An Early Childhood Chapter 26 Part 4

An Early Childhood Chapter 26 Part 4: A Visit to Middlesex

An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock surreal autobiography, narrated by a fictional Irish war hero, champion bodhran player, and television presenter. Its first chapter is here. It parodies misery memoirs (such as Angela’s Ashes by the late great Frank McCourt), as well as time travel adventure, pop culture, and literature of various kinds.

Continued from Chapter 26 Part 3.

                Dyll pulled me close as we left the club, and she spotted a child-sized cocoon entirely comprising scab-like material, that was pulsing rhythmically.

                “What’s that?” she asked, pointing to it in disgust.

                “A healing child, lovey!” I replied. “He’s ointmented himself up and he’s in recovery mode!”

                “Wow,” she said.


                We walked along the street and she drew even closer.

                “Kiss me!” she said, her breath smelling of peppermint and honey.

                I didn’t have to be asked twice.

                I put my arm around her, and we walked down the street to her accommodations above a communist literature store, Book Marx. She put her key in the door and went inside and up the stairs. “Come on,” she said, and I followed, closing the door behind me.

                “So what do you do, Sugar Plum?” she asked, switching on the gas lamp to illuminate her quarters – an all in one kitchen, dining area and boooooudoir.

                “Well, lots of things. I’m a rebel and a poet and a patriot. At various stages of my life, I’ve been a factory technician, an apprentice to Bill Cullen the Apple Boy, a time traveller, a horse insemination technician, a warlock hunter, a practicing radio broadcaster, and a wolf-dog guard dog.”

                “Ooohh, you’re in radio?”

                “No. I’m only practicing. I haven’t actually applied to be a broadcaster yet.”

                “Right. And you were a wolf-dog guard dog?”

                “Yes. As a child, I killed a guard dog and – having bested the beast – my boss employed me as his new guard dog at his factory for a short period,” I said.

                She kissed me again. She drew me to the bed. I groped her lithe upper body and she gasped. She fell back on the bed, and I kissed her throat, and then I put my hand up her dress and gave her penis a good feel.

                I pulled back from the kiss, hopped off the bed and uttered the words:

                “Wait a second there, Mister!”

Continued in Chapter 26 Part 5.

Terrible Pub Jokes

One time I was in a pub that served pub food. After scanning the menu, I ordered a dish called Saucisse con Faglia. It sounded tasty. The waiter returned a few minutes later with a plate of three supermarket sausages and baked beans. I looked at the plate as it was placed before me.
"Is this some kind of a joke?" I asked him incredulously.
"No!" he replied.


Sister Agnes didn't know what to do when the convent closed down. She wandered into a pub where there was a Help Wanted sign. The manager gave her a job, and she soon learned that she had a natural talent for mixing drinks.

 Before long, she was winning cocktail-mixing contests, and she was the most popular employee in the pub, and - indeed - all of the other pubs, for miles around. In fact, she was the best bar nun.


A horse with a genetically modified brain and surgically altered vocal cords walks into a bar. The barman says: "Why the long face?"
The horse says: "I'm a horse!"
(See an extended remix of this joke here. REMIX MASHUP!)

I'm in that age category now where a lot of my friends and colleagues have found that they have alcohol problems. Where has the world gone wrong? Back in the 1980s, that was never the case.


"Waiter, waiter! There's a fly in my pina colada!"
"Sir! Please step away from the exhibit. This is a modern art museum!"


In unrelated news, a quantum physicist based at CERN's Large Hadron Collider facility has had his brain scrambled after his finger and thumb gave the "god particle" a good squeeze. His colleagues claimed that he has "entered into an alternate dementia." One of his colleagues told me all about it last night IN THE PUB!

Q. Did you hear about the barman who had a disastrous appendectomy in the middle of a joke?
A. She's just coming around now, I'll ask her about it and get back to you!

