Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Importance of Blem

Help required to re-trench the cool Dublin word 'Blem' in Urban Dictionary against a tide of Gravesend slang merchants.

Pass it on!

3. blem
Polite exhortation to someone to make a short, swift journey somewhere usually on an errand.

Will you blem down to the off-licence for me and get some kirsch for my kir

The run-flat on your BMW 6 series has been slashed by vandals? Don't worry, I'll
blem down to Insomnia and get you a double skinny latte!

tags pop out saunter dander dash run an errand

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

When I grow up, I want to be Claire Byrne

Those that know these things say that women don’t as a rule respond well to hearing other women’s voices on the radio. It seems that there is some strange aural dissonance which causes one female’s voice to grate on another’s hearing. Apparently the female ear is less tolerant of high pitch sounds and likes to have her radio coming with a lot more baritone sounds. Male presenters, it seems, send a subconscious acoustic pheromone wafting through the ether to catch the attention of the female audience.

This, if true, goes a long way to explaining why I find Orla Barry so irritating on Newstalk 106FM and why Gerry Ryan can vulgar his way through his mid morning 2FM slot completely unchallenged.

Every now and again however, we discover the exceptions which prove the rule. Claire Byrne and Brenda Power are two cases in point. Yours truly finds that both have altogether more pleasing radio voices. Maybe it is their husky tones, maybe a cute sound engineer has the base cranked to ten, whatever the reason I can’t help enjoying their programmes.

Claire Byrne has become a particular favourite of mine and I’m beginning to understand why. In addition to the palatable acoustics, I love Claire’s sassy attitude. This girl has an opinion and isn’t afraid to let you have it between the ears. And she won’t let lack of knowledge get in the way of her opinion. I find that I like this in a woman although I detest this trait in men.

Paired with the excellent (in a sports geek sort of way) Ger Gilroy, this doe-eyed doyen of radio breakfast shows delivers the goods. They’ve developed a good rapport, some would even say on-air chemistry, and have brought a breath of fresh air to what was becoming a very tedious radio time. (Things took a turn for the worst for morning radio when Marty Whelan was replaced on 2FM by two juvenile delinquents with attention deficit hyper-activity disorder and an painful line in boring radio chatter.)

Ostensibly, the dynamic Newstalk duo present news stories and current affairs in a two hander mode not unlike Moaning Ireland (RTE Radio 1). The reality is quite different though. Claire can’t help offering her (usually strong) opinion on the news story which she is presenting. Some weeks ago, she covered a story about the HSE moving a MRI scanner to a private hospital. Ms Byrne quickly became irate as she told the story and presumed that (a) the HSE were wrong to redeploy capital equipment (b) they were up to no good by giving this resource away to the private sector (c) they were screwing over the poor people who had toiled hard to fund raise to purchase the machine in the first place. She proceeded to vent a host of other criticisms of the HSE although there was no evidence to support any of her claims. Some days later, describing the arrest in London of a Dublin criminal who’d served time for the murder of Veronica Guerin, she found herself embroidering the news story with hearsay, gossip and/or her own opinion. Her co-presenter Gilroy found himself adding the words “alleged” and “is reported to have” in a scrambled attempt to avoid a libel suit.

Claire Byrne has revitalised my radio listening and not just because of her dulcet tones. She adds an air of breathless excitement to the morning news which other stations would do well to emulate. I’ve noticed that she also has a column in one of the Sunday newspapers (think it might be the Sunday Times, but I could be confusing that with other female thought leader, Sarah Carey). All this, brains and good looks, let’s hope she doesn’t start blogging or else the rest of us “speak first, think second” girls are done for.


(My advisor has told me to note that all the above is my opinion and not necessarily based on any fact or actual events. Descriptions may be laced with snide comment or prone to hyperbole which arise due to my intense jealousy of successful career women. Blankpaige apologises for any hurt which these groundless allegations may have unintentionally caused.)

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Coming Soon! When I grow up, I want to be Claire Byrne.

In the meantime, check out between 6:30 - 9:00 am on Newstalk 106FM.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Normal Service resumes shortly (II)

Phew! At last I can return to a normal existence. Having done my bit for the country (I'd a covert role of some political importance in Dublin South Central which I cannot disclose), I can revert to my normal diet of pointless self-examination. But some quick thoughts before I kick Election 2007 to the kerb.

It is quite humbling and very impressive to see so many people put themselves through the election process. Regardless of their political leanings, I have a new found respect for them all. Everyone seemed gracious in defeat or magnanimous in victory. Shame the same couldn't be said about their local party workers. Can we introduce a new rule that says when your candidate gets elected he (for it invariably is) should under no circumstances be hoisted aloft like some incongruous footballing hero. I didn't see one candidate look comfortable in his grey suit being held precariously by four equally grey, doddery old fools. Put the man down and let him at least pretend to be somewhat statesmanlike.

