The Cuddly Microwave

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This is my ocelot. His name is Fabio.

Australia is a perfectly nice place but it also happens to be perfectly pricey. I spend a large amount of time worrying about money causing a slow degeneration into miserliness. I walk around shops talking to myself and prodding bags of flour. I measure apples in the fruit and veg section to make sure I get more apple mass for my dollar. I tell Australians that Australia is expensive, because people love it when you criticise their country. People also love whiny paupers, which is why I’m so popular.

As a result, thoughts and statements of the following nature are just on the horizon:

“New clothes? Are you insane? Why would I buy new clothes when there are all these abandoned curtains just lying around, dying to be made into a toga?” (I said toga as an appeasement to my masculinity.) Actually, I could always make them into a fetching outfit to charm some money out of Rhett Butler, thus saving Tara. (Sorry, masculinity.)

Or this one: “Hey guys, instead of going out for coffee today, why don’t we pour ourselves cups of hot water and pretend we’re drinking coffee instead! Let’s be children again, living in a world who’s boundaries exist only at the limits of our imagination! Please don’t leave!”

Or perhaps: “I think human beings should embrace their natural biorhythms. Shun electric light, housemates! From now on, we should all go to bed at six. If you can’t sleep, we can stay up and talk in the dark about carving flint and making underwear out of ferret skins. Please don’t leave!”

The day is coming soon. Maybe I’ll start bringing cucumber sandwiches to restaurants, who knows? It clearly isn’t healthy, and so I’ll probably take the more sensible route. Once I’m adopted as the seventh child in Brangelina’s rainbow family, I’ll start spending money again. Oh, then it’ll be all: “This is my ocelot. His name is Fabio; he wears nappies  and he only eats the blue M&Ms. This is Marta, she changes Fabio’s nappies. She comes to the house every day in the chopper. Once a week she cuts my toenails. Marta, here’s a thousand dollars. Go buy Fabio a new stroller.”

Either way, you’re basically screwed. The Man keeps producing shiny things to tempt us to spend money. A typical creation in this vein is Siri, an app you control with your voice. Simon has her on his phone. She seems pretty useless, and responds to most commands with “I’m sorry. I do not understand what you want me to do.” Her name reminds me of Suri Cruise. Suri Cruise makes me sad. Poor little beggar has Tom Cruise for a father.

I stop writing now since thinking has made me tired, and I feel chilly. This toga lets in a draught.


The Public Nuisance Checklist

By Patrick Fawcett

When everyone finally wakes up and crowns me Grand Dictator of Patrickania (which is what the world will be called henceforth), I think I’ll force the population to fill in a form such as this. It will be called the “Public Nuisance Checklist” or PNC and will be sent to all the households in the land. Here are the thirty questions it will contain:

1.            Do you often have conversations about cocktails that last longer than ten minutes?

2.            Do you wear sunglasses on top of your head at all times?

3.            Do you ever talk loudly on buses about your addiction to prescription medication?

4.            Do you believe that a doorway is an appropriate place to stop and search in your handbag?

5.            Do you frequently drive at a snail’s pace on the motorway?

6.            Is the following sentence correct:

“There is no pacific reason for this swordfish to be on my doorstep.”

7.            Do you engage shop assistants in lengthy conversations about nothing in particular (i.e. which  type of pickled onions are the tastiest) while at the checkout, thus causing an enormous queue to form behind you?

8.            Do you refuse to buy your groceries with notes? Do you prefer to slowly pay for your groceries one bronze coin at a time?

9.             Do you have difficulty in using ATMs in general?

10.          Do you refuse to queue for anything?

11.           A man in a big golden hat tells you that if you wait patiently in line he will give you a unicorn that poos diamonds. Do you still refuse to stand in line, just for the sake of it?

12.           Do you believe that “you’re” and “your” are interchangeable?

13.           Do you normally speak at a volume closer to gibbon than human, especially in public places and especially while on the telephone?

14.           Do you believe that your romantic life is of any interest to strangers?

15.           Do you believe that your chronic ill-health is of any interest to strangers?

16.           Do you believe that the mundane actions and achievements of your child/grandchild/cat are of any interest to strangers?

17.           Do you eat with your mouth open?

18.           If so, do you also smack your lips in appreciation of the delicious kebab/corn-on-the-cob/monkey that you are eating?

