Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thing 221 Get a Tattoo

There are several reasons why this one was monumentally stupid.

1: I'm now permanently scarred. A tattoo is a permanent scar. And I've now got one running down the back of my arm from shoulder to elbow.

2: I'm afraid of needles. Not the fear like you might have about missing your bus in the morning, or the fear of running out of milk. No, this is a mind numbing, reduce me to a blubbering child, hyperventilating fear. ( I had to get a lumbar puncture when I was about three, I think this might be where I get the fear... Have you seen those lumber puncture needles? They look like joke needles you'd get in a clown's oversized novelty doctor outfit pack). A tattoo requires a needle to drill my arm.

3: It's a painful spot to get a tattoo. If you don't believe me, pinch the flesh on the back of your arm above the elbow... see. Now take a hot knife like drilling needle and stab yourself in the arm lightly for twenty minutes or so. And lash some ink into the open wound...

When phrased logically like that, it just seems so massively stupid. The thing is though, I kind of love my tattoo. A lot.

Ogham is around two thousand one hundred years old as a language. And it's dead now. As in, no one uses it, but it was here before you were, and most of the old ogham stones that can be found will probably outlive you too. Sorry. That's a little morbid, I'm just saying it's a cool part of Irish history.

It's an entire alphabet of Old Irish entirely in the form of some lines notched into stuff. Rocks mostly.
So, I wanted to get "invictus" tattooed on my arm, because it's the world's most magnificent poem, and I love it. In fact, I love most of William Henley's poetry. So years ago, I decided to get the title of that most famous of his poems tattooed on my arm. Then some one went and made a Matt Damon movie out of it. Now Matt Damon is cool, and Morgan Freeman might be the coolest thing that ever walked, and there's no doubt that Nelson Mandela is awesome, but I'm not fond of having the idea of a movie titled permanently scarred into my arm. If I was going to have a movie title in my arm it would probably be "Old School" or "Anchorman".... I jest, it would be "Con Air"...

I jest again. Had you going for a second though right?

So I translated "invictus", which is latin for indestructible. And found it's Irish kind-of equivalent. It's actually closer to insurmountable or inviolable than anything else, but it's close enough. Then I translated that into ogham. Then I went to the same lovely people who stuck an earring into my fleshy bit of my ear in Living Art in Limerick, and hey presto. Twenty minutes later I was tattooed and ready to go. It's not as painful as I was expecting. Buddy in Living Art was pretty decent about the fact that I was a giant girl's blouse about the whole thing. He went at a good pace, but not one that was rushing me. Thank god.

By the way, that's the second time that Living Art have been heroes to me. I owe those guys a couple of drinks or something. Here's a look at their website. Proper legends:

So anyway, it's done. I've got a tattoo now. Here's hoping I don't decide to change my mind... Thing 222: laser removal surgery?

I jest.... again!

Thing 220 Be a Bouncer

First of all, I know I'm shockingly late getting this blog done, but I've been crazy busy. It's a full time job having a full time job you know. Also, I'm incredibly lazy and there are times when the sight of this laptop makes me nauseous. I spend way too much time online.

So anyway...

I don't know what height I am. When people ask I touch the top of my head and tell them that's how tall I am. Which is cryptic and unhelpful, but sometimes I just like being contrary. It should suffice to say that I'm not that tall. I'm a tad below average height I guess. It doesn't help that I slouch. Years of my parents giving out couldn't prevent this from becoming a reality. I slouch a little every now and then.

I'm not skinny either. I wouldn't say I'm morbidly obese or anything, just a little bulky here and there. I've big shoulders and a large chest, which would be admirable qualities if not for the beer belly...

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I don't have the physical attributes you'd normally associate with bouncers. Namely; tallness and muscleness (yes, I am aware that I just made up an adjective, we can discuss that some other time). There is no way anyone would take me seriously as a bouncer...


Frighteningly enough, just wearing the all black get-up, with the heavy black coat and the leather gloves was enough. Put on the serious face and stand there with conviction. I even raised one eyebrow a couple of times, like a tough-guy skeptical look. I totally pulled it off. Respect my authority... People actually pulled out their IDs when they saw me in the doorway. Power.... it's so deliciously addictive...
I realise this photo will do little for their street cred, but those are the two real bouncers at AuBars in Limerick. They babysat me while I pretended. They're both thoroughly nice chaps. We basically stood there being bouncers for the guts of five hours of a Friday evening and shot the breeze.

Top Dog walked passed with some of the lads, en route to a session of drink. He made a most interesting observation: Both of the other bouncers at the door at the time are large men. Big and burly. Clearly I'm not. So for the average punter on the street, they're wondering what kind of psycho nut case boxer/ninja I must be in order to be a bouncer and not need to be big and burly. After hearing this, I practiced my psycho look. Worked well.

It's funny how deferential to bouncers people are. Makes sense when you think about it. On a night out, the only thing between you and your fun is the bouncer. Play nice and the fun starts sooner. There were six guys in their early-thirties walking up the street bantering and joking loudly. Big guys. Loads of slagging and messing. As they walked passed us, the tone changes, and they all nod and quietly say good evening as they file in. Be nice to the bouncer. Cover up the fun in case they think we're drunk...

People are also quite chatty with the bouncer once they're inside. At several stages they'd wander over, mid-cigarette, and strike up a chat. Typically a one-sided chat. I can't really hack drinkers when I'm not drinking. Odd, I know.

It was an eye opening experience. At one stage the real bouncers had to refuse a regular who was too drunk. I'm sure the regular felt hard done by, and tried to argue his case. I'm sure this seemed like a reasonable decision to him at the time. It's only the next day that you realise that these are bad decisions. With massive patience the lads talked to him, but refuse to bend on the rules; too drunk is too drunk. He got more annoying. He kept arguing. The lads stayed cool. I felt like spinning him 'round in circles until he threw up. There are girls trying to chat the bouncers up quite a bit while they're trying to do their jobs. There's rows, and drunks. There's spilled drinks and fake IDs. There're nice punters and asshole punters. All of this while standing in the freezing cold.

Who'd be a bouncer? Not me anyway. I'm leaving it to the big people.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thing 219 Beat Box

In the long, and by no means as yet exhausted list of things I'll never be good at, you will NOT find beat-boxing. I'm not saying I'm very good at it, yet. But considering the disaster of a time I had trying to whittle something, trying to bake, trying to kick rugby penalties (and this list goes on, but it's harmful to the ego, so I think I'll stop there), my first pop at beat-boxing wasn't half bad. See, I've been running my over exercised mouth since I was ten months old. There's pretty much no noise known to have come from a human that I haven't covered at this stage. It's just about putting those noises in the correct order.

