Monday, 28 January 2013

A new way to describe a cough...

I have a horrible dose at the moment. Worse than when I had swine flu. I feel like I was hit by a train, and then my body was run over by several trucks.

Also, vomiting.

And a cough.

It's a rattly, chesty cough. Today E was sitting on my lap when I had a bit of a coughing fit.

"Mama had a fart from her neck" was how she described it.

Being in a fit of coughing and one of uncontrollable laughter at the same time is really dangerous...

Tuesday, 22 January 2013


Yesterday a man who pleaded guilty - admitted - to raping his daughter regularly over a ten year period walked out of court, free pending an appeal. He was sentenced to twelve years, but the final nine were suspended, and for the first three he was remanded on continuing bail - basically enabling him to walk out of court.
More details of the specifics of the case at these links:
Irish Times

His daughter waived her right to anonymity in this case so that he could be named and shamed - he is Patrick O'Brien, age 72. He suffers from a "serious medical condition" - but so what?

His victim, the man's own daughter, will never be able to forget the horrific crime he committed. However, she had the right to feel that some semblance of justice would be done. He wasn't old when he first committed the crime. He wasn't sick. So what if he is now? If his crime is worthy of a prison sentence then it is worthy of a prison sentence.

This is just the latest in a long string of cases of leniency meted out to perpetrators of rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse and incest by "Justice" Paul Carney. For example, the time he freed the attacker, leading his victim to have to travel home on the same train as him.  Or the time he forced a victim to stand in front of the men she accused of gang raping her and point at them, leading her to try to take her own life. Or the time he said that the crime merited a sentence of nine years, but on account of the perpetrator's good employment record and lack of other convictions, he suspended half of it.

Carney has a bad record when it comes to sex crimes, but he isn't the only judge in the country who does - look at the examples from last year of a man sentenced to six years with the final FIVE AND A HALF suspended as well as being ordered to pay compensation to his victim - paying her for sex which she did not consent to, essentially.  And the perpetrator who offered compensation to his victims.

We need to look at this as a society - why are sexual offences not considered serious enough to merit mandatory minimum sentencing? What should it matter if a perpetrator is now old and decrepit - he once wielded the power to commit the crime, and that is what should be taken into account. Who cares if he has no other convictions? Once is enough to affect a victim's life forever, and at least once a week as happened in this case was certainly enough to ruin her childhood. Risk of reoffending of course should be taken into consideration - but just because a rapist or abuser is old and decrepit now doesn't mean that he wasn't ever a risk, or that he didn't commit other offences while still able-bodied.

There is a facebook page Justice for Fiona Doyle where efforts to get justice in her case are being concentrated and publicised. There is also a petition you can sign.

Please do something - even just share the stories above on facebook or twitter, or in conversation in daily life. So many women are victims of some form of sexual assault during their lives. We have to change this culture a little at a time - from the top down, and the bottom up. Every action counts.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Today I miss my dog

I was walking up the street earlier today and I almost burst into tears, all of a sudden.

Not over the sudden break up of my twelve year relationship/nine year marriage. I'm still too angry at the moment to be sad about that. Though I have no doubt the sadness will come.

No, what made me sad was the sight of a man walking two gorgeous dogs, which immediately made me think of my dog, Molly.

My Molly.

We got her eight and a half years ago. A friend knew we were softies when it came to animals, and on the lookout for a female dog as a playmate for Muttley. He told us a tale of many puppies, destined for a bag in the river if they didn't get homes.

We went and looked at them, wary but curious. We hadn't intended to get a collie. And the first few pups we saw weren't particularly gorgeous, I must admit, they seemed to have some terrier in them maybe?

Then we saw Molly.

I picked her up and she started licking me shyly. The other pups seemed to push her out of the way and bully her - she looked different, she was a little larger than them but clearly the odd one out, still a sort of runt of the litter perhaps. Affectionate where the others were yippy and nippy.

We brought her home and introduced her to Muttley, who was used to playing with the cat Mercury, similar in size to the new pup. He immediately took to Mols. They played roughly, but he always took care.

I know it looks savage, but it honestly was harmless fun.

Muttley and Molly quickly became friends, but in the end, I took longer to love the little dog.

She peed, you see. Every morning we would come down to find a piddle on the carpet.

No matter what we did - late to bed, early to rise, a dog-toilet (like a litter tray), every morning she would pee. If we left her in the non-carpeted bit of the house she would whine and scratch and scrape and bark until we took pity on her and let her out - or feared the wrath of the neighbours in what was a semi-detached house with paper-thin walls.

The neighbours came to feature more prominently in our lives as the months drew in. It turned out that whenever we were away from home, Mols would bark. Pretty much incessantly.

