Posts Tagged ‘humour’

Getting on the Property Ladder

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

As mentioned in a previous blog, I recently purchased an apartment in Dublin. My new home is in Mountjoy Square, an area steeped in history and associated with a number of famous writers such as James Joyce, Sean O’Casey and WB Yeats. Lawyers, churchmen and politicians have also lived in the square in the past—and Joseph Napier, appointed Attorney General for Ireland in 1852, lived at my exact address—one of a number of Georgian buildings that have been redeveloped as apartments in recent years.

Arthur Guinness spent his later years in Mountjoy Square until his death in 1803. Dáil Éireann held meetings in the Mountjoy Square home of the republican Walter L Cole prior to the foundation of the Irish Free State. And most recently, the critically acclaimed movie Once was filmed in an apartment on the Square.

And it is in Mountjoy Square where I hope to continue my writing after a four-month break due to the stresses and trials thrown up by moving house. Although this is my first venture onto the property ladder, it reminds me of an episode from my life some time ago (as featured in Lord of the Rams).

I was about to start second year in college and had made the long two-bus journey from Cavan to Waterford to view prospective accommodation. Goosey, my flatmate from First Year and long-time friend, had stated clearly that I could get any place of my choosing so long as it was not Flat 4A—the infamous hovel we called ‘home’ the previous year …

Exclusive Extract from Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told
Arriving in Waterford, the Rams had a little less than two hours to find a home. With the internet still in its infancy, the only way he could hope to spot anywhere remotely suitable would be by combing through the morning’s newspapers. Unfortunately, a few phone calls confirmed that most decent dwellings had been snapped up a few hours prior to his late-afternoon arrival in the city. At last, however, he happened upon an advertisement for a three-bedroom house, centrally located and within a few hundred yards from the phone box where he was standing.

‘This looks promising,’ he thought, dialling the number included with the advert. A gentleman, who identified himself as an auctioneer named Joe, agreed to immediately meet the Rams on a city centre street.

Ten minutes passed by and the Rams was still waiting patiently for Joe to arrive. For the majority of that time a suited businessman had been leaning against a railing a few feet away, occasionally glancing over in Rams’s direction. Realising that time was against him, the Rams called out to the stranger, the returned greeting leaving him in no doubt that he was now speaking to the auctioneer. Joe seemed almost surprised that Rams was the same person he had conversed with over the phone, but the confused expression quickly gave way to one of cheer, and he spoke amicably with the Rams as the pair walked the short distance to a house around which Joe provided Rams with a grand tour before sitting down to talk business.

The house was nothing special, but it goes without saying that it was a definite improvement on Flat 4A. It had three reasonably sized bedrooms and its location was quite close to the part of the city the Rams was most accustomed to. Having asked the usual pre-rental questions regarding bills and utilities, Rams put the million-dollar question to the auctioneer.

‘So how much is this place per month?’ he asked.

‘It works out at 32 pounds each per week,’ replied Joe, alluding to Rams’s earlier comment that he would be moving two other people in with him. The rent was a little higher than Rams had hoped for but, with only 20 minutes remaining until the bus for Dublin departed, this was not the time to be playing hardball.

‘Well, I’d be fairly interested in taking the place. How much of a deposit are you looking for?’

‘Five percent of the value of the house and, once I receive that, I can hold the place if you’re waiting for your mortgage to be processed.’

‘What was that?’ gasped the Rams, scarcely comprehending what he was hearing and almost needing to hear it repeated lest his ears were deceiving him. ‘You said something about a mortgage there. Is this place not for renting?’ he asked.

‘Of course not,’ Joe replied, looking slightly peeved upon realising that he had wasted valuable time showboating the house to the poorest student in Ireland. ‘I was thinking you were a bit young to be buying the place,’ he added, before quickly showing Rams the door.

With mere moments remaining until the call of Cavan beckoned, Rams sprinted to a nearby phone box and dialled Mickey Rooney’s mobile number. It was the last thing he wanted to do but, given the circumstances, he didn’t see himself as having much of a choice.

Mickey’s phone rang for several seconds before an unmistakable gruff voice could be heard at the other end of the line. Rams rushed through the necessary small talk before asking if Mr. Conway had any properties other than Flat 4A available for renting at that time. Apparently Conway had a nice vacant town house, which would be perfect for the lads. But since Mickey was attending a horse racing event in Tramore that day and Rams was rushing back to Cavan, it was agreed that Rams would ring Mickey the following day to continue the conversation and perhaps—at least in Rams’s mind—provisionally agree to rent the property.

