Wednesday, 21 January 2015


Let me introduce you to Keela, the coolest Yorkie on the planet.  And so well-travelled, too. She even has her own passport, I kid you not.  And microchip - which, incidentally, I'm surprised they haven't yet introduced for children.

I had to make a trip to the UK recently, and I would be gone for quite some weeks.  There was no way on earth I was leaving her behind for that length of time;  we are joined at the hip, and I am her pack leader.  I wouldn't leave a child, and I certainly wouldn't leave my dog.  But there are many things to take into account when travelling alone with a canine, not least whether they'll make good company.

So the madness commenced, and she was injected, de-flea'd and de-wormed and 120 euro later, Keela was deemed fit to travel.  The vet kindly sold me some sedative in a tube, and told me how much to give her - a mere drop, because this sedative would knock out a horse.  It said so on the tube. I only wanted to sedate her temporarily, not permanently.

So D-day arrives, the ferry is booked and the car fully-loaded;  Keela and I are the last to squeeze ourselves into the car.  I'd bought a brand new dog bed for her which was on the front seat, so that she could snooze on the journey.  Fat chance.  Keela is very nosey.  And awfully afraid that if she takes her eyes off you for just one second, you'll disappear.  She hasn't quite got to grips with the fact that I'm the one driving the car, and that where the car goes, I'll go, and she'll inevitably follow.  But I digress.

We begin our trip from County Cork and make our way up to the ferry port, which is long enough but non-eventful.  To a point.  About an hour before we are due to arrive at the ferry, I decide to test out my sedative so that I know how well it works, how fast, and how much to give her.  I turn the dial to minimum, squeeze out a pea-sized droplet, wipe it around her gums and leave her settle into her bed.

It doesn't take long.  For her bowels to give way.  All over her new bed.  It's the smell that hits me first.  That pungent baby's-got-diarrhoea smell that's unmissable.  Except I am now back on the motorway and travelling at close to 140km an hour, and Keela's trying to stand up.  On rubber legs. Uncomfortably close to the shit.  Keela is mortified;  she has never, ever shat anywhere other than outside, ever.  And now not only is she as high as a kite, but she's worried about the damage she's doing to her new bed.  And mammy's driving.

So we screech to a halt and come to rest on the verge;  I'm trying to keep her still, breathing through my mouth so I don't gag (I never realised how small the inside of a car is), I have both windows open, and I'm hitting the tarmac before I've even come to a full stop.  Round to the passenger side.  Rip open the door.  And manage to rescue Keela before she submerges herself totally in the mess and starts doing the breaststroke.

OK.  Right.  Trucks are flying past, cars are hooting, and here's me with a doped up dog who can't stand, trying to lift out the bed with one hand whilst holding Keela in the other.  It's not working.  So down goes Keela onto the grass who promptly flops flat on her face, and I whip out the wet wipes I remember I have in the boot.  Keela gets an in-situ wet wipe sponge bath, tongue lolling out the side of her mouth. I wonder briefly if I've given her too much sedative, and how to give mouth-to-mouth to a dog. Bum cleaned, I lean her up against an obliging pole, and tend to the mess within.  She looks like a scarecrow.

Said bed is now somewhere on the N25.  I did try and clean it with the wet wipes, and I succeeded - mostly - except for the smell.  It was time to for the bed and me to part company.  I do hope no one thought they'd scored if they found it, because the stench is still in my nose today.

Dog is now lifted back into the car, on a thick towel just in case her bowels are pulling a fast one and have one more blast to give, and tentatively pull out again, leaving a trail (I am embarrassed to say) of korma-coloured wet wipes in my wake.  The wind didn't even want to take them.

Just under an hour later, Keela is still passed out next to me.  I feel awful.  I did this to my dog.  She is comatose.  And the ferry port is approaching.  I stop again, this time to retrieve an empty hand luggage case from the boot for just this purpose.  I carefully lift Keela's lifeless body into the suitcase, wondering if she will flop upside down to the bottom when I stand the case upright - she has no body control.  She's not even on the planet.

