Off The Rails: Notes from a train journey

Before I begin…here’s a short letter;

Dear fellow train-goers:

Headphones are the universal ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign. Please observe accordingly. Or I’ll punch you in the eye.



Old people ALWAYS bring sandwiches on trains no matter what time they go on trains…it could be the 5.35am service to Limerick Junction and they’ll have a stack of Brennan’s finest White filled with some sort of compressed meat product ready to be devoured.

They will also ask the first person they see on the carriage if this train is going to their chosen destination. Because, as we all know, every passenger is telepathically linked both to the national rail service and each individual who uses it.

I’d happily spend the day on a train. It’s the only mode of travel where you feel you can even slightly interact with your surroundings. You see the countryside, cities and towns in all their glory, you can pass through unnoticed but still be a voyeur and watch life go on outside a window. You have the freedom to get up and walk about a bit, and even better, you can buy a sandwich and pretend you’re an old person!

One of the best advantages for me is the fact that I never get travel sick on trains. It’s not a nice feeling when the Pukey Monster comes to visit.

There’s a small sub-section of the population who will empathise with me here. A lot of you won’t. And I hate you for it. You will never know the panic of being trapped in a confined space made of tons of metal that’s being driven / flown by unnamed assailants, who care not a jot for you. The rising panic when you realise that the sickly feeling is starting and they’ve only just shut the doors. The scramble for anything that will bring any kind of brief respite – some cold water, maybe some chewing gum,  a hard blow to the back of the head – but you forgot to buy the first two; and no matter how much you beg the nice old lady next to you, she refuses to put you in a sleeper hold. Selfish cow.

But I digress. On with my ‘train’ of thought – see what I did there?(I’ll see myself out, thanks.)There’s a drunk guy sitting across from me and he’s got that thing where he dresses really young but his face doesn’t match?? You know what I mean…like a bad artists’ impression for a court case. This guy is a peach among the many mad eejits that I have come to attract in seating arrangements over the years. His question to me? “Can you sort phones?” But in a really strong Scottish accent so more like “Can yee saaarrrt fonez???” He sounded (and looked) like an extra out of Taggart. So of course, I decided ‘what the hell’ and told him to hand it over. He wanted to change the wallpaper on his Nokia. Hilarious. I asked him what picture he wanted. He replied “The one of Paul Gascoigne when he played for Rangers.” Of course it was. Silly of me to ask. He said all this while sipping regularly from a boozy-smelling Irn-Bru bottle. I’m not making this up. So I got to look through a drunken Scotsman’s phone. Who DOESN’T have that on their Bucket List in all fairness?

Unfortunately all I saw were two very blurry pictures of what I hope were of his HAND or an accidental click of a button. I gave it back having been unsuccessful in my attempt at his handset enquiry. Then he passed it on to his friends. Couldn’t have done that earlier?? And got it sorted. It was in ‘received files’, apparently. So glad he told me. I wouldn’t have slept well that night at all otherwise.

I honestly wonder if I have the aura of a psychiatric nurse about my person? Is that why The Crazies are drawn to me? Maybe I’m channelling the wrong nurse. Less Kate Beckinsale in Pearl Harbour and more Louise Fletcher in Cuckoo’s nest. I’ll know better next time.

Too much time on my hands. I regret nothing!!

My Campaign

All for Amy

So I drew this after a brainstorming session with my younger sis Amy. I wanted to launch a campaign to get Tesco to stop running out of my favourite doughnuts. I envisioned my cause going worldwide and being showered with attention and fun and laughing babies wanting to get pictures taken with me..but instead I came off looking like a pathetic Homer Simpson-esque creature with no life. Which would be about right. Except I’m not yellow, and my 5 o’ clock shadow isn’t half as noticeable anymore because of the make-up. So there. That’s you told.

I know I’m not alone in this…

So in order to maintain the delicate and precarious balance in my universe (and thus my mental stability), there are certain rules various objects and situations need to adhere to. Otherwise my world will end. No exaggeration. My mind will dwell on these incidents and infractions like a kid with a scabby knee, and dig a hole in my psyche so big that my brain will collapse into a white frothy mess. I will be reduced to nothing more than that gunk you see at the bottom of your cappuccino cup, only less tasty.

Rule: Open packets the right way up.

Every time I see a packet of crisps opened upside down, an angel dies. For real. Anyone who’s anyone knows that the food tastes different if you open a packet the wrong way, there’s a system people!! God made arrows point certain ways for a reason…

The packets are all stored right way up, so you get a certain layering to the crisps in accordance with size and taste. You get your average ‘starter’ crisps on top, normally flavoured, nothing out of the ordinary there. As you work your way down the bag, paying your crispy dues, you are rewarded with the smaller more flavoursome ones. Then and only then do you reach the pinnacle: the dust. The bestest bit  by far.

See? Why would you mess up your crispy feng shui by indulging in such anarchistic behaviour??

The tears of a (short) clown..

As someone who spends her entire life online peddling her written wares for the world to see, I realise there are certain responsibilities I must take on board. One important one is to raise awareness of serious issues affecting certain people in the world today. I’m all about issues, me. So the cause I wish to take up in this blog is one that is very close to my heart. It is the plight of The Shortarse. My name is J-Ro and I am a Shortarse. There, I said it…<exhale>. The weight has been lifted. Probably up to where I couldn’t reach it anyway.