Everybody is called Bob on the News Part 3

Thick and Thin shows history repeating

Book Review: Thick and Thin by Sarah Harte

There was a suggestion that the suicide clause in the just-passed government bill in Ireland would lead to women feigning thoughts of suicide so that they could have a termination. It caused some offence. Should it be part of any debate on gender, or on women's health? Whether women in general are less mendacious and sneaky than men, or as sneaky, or more, ought not be the point. The suicide clause itself is flawed. It's unfair that a woman or girl who is not suicidal might go through with an unwanted pregnancy, where someone else who feigns suidical thoughts will have a termination. But that's irrelevant too. The clause is flawed. Whether it's better out than in, I dunno. But it shouldn't be an issue at all.

The old philosophical chestnut: If you're legislating against theft, and a starving man steals a loaf of bread from the grocery store, how hungry does he have to have been before factors are "mitigating"? Does he have to be addicted to drugs? Or homeless? Or clearly underweight and malnourished?

Anyway, Thick and Thin by Sarah Harte rings very true on a number of levels. However, its author has shown a startling prescience in dealing with both banks and the issue of women's health in the novel. Harte captures the late teens and early twenties college life of the early 90s, replete with the insecurities of its social elements. As the story unfolds, there is a rich mixture of stuff going on, such as bereavements and marriages before a leap of nearly two decades to the near-present.

I read a quote from GK Chesterton. Something about liberals reserving the right to continue making mistakes, and conservatives preventing mistakes from being rectified. It seems to apply to some of the views espoused in this novel.

I don't read women's fiction an awful lot, the last thing probably being The Devil Wears Prada. I found the protagonist of that book to be whiney. She ought to have been extremely whiney, but Stop Whining! She only once or twice mentions how she is working sixteen and twenty hour days, every day. Little things like if she's caught using her Hotmail at work, she'll be fired? I'm sorry - the fact that she can access it at all at work is a wonderful gift, with all the firewalls everywhere. She gets cabs and limos everywhere too, on the company? I don't care if she's getting them to fetch her boss's lunch or the Harry Potter manuscript. She's not on the subway or bus. I mean Pfffff...

Which brings me to Harte's characterisation. All the characters are very organic - almost to the point of paradox. But it's impressive. More "people" than "characters". And a few years back, I would've thought that the conservatism of some of the peripheral characters showed a lack of depth. Now, not so much.

The book cover is a turn-off as it is very chick litty. How and ever good writing is good writing. There are numerous time skips to the past - either in recollection or just going back a few hours or days. In the post-Lost days, which shook up the grammar of tv storytelling somewhat, it's a nice feat.

With ongoing political debate in Ireland (and Chile, for that matter) and seemingly endless discussion in the United States about abortion, and the Anglo tapes and the ongoing global financial meltdown, this buke will be timely for some time.

The book rounds out with humour as well as some touching scenes, with dashes of both Reginald Perrin and Colm Toibin's The Blackwater Lightship. It's all about the fambly! (And banks too!)

Thick and Thin by Sarah Harte: Worth a gander.

Everybody is called Bob on the News Part 1

Ever notice how everyone is called Bob on the News, all around the world? Let's round up the evidence...

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams - sitting in for Brian Williams is Nimrock Lellilloo. Nimrock is on assignment in Afghanistan, so here's Brian, back in the studio. He follows a report from Nimrock with a masterful link before he starts talking with an expert.

For further evidence, see the Irish news segment featuring a Bob in our next link...

Tornado set to rip over Coronation Street

The current ridge of high pressure over the British Isles is set to be fully exploited by Coronation Street staff writers this week, with a tornado tearing up the cobbles. It's not the first time a soap has used natural disasters or accidents to write out, axe or introduce characters. The last major incident to occur on Corrie was the tram accident that killed off Ashley and Molly. That storyline featured a live episode to mark the soap's fiftieth anniversary.

According to insiders, a new family of five characters will be blown onto the cobbles when their car is whipped up into the weather phenonenon in Kent. The family patriarch - grandfather Jerrick Jeffers - will die on arrival, but the rest of the family will find solace in the ale at the Rover's. A brash bad boy - Chase Tyler - is also set to move onto the street as the love interest of newcomer Odessa Jeffers.

