All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.

irishmammies

Irish and Jewish mothers share a stereotype with one exception: they don’t temper their sense of guilt. With all the love in the world, an Irish mother can simultaneously worship the ground her son walks on and act with a deeper sadism than the bastard offspring of Jeffrey Dahlmer and John Wayne Gacy.

Growing up, the brother and me were pretty spoiled – it was more Enid Blyton (without the casual racism) than Angela’s Ashes , but Mam wielded the wooden spoon of guilt like Zorro felling Spaniards. When I went through a period of fibbing she tole me that my tongue would turn black and fall out if I lied. How did she know? That damned avian turncoat, the little bird, told on me. Every time. It must have been a stool pigeon.

The best ever was telling me that raising a hand to her would result in the offending member rising from the ground once buried, forming a gruesome, peeling tribute to the finale of Carrie. People will come from miles around, she said, to visit the slowly rotting hand and say “There lies a terrible child who was mean to his mother.”

Of course, we laugh about it now, but I still hate that bird.

 

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Nollaig shona daoibh go leir

Like salmon returning to the place of their birth once spawning season is upon them, every Christmas the Irish diaspora returns home to their Mammies to celebrate in a way only the they can: Lighting the fire in the good room, leaving a Guinness out for Santy, and getting the Christmas clothes out for Midnight Mass.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btqSxlUJyxo]

We’re staying in Cambridge this year but will be sticking a candle in the window for the rest of you that make it home.

Happy holiday season.

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Jackboots and Shocktroops Remind me of You

All Kinds of Everything
Image via Wikipedia

Rosemary “Dana” Scallon – the Irish version of Rick Santorum – has decided to try to run for the presidency again.  Obviously losing the race in 1997, winning the Eurovision Song contest, and pandering to an anti-progressive base are the only skills needed by a head of state and guardian of the Constitution.

I ran into her in Rome in 2000, which made one of the less sober members of our group really happy.  “Pleased to meet you, Ms. International,” he yelled.

I don’t know why she ran off. Maybe she didn’t like being addressed as “Ms.”

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J’suis seul dans ma cuisine/Et je bois du café

In the early nineties (1985 in Ireland years) my uncle shipped a percolating coffee pot over from America, which sat in the middle of the kitchen as we tried to figure out what this Cray supercomputer of a kitchen implement was for. It looked like a giant kettle with piping that led up to a mesh basin, which is where the coffee went. Up until then coffee came in a jar, tasted like willow bark, and was only every drunk under protest. Even Anthony Head’s on-and-off romance over a jar of Gold Blend couldn’t make it any more palatable. Gold Blend? We weren’t made of money.

Once we’d found some ground coffee (what do you mean Arabica – I want coffee) the pot was watered, loaded, and put on the gas. Within ten minutes of hissing, pffting, and all manner of steampunk noises this Dr. Snuggles-like machine produced what I can only describe as stimulant heaven. No more Mellow Birds for me… until the mesh corroded.

Ever since, like a heroin addicted J.R. Hartley jonesing for one last fix, I’ve tried to find a replacement. Times have changed and all you can find are french presses, cafetieres, and coffee makers. Until now!

Thanks to the Argos of the middle classes I’ve found a replacement.

I haven’t slept since.

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