Don't stop till you get enough

For 357 days of the year I watch what I eat with great care.

 

Some might even say I'm obsessed.

 

No food item makes it into my shopping trolley until it's been scrutinised for carb and fat content and I cart so much fruit around in my handbag I could open my own stall on Henry Street.

 

But come Christmas - all bets are off.

 

It's impossible to resist a house where cupboards are bulging with brightly wrapped chocolate sweets and has sideboards laden down with brandy laced Christmas cake and mince pies.

 

And that's all before you even make it to the big dinner on the 25th.

 

The only clothes that make it out of my wardrobe during this time come fitted with stretchy elastic, and I move around the house with my arms wrapped around a tin of roses like an over protective mother.

 

I have until the 1st of January ( or possibly the 2nd!) to indulge - after that it'll be back to the serious business of monitoring the protein to carbohydrate ratio on my dinner plate and getting the all essential five a day.

 

I know if I cared to exercise any care and resisted eating two months worth of food in a seven day period I could relax this regime a little for the rest of the year but who am I to destroy such a long standing, and wonderful, Christmas tradition?

 

Now I must take my roses and retire to the living room.I don't like to leave my comfort zone for too long. Otherwise there's a danger the cushions will be plumped and my body shape lost from the coach.

Reclaiming Christmas

My Christmas spirit has been a bit low this year.

It's been hard to be celebratory when parties are being cancelled and the only Christmas bonus staff are getting is a job to return to in the new year.

I got a bit of a shock during the week when I realised I was relieved to see murder stories on the news - simply because they some of the focus off the never ending, increasingly depressing recession stories.

So this weekend I reclaimed Christmas. I bought a tin of roses, broke open the buck's fizz, got out my Santa hat and went clubbing with reindeer antlers.

It's not like the news is going to get better any time soon so I think we owe it to ourselves to get out there and enjoy ourselves.

What's the alternative - to sit home and watch stock markets tumble? That's just depressing and let's face it, none of us have the cash to spare for anti depressants.







Textual frustration.

I've made a new friend. They love me. They've told me so three times in the past ten days.

I can tell you now that they like breakfast rolls,fruit pastilles , massage oil and that their name begins with a J.

However if I walked straight into them on the street I wouldn't have a clue who they were.

You see someone out there is sending me texts meant for another. As they're generally sent late at night or early in the morning I'm assuming the sender either isn't paying attention  - or is steaming drunk.

The problem is I didn't bother to correct them after the first text. And now I've gotten to know some fairly intimate stuff about them - the things they want to do with massage oil are seriously kinky - I'm too embarrassed to right the wrong.

On the other hand I'm worried that if I don't speak up I could ruin a beautiful relationship with my silence. I know for a fact that on the 11th of December lemsip was not delivered - as requested - to my sick friend's bedside. That's a sackable girlfriend (or boyfriend) offence.

For all I know some lovely couple out there could be having huge rows ( roughly every third day or so ) due to mis-communication over texts I'm receiving.

There is another pressing concern as well.

My mystery pal has promised to send me some sexy photos and I really don't know if I'm ready for that level of openness.

I mean it's only been a few weeks.










Oh Christmas tree,Oh Christmas tree


Two things that don't work well in a fake form - boobs and Christmas trees.

Two things my boyfriend is fond of - fake boobs and fake Christmas trees.

It's been a weekend of revelations for me.

It began on Friday with an innocent discussion about our Christmas tree. Since then our apartment has turned into a battle ground with all lines drawn around the still empty space for our much debated tree.

I had assumed that on Saturday morning John and I would wrap up well, totter off to buy a fresh tree and thereafter spend the day trimming it while drinking mulled wine and listening to Christmas carols. Bear with me, I have very old fashioned ideas about Christmas.

However my normally amicable boyfriend had very different ideas which involved going to Penney's, getting a pre decorated tree in a box, taking it home, sticking it up and hitting the pub.

As you can imagine it lead to some heated debate, some temper tantrums and the sorry end of one angel who'll never make it to the top of the tree.

For me Christmas is all about the tree.And it has to be the real, fresh out of the ground, deal.

John disagrees - he says picking up pine needles, having your hands glued by resin, wrestling the tree into the house and onto the stand and repeating the process in reverse order after Christmas is nothing but hassle.

Bah humbug. It's the best bit! I will admit that fake trees are a lot better now than when I growing up. The image of my aunt's silver tinsel atrocity haunts me still. But they still don't compare to a fresh one, filling your house with the scent of pine.

Naturally, as is the way with arguments, the Christmas tree controversy spilled over into other conversations and I discovered there was a lot about John I had yet to learnt.

