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Where is my Willpower?

29 February, 2012 at 11:51 pm by belgianwaffle

Sometimes I stay up late into the night surfing the internet. My almost famous connection (give it time – also, buy her book) put up a blog post about make-up wherein she said “I’ve just spent about 45 minutes watching make-up videos by Lisa Eldridge”. “Ha,” I thought to myself “well I might as well have a quick look at this before I go to bed as there is no way I would spend 45 minutes looking at a make-up video.” Bear in mind that I last bought something for my make-up bag in the 1990s. It’s not that I don’t wear make-up, it’s just that I take my sister’s free gifts from her amazingly extensive collection. But yet, I found Ms. Eldridge strangely compelling and 45 minutes later (at 3.45 am, alas), I finally tore myself away from her advice and found myself contemplating my first make up purchase since 1995.

It’s going to be a clinique airbrush; I thought you would like to know.


28 February, 2012 at 11:13 pm by belgianwaffle

Those of you following Ireland’s progress will know that the banks have behaved badly. I can be lyrical on this point. I have been, in fact, to the extent that the children are dimly aware of the banks’ role in our current crisis and can’t quite understand why I insist that they leave their money there rather than letting them spend it – by far their preferred option.

We were in the car in the morning on the way to school and I was talking to Mr. Waffle about this repossession. The sheriff was defeated, at least temporarily, by the “random legal word generator”. In this case the words “constitution”, “common law”, “separation of powers” and “inviolable” were brandished to good effect. While, the arguments adduced made no legal sense whatsoever, the emotional argument that the banks had got away without any sanction did strike a chord. “Of course,” said I bitterly “the banks got away with murder.”

Michael piped up from the back seat, “WHAT, the banks murdered someone?”

Brave New World

27 February, 2012 at 8:59 pm by belgianwaffle

Spotted advertised recently – A Céilí Speed Dating Event. The mind boggles.


26 February, 2012 at 2:06 am by belgianwaffle

At my tennis coaching, a new Polish coach turned up. As we chatted before training he mentioned that he had been playing in a match at the weekend but had lost. “Oh dear,” we said sympathetically. “Well, I had not played for 16 years,” he said in the frank manner of Poles of my acquaintance. Seeing that his new class looked less than entirely entranced with this piece of information, he explained his remark:

I was in Ireland working in construction but then my job disappeared [like so many others, alas] but I was stuck here [again, the Polish frankness], I have an Irish wife and baby, what was I to do? I went to FÁS [the employment and training agency] and they asked me what I could do. They had nothing for me. “Are you any good at sport?” I said no and they said, “Pity, because we need tennis coaches.” Then, I said, actually, I played in Silesia from 6 to 14 when I started playing adult leagues because I was too good for the kids leagues [Poles are not big believers in false modesty either in my experience] and I got sick of it. So, they said great, I re-trained as a tennis coach and here I am. And, I have to say, he was absolutely terrific. I really admire people who turn around and find a new career and I am so glad that he didn’t head back to Poland with his wife and baby because, God knows, we need the coaching.

God and Pharmacology Working Together to Make a Better World

25 February, 2012 at 8:42 pm by belgianwaffle

I was ill last week. I am almost never properly ill (as opposed to whining and sniffling into work with some Lemsip in my bag). I did not enjoy it. I had taken some time off work to go to Cork with the children for mid-term and I was not pleased with the timing of my illness. Reluctantly I dragged myself to the doctor and paid €55 for a diagnosis and a course of antibiotics. I started straight away.

My father is a pharmacologist. He is against the reckless use of antibiotics. This was therefore my second ever course of antibiotics. They were quite miraculous. I was able to drive to Cork as planned. I picked the children up from school having told them that this would not be possible as I was too sick. They were pleased. Michael was unsurprised: “I told the teacher you were sick and we wouldn’t be able to go to Cork and I was sad. So, we all said a prayer for you to be better and now you are!”


24 February, 2012 at 8:06 pm by belgianwaffle

I can’t believe that I’m 42 and I’m still giving up sweets for Lent. Somehow, I thought life would have given me more glamorous things to give up at this stage.

