About kirwani

I love cars, aircraft, watches, travel, animals, meeting people, helping others and cars. Oh, and I love cars.

Bending the rules – Just a bit!

At some stage, each of us has interpreted a rule or law in a unique way. This interpretation may have been something that we thought was perfectly ok, but someone made that law/rule for a reason. Why is it, that Irish people in particular, feel so at ease with bending the rules?

I reckon it starts at a very early age. The child in the supermarket whose parent told them “no sweets or toys”. As mum/dad turns away to closely examine the jars of pasta sauce, reading the ingredients of each one carefully…. junior is scoffing down that chocolate bar they swiped earlier. Ok, some of you are thinking “that’s a child, give them a chance”. Fair enough. How about a lad I knew whose mum would take all the family shopping for groceries. They would slowly stroll from aisle to aisle, while the kids ate and drank as much as they could stomach – as their mum told them to do! They were instructed to discard of wrappers and bottles under the shelves – “make sure that you finish that before we get to the til!”. If junior has mum insisting on doing this, then that sets a benchmark for later life, surely?

How about cheating in exams? Yes, this is probably something that happens everywhere, or is it? I’ve seen a teachers son hide numerous A4 pages of notes behind the radiator he sat next to in the leaving cert. For those who don’t know, this exam ultimately decides what course/college, if any, you end up going to. I know a girl who, when exam time came round, would switch from wearing trousers to wearing a skirt. It meant that she could write notes on her thighs and no supervisor is going to ask a girl to pull up her skirt. How about the young chap who was in hospital when the exams came round. A teacher was sent in to supervise him as he sat the test in the hospital bed. The teacher ended up helping him with the exams and he aced the test. Or the guy who was truly awful at Irish. He was going to struggle to get a pass grade at lower level. Cunningly, his brother was a genius at Irish, so he got him to sit the test instead.

Bending the rules can often give you a little high. Knowing that you could be caught. As a kid in school, I knew a lot of guys who would go to the local shop as a group. While someone would be asking the shopkeeper for 20 penny sweets, the other lads would be rolling large bottles of various soft drinks along the floor with their feet and out the door.

How about the girl who would calmly switch prices on various items in her favourite shop. This became a progressive thrill as she would try to increase the gap between the actual price and the “new” sticker each visit. It ended with her getting a certain item for about 10% of the actual price and just before the shop installed a barcode reader.

But sometimes it’s not just the person bending the rules who operates in the game, others can play a part too. Take for example Speed Vans. You may be forgiven for thinking this is some kind of race series, unfortunately its the opposite. In an effort to raise more money for the state, a thinly disguised tax, collected by these vans became part of driving in Ireland. I’m all for safety, but these vans are often on the best stretches of road, sneakily positioned just within a lower limit or at the one place where overtaking is safest. However, this is where the rule bending turns into a team event. As you approach a speed van, or as some say a mobile government atm, often you’ll be flashed(no, not the fleshy kind, just their headlights) by someone coming toward you, to warn you of the presence of the van. This then mostly results in a return flash/wave/salute or thumbs up in recognition. Why? Well people are obviously not impressed by these vans and are happy to help one another avoid being caught.

Maybe the rule being bent is not having a license? I know plenty of people who drive without a license and even more who have a provisional(learner), for decades. It could be a dog license. If you haven’t already heard it, check out the audio clip of the farmer who got a prank call from someone pretending to be from the authorities, investigating his lack of license. The guy totally denied having any dog, only to have one start barking in the background. You have to listen to it!

How about people who don’t have a tv license? There was a time when not many people could afford a tv, hence not many needed to have the license. But today, you can get a tv set for free if you look around. Trying to convince the inspector at your door, that you don’t have a tv, isn’t easy if there is a big satellite dish mounted to the chimney.

I knew an old guy who said that Christmas Day was the “meanest day of the year”. His reason for saying so was that he couldn’t get into the pub for a drink. Same went for Good Friday. For those who did manage to get into a pub on these two days(against the law) the illegal drink was the nicest of all. The same goes for the pint/s had after closing time. This practice is often refered to as a lock in, as the pub door gets locked and the customers stay put. This is something you’d think would/could only happen in the furthest reaches of the land, in the middle of nowhere. But, plenty pubs in cities get away with it on a daily basis. In fact, I heard several stories of pubs being raided and customers being cleared out, only to have the officers stay and have a few drinks themselves.