To make this happen; introduce experts. Or at least one expert. Moley O'Suilleabhain, him of Size 2 Shoes fame. By the by, is that not an awesome name for a band? Well this guy is pretty cool. He teaches people to beat-box, and he pretty much taught himself. The weird ass noises that come out of Moley's mouth are hard to top... Link coming up, this was him beat-boxing this very evening (ugh, did I just type "this very evening"? The 1920's called, they want their parlance back. Double ugh. Did I just use the word "parlance" in a sentence.... shame).

You can click on that bit up there if you like...

It's a hard thing to just start learning, I mean, there's no real way of ever knowing what a good starting point might be. Do I just start making strangled cat noises and hope for the best? Is it ever okay to pretend that your hand is scratching an invisible vinyl when you're making a scratch noise? Is there any possible way to make that scratch noise and not feel hugely self conscious. So many questions...

Moley, bless him, just broke it down to some individual noises. Make this noise. Make that noise. Put the first noise and the second noise together... Holy crap... I'm beat boxing.

After that, it's about practice and adding specific bits and pieces yourself to make your own style. It's also about controlling your breathing. Token Northy, The Canuck, The Frenchman all play guitar well (I still struggle). Surprise surprise says you. But I do love to get in on the sing song. It may be a little while before I break into beat box mode mid way through Paul Simon covers, but there's no way I'm passing up the chance to keep practicing this. Am I going to sound like an anus for the next few weeks? Sure. Will I keep Token Northy and The Frenchman up at night? Absotively. Will I become Ireland's beat-boxing champion... well, not likely. But I'm definitely going to get better at this...

Oh yeah, here's the video of me and Moley free-styling... God how much of an ass do I sound like? Free-styling? That's worse than the "parlance" blunder a few paragraphs ago.

Give me a month or two and then I'll be available for bookings at parties and funerals.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thing 218 Book Launch

That there, ladies and gents, boys and girls, and those of you who fall somewhere in the grey area between, is a rather shaky photograph of Alan Quinlan. For those of you not in the know; Alan Quinlan is, in my humble (but typically correct) opinion, one of the finest rugby players the world has ever seen. Definitely in the top five most determined and committed and top of the pile by some distance in the most cunning. He's also large. Like huge. I realise I'm not exactly a mountain of a man, but seriously, the man makes me look like a ten year old next to him. Lovely chap though. Wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of him mind...

A typical book is launched like this:
A copy, or extended extracts are sent to various journalists prior to the official "launch". These extracts are chosen for their newsworthiness. Journalists run stories on them, or publish the extracts in their papers. This generates interest in the book, and provokes reaction. The official launch then takes place and journos turn up to ask questions which arise in the wake of them seeing the extracts.

Alan Quinlan's book is launched like this:
He gives a newspaper a few extracts. They contain excellent pieces on his time with some rugby greats. Good stories. Not sensational news. No one else sees the book. He turns up (an hour late, but who cares? He's Alan Quinlan) on the night of the launch bringing every famous rugby player he knows, and that's some serious players and no one else has seen a copy. He has a little chat with the assembled family, friends, fans, media. Then he sits down and signs a copy for every single person who wants one. Simple. Straightforward. Uncomplicated. Legendary.
Look, it's midget version of me with Alan Quinlan. Alright, before you start I realise that the only version of me is a bit on the tiny side. Quit making fun of my height...

The book launch is a bit of a frenzy. It's like the whole of Limerick has turned out to see the Tipp man who's given so much to Munster rugby. The man's bled for this team, for years he's put his body on the line. He's been through the mill in terms of his discipline, but he's worth every mistake fifty times over for what he's given on the pitch.

My very first book launch could have been a nerdy one. I could have gone to see a fantasy novel, or a book of poetry or even, shudder, an academic publication.

I'm glad it was to see Quinny's book. Hero.

Thing 217 Provincial Test Match

The history of Munster Rugby is part of what makes it the greatest rugby team on earth. Ever. If they made a rugby team out of the X-Men, Superman, SpiderMan, Iron Man and Patrick Stewart it still wouldn't be as awesome as Munster Rugby is. It's a local team, with a massive following of smart rugby fans who know the game. Passionate fans who scream their team through victories and losses. These same fans, out of respect for kickers on both teams, also go completely silent for kicks. Twenty five thousand silent people. The pressure gets to most visiting kickers and in that, the fans do their bit to help the team.

In the modern day, this is a modern professional team, two time Heineken Cup champions. They players though, they're taught to remember their history, and every player who played before them. The younger ones look up to the older, and the traditions are passed on. That history though... wow.

This is the provincial team that plays against international touring sides, and long before the game turned professional in Ireland, this is the team that beat the All-Blacks in a game of rugby that close to one quarter of a million people claim to have been at. Seriously. I know people who hadn't even been born in 1978 who are claiming to have been at that match. It's sparked books and plays. It's the kind of thing that people from Limerick love. I'd know. I'm from Limerick. I love it.

There are replays of that 1978 match still on the telly. It's nice to kick back and watch them every so often. Ireland's never beaten the All-Blacks by the way. Munster have. I'm not smug. No wait, I am. Very smug.
In 2008 the All-Blacks came back on the scene for the 30th Anniversary of the famous victory. I'd have sold my soul (what little soul I have) for the chance to see that match. Instead I watched it in a house with two people who don't really give that much of a crap. "Which team are we again?" You've got to be kidding... So I did the usual, screamed at the telly. Told the referee what he was doing wrong. Applauded when I thought it was deserving, cursed at the All Blacks when they did things right. All from the comfort of a couch. How I would have loved to have been jammed into the terraces. Packed in with the rest of the mob. Damn comfortable couch...

I wasn't at the match in 1978. Still wouldn't be born for another six years. I'm honest enough to admit it. There are some people who still claim to have been there. Six years people.

So last night it was Munster v Australia.

There's no Australian Internationals alive who've seen weather like this. Biblical proportions. Limerick hasn't seen this much rain since the set of Angela's Ashes. Then there was the wind; it didn't blow in one direction, it blew in all directions. And it blew strong. The goalposts looked like they were going to come down on the terraces behind them.

It wasn't Australia's first choice team, but it wasn't our starting XV either. Our internationals are away with the Irish team so there were quite a few rookies. What happened after the starting whistle was a lesson in tough-rugby for the tourists. Munster played into the wind in the first half, hid the ball, hit hard in the tackles. Worked hard at the breakdown. Punched hard when the fights started. One in, all in. Lots of bitterness. That's how I like to see it played.

In the second half the wind howled in Munster's favour. And Paul Warwick used it. Pinged the Ozzies into the corner. Hassled them. Bullied them. Hit their line hard. Worked the ball. Australia turned the ball over, kicked it clear. We kicked it back. Into the corner again. And start hassling them all over again. The scoreline with five minutes to go was fifteen points to six in favour of Munster. It flattered the Ozzies; it could have been twenty points.

