The Everyday Irishman


Love Those Fags!

Posted in The Origin Stuff by everydayirishman on May 18, 2009
Tags: , ,

Some interesting statistics released today by the HSE, as part of a new campaign to get people to quit smoking:

–          67% of smokers began smoking before 18 years of age with 19% having started before 14 years of age

–          55% of current or past smokers say their mum strongly disapproved of their smoking compared with 43% of their dads

–          Approximately 1 in 10 claim their parents approved of their smoking

–          Of current and past smokers, only 57% of their mothers and 46% of their fathers talked to them about the impact smoking can have on their health

–          However, 28% say they are not likely to give up smoking even though this may encourage their children to smoke.

Here’s to the one in ten parents who approve of their children smoking!

Advertisements

Thought for the Day

Posted in The Origin Stuff by everydayirishman on May 18, 2009

Children running at pigeons.

I don’t know why but it makes me happy.

‘I’d drop dead or give him an extra bag of chips’

Posted in The Origin Stuff by everydayirishman on May 18, 2009
Tags: , , ,

Because these things naturally follow.

From The Irish Times last Friday:

A “BILLIONAIRE” businessman linked with a string of high-profile potential investments has been identified as a sweet-shop owner based in rural Co Kilkenny.

Over the past year, there have been claims in national and regional media that [Stuart Pearson] was the head of a major investment company which sought to acquire a 30 per cent stake in Aer Lingus; was approached by SR Technics to invest “€25 million” in the troubled avionics company; and had offered “€450 million” to acquire failed Northern Ireland property company Taggart Holdings.

At a take-away restaurant on Barrack Street, Chrissie Travers said Mr Pearson was a “fierce nice chap” but “if someone told me he was a billionaire, I’d drop dead or give him an extra bag of chips”.

She said he often called in “on the way home from work” and ordered the “quarter-pounder meal deal” – which at €6.70 includes “a can” – but sometimes “he goes for the chicken curry” (at €5.80).

Ms Travers said she had “never heard a helicopter taking off”.

Irishman’s Daily News, May 5 2009

Posted in The Origin Stuff by everydayirishman on May 5, 2009

A Living Word: Five Hospital Days – Friday

Posted in The Origin Stuff by everydayirishman on May 1, 2009
Tags: , , , , ,

RTE Radio 1’s A Living Word begins and ends each day with a religious or secular two-minute meditation on any topic under the sun.

This week you can tune in to hear me read a thought each day, at 06.40 and 01.58. The Theme is ‘Five Hospital Days’ and the thoughts are based on my book, Two in a Million: A True Story about Illness and Love.

Friday’s piece is below.

One outcome of a successful bone marrow transplant is that, afterwards, the recipient’s body contains the DNA of two individuals – his own, and the donor’s.

During one of my post-transplant visits to Crumlin Hospital some years ago, a nurse needed to take a sample of my own DNA, and she told me that the best way to get a good sample was to swab the inside of my mouth. Swimming in my blood is someone else’s blueprint.

I remember the day I got my new bone marrow. I sat on the edge of my bed in the High Dependency Unit in Crumlin, and my consultant attached a six-inch syringe to the catheter that was coming out of my chest. Slowly, he pushed my new marrow into me.

The extreme sickness and the battles with infection would come later. The process of actually getting the marrow was painless, and lasted just ten minutes.

The marrow had been harvested from my American donor less than twenty-four hours before. I didn’t know who my donor was; he or she was willing to undergo a painful bone marrow harvest in order to save the life of a teenager he or she had never met. For ethical reasons, we would never be allowed to meet.

As my new marrow was injected, I wondered about my donor’s interests, his or her hobbies, what he or she liked to eat for breakfast.

Someone I didn’t know was giving me back my life, right down to new DNA. I could offer them nothing, except thanks they would never hear.

A Living Word: Five Hospital Days – Thursday

Posted in The Origin Stuff by everydayirishman on April 30, 2009
Tags: , , , ,

RTE Radio 1’s A Living Word begins and ends each day with a religious or secular two-minute meditation on any topic under the sun.

This week you can tune in to hear me read a thought each day, at 06.40 and 01.58. The Theme is ‘Five Hospital Days’ and the thoughts are based on my book, Two in a Million: A True Story about Illness and Love.

Thursday’s piece is below.

There is an old hospital adage, that the nurses in Our Lady’s in Crumlin used to tell me when I spent time there as a child and a teenager: When you go into hospital, you take two suitcases with you – one to carry your clothes, and another to pack away your dignity.

