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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rushing References

Yesterday I had my interview for the counselling course. It went well, other than the fact that I hadn't brought the references I needed. I assumed that I just had to provide the contact details of my chosen referees the same as if I was applying for a job but I was supposed to have them with me for the interview. So, it was of the utmost importance that I got the references to the course leader as soon as possible. It was too late to get the people I'd originally thought of and so I called upon a few favours. So by last night I had two glowing references, one of which was emailed to me and so wasn't signed by the person who wrote it. I'm not sure that constitutes as good organisational skills but I tied my best at short notice.

I worked until 2 O'clock today and then rushed home to get changed. Ziggy came with me to the library. I tied him up outside while I went in to print the emailed reference and he howled and whimpered incessantly. This is mortifying for me as he draws attention to himself and everyone thinks he's a poor hard done by mutt when he's only been left alone for 30 seconds. I got what I needed at the library and bumped into an old customer from my last job. She said she was shocked to hear I'd left but as long as I was happy that was the main thing. I had built up quite a relationship with this lady and I became a part of her weekly routine. A routine that she enjoyed because of her passion for old photographs. She also enjoyed the attention I gave her and the fact that I had scanned so many of her photos I knew who everyone was. It was nice to see her and I told her I had to rush on as Ziggy was getting impatient and I still hadn't got my references up to the tech.

As I walked up the street I had to remind myself that there was nothing more I could do to ensure a place on this course. I'd got my two references and it would either be too late or be ok. I tied Ziggy up outside the doors and he did his usual wailing like a banshee dog, this of course made everyone look at him and this lady turned round and said "Oh no that wee dog's going to get hit by the doors!". To be honest, I thought she was over reacting slightly but she told me I could bring him in with me so I didn't argue with her.

So, I leave it up to the hands of fate. I didn't provide the references that I intended to but I did provide references from two people who want nothing more than for me to find happiness and contentment in my life. It's the weekend now so I'll have to sit tight and wait.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Granny and Granda Bow

This is a photo of my granny and granda on my father's side. I think it's a lovely photo. It's exactly how I remember them. They lived in Staffordshire and we'd visit them for two weeks every summer. As soon as we got off the boat, or plane, and landed on English turf I could smell the difference in the air. Young noses are sensitive to subtle changes. The scent in the air brought with it the memories of previous years and the excitement of what lay ahead. My grandparents home, in particlar, had a distinct smell that I loved. The house had a pantry, a proper pantry with a beaded curtain. I used to love following my dad in there in the evenings when he went to fetch a can of beer.

Our holidays in Staffordshire were wonderful. Wednesday was market day. The walk up to the town centre was up hill but totally worth it for it's quaint wee cobbled streets and market square. There was a small new age hippy shop that sold incense and cladagh rings and wooden figurines of Indian elephants. I'm pretty sure it was where I always bought my mum her holiday gift. There was a stationary shop called Partners (maybe now it's called Staples?) and every year we'd use our holiday money to buy all our new stationary for school. We could spend hours in there looking at all the funky rubbers and sharpeners.

We'd visit relatives, and people who weren't really relatives but we called 'Aunty' anyway. We would visit our uncle who had the coolest house with a massive organ and a bar in his living room. Sometimes, I would go with dad while he had a pint at the pub and play in the beer garden. Northern Ireland didn't have play areas for kids at bars. This might be because we take drinking very seriously, or the weather just doesn't permit. We went to a reservoir called Tittesworth that had the best park in the whole world. I remember certain years there was drought and the reservoir was all dried up. And then, of course, the highlight of the holiday was going to Alton Towers. Granny and Granda didn't go on any rides except the Swan Boat which just drifted peacefully along the lake. Now that I am an adult I can see that they took immense pleasure in watching all their grandchildren so happy and excited and that was enough for them. It's nice to remember the simpler times.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mall Rats

The Tower Centre was Ballymena's first shopping complex. It used to be a hub of activity. With all the best shops, a supermarket and two cafe/restaurants, the Tower Centre was the place to be. I remember the old entrance when I was a little girl. There were steps down to it, or a ramp for prams and wheel chairs and two rotating posts that held adverts behind the pyrex. You could spin them round 'til you got dizzy. The supermarket was called Crazy Prices. This was before globalisation and all shops were independent companies. It's only rival was Stewarts, which later became Tesco.
Ballymena, for as long as I can remember, had always had a name for being a good shopping town. Especially when it opened up it's secong shopping centre on the site of the old Fairhill Market.

