Comedy Tonight

OK, maybe I’ll have to be taking two days off per week. One for college, the other to recover from college. Or maybe I’ll get more used to this, we’ll see.

I’ll tell you about my back-to-school experience tomorrow though; first I’ll talk about this show while there’s still a chance you could make it. Well, the final performance is on at 8:00 tonight at the Town Hall Theatre Galway, so you’ll have to be fairly near. Or what the hell, charter a plane. It’s pretty good.

People from Galway will need no introduction to… well to anyone really. We’re informal like that. But Little John Nee will be familiar to most. A clown, musician, actor and street performer for his day job, about once a year he puts on a theatre show. In Galway it’s one of the events of the Season.

Always funny and poignant, a Little John play can sometimes have a serious historical or social side too. The Mothers Arms, not so much… This is straight-up comedy, albeit of the dark persuasion. Our protagonist is a former blues man, who fell in love and became so happy he had to put down his ukulele (yes) and take up organic farming.

On collision course with his happiness: The Highly Strung Orchestra, a band on the run, plus Dublin property developers and Northern terrorists. The epicentre: run-down local singing lounge The Mothers Arms. Featuring an ensemble of misfits, tattooed ladies, tattooed gentlemen, and faithful old overweight dogs.

And all really just a story that Little John tells us. Though he illustrates it with music and is supported by three great musicians playing bits, it is essentially a comic monologue. Well mostly comic monologue, a little bit gothic opera, full of sharp, funny descriptions of rural life in a state of terminal disrepair.

It could have been longer. A problem with comic drama is that characters are introduced because they’re funny, and then nothing much happens with them. I’d like to see Little John do something more complex. But the meandering, anecdotal style is full of charm, and full of darkly amusing lyrics about contemporary life like, if I’m not misquoting:

You want to hit a banker but there isn’t one in sight
So you settle for the wanker who just bumped into your pint

A lovely little show, and very much part of the fabric of Galway culture. Catch it tonight if you can.

The Sensible Season

In many languages, the silly season is called ...
In many languages, the silly season is called “cucumber time” or similar – presumably because newspapers publish photographs of amusingly-shaped vegetables. Or maybe just because eating cucumbers is bloody silly.

The silly season is over now, says the Taoiseach. Hmm. I didn’t think cutting the funding for disability carers was all that silly myself. Stupid, yes. Wrong certainly. Atrocious, unthinkable, regressive, inhuman and vile, these are all good words. But not silly.

What I did last night now, that was silly. I was checking the lights on the new old car, which meant I had to walk around it while it was switched on. I keep my keys attached to a belt loop by a curly cord which, while absurdly stretchy, was not going to wrap around the whole vehicle, so I was about to detach them when I remembered the fault with the ignition.

The key doesn’t lock in like it’s supposed to. You can pull it out while the electrics are still on, even while the engine is running. Which sounds pretty risky – and indeed we’re waiting for this to be fixed by the dealer. But I thought I might as well take advantage of it. Rather than detach the keys from the carabiner, I simply pulled them and continued around the car.

But I was tired yesterday evening – my first day, as I was saying, of getting up before humans. So when I finished checking I just turned the lights out, I didn’t use the key to put the ignition back to its off position. I didn’t know it would make a difference.

I know now. This morning, up with the lark once more, I vaulted into the car only to discover I had an absolutely stone-cold dead battery. I’ve never had the experience before of turning the key and getting no reaction whatsoever, not even dashboard lights. It’s kind of creepy, as if time has stopped. I almost expected to look up and see birds frozen in mid flight. The LED display that shows time and mileage was blank. Even the random blinky red light that magically scares away car thieves wasn’t randomly blinking.

After a slightly frantic search I found my father’s old car charger. It hadn’t been used for maybe a decade, but to my huge relief it still seemed to work. So what had happened to flatten the battery? I’d definitely turned the lights off. Blinky and gauge are normally on at night. What else was there?

When the car finally had enough juice it became clear. The fan was on at its lowest setting – so quiet I hadn’t noticed it, but enough to let all the vim leak away. Perhaps that battery isn’t the world’s freshest either.

Well, I’m just glad this happened now. If it had been tomorrow morning, the first day of my MSc course, it would’ve been awkward. Flat battery stymies career in science. Student vague on concept of galvanic cell. I’m beginning to feel like irony is out to get me.


Day Zero

Ceci n’est pas une bicyclette

O… K. Thanks for waiting.

Up, showered, fire lit, and driven to shop for the paper all before 9 a.m. It’s not quite the school run, but it’s a good try-out. No noticeable errors, except when I indicated to take a bend in the road. It occurs to me that I’ve probably never driven a car before nine until now. And possibly before noon.

The next trick will be to stay awake until bedtime tonight. In all honesty, I could sleep right now.

But enough about me. Yesterday I was privileged to offer a bed for the night to Jill Lundmark, a woman form New Zealand who is cycling around the world in no particular direction. What makes this a little more unusual is that she’s 74.

Starting eight years ago, she’s cycled through Thailand, Laos, Burma, Scotland, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iceland, Morocco, India, Switzerland, France, England, Wales, and Ireland. It was a dream she’d had since reading Irish cycling travel writer Dervla Murphy in the 60s. Last week, they met.

You can read Jill’s journals and follow her adventures. You may even meet her on her way. I wish her all the best. What with Jerry Levy last week, a pattern seems to be emerging. Anyone can crash at my place, as long as you’re in your seventies and are travelling around the world on an interesting mission.