But I don't care about the scoreline. I just care that we won. It's never going to enter the history books in the way the All-Blacks game did. But it's a win against an International team. And I was there.

I was there!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thing 216 Clean the Floor With A Toothbrush

You know what I was thinking the whole way through this Thing (besides; ouch my knees hurt, and this floor is too damn cold)? I was thinking: Shrimp cocktail, barbequed shrimp, shrimp sandwiches, shrimp burgers, broiled shrimp, fried shrimp...

Ten points to anyone who got the reference straight away, a slap on the nose to anyone who doesn't recognise a Forrest Gump quote when it's thrown at them.

If I was wearing a hat now, I'd tip it to The Man Who's Sellin Croon. This was his brainchild. I put him right on the spot too. You see, I got up early this morning, on a day off. This is such a rare occurence I'm surprised it wasn't listed in Revelations as one of the signs of doom... The natural order of the day now completely destroyed, I was entirely unable to decide what to do as my Thing for the day. Token Northy says ring The Man Who's Sellin Croon, and hey presto - idea in seconds.

Here's why I love the idea: It's iconic. It's movie, military punishment. It's hazing for frat boys in American TV shows. It's instantly recogniseable as just the worst kind of shitty task you could ever assign to some poor miserable clown who knows only too well how bad it's going to be.
Here's why I hate the idea: All of the reasons I just said above.

I realise that doesn't make sense. What I mean is that I like the idea. It's a real Project kind of experience. I hate the execution, because like many of the other "real Project kind of experiences" it's going to hurt, take a long time, be boring and leave me cranky. It will also probably involve some form of abuse... I hate being right about these things.
As you can see, our kitchen floor is tiled. I decided to adopt a grid approach. Tackling individual tiles in a grid pattern to optimise efficiency. I abandoned this plan after ten minutes because I thought it was ridiculous to have a plan for how to clean my kitchen floor with a tooth brush. Hot soapy water. Toothbrush. Knees. That's exactly the kind of plan needed. A short list of things you should have constitutes a plan.

Cinderalla didn't have it this bad. Mind you, she only had to put up with a bitchy family. I have Token Northy, who made tea and fired his used tea bag on the floor and scorned me with a look that said "pick up my mess peasant". Hard to talk trash to the man when I'm on my knees with a dirty toothbrush.
All in all, about an hour's worth of work, though admittedly I got increasingly lazy about how thorough I was going to be as the task progressed. I won't lie to you, there are one or two tiles closer to the door that were barely scraped with a brush. Am I ashamed of this half-arsery? A little. Are my knees grateful? You betcha!!!

Thing 215 Read Revelations

I'm not here to peddle my religion, but I'm a Catholic, a practicing Catholic if you like using those kind of terms, I don't. I think they make it sound like I'm at home training to be a Christian in my spare time. One thousand reps of loving my neighbour followed by twenty reps of honouring my father and my mother. As a Catholic it only makes sense that at some point I should open a bible. Oddly enough, I haven't really ever sat down and looked at it, in fact, I've so little experience with the Good Book that it took me three attempts to spell "bible". Sad.

Trying to read the entire Bible in a day as a Thing would be pointless and impossible, so I settled on one book of the Bible. Specifically, the alleged craziest part, the Book of Revelations. The Old Testament is basically a log book of who was who's Dad for the most part, followed by God basically being a little harsh on some of his less holy subjects. The New Testament is all about Jesus, which is to say miracles and people being nice... until you get to the plot twist right at the end... Revelations... The end of the world.

And what an ending.

Like many other religious books and scriptures, this one is open to interpretation. It could mean anything. The "seven headed beast" could mean a country with seven rivers, a nation of seven cities, a place with a range of seven mountains. It's vague in its meaning. Where it's not vague are the crazy specifics of it. The river of blood from Babylon will be 180 miles long and as high as a horse's bridle. Now for the panic bit - how high is a horse's bridle? Should I be frightened by this?

For all of its crazy specifics, apparently God really knows how he wants to fuck us up. If revelations is anything to go by, we're really not going to enjoy this very much. There's going to be Seven Bowls of stuff which when Angels pour them out, is going to be bad news for us. There will be rivers of blood, oceans of blood, lakes of blood. There's going to be sulphur raining down from the heavens.

Also, did you know that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are on God's side? Seriously, they turn up so that God can turn them loose on us... How boned are we? They're not even on the bad guy's side, they're the good guys allies...

It's a short little book mind you. But they do manage to squeeze in quite a bit of crazy. It's jammed in there right at the end of the Bible. Which seems off. You spend the whole of the New Testament reading about how we should all be nice to each other and how Jesus was pretty cool, then just in case you forgot that religion can be crazy, here's one more book jam packed with pure insanity and mind boggling destruction of the entire world...

Took me about two hours to finish it all. Worth it to have done it. I wonder when they're going to make the movie of it?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thing 214 Vote on XFactor

I've officially sold my soul. What little soul was left after I bet against Munster a month ago. Let me state it now, categorically, for anyone who doesn't already know. I hate reality TV. I hate it. Big Brother, Strictly Come Anything, I'm A Washed Up Has Been Get Me Out Of Here, and yes, X Factor too... Sadly, the last one is a love/hate thing now more than anything else. The Thief is to blame. Entirely and completely.

Because of her love for all things X-Factor, and specifically, all things Matt Cardle, I've been subjected, weekly, to installments of this mind-numbing spirit crushing drivel. The sad part is, that the more I watch of it, the more I find myself getting into it. It's like a drug, a crazy awful drug that you just can't resist.

While on a break from work on Saturday night, I turned it on, and watched it with a colleague, who swore that the only reason he knew anything about it was his wife's love of the show. Neither of us changed the channel though. Nope. We both sat there watching. Transfixed.

If I was a smarter man, I'd lie convincingly and tell you all I only watch it to stare at Cheryl Cole, but that would be a lie. I watch it because it's compelling viewing. God awful, ridiculous, staged, fixed, not real, compelling viewing.

Which brings me to the selling of my soul. Simon Cowell sits at his little desk, with his pants pulled all the way up to his nipples, looking horrendously smug as he hears the money roll in with every vote. Every camera that turns on him. Every time one of the contestants "cries" on stage. His head rings like a till opening. Long time ago I promised he'd never get my money. In fact, last year I played my part in downloading Rage Against the Machine as a mini protest against the show...

Now thanks to The Thief, I'm watching it. Contributing to ratings. Putting money in Simon's pocket... The last bastion, my final defence of myself, my last tiny stand against the X Factor, was that I'd never voted. I could console myself that all I was doing was watching, I wasn't taking part... No longer. I texted my vote in. I voted for Mary. Because she's Irish, and because I've developed an irrational distaste for Matt Cardle (I wonder why?).