You see, the dog is supposed to stay down below deck.  With the cars.  In a very noisy and scary environment.  Look at my dog.  She would be a nervous, dribbling wreck in dire need of Xanax if I left her down there.  How could I?  I'd paid extra for a cabin that I'd only use for four hours, with the sole purpose of getting the dog in there.  Sans detection. And I have no idea at this stage whether there'll be sniffer dogs, X-ray machines, or car inspections - I've not travelled on the ferry before.

We arrive, and I'm as guilty as sin.  I try the nonchalant look, but end up looking like I have twenty balloons of cocaine shoved up my ass.  I flush as the security waves me through.  I'm over-friendly; too chatty, too smiley.  I drive past the booth, smiling, waving like the queen.  I even asked the security whether or not he wanted to frisk my car.  What the fuck was I thinking?

Anyhow.  On I drive.  Up the ramp.  Waving at everyone.  And just at that moment, Keela decides it's time to wake up.  The case starts shuffling next to me.  I think I see a smidgen of nose pushing through the zip area.  I press her down, croon to her, and shove my coat over the top of the case. Once parked, there's men in high-viz jackets everywhere, guiding the cars on board.  As fast as I can, I slip around to the passenger side, whip out the suitcase, and throw my coat over it, wheeling it casually-fast towards the lifts that will take me to my cabin.  Keela is now attempting some form of break dancing and my jacket is flapping up and down.  I keep smiling.  And waving.

And before I know it, I have retrieved the key to my cabin, dragged the suitcase - with Keela probably doing a handstand inside it - to the cabin, and exhaled as the door closed behind me.  She's delighted.  She's ecstatic.  And she still can't stand.  She wags her tail to see me, unaware that it was me that doped her up, God love her trust and loyalty.  And stumbles sideways into the cupboard. Within minutes, she is ensconced on a very comfy bed, with a white duvet and soft feather pillow, and I've settled down with my book.  We made it.

Four hours later, Keela is very much recovered, and reluctant to return to the suitcase, but in she goes, coat a-top, and I wheel her as fast as a bullet back to the car.  In the lift, four other passengers are chatting to me about how lovely the crossing was, and probably wondering why I was shifting from foot to foot to disguise my moving case.  Keela wanted out.  I hoped, no, prayed, really, that no one made a sound like pssshhhht, because that's the cat sound and Keela goes off like a rapid-fire machine gun when she hears it.  Thankfully, no one had a sneeze.

The rest of my trip was uneventful, and we made our return journey recently, with a daughter and granddaughter in tow, and by now Keela almost zipped herself into the suitcase.  She's a fast learner.

It was funny;  it was an experience.  And the worst that could have happened was I would have been reprimanded and made to return the dog to the car.  The most surprising, and worrying, of all, really, was the lack of security checks.  My passport wasn't checked.  My luggage wasn't.  My car wasn't. Not in my presence, anyway.  I could have had a suitcase full of drugs.  I could have been smuggling a baby.  And no-one blinked an eye.

On my return to Ireland, I asked the security guy if he wanted to check my passport.

"Where do you live?" he asked.  "Cork," I replied.

"Ah sure, if you're Irish, you're Irish!"

I think I'll chance both the cat and the budgies on the next trip.

Thursday, 6 November 2014


I think a lot of people have it all wrong when choosing their mate for life;  yes, we fall in love, or lust, the butterflies run amok, we get giddy feelings where we shouldn't, and we are swept along a tide of electronic impulses that thrusts reason straight out of the window.

We believe we have found our soul mates;  we talk all night, we laugh, we make love and it's wonderful, and we believe - if that's what we're raised to do - that we have found The One.

We marry, we set up home, and somewhere along the line, a few years, a few decades, the cracks begin to appear.  Where did we go wrong?  How did we lose what we once had?