I thought that I'd be delighted to see Michael McDowell crushed again. But I was surprised at how sorry I felt for him and his family. It is hardly a surprise that he took the result so personally. This is the problem with conviction politicians. But Michael, I suppose Bill Clinton said it right. "You can't say you love your country and hate your government!". But my disappointment was tempered by the more outrageous de-seating of Joe Higgins. Some things are just not fair - like Cyprian Brady getting elected with less than 1,000 first preference votes when Mary Lou had a plunging neck line and a nice choker.

Reviewing how I wrestled with my decision, I'm not surprised atall by the election results. I could never find a good reason why change was going to be so good. The FG 'contract' was a stupid play that hamstrung Enda more than I think people will concede. He should also lay off the "I'm so confident that I'm the right man" routine which fools no-one. Instead, he should quietly accept that he has every right to being Taoiseach and then act like he is. Then no-one would need to be convinced, especially himself. Labour's 'we want a change in government' line was a none too subtle signalling that a FF/Lab government could be presented as a change in government. The number of women representatives in the next Dail will be even less that the pathetic percentage of the outgoing Oireachtas.

PR has an inherent fault in that it promotes division and coalitions become inevitable. As a country we were in danger of becoming like the Italian democracy. When the Labour party split again and possibly Fine Gael, our rainbow alternative could end up comprising 7 or 8 colours from a diverse gene pool. So it was important that the two main parties made gains or held their own to stop the increasing fragmentation. It would be best for the Labour party to pass on the option of becoming FF lapdog 'cos as the PD's can testify they'll end up being the losers in the next election. The landscape is right of a realignment of the 'left' or at least social democrats to provide a viable alternative to the market-forces politics of both main parties.

A real result would be if FF in the national interest reappointed Mary Harney as Minister for Health in a FF/PD/Green coalition. This would have the advantage of being a sufficient majority for some tough action to be taken against the vested interest that are Doctors and Nurses. Radical reform of the health service could be achieved. Of course that won't happen, because FF don't have the national interest at heart and our democracy wouldn't thank them even if they did.

It was particularly nice to see the Irish Times being found out for what it really is - the paper of the upper class minority record. Having had the information since last October, it ran a drip feed campaign designed to undermine FF's only real asset - Bertie. For 10 days, it ran the election agenda. Unfortunately, it mis-calculated several things. Irish people don't mind when someone is taken down a peg or two but it gets quite indignant when you continually kick a man when he's down. The smear campaign prevented any rigorous critique of FF policy and galvanised its supporters to get out and vote. The attention on Betie took the necessary spotlight of Enda Kenny until both he and Bertie debated together. Not surprisingly, Bertie has more experience in tv debates. Despite what the papers wrote, Enda got his ass kicked and it is a testament to his hard work and like-ability that he did so well electorally.

I'm pleased that so many people got engaged with the election - there are clearly lots of practical problems (Thursday vote, ropey register, constituency boundaries) - but it is healthy that so many people took the trouble to decide. For this reason alone, the country got the correct result and unlike what the Irish Times might say, getting the government you deserve is no bad thing for a democracy.

Enough already,

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Liz is really letting herself go!

This whole election lark has me miedered like a mad fishwife on a full moon. There was a time when blankpaige fretted about having exhausted the pool of things to write about. Do my blogs have any value? Not now. Thanks to Election 2007, I'm at least sure about one thing. Most of my recent posts have been 'political' and so they are definitely off no value to man or beast!

I've been seeing the same Progressive Democrats poster for quite sometime now and while I knew there was something seemingly incongruous, I could not put my finger on it. "Don't Throw It All Away", the poster exclaims with an unusal backward looking perspective. Most of the other parties at least suggest some forward momentum (Forward Together, Next Steps, A Contract for Change, etc).

But then it hit me, like a clout from a selfish racist bully, when they say 'don't throw it all away' the emphasis is on the word "all". This suggests that it is acceptable to throw some of it away. So then the only question is which bit. A quick check on the PD website for further clarification was interesting but not exactly informative.

You get lots of pictures of Liz O'Donnell trying to sex up a dossier that really needs some attention. That weapon of mass distruction, Michael McDowell is back up the lamp-posts with the new slogan "Left Wing Government?, No thanks". This is really quite amusing 'cos I'd bet that if you asked 100 Irish people where their politics are, 95 would say "Left of Centre", 4 would say "Far Left" and then there would be Enda Kenny who'd have to wait until Pat told him what he was.

The PD Site also proudly displays a picture of Michael perched behind the wheel of a large 4X4 with the words "Garda Ombudsman" on the side. This photo is wrong on so many levels. But try this one. The Garda Ombudsman is an administrative function with an office in Abbey Street. Now I know the Luas works have made shite of the tarmac around there but we really don't need a 4X4 to get into the one spot in Dublin that is served by the greatest number of public transport options.

