bookmark_borderModel Parent?


A few of my colleagues here at work are expecting babies in the next few months, so being the man (father) of experience I have been passing on my fatherly wisdom. When I took my first born to the crèche he wouldn’t stay there, he clung to my leg like a limpet mine and I’d have to shake him off and run like hell before the crying started. There was this game the staff and I played – distract First Born and whilst he’s distracted slip away…  Of course it’s nice (I think!) to be suddenly wanted + + + but I had to go to work and at the time children and Intensive Care Units did not mix.

So I resolved, after lots of tearful mornings and guilt trips about being abandoned in crèche from First Born, that I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. When Second Born appeared and was ready for crèche I built it up, I told him how exciting it was going to be, he’d get to play with all the toys, make a mess and have great friends, I made a big big deal of it and when the first day came for crèche he was so excited and looking forward to it. I dropped him off and he ran away to play…

Problem solved and I patted myself on the head.

Or so I thought.

About two weeks into his time at the crèche the manager pulled me aside one evening and said the following “You know, I’ve worked in this crèche for 15 years and your child is the first one, in fact the only one, that’s ever cried when his parents come to take him home…usually it’s the other way around, they cry in the morning but your child runs into this place and doesn’t want to go back home……………” she said this rather suspiciously….

Damn. It looks like I had overdone it. She looked at me like she ought to be reporting me to Social Services… I explained what I had been doing but still… I think she never stopped being suspicious of me… So the lesson here, dear friends who are soon to be parents, you can’t win.


But you can get even….

Leaving your kids off at school is always interesting, during the first few years they always cling to your legs and make you feel bad but then at around year five it suddenly becomes uncool to walk to school with your dad and suddenly they start to run ahead before you actually reach the school. At first it’s just at the school gates, a quick snatched ‘bye dad’ and off they run but then as time passes they run ahead at increasing distances from the school gate, anything to avoid being seen with dad..

And then they start secondary school. Here something remarkable happens. On day one you take your ‘relatively’ sweet and innocent child to school, all presented neat and tidy, school uniform worn correctly, shirt tucked in and top button done up, tie worn correctly, hair nice and neat …and somehow there’s is a remarkable transformation over the first day. You met them at the school gates and you don’t recognise them, they look a mess, like they been in a car crash but the big big transformation is in the voice – suddenly that sweet innocent childish tone has gone and now it’s all deep manly grunting.

In the previous June they were kings of the castle in junior school, everyone was smaller than them and childish but suddenly in secondary school they are surrounded by some really big bruisers and they desperately want to fit in. So out goes talk of collecting Dr Who cards and in comes talk about rap music on Youtube and the most unsavourly computer games. From now on you know the shirt will always hang out of the trousers and the tie will never ever be done up properly, you know that ‘street creed’ is now hugely important and talking about Telly Tubbies or even Action Man is verboten because they are in a rush to be men.

Of course, being somewhat mischievous of nature, I look upon this as an opportunity to reek revenge on all those years of clinging to my leg like a limpet mine and all those guilt trips from First Born. Now when I drop the boys off at school or pick them up I make a point of calling them ‘darling’ in a very loud voice, especially when they are with their friends. It’s great, it’s even more fun if you try hugging them in front of their friends and telling them how lovely it is to see them..  This ‘probably’ is quite evil of me but I’ve been doing it for a few years now and when it’s pouring out of the heavens I make an effort to drive there and pick them up, their joy at seeing me is tempered by the knowledge that I will indeed called them darling very loudly and they will cringe..

However, their school mates have started to cotton on to my little game and they all realise that really I’m just doing it to embarrass them, they look upon my boys with some sympathy and tell them “your dads a lunatic, isn’t he?”

So now I’m starting to think what else can I do to play with them at school, they are nearly always the last ones out through the school gates – too busy chin-wagging with their mates and leaving me standing there…  So I was in Sainsburys the other day getting some shopping and I saw some really nice ‘daddy’ slippers, you know, those checked ones… and it suddenly occurred to me – what if I was standing outside the school gates in my slippers… I wonder just how quickly they would appear..I reckon they would be first ones out in the entire school…I’m VERY tempted…

You see, why get mad, when you can get even… 🙂

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors, number 17

Recent photo.

When I was growing up in Conlig, Ireland, money was tight and as 12 year kids we were always on the lookout for ways of earning a few extra pennies. One of my friends heard that the local scrap-man would give you money for old lead so we struggled down the country lane with this huge (to us) car battery and he gave us 10p (big money those days) for it. We were well chuffed and headed off to the sweet shop to spend our ill-gotten gains.

However, there was a definite shortage of old car batteries lying spare around the streets of Conlig and although the local church roof had lots of lead lining neither of us wanted to risk eternal damnation for a few pennies, a couple of quid and we might have been tempted though!

Next evening I’m sitting with mum, six brothers and two sisters at dinner table when I thought I’d ask them as they are all older and might know where there’s a stash of lead and so I says “does anyone know where I can get lead?”

Sudden silence descended upon the table and everyone stared at me in disbelief and then burst out laughing.

It took me an awfully awfully long time to understand their reaction.. DOH!

(for those of you that don’t get it, lead and laid sound exactly the same in our mother it again 🙂

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors, number 16

The Irish have a reputation for being big drinkers. This is not helped by the fact that in 1914 Guinness was producing 2,652,000 barrels of beer a year, barrels that is, not pints and by 1930 it was the seventh largest company in the world. When I was growing up it just a natural step to start drinking and in my youth I drank a fair few pints but as I got into my twenties I stopped drinking almost completely. There are a couple of reasons for this, I was always designated driver as I was the only one with wheels but also my drinking previously had been as under-age and had a certain rebelliousness about it but once I was legally allowed to drink and the fear of being caught disappeared so did the thrill of drinking. In Ireland the police came into the bars frequently and would ask your age and chuck you out if they thought you were too young – and then proceed to sit down and spend the rest of the evening getting well-oiled with free drinks at the bar.

However, the main reason I stopped drinking was because I made an idiot of myself on more than a few occasions and realised that I can’t hold my drink. Friends of mine could drink copious amounts of beer and walk home but after one or two pints my higher brain centres shut down and I became a embarrassing slobbering idiot.

Someone once told me that when you start a new job then it’s important that you don’t show your true personality for the first six months and it’s good advice, keep your cards close to your chest. In 1984 I started a new job in a large factory and as it was near Christmas time I was invited to the Christmas party. I had been there a few weeks and was friendly with a few folk and we all headed to the hotel were the party was being held. I had a few drinks and chatted with a very nice woman whom I didn’t know worked in the factory with me and found out she lived roughly in the same area as I did. I suggested we share a taxi back and then I went off and mingled but towards the end of the evening realised I was wilting and needed to go home.

I went out to the reception and there was my friendly woman and she said “do you want a lift back with me?”. I said “yes, love to” and we both jumped into a mini-cab that had just arrived. I sat in the front and I tried to fumble with the radio because it was playing some dreadful turge, the taxi driver told me to leave it alone and gave me the worlds dirtiest look..Oops.. so instead I went into flirt mode with the woman and thought I was being funny but was most likely being obnoxious. I didn’t like the look of the taxi driver one bit and as I was getting out first I said to her “make sure you call me when you get home, I want to make sure you get home OK… “ and then added in “of course if you want to get out with me and stay for breakfast…” The taxi driver glared at me and we stopped at my place, I staggered out of the taxi and fumbled in my pockets for all this loose change to pay for the taxi but she waved it away and told me to get inside the house, she would be fine. I looked at the taxi driver and told him in no uncertain terms to make sure she gets home and no harm comes to her..and returned the dirty look back at him, “I’ve got your number mate” I said to him..

I collapsed in bed and as it was the weekend had two days off but went into work on the Monday morning and hunted out my woman friend to make sure she was OK (and flirt some more). She was with a group of other woman, all chatting and laughing away but as I approached they tried to suppress their laughter but were giggling away. I thought they were giggling away because I had tried my best to chat her up and I said to her trying to sound concerned “Did you manage to get home ok, I didn’t hear the phone ringing..?” and she said “yes, I got home fine” and I said “I really didn’t like the look of that taxi driver, I was worried he was going to try something on, he was very shifty looking..” and she said to me “Oh..didn’t you realise, that wasn’t a mini-cab…it was my husband come to pick me up” to howls of laughter from all the woman…

The story spread around the factory like wildfire.. I was mortified and hide myself away in my office for weeks and then left as soon as possible.