For starters he's a fan of busty babes which caused me to shed many a tear when I realised my A cup size must be a constant source of disappointment to him.

Instead of the reassuring platitudes I expected when I voiced this concern, he offered to get me a boob job, which naturally enough lead to further hysterics.

Personally I like imitation designer bags and potato - smash is a godsend, particularly now that John isn't cooking for me. In retrospect it may not have been a good idea to shout "I know you like fakes, I fake it with you all the time."

Unsurprisingly we're still tree-less although I am hopeful negotiations can begin again this evening. I've spent an awful lot of money on a luxury Marks and Spencer's dinner.

I figure my cooking is not the best way to say sorry - in case you're wondering why, let me refer you back to my passion for smash ......








Duvet Days

I've had the last few days off work.

I'll be honest. There was nothing really wrong with me aside from a cold but I needed a couple of days to myself.

Taking sickies isn't something I normally do but I was feeling generally blue and annoyed with the world. I knew if I went into work I'd be cranky and pissy with people and to be honest it was better I stayed home for a while with my own company.

When I returned today I was back to my normal self, able to do the work properly and generally more pleasant to be around. I was also up to date on I'm a celebrity gossip - thank you This Morning - how to improve my mental health - thank you Dr Phil - and vampire habits - thank you Buffy.

As a result of my improved well being I've decide two mental health days should be given to every employee a year to be taken at their own discretion. Sometimes you just need a break from the old routine to lift your spirits and put you back on track.

Even the knowledge that there's the option of taking the days would be enough to keep most of us happy and it'd be great not to feel guilty when you pick up the phone to call in sick.

It'd be a very simple way to keep workers happy and morale high. Also a little time away from work is a great motivator and your output really does improve when you return - obviously .... I mean how else would I have the time to write this.......




Christmas on a shoestring.

John and I have put a budget on our Christmas presents. We're not to spend more than a hundred euro on each other AND we have to get a few presents, not just one big one.

In my naivety I thought that it'd be a doddle to pick up a load of stocking fillers.

But as it turns out its harder to buy something thoughtful that's cheap instead of splashing out.

I traipsed up and down Grafton St on Saturday and Henry St on Sunday.

So far I've bought him a chocolate Santa.

Girls are easy to buy for - it doesn't matter how many lip glosses I have, I'm always excited to get another one. Throw in some nail varnish and I'm happy a very happy camper.

Cheap and cheerful stuff for boys tends to be tat.

It's all remote control cars and gadgets like camera's you can fit on your keyring. I know he wouldn't like it because it's pointless. John has a camera that fits in his pocket and another good one on his phone. It wouldn't even occur to him to use an inferior one that's dangling from his key ring.

It's the same with the D.I.Y kits. Why would he want miniature screwdrivers? He'll be getting them in the crackers on Christmas day anyway.

I had hoped to buy myself underwear and pass it off as a gift for him but I've been banned from doing that.

Although, to be fair, he didn't say anything about handcuffs ................

Crushing on Cole

I'm in the middle of my first ever girl crush.

I don't know how it happened but I have no control over it.

It's Cheryl Cole. Ever since she came onto X Factor I've been hooked. I'm still watching it even though the freaks and geeks part of it, which is really the only part I like, is long past.

I pick up magazines with her on the front - just to see what she's up to.

I'm fascinated by her. She's gorgeous and she seems really cool. I'd really really like to be her friend - that's all. I think I want to be her rather than want to sleep with her.

But I strongly suspect if I met her I'd be too shy to make a good impression. You know the way it is. The more you like someone, the bigger the eejit you make of yourself in front of them.

The last time I experienced anything like this I thought I was going to marry Mark Owen from Take That.

Its very disconcerting - I'm old, I'm twenty eight. I don't understand how it happened. I thought these things passed along with the teenage years.

Of course it doesn't help that John is fuelling my crush. He can now legitimately buy all the magazines with Cheryl in them and pretend it's a gift for me and not for him.

He also thinks she'd be a wonderful friend.

Then again I know he's just thinking - threesome.


Loud and proud

There's a time to be polite and a time to be politely forthright.

I am good at the former and very very bad at the latter unless I've been filled up with booze.

Case in point - my hair. I spent a lot of money at a very swish salon last Saturday. However I look like I attacked my locks with a knife and fork.

Its a big bushy, and far shorter than requested, mess.

But what did I do? I thanked and tipped the women who styled me on Shaggy from Scooby Do.

I blame my mother. She insists that if you have nothing nice to say you shouldn't say anything at all. She's wrong. There's no shame in jumping in and shouting - stop that's rotten  -when someone appears hellbent on giving you a Britney buzz.

