Tag Archives: Shopping

The Daily Rant: On Weekends.

Aren’t Weekends great? Don’t you wish you could take Weekends out for dinner, ply them full of wine and then take them home and have your wicked way with them? Weekends are so cool and full of awesome that if an election was held today to find the Supreme Ruler of the Known Universe, Weekends would win by a landslide.

Weekends are when you let your hair and treat yourself to whatever (or whoever) it is that floats your boat. But think about this, people: in order for you to enjoy your weekend, there are those who earn their living so you can trip the light fantastic. So, at the risk of sounding like a party pooper, please respect hard-working bartenders, waiting staff, cinema workers and the bloke who sources your drugs. Without them, your Weekends just wouldn’t be the same.

I’m off to work now. Don’t get too drunk, you hear me?

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 85. On Caffeine.

You know you’re a caffeine junkie when:

a) You’ve gone to the bother of making the nicest cup of coffee you can, given your circumstances, and you don’t even remember drinking it.

b) Being jittery is your default setting.

c) You can tell your Java from your Colombian.

d) You drain a pot of coffee quicker than a toilet can flush.

e) Your concern for your kidneys is at odds with your serenity.

f) Your response to a customer query is WHAT NOW? CAN’T YOU SEE I’M STRESSED OUT?

g) Going cold turkey fills you with a sense of dread.

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 82. On Showers.

One of the things I miss when I’m away (apart from my bed, that is) is my electric shower. You know the type I mean: flick a switch and water comes out, at the rate you want and, more importantly, at the temperature you want. Too many times I’ve had to wrestle with showers that have lives of their own. You know the sort I mean: water dribbles out at a rate snails would be proud of, and at a temperature that would make volcanoes seethe with envy. Is it too much to ask for a little consistency around here?

 

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 77. On Male Grooming.

There was a time when all men had to do before heading out was brush their teeth, comb their hair, then splash on a bit of smelly stuff (Brut, Old Spice or whatever your father had in his collection). Nowadays, though, things have become a little more complicated. I blame David Beckham.

Now it’s all about moisturisers and eye cream. Where once I had shaving foam and toothpaste, now I have l’Oreal, Nivea and other products sold to me by advertising. One thing I will say, though, no way do I look 46. May this crap does the job after all.

Preparations.

I’m off on holidays this week. A friend and I are heading to Nice in the south of France for seven days. When I return, I am then taking a weekend break in London by myself. I’m looking forward to both trips immensely. But as everyone knows, when it comes to taking time off certain preparations must be made.

1. Cleaning: vacuum each room (hello carpet, long time no see), dust shelves, degrease counter top and cooker, clean out toilet and shower area. Replace old towels with new ones. Febreze the shit out of fabrics.

2. Organise: throw old newspapers and magazines away, sort out post, place bills in drawer (or burn them, whichever works), tell neighbour what day the bins go out (seeing that it’s you that always puts them out), make sure they know that the bins don’t come back in by themselves, renew library books online (for the sixth time) to save you bringing them back.

3. Bedroom: change bed linen (nothing worse than coming back from a holiday only to sleep in the same sheets you’ve slept in all year*), tidy floor, remove and hide pornographic material**, put books back in bookcase, check drawer for condoms and replace if out of date ***, check for batteries (why, I don’t know).

4. TV and DVR: from recent magazines, find out which of your favourite programmes are on what days and at what times, then set your DVR to record them while you’re away. Set aside three hours for this because you will check, double-check, then triple-check everything. Series Record on Sky is a must in these instances. Whatever else happens, don’t miss the series finale of Doctor Who.

5. Repeat Step 4.

6. Tell landlord that you’ll see him when you get back – but don’t tell him when you’ll be back. Make mental note to bring him back a stick of rock. This will act as a sweetener when you don’t have his rent.

7. Repeat Step 4.

8. Passport: check that all official documents are valid for time of travel. (Phew!) Cringe at photograph taken eight years ago. (Note: update travel insurance if you feel the need to. If not, you only have yourself to blame if a shark bites off your leg.)

9. Security: ask your neighbour to keep an eye on the place while you’re away. Say you’ll bring him back a carton of smokes for his troubles. Make a mental note to conveniently forget while in Duty Free.

