Some notes on housekeeping

Oh, the joys of going to the dump! Or, The Bring Centre, as some would have it. LSB and I made a morning of it on Saturday. It was hard not to feel smug as we traipsed into the yard bearing cloth bags of carefully separated rubbish (it was only later that we realised we had over-segregated). The place was buzzing. A little girl was perched on her father’s hip, hurling – delightedly – one empty bottle of olive oil after another into the expansive container. Whole families disembarked cars with boots full of garden waste. Leaves danced briefly in the breeze before a teasing plastic flap hid them from view. The quaint sign on the side of a building summed it all up nicely: A place for everything and everything in its place.

If my weekend had a caption, that would be it.

I would rate myself as reasonably hygienic and even obsessively compulsive in a few, select areas of personal repulsion (handling coins, public keyboards and door handles results in extreme self-flagellation with a scrubbing-brush). I have however never been tidy nor am I endowed with much pride in the domestic sphere. Following my visit to the dump however, I underwent a transformation.

This weekend, I took up recreational ironing, which I practised while listening to my Teach Yourself Arabic CD, in the hope that I will forever associate the joy of learning with the delight of housekeeping. I washed up while listening to The Smiths greatest hits, which gave me the idea to omit all the propositions from the text of Panic, and invite my Intermediate students to fill them in while listening to the track. Who said that grammar can’t be fun? I got a good 45 minutes out of Mr Morrissey and (former) friends this morning.

I also gave my teddy bear (Brom) and mouse (Mini) their first bath in decades. They had been waiting patiently for their turn under my desk ever since they came back from the Christmas markets in Nurnberg, where I remarked on their shabby condition. As I type they are crouched on my clothes horse, drying and sleepy.

Brom and Mini enjoy their first bath in decades

Last night I cooked a spinach lasagna, which is pleasing but somewhat lacking in ‘umph’, particularly when compared to last week’s pasties, which I would describe as a personal culinary best.I’m expecting LSB any minute now so it’s time to get peeling potatoes. Tonight: chunky, home-made wedges served with a side of leek, and well, re-heated spinach lasagna…

Celebs Spotted in Sandymount: LSB with lover in self-service till tiff

There was only one News of the World to be had today. It was torn and soggy and lay abandoned on a shelf in Tesco, Sandymount. As always, LSB was first to spot it. “There’s one there, Katzi” he said, “but it’s a bit of a mess”.

I picked up the grubby scraps of newssheets and examined them carefully. I’d been into every newsagent between Rathmines and Sandymount and: nothing. Nothing but broadsheets brimming with supplements sealed in surround wrap, and boxes full of half-price jammy dodgers.

I wanted the last- ever copy. And scarcity is a great fuel to desire.

I wanted it so that in years to come – if this whole teaching-writing thing doesn’t work out – I can advertise it on e-bay as a journalistic artefact. A wealthy media tycoon will invest and my fortune will be made. In public, my friends will praise my foresight but privately they will deeply regret popping their own copies into the green bin.

On the other hand, if this whole teaching-writing thing does work out, I will be moving in the kinds of circles where possession of such a sordid journalistic relic will afford no small amount of Fleet Street cred. Either way, my quality of life will improve.

But I was in a bind. Nobody was going to want a dirty, torn copy, and by the time I was ready to sell it, there’d probably be a NOTW nostalgia app available for the iphone26.

Today's NOTW; the last ever.

I dropped it back on the shelf with an exaggerated sigh.
“You’ve never bought the News of the World before, have you Katzi?”, LSB asked tentatively.
“No, no of course not”, I answered- rather ashamed that LSB was made of more moral fibre than to suspect me of a mercenary motive.
“I suppose I’ll get the Sunday Times then”, I said, grumbling all the way to the self-service till, where I tried scanning the main headline in favour of the barcode repeatedly, much to LSB’s contained mortification.

“Katzi”, he whispered “you put the coins in this side”.
“Yes I know”, I answered briskly. “Obviously”.

As we were sipping our mocha (his) and cappuccino (mine) a little later, I had a look at the front page of the Sunday Times. I could not believe my eyes.
“LSB?”, I ventured.
“Yes, Katzi?”
“Is Amanda Brunker very famous?”

“Well Katzi She is quite famous as an Irish celebrity,” he answered, measured as always.

“Hmm”, I said.

“Why do you ask?”

“She was profiled in the Irish Times yesterday” I said “but I’d never heard of her. Has everyone heard of her?”

“Most people”.


“I saw her video on youtube yesterday” I said. “She’s awful”

“Yes Katzi, she is”.

“How come I’ve never heard of people that everyone else has?”

“I don’t know, Katzi”.

I allowed a pregnant pause to occur.

“I should have read the News of the World more” I said with gravitas, tossing aside the Sunday Times Culture section and diving into my scone.