And believe me I would have a lot more self respect now if I hadn't grinned gormlessly and said thanks as the hairdresser held a mirror behind my head and revealed the full extent of the horror when the cutting frenzy was finished.

I've relived the day over and over and I could have stepped in on three separate occasions and said something to save myself.

Clearly it would have been for the best if I'd said something as soon as I watched a good three inches more than the agreed length of hair being lopped off but but I was too scared of offending the hairdresser to do it. She was also holding some serious looking scissors and you don't want to upset anyone with a potential weapon.

I had a second chance to speak up when she started layering my hair even though I'd clearly asked for a shoulder length sleek bob.

By the time she started on the fringe I foolishly thought it couldn't get any worse.

After spending a lot time pulling my hair and a lot of money on hats that don't suit me I've realised the only way to deal with it is to be grown up and look on the experience as a valuable lesson.

I will learn to speak up. If my dinner is not nice I will tell the waiter (or waitress) that I didn't like it instead of saying I was full, or there was just too much to eat it all.

If a taxi driver takes me the long way round I will pull them up on it and wait for every cent of my change instead of rounding off the overly expensive fare when I get to my destination and adding to their money making scheme.

And if someone bumps into me I will accept their apology instead of insisting it was all my fault.

I can do it. I know I can.

And to make sure I do, I've taken several pictures of my shorn head, to remind me of what can happen if I don't.




Playing house

John has a three year old nephew who we both like to spoil.

We tend to try out all the gifts before giving them to him - purely for safety reasons you understand.

The little one is coming up to visit us next weekend so naturally we ended up in a toy store yesterday, just to make sure we hadn't missed anything new that may hit the toy market in the last few weeks.

While we were there I took the chance to check out my old favourite - Barbie - and discovered she's chosen to go under the knife instead of remaining a timeless beauty.

Her face is totally different these days. In fact it's quite similar to Sindy now - remember her, Barbie's less glamourous rival?

On the upside Sylvanian Families are just the same. Cheery little forest friends dressed in dungarees and shirts. I just love them. So much so that I had to take the beaver family home.

However the thing that struck me the most during my several hours of toy examination was the amount of miniature household products.

I saw hoovers, brushes and pans, washing machines and ironing boards- all of them apparently geared toward the girl market decorated as they were in lovely shades of pink and yellow.

During the ten minutes we queued for the till I saw two men who, in separate purchases, bought an ironing board and a hoover.

I'll be honest. If someone had given me a toy ironing board when I was small I would have been very very disappointed. If John tried to give it to me now... well it'd be the last gift he'd give me.

I don't understand it. Where's the fun in pushing a fake hoover around the place and why would you want to start your child on what will be a long life of housework earlier than they have to?
 
Of course if they're that keen to clean surely giving them some dusters and actually setting them to work around the house would be a better idea?

Obviously there's a market for the toys or else I stumbled across the two fathers in Dublin who were preparing their daughters for a lifetime of thoughtless presents.

I did try to find a blue or camouflage hoover that might appeal to my adopted nephew but funnily enough there was none to be found ....

Domestic bliss.

I was listening to Ray's show last week and heard there were a few complaints that I've stopped talking about John.

I didn't think anyone would be interested but as at least two people seem to be I thought I'd give an update.

Its been two months now and so far the living arrangements are going swimmingly.

If I'm being honest, its taken a bit more adjustment than I thought it would. It's not the living together that's the problem but the fact I moved into his place.

I think if we'd gone out and chosen an apartment together it would have been different.

It's not John's fault by the way, he says to make the place my own,but our ideas on interior design differ and it makes it hard to put my mark on the place.

I'm in love with the stuff from Avoca - such as fairy lights and useless things like floral tiered cake stands - which don't really fit into his macho, clean lines and plain white home. As you can imagine merging the two has been a bit of a challenge.

So far I've to concentrated on the bathroom. Its by far the easiest room to sort out, a few nightlights and some smelly soap go a long way! When the time comes for a Christmas tree I'll really make my move.I am a Christmas fiend. We're talking Santa's in the hallway and a real tree in the living room. I'm not sure how we'll get it into the apartment but where there's a will there's a way!

We have settled into domesticity very very quickly as well which I don't mind but didn't expect to happen quite so rapidly. I suppose it's bound to happen when you see each other every day. There is no mystery at all left! And I'm guessing that seeing my knickers dry on the radiator probably isn't the best aphrodisiac in the world. I know I'm not turned on when I'm loading his dirty socks into the washing machine.

Speaking of which - which is worse, drying clothes on the radiator or in the tumble dryer. I say the latter but John reckons using radiators makes the place look cluttered and it drives him crazy when I drape the washing on them.