19.            Do you work in a call centre?

20.           Do you frequently ask people who their favourite musician/band is, then when you have gathered such information, deride said musician/band in order to prove your immensely powerful critical faculties?

21.           Do you play music so loudly that baby birds are shaken out of their nests in nearby trees?

22.           Have you dyed your hair “Rihanna Red”?

23.           Do you have a mullet?

24.           Do you have a femullet?

25.           Are you hearing impaired and yet refuse to buy a hearing aid in case it makes you seem old, thus causing you to respond with  “What?” more than three times to every single thing someone says, until the speaker is overwhelmed by the banality both of what they have said and the situation in general?

25.            Are you Lee Evans?

26.            Did you have any role in the production of the movie “The Lucky One” or any other movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel?

27.            Do you park over two spaces rather than one in order to protect your immensely precious vehicle? In particular, do you do this on the busiest days of the week/times of day?

28.            Do you bring up your iPad™ in conversation more than twice a day on average?

29.            Do you walk slowly down the middle of pavements?

30.            If so, are you also wider than average and thus more difficult to overtake?


Thieving Kookaburra Bastards and Other Life Lessons

I’m still wildly ignorant about most things here, but I have learnt some valuable life lessons so far. And here they are.

1. Kookaburras will try to steal your chips. 

My sister and I were sitting in the park today eating chips and talking about a pair of kookaburras we could see (and hear!) Oh yes, they looked harmless and Australian, but really they were planning  to steal our chips all along. I was in the middle of delivering a pearl of wisdom when one flew directly at my hand, attempting to snatch the chip from my very fingers. All I saw was a flurry of grey feathers. I heard my sister shout and I fell to my side. A deep seated biological reaction must have kicked in because I shielded the chip with my body the whole time. Lesson learned – kookaburras don’t care what anybody thinks about them when there’s food around.

That’s a big-ass kookaburra and I apologise for that.

2. You need your ID a lot. 

I was  surprised to discover that you need ID to buy a phone here. I’m guessing because crims might try and buy phones and then, I don’t know, phone other crims and organise plans to rob banks and whatnot. You also have to give ID every time you use the toilet. A driver’s licence will suffice for a number one, but only a passport will do for a number two.

3. It’s hot. 

Really hot. It’s not conducive to effort. Just the like the coldness of Ireland wasn’t conducive to effort.

4. The sea can really hurt your face.

The waves here are powerful. They stand at man height and hit you full force in the face. Normally you’re distracted because you’re squinting to see if there are any sharks or jellyfish sliming around in the disturbed sea sand. Then POW you get a sharp wave-fist right on the nose and/or genitals. I say squinting because I am shortsighted and don’t want to lose my glasses to the ocean. No mermaid is going to put my glasses in her secret cave of human treasures I can tell you that, with her forks and statues and so on… until her father destroys it with his big glowing trident… my glasses will not be destroyed by trident beams I tell you!

5. A lot of products have mysteriously changed their brand names. 

Cillit Bang – Easy Off Bam (why?)

Autoglass Repair – O’Briens (why??)

Woodies – Bunnings (both equally poor, to be fair).

I understand that an Australian travelling to Ireland might see things the other way, but damn it I don’t have time to appreciate the viewpoints of others!

There is my wisdom, gleaned over a month or so. Cherish it. Share it with your loved ones.

(Kookaburra Image taken from

The Baby in the Sky Kennel

The “flight attendant” elbowed his way past an old man tottering up to the toilet. The old man stumbled towards a woman practising her deep vein thrombosis exercises and tripped over her legs, falling headfirst into the lap of a man in a tank top. Nobody noticed however, because they were all being deafened by the squalling baby in Aisle 50. Flight Attendant Manfred had been patient all day, but a combination of explosive diarrhoea mixed with the constant barrage of inane questions that passengers aimed at him like arrows of annoyance had dissolved his self-control. Baby Loud and Proud was the last straw. He made his way up to the cockpit, and got the pilot to send a message through the intercom.

“Would the baby in aisle 50 please shut up. I repeat, would the baby in aisle please shut up,” said Rolando McGettigan in his calm, reassuring tone. It was the one he reserved for informing passengers of violent turbulence, unexpected hurricanes and acts of terrorism.  However, the baby refused to take crap from anybody, and proceeded to cry ever louder. It was two in the morning, the other passengers were getting sleepy and murderous. Manfred walked up to the mother of Loud and Proud and said,
“Madam, the crew of Fantastico Airlines have already asked your baby to beak it at least five times. We now have no other option than to make an emergency stop in the Ukraine, put him a sky kennel, put him in the hold, and carry on with our flight.”