Unfortunately, the resultant telephone call squashed any hopes Rams had of living in anything other than squalor for the college year. Mickey, changing his story from the previous day, stated that the house was undergoing refurbishment and wouldn’t be ready before Christmas. All was not lost, however, because another property was available for renting immediately and at a fair price.

‘Goosey, how’s it going?’ yelled the Rams into the telephone receiver.

‘Not too bad. How did ya get on in Waterford?’

‘I have good news and I have bad news.’

‘What do you mean, Rams?’ asked Goosey, sounding slightly concerned.

‘The good news is that I found us a place to live in for the year.’

‘Nice one; for a minute there I thought you were going to say you got nothing.’

‘Well, the bad news is that it’s Flat 4A.’

And with that, the phone went dead.

Did you like this story? Maybe you’ll enjoy Lord of the Rams, featuring anecdotes and misadventures from my student apartment in Waterford in the late nineties. Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide post and packaging).

Book Review: The Average American Male

Monday, July 5th, 2010
The Average American Male

What do us men really think about women, relationships and sex? If you’re a woman reading The Average American Male, you might afterwards decide to take thee to a nunnery and vow never to set sight on the male form again. True, Chad Kultgen’s debut novel from 2007 doesn’t paint man with the brightest of colours but, for me, his book is one of the most addictive, outlandish and hilarious reads to cross my path.

The unnamed narrator of The Average American Male is in his late-twenties, is in a relationship with a girl he no longer likes, and spends almost every spare minute thinking about sex and getting friendly with himself. He also plays a lot of video games and hangs out with his friends at bars and parties.

This might not sound like much of a premise, but Kultgen has created a work that will resonate with men worldwide.

His observations about relationships are at times both accurate and very funny. On one occasion, he’s  driving his girlfriend to the airport. She’s doing his head in with incessant chatter about trivial matters.

“She keeps talking about things as I stare down the road trying to imagine what the couple in the car in front of us is talking about. I can see the silhouette of the woman in the passenger seat. She’s kind of flailing her arms around and every once in a while pointing at the guy driving, who’s completely motionless, staring straight ahead and probably looking at the car in front of him wondering what the woman in that car’s passenger seat is saying to the guy driving.”

Some people will read The Average American Male and not “get it”. They will say that the main character is a man of no values with few redeemable qualities, that the book’s other main characters aren’t properly fleshed out, and that the novel presents a one-dimensional and pitiful view of men who see women as mere sex objects.

But these people are only partly correct. Although a novel, The Average American Male is saturated with the sort of frank honesty that should be applauded. Kultgen has produced the sort of book that few people would have the balls (no pun intended) to write. He has written on paper—albeit in a somewhat exaggerated and tongue in cheek fashion—exactly what men often think but don’t say. He also succeeds, from a man’s perspective, in delivering an ending that speaks volumes about relationships and how they evolve—or dissolve—after time.

Sexually explicit (and by no means intended for a young audience), extremely funny and vile, this is a book that will mainly appeal to young men who have “loved” and lost and “loved” again. If you’ve read the factual  I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, note that this has a similar style except that it is a novel, and is infinitely more funny, intelligent and addictive. Highly recommended.

Purchase my own book—the hilarious comedy memoir Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with FREE worldwide postage and packaging)

Moving House: Memories from Christchurch View

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

8 years. It’s a significant percentage of anyone’s life. And it’s a very long time to spend living in the same rented apartment.

It seems like only yesterday that I moved into an apartment in Christchurch, Dublin. I had been living in a cramped two-bedroom apartment nearby for two and a half years, but the time had come to move on.  The move to Christchurch turned out to be a great one.

A month after I moved in, the lease-holder of the apartment bought a place and moved out. I was delighted—he had very little to say for himself and was one of those rare people I knew I would never get on with. That left me and Ed, a Dubliner who had been living there for a few years, on the look-out for a new tenant for the large double room. A Roscommon man,  a fellow Ronan, eventually moved in, and it wasn’t long before we began partying it up at Christchurch.

Ed moved to Boston to get married around May 2003, and all manner of people moved in, and moved on again, over the years—Leanne, Ian, Mark, Denise, Deborah, Kara, Julianne, Anke and Karen. Nicole and Danusia also lived there on and off at various stages. And Mark held the distinctive record of actually living in the apartment twice (following a year in between stays working in London). Ronan stayed at Christchurch for 5 1/2 years before eventually moving on, only to be replaced by Andrzej who stayed for over two years.