I remember finding some old love letters from way back when, that I wrote to my now-ex-husband when we were parted for three months.  As I sat on the floor of my bedroom and read through them, I wondered who this girl was, who was gushing forth platitudes of love, she sounded fun, and happy, and full of optimism and hope.  I was jealous of this girl in the letter, this girl who seemed to have no obstacles in her way, who had the strength and enthusiasm to tackle anything that would dare stand in her way.  This girl who was bubbly, and mischievous, who teased in her writing, and made promises of happy reunions...

Where had this girl gone?  Who had I become?  Because as far as I can remember, and it's some years now, the girl I was at the end of my marriage held no resemblance to the excited girl in the letter.  I was angry, and unfulfilled, and so lonely, my husband was practising serious avoidance tactics, staying late at work; and when he did come home, it was not to a blissful, happy house of laughter, but one of reproach, and silence and tension.  Back then, I had not yet learnt the art of honest communication;  of being able to put into words the emotions I was feeling.  Instead, I would lash out about trivial matters, and he would retaliate, tit for tat, until we tore each other to shreds, until our union went from a beautiful fabric to a tatty and tired rag.

Because, isn't it the truth - it is not in the good times you need someone at your side, but the bad? It's not who you turn to when you're happy, but who you'd want at your side when you're sad.  Whose shoulder do you want to lean on when you're tired?  Whose hand do you want to be holding when you get that bad news, that there's no hope, that there's no return from the place you now find yourself?  Will there even be someone next to you?  If there is, hold on tight.

These are not the things I considered when I had my husband, nor what he considered when he had me.  There are regrets, from both sides, but no comeback.  There is no U-turn to be made, because we made sure that there were only ashes left by the time we turned away from each other.

So the question is this:  When we choose our mates, perhaps for the second time, what are the things you should consider?  Perhaps I am now at the stage where I should overlook the tummy, the balding head, the slight limp, and look deeper at the person who lies within.  Because, at the end of the day, it is not the face you will remember, but the heart.  And I am no oil painting myself, just a normal, everyday girl growing older and wiser.

I am having major back problems at the moment, and find myself making excuses when asked out - who would want to date a person who's struggling?  Surely they would run a mile?  And so I continue on my path alone, yet there's a niggling voice at the back of my head reminding me that the grey hairs are a-massing, that the mind may still be eager but the body is tiring...  and whilst I refuse to stoop to "beggars can't be choosers" (I ain't no beggar), there is a tendency to be more tolerant, less critical, as the years pass.

How lovely to have someone next to you who makes you tea when you've had a bad day. Or cares enough still to bring you flowers in the rain?  Now I have my dog, and she's not great at the tea and sympathy.  And it's my own fault - I hold my hands up to this.  I was too young, too naive, too displaced within my own self to know that it takes two to tango, not one.  I am not saying that our marriage would have worked - there were many other contributing factors that came into play.  But perhaps if we had minded each other a little more, both of us, perhaps if we had stood by during times of trouble instead of being "too busy at work", perhaps we would have lasted the journey that is Marriage?

So now I have new things to consider:  how does he handle sadness?  Does he shy away from stress or face it head on and look for a solution?  How does he behave around elderly folk, the homeless, the underprivileged?  Does he like my dog?

I went for a meal with a guy once - and when we came out of the restaurant, there was a homeless guy sitting on the floor on a piece of cardboard, a tatty blanket wrapped around his thin shoulders.  I stopped.  I rooted in my purse and gave him some money, but I also got down on my haunches and spoke with him for a while :  How are you?  How long have you been sleeping rough?  Is there somewhere you can go when it gets really cold?  How are people treating you?

We ended up having a short chat, and for those brief moments, I hope that I connected with him as a fellow human being, for there but for the grace of God, go I.  And it must be awful to sit in the cold and be ignored, unseen, uncared for by passers-by.  The point here is this : when I had finished my little chat, I looked up for my date, thinking he was close by in support, perhaps even rustling in his own pockets for a few euro which he could well afford.  But he was 100 yards away down the road, looking into shop windows.  That, my fellow readers, is what put me off him straight away.  No compassion.  Arrogance.  And a sign of the man within.