I voted and now I've become the very thing I swore I'd never become. I've sold out. I may as well start posting the same outraged status updates on facebook that everyone else seems to throw out every Saturday and Sunday evening.

Judge me. You may as well. I'm judging myself far more harshly than you ever could.

Thing 213 Music Video (Rubberbandits)

Thing 213 is awesome for the following reasons: It's being in a music video. It's a Rubberbandits music video.

That's Mr Chrome and me. Blindboyboatclub was busy at the time of the photo being taken, but he was there too. Take a look see at the photo down below, that's a completely illegal shot on set. Here's hoping they don't mind. I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one taking photos...

There they are now, legends...
Here's my claim to fame: Once upon a day, when I worked for a radio station, while working there the Rubberbandits did a test prank call. It was never aired. It was them ringing me and pretending to be the boyfriend of a woman who may have been a little crazy. I saw a "private number" and should have known better, but I answered it. The gist of the call was one of them (I think it was Mr Chrome) hassling me over having an affair with his girlfriend. I'd no idea who it was, and ended up screaming like a lunatic down the phone while they continue to bait me.

Now the Rubberbandits are famous. Proper famous. They sell out gigs at the Electric Picnic and all over the country. They're a YouTube and myspace sensation. They've got a slot on late night RTE on Wednesdays on the Republic of Telly. They're coining their own phrases... "That's Limerick Citay..."

That's one of the many videos you'll find of theirs on YouTube.

Filming a music video takes some serious amount of time, and it can be dull occasionally, even if you are in the presence of two comedians wearing plastic bags for masks. The filming began at about eleven in the morning, and I had to bail, sadly at about three, with only half the filming done. Half in about four hours. It's long and painstaking work. Thank God it was a good crowd, and as I already said, two comedians.

There were multiple shots required, and multiple angles. There was a backing track, but apparently Blindboyboatclub doesn't like lip synching, since he sang every word of the lyrics as the cameras rolled.

It's a staple of what the 'Bandits do. They take a good backing track, and they put down some hilarious lyrics. I know that there's probably a sociological commentary, and political satire pops in there somewhere, but I'm not a sociologist, I just find it all hilarious.

I don't want to give away the song, because it'll be released soon (I'm proposing we download the hell out of it and make it Christmas Number One). Seriously, it can beat the hell out of the X Factor or whatever Christmas nonsense gets spewed out. Who wouldn't want to see Rubberbandits top the Christmas Charts?

Anyway, it was an interesting day, and an interesting Thing. A fake wedding out in UL with two hosts who wear plastic bags on their faces? That's Limerick Citay....

Thing 212 Tail A Car

Ever notice that anyone in a movie who ever gets tailed automatically notices when someone's following their car? Cops tailing people are craptacular at doing so discretely. Hell, even the audience can tell when someone else is tailing the main protagonists. There's nothing even remotely subtle about it.

The problem is, when you've watched enough cop movies, and I have, you could be driving through town and you'll start getting paranoid that the car behind has been tailing you for the last three blocks, never mind that it's a one way system and there was no where else for them to go. It's time to start dodging them. I've ducked down alley ways and gone the wrong way through housing estates trying to shake people I convinced myself were following me.

Yes, I'm aware of how insane that sounds. It doesn't happen often, but it has happened.

Moving swiftly on... I've always thought I could do better.

I'm no James Bond or anything, and I drive a crappy red Seat Cordoba that's basically falling apart, but I'm full sure I could tail someone without them getting suspicious. Then after a little while I realised that it's not fun. And on top of that, I've no way of knowing if the car in front ever knew that I was tailing them. Clearly I didn't think this one all the way through, but what on earth was I thinking? There's no way on earth I'll ever know if this was successful or not, and it'll annoy me for ever.

So effectively I drove around for forty minutes behind a complete stranger. For nothing. We went from the dual carriage way from Shannon to Limerick, down onto the Dock Road. Around Harvey's Quay, past Arthur's Quay and out to the Dublin Road, through Castletroy, and as far as Annacotty. When the car pulled up in front of a house I decided to keep going. They may have been stopping to shake me, or more likely, they'd arrived at their house, and I was risking being reported to the Gardai.

It was at this point that I realised that not only will I never know if I was successful, but I was also looking like a complete nutjob sociopath.

I did try all the usual movie tricks though. I hung back. I changed lanes. I smoked a cigarette mysteriously. Yes, I know, that's a particular gift of mine. I'm very mysterious.

I should think about a career as a PI.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thing 211 Fast for 24 Hours

I once fasted for about twenty four hours. This counts as a new Thing on the grounds that the last time I spent the whole night sleeping, and all day under heavy anesthetic during surgery while some Doctors broke my leg and re-set it all over again. So there was no hunger, no aching for food. No sacrifice. So while I've technically fasted before, I've never done so when I could actually feel it. Hence... new Thing.

What you're seeing in terms of the picture up there, is what happened afterwards, but more on that later.

The Frenchman and Pony Boy whipped up some serious grub on Tuesday night. I'm talking proper junk food. For a man who's trying to run a little and get more exercise, it probably wasn't wise to gorge myself on a pile of taco fries and burgers, but it would have been rude not to. I looked like a pastier version of Slimer from Ghostbusters, stuffing my face. Nice.

At half ten at night, I ate for the last time on Tuesday. I know, that's late, don't judge me. You're not the boss of me you know. I went to bed happy. I woke up relatively happy too. I went to work, and on my break I walked past the canteen, just to test myself... The smells.... Oh god the smells. Fry up, coffee, bacon, eggs, hash browns... and none of it for me. My stomach made a noise, that spelled phonetically looks like this: Grrrrrreuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrreeuuuuggghhhhyyyyyeaaarrrrggggghh.

It made this noise on the half hour for the remainder of the day. I ran away for lunch hour, afraid to be seen near anything resembling food. In the second half of the day, things started looking like food. Water cooler - not unlike a fully roasted side of beef. Paper with doodles on it - eerily similar to a plate of spaghetti. It was a Simpson's moment. Everyone started looking like grub.

I turned on the United match when I got home. Twenty two chicken drumsticks running around the pitch. In HD. I nearly licked the screen.
Of course, given that I've a penchant for being impulsive, I was becoming restless with just half an hour to go. And I asked Pony Boy to order pizza. For the second night in a row it was junk food at half ten at night. And how. You should have seen me go... Taz has nothing on me when I'm in a feeding frenzy.

There's no doubt that it's a strange one. I'm so used to nibbling when hungry that not doing it seems ridiculous. Deliberately avoiding food make a mockery of one of my own personal commandments. Nonetheless... this time round, the fasting could be felt. I'll never have a row with my stomach again...