People didn't really warm to the Fairhill Centre though. It's open plan design gave it a very light, open feel, which people did not seem to desire. They quite liked the dark, brooding atmosphere of the Tower Centre. It was warmer. But somewhere along the line, probably with the shift in generations, the Tower Centre lost it's appeal and the Fairhill Centre began to get all the top names of the high street on their premises. Refurbishments were carried out. More space was created and filled with even more popular high street stores. All the money went to that end of the town. The Tower Centre had one feeble makeover but it was too late. The more popular the Fairhill Centre became, the less people shopped in the Tower Centre.

I worked in a shop in the Fairhill Centre for 2 and a half years. I then worked in the Tower Centre for 5 years. I didn't realise at the time, although I knew it was bad for buisness, all the buisnesses, but working in such an environment was very demotivating. The whole place just has a real slow, boring, dreary thing about it. Now I don't work there I'm seeing it through the eyes of a consumer and I am shocked by how zombie like the members off staff from various shops can be, with the exception of a few. I am glad to be away from the place. Of course, in a few years time I'll be cursing the job I have now. I have fresh eyes though and I want to keep them fresh for as long as possible.

This Thursday I have an interview for a part time counselling course at college. I really hope I get a place as this will be the first step towards me working in a profession I actually enjoy. I have been working 8 days in a row, getting up at 5 every morning and so I have a day off tomorrow to prepare for my interview. Not that I plan to do too much. This is very much a case of me just being myself. Oh, and I used to be a mallrat in the Fairhill Centre. There was a bunch of older guys who populated the Tower Centre but we didn't hang with them because they sometimes glared at us.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Demon Pup's Busy Day

Today has been one of those mental days, made all the more mental by being in the company of a dog who is, without a doubt, a mentalist. Ziggy has the right idea. He just thinks every minute of the day is play time, unless he's snoozing. I worked from 6 O'clock this morning to quarter past twelve. I raced home to get changed, grab Ziggy and make my way to the job centre to tell them about my current employment status. I took Ziggy on the lead, a lead which is far too heavy for his delicate frame. Once we got there I went inside to get my ticket and sat down. A lady chatted to me about Ziggy. He started to get restless so I waited outside for a bit. One of the security guards took an interest in him and I let him off the lead. He ran into the job centre where another security guard grabbed hold of him. I let him down and he ran in again as fast as his wee legs would carry him. The same security guard got hold of him and brought him out to me. After a while I went to check where I was in the queue. The queue hadn't moved a single place. I sat down and a few other people made friends with Ziggy. A nice lady gave him a dentastix to chew on and he sat in the middle of the floor munching away.

When my ticket number came up the lady at the desk told me I'd have to take the dog out. I said I would only be a minute because I had started back at work so I just needed to sign off. She asked if I had my book and I told her I'd forgotten it in my rush out of the house. She told me again, that I needed to take the dog out, and come back with my signing book and without the dog. She was, literally, the only person all day who didn't like Ziggy. I thanked her and left. I stopped outside the doors to put Ziggy on his lead and one of the security guards came over and offered to look after Ziggy while I spoke to the nice lady at reception who would be happy to help me.

Then Ziggy and I made slow progress through the town. Ziggy had no idea there were so many people in the world and he thought he should be making friends with all of them. We came home for a short while, rested and played some more, and then we took ourselves off to the pet shop to get Ziggy a more suitable lead. On our way there we came across a couple with a Husky who were also going to the pet shop. Both Ziggy and Zeus (the Husky) were keen to get frolicking but this would have probably ended in disaster so we didn't allow them. Zeus wasn't vicious but he would have easily squished Ziggy with one paw.