That’s why I rarely drink. The shame…

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors, part 15. Oh Baby..

During my previous career training as a nurse I had to work a few weeks on the Labour Ward, I absolutely loved it, probably because it was so intense and (excuse the pun) so hands on – or in this case hands in.

The Midwives were great and very down to earth and most of the mothers were great too, it’s a time of great excitement and beaming smiles – once baby had popped out of course! Most mothers were on their first or second births but occasionally the midwives would come across someone who’d been there more than a few times. One Sunday afternoon I was working with Margaret (name changed to protect the guilty!) and a mother came in straight from A&E (ER for our American friends), she was about to pop and we got all the equipment ready and asked the mum to remove her pants (obviously!). Mum asked Margaret did she recognise her and Margaret said no, not really – she wasn’t really paying attention trying to get everything ready but then when the mum had undressed and Margaret started to check how many centimetres she was dilated and had her fingers half way up her jacksie she suddenly said “Oh! NOW I know who you are!!”

My mouth fell open and I gave her that look, you know the one, the one that says “YOU recognise people, not by their faces, not by their voices but by looking at their jacksies?!?! …”   She realised what she had implied and tried backpedalling but it was too late – I was going to tell absolutely everyone in the coffee room that evening!

(But between thou and I, I wonder, if Margaret was ever called up to one of those police line ups and had to identify some crook, would she be asking for everyone to drop their pants or else she wouldn’t recognise them… ?)

I told that tale to one of my friends, he said he knows how she feels, he says there are some folk he only recognises by looking at their jacksie too – and he’s not a doctor..just a bad bad lad!

One weekend I had a mum with a big ornate gothic script “EDDIE” tattoo on the inside of her thigh and Eddie was there, holding her hand and doing all the right things. For almost 12 hours, we soothed, cajoled, encouraged and cheered on this lady. I brought Eddie into it: “Look at Eddie, he loves you and the baby so much, breathe with Eddie, keep going, Eddie, you hold her hand” blah, blah, blah.. 12 hours of sweat and tears, near exhaustion and trying my best to involve Eddie and make it a brilliant caring sharing experience for both of them..

Close to the end and I start to realise that something’s up, Eddie’s got more and more stony-faced and silent throughout the day..

He’s actually glaring at me now.

A thought strikes me, “Ummmm, is your name Eddie?”

With the most hateful glance, he grunts, “No!”


PS I probably should explain that at that point I had been in England for only two years and my accent was as thick as treacle, so when I asked him at the start ‘are you Eddie?’ he thought I asked ‘are you ready..?’ and said yes ..Doh.


bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors, part 14

Works for me.


This blog entry is crimes and misdemeanour’s by proxy; I want to share this with you to give you some insight into the way the Northern Irish mindset works.  It may outrage a few readers but what the hell, it’s how we view life.

I have a good friend from Northern Ireland, I’m going to call her Mary for the sake of this blog and she’s a bit of a wild girl. She’s been doing the whole on-line dating thang and been telling me about it. She arranged to meet one bloke at a bar a while back and when he came in and introduced himself she simply looked at him and left, didn’t even  say hello to him. She told me what a fucker, he looked nothing like his photos, he was shorter – MUCH shorter than he said, older, fatter and just slimy so she couldn’t even be bothered wasting her breath telling him was a fuck-wit he was, she just left in a huge strop. She went into a bar near Leicester Square and proceeded to get totally plastered with a bunch of young guys there and next thing she knew she was waking up Sunday morning in some strange bed with a complete stranger beside her.

He was about half her age and as she stumbled blindly into her clothes – actually as she searched around the apartment for her clothes he woke up and said to her can he see her again. She said back to him “that’s EXACTLY the right thing to say to a woman after last night, well done!” and then as she was walking out the door she said “of course you need to get yourself a girlfriend of about half my age but thank you for last night and good luck, have a nice life” and she walked out of his life.

So the night wasn’t a waste after all and she had a good time.

Then a few weeks later she went out to meet some other date in central London, this time she managed to stay there for a whole 10 minutes before walking away, I asked why and she said “the fuck-wit spent the first 10 minutes telling me about why he and his missus had split up, instead of talking about me or even himself, I met his wife by proxy, I wasn’t having any of that and I walked, little fucking bastard wasting my time..!”

So she hit another bar, and got plastered but there was no talent around so she got on the tube back home. However, on the tube back there was this bloke checking her out. Thirty minutes later she’s in his flat in Streatham and he’s playing hide the sausage with her.  Next morning he’s comatosed and she walks..staggers out and calls me on the mobile. “I don’t know where I am..” I ask her to give me a street name..she does and I google-map it, she’s in Streatham and I tell her which way to the train station and I go back asleep.

Four nights later she’s at my place having dinner with my erstwhile part-time flatmate and myself and drinking + + wine. She’s having a good time chatting away and by 11 we are both bushed so I tell her I’ll walk her to the bus stop as that’s how she usually goes home from my place when we’ve had a few skinfuls. So we are waiting for the bus but in the fresh air she’s suddenly come alive again and raring to go. “Hey! Let’s go to a bar and pick up some talent and par-tay…!!”   I says nope, I can hardly keep my eyes open, I’m zombie-fied and need to zzzZZZ but she’s raring to go and says “I know what, I’ll go see that bloke from Saturday night in Streatham..” and gets her mobile out.

She calls him and says “Where are you?”
He says it’s 11:30pm, he’s in bed..
She says “Stay there..I’m on my way around…”

And hangs up

And then calls him back.
“btw, what’s your address…?”
“and name..?”

And off she goes towards the taxi rank.

I wait for the taxi with her and says to her so what does this bloke look like and she says, to be honest I don’t know, I can’t actually remember, all I can vaguely remember is that he had funny eyes, I think he was Chinese…maybe .. and I’m curious to find out when I’m (relatively) sober..

The taxi arrives and off she goes.. I shake my head and go back to the flat.

A few days later she pitches up…so how did it go I ask..?

She sits there and tells me it was awful and I ask why.

“Well, I got there and we got down to the dirty deed right away, was good and we fell asleep afterwards, then at about 3am I woke him up and we did it again and fell asleep again. Then at 7am I woke up and had to go home to get clean knickers before going to work but before I went I poked him in the back, woke him up because he was snoring and asked him if he would like to do it again, ..and do you know what he said…he said no, he was too tired!!! Well, that was it, I exploded, I called him all the names under the sun and give him an ear-full! THAT was NOT the right thing to say, HOW DARE HE!! If a woman offers herself then he HAS to oblige and do the dirty deed, how DARE he refuse” and she cursed and swore at him and called him every dirty name she could think of as she got dressed and he cowered under the duvet not knowing what a screaming dervish he had let into his apartment. Eventually when she had insulted his manhood enough she went storming out of his flat into the street in a huge strop but five minutes down the road she realised that she had left her mobile on his bedside table! So what does she do? Well, she does the one thing all Northern Irish woman would do, she stomps right back, rings the doorbell, bold as brass! He opens the door and almost shits a brick at seeing her again, she stomps BACK into the apartment berating him again but even worse and grabs her mobile, heads for the door again and practically screams in his face as she leaves again, cursing and swearing at him as she storms off down the block hall.

I laugh.

I suspect he’s going to need a LOT of expensive therapy after that and when you think about it I reckon Mary has done a lot of woman a service because I doubt he’ll ever pick up a strange woman on the tube ever again.

Now you see, I’m tell you all this for two reasons, the first reason is that by Northern Irish standards I am actually very ummm ..subdued, I try telling my work colleagues this and they all snort and say that’s just bollocks and shake their heads as I am easily the most crazy one in the University and the only one who’s got the balls to take on …well everyone.

But the other reason is deeper and it’s a cultural thing, you see, if I had some depth then I’d think that life was all about learning lessons, growing through mistakes and probably knowing God or the Creator or some other bollocks, however, whilst this is true for folk with some depth, for folk with real depth ie the Northern Irish, we know that the purpose of life is not just that but the real purpose of life is to be happy and have a HUGE amount of fun doing it. So, this is how we Northern Irish view life, we don’t keep it at arm’s length, nope, we grab it, we hold it tightly and squeeze as much life out of it as possible. So don’t shout at us or roll your eyes when we go off and do crazy things, we’re simply doing what comes naturally.

