Monday 27 July 2015

The Japanese Maple

It was one of those perfect days, like the song. Dad was gone fishing and I suggested to Mum that we go to the Botanic Gardens for the afternoon. I needed to let Eoin burn off the endless energy that three-year-olds seem to have.

The Botanic Gardens was at it's best. Every plant had it's place and every corner had life bursting out of it.  I had just developed a small interest in gardening and suggested that we go to the Japanese garden.

My son flittered around the little paths and streams in the garden as my mother and I sat on a bench. I noticed a Japanese maple tree and I waxed lyrical about the delicate leaves and how much I would like to buy one.

"I had a Japanese maple tree once, you know. I went on holidays when you were eighteen and asked you to water it.  You were at your 'eye-rolling' stage and it was dead when I got home," Mum declared wryly.

"Sorry Mum," I chortled.  "I've no recollection of that at all."  We watched Eoin as he bent his little body over to stare into the stream and put his fist around a stick to investigate the mud.  A perfect day.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Christmas Party

We had a tradition in my school. In fifth year we hosted a party for 'underprivileged children.'  We prepared by baking cakes, buying sweets and decorating the old school hall.

On the allotted day the children, all boys, arrived on a bus. We waited.  Well-intentioned seventeen year-olds who hoped to make Christmas special for these children.  The boys wandered into the hall nervously.  The oldest was about ten and the youngest was five.  It took a while but gradually the young  boys broke off into groups and we joined them.  They were delighted with the sweets and decorations, with festive music added to the mix.

I went behind the scenes to the ladies toilet behind the stage.  In there was Jill.  She was Class Captain and had been tasked to dress as Santa.  The Santa outfit was old.  The beard was threadbare.  As I looked at her dressing up,  I predicted, "This is going to be a bloodbath.  There's no way these kids are going to believe she is Santa."

Nevertheless we were committed.  Santa had been promised.  I went back out to the party.  As I mixed with my friends I heard them murmur in concern. "This guy hasn't seen his dad since he went into jail last year."  There was a five-year old whose mum was 'very sick' and had no-one else to mind him.

Finally time came for Santa to emerge from behind the old heavy curtains up on the stage.  As the curtains were pulled back slowly I saw my friend in an old Santa suit, sitting on a rickety metal chair.

The oldest boy, turned around slowly to look at the stage.  He was about ten.  His jaw slowly lowered as he saw Santa appear in all his glory up on the stage.  That evening Santa had every child sit on his knee and chat with him.  Even though some of the children were as big as him.

This is one of my happiest Christmas memories.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Letter to the Editor-Regarding 'She's the Business'

I read Samantha Kelly's blog last night. (@tweetingsamm @tweetingGoddess)  She was on a programme called 'She's the Business' on Tuesday night.

John Boland reviewed the programme yesterday.  I sent this letter to the Editor of the Irish Independent this morning.

1st September 2013

Dear Madam,

I refer to John Boland's review of 'She's the Business' which was shown on RTE on Tuesday 27th August.

Ms Samantha Kelly's personal life is discussed in the article. 'Samantha had two children, by two different fathers.  Neither of whom lived with her.'

If the programme had been called, 'He's the Business,' would Mr Boland have seen fit to comment on a blended family and who lives with whom?  That fact that her daughters have different fathers is not relevant to the programme.

Ms Kelly is raising two children, one hearing impaired and the other with diabetes and trying to get a business off the ground.

He describes that women in the programme as 'quirky' because only one of them is married.  I suggest Mr Boland gets out more.

He sums up, 'The ending was certainly decidedly downbeat.'  It would be nice to have a programme in which every participant goes on to have a roaring trade.  However, again, Mr Boland needs to see a bit more of the real world.  It takes courage to be an entrepreneur in this economic climate, especially with dependant children and that is the message I took from the programme.

Yours faithfully

Carol Clarke

Sunday 18 August 2013

Reoccurring Dream

I dreamt I was on the moon,
Looking back at the small Earth.
Barren black rocks crunch underneath,
And there's an inexplicable tree stump.

The Earth is so blue and beautiful.
I desperately want to get back to it
But it doesn't feel like home anymore.
I'm just a jealous onlooker, peering from
too far away.

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Dear Sarah Carey

I read your article today in The Independent.  These are the three main issues I have with your piece.

You stated that Mary O'Rourke has said that the best way of dealing with sexist behaviour is to 'ignore it and keep doing (their) jobs.'  However if a woman has been groped, does that not show the lack of regard the groper has for the woman? The inappropriate behaviour in the Dail this week was shocking to me in another aspect.  Nobody saw fit to intervene or admonish the TD, as it happened.  How would a lady, in any circumstance, deal with this treatment if people around her act as if it is a non-event?