On the way home we made friends with an English busker. I suggested he put Ziggy in his guitar case to get a few more pounds. Shortly after this Ziggy had to go to the vet for his second injection. I took a taxi there and booked another one twenty minutes later to take me home. Twenty minutes went by and the vet was still with someone. The taxi arrived and I had to tell him I wasn't ready. I apologised. He left. I went back in. The vet's receptionist apologised. I said it was fine. I thought briefly about phoning a different taxi company to get home but I decided that would be even more ignorant. The vet was ready to see Ziggy and she cooed and aahed over him. I never got that kind of reaction when I took the rats to the vet. But I'd never had this particular vet before. She may well have been the same with rats. She was very sweet. She asked him if he was going to be a brave boy. He let out a yelp before the needle had even touched his skin. I rang my taxi home. The same driver picked me up and he made a fuss of Ziggy. Everyone loves a cute dog.

So now we are home and Ziggy has ate, shat and fallen asleep. Before I took him to the vet's he was in one of his hyper, mental, bouncing off the walls, attacking my feet kind of moods. The receptionist weighed him at he vet's and as she gave him a cuddle he just looked like butter wouldn't melt. Behind closed doors he is a demon dog. But he's my demon dog.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

All That Remains

This was the sunset by the lighthouse in Fanad. It's a very beautiful, peaceful place. You can make out a small figure of a man. He was wearing robes so he was possibly a monk. He sat on the edge of the cliffs and looked out over the sea for ages. And as he walked back to wherever he was going the sun sat beautifully in the sky.

One of the things K and I have in common is a desire for rooting around old abandoned houses. It's just curious to see the things people left behind. In Fanad there were plenty of old houses to explore. I went up stairs in one and nearly fell through the rafters. I sometimes think of the stuff I'd be leaving behind if I suddenly died. Some people are hoarders. I have accumulated very little in my life. I have no assets. Not that I care. I have no desire for materialistic things. All that I would leave behind would be a small cupboard full of writing, photos, letters and memories.

We watched a film one night called Dreams Of A Life, it was a documentary based around the shocking story of a young woman who lay dead in her flat for 3 years with the TV still on. She wasn't discovered until bailiffs broke into her house for not paying her TV licence. The people who were interviewed in the making of this film were people who knew her, people she worked with, her ex boyfriend and, so called friends, who were all completely shocked and upset but not a single one of them had thought to phone her up in 3 years to see how she was doing.

This started off being a lovely blog post and then it just got grimmer and grimmer. Aw well, Ziggy and Meka are playing a game and that makes everything ok again!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Ziggy's First Holiday

This was Ziggy on his first holiday, just four days after we got him. He's getting so big so quickly. His favourite game is chasing shoes and chewing socks. In fact, he's obsessed with feet. The minger.

In a mere few weeks we shall be celebrating my mum's 60th birthday. During the day there will be fun and games for the children (and me too). Young Rooney will man the BBQ and the bouncy castle's been hired. With the trampoline, swing and livestock it is the perfect place to host a party. It would be a mortal sin for me not to come up with some form of treasure hunt. With the treehouse, chickens, pigs and polytunnels we will have a proper Anneka Rice style adventure. I may even slip into some tight shiny lycra. Actually, no, no I won't. Then, after the kids have filled up on junk food and burnt a kazillion calories in the process, and all the dozens of dog guests that have filled up on left overs and chased and barked and wrestled themselves to exhaustion, then all us adults will go out and party. The band's been hired, Bert's practicing his wee 'piece' on the clarinet and who knows who else will get up on stage and belt one out?

Right, off I go to plan a treasure hunt.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Surprises and Treasure

I have genuinely forgotten that I'm meant to be blogging again. I have also been busy. Busy working, seeing Mels, going to Donegal, trying to toilet train Ziggy. I have also been liasing with various people as part of researching getting my book published. It's a crazy world out there. In my head people like me don't get published. I am ordinary. I forget that we live in an age where anything is possible. I am excited about the prospects. Considering this was a book I wrote by accident it really does not matter whether it gets published or not. It's still an achievement. I do want to share my story but I have to remember that that's all it is, my story. There's nothing special about it, we all have a story. But that's not to say I'm not gonna do my best to try and get it published.

My good buddy Mel was home last week and she met the handsome Ziggy boy. Needless to say she was in love. We took Ziggy to Cullybackey to meet his new dog friends. Judy was a little bit cut that I had a new rat (Judy is used to me with small critters), but Jess, still being a pup herself, was over the moon to have such an exciting new play thing. It was Ziggy's first experience of the countryside and he could smell the excitement in the air. The dogs ran around like loons while Mel and I took lots of photos. Mel had a little bounce on the trampoline and then I showed her the treehouse.

