When I was a kid, there was a soap on Irish television every Sunday night. Glenroe, was set in the Wicklow mountains and had massive viewership all through the 80s and 90s, but my only real memory was the theme tune.
When the jaunty pipes and slide-show of Irish farmland came on, my body went into shock.
For you it might have been the theme to Sounds of Praise, or the Simpsons, or even listening to the top 40 on Radio 1, but we’ve all gone through the Sunday Scaries – in fact two-thirds of workers in the UK have some form of Sunday anxiety!
Thirty years later, and I still get the Sunday Scaries. But it’s not that I’ve forgotten an English essay that needs to be handed in on Monday morning, it’s a signal that something is not quite right.
“…that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest.”
Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Is the work you’re doing meaningful and does it create value?
Do the people you work with raise you up and make you a better person?
Are you trying to do difficult things that will make the world a better place?
If you’re feeling the Sunday Scaries and the answer to these questions is, “no”, then your body is trying to tell you something – Find meaning in your work life or find a work life that gives you meaning.
Irish and Jewish mothers share a stereotype with one exception: Irish mothers 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?
“A little bird told me”
Not only was Mammy a Gaelic Doctor Doolittle, she’d created a network of avian turncoats.
That little bird told on me. Every time. It must have been a stool pigeon.
Idiopathic tongue-ectomies aside, the best correction I got was herself telling me that boys who hit their mother would face the worst punishment ever. When they died, after their four-score and ten, and were buried the offending member would end up rising from the ground and become 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.
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.
It wasn’t familiarity with my birthplace that make it hard to suspend disbelief, even though Gina Carano‘s teaky depiction of rogue agent Mallory appeared to run around Dublin with nothing but contempt for natural laws of geography. In one chase sequence she appeared to have crossed the Liffey three times without using a bridge, which can only mean that Aperture Science has joined Amazon, Facebook and Twitter in basing their European offices there.
It wasn’t even the fact that a room at the Shelbourne Hotel was trashed and no-one bothered to complain until the following morning. “Calm down,” I muttered, “it’s still more realistic than Leap Year.”
No, what made me realise that this was pure fantasy was the fact that Grafton Street still had shops open and people spending money. There’s suspension of disbelief and then there’s the pure naivety of believing Ireland still has an economy.
What about the rest of the movie? Remember the sort of showthat would beon Saturday evenings on ITV in the eighties? That’s exactly it – Haywire felt like a pilot for one of those bloodless, gung-ho, let’s-shoot-a-lot-of-weapons-and-have-a-bit-of-fighting-before-bathtime and nothing more nuanced than a two-part episode of the A-Team.
I’m not saying the parts of the story wedged between the She-ra-esque set pieces were dull but, at one point, an actual tumbleweed rolled past in the mid-distance as Michael Douglas tried to exposit his way out of a paper-thin plot. Still, at ninety minutes, it’s not going to be too much of your life wasted
Dara Ó Briain recently posted this video on Twitter to show just how different the Irish and British are in spite of a couple of centuries of speaking the same language.
In the early days of living together, I asked Ang to put the messages in the press. While simultaneously trying to figure out when I’d installed a device for receiving emails into an iron and dialling NHS Direct to get an ambulance sent out she didn’t realise that her first forays into Hiberno-English were occurring. Nowadays things are regularly grand in our house – to be sure things are rarely things any more, but yokes – and the expletive of choice is feck.
In return I’ve started saying “Ta ra!” and Tidy, which sound quite daft in a Dublin accent.
“Eternal is the fact that the human creature born in Ireland and brought up in its air is Irish. I have lived for twenty years in Ireland and for seventy-two in England; but the twenty came first, and in Britain I am still a foreigner and shall die one.”
After only four matches it’s all over for us. Despite playing their little hearts out, the Irish team are heading home to a heroes welcome. Continuing the tactic of letting in an early goal and clawing through ninety minutes to a spectacular draw, McCarthy’s Eleven went on to take shot after shot at the Spanish goal before losing on penalties. The irony when compared to Italy 1990 is far from lost on me.
On the other hand I did go to see Spiderman during the week. What a fantastic movie. This is everything the Episode II should have been and now with Ang Lee‘s Hulk coming up, it looks like it’s going to be a good year for comic book fans.
Another hint: Check out The Libertines. I saw them at the Peterborough Met on Friday and even though they only played for a half hour, they were amazing. I’ve a feeling these guys are going to be bigger than Blur or Oasis combined. Punk isn’t dead – there is finally life after Steps.
Well here it is – a diary I’ve been planning to keep for the past god-knows how long. Hopefully Blogger will make it a little simpler than writing a lot of bloody HTML.
Just back to Cambridge from a weekend home in Dublin where much alcohol was imbibed and many brain cells destroyed. The only problem was Ryanair – The Low Service Airline. I got into Stansted Airport in plenty of time for my 7:10pm flight when it was delayed, not for fifty minutes, not even for an hour, but for four long hours. Airports are depressing places at the best of times, but having to wait until 11:30pm while three flights to Dublin leave ahead of you, without even a cup of tea from the airline is enough to make you go looking for the nearest clock tower.