Thing 210 Aerobics Class

Oh just look at fatty there sweating his little head off. Wait, his fat head. It is a rather large melon. At the best of times I'm a lazy bum, and at the worst of times... well, you don't want to know, but it involves grease. Lots of grease. After six months on the sideline since the marathon, there's been no major exercise till last week.

I started with a couple of runs. Nothing stressful. Five miles. Jogging, at almost no pace at all. I'm comfortable with that. Barely moving is worse than not moving at all while sitting on my ass, but it's better than actual running. Took me a week to get into it, but I'm managing it fine now. So I thought I'd take a pop at aerobics. Can't be that hard. Light engaging workout to the same music that petrol heads blare as they drive their johnny-go-fast-cars up William Street at twenty five thousand miles an hour. Easy peasy...
No. No, no, no. And worse than it not being easy was the fact that every other woman there looked like they were having fun, not trying to keep Death's scythe from chopping through their puffing lungs.

That's a thing you probably guessed about aerobics. There's not that many men. In fact, I was the only one, aside from the instructors. I took my place at the beginners lot, right down the back. The instructor assumed I was gay. Or at least I think he did. He cracked a joke about how everyone in the class should pay attention to his instructions, and stop preening themselves for all the boys benefit. He seemed to be looking at me as he said it. I'm not trying to impress the boys dammit!!

Then he started moving. Quickly and erratically. First his legs went left, then they did a stepping bit, then he turned on the spot and walked up a little step. Then he repeated. I did what I thought was the same thing but involved more grunting and sweating on my part. It also made me trip over my feet. The good grace of the ladies taking part in the class was all that prevented them from breaking themselves laughing.
There's Betty Boop and me just before my head began leaking massive amounts of liquid.

Exercise is important. Everyone should do it. And by everyone, I mean all of you. Not me. Or at very least not this type. There's an exercise type for everyone. In Token Northy's case, he likes weights, but not running. I dislike weights, mostly because I don't know what individual reps are working what muscles. I do like running though. Only because it's straightforward. In a straight line from my house to a point. Then back. I don't have to worry about what muscles are being worked. I just have to keep running till I'm home. Forrest Gump style.

There's a bit more Forrest Gump in me than I'd care to admit actually.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thing 209 Crack A Walnut with a Sledge

If I can describe a rainy day as a monsoon, I'm happy. If I can hear a song I enjoy and tell you that it gave my ear an orgasm, I'm happy. This is ground already covered, but I do love hyperbole. Dr Frasier is quite literal, which is fine if you're so inclined, but I think life is more fun if every minor story could involve dragons. Honestly, some of my stories involve dragons. And I think I can get away with it. I think people will buy it. They do not.

The phrase "cracking a walnut with a sledge" pretty much sums me up. Why use ten words when three hundred will do? Why let it slide when I can rant about it for an hour and a half? Why use one or two bad analogies when you can load up this entire paragraph with them? See what I mean?

When I added this to the list people told me they didn't get it. I told them it was a real phrase that I didn't totally make up. No one believed me. Apparently I lack credibility. It might be the beard.

It's totally a real phrase. Have a look.

It's one of them there analogies that I like to stretch out. Like walking in Pony Boy's shoes for a mile. Or looking for a needle in a haystack. Next to hyperbole, I like being smug. So when the Project is over, and someone mentions smashing a walnut with a sledge, I'll be smug, and I'll mention how I've done that before. And be smug.

The sledge is a nice heavy hammer, clumsy, difficult to wield and hard to aim. The walnut is a small but tricky little nut that would be difficult to hit with a regular hammer. With a sledge, it was damn near impossible, and swinging that massive yolk while giggling like a child makes it even harder.

Smashed it good though. What was left of the nut wasn't fit to eat, which I guess is most of the point when it comes to walnuts. I wasn't hungry anyway. I was all for smashing things. And I slaked that thirst...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thing 208 Double Date

Alright there's a reason for this ridiculous photo. It's because the guy that went on the double date didn't know I was planning to blog about it, and then I didn't want to be asking for his photo, because that would be all kinds of creepy and wrong. Can you just imagine that conversation: Hello complete stranger I've just met. Smile and say cheese. I want to put your photo on the internet...

Now that I think about it... he might actually be reading this... hello.

This was a classic television/movie style double date. The Thief, her best friend Jacko, and a thoroughly nice chap who Jacko decided to invite on the date. Which means that while the two ladies who know each other a long time can chat about this and that, me and Newbie can sit opposite each other and try not to be awkward.

Double dating is fine for seasoned couples. Usually the couples know each other. They're mates. The fellas have hung around with one another. The girls know each other inside out. Double date is easy. When you ad a new guy to the mix you end up with a really awkward moment.

Tell me if you think I'm wrong here, but guys don't just chat with guys they don't know. There's a real unusual stand off. Not quite two strange cats in a room, but something along those lines. What are we supposed to talk about...?

Maybe I'm completely wide of the mark, maybe it was just me who felt a little awkward. Then of course, because he's new on the scene, The Thief was examining him, as I assume all best friends do for their girlfriends. She stood there silently analysing him. While I stood there silently being awkward and Jacko cooked. Sounds comfy right?

For a finish it was all good. Friendly. We all chatted. Ate dinner and (shudder) watched X Factor. Very pleasant, very polite. Just that first few minutes that killed me. I'm too young to double date dammit!! That's for people in their thirties or something... I've another three and a half years before that's me.

P.S. Dinner was unreal. Jacko can cook and then some. She may even be better than me. Who am I kidding? I burn toast. Six year olds can cook better than me. Compliments to the chef...

Thing 207 Random Acts of Kindness

Alright, I'll grant you that this is an exceptionally mushy and ridiculous picture. But it was the first thing that popped up when I typed "kindness" into google. And I'm too lazy to keep looking for a better one. So very lazy...

Honestly. Very, very lazy.

Down the line there's going to be a day when I say "yes" all day. But today was all about being nice for no reason, other than being nice. Which really should be a good enough reason on its own, but I prefer being cranky for the sake of being cranky. It suits my personality better.

It started with cakes/cookies. I went to the Milk Market, as I do of a Saturday these days. I bought cakes for my da. Decided I'd bring them out and watch some of the England v New Zealand match. While I was there I grabbed an extra handful. Walking down the street I stopped off to offer all of them to a group of people standing around having a chat. Free cake. Who doesn't love free cake? Apparently they just thought I was a weirdo. Mumbled some thanks, and stared at me goggle eyed. Still I thought it was nice.

On the way to Ma and Da's I spotted someone walking through Corbally in the lashing rain. I pulled in, rolled down the window and asked if they'd like a lift anywhere. Eh, no thanks was the reply. And then she looked at me like I had two heads and was in fact, a complete weirdo. So being nice makes me look odd...

