Category Archives: mood

No Weddings & A Funeral

So that was it. My Uncle Dave was gone. Wow!

It was the funeral I didn’t think I’d have to go to for a long, long time. Even with all of the illness of the last few years, I still didn’t think I’d have to go to his funeral. Not for a good few years yet.

My uncle Dave. Always present in my life. My mum’s brother, my cousin’s dad, hell he was almost like another dad to me – I’ve never known a world without him in it. But he was gone and we had to say good bye.

Things being what they are, the whole process of organising a funeral takes a bit longer back in the UK than it does over here in Ireland, so it was scheduled, after much pressure from my Dad upon “The Powers That Be”, for the Friday following his death, which gave me enough time to get home and spend time with the family.

But this wasn’t going to be an ordinary funeral. We hadn’t lost anybody ordinary, so why should it?! My Uncle Dave was a massive Man United fan, as are all the football fans in the family (you get disowned if you try and rebel. You either support United or don’t follow football. Simple as!) So, in honour of this, my Aunt & Cousins asked us all to wear something red to the funeral – as little or as much as we wanted.

The day came and we were all in bits. My Auntie Katreen was holding it together for my cousins, Nicola & Angela. My Dad was holding it together for everyone and I was… well, not holding it together very well at all. Every time I looked them in the eye it set me off. Not like me at all. Those who know me know about my emotional pragmatism. I was mortified that I was crying. I just wanted to be strong for my mum, my aunt & my cousins. So I pulled it together.

Now, one of the things that comes with a large, extended family is family politics. Unfortunately one of the things that didn’t come was a third limo to fit much of the extended family in. So, things being what they are, my sister Colette and I ended up having to follow in my Mum’s car. Nothing wrong with that, I’m happy to go wherever. Before the cars arrived my Dad gave me a quick refresher about driving an automatic and a word of warning about the width of the car – in fairness he had a point, their jeep-type thing is MUCH bigger than my little hatchback. But I’m a fairly good driver so it was all cool.

Then the hearse and two limos arrived and we all agreed what order we would drive to the Crematorium in. Hearse, Limos 1 & 2, my Great Uncle’s driver in the next car, then some cousins in the Bentley, me & Colette in my Mum’s car and then two more cars of cousins. Fine. No problem there.

The time came to leave so Colette and I went to get into the car and wait for the cars to start passing us so that we could join them in the appropriate place. I started the car, put it into “drive” and waited my turn.

Then it was my turn. But the handbrake wouldn’t come off. Fuck! I couldn’t move the sodding car. My sister waved the following cars on passed us as I wrestled with the handbrake that my Dad had wedged so tightly on. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!

I lifted my foot off the break and the car began to move. Phew, I thought, we’ll catch them up in no time. As I got to the junction at the end of the road, about 30ft from where we’d set off, a kind man stopped to let me out. But the car wouldn’t move… the handbrake was STILL ON!

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

Now I was really panicking. We were going to be so late. My Mum was going to be doing her nut wondering where we were. We couldn’t even phone anyone to tell them what was going on as we’d all turned our mobiles off before getting into the cars. Oh shit, bollocky, arse!

Somehow I managed to reverse the car into a nearby driveway, still with the handbrake on and with the car generally making some very unhappy sounds at me. Needless to say, the tears had come flooding back by this point. I could see my cousins’ cars and my now deceased Uncle’s car – all of which I had driven before and none of which I had the sodding keys to. Shit, tits, arse & shit! I was actually going to miss my Uncle’s funeral at this rate. My Mum would never forgive me. I wouldn’t forgive me. A large scale meltdown was mere seconds away and then, voila! The handbrake came off.

So we ragged it all the way to the crematorium. All 3 miniscule miles of it. I was sweating with panic so the air con was on full, aimed at my forehead and armpits (I was in a grey sleeveless dress and sweat patches would simply NOT do!) as we sped along to try and make it in time. We sped right passed the entrance.

I parked up  as close as I could to the pedestrian entrance (as in I left the car with one rear wheel on the curb and the rear window half open. Could I be arsed to straighten it up – what do you think?) and my sister and I legged it through the cemetary at speed to try and make it in time.

