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Ireland : 31 July ’06 July 31, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish.
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Today is a notable day for anyone who has been screwed by those crafty folks at the N.C.T. (National Car Test). 

You now get a free re-test if it was only your tyres that failed you the first time and no longer is a broken little white light over the number plate an automatic failing offence. No more will your perfectly functioning car fail the test because it doesn’t have the little sticker with your county’s name as Gaeilge on the registration plate.

I chuckle at the thoughts of the workers in the N.C.T. testing centres receiving box loads of little Gaillimh and Ath Cliath stickers which, in my opinion, just leaves the whole thing open for pure divilliment.  One wonders whether test centres in counties that share a city e.g. Waterford or Athlone, will be supplied with the correct stickies for the different county’s cars they are likely to encounter ?  “Ah Jaysis now we have no Kilkenny stickers at the moment missis.  You’ll have to call back in a week !”  

In other news, I’m sure frequent users of Dublin’s M50 ring road will be glad to know that the motorway road is having another lane added from Ballymount to the N4 exit.  The project which was started in 1985, took donkey’s years and the GDP of a small country to complete was finally connected all the way round in 2005 and on your average evening is more congested than a sardine tin.  Hopefully this extra lane will take some traffic away on one of the busier parts.  During the 2 years the new roadworks will take to complete, South Dublin County Council has pledged to keep the disruption to a minimum … I shudder to think what will happen when IKEA opens up along that stretch too !

And finally … before they head off on their rather extensive summer break our overworked politicians are heading to Wicklow for a serious pow-wow to thrash out the reasons for their recent poor showing in the opinion polls (severly biting my tongue here).  Apparently, the proposed Fine Gael-Labour coalition is a full 10 points ahead of the current incumbents.  The boss man however had this to say about the state of affairs.  “There’s only one opinion poll that matters and that’s on general election day”.  Bertie, I can hardly wait !


Trouble at the end of the garden … July 28, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.

Did you ever wonder what goes through a person’s mind when they are about to leave their house for the last time and move to a new house ? Will they be thinking “I’ll miss this old place”, or “I can’t wait to put my own impression on our new house” or will they be thinking more sinister thoughts like “Those bast*rds buying this house – I’ll leave them a present they won’t forget in a hurry !”.

Well it seems the previous occupants of our current abode were more in the latter category when it came to vacating … It all came flooding back to me the other evening when cutting “the back”. Isn’t it funny the stuff people leave behind them when moving … well it’s not funny, it’s just plain scary ! In scenes reminiscent of great archaeological discoveries, my ageing lawnmower suddenly let out a grumbling, muffled stutter simultaneously dispensing a round and grotty looking projectile in my general direction.

Ducking and diving, I managed to avoid it and see the said projectile slam off the kitchen window and fall harmlessly to the ground. Upon closer inspection the missile was revealed to be none other than the severed head of a once proud Malibu Barbie ! I shit you not !

And that’s not all – when we first moved into the house, some 4 years ago, there was a whole colony of barbies living in the back of the garden ! Clean ones, naked ones, perfectly new ones, dismembered ones … it was shocking ! My guess was that the little girl who previously owned them was forced to rather rapidly leave with her parents and she hadn’t time to pack them.

The overactive side of my brain suggested that the barbies had staged a bitch-riot and refused to leave their known home in favour of another house. They had somehow escaped and made their way into the back garden and when they came up against the end of the known world (i.e. the garden gate) had made camp and prospered for a short while. That is, until they realised they had been abandoned to their own devices, devoid of all dressing-up, dolly accoutrements and fine living and the civilisation had floundered, eventually dying in the harsh undergrowth.

I think I think too much.

All Blacks go All Nasty ! July 27, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Sports.
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Not content with beating the hell out of any rugby team that comes near them, both in scoreline and matters physical, it appears those crazy folks over at the NZ rugby board have caved in and allowed the All Blacks team to keep a throat slitting gesture they have added to their haka pre-match routine.