One major thing we differ over is the shopping. When I say - buy the basics- I mean butter, bread and milk. When John says buy the basics, he means wine, pringles and occasionally beer. He also believes anything other than full fat food - ie milk or butter - is the devil's work and has no place in his fridge whereas I like the healthier options so we have to double up on a lot of the same food stuffs.

All in all life is pretty good. Although I am curious to know what the first few months are like for other couples who move in. Should we be in the passion stage or how does it work? I'm not complaining. I'm just curious.




If I were a boy

That Beyonce song - If I were a boy - has gotten me thinking.

Now she wants to be a boy so she can roll out of bed, wear what she wants and make time to listen to girls.

Personally I've a few other things I'd like to put to the test.

First up. If I were a boy could I cross my legs? Over the years a lot of men I've known have insisted they have to sit with their legs spread, they say its not physically comfortable otherwise. I'm not convinced.

Secondly - food. It seems to me that guys don't hold back when it comes to their food which is something I'd love.If we're out and my boyfriend wants desert he just orders it. If he wants a big roll for his lunch he eats it. Whereas I am unable to do it unless I've totted up the calories and worked out if I can afford the treat or the carbs that day. I know it drives John crazy because I'll always have a spoon of his dessert or some of his chipper chips instead of my own. He insists I can just buy my own and simply eat half but that brings its own set of complications. I was brought up to believe throwing out food was evil. Every time I do it I hear my mother's voice in my head urging me to think of all the starving children in Africa.

And thirdly - could I become a Guinness drinker if I were a boy.Its a drink I love the look of and although I've tried it loads of times and even mixed it with blackberry, I don't enjoy it.I know lots of girls do but I'm afraid I don't know any of them so I always think of it as a man's drink.

So if you should ever happen to come across a guy sitting at a bar with a forkful of death by chocolate in one hand, a Guinness pint in the other and his legs neatly crossed at the knee come and say hi. I'll let you know how it's working out. I'll even give you a forkful of cake .... just the one mind.



Incidentally I asked John what he'd like to try if he were a girl for a day ......... he didn't hesitate in his answer - big boobs.




Don't mention the R word.

So here's the thing.

Times are tough and everyone is tightening their belt.

I'm not unsympathetic.I know I'm one of the lucky ones. If I - touch wood - should lose my job I don't have to think about putting food on the table for a family or paying for school fees.

If the worst came to the worst for me I'd have to go home and live with my parents. Not a successful project in the past but one I'm sure we could struggle through again with the benefit of hindsight. After eighteen years of frayed tempers they figured out not to talk to me in the morning and I learnt how to telephone and let them know if I'm staying out instead of arriving home twelve hours later than agreed.

Now before I continue can I just stress this is not a tirade on the elderly and their medical cards or people on welfare or the recently unemployed.

I'm basing these observations solely on my own middle class group of friends, family and colleagues who appear to have become obsessed with the cost of everything since the budget, with its levies and cuts, was announced.

This time last year the only conversation about cost was how cheap a flight to New York was on Aer Lingus.

But since the word recession reappeared in our everyday vocabulary it seems everyone is suddenly shocked by the high price of living in Ireland.

The most annoying conversation is the groceries one. For the last two years - at least- consumer groups have been calling on us all to demand cheaper prices in supermarkets. We've all been asked to take part in anti shopping days. And we've all agreed its outrageous that groceries in the North cost less than they do in the Republic.

But we've done nothing about it. We've read the articles and been momentarily outraged. Until now. Now we're constantly outraged.

I'm not saying its right and believe me I don't like spending a huge chunk of my wages on food and cleaning products but we had our chance to act and we didn't. There's very little point - or justification - in getting antsy about it now

We were the people buying the houses we knew weren't really worth the asking price we paid for them, we were buying the fancy cars because the banks kept giving us money and paying for overpriced clothes and groceries because our credit card limits kept extending.

I'm not saying anyone deserves to be broke nor do I want to see someone lose their home or livelihood but we all knew the Celtic Tiger couldn't last forever. Admittedly no one expected it to curl up and die as rapidly as it did, but the signs have been there and we all chose to ignore them.

The problem most of us got used to a lifestyle that wasn't real. For the majority of people I know, myself included, the high living was highly dependent on loans and credit. And we've come to see luxuries such as holidays and gym membership as the norm. Really they're not. So if we have to do without them for a while it won't kill us. Its just not pleasant.

I'm not saying I haven't moaned about the price of things myself but I think its time we accepted the situation and moved on.

Hopefully the recession will pass sooner rather than later and we can all go back to enjoying our low fat soy milk mocha lattes and buying named brand groceries without feeling guilty.

In the meantime suddenly the bad weather doesn't seem such a depressing conversation starter after all.