10. Money: make sure you have some, otherwise it’s bread and water for a week.

11. Reading material: bring a couple of books for the beach/pool/balcony/police cell. I recommend a few thrillers to pass the time, but if you want to chat up the local talent, something intellectual will act as a conversation starter. And no, pornographic material doesn’t count.

12. Repeat Step 4.

I will update my blog as and when I can. Stay safe and keep warm.

 

* only joking

** really, I’m only joking.

*** they always are 😦

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 28. On Haircuts and Compliments.

I was in town today and decided it was high time I had my hair cut. I ‘looked like a poet’, as my mother would say. I chose a barber shop in the GPO Arcade and went in, where I was attended to by a Latvian lady called Christina

As I was a captive audience I allowed myself the pleasure of looking at the lady who cut my hair. Like most men I am very much taken by female beauty. But unlike some men I know, I told her she was gorgeous just for the pleasure of seeing her smile. And it felt good.

 

 

NaNoWriMo 2010: Preparation Update

There are seven more days to go before the madness known as National Novel Writing Month begins. That means there is exactly one week to get that outline fine-tuned, those characters fleshed out and your plot in working order.

So, no pressure there.

As I mentioned previously, I didn’t fully commit to last year’s competition because of lack of preparation. I felt I could write on the fly and see what happened. Well, not getting further than 12,000 words is what happened. This year I have promised myself (and others) not to fail. I cannot allow this to happen. Barring natural disasters or circumstances completely beyond my control, I will write a minimum of 1,700 words a day, every day for the month of November.

This time I’m prepared. My story has been in my head for nearly a month and now my outline suggests I’m good to go. I have – unlike last year – a beginning, a middle and an end. I have my characters named and their motivations worked out.

The Main Players

Tim “Bucktooth” Fanning: 22, five nine, 160 pounds, round face with close-cut blonde hair. He likes wearing hooded tops and denim jeans, sports an earring in his left lobe, and has tattoos on each shoulder; one supporting Manchester United, the other Celtic FC. He has blue eyes, is state educated and is angry – a lot. His parents are Robert and Marie and he lives in an inner city Dublin housing estate. Single and unemployed, he likes soccer, GAA kick-boxing and WWF. His best friend in the world is Lester Drumm and together they go to rock concerts; though Bucktooth’s secret passion is the music of Leonard Cohen.

At the beginning of the story he’s looking for some work to pay for anger management therapy, and that’s where the plot kicks off. If I say anymore I’ll be in danger of spoiling how he progresses through the novel. Needless to say he changes – but not too much that it becomes ridiculous.

Valerie D’estang is a 20-year-old Parisienne and becomes Tim’s kind of love interest. She meets him while having her photograph taken at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. This will be my novel’s first major set-piece. It will involve her father, Nikolas, a journalist with AFP, who’s also in league with the major villains of Bucktooth, the clandestine organisation known as FILTH, controlled by the mysterious Mr. Sandross.

Tracking Tim’s every move, unwilling to help when he runs into trouble, is the equally shadowy MeerLin Corporation, a philanthropic organisation with headquarters in Dublin. Are they a force for good or evil, or are they somewhere in between?

Supporting Cast

Charles Formly: CEO, MeerLin Corporation.

Frank Lord: Chief of Ops, MeerLin Corporation.

Deandra Rimes, Security Chief, MeerLin Corporation.

Dicky Boyes, Press Officer, Meerlin Corporation.

Mr. Sandross, CEO, FILTH.

Dieter Hassberger, Security Chief, FILTH.

Frau Kessler, Mr. Sandross’ Personal Assistant.

Georges Matelot, UN Representative, Geneva.

Various goons, minions and henchmen.

The Locations

Dublin – Berlin – Athens – Geneva – Paris – London – Dublin (again)

The Plot

It involves a powerful historical artifact, a group of Neo-Nazis, some Chinese assassins, a little bit of sight-seeing, fights in airport lounges and a man who may or may not know who killed Pope John Paul I in 1978.

I have this and much more besides, ready to go for this day week.

How is your own preparation going?

Family Crest: McShane

The McShane family crest, c/o allfamilycrests.com

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is in Edinburgh at the moment, trundling around in his Pope-mobile, waving to the crowd from behind bulletproof glass. He’s wearing a tartan scarf specially created for him for this occasion.

