debillitated and broken from some horrible disease or just old age when all your friends are dead? Or in the back of a merc on an international business trip, nice and quick. I wonder did he have a pension?

posted by Sarah | 21:45 7 comments
Sunday, October 23, 2005  

ST - Pensions

I don’t have a private pension and I haven’t the slightest intention of taking one out.
My finances are tight enough as it is. With a growing family and a mortgage, my daily expenditure is at its peak. Why should I divert funds from our budget so that executives in Irish Life or Eagle Star can pocket big commissions and drive fancy cars? You’ll have noticed that none of these companies guarantee a specific return. Instead those speedily announced qualifications at the end of ads tell you that stock markets go down as well as up and really, well, it’s a roll of the dice what they decide to give you in 30 years’ time.

I plan to work until I am physically incapable. At the official age of retirement, I’ll own my house. So I’ll flog it, buy a smaller place and make sure not to fall out with my children. That’s my pension.

In addition, my husband and I have made a pact that we will die in a nice clean fashion and avoid any lingering conditions requiring expensive medical treatment. Should I be widowed early, I am quite confident a well-off gentleman will take me under his wing.

As you can see, I’m not buying into the pension crisis. And I object strongly to the insidious way the social contract is being renegotiated. I object even more strongly to the insistence that an individual’s worth be measured solely in terms of their economic activity, through either production or consumption.

The old deal was simple. You worked hard all your life and paid your taxes. You retired at 65 at a time when 65 was old and people were physically worn out. Having performed your role as a productive citizen, the state paid you back some of your taxes before you kicked the bucket at 70. The citizen looked after the state, and in return, the state looked after the citizens when they couldn’t look after themselves anymore. The government was quite happy since they had to give far less than they received.

But the state isn’t happy anymore. Despite the best efforts of the shambolic health system in this country, people insist on living longer. And now all the bean counters can see are useless old codgers draining money for their hip replacements from the IT budget. Something must be done, they cry.

So something is being done — a sustained campaign to persuade us that we should not expect anyone else to look after us when we get old. This national exercise in expectation management is reaching hysterical proportions. Politicians make grim speeches describing a country filled with tattered coats upon sticks who will take, take, take from the exchequer until there is nothing left. Business journalists are wined and dined at seminars held by government-funded think tanks to hammer home the message: nobody else will be willing or able to mind us; we must do so ourselves.

The pension companies bombard radio, television, billboards and newspapers with ad after ad to create a sustained image of old people on holidays (good) or old people sitting at home being poor (bad). The goal is to convert money-grabbing oldies into golf-playing consumers who add to economic growth instead of reducing it.

This scenario ignores many realities. The first is the insistence that, when you get to a certain age, your desire to be productive will cease. People need a reason to get out of bed in the morning. The biggest motivating factor to do so is that someone needs you to perform a valuable task.

There are many inspirational characters that will keep doing paid work despite the orthodox insistence that they are beyond the age of use. Garret FitzGerald, who will be 80 next year, is a brilliant example. If somebody told him he couldn’t work anymore, he’d probably curl up and die in a week. My granny taught piano until she was 89. People kept throwing retirement parties for her and making collections for presents, but she refused to take the hint.

Apart from a normal job, there are many possibilities for the so-called retired. Both my parents are officially beyond the age of retirement and they barely have time to talk to me. Halfway through phone conversations my mother has to hang up abruptly when she realises she’s late for a meeting connected with many of her community activities. The usual sight I have of my father is the back of his car zooming off to a political engagement.

Their siblings and relations are the same. In fact, all the officially old people I know are looking after grandchildren or involved in community projects and voluntary work, which enriches life for everybody. They’ve all found some channel through which the skills and knowledge accumulated in their lives can be put to productive use.

In that light, the state pensions to which they are entitled should not be seen as a luxury that in time will become unaffordable. Instead we should see it as a wage to a huge section of the population whose industrious nature brings tangible if, strictly speaking, economically unimportant benefits to the rest of us.

Perhaps my personal philosophy is foolish, but I have an ace up my sleeve: the government reminds us that the future is a land with an ever-decreasing population of workers who will refuse to fund state pensions for the increasing population of oldies. Don’t they know how democracy works? Everyone keeps telling us there will be loads of old people in the country. That’s old votes. So we’ll just vote into power those politicians who agree to increase state pensions.