Of course, maybe Michael is a big Olivia Newton-John fan and he just likes the lyrics

"So don't throw it all away

I don't wanna be the one who's gonna have to beg you stay

I don't wanna be the one to change your mind

One more time, Please stay

Don't throw it all away"

But then I can't recall him begging anyone to stay. Certainly not foreign nationals.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sometimes I sits and thinks....

I've been honoured by a nod from the highly cerebral That Girl and while you probably know that blankpaige doesn't do memes (remember?), I have to make an exception 'cos this one is done with such warmth. That Girl has nominated me for a Thinking Blogger Award

She kindly observes that blankpaige

is one of my daily reads. She combines wit and wisdom in really pithy posts and I wish she'd write more of them because each is a gem.

This is praise indeed from a brilliant blogger who, had anyone asked me before she, would be a definite nominee of mine. Fortunately, I've received this meme before the rest of Blog O'sphere, so I'm able to nominate the following equally fabulous five.

JL Pagano : The King of Irish Blog O'Sphere, his brilliant posts consistently force me to think about stuff that I wouldn't otherwise do. He is supportive and encouraging and ... well check him out for yourself.

Damien Mulley : Is the vitamin C in my blog diet. Everything that he blogs about is new to me, but he does so with patience, style and no little humour. His cyber hugs are a thing of beauty and he is so mind-expanding in a safe non-drug way.

Omani : Passionate, opinionated, persistent, questioning and brave. Every day Omani lights a
candle that illuminates my ignorance. He knows so much yet generously listens to uninformed opinion.

Sarah Carey : Sarah makes me think because I disagree with almost everything she writes, despite apparently holding very similar political perspectives. She infuriates and captivates in equal measure. If she were leader of Fine Gael, I'd vote her into Aras just to feel safe at night.

I like to have a mental picture of the blogger that I'm reading. It appeals to my sense of order. And because I haven't been able to do so in this case, the final blog which I nominate is Pretty Cunning/Susan Hated Literature. I don't really know what to think about this blogger but it is not for the want of thinking. Her posts and comments constantly surprise me and make me think that I must live in a strange antiparallel universe. But in a fun and interesting way!

So many other blogs deserve mention, but I want to keep them for myself!


The rules of this meme/award are simple.

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (There is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Who are you?

Along with the BMW X5, another status symbol among my ogh so intellectual friends is to have a particular favourite piece by Seamus Heaney that really "says everything". Always the contrarian, while blankpaige doesn't want to dis the good Nobel Laureate, I'd respectfully like to draw your attention to another brilliant Derry-born poet : the lesser known Neil Hannon. Mr Hannon writes wonderful poetry which he delightfully supplies accompanied by the most melodic of tunes. What other artist could have a refrain (Neil does refrains not choruses) which include the "Ba Ba, Ba, Ba Ba Ba, Ba Ba, Ba" (Though there may be a la in their also).

Might I suggest you find a copy of Gin Soaked Boy and crank it up to ten on the stereo? Your day will never start better.

Gin Soaked Boy
(Copyright : Neil Hannon, I think but I'm going to have to go home, find my CD and confirm)

I'm the darkness in the light
I'm the leftness in the right
I'm the rightness in the wrong
I'm the shortness in the long
I'm the goodness in the bad
I'm the saneness in the mad
I'm the sadness in the joy
I'm the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I'm the ghost in the machine
I'm the genius in the gene
I'm the beauty in the beast
I'm the sunset in the east
I'm the ruby in the dust
I'm the trust in the mistrust
I'm the Trojan horse in Troy
I'm the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I'm the tiger's empty cage
I'm the mystery's final page
I'm the stranger's lonely glance
I'm the hero's only chance
I'm the undiscovered land
I'm the single grain of sand
I'm the Christmas morning toy
I'm the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I'm the world you'll never see
I'm the slave you'll never free
I'm the truth you'll never know
I'm the place you'll never go
I'm the sound you'll never hear
I'm the course you'll never steer
I'm the will you'll not destroy
I'm the gin in the gin-soaked boy

I'm the half-truth in the lie
I'm the why not in the why
I'm the last roll of the die
I'm the old school in the tie
I'm the spirit in the sky
I'm the catcher in the rye
I'm the twinkle in her eye
I'm the Jeff Goldblum in "The Fly"

Who am I?

I'm so definitely the "Why not in the Why". So which one are you?


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

One reason would suffice

The three regular readers (Thanks Dad & Mam) of blankpaige will now that this girl has gone all angsty, wrestling with her (lack of) political convictions. I'm looking for a reason to vote. No, that's not entirely true. I'm looking for one reason to vote Fine Gael.