Bank holiday bliss

Normally by half five on a Sunday night I'm looking for work clothes, ironing shirts and sinking deep into a feeling of back to school depression.

Which is why bank holidays are just so brilliant. Not only do we get to lounge around and know we can stay up late because there's no work in the morning but there's the added massive bonus of being paid to have the next day off.

Sometimes it really is the little things that make the world wonderful.


I don't like driving in my car

When did drivers get to be so mean?

I don't tend to drive a lot because I leave in Dublin city centre but on the occasional weekends I'm home my parents normally get sick of my presence fairly quickly ( for some reason I regress back to the age of 18 as soon as I pass through the front door) and lend me their car so I can get out from under their feet and stop complaining there's no food in the house.

I got my licence when I was eighteen but my sister, who still lives at home, is learning to drive. As a result the car is covered in L plates which I used to think was comforting because when I first hit the roads - many many years ago -  it was a given that other drivers on the road would be considerate to the fact that you were a learner and even though you were stalling, cutting out and causing tailbacks by driving too slowly they would restrain from beeping at you or overtaking.

However those days are long past. The new sport is to try and intimidate the learner driver in their mammy's car by driving right up on top of them and cutting out in front of them, even if the right of way belongs to the newbie on the road.

After a few such incidents on Saturday afternoon I decided to take a stand and attempted to hold onto my right of way. Not that it deterred the guy who was barging in front of me from my left who responded by giving me the fingers and continuing to drive forward. My choices were to lose the side of my mam's car or back off. I backed off ( my mam is cool but wouldn't be too understanding if I can home with half a car because I was playing a game of chicken.) Yer man reves in and drives off cursing me as he goes. I don't want to repeat the words but lets just say they began with c and f respectively.

When did this happen? Road rage seems to have spread more rapidly than the winter vomiting bug. Even my 21 year old sister, who's only learning drive a wet week, was playing her horn like a symphony whenever she got behind the wheel.

I don't know what the reason behind it is but it's made me determined to stay living near a bus route or a train line. I don't think I have the killer instinct you need to survive on Irish roads.

Obama-rama

I'm going to go against the grain here and risk the ire of the one person who reads this blog - hi John - but I don't entirely buy into the Barack Obama buzz.

Now I'm not claiming to know anything about American politics and can I just say I'm not a fan of John McCain either. Frankly he constantly looks amazed, and grateful, to find he's still standing at the end of a speech. If he were my granddad I'd insist on more bed rest and less badgering.

Its not that I dislike Barack Obama as a person, if I had a vote I'd give it to him, but this whole media perception where he's portrayed as the saviour just bugs me.

The thing about Obama is he's a brilliant speaker and extremely skilled at getting a crowd to listen and support him but he's not saying anything new. The last time I saw him in action he was telling a rally, who were eating out of the palm of his hand, that he doesn't want to see a recession and he doesn't want people to lose their jobs. Who does?

The difference between Obama and McCain is that Obama is brilliant at delivering his beliefs. And it seems - to me anyway - that because he's been around the American political scene for a relatively short period of time that everyone buys into the fact that he CAN deliver them.

And maybe he can, I hope he can, but the cynical part of me thinks its a little unrealistic given that every country in the world is struggling to survive an economic nightmare right now.


Facebook is not my friend.

I'm getting old. Maturing if you will. In my mind I'm still eighteen but somehow, without realising it, I grew up.

It's very distressing. I had thought myself above the ageing process, for one thing I still drink mid week. Come to think of it though, that has changed from making the most of student drink promotions on a Thursday night to a picking up a nice bottle of red to go with my dinner. Are clubs even allowed hold drink promotions anymore? You see what I mean. I officially belong to the older generation. I'm out of touch with club life. The red bull and vodka offers no longer appeal. In fact I can't even drink red bull at all anymore. It keeps me up all night.

The realisation of this process began with facebook some months ago. One friend invited me to join, another added me as a friend and so it snowballed until I'd racked up a fairly decent number of friends and had even gone so far as to upload a profile picture.

But, honestly, I don't get it. The only time I look at it is after I get an email notification that someone has posted on my profile. I know I should embrace it (email is so 1990s) but I simply cannot see the point in communicating through a social network site. I'd rather just socialise.

I can see why some people enjoy looking up old friends but, you know what, sometimes you lose touch for a reason.You were never really mates to begin with, that part of your life is simply past or they turned out to be mean penny pinching boyfriends passing themselves off as angst ridden songwriters.

As it turns out I seem to have a lot (well three) of these 'friends' who've captured me in a cyber hunt and think it'd be great craic to meet. I'm still trying to work out the nicest way to say no, which means I'm avoiding the messages and praying I don't run into them on the street.

