There is a reason for everything

The Fates sometimes deal a fortuitous hand.

Not often, I grant but occasionally things seem to slot into place in a strange sort of way.

I did some shopping yesterday.  There were a few knick-knacks I needed and while I was out I thought I'd buy Herself a coffee making machine.  Like myself, she doesn't drink coffee unless down in the village, so why she wanted a coffee making machine is way beyond the ken of a mere male, but she has been nagging me for ages.  There are some mysteries we just have to accept and who was I to argue?

I brought it home and plonked it on the table.  It looked impressive – all shiny, silver and black glowering at me as if daring me to lay a finger on it.  I tentatively read the manual which was a fucking laugh – it was in twenty two languages [I just counted] and all they told me was to look at the diagrams at the front of the book.  The diagrams consisted of poorly drawn sketches of fingers pressing buttons and bits of the machine.  Sweet fuck all use.  The only picture I could make any sense of was the one showing a badly drawn plug being pushed into a wall-socket.

I left it to sulk on the table and went to relax.  The thought crossed my mind that there might be something more sensible on-line.  Bingo!  I found an eighteen page booklet that explained everything in detail.  I was too knackered at that stage to do anything about it so I printed the booklet off and left the experimentation for the morrow.

I had a crap night last night.  No reason – it was just one of those nights when I couldn't sleep for love nor money.  I gave up trying at around four or so, so I got up and got dressed.

That's when I realised what the fates were playing at.

Here I was mooching around the kitchen wondering what to do when I spied the coffee machine which was watching me warily from its spot on the table.  I took out the wee booklet and got to work and spent the early hours brewing mugs of coffee for myself. 

Thank you Fate.

I have never felt so awake.

What would the neighbours think?

Giving a good impression was a part of my childhood.

My own parents were enlightened enough but my friends' parents were forever worrying about what the neighbours might think.  The public impression was far more important than the private fact.

Our gubmint in recent years has brought this phenomenon to a whole new level.

Now the vital factor is the impression Ireland has internationally.

During the banking crisis we had to pay off the bondholders because we had to "send a message to the world" that we pay our debts.  What would the financial institutions think became the catchphrase.  It didn't matter that the Irish were being screwed royally just so long as we gave a good impression.

They are at it again now.

The rebellion against Irish Water and the gubmint is "damaging our international reputation".  We must keep meekly quiet and take whatever the gubmint throws at us as we have to give that all important impression of a good country to invest in.

“It’s not acceptable. It’s giving the impression that the country can’t deal with these episodes of lawlessness. I understand people are hurting, but the way to show how they feel is through the democratic process and peaceful protest.”

Once again, they show their complete detachment from reality.  "We understand how people are hurting" is one of the greatest insults they could heap upon a nation.  They either don't understand or else they don't give a flying fuck, and my money is on the latter.  Democratic process?  Look where that has got us.  Peaceful protest?  Writing letters to the Irish Times, I suppose?

So it doesn't matter that the Irish are a broken people, and that we are being forced to pay more and more into a debt that isn't ours.  We must accept it all quietly and without complaint as otherwise what would the neighbours think.

“I was browsing the internet over the weekend and all these issues registered on news websites. The Financial Times was reporting on it, that’s our target audience and they are speaking in a negative sense.”

Good God Almighty!!  Our fucking target audience?  Does she think this is some kind of fucking soap opera? 

In her world the parents buy fancy clothes and flash cars to impress the neighbours and get invites to the golf club, while the kids are kept locked up, barefoot and starving in the back bedroom.

Fuck that.

And her.

Black and white photography

We have a visitor here at the Manor.

The daughter's dog stayed overnight and the place is in a right state of chassis.

Cola is a lovely dog.  She is big, black and hairy and lives under the illusion that she is a small cute puppy.  As a result she tends to crash around the place sending things flying and knocking things over.  She also has a major fascination with me for some reason so I have to keep yelling at her to stop trying to climb on my lap. 

Penny gets on very well with her, but there are tinges of jealousy.  Strangely enough it is usually Cola who is the jealous one so I can't go near Penny without Cola crashing on top of me demanding affection.  And when she crashes, she crashes.  As I said – she's big [and heavy].

To add to the confusion, the neighbour's dog has more or less taken up residence here so between the three of them the garden is now ripped to shreds with mud, grass and debris spread all over the gaff. 

I tried photographing Penny and Cola and there I ran into a problem.  You see, Penny has a pure white coat and Cola is pure black.  So whatever exposure I use, I either underexpose one or over expose the other.

Cola and Penny

Maybe I should re-take that photograph now? 

They are just back in from the garden and both are equally mud coloured.

As is the couch.

