The Political Challenge
I do love the internet. I spend more time than normal people do on Facebook. I go on and off Twitter, but recently, I’ve been tweeting more than usual. I used to tweet a lot about politics, but having lived without a television for over a year now, I’ve fallen behind on politics, and I mainly tweet about Teen Wolf (seriously one of the best TV shows ever made, especially if you’re a fan of high school dramas and of well-built men being filmed with no shirts on, and let’s face it who isn’t) or what’s been happening in Freddie Prinze Jr’s career (he now works for WWE).
Yesterday, was Leaving Cert results day, the day when 18-year-olds all over Ireland go mad with drinking, after getting their exam results. I remember my own Leaving Cert night fondly. On that night I had my first kiss, which was followed by my first something else, in the rain, on my knees, on the steps outside St Finbarr’s Cathedral, which was followed by two of us running away when spotted (it’s hard to run with your jeans around your ankles), which was followed by my co-kisser buying me chips in Lennox’s.
Anyway, this is the time of year when businessmen all tell kids not to go to college, because they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps and didn’t need college, and now they’re billionaire businessmen. Now, I can’t think of anything I’d like to be less than a billionaire businessman. I’d love to be a billionaire, but the idea of being an Alan Sugar turns my stomach. I don’t want to be the next Alan Sugar. I want to be Ant. Or Dec. Or both. That’s my kind of billionaire.
So, one of Ireland’s celebrity businessmen tweeted this: “To any Irish kids stressing over tomorrow’s Leaving Cert results, I promise you, it’s NOT everything, some of us didn’t even do college ;-)” He’s not only a businessman, he’s also one of Ireland’s leading conservative voices, campaigning on the wrong side of everything and he also just happens to be a friend of my brother the priest.
Let’s call him Geclan Danley.
I tweeted “Don’t go to college, kids! You might end up like Geclan Danley!”
And no one noticed.
Until about two hours later, when I was retweeted. By Geclan Danley himself. Crap! He doesn’t follow me, and I hadn’t “@”ed him in my tweet, so he must have been googling himself and found my tweet.
All of a sudden, the Irish Catholic membership of Twitter turned on me. Didn’t I know Geclan was a fine man? Didn’t I know he was one of the only politicians capable of independent thought? And then, bizarrely, he started getting compared to Che Guevara, who did go to university.
I meant to tweet something vaguely humorous. Instead, I pissed off every Irish conservative on Twitter.
The Legal Challenge
As I may have mentioned before, I am going to be an Assistant Warden in college accommodation next year, partially responsible for the discipline and pastoral care of a thousand young people. In return for shutting down parties and listening to 17-year-old girls cry about boys who don’t fancy them, I will have a flat all of my own in Trinity Hall. Sometimes, I go and stand outside the block where I’ll be living in the Big Courtyard and get excited about it. A flat of my own! A position of authority! And the chance to work with young people, who are far more interesting than proper grown-ups ever can be.
I’m really looking forward to September.
But I got a message yesterday to phone Human Resources, saying that there was an issue with my police clearance for working with young people.
I panicked. I’ve only once been the subject of a police investigation. When I was 17, a Spanish exchange student was staying with my family. She turned out to be unhinged. Really. My family hatched a plan with her family and with her doctor to sneak her back to Spain. My Dad got to the airport and she started kicking up about getting on the plane. She approached airport police and said that my dad was in a cult and that I had raped her.
But nevertheless, the police came and took the sheets off my bed. It’s better not to think about what the police found on the sheets of a seventeen-year-old boy.
Eventually, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Cork. She withdrew the allegation, saying it had been a dream.
No charges were ever filed.
Surely this wasn’t what the vetting process had turned up?
And it wasn’t. The nice woman in HR said that I had no Irish convictions. Phew! Then she said that she noted that I lived in Poland for three years. I would have to get confirmation from the Polish police that I have no convictions before she can approve me for working as an Assistant Warden.
I can only imagine how long Polish bureaucracy will take to confirm that I am not a criminal. And the thing is, I’m not 100% sure that I’m not a criminal in Poland.