But the day I knew I'd finally done what I swore I'd never do and had become my mother came upon me unexpectedly on a Saturday in early August.

My boyfriend John and I were sitting in a cafe in Dublin's city centre watching the brave few outside beat their way through the rain when a young girl, I'd say sixteen or so, came around the corner.

In a crowd of runner wearing, umbrella carrying pedestrians she stood out a mile in her short Summer's dress and high heels.

While John stayed silent in appreciation of her fashion taste and long blonde hair, from somewhere deep inside me,my mum's voice emerged. I wasn't even aware my mouth was open, when I heard the words echoing loudly around the room , "What in the name of God is that girl thinking, she'll catch her death of cold dressed like that in this weather."

I was mortified. John just looked sad.

Later that day I attempted to recapture my old self by stopping off in a shop for teenage girls and buying an overpriced mini skirt.

It looks very good .... in my wardrobe.

Recession Session

Finally a silver lining to the global credit crisis.

I spent my Saturday night at a recession party. Brilliant! It was the first time in months that the word recession hasn't been followed by long doom and gloom conversation.

Basically its a house party with an eighties theme.We're talking bon jovi, Wham, Human League and Madonna True Blue on the stereo system and lots of neon leggings and big hair filling up the room.

We were all meant to bring some kind of retro food. I wanted to bring steak and kidney pie in a tin ( we used to eat that on our Summer holidays as a big treat and I loved it!) but I was told to bring some more along the lines of hula hoops or Cheddar cubes on sticks. Simple fun stuff. Cocktail sausages and those mini sausage rolls were also big hits.

Thankfully my friends didn't go down the route of brewing their own wine, which was my parents top saving tip during their tighter years, but the weekend's wine was found in boxes and anyone fancy enough to drink vodka or gin was given a capri sun as a mixer.

I know the global economy is in a mess but if we're all going down we may as well have a (cheap) laugh on the way.

In the dark

Can anyone tell me what kind of singer Andrea Bocelli is other than blind?

Have you ever noticed that journalists never tell you whether he's a tenor or an alto but instead let you know he doesn't have the sense of sight.

Sentences about Pavarotti never start off by calling him the morbidly obese Italian singer, or should I say the dead morbidly obese singer.

Luciano was always one of the three tenors, and more recently the late Maestro of Modena.

But any reference to poor old Bocelli starts off -the blind Italian singer - just so you don't forget he can't actually see but, you know what, that's grand he can sing and he's from Italy.

I'm sure it'd make Andrea mad - if only he could see the articles - he's blind you know.

Boys Literature

So I'm having a 'debate' with my boyfriend John at the moment. He says men buying FHM magazine is the same as women buying Marie Claire magazine.

Now Marie Claire is has the odd sex tip and plenty of clothes to drool over but its also full of really informed and interesting articles whereas, I feel, FHM is just a chance for men to perve over hot girls. Its main features are along the lines of high street hotties and sexy sultries. Oh and it has the odd footy article as well.

I don't object to it being in the house or anything but I don't think any guy can say, hand on heart, they buy its reading material. Thoughts?

Niamh

Christmas

I love Christmas. But do we have to start the preparations in September? Every time I step inside Penneys- and that's a fairly regular event - I get annoyed by the sight of the santas being sold.

Now its not like there's a huge display but there shouldn't be any - not even a sale of last year's tainted goods.

How are we meant to experience any magic in December if we're being subjected to the sight of Santa so early? We'll be shopped out and jaded of the whole event by November.

There used to be an unwritten law - or at least it seemed that way -that no Christmas stuff would go up until after Halloween. Where and why did that go? I say bring it back- now!

Niamh

I Don't Like Tuesdays

I think I would work Sundays if I could have Tuesday off.

In case you haven't already guessed- I'm not a Tuesday lover. Occasionally you'll get Mondays that aren't that bad or even Fridays that are shite. But Tuesday is unfailingly depressing. Its Monday part two- and as is the case with all sequels its worse than the first time round.The only time its a happy Tuesday is when I'm on holidays.

Realistically you'd probably get more work done in three hours on a Sunday because the office would be quiet and there's no one else working you can email or call. Also the coffee shops are closed so there's no chance of skipping out for a sneaky cappuccino.

Then on a Tuesday you can beat the blues by snuggling up in bed while the rest of the world fights for a place on the bus, get up in time for Phil and Fern and go dress shopping without having to fight through the crowds and queue forever for a changing room.

It'd give you a buzz for Wednesday too, thus increasing work output ... well in theory.

I reckon employers should give us the option anyway - so long as the work is done who cares when it gets done?