Dublin (and indeed Ireland) has, in some ways, gone from hero to zero in the past two years. And this has certainly been reflected in the rental market. Finding long-term tenants has become very difficult (the last four tenants were all visiting Dublin for just a just a matter of months) and so I recently decided to move out of the apartment along with my other housemates Andrzej (moving back to Poland) and Karen (going travelling).

I am currently in the process of purchasing an apartment and am hoping to move into it soon.

I left Christchurch with some happy memories and funny stories from my time there. And I’ll sign off today with just one recent story that remains fresh in my memory …

………………… Memories from Christchurch View …………………

It was April 2009. An Irish guy had arranged to view the spare room after Deborah had moved out. The rental market, however, had changed dramatically in the preceding few months. Where once 50 people might reply to a room advert on, now this number was closer to four or five. So I was delighted that John Joe (not his real name) was Irish—not because I’m anti-foreigners (far from it) but because I presumed he would be around for the long haul.

Anyway, John Joe shows up. And he’s fat—morbidly obese in fact. I’d say he’s about 25 stones (or 350 pounds). That’s fine; no big deal but I do start thinking that I might have to hide my Weetabix from this guy if he moves in. But I have no intention of moving him in. Why?

Well for a start, John Joe has brought his sister with him. She’s a rough diamond—looks like she could cut a man’s balls off just by looking at him. At first I think she’s John Joe’s mother—she’s got to be in her mid-sixties, but I suspect a diet of cigarettes and alcohol may have played their part in the ageing process. But John Joe is no spring chicken either. I reckon he’s nigh on 40. In truth, he seems a nice enough guy. He’s quiet, but then again he’s not getting much of a chance to put his views across since his sister is doing all the talking.

Maybe I’m assuming too much at this stage but I get the feeling that John Joe has lived in the nearby family home (or with his sister) for most of his life. And now the sister is forcing him out into the big bad world to fend for himself. Shame she didn’t do it sooner. John Joe moving out at 40 and viewing apartments with his dangerous looking sister doesn’t help ingratiate him as a prospective housemate with me.

Anyway, after showing John Joe and his sister around the living room, kitchen and bathroom, and making the same lame joke I always do about our two fridges (“One for food and one for beer”  Boom Boom!), I invite them to follow me up the spiral staircase to view the bedroom.

I steal a quick glance at John Joe’s massive frame and think: “There’s no way this guy is getting up these stairs.”

So the sister bounds up the stairs along with myself, and we enter the room. It soon becomes apparent, as I envisaged, that John Joe is having difficulties.

I keep the sister talking, or she keeps me talking—I’m not quite sure which. She is very interested in the room and apartment (Who’s moving in here? Her or John Joe? I’m beginning to wonder!).

“I can pay ya a deposit right here today,” she says, and I’m almost too scared to tell her that other people will be viewing the room and I would move a monkey in before living with her over-pampered, can’t even get up the stairs brother.

John Joe eventually makes it into the room after about a minute or so. He’s sweating profusely and I’m wondering what the legal implications might be if he drops dead in the apartment.

The sister at last asks him his opinion on the room, barely waits for his response and then tells me that, “We’re very interested in taking the room.”

Off she goes down the stairs, and John Joe follows. I’m hoping that gravity might help him with his return journey, but things don’t turn out that way. As John Joe rounds the first bend, he becomes stuck in the stairway. He looks to be well and truly wedged. I don’t know where to look (I’m standing upstairs just beside the top of the staircase) so I try to encourage him and make him feel better by telling him that it took me three or four months to get the hang of walking up and down the staircase.

After a good two or three minutes, John Joe manages to free himself and somehow gets to the bottom of the staircase without bringing it crashing to the floor.

The sister takes one look at her visibly tired and mentally traumatised brother, and she shouts up the stairs at me.

“It’s no good. He’s too big. He’ll never get up and down them stairs.”

And with that, she opens the door and drags her embarrassed brother out with her.

Did you like this story? Maybe you’ll enjoy Lord of the Rams,  featuring anecdotes and misadventures from my student apartment in Waterford in the late nineties. Purchase Lord of the Rams: The Greatest Story Never Told (with free worldwide post and packaging).

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