Only in Ireland!

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Pure Mean

Everyone knows somebody who has a limpet like grip of their purse/wallet. Ok, some would argue that its ok to be careful with your finances, but I talking about scabbiness.

There are numerous ways of describing these people – like a ducks arse. Like a camels arse in a sandstorm. If you put a piece of coal up their arse, you’d get a diamond. Actually, its weird that the first three that came to mind all have arse in it….. sorry. I’ll fix that – He’d peel an orange in his pocket. He wouldn’t give ya the heat of his piss. Done.

Over the years, mostly in the pub, I have met more than a few of these people. Let me give you some prime examples of “pure meanness”.

I once received a phonecall from a pub owner while I was on holiday. We chatted and I could tell she was being distracted by something, or someone in the background. She apologised and put the phone down for a minute. What followed was as much pure cheek as being scabby. She had noticed the sole customer in the pub, walk out to the toilet, while trying to carry something. It rattled, like coins. Suspicion got the better of her and she followed him to the toilet. He locked himself in a cubicle and she could hear furious rattling and the jingle jangle of coins bouncing on the tiles inside. She quietly asked him if he was ok? to which he replied “can I have some money bags?”.

So, she rightly decided to check the bar again and noticed a charity collection box, or “poor box” as they are often called, had gone missing. She returned to the toilet. He still wanted the money bags but she told him to leave everything and get out or she would call the Gardai (Police). The door opened and he timidly walked past and out the back door of the pub. Stealing is never ok, but to steal from a charity… unacceptable, just downright low and mean. Maybe he was really stuck for cash? Nope, he had plenty and a job too. This kind of guy would rightly be referred to as a “proper bollix”.

Next story is about a ski trip. A certain person was enjoying a trip with his wife, in some European ski destination. They had rented the gear and paid deposits, no surprise there. As they made their way up the mountain on the lift, the man in question dropped his skis. Now at about 40ft above the ground, most people would be thinking wow, that’s one hell of a drop. This guy was different. The thought of possibly loosing out his deposit was too great, so he jumped… 40ft. The snow was relatively soft thankfully, so he sank almost fully into it. The good news is the skis were in fact rescued! As was his deposit.

There are places people often refer to as being home to scabby people, one being Scotland, another being Cavan, a county in Ireland. I know plenty people from both places, and the Scots are like generous saints in comparison. Really.

One Cavan man I know likes to go to every funeral around. Not because he wants to show his sympathies for the family of the deceased, but because there is almost always free food and drink. He is the guy who asks for a packet of fags(cigarettes, relax) and says ” I’ll pay when its my round “. When his round comes, he is either gone home(ski man also regularly pulls this stunt) or insists that he didn’t actually get those fags at all. It would be annoying if this happened once, this guy does this ALL the time. He’d take the sugar out of your tea.

I once read about a woman who wouldn’t turn on the heating in her house. She wouldn’t boil water for porridge, so always ate it cold. Her son injured his foot/toe and she didn’t want to pay a doctor, so it was let be. Time passed and eventually the guy lost his leg to gangrene. She was a multi-millionaire by the way.

I knew a guy who would spend ages carefully steaming the stamps on mail he received, so they could be reused. The same guy also had a magpie like fixation on stuff. Anything that could be easily taken actually, bonus if it was shiny. It didn’t matter if he had a use for it or not. The kind of guy who would shorten his name to save on ink.

I’ve seen numerous people at work carefully place pieces of meat on their plate in the company canteen, then cover it with veg. They should be involved in gardening such are their skills. I have also seen people pick a different plate to put food on, thinking it to be lighter than others, with the intention of saving money once it gets weighed at the til. If they put as much mental effort into their actual job, the company would be doing even better. So mean they wouldn’t spend Christmas.

How about a guy who, on Valentine’s Day, brought his girlfriend to the local graveyard. He brought her to his family grave and said ” this is where you’ll be buried”. Good gift, and free too. An eternal gift possibly? Ultimate scab?

I know a few guys who have/had impressive collections of cars. Rather than sell the car to someone who would restore it/care for it properly, they insist on keeping them in a field, letting the weather take its toll and mother earth slowly pull them back in. As a devoted petrolhead, this really gets to me. One such guy openly stated that he’d “hate to see someone make money on one of his cars”. Scab.