Niamh

Your Digger

Hey Ray and gang.

I hear you have a digger sitting idly in your office.

Any chance you could send it my way? You won't need an address, just follow the smell of crap in Dublin and it'll bring you to my pit - I'm in deep shit and could do with a hand to get out.

So you know the way it goes. Five o clock rolls round on a Friday and the office stampedes towards the door for a pint to start the weekend off.

Some, with sense, will go home after three drinks, pleasantly tipsy. Some, with no sense who are trying to avoid packing up their apartment, will stay out drinking until they start swaying while sitting and tell their boss that they can be a right bitch at times.

Thats right. In a moment of candour and extreme stupidity I told my boss- who you'll understand dictates my every move every day - that if she'd just lighten up once in a little while people might like her. That I personally didn't think she was a complete cow, but I could see why some people would think that. And - the cherry on the cake - that making the effort with your appearance and putting on the odd bit of lippie can really lift your spirits and no one would think her less managerial if she did.

So please. If you could. Send your digger round to me and pull me out of the black hole I find myself in.

Many thanks.

A desperate Niamh.

Moving

Am I the only person in the world who hates packing?

I hate it. Not a strong dislike. Not an aversion to it. I absolutely fucking hate it.

Its just so much hassle. You have to get all things out of the places you've managed to wedge them into. You have to decide what you're keeping. Make a pile for the things going with you and another for the charity shop. You have to pack it all up. Then you've got to get the stuff from your old place to your new place where you unpack it all over again and wedge into new spaces, you have a fit because you think you've given all your good stuff to the local oxfam, then have another fit when you realise the tat you've unpacked is the good stuff and its all you have to show for 28 years on this earth. I'm exhausted - and angry - just thinking about it.

Last night I went to sleep on a bed that was piled high with clothes I'd managed to get out of my wardrobe but not into the suitcases and cardboard boxes I had ready for them. It was just too much like hard work. As it turned out they made the bed fairly comfy - apart from the jeans that ended up on my pillow and left a button mark on my face. Its gone down a bit now but until around nine this morning I had a diesel indentation on my right cheek.

So the big move has begun. Noelle and I have to be out of our apartment by the end of the month - which is Sunday - and I really don't know how such a small place can contain so much crap. Its not even like we've a huge amount of storage space. Apart from some wardrobes in our bedrooms, a few shelves and some kitchen presses, there doesn't seem to be anywhere else to put things. But there must be. Because every time I open the front door more rubbish has appeared in our living room and the presses still aren't empty. I'm thinking of leaving it all behind to let the landlord deal with. I swear I've never seen half the stuff before. Anyone in the market for an M people cd, a pair of roller blades or a pair of sparkley trousers popular circa 2001?

And here's the other thing. Why do landlords get so fecking shitty about their precious apartments when you're leaving. When you're living in them they couldn't care less if the shower isn't working, the toilet is blocked or the washing machine has flooded. They'll take their sweet time about sending out someone to sort it - normally after you've made ten nice calls before threatening to stop the direct debit for the rent. (I may be generalising a tad here - I've only rented the one place and lived at home - my mum's a right bitch.) But you know what I mean.

All of a sudden because the place is being vacated the landlord suddenly starts issueing a load of essential jobs that have to be carried out if you want your deposit back. Its imperative the presses are cleaned inside and out, not to mention getting the stain out of the carpet - that was there when you moved in! Yeah. I should have taken a picture of the stain three years ago because it looks like its going to cost us a hundred euro or so. It seems to me he just doesn't want to pay for cleaners to do the place up for the next tenants he'll be overcharging.

Anyway I'm just venting because I drank a bottle of wine as a distraction method before falling asleep on the clothes which I still have to pack- not to mention the fact I lost the toss and have to clean the oven. First time for everything!

I'm really getting to enjoy our Friday sessions lads - and Adelle - I feel like we're bonding. It also gets me through the slump between coffee break and lunch.

Niamh

My Decision

Well its funny you should ask but I have made a decision.

Three things happened to me since Friday that forced my hand.

One. I went and saw five outrageously priced shoeboxes which- despite my strong belief otherwise- were within the requirements of advertising standards and could be described as studio apartments. Shoebox number five had an ironing board that was cleverly mounted in the wall. The landlord was especially proud of this feature and demonstrated its convienance - and easy use - by pulling it down three times. Despite its fabulous selling point I had to say I'd hang onto my 850 euro a month and look elsewhere for somewhere to live.

Two. I saw my fifty year old single aunt impersonate Tina Turner - alacpehello style - after ten too many vodkas at a family 21st. She later cornered me to re tell how she'd lived a life of regret since turning down an engagement at the age of 25. Mind you she also asked me to go on tour with her and then got sick.

