Monthly Archives:

October 2021


SWB and the trouble with feet

Do you know what people hate? Being interrupted. Even if you think it’s worth interrupting them for, you probably shouldn’t bother, as they won’t thank you. I should know, because I’m a serial interrupter, but I’m trying to rein it in because I’m already quite annoying. I usually interrupt people as they are trying to put an object in the bin, but I hover, ready to intercept them, lest that aluminium can lend up in landfill instead of in my recycling bag.

I was pootling about Dalkey on Saturday last week, when, to my glee I found a charity shop. Dalkey doesn’t have many of these, but it does have a raft of small establishments where you can buy a shampoo bar made of lichen and algae for 11 euro, or a hessian bag to put your eco-friendly products in, which will only set you back €21.99. I’m not going to tell you what I spent on a reusable coffee mug, but I think there’s people of the Mothership’s generation who spent the same amount on their first car.

Anyway, so I’m trying on shoes in the charity shop (a pair of Una Healy’s which I purchased and are rather fabulous, despite the fact I’d never heard tell of her and was later running round telling people she was in a band called ‘The Yesterdays.’) and I overhear the staff out the back having a protracted conversation about battered mushrooms. They finally emerge from the back and the chat has moved to lasagne, and in particular, problems with their béchamel. Fortunately for them, a customer trots in who has no qualms about interrupting with details of a sauce she now routinely makes. ‘It’s changed my life,’ she says. ‘Take a tub of natural yogurt and beat in an egg,’ she says, waving her hand in a flourish. ‘Done!’ A dietitian gave her the recipe, she says, as she leaves. One of the shop volunteers, who walks past me with an armful of clothes rolls her eyes at me. She was enjoying her good complain about her lumpy sauce and didn’t care for the unsolicited advice.

I was tempted to do some interrupting myself the night before in the hotel restaurant. The lady at the table next to us was all for buying herself a pair of DM boots. ‘Like I had when I was young,’ she tells her mum. ‘They’re all the rage again, except they’re about £140.’ I’m thinking she could nip into a Dalkey shop and spend the same amount in seven minutes on a few toiletries, but I say nothing.  ‘I’d love a pair though,’ says the woman. ‘They’re so comfortable.’ I really have to rein myself in at this point, because my DMs are many things: eight hole, high gloss and of a lilac hue, but what they are not, is comfortable. Excruciating, torturous, lacerating of heel, but definitely not comfortable. I’ve had a large glass of wine and I’m about to start in to what a nightmare they are, but the waiter sets my starter in front of me and the children emit long sighs of relief because they are fed up with me accosting randomers.

A writer friend of mine commented that her DMs are ‘soft as butter’ now that she has them broken in, and I’m bewildered because I’ve had my pair since Christmas and they’re still brutal. ‘Google them to see why they’re still so bloody awful,’ I tell LSB. He sets down his Guinness with a sigh to investigate ‘breaking-in methods for DM boots.’  My pair are made of ‘vegan heavy duty material’, which is possibly why they leave red welts on the tops of my feet. I have been trying to wear them in for a few months and all to no avail. They also take an age to put on and take off. In short, I hate them, but they look so pretty I can’t bear to get rid. I consider interrupting but my goat’s cheese starter with fig and candied walnuts, looks incredible so I get stuck in to it instead.


Yesterday though, one of my lovely readers sends me a message. She recalls that I was bitching about my DMs on Insta and empathised because after 3 YEARS hers were still torturing her. Isn’t that shocking? Anyway, she recommends buying silicon heel protectors, which are hideous and look like something a plastic surgeon would dole out if you scalded yourself, but sure they’re for under your socks so who cares? Sadly these are only available on Amazon, but feck it, whatever my beef is with Bezos I’m ordering a set, so I can actually get some wear out of the DMs, which cost Himself an absolute fortune. I bet every fibre of of his being wishes he hadn’t bothered at this rate.


SWB on Expectations vs Reality

Do you ever harbour notions which have little, if any, basis in reality? I do, all the time, and this morning was no exception. I had a rare day off work, and so, with uncharacteristic enthusiasm, I walked the Small Child down to school, dog in tow. How fine it will be, I said to myself, to breathe in the fresh dew-laden air and soak up the autumnal sunshine.


It didn’t take long for the dog to disabuse me of this romantic notion. Just at the school gates, (a mere 2042 steps from my door, according to the Fitbit,) she took a massive dump. A ‘double bagger’ it was, which was some fun clearing up, while the parents all filed past.  The Child scuttled on in, because we were, inevitably, running late as well.  Big bag of shite hand, on I went, my initial glee somewhat tempered. The dog was in one of her sniffy moods, stopping to root about under the hedgerows, an activity she finds tantalising indeed. It was thus a stop-starty sort of a dander, preventing me from striding purposefully forth.