Do you know anyone who is “pure mean”? If so, tell us in the comments.

Merry Christmas!

You could make millions! Billions maybe!

It was a slow night in the pub, just a young couple and I at the counter. The guy was nicely oiled by this stage and his long-suffering other half, definitely better half in this case, was watching the minutes tick by on the the old wall wagger clock behind the counter, wishing she could fast forward it to closing time. Tick tock, it was as if it was slowing down with each swing of the pendulum.

We talked about all manner of things, the weather, cars, the weather, drink and then, out of nowhere……” I have lots of great ideas you know!”

I could not have guessed the way the conversation was about to flip. He told me that he often gets brainwaves, ingenious ideas that just jump at him. “Where do the ideas come from do you think?” – a fair question I thought? “From God” he replied. OK.

I must have looked like I was in disbelief as he then decided to share some of the “not so good ones” with me. He was right, and also a master of understatement.

“What about the good ones?” I just had to ask, I mean, you just don’t know right? This guy could be on the cusp of something amazing!

“I’ve a cure for the AIDS, God told me how to do it”.

AIDS! A cure? Holy shite, this could be the big one! “You could be about to change the course of medical history you know! If you could cure AIDS, that would be beyond amazing and you would be remembered forever”. “I’d be rich too ya know! I’d make thousands from it”. This was when the wife chimed in. “Don’t be stupid, you could make millions! Billions maybe!”. I agreed. Billions would come easily. “I don’t want da money, I just be doin’ it for the peoples and to help Holy God. You can make the billions Liam(thats not my name, but he kept calling me that). All I want is a few thousand and you can have the rest. I don’t want to be famous. You can make the billions and you can be famous”.

Now when faced with the knowledge that might just make me the most powerful man on the island…. who am I kidding, one of the most powerful in the universe, its hard to not want more info?!

“Tell me the idea, the cure. If it works, you have a deal”. The wife making circular, loopy hand movements at her temple, didn’t bode well for the forthcoming medical breakthrough. “Its simple Liam. You cut open the mans arm. Take out the pipes. Cut open the pipes and scrub them, with Dettol. Then you put the pipes back in and the man is cured”

HOLY FUCK! The guy is a genius!

“But what about the other blood vessels in the body?”. “Its the same for them, scrub them” “The tiny blood vessels in the brain?”. “Same craic Liam, take out the brain and scrub it. But you have, you HAVE to scrub it all. Don’t miss any bits. The Dettol will kill all the bad stuff and the AIDS as well. Then dry it with a towel and put it back into the mans head”.

So, after taking all this in, I was understandably in awe. Could this be the best poker player in the country, with a face that looks deadly serious when telling me all this? Could he be the next greatest thing in the comedy world? Maybe the guy is on some fantastically powerful medication? Or, maybe, I’m a total tool and he is on a direct line to the man above and has been given some amazing ideas, this being the best. You decide.

As they walked out the door, his wife turned back to me and apologised for his “shite talk”. Apparently he “thinks God tells him the ideas”.

God is obviously a funny guy!

Auld lads

They could be a group of old men in the corner of the pub. If your particularly young, a nipper maybe, they could be teenagers, hanging about a shopping centre. You could be talking about peoples fathers. Yep, they are all auld lads, or old lads for those of you living on the southside of our capital.

For me, as a kid, as for most, auld was everyone who was even a year older. Those middle-aged people were very old and the ones that were pushing 80 or more…. well, they were just ancient, fit for a museum. Working for the family, not in a mafia sort of way, but in the family run pub, I encountered auld lads all day, every day. Some were there to meet up for pint with a friend, some wanted to read the paper and not have to buy it and some just wanted to get away from yer wan, d’aul bag back home. Each of them had their own unique trait, like a football card, but with less lofty cash and shite, and more actual shite, often on their boots. The faces, the wrinkles, the voices, the stories. The laughs, coughs, sneezes and sighs. The jackets, the hats, the wellys and sticks. The farm, the bog, the meadow and the shed.