As we reached the brow of the hill & looked down towards the chapel we could see a modest amount of people, and in particular, a woman in a red jacket. Phew, that’s them, I thought. So we ran to join them. But as we got closer I didn’t recognise any of them, there were no cars and we were getting some really funny looks. Oh shit! This isn’t our funeral.

As I turned to look at my sister, I saw some people on the other side of the building… at the entrance to the OTHER chapel. So we ran again. Through bracken, over broken bricks & jumped over a 2ft wall to burst around the corner to find our family, all waiting to start going into the chapel. It was like a bad joke. A scene from a Richard Curtis movie but without Hugh Grant, just me saying “fuck” repeatedly.

Once we had regained composure and my sister had pointed out that my forehead was covered in bits of tissue from where I’d tried to wipe the aforementioned panic sweat from it, we all started to move into the chapel to finally say goodbye to my Unle Dave.

As funeral services go, it was as good as they get. Standing room only and then some – we couldn’t even close the chapel doors so many people had come to say a final farewell and pay their respects. They even had speakers outside. Over 100 people.  Not bad for a man who didn’t really say very much to anyone.

My Dad read a eulogy that had us crying and laughing, as the best eulogies do, and my Uncle’s cousin read a poem. My Aunt & Cousins had chosen some really lovely music to be played during (no hymns though as it was a humanist service) and then to bid him a final farewell the song he’d have loved the most – “Come On You Reds” by Status Quo, the Manchester United song of 1994. Brilliant!

Afterwards it was back to the hotel for the wake. A sit down meal for 100 people and more speeches: a letter from my cousin to her Dad, a goodbye speech from his best mate, a 10-minute speech from my Great Uncle who wasn’t going to make a speech and another impromptu speech from my Uncle’s Cousin. Everyone wanted to say goodbye to the Dave that they knew. Every one of us knew him differently and every one of us was devastated.

I’d stayed up until 3.20 that morning putting together a slide-show presentation of images of my Uncle Dave that were going to be projected onto a wall of the function room. One less job off my Cousin’s to-do list in the run up to the funeral I’d thought – she’s got enough on her plate. Except when I plugged the laptop into the projector and switched it all on it all it had all gone horribly wrong. Everything had either reverted to it’s uncropped state and/or become horribly distorted. Despite a 348th dry-run that morning before we set off.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

This cannot be happening to me. Not today, not now, not with this. I’d gladly let it happen to me in 100 client-facing presentations in the future if only it wouldn’t happen with this. But it did. Shit! Fortunately the team at the hotel were really lovely and let me camp out in their office for an hour while I re-cropped every single image. All 143 of them. Panic No. 2 over. Phew! Now to get on with spending time with my family and giving my Uncle Dave a great send off.

And how we did – tears, grief, panics, wasp stings (my sister as we were getting into the car), speeches, wine aplenty (he’d have had it no other way) and family stories being trotted out left, right & centre.

Along with which comes all of my Aunts, Great Aunts, Second Cousins, family friends etc ruing the fact that we couldn’t all get together under nicer circumstances… like a wedding. “Isn’t it a shame we have no weddings planned?”,  “When are one of you lot going to get hitched then?”, looking my cousins, my sister and I in the face when they said it. Jeez people, we’re trying! 😉

And so, we gave him a typical family goodbye after the service, complete with 11 solid hours of drinking, reminiscing, story telling and laughter – lots and lots of laughter. He for one would have cried with laughter at the drama that I went through for him on the day – if I believed in ghosts then I’d be pretty sure that most of it was his doing as it was his sense of humour to a tee!

But we gave him the send off he deserved & one I know he would have wanted. He’d probably be pretty gutted to have missed it.

I know we were all devastated that he had to.

Dave Smalley - Deeply Missed

Dave Smalley - Deeply Missed

I Wasn’t Ready

I wasn’t ready at all.

None of us were.

He was fighting the Leukemia. Fighting it like the stubborn, obstinate bloke that we all knew him to be and loved him for. Since the bone marrow transplant in May he hadn’t been the best and was really ill, but we had been forewarned to expect this though and hard as it was, we all knew that it was all part of the road to recovery.