Now what kind of message does that send to a young rugby fan, looking up to these guys ? Another interesting commentary on this new type of haka can be found here.

Why do this sort of shit guys ? The other haka was interesting and noble and it’s not as if the opposing team doesn’t know you’re going to kick their arses anyway !

Can you speak Irish ? July 27, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Ag foghlaim na Gaeilge.

One of the topics which has caught my interest in recent media floggery has been the Irish language and all the various agendas attached to it.  The state of the language, the compulsory nature of learning Irish in schools, the everyday use of the language and so on, have all be discussed ad-nauseum (should that be go deo ?).

For what it’s worth, heres my take on it.  I can’t speak Irish properly but I would like to.  This after 12 years of compulsory formal schooling in the subject and several state exams under my belt proving that I have at least some level of competence.  But I can’t speak the language.  I can’t follow the Irish language news programmes on TV.  Not at all, really.  But I know the 3rd person singular conditional of the verb “to say” is “déarfadh sé“.  Do you see what I’m getting at ?

Having studied language in general and several languages aswell, a piece of advice I received from a tutor back in the day has always stuck in my mind.  “Learn the language, not about the language.”  So why then is my Irish not as good as my German (3 years in school and 2 in university) or even my Swedish (8 years listening to my wife phone her relatives) ?  I can only think that it was the way I was taught it and also the way I learned it – and they are two different things.  Far from boring readers with the ins and outs of everyday-velcro-blackboard-Mammy-goes-to-the-shop comhrá and the equally painful Buntús Cainte, there follow some points I think anyone wanting to learn Irish would do well to bear in mind.

(1) Accept that your native spoken language is English.
(2) Your number one goal is communication, and making yourself understood in Irish.
(3) Speaking grammatically imperfect Irish is better than speaking no Irish.

Readers will be kept up to date with the author’s efforts to gain some understanding of An Gaeilge amid, I’m sure, the howls of laughter and scurrilous embarrassment inflicted upon him by his cainteoir dúchais friends …

Ireland : 26 July ‘06 July 26, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish.
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It would appear that there is still all round general consternation over the state of the roads and roadworks on the N7 that are presently up in a heap in preparation for the famous Ryder Cup Golf tournament being held in the K Club, Co.Kildare this September.  It seems our Minister for Sport stopped short of saying “Yes the roads will be completed on time” (Jaysis hah ?) but instead offered the paltry “I’m quite satisfied that there won’t be any difficulty like that.” and went on to say “The assurance that I will give, as Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism, is that everything that facilitates the Ryder Cup, which requires to be done to facilitate the hosting of the Ryder Cup will be done.”

Presumably this means “the roads” too then John ?  but you wouldn’t like to mention “the roads”, but you mean “the roads” though ??  God my vote is safe already !

On more matters Ryder Cup, the greenkeepers and gardeners at the prestigious venue in Straffan are threathening to strike over a pay dispute.  Amicus, the union for those greenkeeper sort of chaps, has been in dispute with K Club management since last January and the hearing has now been referred to the Labour Court.  I wonder does the solution to this problem fall under the Minister’s cover-all statement above ??  One would certainly hope so.  Will it be resolved in time ?

In other news it appears (here) that the IRA (You know, I thought they had gone away ?) planned to buy an apartment block and a bank (!) in Bulgaria of all places, so they could launder their ill-gotten gains. (Not mentioning any bank robbery in particular.)  There was also the purchase of a quarry on the agenda – what in the jaysis would they want with a quarry ?  (well wait now a minute … ahem !)  This interesting insight comes from “Garda sources” who caught some merchant banker in Cork with a fistful of the stolen loot – does anyone else think it was a bad idea to publicise the facts thus letting the IRA know you are on to them ?  or does it run deeper …. maybe as deep as a quarry …

Pregnancy for Fathers : Week 25 July 25, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Fatherhood.
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So the missus turns 25 weeks pregnant today and so far everything seems to be going OK.   Thankfully.  I have just realised that I am shitting myself and looking forward to the impending arrival in equal measure. 

