Monday, October 27, 2008

Please remember to vote, Murricanes!

That's just a wee reminder in case I don't get a chance to remind you on the day, because I will be in PARIS, FRANCE.

You heard me.

Dog fostering is hard

Yesterday we had some people out to look at Woody. Bless him, he was on his absolute best behaviour, and their own labrador, who had accompanied them, seemed to like him enormously. Certainly the two of them tore around the garden like maniacs. The people themselves seemed really nice too, and mrmonkey and I were kind of hopeful that they might take him, and upset that this would mean he would leave.

So of course we spent the last 24 hours simultaneously looking forward to the easy walks we would have when he was gone, and how much easier our lives would be without him, and missing him like mad already because he is so funny and so affectionate and such a sweetheart.

Then we got a phone call to say that the couple had decided to go another way. Relief! But also worry. Will anyone ever take this dog from us? Will we have him for ever? On the other hand, the longer we have him, the closer he gets to some sort of maturity and, hopefully, more settled behaviour.

Then our foster coordinator said that he might have a good chance of being homed through a rescue in Sweden. This would be slightly traumatic for him because he will have to be locked in a box and go on a plane (which I can't see him liking AT ALL), but he will have a much better chance of a much better home in Sweden than he could possibly have in Ireland.

But I will miss him. I have to keep reminding myself of the days when I could cheerfully kill him, the days when he runs away and doesn't come back, when he knocks over the kids who come to pet him, when he steals cartons of butter off the counter and eats them, when he's just too much. I also have to keep reminding myself that I have two dogs of my own who've been pushed into the background by him, and who will be much happier when he's gone because he will no longer be stepping on them, sitting on them, squashing them against the wall, or crashing into them on the beach.

Mind you, this plan could easily fall through as well, and we could still have him for ever. I think that would be okay. Except when I don't.

Friday, October 17, 2008

With thanks to Chocolate Socialist

Whose livejournal I got this from.

I'm putting it here in case you're one of the three people who checks here and not there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Days (or, The One Where the Woman is Buried in Sand)

Here's what's great about the Internet. You can go and see a play that is layered with many meanings, and then come home and look up and see what everyone else thought the play was about. Although I often find the programme helpful, it usually only tells you what the playwright, director, and artistically contributing cast members think the play is about. And sure, what would they know?

On the face of it, Happy Days is a Samuel Beckett play in which a woman is buried up to her waist in sand, and her husband crawls about somewhere behind where she is buried. Then, in the second half SPOILER ALERT! she is buried up to her neck, and we are not sure, and she is not sure, if her husband is still alive or if he has died some time while we were off having drinks at the bar during the interval and talking about how nice the seats are in the Abbey nowadays. The woman, Winnie, reminisces about her life and tries to keep herself occupied and cheerful as her life moves from one day to the next, punctuated by startlingly loud bells that tell her when to wake and when to sleep. Although we couldn't figure out whether the bell was ringing more often in the second part because she was falling asleep more often, or whether she was falling asleep more often because the bell was ringing to tell her to, or because several days were passing in a brief period, or what. We then decided that this was how it is when you are reaching the end of your life and you live in an institution, and you can't tell where one day ends and one begins except for the bell, but which bell was it that you heard?

Happy days indeed.

And, of course, there is no great reason for Winnie to be at the end of her days, because she is only 50. So what is happening to her? Luckily for us, Sinead's mam was at the play with her that night, and she said that the play is about dementia. She recognized this for herself immediately, because it had occurred in her family. And, of course, such a reading makes total sense. Clinging on to routines and vague memories, trying to keep herself above the rubble when, all the time, she is increasingly immobilized by the disintegration of her own mind. I haven't seen anyone else give it this reading. The Irish Independent's reviewer suggested it was about love and marriage. I scoffed at the very notion. The Tribune review is more interesting, because it tells you about the controversy that surrounds Deborah Warner and Fiona Shaw's interpretations of Beckett (indeed, in this production, Warner has replaced the sand in which Winnie is normally buried with a blasted, rubble-filled landscape, so that Winnie looks a little as though she has gone on holiday to Marbella but her hotel has fallen on her), but even his suggestion that Fiona Shaw "just about" pulls off what is essentially quite a boring play seems all wrong to me.

