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Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Would Carrie Do?

When the first Sex and the City film came out, I was in the second year of my degree at UCC. I was young(er), I was dumb, I was broke. So broke, in fact, that I could not afford to go see the film all the way through it's months-long run. Hopped up on pilfered vokda and orange in the college bar, I would pump female friends for costume information. They would smile enigmatically like a crowd of Topshop-clad sphinxes. "you'll see' they would smirk, which was code for "if you don't shut up about this film very soon you'll be wearing your drink instead of sipping it".

Now, a few years on, I am old(er), relatively wiser and no less broke. With a second film on the horizon, (I'm going to break into a real Carrie-ism here) I couldn't help but wonder what would happen to the girls when the big R set in. That's R for Recession, not for Rodarte.

I had always thought that the laissez-faire attitude to spending money in the show was cool. When Carrie explained that while penniless, she would buy Vogue instead of food because it fed her more, it lent her the romantic nous of James Dean. There was something suicidally cavalier about dropping over forty grand on shoes alone. I too wanted to be sartorially nourished. The whippet thin body of La Bradshaw would also be a welcome side-effect.

Like many but definitely not all women, I would sometimes ask 'What would Carrie do?' as if she was some kind of mid-level deity like Ganesh or Oprah. It took watching the first film to realise that Carrie Bradshaw is a female role model ranking alongside Imelda Marcos in terms of both shoe ownership and rampant self-obsession.

From time to time I will buy magazines instead of food. I currently have four euros to my name. I also have two huge wardrobes bursting with nice clothes. Now that I think about it, the only thing I learned from Sex and the City (apart from 'Men are crap') was the relative merit of a life of fiscal irresponsibility. I became a Carrie clone faster than a trolley dash with Usain Bolt. So take it from someone who knows - next time you wonder what Carrie would have done, go do the complete opposite, Your life will be all the richer.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Save the KINO!

This was ostensibly supposed to be a Graduate column, but it probably fits better on the blog. My beloved Kino is set to be closed very soon if sufficient funds are not raised. Sad times for all. I fondly remember the Kino as the place where I could go on many a hungover afternoon with my flatmate Nicola and watch good films in peace. I also remember less fondly one hungover afternoon where we went to watch Rachel Getting Married. It was an amazing film, but the shaky camerawork made us very queasy indeed.

Consider the following a b-side column if you will.

The recession is over. Yes, you heard it here first. Unfortunately it's not over for us in the Emerald Isle but rather in the UK, where the economy has decided, much like a crash dieter, that all this economy shrinking is bad for it's health and will quickly pick up inflationary sticky buns in no time at all (well, until 2011, but who's counting?).
Not so for us in Ireland. The Celtic Hangover seems interminable. The December budget looming over us like a fiscal Freddie Krueger will adversely affect what the press ominously refers to as EVERYONE. Everyone, including children under three, will have to file tax returns. We will return to the Oirish Ireland of Angela's Ashes, where the only forms of recreation (for a woman) is to smoke and tut, (for a man) to drink the money earned on a casual basis as a hod carrier and (for children) retrieve a drunken Da from the pub after too many sups of porter.
Thankfully we in Cork have other, less ultimately depressing modes of distraction. As least we have the Kino, Ireland's only independent art-house cinema; the only place to watch hard-to-get films with a steaming cup of coffee in hand. Oh wait, actually we don't, because it's due to close at the end of the month.
The closure would be conceivable if it was badly managed, but it is not. The movie selections are uniformly good, the prices are reasonable and the coffee is piping hot. The cinema itself seems to be run on a shoestring of duct tape, Hersheys chocolate bars and a bottomless well of love and loyalty from it's staff and many patrons. At the time of writing, a Save the Kino Facebook page has almost eight thousand members, and counting. A fundraising website (www.savethekino.com) provides details on how to donate.
There is a lesson to be learned here. The budget that affects EVERYONE is no doubt affected in part by huge bailouts to our banks, yet the Kino is due to close for want of tens of thousands of euros, a fraction of government funding that was promised but never materialised. If everyone on that Facebook page donated eight euros, then the Kino could be saved. One of Corks most valuable cultural institutions could be rescued from oblivion for the price of a cinema ticket. Unfortunately, by the end of November there may not be any art-house films for Corkonians to watch.