Each one of them were just the ideal candidate for a story, each and every one. I wanted so badly to film them all, but my folks would have none of it. The fear of offending the customers was too great and it took years to understand. In those years, I’ve seen most of those characters pass away, with them, the craic and one less seat occupied by a real character. I so wish I had secretly filmed them, or recorded some of the stories or jokes. There were stories of generations fighting over land, nope, it doesn’t just happen in the movies. Jokes about some obscene stuff, things you wouldn’t imagine could come from people so polite looking and, well, old. Often the “made up” stories were true, but disguised to save embarrassment. Those were often the really good ones.

Listening to people talk about what life was like, when they were my age. How everything was much more difficult, strict and poor. How they would share a pair of shoes between siblings to walk to school. Teachers would take a dislike to someone or fall out with them, and then take it out on all their kids at school. Lashings, beatings, insults…. all part of education. In fact, I endured the same in school myself, some 50 years later. Thankfully, things have at last improved.

One story that stuck in my mind, was an incident between two neighbours. They had been chatting and buying one another drinks, reminiscing about days of yore. It was all good until one of them mentioned land. It may be an innocent topic to you and I, but in this case, was as harmless as C4, the plastic not the tv channel. Tones changed, eyes widened. They turned to face one another and the volume of the conversation began to rise. I urged them to calm down, and tried to change topic. One chap, looked at me and said “his house is on my land, my fucking land!”. The other auld lad denied this, repeatedly. He tried to explain how his father, or grandfather, I can’t recall, purchased it. “That’s a load of shite. Ye never paid for it, ye fuckin stole it. My father told me all about it. Are you callin my auld lad a fuckin liar ya bollocks?”

Now let me point out that both men were about mid 70s and barely able to move without the help of a stiff breeze, or gravity. Both wore clothes that hadn’t seen any form of detergent or soap in….. ever. The smell of both men was a mix of cow shite, tobacco and their own piss. Nice. Just setting the stage.

Bam. It was like something that should be in a ring, with a ref and being televised. I didn’t see it coming and neither did the auld lad in the corner. There was blood running from his nose before he realised what had just happened. The other fella, lets say the boxer, was about to throw another but I stepped in. It took a surprising amount of effort to move him back and get him to sit down. The bleeder was in shock, total disbelief at what had just happened. “What did ya do that for?” and began sobbing. The boxer was still shouting abuse and started to explain to me the whole land craic all over again, half expecting me to agree with him, as if I was his dad.

All in a days work, auld lads beating the living daylights out of one another, or at least one.

It wasn’t all violence though, there were plenty happy times too. Like any time another fella, lets say George, would be in the place. He would sit at the counter, on a high stool, tap the foot rail with both shoes, whistle and tap the counter with both hands, all in time with what ever was on the radio. In the numerous years he drank in the place, I never remember seeing him upset, never saw him without a smile. “Up she flew and she never lost a feather” was one of his many sayings. I know, beats me too. He would come out with the most obscure stories at times. We would be talking about famous Irish pub topics, such as the weather, when he would spot some attractive woman through the window or on tv. This would be the start of a story about his sexual exploits as a young man. The women, the adventures, the craic. Then he’d tell another story, about another sexual adventure and say it was just the other day. As a girl, closer to my age, would pass the window, he would point out that she’d be one to keep an eye on when I’d be older, as “her mother was mad for ….” then he’d whistle and make this unusual gesture with both hands, like a bird taking off. He was, in my mind, being a young, horny virgin – a true legend! I wanted to be even half that cool when I was his age.

Another auld lad, who’s name I also won’t mention, as he is a living legend, told me many stories. Still does. This is just one of many I’ll hopefully get to share with you all in time.

Across from the pub was a wall, near the centre of our mighty village. On a Sunday, people would travel from miles around, some on bicycles, some by donkey and cart, to come to mass. They would tie the donkeys up at said wall. Handily, some cute hoor had thought of cementing in some horseshoes, into the top of the wall. Ideal for tying up ones donkey. So, these people would then head off to mass. Back in those days, mass was only a “good mass” if it went on for more than an hour. During that hour, this auld lad I mentioned earlier, and his brother, would begin the mischief. Like the rest of the parish, they were expected to be at mass, but they had other plans.