 

I have found that it is the little indignities of hospital that are often harder than the big challenges.

 

In the spring of 2002, months after being released following my bone marrow transplant, I still had to wear a mask while walking around Our Lady’s. I had to cover my nose and mouth, to protect me from infection.

 

One day, I was collecting blood test forms to bring to the phlebotomist, and a nurse handed me a mask.

 

I refused to put it on. It just seemed like I’d been through enough. I’d had needles jabbed into me for years; I’d had tubes shoved into every part of my body; during transplant, I’d been too weak to get out of bed and had to be washed by nurses.

 

Now I was supposed to be getting better – I felt healthy and strong. I wasn’t going to cover my face while walking down a corridor.

 

The nurse refused to allow me go anywhere.

 

I’d been worried about my pride; she was worried about my health. In hospital a little indignity goes a long way. I wore the mask that day, and stayed infection free. I’ve never had to wear a mask in hospital since.

 

 

 

Kingdom (Here I) Come

Posted in The Origin Stuff by everydayirishman on April 30, 2009
Tags: , , ,

A reflection on Kerry I did a couple of years ago:

It’s nice to get away from it all. Last March, my dad announced that he was slipping off to Killarney for three days to the annual Chartered Accountants in Practice conference. Thinking my cries would be in vain, I pleaded with him to take me too, so I could get a break from my satisfying-yet-tedious year-out home-bound book-writing. To my delight and astonishment, he actually agreed to my tagging along, and to putting me up in a four-star hotel for two nights!

It was not the first time I’d been in Kerry. As a little dote of one, I toured the county on the back of my mum’s bike, during my parents’ cycle trip around Ireland (on that tour, I would allegedly burst into tears every time I heard the term ‘B & B’, because I knew it meant I would have to go to bed!). I also visited the Kingdom about seven years ago. We journeyed around the county, staying in B & Bs. The thing I remember most about that trip is sitting at the breakfast table one morning, looking pretty pathetic with my fresh fruit and yoghurt, while the rest of my family indulged in fry-ups (I was on some kind of health drive at the time)!

The accountants’ conference, however, gave me my first visit to Killarney. And as you can perhaps tell from the above paragraph, I don’t recall much from my first two trips to Kerry!

We arrived on a Wednesday, I with almost as much luggage as I had on my two-week holiday in New York the previous summer (don’t ask me why)!

After check-in, I sped up to my room and wallowed in opulence for a while. I also had great fun snatching all the sheets of complimentary writing paper and shoving them into my bag so I could take them home and, at a later date, impress my pen pals.

I got my first surprise when we ordered room service. The waiter guy came, and he spoke, and and…People actually talk in that musical Kerry tone! I always thought the bogger accent was a myth perpetuated by D4 types to make Dubliners seem linguistically superior to everyone else in Ireland…Well, at the very least you’d expect the Great Southern Hotel to be sanitised! (Okay, enough snobbery!)

When I awoke the next morning, I discovered I hadn’t been dreaming – I was still surrounded by lavish four-star luxury! Now, I don’t really know anything about accountancy conferences, but I imagine they’re akin to those big gangster meet-ups you see in mafia movies. You know, where a load of suspicious-looking men in over-priced suits discuss how they can better fleece unsuspecting individuals. So, I steered clear of that scene and ventured out into the drizzle for a walk instead.

I strolled in a spiral around the town, until on the outskirts I happened upon Killarney National Park. Intrigued, I entered, and followed the signs along the River Walk.

I meandered down a trail, the path barely visible for all the horse shit mashed into it – walking became like playing hopscotch!

After about a mile, I reached a small wooded peninsula. I wandered through the grey trees till I was at water’s edge. The bare branches crawled out toward the horizon. The lake lapped invitingly, the dull sky mirrored in its ripples. In the distance, an ancient castle stood proudly, surrounded by lush greenery. It was a scene still with beauty, and silent but for the twittering of birds overhead.

And in that moment, I suddenly felt assured about all the reasons I give myself for living this life.

I walked on for a few more hours, visited that castle in the distance, before returning to the hotel room invigorated. Then I sat down and began to write…Thoughts swirled out of my head, through my pen onto the page, ink setting its whiteness alight with some kind of wonder…

The next day, the conference concluded, and we had a six-hour drive back to Wicklow. Back to screaming siblings and domestic demands, the stifling mundanity of middle-class existence.

Like I say, it’s nice to get away from it all.