The foundations of the house in which Chase lives are shifted by the tornado, and he finds himself living on a corner of the far more famous street, gaining immediate entry onto the soap. As he flees the house during the Weatherfield phenomenon, Chase is struck and temporarily knocked unconscious by a shipment of very high grade cocaine in a metal suitcase, which has also blown onto the street.

Also arriving on the scene is a stray dog, which licks the life back into Chase Tyler. The dog will be re-homed thanks to a local dog trust and Maria Connor - who will call on all of her expertise in kennels to make sure the feisty little terrier finds a new family - while also balancing a hectic salon-managing schedule, with a shop front window replacement that turns fruity, and persisting question marks over her boyfriend's sexual orientation.

The new cast members are the first to have a contractual ban imposed on them preventing them from appearing on news documentaries and exposés.

Dail scheduled to debate passage of Health and Safety Bill

New legislation pertaining to women's health is to be debated shortly in the Irish houses of parliament. The new regulations, which have been drawn up by An Taoiseach Inda Kinny and the novelist Alan Shatter, are designed to prevent women from harming themselves, while being promoted by the leading party in government as an explicit articulation of its policy.

Although civil legislation in Ireland had considered the behaviour of many women to be a health risk, it is hoped that introducing the new laws will cover all eventualities, although Justice Minister Shatter is sensitive about speaking about women with a lack of chauvinism.

"I do have to be very careful," said Mr. Shatter. "We have an insight into the mindset of these people, on how what's occurred has affected every individual in the country, and the country's finances. They had no particular insight into how their behaviour would affect the country as a whole. Huge volumes of material - a lot of which the Gardai were unable to access - is now being reviewed."

At the behest of Health Minister James Reilly GPTD, the justice minister has been asked to incorporate the phrase "backwards dancing to Shakira in Coppers" onto the statute books, in order to deal with what he hopes are all possible outcomes with respect to the liabilities of night club managers.

Health Minister James Reilly TD MD has pointed out that neuro-imaging studies of the brain have shown that if music is played - and we are somehow prevented from dancing - the brain's network of neurons fires up with "terpsichorean ideation".

"Once the dinner is over and the other women are at you to get up and hit the floor - for want of a better metaphor - and Shakira comes on - then your hips really don't lie," Minister Reilly MTV insisted. "If we don't allow for the fact that terpsichorean ideation in women could be problematical - and so on and so forth and what have you - then they ought to be allowed to dance."

Dancing backwards to Shakira songs in Copper-Faced Jacks has been of immense concern to both Justice Minister Shatter and to James Reilly Tempty DeeTee for more than five years.

An accident on the dance floor of Coppers - which led to a broken arm - appears to be the bone of contention - or more specifically, the ulna.

On a visit to the United States over a year ago, President Obama attempted to show Taoiseach Inda Kinny how to dance to Shakira, as the US president had been fully apprised of the Irish legislative quagmire. Kinny returned to Dublin, furious with the Irish people for disgracing themselves yet again.

He insisted that the entire cabinet learn how to dance to Shakira. However, junior minister Lucinda Creighton has voiced objections, noting that Shakira dancing is difficult in heels.


A total backwards dancing ban was initially mooted by the previous government's transport minister, Noel Dempsey - but his legislation pertained specifically to roller blades.

Former Minister Dempsey - who is now gainfully employed as a Neil Jordan lookalike, while he attends a treatment facility for his cocaine addiction - had failed to introduce a total ban on backwards rollerblade dancing to Shakira, in part because although he was the minister in charge of rollerblades, dancing extended beyond his transport portfolio, or the "TransPortfolio". The suggested legislation from the Department of Transport had come under intense public scrutiny, with the Union of Rollerbladists demanding a meeting with Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, asking to see the semistate accounts that dealt specifically with rollerblades, rollerskates and skateboards.