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors, part 13

Closer to the truth than most realise

So, think this is crimes and misdemeanours number 13 and it would seem I have a lot to confess to..  I’ve had a job ever since I was 11yrs old; from delivering milk before school to a paper round after school and since the age of 16 and a half when I started working full time I’ve done just about every job except barman which I kind’a regret because it’s a handy skill to have when you’re trying to establish yourself somewhere new.

Anyway, things I really need to fess up to…

When I was sixteen I spent one Christmas holiday working on the production line of the Cantrell & Cochrane factory, we made bottles and cans of lemonade and it was the second most boring job I ever did. However…  the nightshift used to be fun for a couple of reasons, first of all most of the staff came into work to sleep, as a general rule if you didn’t sleep the first night then you slept the second night, it was the unofficially rule and a lot of the staff had part-time day jobs like Firemen and so when they got called out to a fire during the day then they would come in and sleep. And there was a lot of trading to and fro, if you were feeling really rough then you’d swap sleeps with someone and s/he would sleep the next night. Management didn’t know about this because the foremen did the exact same thing and management always knocked off at 5pm.

So, that was a nice little earner, on the nights when I was watching the production line I was busy and kept awake because I was doing the work of two but the next night I slept but got paid for it. Excellent. It was a nice little introduction to shift work and when I worked as a nurse there did seem to be a lot of nurses sleeping in the cupboards during the dead of the night, not for the full shift but some staff would take extended breaks and when the matron in charge came around you told her that the missing nurse ‘had only just’ went for break a few minutes ago.

The other thing that was good working for Cantrell & Cochrane was that we produced cans of own brand Coke and there was an interesting trick we could do (and did) on the line. What would happen was that the cans got filled with coke and then went into a huge machine that rammed on the aluminium tops to the cans, but the operator could slow the line down and this meant someone could make additions to the coke.. So, the party trick for most of the staff there was to top up a couple of dozen cans of coke with vodka and then once the lids went on collect them on the other side and take them home. Then next time they went to a house party they already had pre-mixed drinks. This proved particularly popular at events like concerts because the bouncers would quite happily let you in with cans of coke but would confiscate any alcohol… little did they know..

Cantrell & Cochrane was the second most boring job, the most boring job was working for Canadian Tapes in Bangor. I did that for about three months before I had to leave or slit my wrists, it was that mind numbing boring. I spend almost three months working in a lab doing mind numbingly boring repetitive work a trained monkey could do (better).

However, even here there was the opportunity to mess around. We made sellotape, day and night, the production lines never stopping – except for two weeks in the summer when all factories in Norn Iron shut down and Bangor emptied due to the mass exodus of everyone to Benidorm or Tenerife, the ‘July Fortnight’.

I, on the other hand, was too poor to go to Spain with all the other plebs so I would carry on working and that meant spending two weeks cleaning the factory.

Now, the thing to remember is that sellotape is tape covered in glue and Canadian Tapes had LOTS of glue…effing huge vats the size of houses for mixing up the glue and gradually over the months these vats would get a thick layer of glue slowly building up inside them. Eventually someone had to go into the vats with big scrappers and scrap the glue off the walls and floor of the now empty vats and that job fell to summer students and yours truly.

So, myself and half a dozen other kids would spend a few hours in these vats breathing in glue fumes. I don’t know if anyone else has tried nitrous oxide aka laughing gas but spending even a few minutes in one of these vats basically gets you high for free, in fact we actually got paid for it. This was in the days before Health & Safety became such a major concern, so for two weeks we scrapped and hacked the hardening glue off those walls and we spent practically the entire two weeks splitting our sides laughing. Seriously, it’s what I imagine it’s like to smoke really good weed, we just got the giggles from the moment we walked into the vats until we got home, someone would just burst out laughing for no reason at all and that was it, we were all practically ROFL in hysterics, I honestly haven’t laughed so much in my whole life and I think I would have done that cleaning job for no pay. I couldn’t understand why all the other factory workers didn’t want to do it, it was excellent. What I couldn’t also understand was, why didn’t the management give us gas masks, we could have cleaned those vats out in two days rather than two weeks if we could stop laughing and saved them a lot of cash..

I was told that the effects of the fumes wouldn’t have any long term effects. I’m not so sure, twenty five years later and I still burst out laughing with minimal prompting,  I suspect because of my two weeks working in those vats that my brain is now just hard-coded to find humour in just about everything, my long suffering work mates despair with me 🙂

bookmark_borderHonesty is the best (privacy) policy

Some folk just can't take a hint.

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bookmark_borderHatch’em, Match’em, Dispatch’em

An Irish FUNeral

Many years ago I watched a documentary on the telly about meerkats in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. They would go off in little groups foraging for food and at the end of the day they would come back to the main nest and the groups would be all over each other, sniffing, greeting and getting reacquainted again and the social structure would be re-established.

I was reminded of the meerkats yesterday; I was at a funeral and once we left the graveside and came back to the convent where the reception was being held I witnessed much the same behaviour that the meerkats did. There was a great coming together of the extended family and close friends and everyone seemed to know absolutely everyone else, there was much sniffing, touching and even the pecking of cheeks and I could see the bonds between each member being renewed and strengthened.. And then I noticed something else, the matriarch of the clan was gone and I could see the younger females all subtly moving up the ladder one step, taking over roles and jostling/manoeuvring into different positions of authority within the extended social circle. There were an equal number of men there but they all seemed oblivious to this, perhaps it’s because I’m an outsider and I can step back and observe, I have no vested interest who becomes the next  matriarch.

There’s many similarities between weddings and funerals, for example, it’s really only on hatch’em, match’em, depatch’em occasions that I get to wear a suit these days. Funerals are aberrations as far as I can tell, funerals are not for the dead, they are for the living, the dead are past caring. We have this idea of the funeral being focused solely on the one who’s passed away, with moving tribute’s but that’s not what I witnessed yesterday, yes, the church service was solemn (actually it was dreadfully boring and full of religious clichés that I doubt even the priest believed) but as soon as everyone got into the reception then it was like “ok, that’s that out’a the way, now to chinwag with Arthur, I haven’t seen him for years..”. Just like a wedding really. It reminds me of the old joke about Irish weddings and funerals; what’s the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish funeral? There’s one less drunk at the Irish funeral…and there’s many a truth told in jest, I’ve been to funerals before where fights have started, of course this was in Ireland and that’s pretty bog stand behaviour.  And it’s no wonder, even the word ‘funeral’ starts with those other three favourite letters of mine ‘fun’ and we Irish take this attitude of fun to our hearts and raise our glasses to the dearly departed, it’s a celebration of life, not a mournful death but I’m always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy at a funeral and I realise I’m actually listening to it.

And there’s something else that both funerals and wedding have in common, we all get dressed up and put on our best clothes and some of us even get invites but it’s important to read the dress code instructions carefully, ‘somber’ while only 2 letters apart from ‘sombrero’ is a world apart in tone. Apparently.

And one more similarity, when I was much much younger I used to go the wedding and the old dolls would poke me in the chest like witches and cackle “You’re next!” but now I’m 50 I go to funerals and poke them in the chest and cackle “You’re next!” Is that evil of me? Am I going to Hell? Too effing right I’m going to Hell, care to join me?

bookmark_borderThe French Mistress

Perpétuent les stéréotypes .. moi?

After three years of learning how to survive in the sprawling jungle called Bangor Boys High School I was expected to buckle down for the last two years and actually start studying for our ‘O’ Levels in Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, English, Technical Drawing and Wood/Metal Work. You will note there’s no foreign languages there and there’s a reason for that, you see, in Fourth Form Miss Wylie started at the school to teach French and her classes were immediately over-subscribed. It’s not an understatement to say she was the French version of Marilyn Monroe, she had big hair, the most perfect nichons imaginable and butt cheeks that adhered to her skirt like two water melons covered in cling-film. When she reached down to pick something up 32 pubescent boys swooned in unison.  She would come over to us and breathing heavily in zee French axe-scent would talk us through our pronunciation.. at this point the recipient of her attention would just melt into a puddle onto the floor. We had pupils, obviously sick and on their death beds happily drag themselves in for just French and then plead illness and crawl home.

One day she caught two of the guys cheating in a test and for punishment she kept them in for detention after class for an hour to practice French with her. Jammy buggers. They came to school next day with huge grins on their faces, a one-to-one with Miss Wylie wasn’t punishment, it was the stuff of dreams. Next day everyone cheated.

We had Miss Wylie for a whole month of heaven until suddenly and unexplained she left and we got Mr Murrey instead. You can’t imagine our disappointment. He was as different from Miss Wylie as chalk is from cheese, not only that but he had a moustache, a cane, a leather strap and a nasty habit of throwing zee wooden blackboard cleaner at you if your attention wandered for more than a millisecond.