So now my priorities have shifted a little - I am not looking for cockiness, but for kindness.  I am not looking for arrogance, but compassion.  People facing second-time-around have travelled the road, have had their knocks, and carry their baggage upon weary shoulders.  If that trip has not taught them how to be there in the bad times, then I most certainly don't want to see them during the good.  If he doesn't want to see me tonight because I have a cold, he won't be seeing me tomorrow night either, when I'm hot to trot and back in action.

Shoot me down if you will, there are readers out there who constantly criticise what amounts to my own opinions on these blogs - throw those stones.  But mind your glass windows lest a stone comes back at you. Someone once said:  when you point your finger at someone, there are three more pointing back at you - try it.  And make sure those three fingers find no fault, before you lash out at someone else.  The reader of whom I speak knows who she is - so this paragraph is written especially for you - feel privileged.

In sickness, and in health.  Those words mean a lot.  My parents celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary recently.  Sixty four years.  Think about it.  My father has just bought a treadmill so he can stay fit during the rainy season - and he even got my immobile mother up on it.  We laughed so much, she managed two steps before admitting defeat, and to see the two young people they once were look at each other with their wrinkles, and their aches, and their flailing bodies, and share that "moment", is something too beautiful for words.  I salute them.

Do you think they had a blissful, calm-water sailing?  Ha.  Be real.  They suffered. And struggled. And fought.  And survived.  And today, as I watch them sit in their matching chairs alongside each other, my dad reading the paper, my mother knitting quietly, facing their Winter years, knowing the path ahead is not very long, I realise this: there is a lot to be said for the older generation, for commitment and loyalty, and love, because it had the staying power to move through all the seasons - spring, summer, autumn and winter.

I'd just be happy to get through the silly season.

In sickness, and in health.  At the moment I can offer myself in sickness, with the promise of better things to come in my health.

Mind each other.

Friday, 31 October 2014


Everywhere I turn these days, people are fretting themselves over very little.  In fact, it seems they have now developed a new pass-time of worrying, as if their lives are so empty that this is all they have left to do.  Have we become a nation of worriers to replace a nation of warriors?  It is very worrying.  In fact, I am very worried about how many worriers are out there.... I shall stay awake all night tonight worrying about how much worry there is in the world.

Tonight someone asked me a question : should we start a Forum where people can complain about things? Like services provided, or quality of goods, or general dismay at the misery of life in general? What, I asked, like a kind of Whinge-a-Holics Anonymous?  Is this what the world has turned into, or just in this little bubble called Ireland, where thoughts are never far away from the nearest pending doom and gloom, like taxes.  Or little Johnny's failure to understand Algebra (which he will never use unless he becomes a scientist, and let's face it, he never will if he doesn't get Algebra to begin with - another worry).  Just turn on the television or open a paper in this country and tis no wonder we worry - we are thrown asunder with worry of obesity, underage sexual encounters, disease, the dangers of leaving a peeled onion in your fridge, the concern that your house might go up in smoke if you keep your money under the mattress.....  and all the while, sales of Xanax are on the rise everywhere.

There's a new buzzword in town : Generalised Anxiety Disorder.  This in itself is a worry, because this type of anxiety doesn't have a real name, or a category to belong to, so it's just dumped into the "general" category so that clients can worry a little more about the real cause of their worry.  After all, it can't be identified, so it must be worrying, no, to live with this type of uncertainty?  I mean, if the psychiatrists and psychotherapists can't identify it, I mean, what chance is there?  Worry, worry, worry....

What is worry, by definition?  "Worry is to feel, or cause to feel, anxious or troubled about actual or potential problems".

