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Liam Gallagher


SWB has her ‘Wednesday Whinge’

When the sun emerged on Sunday, I felt a rush of joy and optimism, so intense that it was tangible. After the drenching the ground got on Saturday, all seemed vibrant and fecund, the snowdrops a portent of better times ahead. I wanted to savour these intoxicating feelings of hope and renewal, after so much heaviness for so long.

Two winters ago now, LSB took me to see Liam Gallagher in Dublin. I was ambivalent about this trip: I loved Oasis, enough to endure a bus journey from the Europa Bus Station all the way to Knebworth in 1996, but just to see Liam on his own, pontificating about shite? I wasn’t sure. But now, can you imagine the luxury of being able to say, ‘I’m not sure if I can be bothered spending the night in a classy hotel on the banks of the Liffey with just my husband, dinner and cocktails and a gig thrown in, to boot. Oh, those halcyon days, when you could sleep on, undisturbed by cats wandering in and sitting on your bladder at 3:30am because they think you ought to fetch them a night time snack.

I digress. What I started to say, was that Liam Gallagher wouldn’t usually be top of the list of those doling out advice, but he was giving it stacks because the lunatics in the pit were lighting massive flares and he clearly didn’t want to be remembered as the rock and roll star whose audience burnt to death in 2019.

Well, today it’s me, not a Gallagher brother who is giving the advice, because I’m fed up with dickheads doing whatever they like, which is why, (and I’m sure I’ll have a rake of anti-vaxxers and tin-foil hat wearers on to me now) the lockdown isn’t working as it should.

I was in Sainsbury’s on Monday, and in trots a man, nice shirt and jumper and all on him, and the security chap says: ‘Would you wear a mask please?’ and he says haughtily, ‘I’d rather not,’ and ploughs on in. He had no more notion of social distancing, leaning over an old woman as she chose her carrots, and later on hovering, like a seagull outside a chip shop, at the reduced section. Now, I’ve an acerbic tongue on me, (hence the moniker SWB), and I was tempted to tell him what I made of his attitude, but I desisted as I didn’t want to face a barrage of invective.

There was another clown in M&S with no mask on her either, chatting away on her phone with great animation. She was taking her time, pawing over the ‘Dine-In’ selection, lifting up item after item and setting them back, like a one-woman infection machine.

The Mothership assures me that it’s as bad in Bangor and that it’s as well she’s ‘light on her feet’ and can skip sideways when other shoppers crowd her. So that’s the shops covered- no one doing what they’re told.

My greys are becoming increasingly visible, and a FB friend happened to remark that her hairdresser is doing ‘homers’. ‘She’s never been busier!’ she crowed. So, opinions on this please. Salons aren’t allowed to open to the public, yet some hairdressers are merrily going into several private houses a day? One can only hope that they are taking the necessary precautions, but we can’t be sure. Call me slovenly or drab or but I don’t give two shits whether my highlights are overdue: I’m 41 and I’m stressed to fuck, and if it shows in my hair, then so be it.

Even if the Executive would do a TV ad on how to effectively wear a mask, since this seems to be beyond the average person’s abilities too. Everywhere I look, people are just covering their mouths and not their noses. I totally get it, we aren’t familiar with masks so they feel uncomfortable, and thus the temptation is to fiddle. But by touching the front of the mask where the viral load has gathered, it transfers it to your fingers, which inevitably comes into contact with your face and eyes. People clearly aren’t ‘staying home’ so at least if we were more adept at wearing a mask it would be a help.

My point is this: it feels like finally we can begin to look forward to an end to lockdown. But it hasn’t happened yet. As a teacher I might be asked any day now to go back into schools and as I’m not vaccinated, I don’t feel safe to do so. The combination of some good weather, lockdown fatigue and the inconsistencies of the government’s approach have, IMHO, made us feel as though we can relax the rules. I just wonder if I’m alone in thinking that it’s too soon to get ‘carried away with ourselves’ as The Mothership would say.




SWB on International Women’s Day. And periods.

Since it’s International Women’s Day I’m in the mood for chatting about periods. Aren’t they a right pain in the arse? I’ve been on about them before, but as a topic I don’t feel that they get enough air time. Presently, mine are being very annoying, arriving at the most inopportune moments. Take November, for example. We were headed down to Dublin to see Liam Gallagher, and as I’ve mentioned before, I think he’s a bit of a gobshite so I wasn’t overly looking forward to the gig. I was, however, excited about a night away minus  off-spring, and in a happy turn of events, Himself had actually downplayed The Spencer which turned out to be a plush establishment with Egyptian cotton sheets and mood lighting and velvet throws, just the thing for an unencumbered pair.  How jolly, thought I. Well, I wasn’t through the door til the period came on, with an almighty splosh and a whoosh, all over the shiny white bathroom tiles. How I wish I was exaggerating.  That fairly put paid to any shenanigans of an amorous nature, I can tell you.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but they are becoming more irregular, heavier and as a result are having a desperate impact on my moods, as LSB would testify in a heartbeat. As soon as he hears pots and pans being clattered about in the kitchen; detects my inability to recollect the whereabouts of my purse, keys or mobile phone, or witnesses my uncharacteristic desire to clean, he knows the bastard is on its way.

