Archive for November 4th, 2010

When I was 17 a cocktail bar opened in my neck of the woods. Suddenly, we were all Cosmopolitans and Sex on the Beach obsessed. We had gone from pints to mental Molotovs in one foul swoop, and we were willing to spend the money for that book on Biology revision for the Leaving Certificate on it.

Not content to trust the bar-keeps with this skill, I set about making my own. A fact-finding mission in the dark recesses of my mother’s kitchen unearthed a bottle of Vodka. The subsequent foul-tasting concoctions containing every condiment, mixer, fruit and vegetable available in the kitchen were drunk. The following morning my mother shook me awake, sitting on the bed she very calmly and firmly asked  “Ann, are you on drugs?” .


She informed me that I’d woken them up the previous night at 3am and proceeded to get into their wardrobe. They asked me where I was going.

‘The toilet!” I answered indignantly ,”Go back to sleep”.

I blubbered about just drinking.

“Drinking what?” she asked.

“Vodka from the kitchen”.

“I’ve no vodka in the house”, she replied, “where did you get it?” Her face and memory suddenly caught up, ‘That was Poteen! Oh, thank God, we though you were on drugs”.

I played a blinder in the following few minutes, cycling through the disgust repertoire, chiding her for being so irresponsible as to leave a dangerous liquid lying around.

“I had it for rubbing into the dogs leg when he had arthritis” she said.

I haven’t drank Poteen cocktails since, but I have on occasion found horrid parts of me that I never want to meet again by mixing drinks. I’m thankful that I tend to run away and sleep somewhere when I start to feel that I’m drunk rather than plowing on. I’ve never fallen over or thrown up on a night out, but I know there are drinks that should not be mixed, there are places within me that should never be unearthed. It’s not me – it’s something else, something primal, something only Freud could conceptualise.

It’s why I cannot comment on one man’s actions on a flight. I’ve done silly things.  I have done things I’m not proud of. I know my limits but I’m fallible, I’m human and I have to forgive, as I cannot throw stones from this greenhouse. Ingesting any opiate analgesic and then mixing alcohol which enhances the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitters, leading to poorer sensory information and impaired function of the brain. Most sober people don’t think its okay to drive – a feed of pints later and they think they are the person best suited to replace the Stig. In a week where one elected public representative who drove a car drunk the wrong way down a dual carriage way, resigns with well wishes and a pat on the back (not to mention a fantastic pension), the wolves are circling for Neil Prendeville and his hand. Apparently a penis represents more of a threat to the common good in Ireland than a drunk TD.

The Barbarian knows the power of steel but will often use spellcheck as an effective way of vanquishing foes. The Barbarian has raised a male heir on her own but is currently accepting underwear on her bathroom floor from another member of that gender. The Barbarian uses frequent bouts bad language which embarrass her mother, superiors and son to articulate her thoughts about many things. The Barbarian has no time for people who talk about themselves in the third person. She blogs at www.thebarbariangoesforth.blogspot.com and is on Twitter: @dabarbarian.

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I wouldn’t dream of prefacing this piece with, ‘Some of my best friends are Muslims but…’

I don’t have any Muslim friends. I was acquainted with one girl who converted to Islam to marry her husband but I didn’t know her well, and I haven’t seen her in many years so I’m not sure how that worked out for her.

So my interest was piqued to read that English writer Lauren Booth had converted to Islam, moving from a state of self-confessed ignorance about practicing Islam (pretty much where my knowledge of it is right now) five years ago to embracing the religion wholeheartedly this year.

I can’t say I’m particularly excited either way about her decision. Her article in today’s Guardian caught the eye though, less for her explanations on why she chose Islam above other religions to convert to, but why she felt her life was lacking in the first place.

She writes:

I have glimpsed the great lie that is the facade of our modern lives; that materialism, consumerism, sex and drugs will give us lasting happiness. But I have also peeked behind the screens and seen an enchanting, enriched existence of love, peace and hope.

I feel patronised by this. Just because I drink, have sex, like buying the odd frock now and then (I’m a modest consumer, I would say), is my life shallow, without its own peace, and ultimately empty?

Isn’t Lauren Booth, in decrying how her decision to turn to Islam has been greeted with condescension and criticism, guilty of the same when she talks about those of us who haven’t?

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