The General, the heat, the gripes, the family and the doctor

As I was crossing the road at the bus stop in the rain this evening, a taxi pulled up beside me. A man leaned out of the passenger-side window to ask me a question. He was wearing a tracksuit and had a bandage on his hand. He slurred his words. He asked me if I knew where Cahill’s was. I looked at him blankly. He said “Cahill, Martin Cahill”.

Martin Cahill, or “The General”, was a notorious Dublin crime boss who was murdered by the IRA in 1994. He did indeed live very near Hall, on a quiet leafy suburban street with his wife and children. His wife’s sister, with whom he also had children lived nearby too.

But Cahill’s been dead for years. And here was this bandaged, worse-for-wear man, asking me where he lived. This was truly bizarre. And a little bit scary.

I said “Sorry. No idea.” And moved on quickly. And, of course, as I walked away, I imagined him jumping out of the car and murdering me. So I walked quite a bit faster than usual until I was safely back in Hall.

I haven’t really been walking all that quickly recently. I feel like I’ve put on a lot of weight and the weather’s been very hot. I always feel guilty when I say this, but I kind of hate summer and hot weather.

People see you as a spoil sport, when you say it, but summer sucks. I generally have my bedroom window open in January, so in June, I’m basically melting. In hot weather, I sweat and I smell, the friction burns in my armpits and groin get worse and I can’t sleep.

I do adore how happy the “good” weather makes other people. And, of course, I LOVE the boys playing football in the park with no shirts on. But when someone says “Lovely weather, isn’t it?” (and they do, they always bloody do) all I want to say is, “No. I can’t frickin wait for November. I want to hear the rain beating on my window. I want to feel a cool breeze on my cheeks. Some snow would be magical. I’m sick of getting sunburnt and I’m sick of waking up with a sweat-soaked bed after a fitful night’s fevered half-sleep.”

I don’t say this. Because I don’t want to piss people off. People get really annoyed if you wish away the hot weather and they look at you as if you’re a merciless vampire who’s taken a fancy to their youngest child.

And this isn’t the only way on which I’m out-of-step:

1. I also kind of delight in Ireland getting knocked out of major soccer and rugby tournaments so I don’t have to listen to non-stop, one-sided hippy hoppy happy commentary on “our boys'” hopes and dreams and chances and diamond-studded poo. I never tell anyone this, because that would be unpatriotic and spoiling everyone’s fun, so I just silently cross my fingers and hope to God we never qualify for anything ever again, while proclaiming “our boys'” manifest greatness if ever called upon to do so. I wish I did feel the same as everyone else about this, because objectively, I think that sport is an incredibly important and valuable social phenomenon, but subjectively, I just can’t stand it.

2. I genuinely wish that shops would start playing Christmas music and TV and radio would start advertising Christmas things in September at the latest. When people curse how early Christmas is advertised/mentioned, I sometimes pretend to agree, because it’s easier than being a pariah who disagrees with every strongly-held belief that everyone else holds dear, but I bloody love Christmas, and I don’t think there’s any such thing as doing it too early. Bring it on.

3. I don’t pretend to like the music I do. I think some people believe that I only pretend to like One Direction or McFly or Carly Rae Jepsen. That I somehow feel a duty to like “gay” music. But I really do like it. I do not see any intrinsic value in “artists” who write their own songs. In fact, if there is anything Bob Dylan has taught us, it’s that songwriters should not be allowed to sing in public and they should instead promote the perfectly listenable-to cover versions that others have sung of their songs instead of the songwriter’s death-laden croak. I genuinely have listened to The Wanted’s “She Walks Like Rihanna” at least 100 times on YouTube and it hasn’t even been released yet. I really have listened to “Call Me Maybe” on repeat all the way from home to college (approx. 16 times in a row). I genuinely believe that One Direction’s “Kiss Me” is one of the finest songs I have ever heard, and I really, truly think that the song’s video is one of my favourite films of all time. People seem to think that deep down, I know Damien Rice is “better”, that what I secretly desire is to go to a Muse concert and have a transformative experience while waving a lighter about and burning my thumb. They’re wrong. Most of the time, even Westlife’s music was too serious for me. I like what I like and I’m not faking it.

I rarely make a fuss about these things. People seem happier if they believe that I like the sun and Ireland’s sporting glory and hate the commercialisation of Christmas and secretly love The bloody Script. So I don’t say these things too often.

Anyway, that was a very long way of saying that it’s been hot recently. I burnt my arm badly, driving down to Cork last weekend to see my family. I brought a friend and we had a lovely time.

Luckily, my friend was looking for a quiet weekend away, because we had a very family time of it, with plenty of quality-little-nieces-and-little-nephews-time. One of my little nephews thought that my friend (who is about four years older than me, but looks about 25) was my mother. He also decided to tell her that she “looks a tiny, tiny, TINY bit like a witch”. My other nephew (who is three) tried very hard to get a look at my friend’s breasts. My friend was largely unscathed though.

It was a short and pleasant weekend, in spite of the sunburn. As I was arriving in Cork, my parents were arriving in Dublin at a pro-life demonstration and in the end, in a fairly typical O’Donoghue family logistical mess, we ended up seeing each other for only about an hour on Saturday and for breakfast and lunch on Sunday.

Sunburn wasn’t my only health problem, as I’ve shared in many recent posts, and I’ve finally been to the doctor. This was a doctor I haven’t seen before and I was only in her office for about three minutes when she already had her finger up my bum, which is the nearest I’ve got to “action” in quite a while. She confirms that I am unhealthy. And also fat. She was very nice, but had as little of use to say as most doctors in my experience.

She did send me for another round of blood tests this week, and I went on Tuesday. I know I’ve really put on weight. Usually, doctors and nurses can’t find a vein on my body that is suitable to draw blood from, but when I go to a phlebotomist in a hospital it’s not a problem. Phlebotomists draw blood all day every day. It’s all they do. They’re very good at finding veins. This time, it took the phlebotomist forever. She couldn’t find one around my elbow where they usually try first, and she told me to lift weights to make my veins pop in future. So she tried the back of my hands and couldn’t find a vein anywhere there either. Eventually, after a false start halfway up my arm, she drew blood from just above my wrist.

Anyway, it didn’t take much leaning on the doctor to get her to refer me to an exercise programme, to a sleep clinic and even to consider an eating disorder specialist (she’s wary, not me). And she does seem to want to be a bit more proactive about everything, so far as doctors are ever proactive, so that’s nice. And she has had her finger up my bum, so in some cultures, we’re probably already married.

Overall, I’m quite optimistic about this summer. I really am.

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2 Responses to The General, the heat, the gripes, the family and the doctor

  1. Eowyn says:

    I can't actually quite dislike the heat of summer, too. For one thing I will never get use to the sun being up at 3.30 and not going down until blinking 11 pm. My favourite season was always autumn, but here in England we don't seem to get the glorious riot of colour I used to enjoy back in America. The end of summer (if we have one) just sort of slides gloppily into the long grey winter. But other than the extremely short days during which sometimes there's no actual sunlight but only a grudging watery illumination, I quite prefer the colder months.

  2. Eowyn says:

    Um, that first sentence should not have the word 'can't' in it!

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