Category Archives: Bits and Bobs
The first big TV programme of RTE’s 1916 commemorations finished on Sunday night. I watched all five episodes with decreasing enjoyment as the weeks went on. So here’s my final thoughts. It wasn’t complete garbage, but it wasn’t great either.
My main problems with it:
* the inaccuracies throughout – I accept that a lot of viewers would not have been aware of them but as the whole drama was about one of the major episodes in Ireland’s history I don’t think it was unreasonable to expect that the details could have been sharper.
* the whole storyline with the character of May was appallingly lame and hackneyed and added nothing to the drama, if anything it took from it.
* while I felt the acting overall was good, there were some rather weak portrayals and in particular I felt Camille O’Sullivan’s portrayal (betrayal??) of Countess Markievicz was little short of hammy.
* the character of Lizzie – while generally I liked her – was just a bit too gushy and times and no way would she have spent days (weeks?) in an armed rebellion looking like a glammed up Virgin Mary in that coat and dress. (Although I did LOVE the coat)
I think RTE overhyped it and hence expectations were high. It does seem to have inspired some viewers who wouldn’t know much about the personalities involved to go away and read up on it which is most definitely a good thing. Or maybe they said that just to shut me up from saying “But the Countess wasn’t like that!!” !!!
I needed a pair or two of jeans, as all my other ones had either died a death – think patches upon patches – or no longer fitted comfortably. Now as I am currently working to lose a bit of weight and tone up, and thankfully beginning to see some changes, I decided it wasn’t worth buying decent, well cut, slightly pricey jeans as – hopefully – they would be too big in a few months. Cheap and cheerful seemed the way to go. All I wanted was everyday jeans for running around in, that I could wear with boots or runners or shoes and with a variety of tops. Not too difficult a mission you might think. Well it seems that women can no longer just go into a shop and buy jeans.
Jeans were easy to find in every shop I went into, and I should add here that I hate clothes shopping, but then it got complicated. I hoped to pick up a size 14 and a size 16 (cos I’m between the two sizes at present), try them on (hoping that the 14 would fit best) and then get a couple of pairs. No such luck. I was confronted with what to me was a mind boggling array of options and decisions to make.
Did I want bootcut, skinny, super skinny (not bloody likely), mid flare, mid rise, low cut, straight, mom jeans (actually maybe that was what I was looking for!!), boyfriend jeans, ripped jeans…….. For the love of god I just wanted a pair of jeans!!!! After a few minutes my head was spinning. I eventually selected a pair that seemed close to what I had in mind but then the issue of colour arose – just how many shades of blue are there????
Exasperated and bored senseless at this stage I grabbed two pairs and paid for them. I had my daughter with me and as the shop I was in (the fourth shop that day I might add) does not have wheelchair friendly changing cubicles, I didn’t try them on. Probably just as well. I went for the 16’s and they are a little big (yay! but not so big that 14’s would have been better) which I don’t mind, but because I’m only 5 feet 2 inches they are rather long on me. Long to the extent that I can only wear them with boots. I never thought to check the length. Feckity feckity feck. They’ll have to do, I couldn’t face that again.
I got it this morning. Anyone who knows me in real life will know that I am not interested in make up – own very little and use it very rarely – nor have I any fascination in fashion and clothes. Not criticising those who are interested in all of this, it’s just not me. However I am rather partial to nail polish. Or at least to buying it, I don’t wear it much now either, in between housework (bleurgh), gardening (yay) and life in general I just never get round to it. But I will still pick up the odd bottle if a colour takes my fancy.
So this morning I decided to catch up on a bit of reading, both online and in an actual book ( 🙂 ) and thought I might paint my nails while I was at it. The whole works now, base coat, two coats of colour and top coat. So I selected an unused colour from my stash, sat down at the kitchen table with book and laptop and started.
