Author Archive

Hit and Miss for Abbott

By the time you read this we will be two episodes and counting into the new Paul Abbott offering Hit and Miss (Tuesdays at 10pm on Sky Atlantic). Starring Academy Award Nominee Chloë Sevigny and set in the very un-Hollywood Manchester its unusual fare. Not least because the very glamorous Sevigny plays a sexy assassin in the north of England, it’s that she plays it with the help of a prosthetic – not a limb but a penis. And what a prosthetic it is, if we hadn’t been given enough glimpses in the first episode (shower scene) we were given two more opportunities in episode two (bath scene and a bizarre scene involving yet another prosthetic – a Cyrano De Bergerac style nose).

In the first episode the penis was definitely the star of the show. Sevigny seemed ill at ease in the role and rocking a very dodgy ‘Oirish’ accent for which she has already apologised for, the story being that Mancunian tones were too difficult to master so she compromised with some ‘begorrah and bejaysus’. She has also gone on record as saying Manchester was the grimmest place she’d ever been – it shows on screen. Mia her character is pre-op (as if we hadn’t already noticed) and suddenly discovers she has a son she never knew about. An old girlfriend has died naming Mia as the sole guardian of her 4 children. This all happens within the first ten minutes, the rest of the episode is devoted to introducing us to the pantomime villain of the piece, the landlord of the small holdings where the family live and raise a smattering of farm animals. It is implied that that the children’s mother and the landlord had an ‘arrangement’ regarding paying rent, and as Mia spurns his advances the back rent must be paid in full or the family will be evicted. Cue a beat down by Mia and the landlord is left bloody and vowing revenge, this he vows to his secret girlfriend none other than one of Mia’s new charges.

By episode two Mia firmly has her feet under the table as she seems to have a sense of duty to the children on the holdings even though the older two children seem to resent her, tellingly referring to her as the ‘Cock in the Frock’. All this Mia seems to take stoically but we don’t understand why- the depth of feeling Sevigny is trying to convey is just not there. Overall the two episodes didn’t spark and this might be down to the fact that Abbott while creating the series is not a writer on it, in comparison to the first three series of his other noted creation, Shameless. The show was at its most daring, provocative and funny when Abbott was also credited as a writer.

It remains to be seen if the remaining four episodes of the series emerge from the shadow of the prosthetic, sharpens up its dialogue and dares to become provocative in its own right.

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Here Comes The Sun

People smile and squint skyward, ‘Can you believe the weather, isn’t it glorious?’ Overnight it seemed we were lifted from the depths of despair, phrases and words like ‘Household Tax’ ‘Corruption’ and more often than not ‘Bertie’ (said in a disparaging tone, whilst shaking one’s head) being temporarily forgotten and being replaced with ‘it’s a day for the beach’. Who would have thought it, in March no less!

Seeing the sun this strongly present so early in the year sends Irish people into a tizzy of giddiness. Out come the shorts and sandals while we scoff at foreign tourists still dressed in the uniform of most visitors to these shores even in our most sweltering of heats, of jeans, scarves and windbreakers. They faintly smile bewilderedly at us, thinking all the while ‘sure god love them, they think this is heat?’ and we smile and nod back silently as if to say ‘god they must be sweating in that get up- it’s ROASTING’.
We pile into the car, buckets, spades, and swimming togs in tow, arriving at the seashore where a gale akin to Hurricane Irene blows the contents of a sand dune into our eyes. We lap it up though because this is what the ‘Irish Beach Experience’ is all about. As are sandwiches also filled with sand and stereos blaring bad music at the highest decibel possible, two blankets over.

Unleashed dogs splash in the surf as children no bigger than the dogs themselves give chase in the vain attempt to reattach said dogs to their leads. Despite the fact that the water at the Irish Seaside barely reaches above freezing even in the height of summer there’s always one game eejit who decides he’s going for a ‘dip’. Inevitably said eejit will be out of work for the next week or so with hypothermia. As will the kid who happened to get sand into his/her eye while chasing the dog.

It’s an oft repeated scenario across the coastal counties of Ireland and we repeat it time and time again. Why? Because this could be the last bit of sun we get all year –now get out and enjoy it!

Saving Face (Book)