A Living Word: Five Hospital Days – Wednesday

Posted in The Origin Stuff by everydayirishman on April 29, 2009
Tags: , , , , ,

RTE Radio 1’s A Living Word begins and ends each day with a religious or secular two-minute meditation on any topic under the sun.

This week you can tune in to hear me read a thought each day, at 06.40 and 01.58. The Theme is ‘Five Hospital Days’ and the thoughts are based on my book, Two in a Million: A True Story about Illness and Love.

Wednesday’s piece is below.

A lecturer of mine, drawing on Beckett, once wrote of the stages we go through as we move from despair at to acceptance of some tragedy or horror is our lives.

 

First we tell ourselves: ‘I can’t go on.’ Then we insist: ‘I must go on.’ Finally we simply say: ‘I’ll go on.’

 

When I returned home from hospital after my bone marrow transplant in 2001, I knew my life had nowhere to go but death. I’d been through months of the most severe pain I could imagine, drifting in and out of consciousness. I’d experienced psychosis and forgotten who my parents were.

 

My muscles were wasted; I had to learn to walk again. I couldn’t hold a pen because my hands shook so badly.

 

The most terrifying thing: I’d lost senses I thought I would never lose. The music I’d liked before my transplant, I didn’t know why I liked it. Movies I’d found funny weren’t funny anymore. My short term memory was gone.

 

I don’t remember how I got better. I don’t remember when the certainty of death slipped away, and hope crept into my thoughts again.

 

All I remember doing, is taking baby steps up and down our driveway, my mum by my side, as I tried to build up some strength. Every step hurt. Before each one, I’d think: I can’t do any more. My mum scolded me: You must do it. And then I did.

 

 

 

 

A Living Word – Five Hospital Days: Tuesday

Posted in The Origin Stuff by everydayirishman on April 28, 2009
Tags: , , ,

RTE Radio 1’s A Living Word begins and ends each day with a religious or secular two-minute meditation on any topic under the sun.

This week you can tune in to hear me read a thought each day, at 06.40 and 01.58. The Theme is ‘Five Hospital Days’ and the thoughts are based on my book, Two in a Million: A True Story about Illness and Love.

Tuesday’s piece is below.

The Chinese writer Lin Yutang once wrote that if you can spend an afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live.

 

When I was 16, I paid a rather useless trip to Powerscourt Waterfall in Co Wicklow.

 

At the time, I was in the middle of a bone marrow transplant. Admitted to hospital in late June, I’d quickly become incredibly ill, in violent pain and too weak to lift myself out of bed.

 

It was now early August, and I was allowed out of the isolation ward for day trips. Even so, I clung to the idea of hospital, and the routine I had there. I was worried about infections and daunted by all the pills I had to take. Hospital was the only place I felt safe.

 

My parents had brought me to Powerscourt in the hope of rekindling memories from happy childhood days spent there.

 

But the weather was horrible, and we couldn’t leave the car. The sky was stuffed with grey clouds; the rain seemed to be falling in javelins. I sat in the back seat, listening to the rain and the thunder and the waterfall compete for attention.

 

And then, despite the absurd failure of the attempt to get me some Wicklow air – I laughed. My mum and dad looked at me. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t thinking about blood tests or needles, catheters or tablets.

 

I could spend an afternoon just listening to the rain. And I knew things were getting better.

 

One more college joke…

Posted in The Origin Stuff by everydayirishman on April 28, 2009
Tags: , , , ,

 

A UCD, a DIT and a Trinity student were in an aeroplane crash. They’re up in Heaven, and God’s sitting on the Great White Throne. God addresses the UCD student first:

               

‘What do you believe in?’ he asks.

 

‘Well’, the UCD student replies, ‘I believe in power to the little people. I think people should be able to make their own choices about things, and that no one should ever be able to tell someone else what to do. I also believe in feeling people’s pain.’

 

God thinks for a second. ‘Okay’, he then says, ‘I can live with that. Come and sit on my left.’

 

God then addresses the DIT student: ‘What do you believe in?’

 

The DIT student responds: ‘Well, I believe that the combustion engine is evil and that we need to save the world from CFCs and that if any more freon is used, the whole earth will become a greenhouse and we’ll all die…Waaaaahhhh.’

 

God thinks for a second, then says: ‘Okay, that sounds good. Come and sit on my right.’

 

God then turns to the Trinity student. ‘And you?’ he says, ‘what do you believe?’

 

‘I believe’, the Trinity student replies, ‘you are sitting in my chair.’

 

« Previous PageNext Page »