“Thanks, that would be lovely,” she replied. So we all made the emergency stop, quite gladly, and slept peacefully for the rest of the journey to Singapore. No, not really. No-one was putting Baby Loud and Proud in a sky kennel any time soon. In real life, he was free to wail at the top of his lungs, laugh at the top of his lungs, sing poorly at the top of his lungs. I was free to give him dirty looks. It was a twelve hour flight and it was the middle of the night. I understand that it wasn’t his parents’ fault. But it did make me wish that babies were made to fly on separate planes. Not horrible planes –  lovely ones with playpens and a grinning cabin crew blowing bubbles and doing handstands. Just not on planes where people like to sleep.

This was on the big flight as part of my relocation to Australia by the way (that’s a nice bit of disjointed storytelling there, I’m proud of that). When I asked my plane friend Gillian about it in Singapore she didn’t seem to have even noticed. Perhaps nobody else cared in the least and slept soundly the whole time.

Apart from Baby L and P, I can’t complain too much about the flights over. It was my first experience having a little TV in the seat where you can watch stuff. That alone made in a hundred percent better than any other flight I’ve been on. My mind goes back  to a trip made four years ago by the Fawcett clan in  which The Devil Wears Prada and Just my Luck with Lindsay Lohan were the two wonderful movies on offer. The horror, oh the horror. Failing that, plane-movie-deciders  put on something with Adam Sandler.

“What actor always makes quality movies? You know, movies that everyone loves? Adam Sandler of course!”     they must say during meetings where they decide such things.

The Die-quite-Soon Charade

Patrick Fawcett

I’ve now joined the hallowed and rarefied stratum of society known as motorists. That is why I wrote that first sentence like that.

It was a long and arduous process of avoidance. For fairly valid reasons, since I view  driving of lumps of metal on narrow grey strips of tar at high speeds as a form of collective madness. We humans are soft, fleshy creatures and should stick to safe methods of transport, like trundling along on ponies over meadows. Of course, many people are “go-getters” and “high-fliers” and trundling isn’t their thing. They are the types that start driving at nine and driving on motorways at thirteen. They wore fake moustaches and sunglasses in order to fool the Gardaí into believing they should be on the roads. I have no time for such nonsense.

My reluctance to drive is rooted in childhood trauma, I’m afraid. For most of my life, we had a succession of unreliable cars that broke down for the hell of it. They were the vehicular equivalent of delinquent horses. Some were downright dangerous, like the red Daihatsu (read “Die-quite-soon”) Charade that kept erupting into clouds of black smoke on a particular journey on the motorway to Cork. We’d drive along for a couple of miles, cautiously optimistic, perhaps even making a joke or two about the little bastard of a car. Then boom, the black smoke would be back and my father would veer to the side of the road as we all screamed in terror. We all stumbled onto the hard shoulder, traumatised. It was only due to my dad’s mechincal skills that we reached our destination at all.

However, my Fear of Driving was truly cemented in my fourteenth summer. I was inserted in front of the wheel. My father was my passenger. It was my grandparents’ garden. I fired up the car, aimed it at a group of silver birch trees and ploughed into two of the most unfortunate ones. I still hear my father’s terrified roar as he attempted to grab the steering wheel. I find it odd that I didn’t consider breaking; instead I attempted to steer away from the trees.

It achieved much in the long run, since it gave my grandparents a witty story to relate to any number of strangers, family friends, possible employers and so forth whenever the topic of driving comes up.

Now, however, I’ve had to bite the bullet. My first lesson involved rolling around a carpark. I concentrated very, very hard. I perched on the steering wheel like a needy child clinging to its exhausted mother. Then my instructor calmly told me that we would be going out onto the main road.

“Or we can stay in the carpark for a bit longer,” he said, since I’d clearly gone the colour of a meringue. Nevertheless, we did flop onto the road. At one point I looked in the mirror and saw a long, irritated queue of drivers forming behind me. And I was informed that I should try and relax a bit more in order to avoid general whiteness around the knuckles. But I was alive, sweet oxygen still flowing into my lungs! Which is success, in a way.


