queer as folk

March 30, 2013

I don’t have a lot of relatives, and I’m neither sentimental nor particularly family-orientated, but there are two ladies in my life who have a special importance to me and have been there since long before my birth. They are my paternal grandmother’s sisters – the last two women living of a family of thirteen siblings. M and R (my godmother) are 90 and 92 years old respectively, and are a pair of old-fashioned city birds, thankfully with all faculties intact, bar some tottery legs and a little deafness.

We went out today to celebrate M’s birthday. She turned 90 on Tuesday and has been trying to avoid any acknowledgement of this fact at all costs. For her, turning 90 represents the end. She’s probably been getting sadder with every passing month.

This was our second attempt at a celebration and it took some coaxing, but we got there in the end with a leisurely lunch in a cosy fish restaurant where I felt embarrassed for them when they served our desserts in old jam jars, something that truly baffled the old dames (and can you blame them? we’re living in a veritable alternative universe where we are regularly forced to inexplicably eat chips out of metal buckets, complete with handle). By a happy coincidence  the restaurant we found ourselves in had previously been a pub that M had frequented as a folk singer, 6 or 7 decades ago. It brought back a flood of memories for her and later, when we got them both home, at four o’clock in the afternoon, she settled into her armchair, and started to sing.

It was all I could do to hold it together.

Happy Easter everyone.


upsy downsy

March 26, 2013

When you have a kidney infection, they find out by dipping a magic stick in your wee. Then they say oh god yes this is positively full of pus and blood and I’m like, glad to oblige my dear. And that is where you find me. With wee full of pus. Yum yum.

When I was a child my mother used to make coddle for dinner which, if you are unfamiliar, is a strange concoction involving breakfast sausages, leftover bacon or ham and vegetables, all boiled together. (Sounds bad. Looks hideous. Tastes good.) It is a subject of massive contention and all Dubliners believe that their way of making it is the authentic method. My mother was no different and she added kidneys to hers, into which I tucked with gusto. Now that I associate kidneys with pus and blood, they seem a whole lot less appetising. Long story short: I won’t be chowing down on my, or anyone else’s, internal organs for the forseeable future, so you can stop worrying about that. My coddle is now firmly offal-free. My offal however, being rather too frequently full of pus, is going under the microscope that is the ultrasound machine, to detect whether or not there are any bad spirits at work in my torso (I presume).

To quote the poet Keating,

Life is a rollercoaster,
Just gotta ride it
I need you,
So stop hiding
Our love is a mystery
Girl, let’s get beside it

The majesty of those lyrics brings a tear to my eye every time.

Loving girls and exciting mysteries aside, my life is a rollercoaster: the most boring rollercoaster that man has ever ridden, and for which one ought to receive payment and candyfloss simply for climbing aboard. Your time is worth more than this, people! But hey. Who needs social contact and intellectual stimulation? Not me! What I need is a diary packed to the brim with exhausting obligations. On the upside (and there is an upside), I am not languishing and unemployed, like much of the rest of the last few years.

Also, at last, my long and seemingly endless journey training as a prison chaplain is soon coming to an end. My final lectures are all day Saturday April 13th. Don’t tell them, but I am planning to burn the college to the ground on my way out for the misery they inflicted on our unsuspecting class these last two years. It seems like a fitting end. Less cheerful than this justice inferno will be my departure from my placement in the Unnamed Prison of Evil People where I have found solace week after week. I now have a dozen penpals, most of them Extra Evil Plus Plus that my friends won’t like me to invite to the dinner parties I never have time to host.

Not being a civil servant, I was amazed to learn that I have Good Friday off work. I plan to spend the whole day in the prison, pontificating outside the cells of the Worst Ones for hours on end. I’ll probably say things about SpunOut magazine and the new pope and the fiery cesspits of Hades. Can’t wait. Actually I will be spending the whole day in the prison, which I haven’t had time to do for a while, and I’m really looking forward to it. It really is a good way to spend the day, in that curious tightrope that us Religious Types walk between lament and celebration around this time of year.

I’ve had three days under a blanket stuffed full of drugs, but sadly the fun must end and I must return to work tomorrow, with cap (and doctor’s note) in hand. So goodnight, dear ones, and may your undoubtedly threesome-strewn lives be joyous reminders of our present Thatcher-free status. Amen.