He spent the first lesson talking to us in complete gibberish, a language one would think the London Leprechaun would be fluent in but sadly not when he was fourteen. He was actually talking to us in French at the level he expected us to be at but it turned out that during the past month we had absorbed not one iota of French from Miss Wylie apart from useful phrases like ‘tas de merde’, ‘c’est un vrai con’ and ‘bite, couilles’ and obviously ‘nichons’. Mr Murrey wasn’t impressed at all at how little French we had actually absorbed, ‘you pile of shit’ and ‘he’s a real arsehole’ wasn’t ever going to feature in an ‘O’ Level exam paper, though to be honest if it did then the entire class would have achieved 100% pass rate. Perhaps the examination board should review the syllabus and include a few more dubious phrases, that way we’d enjoy it and the pass rate would soar.

I went to Paris in the autumn and missed the last train back home so I found a hotel for the evening and wanted to use their computers to book another train home in the morning. Their computers were absolutely merde so I complained to the sneary concierge who simply shrugged his shoulders and said ‘Je n’aime pas, monsieur’, it’s a shame that neither Miss Wylie nor Mr Murrey taught us proper French sign language because I know just from his shrug that this  translated into “I don’t care, life is indeed a pile of shit but tonight it’s not my pile of shit, it’s your pile of shit..” and with that he went back to inspecting his fingernails, you see, it’s all in the shrug.. I, of course, replied with ‘Tá tú chomh tiubh is leath aoileach ach amháin mar atá úsáideach’ which roughly translates from Irish as ‘you are as thick as manure but only half as useful’ and shrugged my shoulders too.. who says entente cordiale is dead?

bookmark_borderLife’s Rewind Button – Part Deux

For a long long time in Northern Ireland the two communities, Protestant and Catholic argued, fought and caused a lot of heartache. It became almost a reflex that one side would take the opposing view of the other side, especially amongst the community elders and local politicians. However, there was one subject that all community elders were united on and that was sex, and sex education. Despite the need to reproduce, community elders were determined that no young person in Northern Ireland was going to have sex out of wedlock (and probably not in wedlock either). I suspect not much has changed these days in Norn Iron.

They say that ignorance is bliss, but I’m not convinced, they also say that sex is hereditary, if your parents never had it then neither will you. My parents never had sex. No-one in Northern Ireland ever had sex, at least that’s the impression I got from my parents as a testosterone sodden teenager. It was a taboo subject, never ever to be discussed, (exactly the same as when I asked our minister what happens to you when you die, uncomfortable silence), discussion to be avoided at all costs. I find it kind’a ironic that sex was never discussed but my parents were obviously engaging in it as I had eight siblings so they had engaged in it at least eight – oops I mean nine times. The big family next door obviously engaged in it a lot more. You’d think the penny would have dropped and that the community elders/politicians/local government would have actually pushed for sex education as the birth rate went in the opposite direction of the rest of the western world. They even fought against contraception, the pill took a lot longer to reach Northern Ireland than the rest of the UK and down south in the Republic of Ireland contraception was actually illegal until 1980 and then severely restricted.

It’s interesting how attitudes have changed, if my mum found a packet of condoms in my pocket when I was a teenager or young adult I think I would have got roasted alive, however these days mothers are practically forcing them onto their teenagers. I have visions of some mum shouting out to some teenager as he’s leaving with his pals “Johnny, don’t forget your packet of rubber Johnny’s” much to his embarrassment.

We never had the Birds and the Bee’s talk and school certainly didn’t do sex education, at least not in the 70’s. Consequently my generation grew up in blissful ignorance about sex which lead to a couple of unfortunate and embarrassing incidents with my parents. I never had to suffer the embarrassment of a parent finding condoms in my jeans but there is indeed an endless list of things I did do as a teenager in all innocence (mostly) and looking back now I wish I could press that magical rewind button and erase a few (more) selected moments of my life.

I remember being about thirteen or fourteen and watching telly one Saturday afternoon. As usual it was crap weather outside so we were all glad just to be indoors and reasonably warm doing our favourite past time – watching the box. It was some BBC Bristol nature programme about Shire horses and of course didn’t they start talking about reproduction and siring the next generation and next thing you knew the farmer was getting one of the Shire horses to mount the mare.

Two things happened simultaneously at that moment in time, (a) I discovered what the term ‘hung like a horse’ really meant and (b) my mum jumped up out of her chair (a rare occurrence, let me tell you) and immediately pressed the buttons to switch channels (before remote controls) to ITV and complained about that nature programme being ‘very boring’, not sure if she meant the pun but we settled down into The Dukes of Hazard and once again two things happened simultaneously; (a) the ubiquitous saxophone music started playing as Daisy Duke started taking off what remained of her skimpy clothes and (b) I discovered what the term ‘voyeurism’ meant.

My mum was horrified and once again jumped up and tried switching the channels quickly only to return to the horses going at it with great gusto, and then did what she always did on these occasions, she had a sudden urge to engage me in intense conversation about my school work in a transparently obvious attempt to stop me watching Daisy Duke getting her kit off, one of the few times she asked me anything at all about school,  I half answered as I tried to see past her and get a much better view of Daisy’s dukes.

It was pretty obvious that my parents weren’t going to educate any of us in the ways of making whoopie despite the fact that sprogs continued to keep popping out with startling regularity but I can’t really blame them, they weren’t really equipped to deal with that kind of discussion, like everyone else my age I got my sex education from my peers and it wasn’t comprehensive or indeed all that accurate. To be honest I’m pretty certain that the last thing I wanted to learn from my parents was sex education, I’ve no idea just how that conversation would go but considering the very formal relationship I had with them then I suspect it would be pretty awkward.

One afternoon not long after the Shire horse episode I was asked by my school to bring in my birth certificate for some exam. My mum kept all that sort of stuff in a large trunk in her bedroom so rather than disturb her – she was chatting to my sister-in-law Cathy- I went on ahead and rummaged through the trunk trying to find my birth certificate.  I couldn’t find it but found this strange object instead. It was about six inches long, was made of cream coloured plastic and for all intensive purposes it looked like a torch, it had an on/off switch but instead of a bulb and lens it was sealed at the end. I thought this was strange, I tried twisting the end off like a cap to see if the bulb was under a protective cap but it was stuck firm so I switched it on and had the biggest fright of my life when it started vibrating.  I almost dropped it but was immediately enthralled, being very mechanically minded I loved to take things apart and figure out how they worked but this contraption was a mystery to me. So I switched it off and took it downstairs to the kitchen where mum was talking to Cathy and stupidly I switched it on and asked mum what was it for..

To say I was taken aback at the reaction would be an understatement, mum was immediately furious but strangely embarrassed, she swiftly grabbed the ‘torch’ out of my hand, put it in a drawer and whacked me on the side of the head really hard. I had no idea why but she told me to go to bed immediately and I went upstairs with my tail firmly between my legs wondering WTF just happened. Doh, press that Rewind Button please.

The other incident that highlighted my glaring lack of knowledge about sex happened around the same age. I had been at school with my friends and someone had used a word I’d never heard before, so that evening at home and surrounded by the extended family I thought it would be a good time to ask the following;

“Mum, what’s cunnilingus?”

Shocked pregnant pause..

Much older brother “It’s a terrible, terrible disease”

I couldn’t work out why he started laughing. Really hard.

I finally worked it out a while later. Doh, I’m still looking for that rewind button and it’s not just when I was a teenager but in more recent times too. I’m not sure if this only works in the UK but if you send a text to a UK landline number then British Telecom has this system which enables the phone to ring and when picked up then a computer program reads the text in a voice that used to sound like Stephen Hawkings but nowadays sounds like Tom Baker.

A few years ago I sent quite a somewhat risqué text message to my then girlfriend but rather than select her mobile I mistakenly selected her landline and pressed Send before I realised my mistake. She told me the next day that her dad who was visiting stumbled down the stairs at two o’clock in the morning and answered the phone only to shocked to hear Doctor Who talk dirty to him. Ouch! Press the Rewind button please.

I suspect it’s not going to be the last time I reach for that rewind button..

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors, Part 11

The old tricks are the best, we used to do this with student nurses.

During the Vietnam War Michael Herr wrote in Dispatches “war is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror”. I initially thought he was talking about American Football but I know how he feels, because I’ve worked in theatres and Intensive Care.