The anti-duckface brigade

I'm starting to notice a LOT of people pulling this face. The pouty-sticky-out-slightly-modelly-but- actually-ridiculous face. Recently I opened a copy of The Evening Echo to reveal a picture of me at a book launch... pulling the duckface. Go here for more examples of the beautiful people.

(via Dlisted and Anti Duckface)


The dole queue can be a minefield. I'm by no means insinuating that Mr Cowen et al have installed mines, beartraps, speakers playing Abba's Waterloo on a loop and even the occasional bout of Chinese water torture to deter people from applying for benefits (although you'd never know what will happen with Budget '10). Instead, the mines are planted deep in the consciousness of the applicant. These mines may not be real but are still highly dangerous - like actual incendiary devices, they will affect you worst when you are ill-prepared for the coming onslaught.

"What queue am I supposed to go to?" BOOM! "Ooh, forgot my PPS number, whoops." BLAM! "Form? What form? I didn't fill out any form!" WHAM! "Back of the line, bucko." Here are a few tips to make your Social Welfare application run ever so smoothly. Cut out this article and keep it somewhere handy. After you do that, have a look at my picture. You will probably see me in there. Best of luck!

1) Be like a Boy Scout and/or safe sex advocate: come prepared. Nothing makes a person roll their eyes and emit an exasperated sigh faster that a fruitless fumble for a rent book or mortgage agreement. So bring everything along with you. Bring along the kitchen sink if you must.

2) But don't go too mad. No-one wants to see your Xtravision membership card, bronzed baby shoes or photos from your last boozy stint in Santa Ponsa. Stick to the essential paperwork.

3) Don't get dressed up. To the men in three-piece suits: your application will not be processed faster if you look like you just need a government cheque to light a cigar. A standing ovation to the suited and booted who are so because they just take careful pride in their appearance. A cream pie in the face to those who think that looking like the CEO of a Fortune 500 company actually makes them one and thus entitled to give orders. I actually saw one such specimen physically push a girl out of his way in a queue and swear at the woman behind the counter when she told him to move back. His excuse? He was tired of waiting.

4) Tired of waiting? Bring a book. And don't push me out of the way if you see me queueing.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A rock and a hard place

Like a lot of people this summer, I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I fact, I was stuck somewhere in between a rock and an Aggregated Diamond Nanorod (commonly believed to be the hardest substance known to man, fact fans). I had spent the best part of June and July siphoning money from my parents and applying for jobs without any discrimination whatsoever.

Someone somewhere would give me some kind of job, wouldn't they?
In retrospect, it was painfully obvious that I wasn't going to land the job of my dreams. To my parents however, I just wasn't trying hard enough. On trips back to the hometown, my father would routinely wake me up at 7am on a Sunday to demand what I was doing with my life. Didn't I know that I could be writing for Vogue if I just got off my lazy bum? Why didn't I have Anna Wintour on the phone right that second? And why didn't I send Obama on some speeches? There would have been no such problems with the Universal Healthcare proposal had I been on board, oh no.

Pending being plucked from obscurity to the dazzling heights of speechwriting stardom, I was sending off CVs to everyone. I ended up sending one to my cousin in lieu of a 21st birthday card (as for what I sent to the manager of Tesco... perhaps it's best if you don't ask). Instead of tips, waiters would get a list of my career objectives. A publicity stunt involving a sandwich board and a whimsical Wonderwoman costume was seriously considered.

All that time it never occurred to me to apply for Social Welfare. It's a common and contradictory trait that while many people of my age are too proud to take money from the State, some of us were only too pleased to be granted an interest free loan at the Bank of Mom and Dad. I was at the front of the queue and far too blinkered to see that my parents could only support me for a certain amount of time. June and July would be wine and roses compared to the Dickensian nightmare that would await me when the funds ran out in August and September. I knew I had to swallow my misguided guilt and pride. And I had to apply for Jobseekers Assistance, if only to assure peaceful weekend lie-ins for the forseeable future.