You say that you have been groped because you are small, however this makes your treatment even more reprehensible.  However thankfully you use 'amnesia' to forget the incidents.  Also you claim that you are not quick with retorts and call yourself 'slow.'  You really shouldn't be so hard on yourself.  I'm glad you have a sense of humour to help you through the difficult times.  Using that logic, I have no sense of humour because I don't like being mistreated.

Finally, you believe that you have psychological power over the person who has groped you, as and when he realises the error of his ways.  Surely that is an abuse of a different kind.  You see, I like men, some of my best friends are men, and I don't believe that kind of emotional blackmailing is good for you or him.  In my opinion, it increases the lack of trust between genders.  It takes away a little of your humanity and a little of his.

The addition of -gate to every piece of scandal trivalises a serious subject.

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Objectification and being a chattel

Recently I sat down to chat with a close friend.  She had something on her mind.  As I prepared to go she asked me to look at a card that her husband had received from his best friend.

The card said,' To a lucky bastard, You have it all, nice house, great car, sexy wife.'

She asked me for my reaction.  I had to be careful but I said I felt it was demeaning to her.  She sighed, "He says it's flattering but I'm not a thing.   I'm a person; not a chattel."

She is, indeed, a pretty lady but she is also kind, interesting and intelligent.  And she's right.

Treating women and men as objects of desire is nothing new.  After the initial rush of finding one another attractive, I would hope that people would attempt to get to know each other.  However only seeing them as 'objects' rather than whole human beings is debasing our humanity.

Marketing people continue to objectify, mainly women, with abandon.  However, I also notice that the ads are becoming more offensive, almost parodying themselves as twitter and facebook share them with disgust.  I won't name the companies involved because there is no such thing as bad publicity.  If you are online you will be aware of them.  Personally, I won't be buying their products again.

The vast array of magazines with entire pages of ; 'Losing baby weight in weeks,' 'Putting on weight after a break-up,' 'Are they too skinny?' 'Diets-to loose weight in weeks,' is an undermining and unrelenting diatribe. The constant negative stream about body image seeps through our consciousness.  Men too are becoming subjected to this degradation and it is interesting to note an increase in the numbers of men suffering from eating disorders.

I've also seen the argument that we should be body conscious as obesity has become such a huge problem.  Obesity can be contributed to when people have poor body image and self-esteem, as well as lack of information about healthier food choices. Thank goodness for the likes of Katie Taylor and ladies Irish Rugby team; showing that being healthy should be our aim.  And that it's ok to have a few wrinkles, veins, cellulite etc.

As for my friend, she recently set up a second business and is proving that her beauty is more than skin deep.

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Booty Call by Pamela Proudfoot

This is a poem written by my friend Pamela Proudfoot about a late night 'Booty Call.'  What could possibly go wrong? Find her on twitter @Pammy1982.

From her boyfriend, poor Lizy had gotten the shove,
And since had been longing and looking for love,
In pubs and clubs, she looked high and low,
But drunken aul bowsies, are all that would show.

She then tried online, like,
But the weird names appeared in the field labelled 'from,'
The likes of 'Seamore Diddys' and 'Hugh G. Reckshon,'
Provided her only with a blushed complexion.

This did nothing, but stress poor Lizzy,
Who decided for love, that she was far too busy.
She was tanned and pretty and knew how to flaunt it,
And decided that a 'fumble' was all that she wanted.

Lizzy seemed doomed, in to love, not to fall,
So decided to try her luck at an aul booty call.
Out came the dangerous book coloured red,
That listed all, who she thought, once bounced in her bed.

A fast flip through it, had given her a scare,
As leaf after leaf, most pages lay bare.
Now what the heck was she going to do?
How will she find someone to.........smooch!

At the back of a magazine, she spotted an ad,
At last she thought, she had found her lad.
The title said 'We know what they say about big feet....
But we'll always be professional and very discrete.'

So she picked up her phone with a glint in her eyes,
Texting her address, requesting a surprise.
As time had passed, she paced the floor,
Until, at last, came a knock on the door.

Opening it seductively, she posed by it's side.
But down to the floor, her eyes seem to slide.
There lay a box, covered in string, tightly tied,
Waiting for Lizzy to bring it inside.

Tearing it quickly, to view what was sealed.
Wondering curiously what was to be revealed.
All leather and shiny, they stood in cahoots,
As poor Lizzy realised, she'd just ordered boots.

She forfeit her mate and erred to choose,
A discrete home delivery of size 22's.
These boots were anything but snug and neat.
She now understood why the ad said 'discrete.'

As she bundled up the package she had just received,
She looked back at her plan, and felt really relieved,
The pressure had lifted, she was free like a dove,
And decided to try another turn at love.

She walked to the post office, with package and all,
Chuckling at her boots, and no booty call!