Age is But a Number - Preferably a Slinky Red One

Age for the older mum can be a worrying concept. It can creep into your mind like a burrowing worm, intent on destruction of the soul, leaving nothing but tears and trauma in it's wake.

If you let it.

The concept of the older mum's age can also burrow like a squiggly, squidgy worm into the still malleable mind of a pre-teen, and cause untold concern.

So, how does one counteract the potential drastic effects of this mean and downright nasty burrowing and squiggly worm of destruction then?

I suppose one could sit down with one's child and explain things in a clear and simple way.

One could say things like:

Son, I know a lot of your friend's mums are ten years younger than me. Children really know how to make you feel good, don't they? But, can they dance hip hop style son? Or high kick their way through a Can-Can routine? I'm sure I still can -can if I really tried. Or can they hold a three hour dance rehearsal with a large group of children and then come home and make your dinner?

Look son, I've no intentions of going anywhere for a very long time and, you should know, I do mostly have longevity on my side. Your Nanny has been very, very ill recently and has since returned to the comfortable surroundings of her nursing home - and been re-named Lazarus. The human fighting spirit and the power of the will to live never cease to amaze. Her Mother, your Great-Grandmother,  lived to be 80. My paternal Grandmother lived to the ripe old age of 90 and no-one could ever deny her fighting spirit.

And son my Aunt - your Great-Aunt, but I don't think she'd thank me for that moniker so 'my Aunt' she shall remain - is a very young 70 who loves her aerobic classes and walks everywhere. She's a gal after my own heart and loves a lively night out with music and dancing. On a night out with us last year she and her similarly aged pal received a standing ovation from the very young clientele of a very lively pub! And on our girly Christmas night out her and her fellow septuagenarian friends danced the night away and stayed up as late as the rest of us.

Oh son, I so wanna be like her when I grow up....

And I have to tell you son, when we were on holidays this year and I stayed up to watch the nightly shows that were on in our hotel, I witnessed something of note one night. Well, I thought it was of note anyway....

See, the lead singer did the usual choosing someone from the audience thing to dance with him, thereby encouraging others up on the dance floor. Of course he picked a gorgeous 20 something beauty, stunningly clad in a short, slinky black number. She looked really pretty on the floor and he only had eyes for her.

Which meant that he missed a real personality on the dance floor. That being a similarly slim, donning a form fitting beautiful little blue dress Glamorous Gran who was also sporting a discreet shoulder tattoo and who must have been at least 75 years young. She danced them all off the floor, so she did.

And the silly lead singer didn't even notice her and he chose the same sexy young wan for the next set too, silly man!

You know son, I want to be like that gorgeous tattooed Glamorous Gran too, when I grow up.

And I want to be like the 82 year old lady who apparently attends a country branch of my Curves gym! I hear that she went to Cuba this year for her holidays.....

So you see son, I can't possibly go anywhere anytime soon, I have too much growing up to do.

As do you, my dear boy.

Oh the fun we'll have when we're all grown up, us two.

Just think how proud you'll be of your oul' mum when I take to the dance floor at some celebratory occasion or other of yours - all fabulously resplendent in a little red number, strutting my stuff. I'm sure I'll have remastered it by then, so I'll even treat you and all of your friends to my party piece....

What? You don't  think I can do it? Well, I used to be able to. I'll have you know that I was once carried onto the stage in the splits, 6 feet up in the air by 3 hot male dancers!

Don't worry though, I won't embarrass you. I'll be way more glamorous, I'll be all made up and my hair will be fabulous and will be neither permed nor coloured blue.

And you never know , even though personally I'm not into them, I may even stage my very own senior life crisis and be sporting my own discreet tattoo.

Maybe on my shoulder.

Maybe not ;-)


PS: Just so you know, dear reader, a lot of wood was touched during the writing of this post!

What Jazzy Does

My pre-teen boy came home from school the other day and very bravely, but potentially stupidly, dared to tread where others, far older and wiser, know better than to tread.

He asked me a question.

A question no doubt that others would also love to know the answer to but are way too afraid to ask.

A question, it was clear, that he'd been meaning to ask for quite some time but was only now brave enough getting around to asking.

'Mum' says he quizzically, 'what do you do all day when I'm at school?'

(The emphasis was on all and the question mark was loaded, meaning what could you possibly be doing for all that time?)


'Well' said I, pausing to dampen down my naturally rising bristles at his innocent audacity. Well, he is still only 12, he knows no better. The ways of women have yet to be explained to him... and I would love to be a fly on the wall when that conversation takes place. Or maybe not!

