Thursday, December 14, 2006

Humble ply

In evil sympathy with the horrendous weather of the past few weeks (worst November in 40,000 years, the papers say, the lying cunts), my shoes have chosen to start leaking. Feet farting and squelching as I walk, the minutes are passing like hours in these sock-sodden days. Work is also a complete pisser right now, as I thought I'd be able to wind down over the next week or so. Instead I have to come in next week on three of my four days off.

Plodding through the rain yesterday evening, the seeping soakage creeping up my sock from toe to insole brought back vivid memories of my Frank McCourt-like childhood, when leaky shoes were simply called shoes, because I knew no shoe but the holey, leaky kind.

I grew up relatively poor you see. Relatively poor with poor relatives, I was fucked from the start. My concepts of style and fashion were drawn not from the pages of glossy magazines, nor from the dubious off-the-rack chic of Penney's or Dunnes. My wardrobe was a peculiar assortment of hand-me-downs from several generations of my extended family. Observe a typical childhood outfit:

Me age 10. Cool as fcuk.

What's that? You want more of the style king? How about this pose, taken on the shores of the lovely Corrib? Note the trousers/socks/sandals combo. The trousers were tracksuit bottoms for a 7-year old, hence the visible ankles.

I am a rock, I am an i-ee-ii-land.

The only thing we'd get bought new for us was coats and school uniforms. You need a coat you see, to keep warum. My Granny would regularly skin me alive for not wearing my jacket: "Tis cool mind you, and haven't you a grand warum jacket there? Ara sure the kids today don't wear jackets, but you need to cover up the hollow in your neck and it's pouring down, that oul misht I hate it, I'd rather it rained properly or not at all, tis a curse and you out in it with no jacket on ya!"

And so forth. When I look back on my stylistic debacle of a childhood, as well as finding it horrible and hilarious, I'm also very glad I experienced it. It allowed me to grow up humble. Almost every day, I look at what I've got, all the material shite I have amassed (amassed, I am convinced, precisely because I could not have any of this stuff when I was younger) and, although it's nothing more than a bog-standard life by anyone's measure, I'm still amazed by the comparative luxury I now live in.

The house I grew up in had no central heating, and no shower. My sisters and I used to hammer the shite out of each other with kettles, swords, chairs and the like just for something to do to keep warm. Hot water was at the flick of a switch, a switch you'd get a bollicking and a boot in the hole for flicking. Heating up water was fierce dear, you see.

We never had a car. (My dad bought his first car - the first car he EVER owned - last year. I kid you not.) We did not have a phone until I was ten (this was 1989, not 1969). No video recorder until I was 13. Our tv was older than me, and my dad only replaced it in 2003. We held a small ceremony for it: RIP Sony Trinitron, 1978 - 2003.

It toughens you up though, no doubt about it. Our central heating broke down for three days last month. After those three days, Linzi and the kids had the snuffles and went on to develop full-blown colds. Me? The brief cold snap just brought back fond memories of a shivering childhood as I washed myself with some ice-water and used iron filings and nettles for soap, and strolled around the house in my boxers balancing eggs on my knees.

The kids though. Them getting sick like that got me thinking. They've never gone without anything (essential) and they never will as long as I'm around to provide for them. But isn't that, in a way, depriving them of something? To have and show humility is something a lot of people in society seem to lack. To be humble, to appreciate being better off than others, you need to have something to compare to, and you can't beat personal experience. I don't want my kids turning out like some of the spoiled fuckers I know.

They have it all, or close to it, and I won't ever apologise for that. But we're going to have to work really hard to make sure they fucking well appreciate it.

The question is: How do I get them to appreciate their lot without turning into a carbon copy of the dithering old folks you hear rambling on about how the kids today have it easy, and in their day they used to walk 30 miles to school in their bare feet with only a handful of rocks and a flask of liver for their lunch?


This horrible weather has provided me with a great joke:

Why does Snoop Dogg always carry an umbrella?

Fo' drizzle.

Okay, so it's not great, but it made me laugh. I love that izzle talk.


The Swearing Lady blathered this crap:

That's a shocking joke.

I'm in exactly the same situation as regards the offspring. She has everything she could ever want - too bloody much. I think I'm pleasing her with constant mind-blowingly wonderful treats, she thinks it's par for the course. I don't know what to do about it, either. I'm hardly going to throw her Polly Pockets in the bin just because she doesn't realise they're not a birthright.