See, there's my worry right there - that you can now worry about potential problems - surely there is a potential problem in anything and everything these days?  What if that chicken has salmonella? What if I don't wake up in time for work tomorrow?  What if the car doesn't start?  What if they cut my electricity off?  What if my husband has an affair?  What if this pimple bursts all over my new pillowcase?

How about this one : What if you don't fucking wake up tomorrow, now THERE'S a real worry.  Or not.  Because if you don't wake up tomorrow, you'll have nothing more to worry about - you have reached your destination.  Please collect all personal items as you depart Life....

I am so sick of listening to people moaning, complaining, worrying and whingeing, all the while doing absolutely nothing to change the things they are moaning, complaining, worrying and whingeing about.  They always seem to find me, these worriers.  I think I give off a radar signal of "I don't give a shit about anything!" and they home in on it like flies to a cowpat.  Perhaps if they hover close enough to me, their worries will fade into the background.  That worries me.  See, now I'm worrying.

But I don't, really.  I don't sweat the small stuff.  Anything that has happened to me has, eventually, become part of my past.  And so whatever shite I might find myself quick-sanding in, shall too become part of my past - I just have to paddle a little faster for a little while.  I don't get into debt, therefore I don't have to worry about not being able to pay my bills.  I live within my means, and I sleep peacefully at night.  I don't mix with assholes, so therefore I don't have to worry about having to be polite to them under false pretenses.  I don't eat shit food, so I don't have to worry about whether I'll live to be 61 or 64.  I don't drink, very rarely, so I don't have to worry about what I'm doing to my liver.  See, it's all about choice in the end, isn't it?

Your actions will have a consequence - so choose what you do wisely.  I wisely choose not to worry, because worry takes away from the only thing that's actually real in this world : the very moment in which you're standing.  At the moment I am in a lot of pain - I have a prolapsed disc in my back that has been hindering me for the past good many months.  Am I worried?  Not one bit.  Am I in pain? Oh, for sure.  And lots of it, too.  So I channel my energy into making sure I'm doing the best I can at this point in my life to limit further damage, whilst assisting my body to heal as best I can.  I've seen the neurosurgeon - it may warrant surgery;  this I shall find out next week when I have my next MRI scan.  Am I worried?

No.  Because either the MRI scan is going to show no improvement (meaning surgery), or it's going to show improvement (meaning yaay, no surgery).  Either way, surgery or not, the outcome is surely going to be the same - the elimination of pain, either through self recovery, or an operation.  What's there to be worried about?

The amount of shit I listen to on a daily basis beggars belief.  I think I made a conscious decision to not be like someone I know - he is the world's most prolific worrier, and I see how much stress worrying puts on him;  his mind is never at rest.  He is always fretting about something, and if he has nothing to worry about, he makes something up.  That's very sad, all that energy wasted, and I feel sorry for the torment he's in, mentally.  He's actually very funny, the things he worries about.  Like driving over a manhole cover is going to damage the tyres of the car.  Or what people could be saying because I walk my dog with a man who is unmarried and single, and who is one of my very best friends - yes, friends. Or what will happen if he tries to sneak in some contraband into the recycling bin, like a rag, or a bottle.  Will he be caught?  Will he be in trouble?  Will he ever be able to settle down, be normal like "other people" (define normal?). Another friend worries that he will be poor, whilst being comfortably wealthy.  Worry, worry, worry.

I can honestly say I have mastered the art of thinking about absolutely nothing, whilst simultaneously looking relatively pensive.  It's quite an art.  You can feign interest in a brain-dead conversation whilst planning your dinner, or ponder the outcome of your next Scrabble encounter without blinking an eye.  Blankness is a wonderful ability, and I am so grateful I have trained myself into switching off the clatter and chatter that so many brains suffer from.  All that gibberish, voices fighting to be heard, all the bullshit your ego spews at you and tries to get you to buy into, and detracting you from lovely peace and quiet.  It must be very worrying.  To others.