Went to town to watch the match.

Parked up and spotted a guy locked out of his car. I went over and offered my phone to call some who cared. No, I jest. I gave him the phone to call someone who might have spare keys. He did not look at me like I was a complete weirdo. Nice.

I went to Clohessey's to see the end of the United match, and waited till someone went up to the counter to order drinks, then I paid for them for that person. Not only did he not look at me like a weirdo, but he came over and shook my hand. Delighted. To be fair, it was free drinks, I'd shake someone's hand if they bought me a pint for no reason.

Then I went to the shop to get some dinner, so I could cook for the lads at home. That wasn't a good deed for the day, I was probably going to do that one way or another, but I planned on dressing it up as a good deed. While en route I picked up a rose for The Thief and one for the lady at the checkout... and bang. We're back to people looking at me like a weirdo. She looked ever so slightly impressed, but mostly, she thought I was out of my tiny little mind. And the other people in the queue joined in the silent judging. The Frenchman giggled the whole way out of the shop.

What's the moral of the story? If you're going to be nice for no reason, people are going to think you're a complete nutjob.

Oddly enough, they wouldn't be half wrong when it comes to me now would they?

Thing 206 Ice Bath

After a run, I'm partial to a nice cool shower. Not too cool. Just enough to stop me sweating like a stuck pig, which I usually am straight after a run... It happens to most slightly overweight people who don't do any exercise for six months and still talk about the marathon they once ran... ahem.

Thought I was going to lose both lungs and sweat off about two stone... Six months of sitting on my ass, it was bound to come to this. It's no wonder Thorny Wire calls me Fatosaurus. Anywho...

They talk about the benefits of hot and cold therapy. An ice bath straight after training. Then a hot shower. Or a sauna and then a freezing cold shower. There are science bits to explain it, but they're lost on me. I'm slightly stupid at the best of times.
That there children, is the face of someone who who doesn't like his current seat. This isn't the cold of waking up without your quilt on, or walking outside without enough layers in November. This is a deep and painful cold. It numbs at first, then it stings. Then your feet feel nothing, then your housemates start bursting themselves laughing and take some photos of you.

They're sympathy, as always, overwhelmed me. I'm only glad Token Northy wasn't there, it's bad enough with Pony Boy and The Frenchman, but when you've got all three, that's when you're in trouble.
It's not just bad while you're in there. It almost gets worse when you're out. I decided to shower, a nice hot shower to get the blood going again. The hot water was frighteningly sore. It stings like no ones' business.

This is what happens when you're entirely unaware of the biomechanics of hot and cold therapy, you remain completely oblivious and end up screaming in your shower. Manly. And tough. That's me.

Just one more ridiculously stupid thing done in the name of this Project. I wonder if my IQ drops every time I do crap like this?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thing 205 Eat a Vindaloo

I used to think that I liked spicy food. Well, I still like spicy food, or at least what I think is spicy food, but is in fact, natural yogurt compared to what is considered actually spicy food. Alright that sentence appears to make no sense. What I mean to say is: I enjoy eating what I consider spicy, which I thought everyone else considered spicy. I moved in with Pony Boy, Token Northy and The Frenchman. These people apparently think dinner is an opportunity to test your manhood and all of them deeply enjoy masochism. This is when I learned that spicy is actually mild, and what they call spicy should come with a health warning and a fire extinguisher.

So when I saw Pony Boy order a Vindaloo, that staple of British diet, that artificially enhanced spice plate of pure hotness and the stuff of British stand-up comedian legends, and then promptly sweat to death, I decided to strike it from my list. There's no way, if it makes the Pony Boy sweat like a stuck pig, that I'm ever going to be able to handle it. It will not make the list. Because I don't want it to kill me. Because I'm too young to die (just to clarify, that was hyperbole, Pony Boy didn't die from Thai Food).
It was the unofficial anthem of the English football team in 1998. That'll tell you how popular it is. Mind you, things can change fast. If a vindaloo got sent off for kicking an Argentinian it's popularity probably would have plummeted, but that's a different kettle of fish.

In western countries it's often served with potatoes, but that's not a traditional vindaloo. The real deal was never served with potatoes, so I didn't get mine with them. Like many other things on this list, it's one of those that required a "dive in" approach.

This is the tactic of not thinking about it, just doing it. Spend no time at all considering the consequences, just order, dig in and worry about it the next day.
That's how much of it I manged to eat. That's not bad is it? That's pretty much most of it. Couple of scraps of rice managed to dodge the fork, but the vast majority of it was eaten.

The results: My face leaked buckets of sweat. My mouth tingled like someone had just lit one of those sparklers in it. Tears formed and then were scrubbed out. The Thief looked like she was going to burst herself from laughing at my near tears. This isn't eating. This isn't dinner, and it's not a meal. It's a hazing rite of passage for an American fraternity. It's penance for sins that the church hasn't got names for. It's the mandatory sentence for repeat juvenile offenders and flashers.

Why? I have to ask: Why would anyone do this to themselves? Who enjoys this? Are there people out there, who, when hungry, say to themselves; Man, you know what would hit the spot now? Some roasting hot fire inside my mouth. I'd really go for an inferno in my stomach, and I thoroughly look forward to the aftereffects when I need to use a bathroom tomorrow...

I didn't die. But it's going to be a long, long time before I order Thai food again...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Thing 204 Cook Fish in the Dishwasher

Urban myth or actual thing? The internet is full of interesting things, some of which, and brace yourself for this, are not actually true. Some of the things on the internet are, in fact, fraudulent. I'll let you absorb that for a few minutes...

So far though, the internet's been good to The Project. Remember when I opened a bottle of wine with a shoe? That was one of the interweb's finest suggestions. Executed in style and consumed in minutes... I'm a bit of a fan of the wine. The difference with this thing was that there was no video, I didn't even see this on the net. Pony Boy told me about it. I was skeptical... So let's make a Project Thing out of it. Great idea.
That's my dishwasher there. Those are the recently unloaded dishes, still not cleared away on the counter. We're a tad lazy with the cleaning this week. Work getting in the way and all that.

The promise is simple: Take a fillet of fish (i'm not a big fan of fish by the way, I eat it only occasionally, so I don't know what's good or bad in the fish stakes (bad pun, I'm sorry). I opted for salmon, only because it was the only one I could recognise in the shop.
Wrap it tightly in tin foil. And I mean tightly. The last thing you want is dishwasher water getting in there. Set your disher to a seventy five degree wash. Dirty dishes are optional. I decided against them - which is bad for the environment, I know, and I'm sorry... but I had to know...
Delicious. Honestly. Fish is tasty in general, but well steamed dishwasher fish seems to be extra nice. I'm a fan. Next time I'm going to lob in a bunch of potatoes, tightly wrapped and some brocolli, and I'll put on a wash too.