I've often heard people wonder aloud what would happen to the under 20s in Ireland if/when the recession comes. They'll probably wither like prunes.

Also, Dunnes has gone posh now. Try to keep up.

Old Knudsen blathered this crap:

Better value at Dunne stores.

I had a jumper like that when I was an adult, damn those 1980's.
We make it easy for our kids and don't do them any favours by doing that, however we don't want to see them going without, just don't do 'everything' for them, let them think but don't be a nazi about it.
Yes we do become like our parents, just like tastes change over the years, you catch yerself becoming a stereotype and saying "while you live under this roof" etc

Fresh Air Lover blathered this crap:

Wow, I thought I grew up poor but not that poor. It does give you perspective and toughens you up.

Snoop carries an umbrella in case it drizzles, fo shizzle.

Pinkie blathered this crap:


Ara sure the kids today don't wear jackets

I was on the bus today headin' into town and these little gurriers came downstairs at Stephen's Green. It was pissing rain outside and the wind was howling. It was so cold I coulda cut diamonds with my nipples - and you know what these two fecking dopey eejits were wearing?
One of them was wearing one of them shiny adidas (know how I remember how to spell that? After Dinner I Did A Shit) tracksuit and a pair of SANDALS!!!!
The other was wearing a towelly tracksuit and a pair of runners - but the tracky top only went as far as her belly button and sure to be fashionable she'd her jocks pulled down to reveal a sliver or arse crack (almost hole it was so low) and her tramp stamp.

Not a coat in sight and I swear to God I just stared and wanted to slap. Can I slap? PLEASE let me slap them!

They got off the bus - giggled and ran along their way in the pissings of rain and are hopefully gonna catch a big nasty dose of it.

So yeah - while the kiddlywinks will be provided with everything they could possibly want, don't ever underestimate the stupidity of teenagers who will shun all the sensible things in life and learn their lessons in appreciation later in life when their kidneys have frozen cause they never wore proper coats.


Sassy Sundry blathered this crap:

Hmmm... I'm not a parent, so I don't really know how to give parenting advice. That whole, "I had to walk uphill both ways to school naked in a snowstorm" tactic doesn't work for crap, so right on for seeing that one. Don't know what to tell you, but I hope you find something.

Old Knudsen blathered this crap:

It was so cold I coulda cut diamonds with my nipples

I love nipples.

Kim Ayres blathered this crap:

I got my older brother's hand-me-down's to wear, but as he was 4 years older than me by the time they fitted they were well out of fashion. Flares during the height of punk, and bondage trousers during the era of the New Romantics. I was seriously uncool.

Meanwhile, to cheer you up a little, head over to Blunt cogs for some seasonal storylines and check out Monstee's awesome creation.

Conan Drumm blathered this crap:

Ah yes... I can wonder around the house in me t-shirt (Dunnes' best, 2 for €8) in the midwinter, warm as toast, and the visitors might say, "Would you put on the heating for the love of Gaaawwwwwwwd!!"

I too grew up witout central heating, and we didn't have a car neither. We were not poor, it was the times... you walked, biked or bussed your way around the country in them days. You changed for bed in front of the fire downstairs and then scampered up as fast as your legs could carry you.

I'm sitting now without heating, it doesn't bother me. If it did bother me I'd get dressed. If then it still bothered me I'd get more dressed.

I believe, odd that I am, that centrally-heated double-glazed homes are not entirely a good thing for our health. I'm out of sync with the general view but I think time may prove me right.

The difficult thing to do is to promote a modicum of hardiness in ourselves and our children but without the enforced privations that we or our parents may have had to endure in former times.

Anonymous blathered this crap:

Didn't they put that design (the one on your, "jumper") on the side of U-Boats in WWII as camoflage? Something about the human brain not being able to see that which it cannot comprehend...? I'll go Wikipedia it and get back to you.

(p.s. Those pics are adorable. Are those little jogging pants with elastics around the ankles?)

(p.p.s. Grew up poor with a single mom so I feel your pain.)

--Whyioughtta (stupid Beta won't let me log in...argh.)

Anonymous blathered this crap:

Found it: "Dazzle camouflage"

They forgot to mention it was also a popular sweater motif in the mid-1980s.

I'll go get a life now.