And like anything in this life, worrying started somewhere.  It is a learned behavioural pattern, like everything else we're made up of.  And you've got to take control of those little voices in your head - the ones that tell you you're not good enough, or strong enough, or pretty enough, or clever enough. The ones that snigger at your efforts to improve yourself.  Drown them out by telling them, quite simply and in plain English, to fuck off.  Because that's all it really takes.  Be in control.  Listen to how you think, sure, sometimes you think quite nice and helpful things.  But be quite happy to discard the thoughts that increase your blood pressure and stop you from sleeping, because these thoughts are not your friends.

Are we designing a nation of worriers, I'll ask again?  We have labelled our children whom we once would have described as enthusiastic or full of energy, as having ADHD.  We have labelled quiet and pensive people as insecure.  We have labelled mentally weary people as lazy.  We have embraced high sugar foods as a staple in our diets, and wonder why we are so tired and overweight.  We have labelled, we have labelled, we have labelled.  And we have created a nation of anxiety that has served nothing more than increased customers for the pharmaceutical industries.

My benchmark is self-made.  How do I feel about myself today?  Well, sometimes I've pain, sometimes I'm happier than others, sometimes I'm lazy, sometimes I'm giddy, and sometimes I'm just plain bored.  But I go with whatever I'm feeling, because if I am agreeing with my mood, there's nothing to worry about, not so?  Conflict, that's the real concern here.  Conflict in the mind, a constant barrage of questioning and doubting, that's what causes worry.

I just couldn't be arsed.  Worry sounds like an awful lot of hard work to me, for no return whatsoever. I've had tough days, and I've pulled through.  I've had poor days, and I've still eaten.  I've had cold days, and I've warmed up again. It's history, isn't it?  Aren't we supposed to learn from history to improve our futures?  And my history has told me that despite some of the hardest things anyone could ever go through, I am still here.  So why worry?

I'll leave you with this thought to ponder - or worry about.  The choice, ultimately, is yours.

Why worry? 

In life there are only two things to worry about:
Whether you are well;
Or whether you are sick

If you are well, 
you have nothing to worry about.

If you are sick, you have two things to worry about:
Whether you'll get better;
Or whether you'll die...

If you get better,
You have nothing to worry about

If you die, you have two things to worry about:
Whether you'll go to Heaven;
Or whether you'll go to Hell

If you go to Heaven, 
You have nothing to worry about

If you go to Hell,
You'll be so busy shaking hands
with all your friends,
You won't have time to worry...

So why worry?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

MADE IN HONG KONG..... part two

Gary Collins
(at said address)

Dear Mr Chan,

You have no idea how happy receiving your letter has made my family and I!  I could not believe my eyes when I read that you had found my brother-from-another-mother Mr K.P. Gary!  He and I spent many years travelling the world together, but sadly I lost touch with him a long time ago.  He once stole a girl I loved, and also my watch, but that's another story, and anyway, she is fat and old now so I don't mind that much anymore.  I have since got a new watch, too.

I am so terribly saddened to hear that he has passed away;  in fact, it has so broken my heart that I wonder if the percentage of my share could be negotiated upwards?  Because of the undue stress and upset his death has caused me, and the shock of your letter, it would only seem fair that you consider giving me the larger portion of the share, in fact, the entire estate should now fall to me because we share the same name, ie Gary?

My wife is a judge in our Supreme Court and she says by rights that estate should be legally transferred in its entirety into my account.  She is currently investigating what our options are, and we are prepared to travel to your company to ensure that everything is above-board and legal.  Mr K.P. Gary (his name was Kenneth Paxton) was a very honest man, and he would like to know that his money has fallen into the rightful hands.

Oh!  I have so many plans to make!  So many people to tell!  The local newspapers have been notified and they are interviewing me on local radio in the morning! I am so excited, I am nearly peeing in my corduroys here.  I will be famous!  And so will you!  Everyone will know of your kindness, your hard efforts in trying to reach me!  I will make sure of that, so that you, too, can bask in the light of fame.