I considered how best to answer him, taking a quick glance around to see if I had actually done any housework that day, housework apparently being the only obvious, visible proof of the work of a stay-at-home-mum. Harrumph ........

I think I told him something like: I made beds, tidied up, fed the cats, went shopping to get the dinner in, did some computer work (earning me an eye-roll) and all the time looking forward to seeing him after school. He loved the last bit but, apart from the eye roll, I think I lost him after my bed-making!

I may as well just  have said 'nothing much son, just waited for you to come home'!

I didn't expand on my computer 'work', though I do fondly recall a time, in my other life, when I used to tell people they should text me if they'd sent me an email. This busy SAHM was far too busy for all that online malarkey, you see.

My, how the - barely clean - tables have turned as more of my time is now spent online! Although I do keep up with the necessities I wouldn't welcome the Housework Police to my home. They needn't waste their time on any surveillance either. No point as they wouldn't be able to see in thorough the windows! You know in my world my windows are like my eyebrows. I never attend to them because I never notice them, even when I'm looking at them straight in the eye, so to speak.

So, what exactly does this housework-shy Jazzy actually do all day then?

Well apart from the bare essential household duties, attending my beloved Curves gym, occasionally meeting pals for coffee/lunch, I drink copious amounts of tea whilst sitting with my laptop on my knee with cat purring and budgie chirping happily nearby. Total bliss.

The Social Media Police, on the other hand would be most welcome to visit. I'd even make them tea but there'd be no Stepford Wife home bakes!

My fascination with online activities started off with facebook, this blog then twitter and I enjoy all three. I thoroughly enjoy sharing all my random ruminations with you here and hope you enjoy reading. It's cathartic for me, I get to share and preserve times that are important to me and some frivolous ones too, just for fun. When I blog about something serious it feels really good to offload.

And last year, just in case I got bored like, I voluntarily took over the social media for the iPhones4Autism-ie campaign. I am delighted to be able to contribute to this important campaign. In fact this week my 'computer work' was mainly working on raising awareness at this crucial time with the launch of the iPhone 5.

I see all those iPhone-mad people queuing for hours for this new product and I scream at the TV: Give us yer oul' iPhones!! If only 1% of them donated their old phones think of the difference it could make to many children with Autism or Special needs?

In the very near future I will also be involved with the social media for another cause close to my heart! This one is completely different and I really look forward to it.

In January I will don my dancing shoes once more and choreograph another teen school-show. If the Housework Police could see through my windows then they would snatch a glimpse of a demented Jazzy with hoover in one hand, duster in the other, ear-phones in ear, trying out dance steps as she attends to her housework duties and taps out a few keystrokes on her dilapidated laptop!

Of course none of this is of any concern to pre-teen boy.  Apparently, not only do I not do anything much  at all all day I'm also 'the food person'! 

I like to think though, like others similar to me, I'm a stay-at-home-mum that does more than it says on the tin.

I'm certainly more than just 'the food person'!

If  you're a stay-at-home-mum reading this then I know better than to ask you what you do all day ;-)



The Desperation of a Nation?

Over the past couple of weeks I couldn't help but wonder what is happening to the people of  this little nation of ours?

Not a day goes by, it seems, that we can't turn on our radios in the morning, or sleepily scroll down our twitter pages, without hearing some dreadful news. A stabbing here, a death by drug-overdose there or an accidental death somewhere else.

The most disturbing news of all was the deaths of two children, with both their mothers found in serious conditions nearby. Both incidents occurring mere weeks, yet miles, apart and while the full facts of both cases are not yet known, the mind boggles at how this can be.

What is happening here, in this little nation steeped in austerity measures, with approx 450,000 unemployed and no apparent end in sight?

A nation in economic recession and depression?

Or maybe that's the answer, right there and what we're seeing is the desperation of a nation?

I know that these occurrences are always evident in a society but they definitely increase in difficult times with increased burglaries, murders and suicides.

People and families surviving on Social Welfare, or the working poor who are being taxed to the hilt with more austere cuts and tax increases to follow.

And all to save our banks and to keep opportune and unsecured bondholders free from any risk whatsoever.

People are at risk though and they get desperate. And react accordingly.

Maybe they have no-one to turn to? There is most definitely a lack of services, that's for sure.

Recently we, as a nation, totally supported those with Disabilities who took to the streets to fight against the proposed cuts to their services. They were successful in this, despite some cock and bull from the Minister saying these cuts were never going to happen in the first place!

The savings that these-cuts-that-were-never-going-to-be would generate will now have to be found elsewhere in the health budget we're told, with the area of Mental Health being the most likely target.

 Perhaps that will also prove to be a figment of our collective imaginations, who knows?