It’s complete open house here.

The Great Resetting

Hypnagogia (Photo credit: ankakay)

This will have to be the last blog post that I make after midnight.

In order to write something almost every day I’ve used a simple strategy: No sleep until I publish. Occasionally they’ve taken on the tinge of hypnagogic hallucination. Occasionally I’ve fallen asleep while writing. But it got done. The one drawback – sometimes I didn’t get to bed until way past dawn.

That was fine (well, semi-fine) when my working life rarely involved having to meet anyone. I’ve had no real pattern for years. If I’m not even trying to be civilised, my sleeping degenerates into two four-hour sleeps spread over twenty-five hours or so, mostly caught on the couch. Madness. Sheer, comfy madness.

Now though I’m going to have to be in a lecture or lab at 9 a.m., at least one day a week. And if that’s going to work, if I’m going to be receptive to anything more complex than the smell of coffee, I’ll have to be up and alert at that time every day. So the whole idea of not sleeping till the job is done has to be retired. Sleep, I’m afraid, will have to come before the blog and not after.

Will I have time for much writing at all indeed? I don’t know yet, but I’m going to try. And I will try too not to make it entirely about Information Systems Management. At least, not until I find out what exactly it is.

(A quick aside: The grammar check in the blogging system just warned me that “not until” is a double negative.)

So I’m switching to a morning schedule. The danger there is that without the natural deadline of exhaustion I’ll find myself spending all day on this. I can’t afford that, so I’ll be shooting for having a post up at some ludicrously early time in the morning. Eleven maybe. Or earlier, if there is such a thing.

I apologise that this post is so brief and uninteresting, it’s way past my bedtime. But on the bright side I’m probably already up and writing, so there should be another one along any minute now.

Any… minute… now…


O Fortuna

Fortuna lightly balances the orb of sovereignt...

So for the first time in my entire life I’m looking forward to going back to school!

I always hated the end of summer, I don’t know why. Maybe something to do with being made to sit in a room all day while a relay of people told you about things you were largely not interested in. It’s not as much fun as it sounds. I think adults completely forget how slowly time passes for kids. Five years in an institution is a blink of an eye for someone in their forties. To a child of five, it’s a life sentence.

Also I have to admit I didn’t much like the company of children. They’re poor listeners, and not at all supportive. Really, they’re as likely to tell you you’ve done a good job with your glitter and glue as hit you and run away. Less so in fact. Oh I like them now well enough. Some kids are great company. But I guess back then I just wasn’t mature enough to appreciate them.

Things were better in university of course. My undergraduate years were passed in talking with friends and avoiding lectures, drinking coffee, staying up all night, and never having any sex at all. It was a lovely time. Mostly. But even then I still preferred it when my time was my own. That seems illogical; perhaps it was just the years and years of conditioning. But in your restless twenties even something as laid-back as university education can seem onerous.

I had a favourite quotation from a mediaeval Latin poem that expressed this frustration. Because that’s how bizarre Arts students can be. It’s out of Carmina Burana, a collection of work by Goliards, students who satirized the corrupt church. Several were famously set to music by Carl Orff. The one everyone knows is O Fortuna; this though is from Omittamus Studia (Study Break):

Velox etas preterit
studio detenta.
Lascivire suggerit
tenera iuventa.

Which might be unscholastically translated as:

Time goes so fast
and study gets you down.
This tender youth
just wants to hit the town.

The days when education seemed like a low tunnel are behind me, now that I’ve been out longer than I was in. (Though not by much when you consider that, even discounting preschool, I was in the system for the ages four to twenty-four.) A structured routine seems like a novelty now, and one I could use, so September no longer fills me with gloom. On the contrary, the challenge excites me.

Let’s see how long this lasts.


The Database Is Your Enemy


Nothing to do with the tale, I’m just a complete sucker for this sort of whimsical craziness. Click for more.

It has been an eventful week, but finally I’m registered for college! I know I announced it yesterday, but there was in fact a small hitch. I applied through the Postgraduate Applications Centre, which creates a student ID for you. However, I’m a graduate of the college I’m applying to – albeit more than twenty years ago – and so have an ID from then. Somehow it seems the two met head-on, creating a database SNAFU. I was two people at once, so therefore I was neither.

An ironic introduction, you may agree, to a course in Information Systems Management.

This wasn’t the only database buggery that happened to me either. As you may recall, I crashed a car this week too. On the day it happened I called my insurance’s breakdown recovery service. They explained to me that a collision with a tree is no longer a breakdown, even if it was caused by one, but they could send a recovery truck anyway and take it to a place of safety where damage could be assessed. As I was at my mother’s house at this point, and the wreck was off the public road, I had the truck pick me up so I could show him where to go.

The next day though when I phoned the insurance they said the vehicle had been removed by someone else. Apparently I’d cancelled it. I assured them that was wrong and they said they’d look into it.

I wouldn’t have worried at all about that, except for a strange coincidence. When the breakdown truck had pulled in to pick me up, there had been another one right behind it.

So there are rogue breakdown trucks listening in on the radio frequencies, patrolling the roads for accidents  and stealing wrecked cars? It’s a nightmare vision. Nothing to do with reality of course, but a nightmare vision. Turned out it was just a cock-up of course. Maybe my car has two IDs as well.