On Love or “Ode to my LSB”

LSB and me

“The LSB has outdone himself”, was my dad’s verdict. “How wonderful a time he must have had planning it” was my mum’s astute observation.

It’s only right that you judge for yourselves. Here is how the day’s events have unfolded:

1.25 am
I am up late marking tests. The French engineers have grasped in main the location of the apostrophe ‘s’ and I am particularly bemused at some of the creative mistakes they make when turning countries into nationalities – my favourite Charlie Chaplinesque slip morphs the people of Germany into ‘Germanians.’

2.00 am
I check my e-mail before going to sleep and there’s a Valentine e-card in from my LSB! I think: “Aw, what a sweetie”. I open it up only to find a Fine Gael cartoon canvasser tell me that “Labour are red, Fine Gael are blue, we won’t raise your taxes like they want to do”. Then he winks and looks shiftily (seductively?) to the side. I send one to every member of my family signing it Eoghan Murphy xxx, the name of the Fine Gael candidate in my constituency who topped 98 fm’s “hottest election poster boy” poll.

7.40 am
I’m dashing into work. All around town, clean young men in suits are loitering on streetcorners, handing out Valentine’s Day cards in Irish. I’m accosted in Harcourt Street, on Grafton Street and finally again on O’Connell bridge. They are campaigning against Fine Gael’s proposal to drop Irish as a compulsary subject on the Leaving Certificate by asking people as Gaeilge whether they will be their Valentine. As I am being proposed to and handed card number three, I tell the young gentleman in Irish that I already have my Valentine, i sráid fhearchair. That makes him smile and he says slán leat like he really means it.

8.35 am
I’m waiting for a vacancy at the photocopier; musing. A Valentine’s card from Fine Gael and one to oppose their policies. A working day ahead – I have morning and evening classes to teach and no prospect of a romantic liason with my LSB, who is getting up around about now for a full-day slog in his bookshop. I text him a good morning and wish him a Happy Valentine’s Day. He doesn’t reply so I assume he is rushing about trying not to miss his bus.

10.50 am
The French engineers are describing their “ideal date” to each other. One of them wants to take his wife to eat snails under candlight. I grimace and when I remind him that I’m a vegatarian his eyes bulge and he says “mais zee snails are not zee animals… zay are the …how you say… insects”! He is one of my favourites, along with Mattieu, who has two cats and two rabbits and likes motorcycling.

French snail

It’s breaktime and I have a quick text from LSB, who is on his 15 minute break: “sorry I didn’t text earlier, I was dashing. Happy Valentine’s Day, Katzi! My lunch is at 2 so if you feel like a phone chat then let me know”

School’s out! I’m listening to Joe Duffy talking about homophobic attacks on my way down O’Connell Street. My phone rings and it’s LSB:
“How was work?” he asks
“Ah grand, I think”, I reply, “but I’d rather be hanging out with you.
He sighs “I know, Katzi, such a shame we can’t spend the day together..”
“How’s work going for you?”, I ask
“Ah, same old, same old”, he says, “it’s kinda dragging”

The next thing I know the phone goes dead and I’m attacked from behind. Bearing the most beautiful bunch of roses and lillies and wearing a red tie is my LSB, deceitful and delighted.

I am without words.

Over a delicious aubergine, pepper and celeriac pie in Cornucopia, I am still incredulous. What an absolute ledgecake I’ve landed myself with! “I never said I was working today”, he gloats, delighted and adds, “I hope you like the way I synchronised my texts according to a typical working day though”.

I’m conscious of the time because I have work later and have to get some preparation done. “Just one more stop, Katzi”, he says.
He takes me to Hodges Figgis where I fight him, in more than a whisper. “I don’t want a present”, I whine. I want to get YOU a present”.
He ignores me, swoops to the Stefan Zweig section and picks up “The Royal Game” and “Selected Stories”. “Which would you like, Katzi?”, he asks. Both are beautiful editions. “I want neither”, I hiss. “This is ridiculous!”
“Bit rude”, he remarks, picking them both up and rushing to the till.

Despite my ecstacy, I’m determined to end this madness or at least reciprocate in the most paltry of ways. “I’m buying you coffee”, I say, marching into Butler’s with my enormous bunch of flowers under my arm. I curse inwardly because I have no cash on me but I barge to the till and ask, “do you take laser?”. LSB swoops in, wielding a ten euro note and nods to the cashier; “don’t mind her”, he says. She smiles, and looking at me with faux sympathy says “I’m sorry our laser machine is broken”. I could have spat at her.

On the way out of the staffroom I beam at my colleagues and wish them a “Happy Valentine’s Day”. “Oh shut up”, says one, “some of us don’t do Valentine’s Day”. I walk home, beaming and insufferable.

I’ve just finished writing an uncharasteristically personal blog entry. All I had really wanted to say, 927 words ago was: LSB, if you’re reading this,thank you. For everything.