Sunday, 24 May 2009

Canada, Episode 1: The wrath of Teresa

Phew, it's been a pretty mental week. I apologise for the lack of posting in recent days, I imagine it must have been a very tough period for all of you. But worry not, your saviour's back and I have the first update on my quest to conquer Canada.

Although there are six of us in total travelling to Canada, myself and Nobbly Stylez were the first two members of the party to depart last Wednesday. Being kind sorts, we've agreed to take on the responsibility of finding a house for all the other goons.

The flight over from Shannon to Heathrow on Wednesday morning was pretty uneventful but we'd great excitement upon arriving in London when Nobbly threw a wobbly after realising he'd forgotten his Visa forms and may not be allowed board the plane.

Thankfully, however, Nobbly had photocopied the forms and although the originals were on his kitchen table in Limerick, he had brought the copies. A burly prick of a security guard told us that there was no way we'd be allowed on to the plane with a copy but a much more shapely BA receptionist told us we should be alright.

So with no small amount of trepidation we approached the check-in desk but sure enough my travelling companion was allowed on. Although I had been looking forward to that extra little bit of leg room, I was glad that he got on as it would mean a bit of company for the nine hour flight.

After two minutes in our seats, I was even more grateful for Nobbly's company as a shockingly rude and miniscule old lady made it clear from the moment our arses landed next to hers that she was not happy with the seating arrangements.

Having no grasp of English whatsoever and only able to converse in Hindi, it was hard for the air hostesses to understand what request she was making when we sat down but after a few hand singles and eyes thrown up to heaven, it was clear she wanted to be moved.

Now we hadn't said a word to the lady, I hadn't boxed her in the ear as I slipped into my seat, Nobbly didn't knee her in the teeth while putting his bags into the overhead compartments so we were shocked that she had already decided we weren't worthy of sitting in the same row as her.

Despite her remonstrations, there wasn't a space left to be had on the plane and she was told that she would just have to put up with us and us with her. She made one more request to be moved before take off and another straight away after, at which point the air hostesses seemed to venture down our aisle far less often.

Safe in the knowledge that the lady wouldn't be able to tell her us her name and wouldn't even want to if she could, we decided to call her Teresa because of her uncanny similarity to the far less rude Mother Teresa.

Thankfully, Teresa stayed asleep for most of the flight with the only drawback being that she was in the aisle seat and I"ve a bladder the size of an undergrown peanut. Inevitably I would need to go to the toilet, which would undoubtedly provoke the wrath of the sleeping beauty beside me when I asked her to get up.

After about two and a half hours - a new record for me - I decided that the floodgates would have to open and Teresa would have to hop it unless she wanted this journey to become considerably more uncomfortable for all of us.

But then Nobbly pointed out to me that, being a healthy young fella with feline-like agility, I could try and vault over Teresa without waking her. Using the back of the seat in front of her and the back of her own seat to support my body I could swing over her.

After sizing up the situation, I reckoned that this was a challenge I was up for. And it very nearly wasn't an absolute catastrophe.

The first stage of the vault was fine, I steadied myself on the two seats and lifted my legs safely over Teresa without making any contact. Unfortuantely, however, when I landed on the far side I lifted my hand from the back of her seat far too quickly, making the seat and its occupant shoot forward violently like a catapult.

Teresa woke up to find me standing on one side of her and Nobbly on the other with one leg on top of the seat in readiness to attempt the same ridiculous stunt that had woken her. Unsurprisingly this time, she made yet another request to be moved and was once again told that she had no option left to her.

We decided not to try the Teresa-vault again, instead opting to just put up with the snorts of disgust she made every time we asked her to move so we could use the facilities.

I considered asking her if we could swap numbers in case she wanted to meet up another time when we landed but decided that she probably wouldn't get the joke.

Another update to come in a few days folks, talk to you all again soon.

The Hoge

Friday, 22 May 2009

Normal service will resume soon

Don't worry, my plane didn't crash. I've just been awful busy setting up a bank account, getting a social insurance number and a house in Vancouver.

Don't even talk to me about getting a job, pickings seem to be slimmer here than I thought so I've been practising my street-walker routine in the mirror at night.

All the sordid details about my adventures in Vancouver thus far will be revealed before long though. Until then, chat amongst yourselves.

