Hot topic

Back in the day I was a smoker and I loved it.

I enjoyed every cigarette I inhaled from the age of seventeen onwards. Coffee breaks, dinners, a drink in the pub, every social occasion was made better by the appearance of my old pal nicotine.

For a number of reasons - not least of all a fanatically anti smoking boyfriend-  I ended up quitting. The process of parting ways with my cigarettes was a long one that I shall not bore you with but let's just say it wasn't an break but, in time, I was able to look back fondly at our relationship.

Now I'm not one of those people who quit and then bang on and on about how bad smoking is to all and sundry and I don't shoot daggers at anyone skulking outside a pub to suck on a cigarette.

In fact I quite like the smell of smoke and I had somewhat prided myself on the fact that I was kind of cool and didn't feel the need to bleat on about giving up the habit to those who were still enjoying it.

But that was before Tuesday lunchtime when I popped out to the local spar for a sandwich and saw a pile of school kids standing in corners self-consciously smoking.

Now I've had to re-access my stance. I wanted to run over and grab each awkwardly held cigarette, crush it under my foot and then deliver the cancer talk. Failing that, the cigarettes ruin your skin talk.

In my obvious stupidity I had thought that school students actually frowned upon smokers these days. I honestly thought all the campaigns, and the ban (not to mention the insane cost of cigarettes) meant the younger generations didn't take up the habit anymore.

Don't be fooled kids. It's really not cool.


The second sign ....

When you wake up on a bright sunny day and you think 'it's a perfect day for drying' before you think 'beer garden', you know it's too late to save yourself.

No matter how many pints you drink later, you've essentially turned into your mammy.

Flying high

Ryanair is to our generation what the weather is to our parents. A reliable conversation starter.

No matter where you are or what you're doing, mere mention of the cost cutting airline can provoke an outpouring of shared experiences, urban legend and whispered hopes of a brighter future.

It is, despite all we hate about it, the great unifier of people.

I recently travelled on the laughably self titled - world's favourite airline- and while I confess to hating most of the experience, it does give people a common ground for complaint if nothing else.

It begins with the online battle to avoid paying for extras you don't want -insurance, baggage and priority boarding.

This is followed by the anxious airport experience that the stern faced stewardesses are going to have dodgy scales that will force you to pay extra for your baggage(urban legend has it that so and so's first cousin's best friend once had to pay a fortune even though she weighed her bag before she left her home and it was less than ten kg.)

Once you've successfully passed inspection to get on the plane, the scrum to get a seat on the plane begins - despite the fact that there are three rows of unused seats down the back.

And, when you finally sit back with a sigh of relief, it is inevitable that the person beside you will strike up a conversation on the horrors of flying Ryanair even though it's the cheapest by far. That follows with a list of all the other airlines we tried - but couldn't afford to buy a seat on.

That's the bit we hate the most, we agree, we chose to travel on this plane. We knew what we were getting but - hands spread out in a gesture of defeat - you can't argue with the cost. Ryanair has beaten us, and our expectations, down with low fares.

In a weird way Ryanair is keeping the community spirit alive. The outrage of every experience brings us closer together. Whether it's the stranger in the seat next to you on the plane, or your colleague in work that you never normally chat with, one mention of Ryanair will bring you closer today.

Michael O'Leary - humanitarian.

Who ever would have thought it?






Recession rage

You want to know what I hate the most about this recession?

The wage cuts, the belt tightening, the constant moaning of public servants, the empty government promises that it'll all get better in the next six months.

All of that I can live with.

But what gets right up my nose is the smug, patronising TV presenters and newspaper fashion writers who keep nauseatingly singing the praises of the 'recessionista lifestyle.'

F*ck off!

Look.I'm not saying that I'm on the breadline or that I've never earned good money but I have always always bought my clothes in Penneys. Even before it was cool. I prefer Penney's to Dunnes simply because the sizes are a better fit for me.