Ok I admit it, I’m at least 4 years behind the trend but I’ve finally joined Facebook.
Why the delay you ask? Am I computer illiterate? – no, in fact for almost all of the last decade I have spent eight hours a day sitting in front of a computer screen in an Admin capacity. Do I have any friends? – Why yes I do, and these are flesh and blood people I actually see on a semi regular basis as opposed to the 618 ‘friends’ I recently observed as being linked to another (non famous) Facebook member.
Who has 618 real friends? People that they know socially and actually spend time with ?? If you really had 618 friends surely you wouldn’t have time to be on Facebook what with all the social ties that would entail? Maybe I’m missing the point; maybe the whole point is to have friends who aren’t actual real friends but just names on a screen that you don’t need to talk to in a real life capacity.
For me friends are my guilty pleasure, I live to spend some quality time with them. They are my sounding boards, my counsellors, and best of all non-judgemental. Who can compare sitting and having a chat with a good friend about what’s on your mind to sitting in front of a keyboard ‘liking’ some insane comment that a person you hardly know has just blogged about , such as what they’re having for their tea! And believe me, I know people who do this. Only they are interested, no-one else is- it’s narcissism at its worst. Who hasn’t shook their heads in derision at logging on and seeing an old nemesis looking fatter/thinner/richer than you and all the while posing as if to say ‘You may have known me in school as a bit of a nerd but hey look at me now, I pose on the hoods of fast cars I don’t really own and have highlights now, aren’t I fab?’ – it is so frustrating (yet I hate to admit it, strangely addictive to watch).
So why join Facebook you ask if things like this bother me so much? Well it’s as simple as this, a person who means a lot to me lives thousands of miles away, she’s repeatedly asked me to join so that we can keep up to date with each other’s lives despite living on two different continents (surely Facebook’s original and pure intention). She is a true friend and I want to be a true friend too. She’s such a good friend that she also wasn’t afraid to ask if I was joining Facebook because I was just a teensy bit nosey, well I suppose I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some truth to that…….……….and by the way I now have 18 Facebook ‘friends’.

 

The Curious Case of Man Flu

As he shuffled towards me, puffy eyed, blanket draped over his shoulders, a box of tissues in his hands I shuddered. Was it that time of year again already? The time of year that every woman dreads, when life as we know it must grind to a halt; when every member of the family is put on edge. The dreaded MANFLU had returned to wreck it’s carnage on the household yet again.

Manflu is an ugly illness, it affects not just the infected but all those within a 10 foot radius of said infected and has been known to drive normally rational, articulate women into spirals of severe under breath muttered expletives to full blown fits of rage. Women by nature are caregivers and it is within our remit that we must look after all those in our charge but when one of your charges is a six foot, hairy, whinging mess it can be a trying business. What causes usually strapping ‘I don’t need a doctor, tis but a flesh wound’ (this when they have accidently sliced through one of their hands with a Stanley knife while doing some DIY) guys to suddenly regress to whiny, helpless babies?

Manflu is not a myth or a made up illness it is in fact a real illness although when women get it it’s just usually referred to as a run of the mill albeit annoying cold! According to Wikipedia the ‘ condition can only truly be called “man” flu when the sufferer in question has a partner from whom they hope to solicit extra attention to care for their supposedly grievous symptoms. When the sufferer is alone then the condition can only be the common cold or flu’.

After countless tea making trips up and down the stairs, newspaper and chemist runs not to mention used tissue disposal, I leave you this Manflu season urging you next winter to drag him (kicking and screaming probably) to the doctor and get the flu jab, then he ‘ll have no excuse to lie in bed all day guzzling soft drinks and eating sweets!

Seeing Red

Yes folks it’s that time of the year again, when the colour red blooms garishly from every shop front be it in the form of flowers, cardboard hearts, balloons…. and when it seems every second radio ad has variations on the ‘lurve’ theme. What is it about the 14th of February that causes right thinking sane adults to go Valentine’s crazy? Spending vast amounts of already scarce disposable (and sometimes indispensable) income on cheesy tat and sending levels of expectation skyward even in the case of the non-romantic among us (Who hasn’t anxiously awaited the arrival of the postman on this of all days at some point during our lives?)
Could it be the history of the origin of Valentine’s Day? The most common theory being what took place during the reign of Claudius II, in 270 AD Rome. The Emperor banned men from marrying during wartime because he believed single men made better soldiers. Bishop Valentine rallied against these wishes by performing wedding ceremonies in secret. For this, Valentine was imprisoned and then executed by order of the Emperor on February 14. Whilst in jail, he wrote a love note to the jailor’s daughter signing it, “From your Valentine.” A Hallmark Holiday is born!
Or could it be the lure of the perennial favourite – chocolate? Chocolate can act as an aphrodisiac; apparently Casanova ate chocolate to make him virile. But more importantly as the majority of women will tell you chocolate makes us feel good; it affects the serotonin in our brains making us feel for all intents and purposes happy. Interestingly over $1 billion worth of chocolate is purchased for Valentine’s Day in the U.S, the country with the highest levels of obesity in the western world. They don’t sound very happy do they? Maybe it’s a chicken and egg situation, which came first the obesity, or the chocolate to numb the pain of being fat?
In a nutshell it’s about not feeling left out, who can forget the crushing humiliation as it dawns on the teenaged you that yet again you’re the one person in your group of friends who hasn’t received a much coveted stuffed toy (usually a bear holding a heart) from the guy/girl you occasionally end up kissing at the end of the night in the local disco. Those feelings of mortification and embarrassment are tattooed on our poor young hearts so that even now we strive to make sure we’re not the ones left out this time, oh no. We buy gigantic cards (bigger means better naturellement), underwear, and in the case of a former colleague of mine send a balloon bouquet to a husband’s workplace all in the vain attempt to ensure that we won’t be left out, we won’t be forgotten, we’ll get something even better back-right??
I’ll leave you with this last fact, 15% of U.S. women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!