Its now nearly an hour later and I am waiting for the top coat to dry on my right hand (so am typing this left handed). My eyes are tired from looking at the screen, I’ve read a chapter of my book and my to do list looks like it might lose out against the clock. Not for the first time! This carry on just takes too long, no wonder I don’t do it very often. Oh and you’ll like this – the colour I used is called ‘Keep Calm and Play’. Is someone taking the proverbial??? Its nice though, isn’t it?
Like many other women I know, I have a place in our house where a lot of my work gets done. I’m not talking about housework or cooking, no rather the researching, reading, campaigning, blogging, organising, writing, tiny bit of crafting and big pinch of staring out of the window daydreaming that makes up my average working day.
My workplace – unsurprisingly – is my kitchen table. That will largely change at some point in the next few months when the office that my lovely husband is building for me is finished. He has done all of it by himself and is now at the point of roofing. I am getting rather excited by it now. But back to my kitchen table. Its nothing unusual or special, a maple (I think) table, 4ft by 2ft. Not terribly big but then neither is our kitchen.
This table is where we eat breakfast – which apart from weekends is a staggered affair, DH and DD have theirs at 6.45 and 7.20 respectively, and then I sit down to mine in perfect peace at 8.15 when they’ve gone. Its where DH and I generally sit with a cuppa when he gets in from work and chew over our day. Its where DD likes to play her toy piano – loudly. Its where we generally eat dinner, not always, And for me its where I spend a sizeable chunk of my weekdays.
I’m the first to admit I’m not the tidiest person in the world and while by and large I keep the house clean, it often resembles an explosion in a paper mill with wool, needles and pens thrown in for good measure. Most mornings my beloved husband has to move newspapers, books and notepads of mine before he can sit down with his breakfast. Is it any wonder he suggested I might like a dedicated office space?? Once everyone else has left for the day I generally give the kitchen a quick tidy up and going over and that includes ‘sorting’ out everything that has ‘somehow’ ended up on the table over the last 24 hours.
Our little girl has been off school the last couple of days with a bit of a dose so I’ve been largely confined to barracks and have spent a lot of that time curled up with her on a sofa. Today thankfully she seems to be on the mend and so I’m back at the table a bit. It occurred to me earlier that a glance at our kitchen table on any given day would give a good indication of what I’ve been up to or where my mind is. So here’s how it looks right now:
What do we have? The laptop I’m writing this blog post on, the last two days newspapers, the ever present cuppa, my sewing box, my knitting bag, Roy Foster’s Vivid Faces, a notebook and my hairbrush. I think the presence of the latter is thanks to my daughter who likes to play with hairbrushes. So, what do you deduce from that? I finished knitting a wee hat earlier, I am a news junkie, some days I practically mainline tea, and I love history (and I’ve cooked up an interesting research project too but more about that another day). Just an average day for me. Other days there might be piles of posters to be distributed, or forms to be filled in but the basics would be much the same.
I am rather attached to my little workspace, even if I do have to clear it all off so we can have dinner. But I’m REALLY looking forward to my new office where I can finally use the big desk (about 6ft by 3ft) that came out of a solicitor’s office in Liverpool many moons ago and has languished in our storage space for 12 years. I can organise everything how I want it and I will know exactly what is in each pile and what I will do with. I can finally get the two filing cabinets, two small desks, two printers and three bookshelves out of our daughter’s room and set up my work space to suit myself. And you know the best bit of all? I won’t have to clear it away at the end of the day!!!
So tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. I hated it in my teens when all the popular pretty girls in our secondary school got inundated with cards and flowers (the sixth form used to sell single roses which they would deliver to the classroom of your Valentine – I think the proceeds went to charity) and it very quickly escalated into a contest to see who could get the most. I never got – or for that matter sent – any, and in our school that singled you out for sneering and ridicule.
In my 20’s although I had some relationships I never actually managed to be in one on Valentine’s Day and by the time I was in my mid 20’s I was heartily (ha!) sick of the whole overblown marketing fiasco that I considered it to be.