Disclosure : I'm a long time Progressive Democrats fan who has supported Mary Harney's brave politics from the sidelines. I cannot in conscience, support her successor as party leader who strikes me as at best selfish and egotistical and at worst an arrogant bully with no regard for the Irish people, our laws and constitution.

I'm probably what an MORI poll would call an undecided. But, believe me, I don't want to be. I thought I'd turn to my blog buddies for some guidance. So I was delighted to spot Sarah Carey's post entitled "10 Reasons to Vote Fine Gael". Sarah is a well know Sunday Times columnist and I believe comes from a strong FG tradition. She's not shy about giving her opinion, which is what attracts me most to her brilliant blog site, GUBU.

Given my current dilemma, I tore into her article with all the relish that I'd normally save for Tom Humphries' poetry on the back of the Sports section of Monday's Irish Times. (Although I know nothing about sport, I at least appreciate that it is a thing of great beauty and causes grown men to proclaim love in terms that they'd never think about doing to their women folk).

How disappointed I was when I realised that Sarah's sharp analysis didn't give me any reasons for voting FG but rather some justification for not voting FF. (That I didn't need)

To paraphrase cruelly, the list went something like:

  1. Change is good
  2. Too long in power is too bad
  3. FF have wasted a lot of money
  4. FF's tax individualisation is bad
  5. FF could be more green
  6. The Health Service problems could be sorted out with fresh new faces
  7. Labour will ensure that FG will have to look after the poor
  8. Our people > Their people
  9. FG will make sure that there is free pre-School
  10. Ogh fuck it, I said at the start of the post that there would be 10 reasons, I'd by God, I'll find 10 reasons!

Now here is my problem.

(1) Why is change good?

(2) Why should I trust someone with no experience over someone with lots of experience

(3) Civil servants waste the money and we don't get to vote them in or out

(4) I happen to think Tax individualisation is a reasonably good idea!

(5) I don't think any of the parties are particularly green even the Greens!

(6) The one thing that our health service needs is for the same determined kick-ass politician to be returned with a strong mandate. Enda says he'd do exactly the same but in a more "imaginative way".

(7) Why won't FG look after the poor?

(8) I remain to be convinced, see (6) above.

(9) As a young woman with, I hope, no need to avail of free pre-school education in the next five years, I don't know why my taxes should go to pay so that you can have a family and compete for the same jobs as me. Pick one job, and do it properly! (PS, I don't mean Sarah here - she is quite obviously doing both very well!) .

So you see I still don't have a reason and I am faced with a choice between the experienced hucksters and the would-be statesmen, I'm afraid there is no contest. I'm going to have to swallow my dislike of Mr McD and vote his party back in and hope that the party faithful launch a heave against him soon after the election.

Update : Omani is most correct (see comment)(Isn't he always!). Tis too early in the campaign to become so certain. I’ll strive to keep my mind open until closer to polling day. I must find another reason – and it doesn’t even have to be logical – to make my decision. Any of the candidates got a GSOH and want to pursue a friendship and maybe more?


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Saturday, May 05, 2007

You couldn't Make it up (No. 67a in a series of 134)

Blankpaige is getting worried about the amount of political stuff has begun to appear on this blog. This is worrying for so many reasons. I find myself posting longer and longer comments on other people's blog sites. The following is an example posted at Damien Mulley's site which regular readers of the blankpaige know is the vitamin C in my blog diet.

Damo links the Youtube of Vincent Browne's schoolmaster to Bertie Ahern's errand schoolboy.

My comment on this (slightly modified to be more readable or at least less incomprehensible)....

This money wasn’t in Bertie’s account ‘cos he didn’t have a bank account. It was simply resting in his office safe. And he just happened to be sleeping in his office on a blowup bed next to the safe on account of his marriage breakup which was going through a messy divorce which was why he didn’t want to have a bank account which would have allowed Miriam’s lawyers to go after his money, which would have cleaned him out, which would have left him severely financially compromised on account of the fact that he had a high maintenance girlfriend to bankroll on account of her expensive taste in house renovations, which was why he got her to take the cash in the first place because he couldn’t be seen to take money 'cos he was Minister for Finance.

Here we had a Minister for Finance who took his custodianship of public funds so seriously that he slept on a blowup bed next to a safe containing public funds. Now you can’t get much more committed that that, can you?


Thursday, May 03, 2007

You couldn't Make it up (No. 67 in a series of 134)

Does anyone know the number of a good bus driver who'd lend a young wan and her boyfriend a few thousand euros to buy a house that I am going tp rent from a man who doesn't yet own it but is willing to will it to my boyfriend in the event of his death? The bus driver's death, not my boyfriend's, of course!

Ogh, did I mention that this 3 year old house is in urgent need of significant renovations. And if my benefactor could present the asking price to the vendor as a fictional price paid plus a clatter more for the pretend renovations, this will allow my boyfriend and I to evade stamp duty.

P.S. Did I mention that I don't have boyfriend?

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