And three. John promised me he would clean the bathroom without being asked and make me pancakes once a month if I moved in.

So I said yes. And if I'm a bad person for wanting to spend less money on staying in a spacious - clean - two bed apartment, even if I'm not too sure of the relationship's future, then fine. I think I'd go do lally in a studio by myself. And I like pancakes - a lot.

Auntie Tina didn't upset me with her mills and boon saga - to be honest the ages and the man and the engagement ring tend to change dependent on the quantity of alcohol taken- but watching her I thought it might be good to at least give John a chance.

Anyway as loads of people said on Friday who knows? I may as well give it a shot, it could be fun. I really do like John so maybe its inevitable and we're just speeding it along a little.

So there you have it. I'm going to be moving in. I'm going to be co habiting with my partner.Growing up. Its deeply disturbing but now the decision is made I'm getting kind of excited. I even loitered around Dunnes homeware on Sunday. It'll be like a social experiment.

Niamh

Hi Guys

Hi guys,

How are things?

I'm a bit embarrassed to be writing this email - I've never even texted in for a competition - but I really need to get some decent unbiased opinions.

My name is Niamh. I'm 28 and I've got a bit of a problem.

Basically it boils down to this. I lived at home until a few years ago - I'm from Limerick - I went to college locally and never did any Summers away and although my life wasn't boring, it certainly wasn't varied.

When I hit 25 my best friend was moving up to Dublin so I decided to make a break and move as well. And its been great. In a way its like been back in college except I don't have my mum checking my timetable and waiting up to make sure I get in safely at night.

The thing is, the closer I get to 30, the more my friends are settling down. Engagement rings are flashing, some wedding invites have been sent and Noelle - the girl I've been sharing a flat with for the last three years - is moving in with her boyfriend. They've been together two years and I'm delighted for them- honestly - before you start to think it, let me tell you this isn't a letter from a desperate single. I too have a boyfriend.

Its the boyfriend thats the problem. I've been seeing John about eight months now and I really like him. I do. He's funny, he's got a good job, he's got his own place, he ticks all the right boxes on the boyfriend checklist. I don't even have to look for commitment from him. He's offering it up on a plate!

John thinks I should move in with him instead of looking for a new place by myself when our lease is up next month.My friends think its a great idea - they love him!-, the single girls in my office say I should snap him up and there aren't that many men for the taking, let alone good looking ones that you actually like. My mother is even happy to bypass the living in sin dilemma to see her daughter settling down at last.

I'm not so sure. Its not that I don't like him, because I do. But I don't know if its forever. How can anyone know that after eight months? As well as that I like my life. I like being free to go off drinking after work and not worry about someone waiting at home. John and I have a really good time together too but how long will that last. No matter how good the sex, eventually we're going to start fighting over stuff like who didn't replace the toilet roll. Where's the romance in that?

The other thing is - if I do move in- how do I know it won't be a waste of time. If I'm living with him we could just get in a rut and accept it because thats what psuedo married and married couples seem to do?

Am I crazy to even consider his proposal or crazy not to?

I don't know if I'm just in a state of arrested development, stuck in my early twenties, or if I'm thinking like a logical 28 year old. The consesus among my friends seems to be the former.

Would you read this out and see if anyone else out there is in - or has been in - the same position. I'd love to know what they did, or even what they think.

Thanks,

Niamh

*** I have changed the text in bold to protect "Niamh's" identity - Ray ***

Introduction

I'm setting up this blog for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, I don't want to have to explain who Niamh is all the time. Every time we read a new email from her, we need to give you the back story on who she is. In future, you can just read it here.

Second, I want to get her to start a blog. I'll give her a username and password for this one, and hopefully she'll update it as she wants, and we'll read the stuff we like on the radio.

So, who is she?

It all started with an email from this girl, asking for advice about her relationship. Should she move in with him, even though they were only going out a very short time? The listeners said she should go for it. She took that advice and is living with him now.

We changed her name and her boyfriend's, along with other information that might give away her identity. So, she became "Niamh" and her boyfriend is "John". So you know, if you see anything written in bold print, it means I've edited it to protect her identity.

What struck me about her emails was her turn of phrase and sense of humour, and didn't want to say goodbye to our Niamh too soon, so I asked her on the air to keep in touch with us. She's been doing that, and her emails to date are collected on this website - I'll be cutting and pasting the old ones now, and hopefully she can start writing direct to here in future.

Provided she keeps writing, we'll keep reading, and we've put aside a slot on the show on Tuesday afternoons for her.

So Niamh, if you're reading this, please keep writing - if not, Tuesdays shows will be pretty dull.

Ray