Who says men can't multitask...?
By the way, sorry about the skin in this photo, it's a fairly provocative shot... I just wanted you to see my dishwasher clean salmon, which I promptly ate. Thanks internet. You've always got the best ideas...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thing 203 Write a Cartoon Strip

Ever read Cyanide and Happiness? Be warned, if you're planning to look for it, it's dark. It's a sick black humour that makes my sides split from laughing. Every single day the chaps at explosm.net write themselves a new Cyanide and Happiness cartoon strip, and every day I read it, and then spend some time clicking the "Random" button to read back over strips I've already seen. And I laugh and laugh. Now that I think about it, I must be pretty sick in the head - it's ridiculously dark stuff.

Anyway, I've always wanted to guest write my own Cyanide and Happiness cartoon, so I've decided to do that. Completely infringing copyright law (please don't sue me, I love you guys) and blatantly stealing someone else's artwork, I sat down to write some funnies...

I should tip the hat to the real comic geniuses. It took me an hour and a half to write too comic strips. Neither one of which were that funny. I hope you can read them, they seem a little small. The first one is okay, as jokes go. The second one is just stupid.
I really thought this would be a strong suit for me. I thought I was going to kick some ass at this. I've watched hundreds of episodes of Family Guy and Futurama. I'm blue in the face from South Park and I've read every Calvin and Hobbes ever. And this is the best I could come up with...

You're right to judge me.

There's an art to consistently funny writing (before you make the joke, I realise that there's a certain level of stupid coincidence that goes with writing this blog and talking about being consistently unfunny). You've got to really appreciate the writers of shows like South Park, and Family Guy. Some episodes may not be as funny as others, but over all, these are pretty funny, most of the time. My humour is much more physical, in that, I'm funny to look at, physically. And I'm chubby. This is a hilarious combination.

I decided on a formula for my comic strip: Set up - standard line with expected finish. Reel - slight change of direction. Obscenity - finish off with some bad language or off colour abuse. It's potty humour, and I love it that way.

I think I could do this for fun...

You know what... as I'm blogging, I think I'll try one more...

That's actually not bad... I'm pretty pleased about it...

Thing 202 Learn About A New Country

When I was down in Wexford at (the most amazing and spectacular Opera House in the whole world - honestly, I'll never get sick of plugging it, it's THAT good), someone gave me a suggestion for The Project. Since this is, ostensibly, a Project about learning and developing myself, then here's my chance to get some education. Pick a country that I know nothing about, and start learning. Seems easy. Straightforward new Thing, but thoroughly enlightening. Let me tell you a little bit about Mozambique..

It wasn't independent until 1975, until then, it was a Portuguese colony, and run by the little nation that could, which is situated next to Spain (for information, Ireland is, the little nation that couldn't). It's one of the fastest growing economies in the world with an annual growth rate of between 8 and 14%. They had a cyclone and some serious ass flooding back in 2002, and their economy still grew by 2.1%. That's faster than most European economies during boom time.

It wasn't rosey all the time, it rarely is for newly liberated colonies. They had civil war from 1977 to 1992. That's a pretty long war. Seriously. But things are looking up now. It's a mostly Christian country, in that Christians make up around half the population, Muslims accounting for just over a quarter. The rest is a bit of a mix.

The Zambezi River splits the country neatly in two, and the Zambezi Valley is a fertile zone. Tourism is improving, but not at the rate it should be for the South Eastern African country.

The fun part about this particular Thing, is that I'll rock like socks at any Mozambique related Table Quiz questions. Seriously though, it was a good suggestion for a Project Thing, in theory. Learn about a new place. Educate myself. Problem is that it's very specific and now that I know alot about the country (it relies most heavily on foreign direct investment, and through bilateral agreements with Portugal, children from Mozambique are accepted into Portuguese educational institutions, with Portugal remaining an important trading and international relations partner), it's just one subject. I know alot about a little, and very little about a lot.

Still, it was different. For an hour on a regular Monday night, I sat down and learned about something I knew nothing about. Felt like Leaving Cert study... shudder.

Thing 201 Wrong Way Around a Roundabout

Remember the cycling through Drive-Thru Thing? Well this is kind of like that. It makes no sense, it's not really supposed to. I'm kind of kooky like that. I don't invest a lot of my time into making sense. I just wanted to do it. In fact, I've always wanted to do it...

There's a little switch in my head, I think, which, when tripped, will cause me to do the opposite of what is conventional and socially acceptable. It's a liberating feeling to do something that is plain wrong, and goes against what's been socially built into us. Well, not all the time, skipping queues for example is just plain disgraceful, and spitting or urinating in public is never going to be okay, but little things like this... well they're just empowering.

Thing is though, driving the wrong way around a roundabout is highly illegal, and massively dangerous, not to mention monumentally stupid. So there's a delicate act to doing it. First of all; pick a private roundabout in a private area. An example of a place that I thought was private but is actually public property is a University or college campus. Secondly; scout for other traffic. Scouting is a delicate and unusual procedure involving looking in many directions. Here's an example of what not to do: Sort of look around, then drive onto the roundabout correctly, realise there's traffic and then just do circles for a bit before chickening out and driving away. Thirdly; have an escape plan.

After bottling it and legging it from the roundabout, I waited, biding my time, till the coast was clear. The Thief, God Boy, The Canuck and The Frenchman all stayed stum... A gap... go for it...

People who don't know how to drive on roundabouts infuriate me. Technically, this means I spent a few minutes infuriating myself. It's a strange sensation, turning left while driving on the roundabout. Like I said earlier, we've been socially conditioned to know how to drive on these, and years of repeating the same pattern have taught us how it's done, and what's the correct way. It's not easy overriding that. And when you do, it's a bizarre feeling. I've never turned left on a roundabout before...

Now for the escape plan... Eh... wait... How does one exit a roundabout if one is driving the wrong way. The Frenchman panicked: "How do we get off this thing..." He literally roared it. The others started laughing. I just drove around in circles until I got my bearings. I pulled off the roundabout...


Someone slapped The Frenchman to calm his hysteria. Surreal moment. No lie.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thing 200 Climb Slieve Donard

Slieve Donard is a mountain. The Canuck calls it a hill, and he's probably right. I'm sure it's dwarfed by Canada's smallest mountain, but in Ireland. Donard is a mountain. And it's awesome. It sits, with its base parked right next to the beautiful and magnificent seaside town of Newcastle in County Down. I think I might be in love with the place. Anyone who's been reading this blog for a while knows that Token Northy adopted me and now I think I'm an honorary Down man. Newcastle is the reason I love Down. Donard is one of the reasons I love Newcastle...