I want a tartan scarf, and I’m sure you want one, too. I want one that reflects my family name, McShane. So that got me thinking about my heritage.

I Googled “family crests”, found www.allfamilycrests.com, entered “McShane” and came out with the crest at the top of this post. It’s nice, isn’t it? It’s all green and gold, colours that signify generosity and hope. Our coat of arms came into existence centuries ago and now I’m find myself wondering about my lineage.

Maybe I shall investigate this further.

The McShane Tartan, c/o scotweb.co.uk

Similarly I Googled “tartan scarves” and found www.scotweb.co.uk. I entered my family name and came up with a fetching little number, pictured here at the right.

Once again, green and gold are highlighted: generosity and hope. Well, I hope I’m generous.

Maybe I’ll get myself a kilt next. Herself seems to like kilts; though with my hairy legs, I’d perhaps be better off hiding them.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Ticket Tout

So I’m standing outside Croke Park with 50 bleedin’ tickets to the Dublin match, That’s 50 bleedin’ tickets at 40 quid a pop. Work that one out with your fucking calculators. I can’t. I never did my Leaving Cert. The only time I can add numbers is when I’m working out the odds on my three horse accumulator. This is before every poxy one of them falls, goes lame, gets brought down, or just plain won’t bloody jump. The pox-bottles! Anyway, because I’m losing my bollix on the horses, I decide it’s high time to think of an easier way to make money. So, with the Dublin match around the corner, I borrow from Peter, Paul, and the rest of the fucking Apostles, and soon I have enough spondoolicks to bulk buy a shit-load of match tickets from ticketmaster.ie.

You see, I know what them Dubs are like. As often as not, they turn up at the pubs around Croker with nary a ticket between them. Stupid muppets. Don’t they know the match is sold out? And that’s where I come in. Once they’ve had a skinful of cider they’d sell their mother for a Hill ticket. (That’s Hill 16, for those of you who don’t know. The real Dubs will only have a ticket for the Hill. No, you eejit. A real Dublin supporter would have bought his poxy ticket three weeks ago.) I’m like the bleedin’ Messiah to these cretins. I have in my possesion 30 Hill tickets, 10 Canal End and 10 Cusack Stand tickets. Come to mama, you pissheads. 70 quid a ticket, no questions asked.

Only…there’s no one biting. Not a sausage. I’m up to me armpits in match tickets. Not just any match tickets — Dublin match tickets. The only show in town. But no one gives a flying fuck, do they? And I’m not the only one suffering. That arsehole selling the flags, scarves and funny hats has enough left over to send off to the Ukraine and clothe the kids. Now that would be a funny sight. A pile of Eastern European sprogs decked out in Dublin colours, begging on the streets for zlotys or whatever the fuck it is they call currency over there. What about me? What am I going to clothe my kids in? If I don’t dump these tickets, my missus will rip off my head and shit down my neck.

Which brings me to another topic altogether. If the oul ball-and-chain fucks me out, I can always get onto the Internet and hook up with a Russian bride. I wonder if they take Dublin tickets as collateral. I might have better luck next week. U2 are in town and tickets are like gold dust. But Bono? No one gives a fuck about him either. Okay, it’s Russia for me. With Love.

There’s my DART. I’m off to the boozer.

(c) James McShane 2009

The Tuesday Tune: “Cloudbusting”, by Kate Bush


Kate Bush is an enigma. To many, she will always be the precocious 19-year-old who topped the UK charts for four weeks  in 1978 with her debut single “Wuthering Heights,” a sensuous reimagining of Emily Bronte’s classic novel. Kate became the first woman to have a UK number-one with a self-written song and was the most photographed woman in the United Kingdom that year. I hated it when I first heard it.

But oh how the young lady grew up!

Kate could hardly be described as a prolific artist. Since her debut appearance she has released just 8 studio albums and two compilations. Her last album, Aerial, came in 2005.

A notoriously private woman, Kate toured only the once – in 1979. But the lady knew how to make some of the most remarkable music videos. I’ve chosen “Cloudbusting” because it’s my favourite. It’s a story of a scientist  (Donald Sutherland) who invents a device that can control the weather. Kate plays his daughter. When a sinister agency sends its goons out to capture her father, Kate turns the machine against them – to great effect.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the wonderful Ms. Kate Bush.