They might have to cut back on computers and state dinners. They might have to raise corporation tax. But when I’m leader of the OPP (Old People’s Party) and holding the balance of power, I’m sure they will see the sense in this. So bring on old age. I can hardly wait.

posted by Sarah | 19:24 14 comments
Saturday, October 22, 2005  


A report on last night's visit to The Gate for the Pinter play Betrayal. The bad comments first. Typically the actors (possibly under poor direction) ruined it. Emma, the heroine (played by a woman who used to be the vet in Glenroe), was terrible. She had the most affected manner of walking and standing around I've ever seen. I am not sure whether she was told to ham it up a bit, or whether she thought it made her look cool and sophisticated, but it was really annoying. The way a person walks on stage shouldn't even register with me. And I know this is really picky, BUT, in all her costume changes she could have managed a pair of tights or stockings. How are bare legs supposed to be attractive on a mature woman, especially when they are neither tanned nor slender? Thick Irish ankles don't do it for me.

The delivery was also much slower than I think should have been the case. At the interval, a man behind me commented to his friend that he thought they had forgotten their lines the odd time because they were so slow delivering them. Now I know that people do pause in conversation and in some of the conversations you could see that pauses were crucial. Saying nothing can be very dramatic. But in one scene between the husband and his wife's lover, the lover is sooooo slow, you just want to kick him.

Having said that, they couldn't manage to kill the drama. As we gleaned from the Seinfeld episode of the same title, the action takes place in reverse. The beginning of the affair is the last scene. A casual drink 10 years later where the adulterous couple do a post-mortem is the first scene. It's so sad. The adulterers have a flat for years, lie to everybody and seem to be getting away with it but of course are caught eventually. The sad scenes are for example, where the husband finds out and isntead of going bananas, he's just sad and the marriage doesn't break up. Then he has lunch with his best friend, and as he's just discovered, his wife's lover and he doesn't say a word. They just get pissed and go on as normal. The very last scene is where the lover makes declarations to the wife and we get the first glimpse of the affair to be. The actor is crap but still: the last scene is a silhouette of them in a doorway. She was leaving the room and he's grabbed her arm and she's looking at him. Minutes earlier she had rejected him but now.....we know what is to come. The lights go down and then we have applaud the terrible performances through two bows.

Leon, who accompanied me, remarked that they shouldn't have come out for any bows. The last scene was so dramatic that they should have just ended it and we never see them again. I agree. Also it would have saved us the hypocrisy of clapping.

Finally, yet again, I had to shake my head at the thick Irish audiences who laughed at very inappropriate times. Maybe they are just uncomfortable and don't realise that some lines are bitterly ironic and not funny at all. Maybe I see tragedy where there is humour? Still, I remember this happening at Medea, surely one of the most tragic plays ever, and the thickos kept giggling. I think John Waters was compelled to write a column on the subject.

posted by Sarah | 20:29 5 comments


Cannot believe that after my so recent mention of Garret FitzGerald's revolutionary roots that bloody FF manage to hijack 1916 for themselves. How do FF supporters so conveniently ignore the fact that the biological and political descendants of the 1916ers mainly ended up in Fine Gael? Christ, even my favourite creep Michael McDowell has a right to commemorate it without having to get the permission of Fianna Fail. Deep sigh.

posted by Sarah | 11:59 10 comments
Thursday, October 20, 2005  

Multiple personality

For some years now the National Lottery's Telly Bingo programme has been presented by Shirley Temple Bar, a drag queen previously best known for her/his acts in the gay bar The George. It was always slightly disconcerting to watch this freakish creature host a programme watched by elderly people.

However, it is even more disconcerting to watch the real person, Declan Buckley, present the programme dressed completely normally and as himself. I have no idea why there was a change. Were there complaints? Is Declan trying to put his drag queen past behind him? Could the makers not fire him and get a normal presenter to do it or have they decided to give him a straight shot at it? It's very odd. Can't find photo yet of Declan. He's not very good looking.

posted by Sarah | 16:20 6 comments

Garret the Good

I had cause to consult Garret's autobiography today (All in a Life) and came across this passage. He had been describing his early childhood, how his brother Fergus taught him to type at the age of 7 and other such gems. He then talks about Nurse O'Neill having charge of him until age 5 when she was replaced by a governess Miss Cuddy until he was sent to an all-Irish boardiing school at the age of 9.