Friday, 15 May 2009

One hour left at work

Only one hour left to go and the only task I really have left to do is pack up all the clutter I've amassed in my two years at the Leader.

I'm a little sad, more than I thought I would be in fact, at the prospect of leaving my first ever full time job.

I've made more than a few good friends here and - no disrespect to my alma mater - I learned more in a month of work experience here than I did in a whole year of studying for a Masters in Journalism.

Being honest about it, I was completely terrified coming into the Leader. More than a small amount of bluffing had gotten me through college but this was the real world and people would, hopefully, be reading what I was writing for once.

From the very start I was made feel welcome by the other editorial staff who tolerated my numerous, repeated, dumb-ass questions with admirable patience.
Where do I file stories for the city edition?
How do I go about booking a photographer?
What's a vowel?
Just an example of the inquiries that spilled from my naive, gormless mouth in my fledgling weeks with the Leader. Within minutes of my arrival, they must have known I was a chancer extraordinaire.
But within a few weeks, I came to realise that being a chancer in editorial wasn't necessarily a bad thing. I mean chancer in the best sense of the word by the way, in the sense that many of them had come into the same office as wide-eyed and green as my good self and were still feeling their way in some regards.
My fellow chancers welcomed me to their collective bosom and I was introduced to our second home in the White House - for coffee at 11am and the creamy stuff after 5pm. Two years flew and, just like everyone else, I felt my way through my chosen career and grew to love it, thanks in no small part to the great gang of friends I made in 54 O'Connell Street.
Like I said I'll be sad to leave them but I suppose nobody has died and I'll be able to keep track of them from Vancouver as long as there's internet access in the homeless shelter where I will inevitably end up.
Well the desk is still a mess, this has taken up all my time. I suppose I better get clearing. Then over to the White House for some more creamies before it's time to go.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The Hoge on Twitter

Not the most interesting of posts but I'll bet the pic of the Bikini-clad lady will mean my hits for the day will go flying up.

I've decided to conform with the masses by setting up a Twitter account so my particularly obsessed followers can keep track of my every cough, splutter and fart in real time as opposed to just checking the blog every so often.

Those wishing to sign up for updates should click here.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Some Galway nostalgia

SEEN as I'm in nostalgic form, it would be impossible for this soon-to-be unemployed immigrant to venture far down memory lane without making one of my regular stops in Galway.

Four years of my life were spent in the City of the Tribes and while I'm still only at the ripe age of 24 (and I'm pretty sure the best is yet to come) the most fun I've experienced so far was without doubt during that period spent out West.

Right from the start of my time in Galway, starting with the wild liberation of Hoge in Corrib Village, I was learning.

Among the things I discovered were how to have a well-oiled night out for less than a tenner, how to procrastinate like it's an Olympic sport and how to identify the one person in a class of several hundred most likely to give you notes a week before an exam.

Courtesy of a stint playing with Corinthians on the Tuam Road, I discovered that they had heard of rugby up in Connacht and, to my amazement, some of them could even play the game fairly well too.

Being honest about it, little of what I learned could be described as having much academic value - after all, how many colleges test their students' ability to watch movies and play board games until 7 in the morning - but my education sure was one big barrel of belly laughs.

Plus I made some great new friends and became much closer to those friends I'd already known who also came to Galway from Limerick - three of whom are joining me on the Canadian adventure.

It's hard to single some of the highlights from my time in Galway - not just because of the volume of memories but also because of their haziness - but here are just a small few which I can recall.

  • Setting off a rape alarm in Mondo McFlurry's room which we had hidden in his cupboard without telling him before he went to bed. This was early on in the Corrib Village era and was almost the first time I vomited due to laughter as I listened to him search his room in panic for the source of the unbearable noise.

  • Watching in disbelief as two of my pals, Larry Longshanks and Jay McKay, completely bound and gagged their smallest roommate Micheal, kidnapper style, before leaving him outside their neighbour's front door. The neighbour did not find it quite as hilarious as the gaggle of giggling idiots that watched his reaction from behind a nearby ditch as he opened the door.

  • Learning how to play Poker, Risk, 45, 21, Cup, King's Cup, Fuzzy Duck, the Name Game, Articulate, Mario Kart and Time Splitters but still not having much of a notion about Sociology despite studying it for three years and managing to get an honours degree.