Mel and I have been friends since we were 16. It has been a fun friendship filled with many an adventure. Often, a ghost hunt we would go on. Never did we see one. We used to sit in her greenhouse on a couple of deck chairs. I had bought a lifesize glow-in-the-dark skull shaped candle, which we called old boney after the skull in the Trapdoor. There were other candles. We used to sit and chat and watch the bugs sizzle on the flames of the candles. Many a bug lost their lives in that greenhouse. No vegetables grew in it. Nothing thrived other than mine and Mel's friendship. I remember hiding in the greenhouse one year as a surprise for Mel's birthday. I was at university at the time and she didn't think I could come home. Mel was also, along with Mikey, the treasure at the end of the treasure hunt I set up for Bert. Life should be full of surprises and treasure. Oh wait, it already is :)

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Ziggy Starpup

Quitting smoking's a funny thing. Actually, no, it's not funny at all. It's, um, let's say,it's horrendous. But only for a day or two and then you sweat that nicotine out of you and start to feel like an actual human being again. I have been thinking about the last time I quit, which was a year and a half ago. So much was going on in my life at that time that I found a familiarity in my old friend tobacco. And it was a friend. But I have learnt over the years that, sometimes, even our friends cans hold us back.

Friendship is very important to me though. The world is a beautiful place but "happiness only exists when shared" (quote from Alexander Supertramp). Maybe that's not entirely true, at least not for everyone, but when I travelled around South America I certainly longed for someone to share the experience with. The people that I met were cool enough but I guess I was looking for someone who would stir my soul. Little did I know that I would not have to travel to find that person.

Anyway, this leads me on to the best kind of friendship a human can have, and that is the friendship between man and dog.
Yesterday I became the proud owner of a pup. He's a male Lhaso Apso crossed with Poodle (Lhasa Poo), his name is Ziggy, and when I looked into his eyes I felt a tingle in my heart. I have fantasised, for many years, about having a dog. I have stopped in the street to pet random dogs in every country I have visited. I didn't care if I might get rabies. But nothing could have prepared me for this feeling of overwhelming love and joy. Ziggy might as well be my first born child.
So here I am, about to embark on another adventure, one that doesn't involve going half way round the world.

Meka is also going to have a good time with Ziggy. She is already used to dogs and Ziggy is so young he just thinks Meka is a another puppy. Oh, and though I am writing this post like Ziggy is my dog, well, she's K's dog too because if it wasn't for him I wouldn't be in the fortunate position to own a dog. Anyway, I don't agree with the term "owning" because nothing in life is really ours, least of all people or animals, but you know what I mean. I had never heard of a Lhasa Apso before so I checked them out on the wikipedia. They were bred in Tibet as sentinel's for the Buddhist Monastries. When I read this I knew it was meant to be that this would be my first dog.

Ziggy still needs some injections before he can go out cavorting with other dogs but I can't wait to take him out to meet Judy and Jess. Judy may be slightly miffed that I have a new baby but there will always be enough space in my heart for them both. Besides, Judy is a complete an utter harlot who's in love with pretty much everyone she meets. She'll get over it. Right now Ziggy is lying by my side as I write this after a busy morning of chasing my feet. I will try to get photos soon but for now I'm just content to look at him.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Run With The Buns

So the lovely Danny and Liz came and went and that was that. Good times were had but hosting can be exhausting so I have done very little since. Yesterday I quit smoking (again). In a further attempt to get healthy, K and I went for a jog along the Galgorm river path. I was a baby. I scrunched my face up and made pathetic whimpering noises. My attempts at showing my displeasure at having to exert myself did not go unnoticed, but they were, largely, ignored. Probably just as well.

I did enjoy the stampede of bunnies and the mad cat that appeared out of nowhere though. When we came home I could tell that Meka was a little out of sorts so I got her out of the cage for some play time. She enjoyed nibbling K's legs and sniffing inside his ears. I lay in bed last night and felt the sadness of losing Polly, for both my sake and Meka's sake. This sadness had obviosuly emerged as a symptom of giving up smoking but I just let myself shed a wee tear for her to get it out of my system. Then I thought about getting a kitten. Then I thought about getting a puppy. And then I had to force myself to go to sleep because it was 3 O'Clock in the morning.