Us poor short people live in a world that tells us we need to dislocate our shoulders to reach our favourite groceries, to endure nosebleeds wearing high heels, to have a buddy system in place in order to sit on a high bar stool….and to dismount from said bar stool. To go to ballet classes from a young age so we can stand on our tiptoes for many minutes at a time as we wait to get served in pubs, and to watch the awestruck faces of the bar staff as we lower ourselves down with our drinks in hand and scuttle away like toddlers with new sweets.

There worse stories out there. Mostly mine to be honest. But the world needs a laugh so here you go. Actually most of these things happen in bars for some reason, I’m not an alcoholic I swear, not even a drinker, but I have a social life so there you go! Bring back Java’s and I’ll situate most of my ‘short’ stories in a coffee shop! I was once in an establishment up the country a few years ago, standing room only, chatting to some friends of mine. All of a sudden I feel this cold, glassy, wet weight on my head…I look up to see this rugger-hugger D4 type gowl chatting to his mate Turlough or whatever his name was, blindly attempting to REST HIS PINT ON MY HEAD. I should point out that I was standing next to a very high ledge already piled high with imagine his surprise when that ledge suddenly shouted ‘Hey!! What the f**k??’  At least he had the good grace to look ‘morto’. At least he had the reflex to remove the pint before it toppled and turned me into a future slapstick movie scene…

THEN there was the time I spent 15 long agonising minutes loitering around a grocery aisle in Safeway in London awaiting the arrival of a knight in shining armour to reach up and grab a jar of peanut butter. But oh no, I got no knight…instead I got a rather tall older lady looking at me like I was a lost child. So I ignored my rising embarrassment and asked her if she wouldn’t mind using her freakish gawkiness to help me obtain my nutritional goal. Scarlet I was…

So in short (!) life is hard for a midge like me. But it makes for an interesting roller-coaster ride through life. The endless days of sitting on chairs with my legs swinging aimlessly, the heart-stopping fear as you approach a fairground ride and hope you are, in fact, ‘this tall’ to go on it, the humiliation when you’re standing behind someone in a queue and they take your hand and tell you to ‘come on’ because they think you’re their child standing next to them and they don’t bother to turn their head….although it is TOTALLY worth it to watch them talk their way out of it when they look round and see me grinning like a psycho. Makes it worse for them when I keep hold of their hand the entire time. Well a girl’s got to have her fun…

Jedward: Cult Following or Cannon Fodder?

Jedward. So bad we can’t even bring ourselves to say both their full names. What the hell is going on with them?? The vacant stares, the leppin’ around the place like ADHD poster boys, the anti-gravity hair…why are we so fascinated with them? More importantly, why is there a full-force money machine behind the drive to make us so fascinated? I’m probably not going to answer any of these questions, I just like ranting without any research or backup articles. So on with the show…

These boys are clearly the love-children of Jessica Simpson and Ross O’ Carroll-Kelly (I am aware that one of those is a fictional character, nobody could possibly be that thick, but that Simpson young wan really makes me laugh sometimes). Ever since they burst on the scene I’ve been wondering how they have managed to maintain so much interest. The very fact that I’m writing about them in a blog is testament that their PR money machine is in good working order.

I’ll be honest here and say I’m sickened with jealousy. The very fact that these two young whippersnappers have gotten themselves record deals and endorsements on the basis of their sheer LACK of talent does sting a little in my pride gland. Having gone for X Factor auditions a few years ago myself out of sheer curiosity and artistic laziness, I realised that even though I could carry a tune, I probably didn’t have a sad story worthy enough to be told against a background of a Coldplay ballad while tears rolled down my face. I got through a few auditions but wasn’t selected in the end. Fair enough, I had a great laugh meeting all the (other) crazies anyway! But then along come these eejits, their only talent being that they looked the same, which wasn’t even down to them in the end…maybe their parents should have gone on and procreated some more live on air to show their own talents of twin-producing. They get the whole shebang, and without even having a sad story! Yes, I begrudge them…!

And then I watch them on things like the Late Late Toy Show and think ‘Ah, God help us, sure the little kiddies love them’…fine, give them jobs presenting kid’s tv shows, just for God’s sake don’t release any more music! That’s where my real rage lies…I hate the idea of them taking up valuable space in the artistic cosmos while the rest of us penniless singers and songwriters with dreams of our own slave over a hot notebook and instrument to write and perform our own work – in tune I might add – unnoticed by the majority of the world.

You couple them with the recent spectacle of the ‘leprechaun man’ from Mayo and you have to wonder what people outside Ireland now expect of us talent-wise? Pretty soon I’ll find myself apologising to all those American tourists I’ve slated over the years for thinking we were all a bunch of alickadoos hopping around our pots of gold dressed in green and Riverdancing…they’ve obviously clapped eyes on Britain’s Got Talent somewhere along their travels. It makes me want to cry into my Aran Jumper.

The jealous hater part of me sometimes daydreams about their fall from grace…but actually now I think of it, wouldn’t it be brilliant if,say, John became a wee preacher boy, all evangelical, and Edward became a Satan-worshipping crackhead, sniffing cocaine off the belly of a disgraced Miss World of a Friday evening?? Bring them both back on The Late Late at THAT stage in their lives, and you’ll find a new Jedward follower in J-Ro. Their Twitter would be some laugh to read then…