  • Watching Bryan Adams performing in Pearse Stadium from the roof of a friend's house while sipping on Buckfast on the sunniest day I ever experienced in Galway before tipping into Roisin Dubh to see Republic of Loose.

There's plenty more memories I could recall but I'd be here all day and some of my antics may offend the sensibilities of the thin skinned.

Great place though. Hopefully Vancouver is its Canadian equivalent.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

A bit of elephantine nostalgia

With my departure only a week away now, I'm starting to grow a little nostalgic about my time with the Leader.

I've been spending more and more time casting my mind back two years ago to the day I came in here as a naive, wide-eyed college graduate, eager as a beaver on speed, and a sponge for knowledge.

And then think about myself today, a naive wide-eyed worker, lackadaisical as a tranquilized hippo and an utter repellant for new information seen as the knowledge tank filled up within a week of my arrival in 2007.

It was during one such nostalgia dawdle that I came across these pictures which were taken on the day that I achieved my very first front page story.

The gist of it was that this circus out in Castletroy was keeping two elephants in a field in the middle of a housing estate. I had suggested it as a potential story, more for the fact that an elephant next to a house in Limerick would make for a great photo than it would a Pullitzer-winning article.

After arriving out there though, it did become a story as the elephants escaped from the field within minutes of our getting there.

Now I know what you're thinking and the answer is a resounding no. No. No. No. A thousand times no. I did not release the elephants on to the road for the sake of my first front page. We were just lucky enough to be there to get the pictures when they did make their break.

And just to prove that I didn't risk the lives of Castletroy's children in the name of a good scoop, I've included a pic of one of them actually stepping out over the fence while the wide-eyed naive reporter stands gawping!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Shame on us

Jody has a bit of a rant today about 'plastic fans' which I don't agree with 100% but is still worth a look.

Much worse than the plastic fans that Jody is bemoaning however are these buffoons who have decided they are going to do all they can to spite Leinster by selling their match tickets and accommodation bookings to Leicester fans for the Heineken Cup final. Seriously, grow up.

This story appeared in the Leader today as well as a few others and it really gets on my tits to see this (hopefully) minority of Munster fans giving the rest of us a bad name.

Surely, Munster supporters can appreciate better than anyone else how much winning on Saturday must have meant to Leinster. Having said that, even those of us who empathise most with our Blue-blooded Eastern cousins' joy on Saturday probably still can't really imagine how good it must have felt.

Because, you see, even during our darkest days on the roller coaster ride that has been following Munster, we could almost always console ourselves with the fact that what we had achieved, Leinster could only dream of.

And it was as comforting as a hug from your mammy to know that even though we may have crashed out of the H-Cup in heartbreaking fashion, Leinster's exit always seemed that bit more shameful.

Munster lose the final? Don't worry Leinster didn't get out of their group.

Munster lost the semi final? Sure at least we're not Leinster getting hammered in the quarters.

Remember when we lost to Toulouse in a tightly fought semi-final in France in 2003? Well I can still recall the soothing feeling I got the next day when Leinster completely and utterly flopped against an unfancied Perpignan side that had brought a mini bus-load of supporters to Lansdowne Road. It just didn't seem so bad when we were knocked out in a gallant fashion at least.

Well, just as I drew consolation from Leinster collapsing in such spectacular annual fashion, for my Leinster counterparts, it must have been a regular source of temple-busting fury.

Which must have made the weekend all the more satisfying for them. Yes because it was us they were finally getting a Heineken Cup victory over after so many years of bridesmaiding but also because, they're much maligned but undoubtedly talented team finally delivered when every variable, pundit and odd seemed so stacked against them.

Leinster have suffered enough for the love of Buddha and besides, the Heineken Cup needs a variety of winners to stay attractive. If anything they've done us a favour because if I know Munster there should be a mother-in-law of a backlash come the start of next season.

The boys in blue deserve their European final and I bloody hope they win it because players as good as Brian O'Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald and Gordon Darcy deserve to have Heineken Cup medals to their name when their career ends.

Most of all, they deserve our support because we, more than anyone else, should know how they will feel if they do emerge victorious in the final. Shame on us if we can't grant them that much.