A Day Out

23 February, 2012 at 8:16 pm by belgianwaffle

As I mentioned we were in Cork at the weekend. I decided to take the children to Charles Fort.

Me: Tomorrow, we’re going to see a fort!
Daniel: I don’t want to go.
Me: It’ll be great, it’s a really big, impressive fort.
Daniel (dubiously): But forts are invisible.
Me: Not this one, it’s huge.
Princess: A fort Daniel, not a fart.

The next day we set off to walk two long kilometres to the fort. We did not get off to a good start. Daniel had a sore knee which I thought would go away, but didn’t. He just limped there and back uncomplainingly. My saintly middle child. Michael meanwhile dragged himself along saying “My legs are so tired”. He was the first to realise that once we got to the fort we would have to walk back again. He wasn’t pleased. I wasn’t so pleased myself, I had three unhappy children and I was carrying two guns – a pistol and a nerf gun – and a light sabre (to attack the fort).

However, once we reached Summercove, things began to look up. We were fortified by lunch at the Bulman (which I cannot recommend highly enough – herself had an enormous bowl of mussels, I had crab claws and the boys a portion of chips each – in our own way, we were all happy). Then the fort was great. And it didn’t rain on us. Always a plus in any Irish outing. And, as always, the road back didn’t seem quite so long.


Saintly middle child:

Patrolling with Nerf Gun:

Scenery (obligatory):



22 February, 2012 at 8:54 pm by belgianwaffle

I took the children to my parents’ house at the weekend. Mr. Waffle’s parents’ house is always a bit on the cold side for me and my parents’ house is always much too warm for him. This means that at home, I wear my fleece of an evening – mmm synthetics – and Mr. Waffle wanders round in t-shirts and shorts.

The children take after him. Herself couldn’t sleep with the heat in Cork and even I was quite warm. I took off my fleece. Ah, my Cork family observed, you have become a Waffle. Still, my mother, who feels the cold terribly couldn’t really believe that any human being could really be so warm. As herself lay sweating under a single sheet, my mother asked me anxiously, “Do you think that she’d like a hot water bottle?”


21 February, 2012 at 8:32 pm by belgianwaffle

“Wartime Women: A Mass Observation Anthology 1937-45” edited by Dorothy Sheridan [New Year’s Resolution]

I found this mildly interesting. It consists mainly of diaries but also some survey material. I particularly liked the research on married women and work from January 1944.

On the one hand:
“…going out to work is incompatible with the proper care of children. Even before the war one saw the sad result of mothers working the the factory in in a certain manufacturing village near here. The children ran about the streets wild and uncared-for with no home life.”

But on the other:
“I feel that it should always be possible – things should so be arranged that no woman should feel marriage is going to drive her into domesticity. There should be just as many openings for women as men, and just as many openings in domestic work for men as for women.”

Plus ça change..

“Just My Type” by Simon Garfield [New Year’s Resolution]

A surprisingly entertaining guide to the world of typography but in the end, the string of anecdotes becomes a little dull. On the plus side, I spend my time trying to work out fonts now. My relationship with Garamond has fundamentally changed.

“A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan

This got fantastic reviews. It’s not that good but I did find it mildly entertaining. It’s a series of interlinked stories showing the effect of time on people’s lives. It ends up in the near future which was pointless. It reminded me of a couple of American novels I’ve read recently: “Freedom” and “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee”. Though both of those were more novel and less a series of short stories.

“Great Apes” by Will Self [New Year’s Resolution]

I read this book while I was ill which made its faintly hallucinogenic quality all the more disturbing. It’s the story of a man who wakes up one day and finds that the world is populated by chimps rather than humans but at a macro level, it’s all the same. So we have London’s infrastructure largely identical and famous people now famous chimps and so on. It might have worked over 200 pages but, in my view it is unsustainable over 400. In fact, I think that the author got tired of it himself and the book ends quite abruptly. Don’t know that I’d read one of his again. A bit too smart for his readers’ good.