And then it happened. A brain haemorrhage on the Thursday, a rush to hospital and a phone call from my Dad about 10.45pm. Typical Dad fashion; trying to find a way to tell me the news without upsetting & worrying me. His voice at once heartbreaking and still somehow comforting, the way only my Dad’s can be.

That’s when I really hate living in a different country to my family. Immediately what’s only a relatively small distance between them & me feels like an immeasurable amount because I can’t be there with them instantly – I might as well be living on the moon.

But what could I do even if I was at home? So I waited. We all did. The next 24 hours were going to be critical according to the hospital. We just needed to wait and see. Friday was a bit of a blur of phone calls and checking my phone every few minutes to make sure I hadn’t missed anyone.

The news was bittersweet with every update  – he was holding on but had become paralysed down his left side; he wasn’t conscious;he was conscious again but there were complications… on it went. The first 24 hours were over but the next were still going to be touch & go. So we waited some more.

Then Saturday came. I was waiting and waiting for updates and hopefully some good news. My mum called at about 5pm – the news wasn’t great, but they were operating and were hopeful that it would stabilise things. Fuck this I thought, I need to be at home and before Midday the next day I was back in Blighty and had finally been able to give my mum a much needed hug.

Monday was a day in the hospital. As we arrived I saw my cousin talking on the phone outside the main entrance. Before I even saw her face I knew it wasn’t good. Complications as they tried to bring him around after the operation and we were all preparing ourselves for the worst. Yet another MRI scan and more worry for my aunt, cousins, mum… there were about 15 of us there waiting for news.

But there hadn’t been another bleed which was good. Though the pressure on his brain meant another operation was required. This time to remove part of his skull to relieve it and get him out of danger. By now the family room in the ICU had become a little claustrophobic so we decamped to the pub across the road from the hospital in true Smalley/Walker/Rooney family style, while we waited for news.

And the operation went well – phew! But they were going to keep him deeply sedated for a few days to let the pressure lower and steer him out of danger. By Tuesday I had to head back to Ireland and back into work in the morning.

Regular updates were continuing to come through, and some stability seemed to have been found. Then we found out he had developed chest infection. They couldn’t give him any drugs for it as he’d had too many already, so he was going to have to fight this one on his own. Fingers were crossed again – already weak from the transplant and then the trauma of the past few days, would he be able to fight it? Er, this is my Uncle Dave we’re talking about here – if anyone can it’s him right?

And as they began bringing him around on Thursday & Friday the news was fairly positive. The pressure in his brain wasn’t spiking again. He had even regained movement on his left side. A bit of a temperature but on the whole things were looking a little more hopeful. Phew! Time for us all to exhale a little. Time to let my hair down a bit with a few Saturday night beers.

9.26 Sunday morning.

My mobile is on the bedside cabinet & starts to ring. No phone call at this time of a Sunday can be good news. I picked it up & looked at the screen “Mum Mobile”. My heart sank. I answered and heard my Dad’s voice, “Hey baby…” That’s all it took – an early Sunday morning phonecall, on my Mum’s phone, from my Dad

I knew, but I wasn’t ready though.

A new bleed during the night and “nothing more we can do”. And my Uncle Dave was gone.

Shit!

Shit shit shitty shit!

I wasn’t ready. None of us were.

Get your kicks…

kissing

Some secrets just make things more fun.

God Bless the (curly) Child

I used to love this ad when I was little. Partly because it introduced me to the fabulous voice of Billie Holiday and partly because she was the first child I was aware of, with curly hair, that was officially, universally, cool.

(… though it was a little gutting to know that you could genuinely be a curly haired child and actually look cool, not have to sport the dubious “explosion in a mattress factory” mullet that my parents inflicted upon me).

As I got older, I loved it because it was just a great ad. It’s dated a bit now, as have I in 20 years I guess, but it still remains a classic TV ad from the time when TV ads actually worked.

PS – If you want a really good Billie Holiday song though, you should check this one out: Strange Fruit. One of the first anti-racism songs; it made me cry when I first heard it & really listened to the words. Brilliant, brilliant song.