They would each pick a donkey, untie it and point it up the road. Then race. Yes, feckin racing a donkey during mass. Once the race was over, they would return the donkey to the wall, tie it up, give it a drink and stroll in home as if they were in the church with the rest. The look on the faces of the donkeys owners was priceless apparently. When they returned, found the donkey lathered in sweat, just presumed it was too hot and gave it more water. The funny thing is both of those guys both grew up to be highly talented drivers. Top tip, race donkeys every Sunday as a kid, it’ll get you into F1 quicker than spending your youth racing karts.

I could probably fill the internet with stories, many about or somehow involving auld lads, but another time. If I did, I’d be an auld lad myself by the time I’d be finished.

Good luck to ye now, safe home.

 

The Craic

The what?  Craic ya eejit. I’ve seen the faces of so many, non Irish people, change in all manner of ways when I would mention that word. Craic.

What is it? Fair question and that is why I’m here, to tell you. Firstly, its pronounced crack. Now you can guess why so many peoples faces change when I’d say it. Think about the last time you told a joke. The last time you had a laugh, played a prank, messed about or just enjoyed yourself. What were you doing? You were HAVING THE CRAIC!

If you plan to visit Ireland or get a chance to talk to an Irish person, don’t worry, we don’t bite. Much. When you do get here or meet one of us, now you’ll know. Tell them your “up for the craic”, ready to have a laugh. Greet them by saying “whats the craic?”, the casual way to greet a friend and at the same time asking how things are with them. If your a people manager and want to inject a little light-hearted Irishness into a serious situation, ask “whats the feckin’ craic here?”. This is completly tone dependant and can be dangerous in the wrong hands, so be warned. Lets say you have spotted someone eating food from your fridge. Asking “whats the feckin’ craic here?” in a jovial manner, with a smile on your face will put all at ease. They’ll know your a cool person and might even offer you food, from your own fridge, with a smile too.

Now, lets say you said it with menace and venom, perhaps if they were someone the Police are hunting for a spate of fridge robbies around your area. This would probably result in them dropping everything and running from the kitchen area or possibly diving out through the window in an effort to escape. Why? Because they know you don’t mess with an Irish persons food!

Off with ya, remember what you’ve learnt here today and have the craic.

 

Being Irish

So, my first proper post, intro didn’t count. No pressure…… as a lad once said “pressure is for tyres”.

I’ve been lucky enough to have done a little travelling. Not in the pikey sense, not in the global jetsetting sense either. Ya know, just travel, with my backpack and herself, mostly.

This has probably been said numerous times before, all over the net, but Irish people are well liked. Thank God for that or I’d be in serious bother. I’ve had people refuse to talk to me or give directions, ignore me or just be plain rude. Why? because they thought I was English! Now personally, I like English people. I have a lot of very good friends from England and the majority are among the nicest people I know. Yes, really. But for some reason, people in other places don’t seem to like them as much. Anyway, thats one for another time, back to being Irish. Yeah, people like us. Whether its the way we as a nation are portrayed in movies, plays, novels or tv, who knows. I’ve chatted a taxi driver in Dublin who collected people from Dublin airport to bring them into the city. Quickly they expressed their dissapointment at not seeing white washed cottages, stone walls, horses and carts and extras from the Quiet Man, just roaming about the place. I won’t say what country they were from, but I have met plenty more from the same country who think similarly about Ireland. I blame Hollywood.

OK, they were American!

So many think of us as a nation of raving alcoholics. (goes off to check the net for accurate stats….. finds out we are pretty high up on list. Damn) So, maybe we like the odd drink, and maybe we are closer to the top of the consumption scale in Europe than the bottom. But, does that explain why we are thought of as alcos? No. I think it has more to do with stories like this.

A lad started a job in Oz, back in the day. The boss told him that if he missed a single Monday or Friday he would be fired. He had employed Irish people before and heard every excuse under the sun for not making it to work on a Monday, but never the honest “I’m dying from a hangover”. Similarly, nobody ever said “I’m hitting the tiles tonight now that I got paid, so I won’t be in tomorrow”(Friday).

It was often said that a foot of counter in a bar was more valuable than an acre of land. The TV pummels us with ads about a huge variety of drinks, mostly alcoholic ones. The government makes a fortune from the taxes on drinks. The companies making the drinks aren’t exactly about to close either. When Irish people talk about socialising, they mean drinking. Its kinda sad that we think the only way to meet up with people is to go to the pub or club, but hey.