The more her belly grows and the more she coos and sometimes winces at the kicking little person inside her, the more guilt I feel for not doing more.  I mean shes the one doing most of the hard work so I reckon it’s up to me to make the rest of her day that bit more easier.   Thats tough work for a lazy sod though.  I am also beginning to rely more on the experiences of previously pregnant friends and family as opposed to the books on the subject.  These, from a father’s point of view, don’t provide much insight into what we, the Dads, might be thinking … maybe I’ll write one ?

What men might need to know …

This week marks the beginning of the end … the third trimester.  Your baby will now be considered full-term at 37 weeks which is just 12 weeks from now.  3 short months – sweet sufferin’ Jaysis !  so much to do, so little time.  The missus is getting kicked by the baby on an increasingly regular basis and shout of “Jesus whats it doing now?” can oft be heard over our dinner table.  It’s a great feeling when you feel the movement yourself and it serves as a reminder that yes, she is actually pregnant and there is somethig really in there.

Your partner’s uterus is about the size of a small football and the baby is about a foot long from the top of it’s head to the end of its feet.  It likes to poke, prod and roll about and we even saw ours yawn into our faces at the last ultra-sound.  With all this going on inside the missus it’s easy I think to lose focus on what we, the men, are thinking about the whole process.  For me it’s not enough to look at endless books and websites (many of whom contradict eachother).  I need to see results and feel things going on and try to imagine how she feels.  Feeling the baby’s movement is a great way of doing this.

Bodily functions far to crude to be mentioned in this fair blog are also changing and one might find the good lady presently more on a culmulative par with 4 lads watching a football match, drinking beer and eating pizza, than her normal “wouldn’t fart in public” fair maiden self !

PS Anyone know what a “pissmire” is ? Totally unrelated to the above ….

Ireland : 25 July ’06 July 25, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in Ireland & the Irish.
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So what’s new in Ireland today ?  There’s a whole host of interesting stories going on that don’t seem to make it into the mainstream press.  Never fear – the Rambling Man is here …

Well starting off on a sombre note, for those of you elsewhere on the planet and invariably absent from this little island of ours, there was a man found dead in a burning caravan in Castlecomer, Co.Kilkenny yesterday.  Lovely !  The Guards have no idea what happened but arrested a 21 year old last night and promptly released him this morning … more on this as it comes to light.

According to the experts in the Economic and Social Research Institute (good lads) the boom is nearly over and will be on its death bed by 2008.  The poor oul Tiger !  Having said that the same experts reckon that the release into our wonderful economy of the first of the maturing SSIAs will create over 40,000 jobs !  So once we spend it all, does that mean there will be 40,000 people looking for a new job ?  However the spending spree everyone assumes will take place will actually add 1% to the overall national growth !  Jaysis we’re a great little country for an oul scheme hah ?

In other news, Radon levels in Ireland are going through the roof apparently (very bad pun).  In some homes in Kerry they found levels 40% above the recommended safe limit.  Hasn’t Kerry always been full of a bit of gas ?

It seems like there will be another national taxi strike next Tuesday – the last one a few weeks back caused unknown consternation around the country, especially at the airports.  It’d help, of course, if taxis at Dublin airport were allowed to pick up passengers at the same time as dropping them off but they’re not …

And finally … this little gem direct from the Minister of Transport : “Improving roads would help to save lives.”  Aren’t you glad we elected this fella ? Theres no flyovers flies on him hah ? 

Just write ! July 24, 2006

Posted by Rambling Man in General Bloggery.
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In moments of lessened activity I am often struck by a strong urge to write.    Not to write about anything in particular, or start the great Irish novel or witty little passages on the world we live in, but just to write.  So here I am.  I hope you will at worst just surf on out and at best, stay a while, read, contribute and call me all sorts of derogatory names because you don’t agree with me.  Isn’t that what this blogging lark is all about ?