I was completely riveted by this play from the minute it started. I felt like I got it. I could empathise with the feeling, the fragments and stories that Winnie tried to communicate to her husband, herself, her audience, felt more real to me than anything else by Beckett I've ever seen. Maybe it's just Fiona Shaw. She is absolutely amazing. How she can give such a totally naturalistic performance in such an unnatural play is beyond me, but she does. But more than that, the structure of the play is familiar and understandable, even as it is horrible and unnerving. And by the end, I wanted to run down onto the stage and dig her out with my own bare hands.

And that's all without even mentioning the gun, Brownie, which deserves a whole essay all on its own (and no doubt has many devoted to it, perched on the edge of some English lecturer's desk somewhere), and which Winnie pulls out of her big, black, handbag along with her other ordinary totems, including her nail file and her compact mirror. She addresses the gun (but does not call it Sweetness), then decides she will leave it out. Just right here.

She's just going to leave it right here.

And right here it stays.

And you can't put it out of your mind, and somehow can't believe that she has ever put it out of her mind. She occasionally wanders back to it, suggesting it as a kind of fallback option if all else fails, but there's no real feeling that she's going to use it, at least not while she has the use of her arms. After that, of course, it will be too late.

Unless there was someone around who understood her and love her and knew what she would want.

So maybe it is a play about love after all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Less is almost always more in television

The BBC has made Strictly Come Dancing ever so slightly worse AGAIN this year. Last year they brought in the extra Sunday night results show, which the fans (me) didn't ask for and don't really want, for several reasons.

1) It involves the bottom two couples from the leader board performing again. I don't understand this aspect of television vote-out shows; it means, in theory, that you have to watch the worst two performances from the previous night again. In Strictly, however, it means you have to watch two of the people who were least popular with the public (usually some no-mark from the middle of the board) perform again, and the judges get to bitch about not wanting to throw out either of them, before they throw out the one I liked better.

2) It is filmed on a Saturday night. Last year they tried to keep this a secret and pretend it was live again on Sunday night, but really, who are they kidding? Also the fact that it's filmed on a Saturday means you can just go and read the leaked results on Digital Spy and not bother watching the show on Sunday if you want. License-payers' money down the drain, if you ask me (hauls up bosom in a haughty manner).

3) You don't get the exciting live Strictly experience of having it all on Saturday night. The fun of the show is dissipated. It's no good.

This year, they've gone one worse. They've added extra couples (fine) and extra group dances (also fine), but instead of having boys week one and girls week two and everyone in together week three, it's boys week one, girls week two, boys week three and girls week four. Last night it was the girls dancing the quick step or the rhumba, and either Jessie Wallace or Jodie Kidd is going home.

This is completely unfair, and not just because I like Jessie Wallace and have a colossal girl-crush on Jodie Kidd, but because both of them are WAAAAYYY better than the four worst boys (John Sergeant, Mark Foster, Andrew Castle, and Don Warrington). Don't get me wrong, neither of them is brilliant, but they are both passable, and they could both easily get a lot better as the weeks go on. Only Don Warrington, of these four, has any hope; John Sergeant is currently at the very top of his game, and Andrew Castle and Mark Foster are both lumbering, gigantic eejits who don't even seem to understand what dancing is, never mind how to do it properly, and yet one of these nice women will be going home tonight.

Or went home last night, rather.

I do love how my other blog pals are writing long, impassioned posts about the credit crunch and international politics, while I rant about the unfairness of the rule changes on Strictly Come Dancing and post videos of my cats.

I know it seems as though my brain has fallen out of my ear, but it hasn't, honest. Think of my blog as like Ronan Collins's radio programme: a brief oasis of sanity in a troubled, economics-obsessed world.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

All your cats are belong to us!

Jane lives here now.

She is super disoriented at the moment, a state of mind which is probably not helped by the three other cats sniffing at her and making themselves big in her presence while she tries to find a cosy space near a human where she can sit and wait for the world to normalise itself.

I'm sure that if I was a more capable writer with less of a cold or flu, I would have something profound to say about circles and things coming home and remnants of a previous life and so forth.

But my head hurts and I'm tired and I just want to go to sleep and wake up normal.

A bit like Jane.