In my previous career as a nurse I had to spend about two months working in theatres (or OR as our American cousins call it) alongside some not very bright surgeons. After a few weeks working (or more accurately standing still with my arms at the same length all day watching the clock go in reverse) I realised there were some phrases that one should listen out for, for example;

Wait a minute, if this is his liver, then what’s that?
Everybody stand back! I lost my contact lens!
What’s this doing here?
Am I in the right spot, ’cause I don’t think that should be here… (why am I thinking G-Spot suddenly?)
“Hmmm, well that’s interesting” during a C-Section

but the worse one we all dreaded was ‘FIRE! FIRE! Everyone get out!’ I have actually experienced that one plus a few power failures and you have no idea just how transforming that is to the assembled team, suddenly you stop daydreaming about last night’s (mis)adventures and just like a warzone, everyone moves like greased lightning under those circumstances, not to get out of theatre ASAP but to get the patient off all the support machines and keep him/her alive whilst you push the operating table out of the theatre. It’s all hands on deck literally and when I was working in the National Heart & Lung institute in central London I watched a cardiac surgeon squeeze a patient’s heart manually whilst we pushed the table into the neighbouring safe zone.

I’m not sure how it works in normal business’s but in hospitals the idea of moving patients out into the street is a no-no, usually you have to shove the patients into the next ward and then the plan is to keep moving them if that area becomes at risk. Trying to get a patient down a set of stairs on a hospital bed is not easy. However, in 10 years of ICU nursing I had seen an equally miraculous transformation in patients who normally required two nurses to help them get into a bedside chair but when the fire alarm goes off then they can do the 100m sprint in Olympic time.

What is not common knowledge is that in a fire emergency there is the potential to leave about half of your patents behind. On the face of it that seems callous but there is a logic to it, you see, in an average UK Intensive Care about 50% of your patients will be sedated and on ventilators. Therefore in the situation of an ICU filling up with smoke and fumes (from a distant fire) you triage your patients and the ones sedated and on ventilators are not going to suffocate from fumes as they are on piped O2. The ICU could be filled with thick black smoke but they would still be breathing clean air so you’d leave those ones behind and drag – sometimes literally – the patients that are awake and breathing room air.  I’ve never had to actually do that but every time a fire alarm went off then I automatically figured out if my patient should stay or go. Well.. I say ‘I’ because practically every female nurse (and some of the male ones) did what they always did when they knew Firemen (or Policemen) were coming to the Unit, they ran into the changing rooms and put on some lippy and fixed their hair, think it was something to do with the uniforms..

The normal routine on any ICU is for the ICU Medics to take primary irresponsibility for the patient but various teams (or ‘firms’ as they are called) would come around and advise on specialist treatment; Surgery, Orthopaedics, Obs & Gyna, etc but on ICU we had a running joke on how we identified various teams;

Q: How can you tell what type of physician caught the elevator door just as it was closing?

A: If they put in their hand, they are a medic…if they put in their head, they are a surgeon.

Of course we nurses liked to mess around and take the piss out of everyone but especially doctors, this story did the rounds when I was working with some very posh docs in Harley Street.

Three doctors and three nurses are travelling by train to a conference. At the station, the three doctors each buy tickets and watch as the three nurses buy only a single ticket. “How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?” asks a doctor.

“Watch and you’ll see,” answered a nurse. They all board the train. The doctors take their respective seats but all three nurses cram into a restroom and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the restroom door and says, “Ticket, please.”

The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on. The doctors saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea. So after the conference, the doctors decide to copy the nurses on the return trip and save some money (being clever with money, and all that). When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the nurses don’t buy a ticket at all. “How are you going to travel without a ticket?” says one perplexed doctor.

“Watch and you’ll see,” answered a nurse. When they board the train the three doctors cram into a restroom and the three nurses cram into another one nearby. The train departs. Shortly afterward, one of the nurses leaves his restroom and walks over to the restroom where the doctors are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, Ticket, please.”

bookmark_borderHow To Speak Fluent Norn Iron; Part Six

I'm going back to sign language. Less mistakes.

I’ve mentioned before in this blog that it’s not a good idea to call Native Americans ‘Red Indians’ when visiting the states, not unless you want everyone to drop to the floor! Being a child of the 60’s and 70’s, the term was used every weekend at the local flea-pit (Queen’s cinema) as the cowboys fought the redskins. It’s easy to cause unintentional offence with obsolete terminology,  and especially confusing when there’s an American football team named the Washington Redskins, and the Redskins serve as the mascot of Red Mesa High School on the Navajo Reservation in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona, go figure.

During my nurse training it was perfectly normal to refer to the Elderly Care wards as the Gerry’s ward – as in Geriatrics – and this was to our tutors. Now I am pretty sure Gerry’s is out and I suspect even Elderly Care is frowned upon, I think it’s referred to Care of the Aged now and during training terms like physically handicapped and mentally handicapped was perfectly acceptable but now handicap is only used during golfing conversations and the term disabled or disadvantaged is preferred.

I was talking to an American member of staff today and mentioned the ‘red’ faux pas to her and she agreed that if she hadn’t been sitting down then she would have fallen over if I used that term in normal conversation, however I went from one faux pas straight into another because I mentioned that her fringe needs trimmed and she looked at me quite shocked, apparently whilst fringe is a common term here in Europe, it’s called ‘bangs’ in America, where she comes from to have your fringe trimmed means something much more personal. Oops!

We all know over here that fag is a cigarette but means something completely different across the pond and beaver is a small water dwelling damn building forest animal – at least in this country but can mean your butt across the pond, fanny here is considered vulgar and not suitable for polite company but not considered that racey across the water. However, during my twenties in Northern Ireland and then in London we had terms, that as young lads we used all the time without a second thought.

Vincent Van Gogh – Rhyming slang for ‘cough’.  As in ‘That’s a nasty Vincent you’ve got there’. As a digression, we had a tutor at school called Mrs Chesnokov and whenever she was mentioned in conversation it was de rigueur to skip her name but to quickly touch your chest then knee and then cough; chest-knee-cough..  geddit?

Salad dodger – an extremely overweight person. Sometimes we would also say busted sofa – an overweight woman wearing a tight dress/trousers. As another digression, I once sat on a bus with my very young son only to be mortified as he said in a very loud voice whilst pointing to the lady sitting in front of us, ‘Daddy, that ladies very fat, isn’t she?’.  The young couple sitting behind us had to get off because for the next five minutes they tried and tried valiantly to supress their laugher before finally giving in to it.  So did the rest of the bus.

OK OK digression #2, when I was at Secondary school we had a tubby chap in our class called George Burns and being the horrible cruel kids that we were, his nickname was ‘Fat Burns’ and loved our cleverness as not only was he obviously fat but because, of course that fat does actually burn.

Aeroplane blond – this is a nursing term and no, it’s not about dumb blonde’s, it’s a phenomena one got used to seeing, especially in A&E (ER) Units, it’s a reference to an attractive woman who has dyed her hair but still has a black box.  As yet another digression, we once had an unconscious patient in A&E who had dyed her pubes green and had a tattoo ‘Come Lie On The Grass’ above it.  She needed to be prepped for emergency surgery so one of the nurses shaved her and wrote in ink above the tattoo ‘sorry, we had to mow the lawn’.

Pearl Harbour – cold weather. Rhyming slang.  “It’s a bit Pearl Harbour out there!”. Meaning it’s a bit nippy out there or there’s a nip in the air. This comes from the well-known surprise attack by Japanese planes on the American port in Hawaii in 1941. We would also say ‘it’s brass monkey weather out there’ meaning it would freeze the balls off a brass monkey, I had absolutely no idea where that came from but if you wish to be educated then click here.

Mork and Mindy – Rhyming slang for ‘windy’, i.e. “It’s a little bit Mork and Mindy today, innit?”. This isn’t actually a reference to the weather outside but this expression is always accompanied with a grin as you flap your hands around your rear end.  Speaking of which, I was reading a blog  (yes, mine actually) about life’s most embarrassing moments and this girl wrote that when in sixth form her teacher asked if anyone could do something unusual…like wiggle their ears or somersault…so this 16yr old said she could do a cartwheel. The teacher thought that’s a good trick so the entire class pushed all their desks back and she stood up to do her cartwheel, unfortunately as she was in the middle of it two things happened simultaneously

1) Her skirt fell down and everyone could see her awful Bridget Jones knickers..