That's not to say I boycott all other shops and refuse to spend over a tenner on my entire outfit but I would get the bulk of my wardrobe from Penney's. It's not a big deal. It's a gigantic shop that sells all over the country and that thousands of people have been going to- for years. I'm no trendsetter but neither are the writers who've suddenly realised that promoting Chloe or Christian Dior is annoying to those who can no longer afford it.

I want to deface the pictures of fashion journalists who sing the praises of cost cutting shops as though they, and they alone, are responsible for discovering them.

Just because they were too small minded and flash to bother checking out the shops frequented by the majority of Ireland as they tottered around BT's in their Christian Louboutins' during the boom, doesn't mean they have suddenly won the right to preach now to the long covert ed fans of affordable fashion.

It's the same deal with Lidl and Aldi. Sure the supermarkets have probably experienced an upswing in trade over the last couple of years but you know what. They were there all along.

Maybe a lot of people in the country lived off their credit card and shopped only in the hallowed halls of Marks and Spencers but I don't believe it was the majority.

I believe the majority of people were like me. The kind of folk who delighted in cheap dresses from Penneys and meats with unpronounceable names from discount supermarkets.

So to all you fecking writers out there who think it's clever and original to talk about 'shopping around' or who are suddenly singing the praises of second hand shops -  here's a message.

You may be making a saving by going to shops you previously snubbed but this choir are sick of being preached to.




The first sign

The first sign that I've become my mother.

Shopping.

I practically climb into the back of the fridge to get the milk with the best sell by date and squeeze at least five pans of bread to make sure I get the freshest.

I bulk buy all the shampoos, conditioners and shower gels on special offers because they don't go off you know.

When it comes to paying I use up all the small change in my wallet.




Better off alone

I wouldn't consider myself a loner.

I don't have a huge range of friends but I have a circle of really good friends that I've known for a long time and I get on well with my colleagues. I'm not adverse to talking to strangers.

But there are times when I choose to steer away from people.

The gym for instance. I don't feel the need to work out with mates and I'm baffled by the way some people can walk into a near empty gym and, out of a row of unused machines, insist on using the one right beside the only person working out - me.

I'll admit I may be unreasonable in my reaction but it pisses me off so much. Pick another stationary bike! I'd like a bit of space between myself and the grunting sweating person on the cross country cycle.

It doesn't make sense to me. Why would you want to be on top of someone else when you don't have to be. It's one thing if it's unavoidable but when you have the choice, why would you want to be on top of a stranger? (Unless you've gotten lucky and that's a totally different ball game.)

Similarly I went for a shower and, despite being the only person in the room, a woman came in and chose the cubicle right beside me.

I can't  work out if my reluctance to be around other people in these situations is indicative of an unattractive solitary nature or theirs is a pathetic need for co dependence.

It's troubling me a little I must confess but I find I'm too busy protecting my seculuded spots and warding off strangers with my death stare to find out if I'm on my own on this one.

Back to the future

My friends and I have been stuck in a nostalgic time warp for the past seventeen days.

 

It's not the loss of the Celtic Tiger that bothers us but the aging process of the last decade.

 

In 2000 we were fresh faced and able to drink till four am - and go to work the next day. The standard of the work was dubious but we were able to do it!

 

I get excited when I stay up long enough to go to a nightclub these days. I think it's a shame they don't open just a little earlier so I could go more often.

 

We know this new decade has pushed us into the older generation and we don't like it.

 

On the upside we know that in ten years time the twenty somethings that pity us now will also be facing the same predicament.

 

In a generous gesture to the beautiful youth I have decided to reveal my top three tips that it has taken me ten years to learn.

 

1. There is nothing to be gained by getting a good job when you're young. Get a backpack and go around the world.

 

2. Wearing sunblock on your nose is a very good idea. It saves both your poor little hooter from flaring up and a lot of name calling from so called friends and family.

 

3. You will turn into your mother. Embrace it.

Happy New Year

Another victorious year for my liver which is miraculously still functioning.

Detox tomorrow.

Until then it's wine and roses.