JagdKunst blathered this crap:

Where I'm from, when it rains we go outside and take off our shirts and socks.

Marika blathered this crap:

I spent most of my childhood being dressed as a mother was a firm believer in hand me downs but as I had no brothers and sisters the closest I came was my cousins. My two girl cousins were 10 & 8 years older than I was and the younger one got the older one's hand me downs so they were long gone by the time I was old enough for them. My boy cousin, however, was just 2 years older, and so I was squeezed into a series of narrow-hipped trousers and chunky jumpers for a great deal of my years 3-10. I had a boy's haircut too, complete with sideburns. Dear lord, I wonder why I'm not gay?

I can offer no helpful advice on how to raise non-painful children. I only know very, very painful ones who don't appreciate anything. They have so many toys that come cascading in from all sides of the (very large, very extended family) that I deposit money in their bank accounts instead of buying them birthday or Christmas presents. They hate me the best!

In all honesty, you sound like you've got it under control.

Taihae blathered this crap:

cute kid. if past me somehow was the same age as past you at the same time, past me would probly get in a fight with past you and make sarcastic bitey remarks as a means of flirting. good old days.

Cindy-Lou blathered this crap:

If you figure out the secret, please tell me.

Desirea Madison blathered this crap:

Give them chores so they have to work for their allowance. Then make them buy shoes with it. I used to earn a dime for wiping the table after dinner. If I wanted more, I could wipe all the little rungs and legs of the wooden chairs. My parents didn't make us buy anything we needed with the money, so we didn't do our chores much.

Kav blathered this crap:

sweary: Yes, tis a small worry. There's always beatings to fall back on though.

Dunnes posh? Pah! Never. I refuse to believe it.

old knudsen: Heh, I'm already doing so many things like my dad that I'm scaring myself.

debbie: Fo' sho'. That's how sizzles know not to fuck wit me, yo.

pinkie: Stop that with the nipple talk, you're making me fink thunny. That's just a sign you're getting old, I'm afraid. I still remember being one of those teenagers and refusing to wear me jacket. Alas I am now a jacket advocate and wouldn't leave home without one, no matter how clement the conditions.

sassy: I'm not too worried yet. I think as long as we instil values in them, they'll appreciate what they've got. This year we did the thingy for charity that sweary lady told us about, so that Erin could "hep the boys and gewals in Wo-main-e-ah".

kim: That is an amazing creation. Monstee has some serious talent.

conan: Please do elaborate on this health thing. Do you know something we don't?

whiyioughtta: See, this is why I love this. You just educated me on something I'd never heard of. Don't stop, I love it.

jagdkunst: You feckin Eskimos and your weird traditions.

marika: least I got to wear same-sex clothing. That sounds painful.

taihae: Hmmm...I have no doubt if you were to have done that, I would've spent my days wondering why the lovely girl was being so mean to me. I've never been very good at picking up on those mysterious signals.

cindy-lou: For a fee of one of your American dollars, I can give you the secret to eternal life.

desirea: Good idea. Erin's only two though, so I might have to give her a few months yet before I start giving her chores.

Anonymous blathered this crap:

I know I'm a few years late, but it might be worth pointing out, as an ex-pat Brit in France, we get by with practically no heating. Like the guy says, if it gets cold you get dressed. If it gets seriously cold, make a hot water bottle. My health isn't perfect, but I would rate myself as okay.
Now try to guess how hard the winter chill hits other local Brits that heat their houses to the mid-20s (70-something F?) so they can walk around in t-shirts and flip-flops in the middle of bleedin' winter! I've seen houses the size of a postage stamp with TWO roaring fires AND a parafin heater or two, all on the go at the same time. I usually make my excuses and leave lest I drop dead from the temperature shock. But, I get colds and sniffles like anybody and it makes me feel like crap for a few days. These people in their over-heated homes? It damn near incapacitates them for a month or so. I'd rather shiver than feel like that for any longer than I need to.

BTW, I also am used to wet feet in winter. I absolutely detest breaking in new shoes - that painful period where it is shoe vs foot with no obvious victor, so I will wear my shoes as long as possible. A few holes here and there, well, it's only water. There's worse things in life than that.

I have no kids, so can't provide help on parental issues. I don't tend to listen to anything much my mother says as she obviously didn't have a normal childhood and has no idea what it was like... and no doubt my future kids will think the exact same thing about me...

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