Churchgoing by Philip Larkin

There seems to be a lot of debate about Atheism versus Theism of late. In Ireland over the last week or so this has been in no small part due to the introduction of the new Blasphemy Law.

I’ve got my own thoughts about God(s), Religion and the like. Mainly that I’m about as Godless as they come. But I respect people’s right to their Faith, whichever denomination they chose to affiliate themselves with. Me, I’m in “The Church of Making the Most of Now as it Could All Be Over Tomorrow”.

But I remembered this poem last night, one that I always really liked. Partially because like me Philip Larkin, was a cynic which lead to becoming an atheist. And party because even though I’m a non-believer I, like Mr Larkin can appreciate the allure of the symbolism found in a church and Man’s need to seek answers to the “serious” questions.

Whether you’re a believer or not, it’s a poem that can get a person thinking anyway.

Once I am sure there’s nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new-
Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don’t.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
“Here endeth” much more loudly than I’d meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,

A shape less recognizable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation — marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these — for whom was built
This special shell? For, though I’ve no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.

It’s a nice thought…

tomorrow morning

via ffffound.com

There’s something really lovely about this thought. What with the “current economic climate” and the rest of the bollocks that’s going on out there; the ups & downs of love (not the ins & outs, that’s just lust), and the endless opportunities for worry and stress that the world holds.

As a cab driver wisely reminded me last week, it’s all too easy to worry about the future and completely forget to enjoy or even experience the now.

When you think about it all though, you don’t know what’s around the corner. (unless you’re some kind of psychic, but then even I know what’s around the corner for you my dear – care in the community!) Who knows what the future will bring? Could be utter shite, but it could also be fucking awesome… and if you’re really lucky, some awesome fucking.

The only thing you can count on is that the sun will set on today, and will rise on tomorrow. So don’t sweat it. What will be, will be. I  like the idea that the future is unknown… plenty to look forward to! 🙂

Grow Up

Stop being such a silly, fucking cow.

So I snapped at you. Big deal.

It was over two weeks ago for fuck’s sake. It was late, I was hot, I was tired and you were looking for me to fix something that was frankly unfixable at the time.

But no, I shouldn’t have snapped at you and I am sorry and I’d have said it to you if you had told me that you were even the slightest bit upset. But now… now you’ve just dicked me right off.

Rather than tell me I upset you, you haven’t even had the balls to tell me that I upset/annoyed/bothered you. Instead you’ve decided to act like a child and become the Supreme High Empress of Passive Aggression; blanking me when I try to make conversation, or giving me monosyllabic answers when I give you no option but to reply to me; sneering at me when I speak, and CONSTANTLY contradicting whatever I say, just for the sake of it.

I swear, if you turn around & tell me that the sky is green and leaves are orange and my hair is straight I will be in no way shocked. Although I will be forced to hit you upside the head with a frying pan, Vic & Bob style. Badoooiiiinnnnngggggg!!!!!!

Sooner or later, you’ll grow up. Sooner I hope because you need to, as frankly you’re too old to act like a spoilt little brat. And I for one am far too old to entertain this nonsense.

GROW. THE. FUCK. UP.

Now, I’m a believer… or am I?

It’s been a bit of a week for all things relationship, sex, heartbreak, mischief & fun related in my world. The majority of these things haven’t been going on in my life specifically (I’d be exhausted), but largely those of my friends: most of whom I’ve been lending a listening ear or giving sought after advice to (I try not to give the unsought after stuff, though admittedly have been guilty de temps a temp).

This week’s tales of woe include a very close friend whose young & passionate relationship hit a brick wall at enormous speed due to the emotional fuckwittage & utter lack of balls of the man involved; an old & very dear friend in the aftermath of an emotional conflict that he/she can’t tell their significant other about; a friend who’s fighting off the interference of others in their otherwise blissfully happy relationship and a couple of other friends who are dabbling in the world of online dating, with varying degrees of success.

Then there’s myself, happily single but always up for a bit of fun from time to time – though very unsure about whether I actually want a relationship or whether I would, as I suspect, run a mile – yet still managing to get confused about what men want from me & how that differs from what I want from them, or one in particular this week anyway.