He was Born to be the Child of a Billionaire

21 February, 2012 at 12:25 am by belgianwaffle

You may recall that my brother had a three month holiday in the Americas in late 2011. Then earlier this month, he departed for a month’s skiing in Chamonix. It was cheaper to buy skis for four weeks than to hire them. And it was cheaper to get a season pass than four weekly passes. So now that he has his season pass and his skis, he’s decided that he should stay for an extra fortnight. So that he can get value from his skis and season pass. I’m not bitter.

Oh yeah, here’s what he says about the trip so far:

Hi folks, all’s well in Chamonix, el cuerpo demanded a day off skiing after 8 days today. I have had an absolutely brilliant time, but the one slightly disconcerting thing about skiing is that the better you get at skiing the more you realise how bad you are at it. When I started I used to think I’d be as good as the locals in no time, ignorance is bliss, like being so far behind in a race that that you think you’re winning.
At this stage I can do all the pistes comfortably if not stylishly, off piste on the other hand feels like seconds from disaster all the time………. had some fairly spectacular wipe outs during my off piste lesson on Saturday, but made progress in a crash and learn type of way, (at one stage I was thinking ‘go mberimid beo ar an am seo amarach’), needless to say Mum just in case you’re worried the only thing I’m in danger of injuring is my ego. The problem with off piste is you have to be light and agile: my 85kg frame and public sector union flexibility are not helping matters. Still I’m hoping to be an all mountain skier by the end of this junket. Speaking of which I decided to push out my return date by a further 2 weeks, in my own head I managed to spin this as a money saving decision, I bought the skies and have a season pass so it would be a waste not to get more use from them, right????

The weather when I arrived was unbelievably cold -25 or something; it was like spending the day in the freezer at home next to the peas from 1993. After my first day skiing my designer stubble was frozen white and I looked bit like one of the guys from those photos of the Scott expedition. Next day I got a Balaclava and end up looking more like an IRA man than an Antarctic explorer, but didn’t need to be thawed out. This week has seen the temp pick up, the blue skies and spectacular scenary have made the place much more like a holiday brochure. As for French, the other objective of the trip which hasn’t received much coverage in the mail, I think I’m starting to get it back a bit of it back, more updates to follow. Anyway have to sign off now and get some sleep as it’s been snowing today and tomorrow is going to be a brilliant days skiing.

This Week’s Theme is… Leprosy

12 February, 2012 at 9:50 pm by belgianwaffle

I got a book about madness out of the library last weekend. The first chapter deals with leper houses and I was talking to herself about this. Don’t tell me you don’t torture your children in similar ways. A lengthy discussion followed about the symptoms of leprosy. Then about leper colonies and how there is a Dublin suburb called “Leopardstown” because the land was used to fund a lepers’ hospital. The following day we visited Dublinia [we had tickets saved from a promotion on milk bottles – are you getting a picture of our home life?] In the, always popular, death and diseases bit there was a wax figure of a leper.

Then today at mass, the readings and the gospel featured -oh yes- leprosy. Herself was listening closely because she was up on the altar doing a try out for altar girl (successful). And the priest was fresh back from his visit to a leper colony in Africa so we covered that in the sermon.

There may be a lesson here somewhere but you’ll have to work it out for yourself.

Parenting Fail

6 February, 2012 at 11:15 pm by belgianwaffle

Children’s dinner yesterday:

Princess – nothing;
Daniel – spoonful of canned sweetcorn with ketchup;
Michael – reheated Yorkshire pudding.

Children’s dinner today:

All – Domino’s pizza.

Extra Time

1 February, 2012 at 11:46 pm by belgianwaffle

We’ve given up watching the news in the evenings; so, in fact, we’ve given up watching television altogether because all our TV watching consisted of the news and an hour of vain channel hopping thereafter. Now we sit and read and listen to music. We chat. It’s amazing how much of a difference it’s made to my evening. Apart from anything else, it’s delightful to be missing the economic doom news which RTE likes to lead with nightly. I’ll let you know when our resolve cracks.

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