Five Fool-Proof Ways of Making Money

After much investigation into the world of finance, I’ve arrived at these fool-proof methods of money making. Be warned – having read them, you’re sure to become wildly successful. This could lead to estrangement from poor, jealous friends as well as an inflated sense of self-worth.

1. Pray Your Little Hands Off

Get down on those knees and pray to whatever deity most closely matches your own particular prejudices. Promise said deity to become a missionary and/or save some orphans. Don’t worry, you don’t need to  do these things once you’re rich. Just donate some money to a hospital and get a wing named after yourself.

2. Play the Lotto

Someone has to win, as millions of losers say every week. Yes, you are more likely to be hit by a meteorite than win, but you can simply get around this by buying more tickets. Increase your chances of winning by buying a baby over the Internet and kissing it for luck before each draw. Which leads us to …

3. Sell your baby

If the “Luck-Baby” (or xiao-qei to give it its Chinese name) doesn’t pull its fat baby weight and earn you cold hard cash, sell the little blighter. If needs be, pretend that it’s the lovechild of Adam Sandler and Jennifer Lopez. If you do so, prepare for long queues of discerning film-goers to form outside your home in the near future, waving fists of cash.

If you’re lucky enough to have been recently impregnated, all the better. Rubber plantations are always looking for more small, nimble pairs of hands.

4. Sell Yourself

Quite self-explanatory. Get sexy, hit the streets and get paid. But remember, prostitution is still frowned upon by the prudes of this world. And can lead to all sorts of “sticky” situations. So be prepared.

5. Find a mantra

I think “The Secret” recommended something along the lines of “I am a money magnet” which is fine, but I personally recommend “Every day and in every way, lots of money is coming my way.” I used to be sceptical, but after months of repeating this ad nauseum, money started coming in through my air vents, out of the taps in the bathroom and in the beaks of helpful sparrows. It really does work.

So go out and get rich today and fulfill your destiny as faceless cogs in the capitalism machine.

Up and ATM

I don’t understand the relationship between human being and ATM. Or to put it another way, I don’t understand why some human beings find them so complicated. You join a moderately sized queue for the ATM, and by the time you’re typing in your PIN your beard has grown from designer stubble to Captain Haddock.

“Why is this taking so long?” you ask yourself. The lady in the tracksuit at the front of the queue has been standing there since before Jedward began their neverending assault on common human decency. Is she like Neville Longbottom, requiring the password to the common room to be written down at all times, only in this case her PIN? Is she from a country that doesn’t use numbers? Is she waiting for the machine to produce a small polystyrene cup filled with coffee? Has she recently taken some psychotropic drugs and is now having a quick, muttered argument with the machine because it refused to give her money for further psychotropic drugs?


Of course, you will most likely forget about the unfortunate souls behind you in the queue once you yourself get to the machine. Suddenly you feel a need to check your balance. Perhaps you have OCD and feel the need to check your balance sixteen times more just in case you misread it, and, God forbid, attempt to draw out more money than you have.

“I’m not quite sure I want a fifty euro note,” you muse, being the cautious type. “It might lead to that awkward situation in shops where the shopkeeper asks me if I have anything smaller. Maybe I should get two twenties. But you’re more likely to break a twenty than a fifty. I can’t take out ninety. I might get mugged, or a seagull might snatch the notes from my hand just as I step away from the machine.” And on and on it goes, while all the while you are unconscious of the fact that you have now become the Annoying Woman in the Tracksuit. So next time, judge not lest ye be judged. Or cast the first stone, or do any of the many biblical things that are strangely relevant to ATM-use.

Besides the dullness of queuing for the ATM, there is nothing worse than shoving your little blue card into its eager mouth only to discover that you are in fact a pauper and your bank account is empty. The twenty euro you were counting on to get you back home to the countryside was mysteriously withdrawn during a lapse of judgement the night before. In fact, you can even remember the conversation you had with yourself.

“Yes, I think I actually didn’t spend that much this week … or at least, I don’t think that mink coat I bought on my laser could have cost all that much. Yeah, I’d say I can safely take out this twenty. Should be fine. Ah, actually, even if it isn’t, who cares? I mean who really cares?”

“Who cares, who really cares” is one of those handy English phrases that lead directly to unwanted pregnancies, motorway pile-ups and empty bank accounts. The next time you hear yourself mutter those words, immediately refrain from doing whatever the hell you were about to do. Specifically, step away from the ATM.