Mind you, for just a few hours on Saturday, I hated Donard. With all my soul.

We weren't just climbing Donard though. There's an ancient old tradition up in that part of the world, so old that most people don't even know about it, it's kind of fallen into the annals of history. Basically, there's a cairn at the top (for those not in the know, that's an old Celtic burial mound), and the tradition is that you pick up a rock on the beach and carry it to the cairn, and leave it there.

Effectively, it's not enough to climb the two-thousand-seven hundred feet height of Donard, you've got to carry a rock with you.

This is the source of much contention. Seven men climbing a mountain, testing their manliness against a mighty hill. Two small a rock and the other men will be manlier. They'll have more hair on their chests and will be able to fart louder than me. Too large a rock and I'll die, spewing up my lungs and coughing to death on the side of mountain by the sea. Decisions, decisions.

We all opted for a similar sized rock, just smaller than the size of our heads. Not too small to be embarrassing, not too big to be a show off. Except God Boy. He brought a rock about the size of the palm of his hand. And laughed at me huffing and puffing all the way to the top. Clever bastard.

Speaking of which. If there were two men I'd have expected to drag their feet and die every ten minutes all the way to the top (as I did), I'd have expected to them to be The Frenchman and God Boy. Deceptive chain smokers that they are, they were actually the first up there. I think for the first time ever, I hated them both a little just then...

We left at eleven in the morning. We got to the top at two fifteen. I had a pint of Guinness in front of me at five thirty. Seems like a good round trip right? It's not as challenging as I make it out to be. I just want it to seem hard to justify my near death experience that came on me every time I looked at how much we had left to climb. If you're ever in the area, get your ass over to Slieve Donard and make that climb. It's amazing, and if I can do it, so can you...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thing 199 Munster Away Game

That's Ivan Dineen there. Scoring the only try of the game. It's a nice thing to be a Munster fan. It's a large family, from all over the province. There's as much love for the Men in Red in Tralee and Tipperary as there is in Cork and Cobh. Limerick's a special place for rugby too. It's been the venue for some amazing Munster victories, and a tragic loss or two as well. Limerick people consider themselves especially attached to rugby, but no one is more attached than anyone else to Munster. There are die-hard Munster fans in Ennis, Waterford, Clonmel, Dungarvan, Kilkee, Kilrush, Abbeyfeale, Blarney... it's everywhere.

I like to think I'm a die-hard fan. I love the club, I love the game, I love the spirit and mentality... Can you really call yourself a die hard if you've never travelled away to see your heroes? I think you can, but I know others would disagree. It's not really about how far you go, it's about how you show your support; whether that's in Limerick, Cork or anywhere else on this wide blue planet.

Still though, it does feel kind of special to be standing in Ravenhill on a wet, blustery, windy Friday evening watching the lads run out to represent. There's a little thrill of satisfaction in knowing that you've made the journey, for the lads, and thousands of others didn't. I felt briefly sorry for The Thief. I'm sure when I said "we're going to Belfast" she was thinking; City Centre, shops, bars, cafes, culture... Not standing in the flogging rain listening to me berate the referee for an hour and a half. She bore it well.

Hats of to Ravenhill by the way, there were umpteen food stands, drinks tents, crepes, shops and everything else in between. Smashing venue. What it lacked was what makes Thomond Park special - proximity to the pitch. No matter where we stood, you never really felt like you were in on the action. Part of that, it has to be said, was the eerie feeling that came with being one of only a handful of people celebrating when we scored points.

I'm used to complete silence for kicks, we didn't get it. I'm also used to that huge surging roar when we score points, be it from the boot, or over the white line, there's nothing beats the rush of Munster fans in full voice for a score.

Myself, God Boy and Top Cat cheering like lunatics to the sound of utter silence around us was a little unnerving. Well, I tell a lie. It wasn't utter silence. The nice chaps behind us were thoroughly reassuring just after Musnter had taken the lead: "It's a long walk home naked boys..." They were kidding, it was a bit of banter, but it highlighted that "away from home" feeling.

I think I kind of loved it. I wonder would some one sort me out with tickets for Wales to see us against the Ospreys? Seems unlikely...

By the way; I like to think I know rugby: Who's your man in the centre we were asking each other. Dineen? Plays for Cons does he? We were unimpressed. Eighty minutes later and we were cheerfully eating our humble pie. Ivan Dineen - you're a legend! Great try! So much me for and Top Cat. Know it alls.

P.S. Watch Top Cat do his thing: This is his website. He's like a professional fan. See his work. Be impressed:

Thing 198 Free Hugs

When I was in college I used to get bored of queuing for a seat, so I'd hop up onto a desk, and walk across the top of rows of desks until I found a seat, then I'd plonk myself down. Years later several friends would tell me that they thought I was a giant douchebag. I didn't see the problem at the time - I didn't want to wait, and there was a quick way to a seat. Embarrassment never occured to me. No idea what shame was...

That can be remedied though. Testicle waxing on live radio is a quick way to mortification. Walking through Limerick City Centre with a sign that says free hugs is another way. I don't do embarrassment very well.
I picked clothes out that were inoffensive and relatively easy on the eye - being bearded was also a poor decision. Few people can pull off the beard and still be huggable. Jesus and Santa being prime examples, but other than that, it's not easy to be bearded and have people trust you enough to want to hug you. I went out to the streets armed with my sign and and expecting an unholy and god-awful torrent of abuse.

At the best of times these things are an unpleasant combination - embarrassment and abuse. I'm usually the one dishing out the abuse.
Went well. Not just well. It went amazingly. One kid of about twelve walked past and gave some guff, and some woman who appeared to be in her thirties said she'd be happier to give me hugs if I was good looking (which made me laugh my ass off, and stung the ego a tad). Other than that, there was no abuse, there were loads of hugs though.

Well over a hundred. Pony Boy watched for quality control purposes, and because he knew he'd get a laugh out of it. Three little kids followed me around for about an hour. Advance warning people that a walking hugging machine was making its way through town.

Up and down Cruises' Street, O'Connell Street, Bedford Row, Thomas Street, outside Penny's.

Honestly though, if you think about it, who in Ireland likes having their personal space invaded? I don't. Which kind of makes it a shitty stunt to go invading someone else's for fun. Plus, it seemed like the kind of thing someone would do in California or something. Not very Limerick for sure.

I had every age group, every race, colour and creed. I even had a Charlie Chaplin hug. Parents walking with their kids hugged me, and then their kids did too. I hugged three generations of one family. A group of shoppers walked passed, shook their heads at me as they laughed, stopped came back and hugged the crap out of me.
I was full sure I'd hate today. I didn't. I kind of loved it actually. Spreading the love. It's good for the soul, apparently.