But it makes sense doesn't it? Reducing the already poor Mental Health services in a country which seems to be struggling emotionally.

Mental Health services haven't changed much over the years, including the Celtic Tiger era when the funds were more likely to be available.

No-one should ever under-estimate how a person with mental illness will behave, no matter how sweet and gentle their normal personality can be. Especially when they are in crisis with no-one to help and no services to rely on.

Especially at the weekend.

And no-one should presume that you can just ring for an ambulance for a mentally ill patient and have them transported forthwith to the nearest hospital. Perhaps that might work for a heart attack or car-accident patient but not so for a psychiatric one. Referral from a GP and prior acceptance from the relevant hospital must be obtained first, if there's a bed available. You have no idea how long this process can take.

Especially at weekends.

There's no psychiatric equivalent of an  A & E you see and you'll find that the medically ill patient won't usually require a Garda escort either. Of course if the patient refuses to get into the ambulance then that's the end of that.

The patient should re-schedule their nervous breakdown for a more convenient time, thank you very much.

Preferably not on a weekend.

Perhaps the patient might be good enough to stall their mental breakdown until the next available community clinic, a week hence?

And if the mentally ill patient should also have the audacity to present with a co-morbid (most likely - but not always - psychiatrically related) then and only then, can you order an ambulance and get thee hence to the nearest acute hospital, which of course will not be co-located with a psychiatric one . There will be psychiatric services available though. Eventually.

As I've written before, I would rather have broken bones than a broken mind in this country.

Especially at weekends.

So, what can we do?

Over the weekend I noticed a little group of mothers in the facebook community I'm part of, banding together and sharing phone numbers. No one should ever feel they have no-one to talk to, they reason. There will always be someone online for them.

Especially at weekends, I hope.

We cannot manifest official full weekend services nor can we sprout 'pop-up' co-located hospitals overnight, but we can come together to help and keep an eye out for each other, online or in our local communities.

I thought that was such a positive and practical move by these fabulous facebook ladies.

Yet for some inexplicable reason it also made me feel a little sad.

Possibly because it's born out of necessity, a sense of if we don't help ourselves who will?

Not our Government and certainly not Angela Merkel who's of the illusion that Ireland 'is on a good path.'

However, Governments and delusional Troikas aside, we should try to collectively remain positive and restore our community values.

And mind ourselves.

Take care.


PS: Normal upbeat services will resume shortly!

Swimming in Denial

In my world, as far as certain things go, Denial is unquestionably a river in Egypt.

I celebrated a big birthday this February- in fact I'm still celebrating it, every chance I get - and I had no problem whatsoever in turning 50.

Actually, that's not totally true but if I say it out loud or write it down then it must be true, right? It's either that or I'm back to my river in Egypt.

Okay, let's just say that I am absolutely surviving my 50th birthday year and like I said before: 'I'm now old enough to know a lot ... and young enough to still do it. ALL of it!!'

See, I've still got tons of energy. Full of the joys of Spring am I. Nothing has changed, I am the same as I ever was, albeit a few pounds heavier.

I did hip hop dance classes last year and regularly go to my Curves Gym where I can push myself with the best of them.

No bother.

Okay, there are some grey strands to my short mane, but it's only a little bit really and I have yet to fully colour my hair. Highlights are sufficient for now. With a discreet amount of masking to the offending area, naturally.

I even still have all my own teeth, for heaven's sake!

My eyesight is not too bad at all, really. I've never needed glasses and was always the first the tell the number of the approaching buses. My party trick that was.

I may not be able to see quite as clear as before but really, I have the eyes of a young wan.

But she must have taken them back 'cos I could not tell the number of an approaching bus recently until it was almost at the bus stop! The numbers were all blurry as they almost merged into one, mere yards from my disbelieving face... How on earth did this happen?

And I can have blurry-eyed (completely different experience to bleary-eyed, trust me) vision after reading texts etc on my phone. Even the text on Sky TV goes funny on me at times.

I totally blamed Sky for that. Or maybe someone spiked my tea?

No, it was time to swim away from Denial and face the facts.

I needed.... noooo, I can't do this..... cue very scary music.... glasses.

So, I faced my fear and got me some reading and distance glasses.

Now, I AM out of denial but it's important that you should know that these are very light prescription glasses only. Hardly proper glasses at all really. Just so you know.

And if I have to do this then, like my big birthday, I've got to do it in style.

It's got to be Jazzy Glasses for this Jazzygal!

Ah, there you all are. I can see you all so clearly now....

Now, please excuse me while I swim back to Egypt.....