"It would be very wrong to think from this account of events that my mother was somehow lacking in affection or care for me. Nothing could be further from the truth. But she was the product of a middle-class Victorian environment that involved extensive supplementing of parental care by nurses of governesses. She had never been able to afford such luxuries in the past when my elder brothers were young, my father was frequently in jail and she was herself involved in revolutionary activities. It seemed natural to her to take advantage of a recent inheritance from her father by trying to give me the kind of childhood she had enjoyed"

Many things struck me about this. His casual reference to the jail and revolution are amusing and yet such was the insistence by FF that FG was a bunch of old west-Brits that most people have no idea how key both Garret's parents were to 1916 (they were both in the GPO) and the War of Independence and of course the Civil War when his father helped form the pro-Treaty party of Cuman na Gael (I know I've spelt it wrong, but no time for checking now).

Secondly, when there is so much hysteria about childcare and mothers feeling guilty about not being constantly present with their children, one does start to wonder when the orthodoxy arose that women had to devote such an amount of time to child rearing. I'm not saying the victorians were right - we know what adults they produced - but, I must say, the idea of a Nurse O'Neill, seems very appealing.

And finally, isn't it amazing that despite the fact that we hold our parents responsible for most of our miseries and defects, we still insist on rearing our children in the same fashion? I resented bitterly that my school mates lived in the town and could play with each other after school and we were so unfortunate to live down a lane where I hated the only other girl on the road and had to tag along with older brothers and their friends...hmm perhaps this explains my need for approval from slightly older men whom I have placed on pedestals...

Isn't it great this blog is free and I can sort out all these issues without need of a therapist? Oh, and the point is that we could have lived in the town but I wanted my children to grow up with fields to run around in just like I did, even if they are bored out of their minds.

posted by Sarah | 12:59 1 comments

Radio Rows

I was most fortunate to hear this live yesterday. Play this and fast forward to 22 minutes. Will go down in the annals as one of the best rows ever on radio between Joan Rivers and Darcus Howe.

posted by Sarah | 09:35 1 comments
Tuesday, October 18, 2005  


PO'Neill makes the link between Pinter and Seinfeld...who would have thought I can watch The Betrayal on Friday having seen its offspring on the small screen. Soooo post-modern.

posted by Sarah | 11:03 0 comments
Monday, October 17, 2005  


I will confess - last week I knew practically nothing about Harold Pinter. In fact, I knew less than nothing - I thought he was Scandinavian. But! I am researching and I am going to see his play Betrayal on Friday. Turns out we are on the same wavelength. He has been conducting a massive anti-war campaign. The Guardian published a series of "letters to Bush". Here is Pinter's.

Dear President Bush,
I'm sure you'll be having a nice little tea party with your fellow war criminal, Tony Blair. Please wash the cucumber sandwiches down with a glass of blood, with my compliments.
Harold Pinter

I like it.

posted by Sarah | 20:05 0 comments

Doh x 1000

I continue to be defeated by household so-called technology.

In a state of high hassle, I was trying to get them organised for a walk because the baby wouldn't sleep and a stroll in the pram was the only solution. I tried to pull up the release handle to make the back seat of the double buggy lie flat. I pulled and pulled and it just wouldn't release. So I forced the back down anyway. I nearly cried with the effort. The next day, I tried to get it back up. The two support bars on the back just snapped clean off. I broke it. I tried to work out some scenario whereby M. must have broken the handle and therefore it was his fault. But even in my stressed out state I had to concede to myself that I was solely to blame.

But why are they so bloody hard to manage? I have another single pram and every now and then that handle goes to. We had another double buggy (inherited, as was the broken one - thank god) and we had scenes with 3 grown men and 2 women in a car park and everyone trying to figure out how to make it collapse so it would go in the car. No wonder my ulcer is making a re-appearance. This kind of stuff would break anyone.

Getting them in the car seats makes me nauseous*. Why don't they teach you how to manage these things instead of rubbish about cervixes dilating?