2) She farted…REALLY LOUDLY

The entire class fell to the floor laughing and she was humiliated.. even the teacher laughed…

She left shortly after that and became an axe murderer..

Blouse Bunnies – you can probably figure this one out from the following totally true story. Into a Belfast pub comes Paddy Murphy, looking like he’d just been run over by a train. His arm is in a sling, his nose is broken, his face is cut, and bruised, and he’s walking with a limp.
‘What happened to you?’ asks Sean, the bartender.
‘Micheal O’Connor and me had a fight,’ says Paddy.
‘That little O’Connor,’ says Sean, ‘He couldn’t do that to you, he must have had something in his hand.’
‘That he did,’ says Paddy,’a shovel is what he had, and a terrible lickin’ he gave me with it.’
‘Well,’ says Sean, ‘you should have defended yourself. Didn’t you have something in your hand?’
That I did,’ said Paddy, ‘Mrs. O’Connor’s breast, and a thing of beauty it was; but useless in a fight.’

Five Finger Discount – to steal something. Another completely true story. It’s Saint Patrick’s day and an armed hooded robber bursts into the Bank of Ireland and forces the tellers to load a sack full of cash. On his way out the door with the loot one brave Irish customer grabs the hood and pulls it off revealing the robber’s face. The Robber Shoots the Guy Without Hesitation!

He then looks around the bank to see if anyone else has seen him. One of the tellers is looking straight at him and the robber walks over and calmly shoots him also. Everyone by now is very scared and looking down at the floor. Did anyone else see my face?’ screams the robber.

There is a few moments of silence then one elderly Irish lady, looking down, tentatively raises her hand and says, ‘I think me husband may have caught a glimpse.’

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanours, Part 10

My previous career from ’87 to 2000 was as a nurse, mostly Intensive Care but when I did my Nurse training all those years ago the Uni insisted that we students all stayed in Halls of Residence for the first year so we could ‘bond’ and support each other. So that was me, five other blokes (four of whom were gay) and 100 female student nurses.  Rob (the only other straight bloke) and I couldn’t believe our luck, we couldn’t wait to start training, we were both 27 and very keen to bond with our colleagues!

Now you might make a few assumptions here, that Rob and I spent the entire time bonding,  (as we were hoping) but our hopes were cruelly dashed because student nurses are just like proper staff nurses, they all suffer from White Coat Syndrome and will only ever date doctors and medical students. I’m not bitter.. no no, I’m not bitter…mutter mutter.. not at all ..mutter bitter..mutter..

It wasn’t all that bad, us six blokes were very popular during the University dance evenings and were passed from dance partner to dance partner – yes, those were the days when you actually danced with a member of the opposite sex rather than strut your funky stuff across the floor as we ummm you do now days and we got very comfortable chatting to the opposite sex, sadly the conversation rarely strayed into sport or cars territory but it’s a skill that’s served me well over the years but maybe not now as I work with a load of pizza eating coke swilling geeks.

However, and I know I’m going to hell for this, we all used to get up to some ‘jolly japes’ when living in the Halls. We all had individual rooms and there were about twenty rooms along our corridor and we were always pulling pranks on each other.  An easy one to do during the night when everyone was asleep was to tie two opposing door handles together, this meant that when the respective occupants woke and went to leave the room the doors opened just slightly and then slammed shut, much to the amusement of us children..

The one we loved to do was the ‘water cress prank’. When we knew some poor victim was going off on holiday for two weeks we would break into her room, it was always a ‘her’ and the doors were pretty insecure, and we would sneak in half way through the holiday, wet a large area of the carpet and cover it in mustard/water cress seeds, then make sure the curtains are open and leave the room undisturbed for the remaining week.

Then what happened, amongst the titters of absolutely everyone, was that water cress grew over the week and when the victim came back she opened the door and invariably shouted WTF!!! Whilst we all wet ourselves laughing.

Now, it wasn’t really THAT bad, in fact walking on water cress was infinitely preferable to walking on our manky carpets and sometime the victims would leave it there for a few days because it was actually just like walking on grass, then when it was time to chuck it you just simply rolled it up and shoved it in a few refuse sacks…no harm done… and if you are hungry during the night and fancy a snack..

One of the other tricks we used to do, and this was strictly on unpopular student nurses only and one in particular, was to wait until they left their room to go on a shift and then we’d get a bottle of talcum powder and pour it just under her door in the space between the door and the floor and then get a hairdryer and blow all the talcum into the room. What happened then was that the entire room got covered by a thick layer of ‘dust’, every single surface, it took a few hours to get best effect but usually by the time the student came back it was all settled and once more we all peed our pants laughing at WTF!! I think I should point out that it wasn’t just me and Rob doing these pranks, it was everyone in the corridor..

Oh, and BTW, roosters will start crowing at about 5 am, and if they are indoors, it’s really fucking annoying. Trust me.

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors – More Dog Tails!


Did I mention I worked at Battersea Dogs Home, I lasted four hours….yes, a whole morning at Battersea Dogs home, I pitched up and they gave me two pairs of wellies and three teeshirts with Battersea Dogs Home logo on them and set me to work. it all seemed to be going OK until they asked me to clean out the cage with the rabid German Shepard, I looked at it and it glared at me and I thought no effing way am ‘I’ going in THAT cage but the bastards pushed me in and shut the cage door immediately afterwards….

…..and I was absolutely fine for oohhhhhhh two point five seconds where upon the crazy dog leapt at me and sank his teeth straight into my left wellie!

So I obviously tried pulling him off and at the same time hobble out of the cage but this dog wasn’t having any of it, it sank it’s teeth into me even further and I was in agony so I grabbed my brush and started hitting the crazy bugger over the head trying to get it to release me – and the other staff got *incredibly annoyed* with me as I hit him over the head with my broom trying to make it let go of my leg, quote “don’t hit him, you’ll hurting him” as he sank his teeth further and further into my leg…funny that….eventually I managed to get the broom handle inside his jaws and sort of prise his jaw open and then in a deft move shove it down his throat whilst I reversed at great speed out’a the cage..

The staff were pissed with me – as if I forced my leg into the freaking dogs mouth… I went and got some bandages, a tetanus shot, went home and never came back but at least I got three teeshirts and two pairs of wellies out of them, pity one wellie had teeth marks..and blood..

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanours part eight – Dog Tails

Dogs and me have history..  I was young…I’m much better behaved these days… promise

Years ago when I lived in Ireland and was living by myself I really wanted a dog so off I trotted to the local animal shelter with friend Carl and he got this huge Bulldog sort of monster and I got an Alsatian (German Shepard) and it was off to the park to walk them…of course all the woman were all over us and we were loving it, nothing like a dog to attract the woman…probably something about a man being able to look after a dog must be able to look after babies.

So anyway, mine seemed quite relaxed, really relaxed, so I let it off the lead..

and it was ok for ohhhhh.. about three seconds and then off it shot like a rocket into the lake and started chasing the Canadian Geese…I looked at Carl, he looked at me and without saying a word we ran like hell out of Ward Park just as we saw the Parkies appearing..

So it was off to WhiteSpots Animal Shelter – we couldn’t go back to the local one and we got another dog for me, another Alsatian, this one was even better at attracting woman than the last one but of course I could never take it to the Park…however it was sick in my car ALMOST every time it was in it…not good, (a 25 yr old has a lot of pride in his wheels – how things change), and when I went to work it howled and howled..the neighbours didn’t really like it, actually they were ready to lynch me and the dog so it was off to WhiteSpots with it and swap it for another one, this time I had a gorgeous Alsatian, brilliant long haired thing, more like a lion than a dog and God, the woman were all over it, I was in my element, however, Carl’s dog, Duke, was another matter, it was brute ugly and scared the woman away! It should have come with a health warning..

I hated his dog.

When I use to call around at his house the bloody dog would charge at me and leap up and without fail it’s two front paws would hit me smack in the nuts, every single time, bloody effing dog, I was crippled…but to get my own back we would dump both dogs into the back of Carl’s car and drive way out into the middle of the country and when we thought no one was looking we would dump them out of the car.

Of course they thought they were going for walks but oh no, we would jump back into the car and drive off slowly, the dogs would look at each other and think WTF is going on and slowly catch on and come charging after us, of course we drove slowly and cars would pass us coming the other way and wonder what was going on and why were we driving at 10 miles per hour and what were those two dogs doing chasing us…

Usually after a bit we would slow down and open the boot of the car, the dogs wouldn’t even have the energy in climb in so we would lift them in and take them home and trust me, after that they slept all night and didn’t need exercised for about a week after…well, I had to get my own back for all the vomit in the car and all the jumping on my nuts…

Yes, I know, I’m evil and am going straight to hell..