The Mothership loves a good rant and rave about them too, ever since she visited the South of France in the 1960s.  All excited she was, about a swim in the warm and enticing Mediterranean, unlike the freezing Atlantic in Portstewart to which she was used. One solitary swim she got until the frigger arrived and spoilt her holiday. She was very young and innocent and hadn’t a notion about tampons, (feck they may not even have been invented back then) so she sat miserably by the water’s edge, watching as her friends frolicked about in the waves. I don’t think she’s over it yet, truth be told.

(Folks I’m telling you, the phone call I’m going to be taking later will be worth listening to, saying the like of that.)

But that’s what they do, periods. Spoil your happiness. Wreck your sex-life. Give you cramps and nausea. Oh, and now of course, we discover, they contribute hugely to plastic pollution. 11,000 sanitary products is what the average woman uses during her lifetime. That’s a wild statistic altogether, isn’t it? Imagine being a wee turtle, going about your way merrily, fins a-flapping, when along come a shoal of Always Ultra. Must be a powerful shock to the system altogether.

And the thing is, for anyone of my generation, having any other means of dealing with them is not immediately apparent. Until my 39thyear, I’d never used anything other than a pad or a tampon. Then a couple of my friends mentioned using a moon cup. It took me a while to get my head round this, and it took me even longer trying to figure out how to get them in and out. It’s possible that the husband, at one point, may even have been enlisted to aid the removal of such an item, as I became familiar with the extrication process. I recall that on this, the most difficult of occasions, I tried to text friends from the bathroom for advice, but they just sent emojis of fishing rods and pairs of pliars. 35 minutes I recall I spent, trying to get the fecker out.

Happily, there was another solution which I found infinitely easier. My friend Kirsty is the founder of Shared Threads, an organisation which makes reusable pads from recycled cotton. Kirsty sends most of her products out to India, and has initiated visits to schools where she goes out, armed with her trusty supplies to educate young girls on how to manage their periods. On these trips she has also taken supplies into women’s prisons to deliver her bags of brightly coloured pads to help women without any sanitary items at all.

Today I went along to an open day at her studio in Portview Trade Centre on the Newtownards Road in Belfast. I’m familiar with this area for the wrong reasons: the congestion, the murals of paramilitary groups, and the towering bonfires which spring up mid-June. But under the sunflower yellow of Goliath, is Kirsty’s studio with a Root & Branch Coffee Shop tucked snuggly underneath. Bright sunshine lit the whitewashed walls and the fresh smell of coffee greeted us as we wandered in.

All around were women and children, cutting cloth and sewing pads from bright oddments of material. There was chat and biscuits and small boys playing with Lego and Rubix cubes. I brought my friend Alison, who swiftly took a pew, carefully snipping out patterns and chatting to the lady beside her. It was ever so convivial.

My kids quickly got in on the action, sketching patterns and cutting out and popping the odds and ends into bins.

God, it was gorgeous. As you know, I’m a miserable fecker. I love nothing more than a good auld bitch and a complain. But I love community more. It pleases me no end to see people coming together to share what ever skills they have in pursuit of a common good, for women who have a far more shite time than the rest of us. So if you have a moment, check out Shared Threads online and see what other projects Kirsty has coming up.

As for my periods, I’ve managed to make mine almost plastic free, between Kirsty’s pads and the occasional use of Yoni sanitary wear, I’ve given up on Always Ultra altogether. It’s a small change, but ultimately, I feel, a significant one. And by talking about this, it’s also a  brilliant way to break down barriers, because we stop making them something that we should ever feel embarrassed or awkward about. I’m starting more and more, at the age of 40, to appreciate my body, and what its been through, and what its created. If I do have a fecker of a period, and need to curl up in the sofa with a vat of tea and a bag of chocolate digestives while watching repeats of Sex and the City, well I’ll take that, thank you very much, and frankly, be quite glad of the excuse.