Government in crISIS

This Irish Water lark really is the gift that keeps on giving.

During the week, the gubmint had a rethink.  They are now going to bill us at a flat rate [thereby eliminating any argument that it’s about conservation].  The new rate is capped at an "affordable" rate, which I suppose is quite affordable if you're on nearly ninety thousand a year which is what those gombeens in gubmint get paid.  The rate is capped until 2019, and a law will be introduced to ensure that Irish Water will not be privatised.

Claiming to put a cap on the tax until 2019 really shows the gubmints contempt for the people.  There are those who will be taken in by this ploy but anyone with any intelligence will spot that this is a "loss leader" to get people to sign up.  One they have signed into the scam the tax will skyrocket through the roof.  And as for passing a law to prevent Irish Water from being privatised –  they can just as quickly introduce another law cancelling out the first.  Smoke and mirrors.  Three card tricks.

Then of course there is the tactic of divide and conquer.  This reached a high point yesterday when some gobshite in the Dáil compared water protesters to the ISIS fighters.

Yes, seriously.

We are facing an ISIS situation because of the water protesters.

Now I have seen a water bomb smack Burton on the back of the neck, and I have seen the crowds surrounding said Burton's car but I don't think there has been any kidnapping, rapes or beheading?  Have protesters been sending kidnap videos to RTE? What have I been missing?

I would put it to that fucking red-neck twat that his proposal of "nipping the protests in the bud" is far more reminiscent of an old Soviet style of state where dissenters must be squashed and eradicated. 

He seems to be trying to give the impression that the protesters are all middle class well heeled Dubliners trying to live off the backs of the poor country folk?

I wonder what all those Dublin folk are doing down in Cork today?

In defense of the pipe

There is something that has puzzled me for a long time.

Where have all the pipe smokers gone?

I know there are a few Puritans who would smugly claim that they have all been killed by their nasty foul addiction but that is plainly a pile of ordure.  I remember a time when on Budget Day the price of cigarettes would be increased but not the price of pipe tobacco or cigars because they were considered "a healthy alternative".  I remember a day when politicians such as Harold Wilson or Jack Lynch would never be seen without a pipe.

The other day I was enjoying a nice pipeful and a large coffee down in the village.  I got chatting to my old pal who runs the village grocery store.  As I puffed my pipe and he puffed his cigarette we naturally got onto the subject of smoking, and I mentioned my little puzzle.  It struck me that if anyone knew how many pipe smokers there were in the vicinity, he would.

He thought for a while and did a bit of mental inventory.

I don't know what the population would be in his shop's catchment area.  Including the village and all the outlying areas where people have to travel through the village to get home, I reckon there are about three thousand.  Going by statistics around eight hundred of those would smoke.  And the number of those who smoke a pipe?  Including myself … four.  Only four people in a very large area of the county?  Only 0.5% of smokers?  I found that quite amazing.

It has reached the stage where, if I meet a pipe smoker while out and about we are such a rarity that we get chatting.  The same question always arises – where have all the pipe smokers gone?

One thing I have discovered over the years is that the pipe is admired by just about everyone, smoker and non-smoker alike.  I have lost count of the people who admire the aroma, and the number of people who have said it evokes memories of their father or grandfather.  It ranks up there with the smell of an Autumn bonfire or turf smoke.  Many have said even the mere sight of a pipe-smoker is relaxing.

I used to smoke cigarettes [well over forty years ago] and I found them to be messy.  There was always ash everywhere and butts to be disposed of.  They were a quick fix and tasted of saltpeter.  The pipe on the other hand keeps its ash neatly in the bowl and there are no fag-ends.  Ash can be discreetly disposed of at the end of a smoke, and that's it.  I grant that a pipe is a little more trouble in that it has to be cleaned regularly and it's an extra item to carry around – instead of fags and a lighter, I have to carry a pipe, tobacco and a lighter, but that is a miniscule drawback compared to the rich flavour and aroma.

Even the Puritans ignore us.  Their questionnaires and statistics always quote the "number of cigarettes per day" and never ever mention quantities of tobacco.  They wiffle on with their 4000 [or is it 6000?  I’ve lost count] carcinogens in cigarettes but they never analyse pipe tobacco which I'm damn sure contains far less.  Any real doctor [as distinct from those who just trot out the party line] I have ever spoken to has always told me that the pipe is far preferable to cigarettes so why is this never publicised?

Because of the Anti-Smoker movement [Big Pharma, to you and me] a lot of people considered their position on cigarettes.  Many have switched to electrofag, some went cold turkey and the more brainless even tried Big Pharma's own useless patches and gum.  But no one ever suggested they try a pipe.  Why?

Has anyone got any answers?