Oh just remembered, Carl told me about that time that he was in bed one night and he was having a lovely dream about being in bed with a model, he was really enjoying himself but he couldn’t understand why when he was kissing her that she smelt so awful…turns out when he woke up that Duke had crept into bed with him. I’m sorry, I know it’s cruel to laugh but I just can help it, how far did he go, was it good for him, did she get down and dirty, did he do in doggy style??

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanours, Part 9, he should have seen that coming..

Is there anyone there...?

When I was in my early twenties and still living in Norn Iron we had a small theatre in town, The Little theatre, which the amateur dramatics society played at but occasionally they would host various act’s like stage hypnotists and even the odd psychic.

We would all pitch up to see the hypnotist occasionally and being typical Norn Iron we’d muck about with him, there was one guy in particular who we would all fight to get up on stage with and pretend to be hypnotised and then do exactly the opposite to what he said. We were somewhat evil buggers but the entire audience was somewhat mischievous too, the Little theatre wasn’t a big venue (obviously not with a name like that) and it felt more like a family gathering than a full blown theatre.

However, one evening we had a psychic there, some bloke who was going to communicate with the dead but he started off badly by being nearly an hour late (some psychic!) and the entire audience was …well.. was ‘in one of those moods’ by the time the curtain was actually raised..

He introduced himself and tried to set the right atmosphere with spooky music but basically we were all after blood after waiting so friggin long, and he tried communicating with a few long lost audience relatives but wasn’t really having much joy, it was all very vague and unconvincing, we were all growing restless and ironically he was dying up there on stage, we wanted “the family jewels are hidden under the floorboards in the kitchen” but all we got were vague references to the Boar War so you could almost feel the audience circling in for the kill…

He said that the atmosphere wasn’t very conducive tonight to contacting ‘the other side’ but he would give it another shot and some wag shouted out “Darren, what about my mother??” and Darren replied “When did she die?” and the wag shouted back “Oh, she’s not dead!” and the audience burst into laughter… “What about my sister?” shouted another voice and Darren asked “is she dead?” NO! came the reply to more laughter.. and then I shouted out “What about my dad?” and Darren, clearly pissed off by now asked if he was dead and I replied “Yes” so Darren adopts the pose and in hushed tones starts to contact the dead at which point I shout out “Oh no, WAIT! he’s not dead, he’s sitting beside me!!” and the WHOLE audience bursts into long long laughter and Darren gives me the dirtiest look possible and walks off the stage…

He should have seen that coming..

I’m probably going to hell, aren’t I ? (and I won’t be passing any message back from there!)

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanours, Part 7. Green Fingers?

Herbal tea anyone?

Despite being somewhat mischievous, I’ve lead a reasonably sheltered life – at least from a illegal activities point of view, I haven’t ever got a speeding ticket-although Wandsworth council seems to intent on sticking parking tickets on my car for no reason at all. So a few summers ago I met She Who Shall Not Be Named in Brighton, I was in my “no matter how completely barking mad”’ phase and was willing to risk it (yet again) so I pitched up at Brighton one evening in the summer.

I went into her kitchen and the first thing I noticed was I could hardly move for cannabis plants! Jesus Christ, everywhere I looked  cannabis plants were growing, in the kitchen, the conservatory, the garden, the greenhouse… I thought shit I’d better get out of here before the cops raid the place and I get throw in jail…

I asked her what on earth was she doing with so many plants (doh!) and she said she sells them, it’s how she makes her living! Shit! I thought! I’ve entered some sort of suburban drug factory!  She told me everything about them, how to force grow them, process them, and then she showed me her loft (that’s not an euphemism BTW) and it’s jam packed with weed drying out!

I asked what she does with so much weed and she explained how she picks them and puts them into little packets, then goes around the local gyms and sells it to her classes, she goes to all these over 60’s keep fit classes and sells the regulars dope..! Two thoughts occurred to me when she told me this; (a) I didn’t know Brighton was such a den of iniquity.. and (b) what friggin age was she really!

Now here’s the funny thing, her father lived with her amongst all the weed, you see, the house was divided up into upper and lower flats and he came wandering down for a chat and just lit up some weed in front of me… and he was about 90, I think! Then she starts lighting up, I’ve never tried any kind of drugs – I know I know, you are surprised but in Norn Iron it’s all controlled by the paramilitaries and all hard drugs and we weren’t the sort to try anything like I sit there on her settee and try smoking this weed and cough cough cough cough so she shows me how to smoke it properly and about two joints later I’m starting to get the hang of it and feeling light headed..

Of course having never done anything like that it suddenly hits me and I think she’s expecting some ‘action’ but of course I fall into deep sleep, I vaguely remember her getting stroppy about me falling asleep and how she was really looking forward to some rumpy-pumpy but that was it – I was comatose and woke up fully dressed on the settee at 5am – thought WTF is going on and wasn’t really sure where I was as it was dark. So I crawled my way out past all the plants and found my way to Brighton train station and waited for the first train home. Just as a matter of interest, did you know that the first train to London on a Sunday morning from Brighton doesn’t actually leave Brighton station until around 8am…  Yeah, nor did I but I do now..

I suppose if I was being evil I could tip off the police but live and let live is my motto.. The thing is, her loft was full of weed with strong lights, surely the police can just look at average electricity use in an area and spot the house with the high usage – and bright lights shining out of the sky-light.. or maybe she supplies the police too..

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors (part six)

Polly wants a cracker!

When I was doing my nursing and it was quiet I used to ring up some of the other wards and ask for fictitious characters like Penny; Penny TrateMe or Connie; Connie Lingus or Ipee; Ipee Freely..I’d do that when a new member of staff started and didn’t know anyone (or any better) was revenge for the same trick being played on me when I was new and I’m sure it still happens these days.. (no, not by me!).

Someone rang me up once when I was doing my Ward Management Exam and said her name was Mrs Smith and she was coming in for a hernia repair tomorrow (which was true as I had a list of tomorrows ops) but then she asked what parrot food we had..

I thought WTF and said pardon and she said she was going to bring her parrot in as we couldn’t expect her to leave it at home for a week, she had a cage and it was clean and not too noisy but it was very fussy about it’s what food did we supply..

I said sorry but there is no way we would allow a pet parrot on a surgical ward but then we got into this surreal argument about peoples rights and animal rights, I was just about to tell her to go fuck herself when I heard a snigger in the background..and the penny dropped, I said hang on a minute til “I check with the boss” and nipped around to the next ward and the entire staff were standing by the phone laughing at the wonderful prank they were playing on dumbo next door…I’m soo naive…bastards…

bookmark_borderMore Crimes and Misdemeanours don't drink all my beer and then fall unconscious when I'm around

More crimes I’m afraid.

When I was 25 I shaved off half my friend’s moustache. It was punishment as (a) he was unconscious after drinking all my booze on holiday plus (b) he had booked us a hotel room in Turkey right beside those huge effing speakers the faithful are called to prayer with at six o’clock in the morning.

When the call went out I was fast asleep and I swear, I near shit myself, I thought an ocean liner was about to come crashing through the wall! So as punishment I shaved off half of his moustache and then told him he did it himself in the morning when he surfaced.

A few days later when we eventually found another hotel that wasn’t right beside a mosque I had almost forgiven him right up to the moment when he mentioned that he had been using my razor to shave with – that’s verboten as far as I’m concerned so that day I suggested we go on a boat trip, I knew he had a jippy tummy but told him there would be a loo on the boat.

There wasn’t.

He spent the entire trip pacing up and down the boat anxiously ignoring my suggestion to stick his rear end over the side and do his business – lee side of course. By the time the boat arrived with us and about 20 others on it at the next island Tony was in agony, as we sailed closer to the shore there was a queue to dock on the rickety pier so Tony suddenly dived overboard and swam the last 20 yards and then dashed up the beach and the main street to the one hotel hanging desperately onto his swimming trunks… I think he made it but I (and everyone else) was too busy laughing our asses off to care.. we reckon he broke the Olympic Swimming record for both the swim and the 100m dash…

He refuses to answer my emails these days…  can’t figure out why not…….  😉

Yes, am going to Hell.. care to join me?

bookmark_borderCrimes and misdemeanors (part four)

There's something fishy going on here...