Go to any tourist destination, look for a pub. There is a damn good chance its an Irish Bar. I once went to work in a certain town in Northern Spain for the summer, along with some college buddies. We were a couple of weeks early for the big tourist boom, so work was thin on the ground. I spotted an Irish Bar, surprise, surprise. They had a notice looking for staff – Nice one. When I met the owner, a Pakistani gentleman, and told him I was Irish and would like a job. He nearly passed out with excitement. I was the FIRST, yes, first, Irish person to ever set foot in the place. Well, I was as surprised as you are. There were staff from Scotland, France and the Netherlands. It had a very Irish sounding name, no, I won’t say it. I just thought that was gas.

I’m going off course here, sorry. Where was I? Oh ya – pubs.

Why do Irish people seem to only want to visit Irish bars and eat in Irish restaurants when on holiday? Maybe other nationalities are the same? Are ye? Maybe its because the craic that can be had in an Irish bar in Ireland is too good to miss out on when abroad?

 

We are a funny nation. A gang of gobshites & eejits, messers and foolers but at the same time, some of the most brilliant minds in the world. Believe it or not, you’ll often find that the smart ones are the funniest. I could go on about the history of our scholars and world leading scientific, business and creative minds, but I’d fall asleep telling it, so you may do the same if you had to read it. I’ll stick to the funny business.

If you see more than 2 Irish people together, chances are, one is telling a story. We like to entertain one another. If we stopped doing this, and got on with our day to do work, we’d possibly be a super-power. But we’d be boring and that won’t do. Having the craic is something most of us like to do. Whether its telling a joke, taking the piss out of ourselves, watching others do something daft or just finding something to smile about in our day. Life is too short not to laugh.

Aon sceal? / Any story?                                                                                                           This was something I heard from people on a daily basis. Some were looking for gossip, nosey shites, some were saying it almost as a way to start a conversation, in a similar fashion to saying – hello, how are you?   Many were hoping you’d say no and then ask them the same, as they had something juicy to tell you. We all love to chat, bitch, moan, gossip and have a laugh. Whether it was something vital like who was late for mass on Sunday or perhaps what time Mr. X was seen leaving the pub the other night, there would be something to tell. I know a couple of guys, old guys, who will hold peoples attention in the palm of their hands. Those nearby wait on the next word with eagerness and just know the story will be a funny one. In the past, before the days of television, radio and “that feckin internet!” people would call round to the neighbours place. The door was always open, the kettle always on the boil on the open, turffuelled fire and the craic was only a moment away. Stories were told, songs sang, music played, grub eaten and either tay or something harder was drank. Some stories were total utter fibs. Some were so scary, that the babi childer of the house, who may have been secretly listening in the background, wouldn’t be able to sleep that night. Stories were told about previous generations and what they got up to, often not good stuff. All those fireside gatherings had one thing in common – entertainment.

 

A smart guy, great writer and fantastic source of literary inspiration, told me just the other day, that we shouldn’t filter or censor what we write. Jaysus, really? He reckoned that the bit you think will upset your auld pair or annoy somebody, somewhere, is exactly the bit you should include. And you know what? He’s right. Its feckin liberating to be able to say what you really think. If I offend anyone, I’m sorry, but the internet is a big place…..move on. You won’t need to put on your winter woolies, wellies and hat and brave the crappy weather to visit the neighbour. No, I’ll try to bring those stories to you.

So, to those that stay here for a little longer, I’ll start to share some myths, tales, stories and things I’ve been part of through the years, so call back, I’ll have the kettle on.

 

 

 

 

Well…how ya!

So, you found the place! Fair play boss.

“What am I in for here?” you might rightly ask. Well, stories, lots of them…..maybe.

Quick bit of info on myself for ya:

I’m Irish. I’m quite hairy(well, it helps keep me warm, Ireland isn’t always the warmest of places). I spent much of my life meeting people, different people, everyday. Those people, like me, had stories to tell. I don’t claim to be the best story teller or writer, but bejaysus I’ll give it a shot. I have an accent, I have strange sayings and a strange way of saying them! I’m hoping that someone out there would like to hear the odd story, or bit of news or even just be taken in by a little fib. Sure its only a bit a craic. In order to protect those involved, I’ll change names, places etc. I won’t say if something is true or a bit of fiction, thats for you to guess. So, let the story telling begin…..