Again, I cannot thank you enough, and if you give me your physical address, I will go right ahead and make travel arrangements - perhaps you could arrange for a limousine to collect us at the airport, because we shall be very tired after our long trip.

Once again, thank you from our hearts to yours - we can't wait to meet you, and treat you to a fried scorpion or whatever the fuck you slit-eyed weasels eat over there.

See you soon!

With kind regards,
Gary Collins

MADE IN HONG KONG..... part one

Today I am going to share with you a genuine, real, in-my-hands letter that a friend of mine received through the letter box.  I am not going to edit it;  there is no need.  But I can't help wondering are there little slitty eyed people sitting on the other side of the world that think us Europeans are so incredibly thick that this might actually work?  Or more frighteningly, DOES it work?  Here it is, verbatim.  Address has obviously been omitted to protect him from unwanted house-calls....

I am going to respond to this letter, and will post my reply as a sequel to this... watch this space!



Collins, Gary
(address was correct)

I am Mr Billy Chan the auditor of Acru Asset Management Ltd, Hong Kong.  In the course of my auditing job, the afcountant and I discovered a floating fund of seven million, five hundred thousand US Dollars in a dormant account opened in 1997 in favour of a foreigner, Late Mr K.P. Gary [in bold print here, where all types of names are inserted to suit the recipient], who died in 1999.  Every effort made to track any member of his family or next of kin, has failed.  We are making contact with you to stand as his Next of Kin since you both have the same last name.  [actually, they had it back to front, but I digress....]

Our intention is to transfer the sum in the aforementioned account to a safe account overseas.  We therefore propose that you partner with us by providing an account that will serve the purpose of receiving this fund.  For your assistance in this venture, we are ready to part with a good percentage of the entire funds as your share.  After going through the deceased's records and files, we discovered that:

No one has operated this account since 1999.
He died without any heir; hence the money has been floating.
No other person knows about this account and there was no known beneficiary or next of of kin.

If we do not remit this money urgently, it would be forfeited and subsequently converted to company funds.  This money can be approved to you legally if all the necessary documentary approvals are secured in your name.  You would be required to show some proof as the next of kin, which we will provide you with and guide you on how to make your application of claims legally in accordance to the inheritance claim policy of the company and that of Hong Kong.

Please respond by stating your telephone and fax number on this letter and send it back to me by fax or email.  As soon as I hear from you, I will send you detailed information on the modalities of the transaction and also give you a call.  With your ability to follow our instructions, the entire process can be concluded in 14 working days.

I look forward to your prompt response.

Yours truly,
Billy Chan
Hong Kong

[I will not include the private fax number or email on the letter, just in case someone that reads this decides to give it a go.... seriously??]

I am about to prepare a response to this letter, and oh, I am going to have such fun.  Watch for the next post.

Sunday, 12 October 2014


We are living in extraordinary times.  Everything manufactured today is with a shorter lifespan to increase repeat sales and keep industry turning. Washing machines, fridges, dishwashers... gone are the days where you could buy something that would last you twenty years, like my parents' fridge once did. I don't recall as a child them ever replacing any appliance, and as such everything aged gracefully and still limped along doing its job just fine, albeit a little worn around the edges.  But even age gave it a certain grace, a longevity that today's generation knows nothing about.  The dented toaster, the chipped cup that your father always drinks out of.  It is memories that are made of such things.

Today things are much changed;  things are disposable - everything from paper plates, to mobile phones, to seasonal clothing, and even cars. Everything replaced, dumped, renewed, and kept up to date - either because society says it must be so, or because things just don't last as long as they used to. In Ireland, the first two digits of your car registration denotes the date the car was manufactured, such as 07.... or 09.... or worse still... 01. And this puts pressure on folk when they feel they need to upgrade to keep their belongings fresh and new.  I'll bet top dollar if they took off the registration numbers of cars for sale, you'd be surprised at the year and model of car you'd choose blind.  Then such things as mileage, design, and functionality will come into play, and you will no longer be coerced by status.