Not far from the wee primary school in Rosetta, nature called again. The second deposit was smaller, and happily so, for I discovered I’d used up my bags. It is exceptionally bad craic to leave a poo anywhere, but near a school is unforgiveable in my book. I did, however have a bag of plastic wrapping in my rucksack, destined for the recycling bin in the Co-op. I thus repurposed a packet from a bag of Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Anya Potatoes, which, whilst not ideal, did a decent enough job.


On we go.  At this point I met Matthew O’Toole, our local SDLP MLA.

‘Hello!’ I say, with gusto. Matthew makes the rookie mistake of asking how I am and I thus regale him with tales of dog defecation and plastic recycling. He does his best to seem interested, sympathetic even, but the voices in his head must be screaming ‘MAKE IT STOP, PLEASE GOD, I BEG YOU.’ That’s the problem with being a politician.  The world and his wife feel they have the right to accost you and go over any auld nonsense. At least I have encountered a bin between me and Matthew, so I’m not clutching a bag from a packet of potatoes turned dog-shite receptacle.


There’s a lesson here. To avoid this sort of caper, which is never edifying, (but most definitely not what you need of a Monday morning,) DO NOT feed your dog Sunday leftovers of roast potatoes and pieces of beef brisket. And especially not if the grandparents have already called in and fed her excessive doggy biscuits and ‘Jumbones.’ And, should you meet anyone, just let them carry on.


Anyway, by 10.14 I am back at the kitchen table, coffee poured and six thousand, four hundred and fifty-three steps under my belt. Aside from the cat pawing at the laptop and mewing pitifully for a second breakfast, the situation is much improved. Let’s hope it stays that way.


SWB on misogyny and raising girls today

So would you look at that: Dominic Rabb, our esteemed Justice Minister, isn’t actually sure what defines misogyny, as he blundered his way through an interview this morning. He must have spent all of about six minutes preparing (and that’s being generous to him) for what is one of society’s most pressing issues. Boris has dismissed any plans to make misogyny a hate crime, since there is already an ‘abundance’ of laws out there to protect women. Well, try telling that to the 214 women who were killed last year in the UK, 9 out of 10 of which were at the hands of men. I’m sure they all felt that their safety was an absolute priority.


Could it be that Boris is reluctant to implement such a law, lest an officer knocks at the door of number ten to arrest him for one of many blatant misogynist comments which he has bandied about over the years?


Yes, he may protest that his remarks were ‘flippant’ or ‘said in jest’, but isn’t that how it starts? Normalising the objectification of women? That is perhaps the same argument used by Wayne Couzens in his WhatsApp chat with his police cronies. It’s all just ‘wee jokes’ and ‘bantz’, until it isn’t, of course.


When it becomes acceptable to undermine and demean women, through everyday rhetoric, it will inevitably lead to men being less empathetic, less respectful, less kind. And that, sadly, is where we’re at today, with tragic news headlines.


We’ve been forced to have some difficult conversations at home as a result. My girls have asked what happened to Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa. I can’t flick off the radio every time the news comes on, and I’ve watched the colour drain from their faces as they try to compute what has happened. But I’ve decided to be honest with them, rationalising that they should have some awareness about the world around them. So we talk and I try to answer their questions. I tell them that these things don’t happen often, but that they do, on some very rare occasions.


They are still of primary school age, but we have only just let the older one start walking home from school by herself. What has been lovely is that other neighbours know, and they look out for her going past, and some stop for a chat. It truly does take a village to raise a child.


I don’t want my anxiety to burden my girls; to temper their sense of adventure and enthusiasm: they have to learn how to navigate their way through this world. But we must give them the tools, so that they grow to be independent, curious and assertive.


And that’s where the hate crime comes into it. I don’t want them thinking that it’s acceptable to be spoken about in a degrading fashion. That’s why awkward discussions need to become the norm. While most men and boys aren’t remotely misogynist, we all have a part to play in calling out those who are. Maybe they will make fewer locker room jokes and lewd, salacious comments, if they aren’t let off with it.


I don’t believe that Couzens was called out- in fact, it is rumoured that the was referred to as ‘The Rapist’ in his group chats, which defies belief. So, while misogyny may not yet be a hate crime, at least in considering it as such, as a society we are challenging it. Our young people deserve better.

Image credit to Vyvyan Nguyen