* I never know how to spell that word and checked with Here is a most interesting usage note attached to the definition

"Traditional critics have insisted that nauseous is properly used only to mean “causing nausea” and that it is incorrect to use it to mean “affected with nausea,” as in Roller coasters make me nauseous. In this example, nauseated is preferred by 72 percent of the Usage Panel. Curiously, though, 88 percent of the Panelists prefer using nauseating in the sentence The children looked a little green from too many candy apples and nauseating (not nauseous) rides. Since there is a lot of evidence to show that nauseous is widely used to mean “feeling sick,” it appears that people use nauseous mainly in the sense in which it is considered incorrect. In its “correct” sense it is being supplanted by nauseating"

Update: I rang the guy who made our gates. He told me to drop the buggy over to him and reckons he can repair it. Hurrah! Feel virtuous as am repairing something instead of throwing it out.

posted by Sarah | 13:58 6 comments

ST on Bridget Jones

Heroines today are pathetic, with one kicking exception

Bridget Jones is back. An Irish newspaper is running a weekly column about the eternally thirtysomething ditz who still can’t get her love life sorted out. Now I don’t mind the author, Helen Fielding, milking her Jones character for every available penny, but I do mind that the most popular female heroine of the past 10 years is both self-obsessed and stupid.
Bridget Jones is as thick as a plank. Instead of newspapers or proper books, she reads ludicrously titled self-help manuals on love. She succeeds in her broadcasting career because her capacity for farce is appealing to her moronic boss and, ergo, the viewing masses.

From her column and book and from the big screen, the message screams down at girls: stupid is funny and endearing, stupid will get you a man. Women of education are cold and cruel. Career women are ambitious schemers. Hate the woman who reads books. Despise she who knows one politician from another. Your knowledge of celebrity gossip will make the boys laugh and, God knows, the last thing they want when they come home from the office is a know-it-all.

Compare the heroine of chick-lit to the heroes of “lad-lit”. In Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch or Tony Parsons’s Man and Boy, the men start out as selfish, immature and self-obsessed, and the events of the narrative have a redemptive effect. Through the good offices of a sensible woman the lads are completely reformed. The happy ending is their transformation into fully formed mature adults.

Meanwhile, the happy ending in Bridget Jones is that the bitch with the fancy job got her comeuppance and the men love silly Bridget just the way she is.

What’s wrong with that, I hear you scream? Surely it’s okay not to read a book or the news section of the paper? While it’s true that applying maths to anything other than counting calories is not compulsory, improving your mind is the path to self-fulfilment. Conducting a war with your body is not. If women are constantly portrayed as searching for meaning in their lives, why is that meaning only to be found in losing weight, getting a man or figuring out whether to pluck your eyebrows?

Every year when the Leaving Cert results appear, concern is expressed at girls getting far better results than boys. But the lads needn’t worry. Through the systematic thrashing of female self-confidence, the girls will baulk at promotional opportunities, salary negotiations and office power struggles. By the time they reach 30, men are earning more than women and their careers are peaking. Women are being reminded that they need to upgrade their grooming before their ovaries shrivel up.

So why consistently glorify stupidity in our female heroines? Must they all be twittering victims happy to be patronised by men?

The sinister aspect to the ubiquity of the silly woman is the demonisation of the clever woman. At a time when women have more legal and economic independence than ever before, why is it impossible to find a happy woman of any intelligence in popular culture?

Casting around for a more appealing role model, who do we find? The Sex and the City girls started out as confident, career-orientated women who would deal with men as men deal with women. By the end of the series, each had made humiliating sacrifices and u-turns in order to get a man — any man.

The clash between man and job is considered inevitable. Miranda, the lawyer, is considered redeemed when she moves to the suburbs and minds her sick mother-in-law. Samantha, the promiscuous one, is given breast cancer — that will cool her heels for a while. Charlotte, the Wasp-ish art curator, abandons her job “so she can concentrate on getting pregnant” and converts to Judaism so the man she wants will marry her. Carrie resigns from her job and moves to France in the hope of making a selfish pig love her. She only leaves when he hits her.

Surely there is one woman on television who isn’t pathetic, neurotic and possesses an IQ in double digits? Grace of Will & Grace is a flake. Ally McBeal is an airhead. The Desperate Housewives haven’t a job between them. Every top-notch female doctor in ER is eventually given a baby to drag her out of the hospital.

All is not lost, however. You might come across reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Apart from her stupid name, Buffy is quite the feminist. She kicks vampire ass and shoulders the burden of saving the world. Various men come and go, serving as mentors or lovers. Usually they cannot cope with her being the stronger one, and they leave. Unlike other television heroines, this does not result in her falling apart. Instead, the boys are portrayed as losers, and she gets on with the job.

But of course, they canned Buffy and brought back Bridget. You wouldn’t want the girls getting any ideas now, would you?