I never closed my bank account there, leaving an overdraft of 200 zloty (about €50), so there could be a warrant out for me for that. I could also be wanted for the time I bribed the Gdansk Tax Office.
But I doubt it.
I went to the Embassy today to try and find out how long this would take. Helpfully, they’re closed. I’ll keep you posted, but this had better not stop me from my wardening!
The Medical Challenge
I mentioned last week that I’m heavier than I’ve ever before been. I can feel it.
I’m feeling very tired. I’m getting headaches for no reason. I’m getting palpitations for hours on end. I’m panting after one flight of stairs. Sometimes I pant from the effort of getting out of bed. My digestive system is gross. Sometimes I need to lie down for half an hour to recover after going to the toilet. It’s bad.
I’ve been for more blood tests, and another ECG, and I’ll be having my blood pressure monitored for 24 hours on the 28th September.
I do have a “now or never” feeling. But when haven’t I had a “now or never” feeling? Two different doctors have raised the idea of medical weightloss with me. One doctor wanted to put me on diet pills. Another wanted me to think about an operation (a gastric band, I suppose). I need a plan and a deadline. My return to WeightWatchers has been an utter failure so far. I think I need to give myself one last chance, and a deadline, and then if that fails, go to a doctor and talk over those awful options, none of which attract me in the slightest. I’ll come up with a plan and let you all know soon.
You might also remember my nosebleeds. I was getting them when I was hungover, or while teaching, or after kissing boys. I was at a nose doctor the day before yesterday. I have a burst blood vessel in my nose. The doctor took a winch-type instrument to open up my nostril, then he sprayed anaesthetic all over my nose, then he came at me with a blue stick, saying, “Don’t worry. It’s just like a solder.” Don’t worry? You might say, “Don’t worry. It’s just like a bunny rabbit.” or “Don’t worry. It’s just like candy floss.” But there is never a time when “Don’t worry. It’s just like a solder” is appropriate, especially when he’s going to shove it up your nose. As it happens, it didn’t hurt. He cauterised the burst blood vessel. It sounds medieval.
According to Wikipedia, in some countries, they use cocaine to cauterise nasal blood vessels.
I wish I lived in “some countries”.
The doctor wrote me a prescription for an ointment to put up my nose and then uttered one of the most dreadful sentences in the English language: “Don’t blow your nose for a week.”
What? A week? It’s like a fiendish form of torture that a Bond villain would come up with. I can’t blow my nose for a week?!? It’s not that I derive any great pleasure from nose-blowing, but the knowledge that I can’t do it makes it sound all the sweeter.
I can’t wait for next Tuesday. Next Tuesday, I will engage in an orgy of nose-blowing the likes of which the world has never known. It’ll be like Carnival in Rio. Only more fun.
The Financial Challenge
If you were a reader of this blog in its first eighteen months, you will remember whole months when I was almost constantly borrowing money. I have scored a number of victories in the time I’ve been blogging. The most notable is probably giving up cigarettes, followed by coming out, or possibly vice versa, but a very important one has been that I have gained some kind of control over my spending.
I’m on speaking terms with my bank again. I have had months where I’ve had extra money. I paid my entire tax bill for 2008, 2009 and 2010. I’ve been up-to-date with my loan repayments for over a year. I haven’t borrowed money from my parents since I moved out of my cottage.
And I hadn’t borrowed money from a friend since the first week in April. But this month, I bought designer glasses AND a new jacket. And I found myself with a prescription for nose ointment to fill, three days before payday and four euros left in the world.
Dammitall! I had to borrow money from a friend. I’m not quite on my own two feet yet.
I got the nose ointment. It’s a nasal steroid. And I feel like Rocky for about three minutes after using it. Someday, I’ll try real steroids and I’ll get me some Olympic medals.
I’m getting my biggest paycheque of the year tomorrow. I’m vaguely worried that it’s all already spent. Between paying for my rent for the whole summer and putting Gok-based plans into action, I hope I’ll have enough to see me through September.