OK, not sure really if I should confess to this but bugger it, no-one knows where I live, not even me sometimes.

When I was 24 and still living in Northern Ireland I used to go along to my mates Trevor’s house and give him a lift to his footie match on Saturday mornings and support his team.

However, one Saturday morning as I was waiting for him to get his football boots on in the kitchen I spotted that his goldfish, Robert, was lying upside down in his bowl. I said to Trevor and he sighed but went and got a net and fished Robert out. I asked him what he was going to do with Robert and he said he was just going to flush him down the toilet and I told him the decent thing to do would be to bury poor Robert at the bottom of the garden….poor poor Robert..

So Trevor sighs again and moans about being late for the match but  goes get a little trowel, digs a little hole in the garden, buries Robert and off we go to the footie match quite late. (I did ask him if he was going to say a few words but he gave me that ‘go fuck yourself’ look..)

You are probably thinking Robert is a funny name for a goldfish but think about it – if you are called Robert then everyone calls you Bob..  geddit?? Bob..Bob..Bob…

We get there and the teams are still kicking the balls around in pre-match warm-up, the referee delayed the start of the match waiting for Trevor, he didn’t want to play 11 vs 10 aside.  Trevor joins in but I wait by the side line and the referee comes on, he is a bit annoyed about Trevor being late and I have a word with the ref…..  well…when I say a word….I might have embroidered the truth slightly..

So, the ref…  oh dear..  I don’t know if I can tell you this.. so the ref calls both teams together for kick-off but before he does that he brings both teams into a tight circle and explains to everyone that the reason Trevor was late was because he received tragic news this morning of a family bereavement, that one of his distant family members – Robert – had suddenly passed away.  It seems that not only was Robert a great sportsman and apparently he was an excellent swimmer too!

So the two teams stood together for a minutes silence for poor Robert whilst Trevor choked back fits of laughter and looked over at me absolutely wetting myself on the side-lines.

I’m going to hell, aren’t I?

bookmark_borderCrimes and Misdemeanour’s Part Three

More confessions I’m afraid. Quite a while back I pitched up in the Maldives, for those that don’t know where the Maldives are then go to the bottom tip of India and then keep going south for about 500 miles, you’ll hit them eventually – either that or the South Pole. Everyone else was going to boring European destinations at that point and Oz/Thailand but I hate to follow the crowd so the Maldives seem to be ‘quite’ off the beaten track.

Getting there involved the proverbial ‘Trains, Plane and Automobiles’ but also a very very long speed boat trip and donkey and cart (seriously). They were in the process of upgrading their airport so it would take international flights and tourism so I wanted to get there before the hoi polloi ruined the place.

Two interesting bits of trivia about the Maldives for you, it has the worlds lowest ‘high’ point (if that makes sense) at about seven foot, and if the climate keeps changing then that’s going to be a negative number and at Malé International Airport, located next door on Hulhulé Island, they don’t have building more than two stories high and therefore when a large plane lands it’s officially the tallest building on the island.

The other interesting thing is, you know how you look at all those holiday brochures and the water is turquoise and you think that’s been Photoshopped, at the airport the water is literally a stones throw away and I went over to look at it, I was amazed to see not only was it turquoise right up to the edge but also there was loads of fish swimming happily in easy view, no Photoshop required.

I left the main island and started exploring the 1000+ islands, hitching a lift on a boat was easy enough, very few locals spoke any English but pointing at a map and foreign currency seemed to break the language barrier easily.

So I headed off and was dumped on one of the smaller islands. One of the first sights to greet me was what I initially thought was a bloke trying to hammer a sign into the track but then I looked closely and noticed that he actually had pinned down a huge ?rat with the sign and his friend was hammering the top of the sign to try to kill it.. yuck.. I made sure I kept the door of my hut closed that night..

So I spent a few days here and there but the island was alcohol free and there was no night life so after I’d had enough of swimming/sunning/sleeping to mid day and exploring the local village store I thought it was about time to have some fun, so I taught the village children to sing Britney Spears ‘Hit Me Baby, One More Time’ but to the tune of the British National Anthem and ‘American Pie’ to the tune of ‘Teenage Dirtbag” it was actually quite cool and I wondered what others after me thought, did they add their own songs to the list.. I expect them to be on X-Factor one day..

The other thing I did – and I know I’m definitely going to hell for this – was to teach the store owner proper manners by prefacing every item for sale with the word ‘fucking’, his English was rudimentary to say the least but he could say ‘you want water?’ or ‘you want bread’ but I told him that it was considered MUCH more polite to say ‘you want fucking water’ so foreigners would be impressed and spend more money in his store.. He seemed to get the hang of it really quickly and was very grateful for my assistance..

bookmark_borderCrimes and Misdemeanour’s

My life of crime actually started when I was very young, I was obsessed with dogs (apparently!) as a toddler and whenever I saw a dog I’d run over and hug it. This wasn’t too bad but sadly my first words wasn’t Mamma or Dadda but actually DOG, much to the great disappointment of my parents. This was, I suppose quite cute but for quite a long time the only words I would say was Dog, Dog, Dog! Normally this would have been ok – except for the fact that (a) it always sounded like I was saying Doug rather than Dog and (b) the Postman was called Doug.. It seems I sparked off some gossip in my neighbourhood about whom my real father actually was…

Later on in life when I was about five and folk asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I always liked to say “International Playboy”, one of my much older brothers found it in a book and patiently taught me to say it. For some unknown reason this always startled folk and I liked the reaction I got from folk, sadly I’m still working on the actual International Playboy bit…

Then in my teens I went through my evil period… (or my creative period as I like to call it). We lived in a village for a few years and there wasn’t much to do in the evenings apart from kick around in the streets, we were too young to drive and no grown-ups were going to drive us to the bright city lights of Belfast so we had to find our own amusement.. So we made up this games called Thunder and Lightning, this entailed sneaking up quietly and ringing peoples doorbells and running away as quietly as possible and hiding behind a fence watching the person come out and look for the invisible man.. we derived great merriment watching folk come out, look around puzzled and then press their own doorbell.

Sadly, and like a drug, we started to get bored with merely ringing the doorbell so we had to up the ante… I had this box of matches so I thought why not ruffle up some old paper, set fire to it and then ring the doorbell. And this worked a treat, folk would come out, be startled to see some paper burning on their doorstep and they’d immediately stamp it out, doing this little dance.. the Doorstep Dance as we would call it..

We thought the Doorstep Dance was hilarious BUT there was one guy in the village that we all feared, he was always complaining to our parents (and anyone really) about us noisy kids and giving up grief…he had a ferocious dog that he used to set on us and it always burst our footballs… sooooooooo one day when I was feeling particularly mischievous I rolled up some small paper bags but as an addition I scooped up some of Arthur’s poop from his garden and placed it inside the bag. I am ashamed to say that then I placed it on the doorstep, set it on light, rang the doorbell and ran away… My Grumpy did indeed come out, saw the burning paper and immediately started stamping all over it…

I hang my head in shame..
(and am somewhat worried as my two boys are almost that same age now too… I’m wary of answering my doorbell these days..)

bookmark_borderCrimes and Misdemeanour’s.. Part deux

I don’t really drink much these days but in my 20’s I was typical bloke and would partake a drink or two, however that got curtailed slightly after the following incident when I was 25. It was my mate Toms stag night and a whole pile of us trooped down to Brighton on the piss. Officially it was a stag night but as a lot of us were going steady it became combined Stag/Hen night.

I was dating Sue and we were all part of a good bunch of friends. So we ended up in this pub near Brighton, 40 miles away but we knew the owner, he was one of our lots father and he had a load of mattresses upstairs in a pool hall for us all to crash out on..

So we did the usual pub crawl and then ended up back at his place, the Spread Eagle, and after drinking ourselves stupid we all eventually crashed out upstairs in the pool hall, I snuggled up beside Sue and fell into deep sleep but at about 4am I was busting to go for a leak so I gently untangled myself from Sue and tip-toed out, found the bog, and then came back and snook quietly back into bed behind Sue, snuggled up beside he, wrapped my arms around her and give her some nice kisses on the nape of her neck, she snuggled up even tighter before we both fell deeply asleep..

Imagine my surprise when I was woken up suddenly next morning with Sue shouting “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING IN ‘HER’ BED!!”… I looked under the blanket, I had my arms wrapped around Anne…damn! Wrong bed! Doh!!

Needless to say Sue and I didn’t stay together much longer after that but the guys ribbed me about it for absolutely years… bugger!