The crux of the situation is that pretty much everyone is out there looking for the right one and all that jazz. And we all handle it in different ways. Lots of my girlfriends have various theories about the ways that they subconsciously sabotage relationships, dates etc and to be honest, I’ve never really held much sway in all that stuff – I tend to think of it as the refuge of the “needy girl”, never something I have ever aspired to be. I’m very much of the, “it’ll happen when it happens and go about your life in the meantime” school of relationships & not worrying about it too much really.

Then I read an article in the Style magazine of the Sunday Times that made me wonder if I’m actually a bit of a commitment-phobe. If that is really why I remain single? Is that my “sabotaging behaviour”?

Men have been notoriously branded commitment-phobic for a long time, and with very good reason (ask anyone, male or female, they’ll have a story about it). But the article raises the question of commitment-phobia among women. And I for one am convinced. While all of my friends seem to be having relationships or at the very least looking for them, I am blithely going about my life not really giving it any kind of priority or caring about it much either.

Turns out I may very well be commitment agnostic. Not necessarilly fully phobic about commitment but it’ll take someone very special to make me willing to do it again. I tend to want something a lot more casual and no strings – the benefits of a relationship without the responsibility or depth of feeling… or very probably, the risk of getting hurt. And judging by the many dramas that I’ve been hearing about this week I’m not necessarily on the wrong track here.

I’m not a needy girl always seeking reassurance from men; the victim who constantly gets shat on from a great height only to go back for more, or the high maintenance girl who finds a bloke only to make a million demands & try to change him. I have a massive lack of respect for those girls – they give the rest of us a bad name.

No, I’m the girl that isn’t going to go seeking a relationship. If it happens, it happens (assuming I haven’t fled for the hills) yet in the meantime, I’m going to be honest, yeah I want men in my life – that’s what “friends with benefits” were invented for 😉 And I’m cool with that, it doesn’t make me a slag as I’m pretty picky about who my FWBs are and I’m not using it as a means of snagging a bloke either. I  choose it because I’m not sure I “believe” commitment to be the right thing for me, at least not right now…

… but who knows, maybe one day I’ll find someone who’ll make me sing like the Monkees?

Sunday

Sometimes it’s good to do something that’s totally out of character.

I did.

Yesterday.

It was a good Sunday.

sunday

Image via: ffffound.com

Remember when Kylie was actually hot?…

After innocently posting a link on Twitter to a new Freya Lingerie ad, I ended up inadvertently talking about Kylie’s oh-so-fabulous Agent Provocateur ad from a few years back, when she was really, truly HOT.

I’m talking about the time post-Neighbours, post-getting dropped by record companies, post-collaborating with the Manics in a bid for credibility, but pre-sounding like a smurf on all of her songs & pre-having a face like a death mask. I’m talking about the golden era of Kylie: a re-birth brought about predominantly by a pair of teeny, tiny golden hot pants and a very lovely bottom.

Before us today though, we see a 40-year old woman without a single wrinkle, which is frankly a little unnerving, and skin pulled so tightly across her forehead that I do genuinely worry that one day she’s going to do an almighty sneeze and her face is going to literally rip open, right down the middle!

But there was a time, not very long ago, when Kylie was EVERYONE’s fantasy. I don’t know a single girl that wasn’t at least a tiny bit bi-curious when it came to Kylie, especially when this little lovely was released, to the sound of cold-showers and ice-filled baths the world over:

Hell, I even have a friend who bought one of these, albeit officially for “exercise”. I’ve rarely laughed as hard as I did when she showed it to me in the middle of her lounge one night, post dinner out, with a look of utter sincerity on her face 😀

I’m not going to get into a whole debate about growing old gracefully or whether Kylie’s still hot or not (I mean come on, you know you still would!)

However, and purely for the sake of posterity you understand, I impore you to all enjoy the above, because beauty should be enjoyed.. and a little naughtiness from time to time. Hey, it’s Friday so why not?! In the meantime I’m off to dig out my favourite AP under-crackers and give Jo a ring to see if she’s willing to part with her iJoyRide at a reasonable price…