Special Blog Update**
1. I restrained myself from comparing Bridget to Elizabeth Bennett as I can't become the P&P column EVERY week BUT I am of course aware that Fielding completely ripped of P&P except in terms of the intelligence of the heroine. Our Elizabeth is clever. Bridget is a dope.
2. In ER I also note that they even gave Carrie a baby. She was the top boss of the hospital. First they gave her a mystery crutch to make her unattractive. Then they made her a lesbian. Then they provided a baby through her lesbian partner (who ended up being killed - she was a Fireman/person).
3. I see a guy is making some money and notoriety on the Bridget phenomenon too...(or if you can't reach that link, here's another)

posted by Sarah | 12:55 1 comments
Thursday, October 13, 2005  


How I would love to adopt this policy from Wendy McClure's blog on comments. SHE got a book deal from her blog! So it appears I am not the only one whose blog actually helped them. Must explore Blogger's help section to see if I can censor comments BEFORE they appear on the site. I have started deleting the very abusive ones and as you may have noticed I had to introduce word verification as the spammers got a hold of me. I had felt guilty about deleting the odd very abusive comment since one must never stifle debate. But fuckit, its my blog, and it is quite mentally healthy to simply delete negativity. I wish I could do this with other sources of negativity in my life.

posted by Sarah | 22:35 4 comments

Councillors and Conferences

Today's IT reports :

"Councillors have been banned from claiming expenses for attending conferences organised by political parties, under new rules issued by Minister for the Environment Dick Roche. The measure follows controversy after Fine Gael councillors were last month forced to drop plans to claim State expenses for attending a party conference in Athlone.....Last month, Mr Roche said it was "outrageous" that Fine Gael councillors would have expected the taxpayer to pay for their attendance at the party's Hodson Bay Hotel conference between September 22nd and 24th......
In addition, he has told local authorities to inspect more closely the types of conference that councillors attend, amid suspicions that many of those chosen have little or nothing to do with local authority business."

As you all know my esteemed father is one such FG councillor so I am obliged to look for something positive to say about this beleagured species.

The conference merry-go-round is a complete joke at this stage but there is one thing which mystifies me. Each conference organiser sends details of their event to the County Managers or Secretaries of the Councils. These are paid profesionals. They approve the conferences for attendance by the councillors. Fine Gael did indeed send in a request to each council asking that their conference be put on the list. I think all bar 4 did so. Every other council had the option to say no and didn't. FG did chance their arm and nearly got away with it. Why is no one asking the officials why they approved the conference in the first place? Actually, the Da wrote last week to a FF TD (Pat Carey - who chipped in with criticisms of the FG conference) and enclosed a full list of conferences coming up. He highlighted several ones and asked him to raise these at some committee as they were quite suspicious. They are organised by known FnFers. I presume the list will not be announced at the committee meeting.

Secondly, I entirely sympathise with FG's attempt to get their conference funded. The government parties have the most enormous resources at their disposal and the opposition parties are expected to compete man for man with them. My particular beef is the Media Monitoring Unit (or some other ominous title) that is staffed by I think 35 people and paid for by the taxpayer. They listen to all the local radio stations and read all local newspapers and then ring up the editors and producers and harass them. When you are faced with this kind of publicly funded machine, maybe a few dirty tricks is what FG need.

Of course the real issue about councillors is that with the abolition of residential rates local government was deprived of autonomy with regard to funding and therefore of any autonomy. Without money, they can do precious little. It is easy to sneer at bogmen councillors (who don't eat rice) but most of the ones I know neglect their businesses and jobs and spend a lot of time harassing council officials to repair roads, put up signs, give people planning permissions and hurry up infrastucture projects. Local government is in huge need of reform. But who is going to vote for the re-introduction of rates? Do we abolish councillors altogether and have decisions about housing and roads made entirely by unaccountable officials (and if there's one thing we have learned it is that officials can make really really stupid decisions) While it is popular to bang on about corrupt councillors and rezoning let's remember that George Redmond, the guy who systematically took money for planning permissions was an official not a councillor. And who is Dick Roche to talk about councillors? I think in the tally of good and bad councillors it is FF who come off considerably worse.

So sorry if councillors are in the main, decent ol' fellas who eat their dinner at 1 o'clock in the day and who have a lust for travelling expenses - but someone elects them! And those someone's will generally vote for whoever supports their interests and not the interests of the common good. Could you just imagine if FG produced a policy on the reformation of local government, beginning with more local taxes? How Roche would laugh then.
So let's stop the sneering and think about what we actually want from councillors. I think

posted by Sarah | 13:18 2 comments
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