SWB is Supersonic

Months ago, LSB booked tickets for Liam Gallagher. ‘Liam? Really?’ I said. I’m not very keen on Liam, because I think he is a gobshite. Noel, I can tolerate, not least because I love his latest album, particularly, ‘Holy Mountain’, with yon French woman using the scissors as percussion. Listening to an entire solo Liam album would put years on me, and LSB has been instructed to remove any such items from the CD system in the car, lest I stumble across it and drive into a wall to put an end to the agony.

This has been the most busy, frenetic of weeks. We came to Dublin last Friday too so I could hear Elizabeth Strout’s talk on her latest novel, ‘Olive Again.’ I had aspirations of writing about this, and I still haven’t managed to do so. I am however, half way through the novel and left many things neglected in order to do so. It is a marvel.

‘But FECK,’ I said. ‘Away again, so soon? And to be doing so just to see Liam Gallagher? Me nerves!’ I got myself into a right state of agitation.

‘I see your Tourrette’s is back,’ sighed LSB.

I had various reservations. Liam can attract a loutish crowd, and at 40 years of years my face is already past its prime, and a headbutt in the eye isn’t going to improve it any. And as I said, I don’t much like his solo stuff, and that I know I can eff and blind like the best of them but he makes me look like Mary Whitehouse.

I express these concerns with LSB and he is remarkable sanguine- he knows I have been STRESSED TO F**K this week, because I have repeatedly informed him of the fact.

‘It’s ok if you want to leave it,’ he says, even though by now it is Saturday morning and we would have been stung for the accommodation. ‘But we will get a good dinner and I think you’ll like the hotel. It might also be nice to get away from the children,’ he adds, hopefully.

‘Ok,’ I say, sighing deeply, like the miserable old bastard I have become.

But when I hop in the car and for the second time in as many weeks zoom over the Hillhall Road, I feel a peace descend as we put distance between ourselves and the chaos of life. We listen to Giles Peterson on 6 Music and the smokiness of the jazz and the whoosh of the wipers works some kind of hypnotic magic; (on me, not LSB, who thankfully focuses on the road ahead).

By the time Himself deposits me at The Spencer Hotel and goes to find parking I feel almost mellow. After a cocktail called ‘No Name’ I feel mellower still. A man comes up to bar and orders a Porn Star Martini, a Guinness and two Club Oranges. ‘Take that to your mum, he says to his small boy, ‘AND BE CAREFUL WIT IT!’ The child carries the Martini over to his Mum with great reverence, as though it is The Holy Stone of Clonrichert. A grand job he makes of it too.

‘I need to train mine,’ I think to myself. The Older Child, in her constant state of excitement, would have had it fucked over the floor or some innocent bystander in 3 seconds flat.

I’m in fine fettle by the time I’ve eaten a dish of Cambodian ‘ Cha Traop Dot’ in the East Restaurant and sampled their house Pinot Grigio, which came highly recommended and is a change from the Sauvignon Blanc I usually glug.

I think,’ I say,’ leaning over to LSB with a conspiratorial air, ‘that I may actually be looking forward to this gig now.’

‘Yes!’ he says beaming, almost punching the air because I’ve been so glum of late. ‘Let’s go then!!’

We trot off to the 3 Arena and join the queue for the seated area, where everyone looks our age or older. It appears hooligan free, which is a relief. Behind us a woman is discussing her dilemma about what to buy her third God-daughter for her First Communion. ‘It was easier for the first two, but these are different times,’ she says perplexed.  I catch her eye and smile. More rock’n roll is her next conversational gambit: ‘I was FUCKED after those mushrooms we did the other week. How were you after them?’ she asks her mate, a lady of a similar vintage. ‘Not good. Not good at all,’ she replies, shaking her head. Confusing times indeed, I think.

You have to just accept some things when you go to see Liam Gallagher. No matter where you sit, some frigger is going to chuck a pint over you. I mean, obviously, why pay €6 for a pint if you’re not just going to heave it into the crowd?

And it’s not just the flying pints of Heineken you have to worry about. Flares, apparently,  are now a thing. Huge, f**k off flares. I’m telling you, if they’d had these fellas on the Titanic, The Carpathia would have been over in a jiffy and lowered the rate of casualties  drastically.

Some clampet sets off a red one which he then proceeds to drop. From our vantage point above the standing area it looks like the mouth of Hades has appeared and is having a good yawn. Still, nobody seems too rattled, aside from me, obviously.

‘Burnt alive!’ I say to LSB. ‘We’ll be burnt alive, at a Liam Gallagher gig! What a way to go!’

Liam is on to it. He’s none too pleased after a fan in Sheffield last week had her clothes set on fire. ‘I don’t want to be busting your bollocks, he tells the crowd, ‘ but you need to calm the f**k down with them things.’