I can understand how that would drive them crazy. They had a young child. They were genuinely nice people. But I came to dread having to leave the house except when dog-walking, as I knew that I would have to pay for that time away later in the form of listening to well-justified complaints that I could seem to do nothing about. Any of the training methods we had found so successful on Muttley simply didn't work on Mols. She was a totally different dog.

We moved out to the country, and my anxiety eased - now there were no neighbours to listen to her barking. She found other ways to release her frustration - a remote control chewed beyond use, lino torn up, even an occasional item of furniture would suffer.

I don't remember when I came to love her. It was a gradual thing. But one day I realised I did. She was my dog, and she was there for me and I loved her.

Muttley died, and we had Sherlock the newfie for a while, but Molly was a constant. She adapted her anti-social personality as we came to have more frequent visitors after E was born (she used to fear people coming over, probably having picked up on my anxiety from the early days of visitors equalling complaints and stress, and responded to any attention by growling, which naturally many people found disconcerting).

She still got anxiety from being left alone in the house, and even at this age was capable of causing destruction more akin to that common from a puppy. But I loved her, so I forgave her.

And then.

Then came the split. I left. I couldn't take her. I had to take my child and my pregnant self and find a new place for us to live, and the places near town (since I now have no car) don't tend to be pet friendly, or even if they are, would be unsuitable for a dog like Molly who needs several miles of walks a day.

I expected the ex would continue to look after her, but no. He decided he would be living somewhere else as well, somewhere unsuitable as well.

I had to say goodbye when I went to get my stuff from the house. I hugged her and kissed her nose and had to tell her to go back to the house when she wanted to jump in the car beside me. It broke my heart, and even though I know she's happy in her new home with a family and another dog to keep her company, today my heart is breaking for her a little bit.

My Molly. Miss Bear. I miss her. I may not see her again. And that is just horribly, terribly sad.

Friday, 18 January 2013

TV and film.

I was only ever allowed to watch a little TV as a young child - we didn't have one at all until I was 4 and a half, and my viewing was very limited (I have fond memories of Bosco and Pat's Chat). I had a vivid imagination and lively outdoorsy personality.

Overall, I found it weird when I visited other houses where the television seemed to be always on, regardless of whether anyone was actually watching something. It was like a comatose member of the family that no one dared switch off, every glanced at from time to time - it was very much a presence in the room, even when not actively watched.

Fast forward to my own parenting choices - I've managed to keep E away from TV for the most part until the later part of her first year when she started watching some little youtube videos. And then when we got a freeview box, I let her start watching CBeebies as there are no ads (I despise advertising on childrens' TV - when I saw one on RTE2 for McD's "Carrot sticks" but the ad still full of the familiar golden arches branding I was enraged at how they're trying to circumvent the ban on advertising junk food to kids).

Then, just before Christmas, she watched her first feature film - ET The Extra Terrestrial. I hope I don't have to link that - surely everyone has seen or at least knows of the classic ET? If not, beware - spoiler alert!

E sat through the whole film - a rarity for her to sit still that long for anything - on my lap, talking about what was happening. She was especially moved by the point at which poor ET fell in the river and was so cold. "The Alien" as she called him turned blue, and the boy was very sad, and then he went home in his spaceship.

It's a heartwarming story about friendship and bonding and family and saying goodbye but remembering forever.

A few days later we watched the classic The Snowman. She loved it too (though she wasn't particularly captivated by the sequel, the new The Snowman and the Snowdog, which failed to live up to the original in my mind either, though it started very promisingly).

Once again, a story about a short lived friendship with a magical or unusual creature, with a sad ending and memories that will last forever. Also, a classic scene of flying through the air that has entered popular culture in each film.

So E has been introduced to the world of film, the world of flying, and the world of tragedy, all in one go. I wonder what she'll do with all that? Her imagination has taken off, at at the moment we've no freeview so so CBeebies, so no TV. Just one Dora the Explorer DVD which drives me crazy so she's only watched it twice - I don't think she's too bothered either to be honest, she enjoys her Dora books but when it comes to TV, she seems to have delightfully discerning taste.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

More drama than the soaps...

So my Christmas started off quiet, but suddenly became very dramatic - and I really prefer my drama on the TV. All the same, I coped, as what else is there to do really - with the aid of great friends and fantastic family.

I can't go into too many details here as I'm not all that anonymous, so for now at least it'll have to suffice to say that Soc Mammy is now Single Soc Mammy, having discovered a few nasties about the husband, and left on account of them.

I hope to resume more regular blog posts soon, but I'm in the middle of sorting out finances and moving house at the moment. E has reacted very well to everything, thankfully - she has been more bothered by the onset of her 2 year molars than the turbulent situation, to be honest.

So happy new year, everyone, hope your holiday season wasn't as dramatic as mine!