Then I fell in love. Big time. And the man I fell in love with is very romantic. Not just in the hearts and flowers way but in the little gestures and moments that mean so much. I still have the roses (now dried) that he gave me on the Valentine’s Day he asked me to marry him. The first Valentine’s Day after we were married I sent a bouquet to him at work. Over the intervening years our lives have changed, and we agree that for us spending a load of money on flowers and gifts each Feb 14th is not what we want to do – we have other things we’d sooner do with our money and we mark the day each year in a way that means something to us. A couple of years ago we bought the box set of one of our favourite TV shows and had a lovely evening cuddled up watching it.
One thing that drives us both mad about the marketing of Valentine’s Day is the way so much of it seems to be saying that it is a day when men should buy things for the woman in their life. A lot of the ads I’ve seen and heard over the last few weeks have been “what should I get her? will she like this card? Is that a big enough bunch of roses?” etc etc. If Valentine’s Day is about (so the card companies tell us) celebrating love and romance and being with the one you love the most, then doesn’t that work both ways? I cannot think of an ad on mainstream TV or radio that I have seen or heard which portrays a woman choosing a Valentine’s gift for a man. Don’t even get me started on the dominance of heterosexual relationships in these ads!
You might say that’s just marketing and advertising, well maybe so, but I have seen on social media over the last few years a tendency amongst some women to expect gifts on Valentine’s Day from their husband/boyfriend yet not even consider that maybe it should be reciprocal. I know women personally who would be upset if they did not get a card/bunch of roses/chocolates tomorrow but have not bought their lover anything. They seem to see it as a day for women to be spoiled by men. Since when did this come about? And I know that not all women think that way so please don’t jump down my throat, but in my experience and observations there are a sizeable number that do. Rant over.
So how, you might wonder, am I going to spend Valentine’s Day this year? Well, firstly and most importantly, with the two people I love the most. The three of us (that’s me, husband and daughter just in case you were wondering) are going to Termonfeckin in Co. Louth to take part in Erin’s Run, a 5km run (in my case a walk) in memory of my friend’s beautiful daughter Erin who died last year. It’s also to raise money for BUMBLEance who do such an amazing job and get no state funding at all. Other very dear friends of mine will also be there – with assorted husbands and children – so I will get to spend some time with some of the other people in my life who I love and who mean so much to me.
In the evening we are treating ourselves to a great meal from a local restaurant that does take out, a good movie or two and each other’s company. Comfort, love and contentment. That’s all I want or need. However and with whomever you spend it, Happy Valentine’s Day.
I’ve had an mixed relationship with my age over the years. As a teenager I couldn’t wait to be 25. I don’t know why 25 appealed, it just did. I used to assume that I would be married and have my first child by the time I was 28. Turned out to be 36. As I’ve gotten older its changed a bit. Now when people say they’d love to be younger I don’t understand why. And that got me to thinking that at nearly 44 I am probably officially middle aged. So I looked for some signs……
1. Watching teenagers having a snowball fight across one of the streets in our town yesterday and thinking how cold their hands must be.
2. Saying in my head (and occasionally out loud) “Jaysus that young one must be frozen” on seeing a young woman in probably her very early twenties out for the night in a very short and skimpy dress.
3. Referring to women in their early twenties as young ones.
4. Curling up on the sofa with a sigh of relief after a rare night out having kicked off uncomfortable shoes and changed into leggings and a tshirt to watch TV for a while
5. Admitting that a lot of women’s shoes are bloody uncomfortable.
6. Not needing to examine my face for lines any more. I know where they are.
7. Reading about some famous person who has achieved such and such by such an age and realising they are at least 20 years younger than me.
8. Not having a clue who most of the people on Celebrity Big Brother are. I don’t watch it but a few years ago I would have at least heard of them!
9. Having an increasing fondness for nostalgia programmes (that might have something to do with being a history nut)
10. Reading back over this list and realising none of this bothers me. In fact, most of it reads as quite sensible or logical (to me).
And that, my friends, for me is the true sign of middle age – acceptance and contentment with who and what I am.