Dempsey has been called back to government buildings to advise a Dail committee on what is hoped will be the more creative and comprehensive set of workaround backwards dancing regulations. However, Irish citizens and residents are still optimistic that in the future, they will not have to emigrate in order to backwards dance to Shakira.

TV Review Roundup

Do you like New Girl and Scrubs? Except you're thinking, "I want to see another show along those lines, except maybe a lot more up its own arse?" Then, why not watch Happy Endings?

Hipster racism, hipster homophobia, it's all there, folks! The fat gay fella is very funny. He's not even fat, folks. Sure, he's probably GAY fat, but he's not even Matt LeBlanc fat - and Matt was the handsome totty. Speaking of weigh-ins, this show even has a ninth-generation Wayans in it! In Living Color, I'm Gonna Git You Sucka! Hurray!

Hipster dipsters!

Grundy Television should make an an all female Australian cop drama called Blue Sheilas.

When an Australian calls somebody a wog, that's proper racism right there. They do things earnestly over there when it comes to race, it's Bad Dad humour rather than postmodern, don't you know, and they don't appreciate irony. But if Jimmy Carr is cracking quips, or Turk on Scrubs is telling JD to compliment a black girl by saying her ass looks big in her dress, Oh hold on, well Holy God, that's ironical!


You know when you’re watching something really good? And the ads come on, so you change channels? And you’re watching something that isn’t as good, and there’s something in the back of your mind saying “There’s something better on and I'm missing it. What was it again?” And you've gone so thick that you can't even remember? So you go through the channels again, but you go up the dial rather than down, or vice versa, and you find something else that’s interesting, but you’re still thinking you’ve missed something? That's your brain that caused that stupidity. It's your own fault for watching too much gogglebox. Go back to Russia, Anna Chapman!

Best New Writing Competition

First off, there's an Irish competition run by Penguin and RTE. Details are on novelist Louise Phillips' site here:

The top 60 or so writers get to have a day at a seminar-type thing, with some great talks from industry peeps and published scribes.

Details of another free to enter contest below.

A story appeared in the Best New Writing 2012 anthology.

You can submit a story for potential publication in the annually published book from the site, and you're also in the running for a grand prize, the Eric Hoffer Award.

Here are some of the beauties of this contest in a six point list:

(a) it's free to enter
(b) your work may get acknowledged in some form - if it progesses beyond what the judges regard as the top 20 percent or so of all entries
(c) if you're lucky enough to get through first round judging processes, it is likely to be edited by people who know what they're doing. (For the record, of course it's likely to be looked at by similar people BEFORE that - but at this stage you'll get feedback.)
(d) the story may then be published in a wonderfully produced buke
(e) you can (usually) submit a story every quarter or so
(f) your story is in the running for an impressive cash prize

I'm not happy about competitions with an entry fee, where there is a chance of winning a prize, but a more likely chance of publication.

For example, if there is a first, a second and a third prize in a contest - and the top ten are published - you have a shortlist of seven who didn't get a prize and who paid an entry fee. I think it only fair that in that scenario, the contest organisers at least return the entry fee to the shortlisted seven who didn't get a prize. You don't want to be paying $10 or €7 for the privilege of being published, regardless of the competition's prestige.

Why? Because your story might just do better in another competition. Most short story contests insist that the entries you send in are previously unpublished. So your fiction - once it IS published - is ruled out of contention elsewhere. Your fiction is being punished for being one of the better entries in a contest.

While the Best New Writing publications are prestigious enough to charge an entry fee, they don't. I'm surprised they don't. Submission for the Eric Hoffer Award is free, and you can enter a story every quarter. For the opportunity of an edit and some great feedback on your fiction, alongside the chance of a cash prize, you can't go far wrong. Inclusion in the anthology is certainly more than fair, I feel - given that you can submit your work for free.

So I encourage people to give the contest a go or to buy one of the anthologies. There are some terrific stories in the collections that result from the competition.

I'll post the story over the next few days.

Read the story that featured in the 2012 collection below when it goes live:

The Whipping Boy