Marriages and relationships are far more disposable these days, too.  Gone are the 50th anniversary parties - celebrating long lives shared, memories made, roads travelled, obstacles overcome - to be replaced with "oh, you're divorced?  Shame."  Have we, as a nation, become too fickle and dismissive of our emotions along with our belongings?  Do we walk the walk as well as we talked the talk when we first hooked up together?  Are the pressures of daily existence now no longer conducive to going the distance when it comes to Love?

My mother always said why would you want someone else's leftovers, a terrible way of phrasing things, it has to be said.  But in her day, marriage was for life, relationships weathered the storms, and priorities were in their rightful place, so you can understand that mentality. My parents have been married for 64 years. It's a pity we don't have the same values in each other today.  There is no respect anymore, no tolerance, or understanding, or compassion.  There is only the quick-fix solution of a get-out clause that's never far from anyone's mind.  After all, we are a modern day mish-mash of children that have survived broken homes, broken marriages, and broken dreams, so why should we bother trying to invest in something worthwhile second time around?  

I haven't dated in a long while.  Oh, I've had the occasional coffee, the random meal here and there, but nothing that I thought would amount to much more than a date. I take love very seriously, and I know what suits me and what doesn't. It doesn't revolve around money.  It doesn't revolve around the car they drive.  Nor does it revolve around what he can bring to my table - I have enough to feed myself there, and have provided for myself for a very long time. But what I have discovered - and shoot me down here if you disagree - is that people have started treating others as commodities, sexual objects perhaps used to pass the time of day, and only ever a short skip and a jump away from the exit door.  After all, there are plenty of other de-scaled and gullible fish in the sea, not so?

What happened to old fashioned romance?  Where have the men vanished to, the ones who open doors, who want to protect their woman, provide and care for them, the ones who'd rather head out for a night with their partners rather than get drunk in a local with their mates?   Have women become so self-sufficient that men have become effeminate?  I don't want a mouse.  I want a man's man in the fullest sense of the word, with a heart as big as the ocean.  And I will find him.  I might be seventy by the time I do, but I shall not give up.  Nor compromise.  

It's hard, today's dating world.  Always starting over, getting to know someone, going through the same old "so tell me about yourself"  time and time again, opening oneself up and risking a little more, and coming away with a little less each time.  Negative dating experiences don't teach you a thing; they drain you.  They suck the lifeblood out of you, and create more hermits and recluses than we care to admit, me being one of them. They make you stop bothering.  I wonder is it really worth it in the end?  It sure is exhausting. 

And yet I know there's someone out there looking for someone like me, just as I am looking for him.  Thing is, how will we ever connect?  I've asked the Universe - so far, she hasn't replied, or at least got her wires so badly crossed that what she sent me was worthy only of placing back on the shelf for someone else to take a chance on.  I think Ms Universe has blown a fuse. But I know, too, that she does things in her own time, and perhaps I had lessons to learn along the way, things to experience, trials to overcome, before I'd be ready for the next phase of my life.

We live in a world that is so connected by technology, but we have never been more disconnected as a human race.  That's awfully sad.

There is new life arriving in my family soon - my beautiful, baby granddaughter is due in December.  A Christmas Gift.  A baby angel sent down to learn our ways, and perhaps teach us hers, so that we might not forget that despite it all, the greatest of all things, is Love.  I shall tie a ribbon around her and hang her on my tree.

What is not disposable to me is my heart.  I will forever stay true to it, because it is the essence of who I am.  I don't care who thinks I'm too soft, too compassionate, too giving, too close to my emotions.  I like my heart just the way it is.  But don't for one minute underestimate the strength I have. For I will surprise you when you least expect it.

So you can keep your random dating, your casual sex, your frivolous frittering, your constant changing of partners.... I'm afraid I'm old-school.  

I am not disposable. 

Are you?