Who would have imagined that they’d ever have to listen Liam Gallagher doing public health announcements?

On goes the gig. I am up out of my seat and dancing  along to Wonderwall and Roll with It. Singing along too I am, arms aloft. Very taken I have become with the whole affair. I am almost in tears to Champagne Supernova and by the time he comes on for the bonus encore of Cigarettes and Alcohol I’m like that mad auld doll in Father Ted (only without the casual racism).

‘He’s good value, that Liam Gallagher,’ I tell LSB as we stroll back to the hotel, hand in hand along Mayor Street. The crowd were pleasant too. A large chap from Tallaght engages me in a full on chat about recyclable toilet paper. We compared notes.  I swear to God, you couldn’t make it up.

I come down to breakfast the next morning and I’m humming ‘and maybe, you’re gonna be the one who saves me.’ I am still grinning. Do you know, honey,’ I say to himself. ‘I’m really developing a love for the south.’

‘That’s good dear,’ he says. ‘Now you just have to convince all the other Prods up North.


SWB muses on Fathers Day


You may have woken up to instagram pics this morning, (#fathersday) of smiling, tearful dads, opening parcels of socks and slippers or craft beer if they have Hipster leanings. Here in the Sour Towers residence, we don’t much go in for Hallmark holidays. ‘I don’t buy into that bullshit’, I have been heard to utter. Last year, LSB was tasked with erecting some Ikea furniture, and a spot of light hoovering. There is photographic evidence to prove it.


The school, has however, indoctrinated the little ones well, and they have been beavering away making cards all week. Their granddad has obviously heard about my lack of diligence in this area, and when he came to babysit last night he came armed with sweets they could give, as a token of their appreciation.


Alas, this show of devotion for their dad was sadly misplaced at 6.55 this morning. I had been at a 40th on the Belfast Barge, where I’d danced the legs clean off myself, and LSB had been partying away at the Liam Gallagher concert in the park. Neither of us was happy at the early wake-up call. In they came, over and over again. I tried to block it out, but it’s hard when a small child doesn’t quite whisper in your ear, ‘I’m giving dad a computer game. And JELLY TOTS!!’ Their enthusiasm is touching, as is their ingenuity, but not prior to seven am on a Sunday morning, FFS.

When I finally made it down the stairs to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, I saw evidence of gift-giving. They had rifled through LSB’s belongings and parcelled them up with a handful of Maltesers and two Mars bars. The floor was littered with the wrapping paper I had squirreled away to reuse, covered in stickers.  The ‘porridge’ was a hefty amount of oats with milk slopped in. It had clearly been sitting for at least an hour. I scraped it into the compost bin when they weren’t looking. LSB got the Dyson out to vacuum up the trail of oats on the floor. When he envisioned getting his oats this weekend, I don’t think that’s what he had in mind.

But we then hoover and tidy and cook lunch. My friend Alison has taken the girls to a birthday party in Funtasic, so we have the house to ourselves. LSB finds an alternative love songs list on Spotify, and wiping down surfaces while listening to The Guillemots and The XX is quite nice. I’m actually not quite sure how anyone copes without an Alison, or a Brenda, for that matter, in their lives. I’m quite sure that without the pair of them I’d be institutionalised by now.


My own dad didn’t fare much better when it came to the celebrations. They came up to go for lunch in Sakura on Botanic yesterday, which was less than relaxing as my pair of menaces frolicked on the spiral staircase and hashed with their food, when it was they who had requested the sushi bar in the first place. Since it was a birthday/father’s day outing, poor dad ended up forcing money into our hands, then came home and tidied my garden.


The Mothership didn’t get off lightly either. She wandered from room to room, aghast. ‘This is terrible, terrible,’ she said, shaking her head as she registered the state of chassis in which we exist. ‘Are you not ashamed to have people in?’ She took one look at my toilet and said, ‘I’m speechless.’ ‘No mother dear,’ I said. ‘You’re not. My mother, is rarely speechless. Off she went to get the bleach. The house, since I cleaned out my resources in work (blog post on the career change to follow) and organised the fashion stall in school, has seen a sudden accumulation of ‘stuff’. Chaos breeds chaos, and in truth, I know not how to impose order on the situation. Instead of dealing with it, I go for a run, or try to write or chat to a friend over coffee. But with my mum’s dark mutterings in my ear, I set to, and together we ironed and folded and then drank some tea.


As weekends go, this one has been a cracker. Perhaps all this Fathers’ Day BS has a point. Anything which makes you feel grateful or appreciative of all the good people in your life can’t be a bad thing. So a massive thank you to all those who bring sunshine to a Sour Wee Bastard, (especially, for the day that’s in it, to himself.)