Trouble on the line

It was as I stepped into the carriage of a late night Dart that I first noticed the man, situated as he was in the open space at the doors.

I sat down in a nearby seat and the man kept popping into my line of vision, as my eyes lazily perused my surroundings. Having spent 26 minutes sitting on a metal chair in a cold train station, I was drawn to a cup from which he was sipping what appeared to be tea or coffee but, as events unfurled, might very well have been something else.

Any time our eyes met, I thought I glimpsed a flash of anger but told myself I was imagining it.

After a while the man started to shout a little bit. As he didnt seem to be in pain I paid no attention to him, instead giving him some space and thinking that perhaps alcohol consumption may be the cause of his outburst.

A very kind and less cynical gentleman decided otherwise and approached the man asking if he needed any help. He narrowly missed being punched in the head, twice, for his kind actions.

He quickly retreated to his nearby seat only to be followed by the man, who was now rudely gesticulating to all and sundry and shouting loudly as he went.

It was quite frightening. The kind man's female traveling companion certainly thought so, as she scurried to the next seat where there was another male passenger.

The angry man's shouting continued for quite some time. From my seat I furtively looked at the doors for the red cord that would gain the drivers attention, if we needed to. However that may also leave us stranded mid-station with Angry Man, while the train shuddered to a stop. It was therefore not a viable option, notwithstanding the fact that, as I just found out, the red alert cord on Dart trains no longer exists.

We were stuck with Angry Man it seemed.

He continued his verbal assault on the couple and anyone in their vicinity, virtually trapping them where they sat. As he awkwardly moved forward to where the woman had moved to, she made good her escape by climbing over the seat to get back to her partner. They both then ran down to the other end of the train.

This was not good.

Angry Man eventually followed them, still gesticulating, shouting and daring anyone he passed to lock eyes with him. We averted our eyes to the window, the blackness of Dublin as it whizzed past us being distinctly more preferable to the blackness of Angry Man's eyes.

This was definitely not good.

At the next station the couple jumped off the train and ran quickly ran down to the next carriage before the train moved off again. A move I was afraid to take in case I didn't make it on time. I got increasingly nervous as more people disembarked at each stop. Thankfully others boarded,  including two young men who ironically took the seats of the earlier escapees.

Angry Man had calmed some and had made his way back to his starting position but began shouting aggressively again.

We then found ourselves in a déjà vu moment as one of the young men kindly got up and approached Angry Man. I tried to connect eyes with him, whilst simultaneously shaking my head and silently screaming Nooooo .... Don't do it , in my mind. The connection was unfortunately missed and Young Man's similar attempt to Kind Man's before him, was met with an almost similar response.Young Man very quickly retreated and surprisingly wasn't followed by Angry Man!

We expelled silent sighs of relief.. well, I imagine I wasn't the only one to do so.

Angry Man took himself grumpily down the other end of the carriage and was again silent for a time while we sat on tenterhooks. He remained silent until the only man left from the first debacle was disembarking and decided not to take his leave via the doors closest to him. Oh no, he instead strode confidently through to Angry Man's spot and sat near him. This I know 'cos I stole a sneaky glance, retracting my head double quick at Angry Man's ferocious glance back at me. Oh, crap.....

By the renewed shouting that ensued, we gathered that departing man had some departing words with Angry Man before he subsequently disembarked..

Now, I didn't blame him for saying something as Angry Man's behaviour, in whatever condition he was in, drunk or not, had become totally unacceptable . But did he have to chose when he has getting off the train to do so? His actions left us, the remaining passengers, to deal with any resulting aftermath!

My mind subsequently sped down the tracks of endless possibilities. Would his attacks get more dangerous? Would someone challenge him? Would a knife get pulled? And why the hell doesn't some departing passenger tell someone?

But there was no-one tell, the stations being closed and the driver's compartment being too far away from our carriage.

As I myself was disembarking I noticed that the replacement for the red cord alert system is an intercom
linked to the train driver. We could have used that but heaven knows how Angry Man would have reacted to that.

I got off at my stop and hoped everyone would be ok for the remainder of the short journey. I also wondered what, if anything, we should have done differently.

What would you do if you were in this situation?

And would you change your mind if I told you that Angry Man was quite disabled and in a motorised wheelchair?


Note: I sincerely apologise if anyone is offended by this piece. I have witnessed a number of obnoxious, aggressive, drunk and rude behaviours on the Dart over the years and usually only report  if the situation appears to be escalating beyond reason. This is the first I've witnessed at night and it shocked me. I have since learned that the individual concerned is known for his aggressive behaviour. I can assume, therefore, that he has come to the attention of Irish Rail as they must assist him on and off at stations.