Saturday, 30 May 2015

An introduction to Irish......blarney

Adare, Co. Limerick
If I’d been back home to Ireland in the last 3 years this post would have been so much longer, as there are so many sayings I’ve forgotten from lack of use – there really is no point in saying something that absolutely nobody around you understands. 

I never heard my Mum (or my Dad for that matter) use any kind of bad language in her life – for her the word ‘damn’ was a swear word.  Which made it all the more unlikely to hear  the following phrase out of her mouth whenever we complained about one ailment after another:

‘You’re never without an arse or an elbow’

When you hear the same phrase over and over since you were very young you don’t question it – my Dad always entered the house after being away with ‘God Bless’  and we would reply ‘And you too’ and I had grown up thinking that was how everyone greeted each other.  It wasn’t until I realised that other people don’t use these phrases that I started to question them and when I asked my Mum what did her phrase, above, mean and where it came from she looked a bit sheepish and then, half embarrassedly said she hadn’t a clue.  I had never heard anyone else use it but discovered in my research that in actual fact it is a fairly well-known Irish phrase, so it’s ok Mum….you weren’t quite as dotty as we thought!   Not quite…..

Another of her favourite phrases was one my sister said she only ever heard my Mum use and that is a ‘noodie nawdie’, as in  ‘she’s a right noodie nawdie’ – she’s a right oddball.  However, again, it is a well- known Irish phrase originating in the Irish language.

Lord save us and guard us!  Said when surprised at something…usually not a good surprise.

What an a ‘amadán’ (pronounced ‘aumadawn’) meaning what a fool.

C’mere will you ask yer man for the yoke there  - when you can’t remember the name of the man or the thing you want.

I was shopping in Cork the other day – ‘the other day’ could range anywhere from yesterday to 10 years ago.

Back the road….in the total opposite direction to ‘up’ or ‘in the road’, and woe betide those who would confuse the two.

When a child has hurt themselves they are often told  ‘Shur it’ll be grand before you’re married’  as if this is any kind of reassurance to a small child.

I stepped out of the house and there it was……. gone! 
She’s weak for herself meaning she absolutely loves herself
Saw ya across the street the other day but by the time I caught up with ya….. ye were gone!

A LOT of conversations start up, especially among the more mature of years, with ‘Do you know who’s dead now?  You do know him, ah you do, you DO…you’d know him to see!’

Whenever you meet up with someone whose name you have forgotten it’s no problem:  ‘Tis  yourself!’  Or  ‘Is it yourself then?’ said with great enthusiasm should gloss over any awkwardness.

More power to your elbow.  Meaning good job done, or well done

About a lazy person – if there was work in the bed he’d sleep on the floor

Ah there ya are!  Are ya back?  Erm….no…I’m just a figment of your vivid imagination!

Hold on a sec….I’ll be back in a minute

There was aytin an drinkin in it!  Meaning there was a lot of it.

Irish phone call:

How’s things now?/How’s the form?  You’re well? Ah sure nothing strange. Isn’t the weather brutal? Yeah,  I know yeah . Right. Sure go on so. Bye… bye….. bye…. bye bye bye bye bye bye

Alternative ending:   ” Good luck, good luck, good luck….. go on wha? Ok.  Go on. Bye bye bye…..…..bye”

View from my brother's garden
My brother had a Dutch neighbour who was putting in a new door in his house.  My brother, making conversation as he was passing asked him ‘how’s the door turning out?’  meaning how’s the work going so far, at which the neighbour looked at him in puzzlement and then said ‘From the inside!’

If ever stuck at a bus stop with a stranger the conversation  (and conversation there will be as there seems to be an unwritten rule never to be silent when you  can have a good ole chinwag (chat), and strangers are only friends you haven’t made yet )will usually consist of the weather, politics or religion.  You might be forgiven for thinking that, in Ireland it’s either raining or….it’s raining, but that is not so:

Sure it’s great drying weather.
“There’s great heat off that sun.”
When it’s raining lightly – it’s a soft day.
When it’s warm – it’s close         
All weather is "fierce." It can be fierce wet, fierce cold, fierce mild, fierce dry, fierce windy, fierce drizzly, fierce warm, fierce frosty, fierce breezy, fierce damp, fierce humid, fierce dead. Fierce everything, basically.

And when it does rain it can be spitting, pouring, bucketing down or lashing.

Many an Irish child has been sent off to get ‘the messages’  (the shopping), which their mammy would then put in ‘the press’ (cupboard)when they returned home.

In the past on a Saturday night all across Ireland Mammys would put towels into the hot-press (airing cupboard where the hot water boiler was stored) to warm them up for the weekly baths in preparation for Mass (Catholic Church service) on Sunday morning.

” She’s there every Sunday chewing the altar rails”  a rather fervent mass goer.

The dead arose and appeared to many (someone not seen for ages)  or as my Dad would say when I’d get up after a long lie-in…..’so there IS life after death then!’

There are no end of expressions describing those considered not to be ‘the full shilling’, or….’all there’ :

If he had another bitta wit, he’d be a half wit
If he had two brain cells he’d be twice as dangerous
Shur he’d be only half as smart as someone twice as smart as him – another one of my Dad’s favourite expressions.

She woke up like a bag of cats…..she woke up cranky    
Cmere  a while I want ya….said very fast to someone from whom you need something

Lovely stretch in the evenings. Referring to the summer evenings
The nights are really drawing in. referring to the winter coming
View from Garnish Island
Don’t come running to me if you break your leg!

Shut your mouth and eat your dinner!

Ah will ya relax will ya – shur  pressure’s only good for tyres!!

On dropping food on the floor – ‘don’t worry – its’ clean dirt’

I’ll do it now in a minute!

He’d rob the eye out of your head if you weren’t careful/ he’d rob the eye out of your head and come back for your eyelashes.

Very small meal – sure it wouldn’t fill the holes in your teeth

Sure it’s only down the road…..anywhere from half a kilometre to 10 kilometres!
To someone who answers the phone – ah so you’re at home then are ya!

If yeh die with a face like that no-one will wash yeh

I like your hair……did you knit it yourself?

He couldn’t lie straight in bed (a bad liar)

Look at yer wan, who does she think she is…the Queen of Sheeba?

Who does she think she is?  Lady Muck?

Yer man and yer wan usually refers to a man or a woman whose name you don’t know or escapes you at that moment in time.

Will you stop gawking!  Stop Staring!

When feeling nervous about something ‘I’m rattlin’

Were ya scarla?  Were you scarlet?  Were you embarrassed?

I was morta (mortified) Extremely embarrassed. And everyone in Cork is often either ‘scarla’ or morta’.

I’m in and out like a fiddlers elbow  - very busy

On the phone to let someone know you’re on the way   ‘shur I’m halfway there’ ……….and they haven’t even left the house yet. (A phrase both Ireland and Algeria have in common)

Stop the lights!  Said in surprise usually to something not very complimentary

Short hands, long pockets to describe someone who’s miserly

Your eyes are like two burnt holes in a blanket (a look brought on when you’ve had too many late nights)

That fella wouldn’t back away from the table too quick/ that fell wouldn’t back away from the table without a fight  said about someone with a good appetite.

So ……what’s the story?  Any news?

How’s the form?  How are you?

How’s the craic (pronounced ‘crack’ but with absolutely no connection whatsoever to any illegal substance!)? How are things?

He made an absolute hames (it rhymes with ‘James’) of it….a mess of it

He/She came with one arm as long as the other – didn’t bring anything to the house when they came visiting.

He/she would give an aspirin a headache

‘Ah go away!!’  or  ‘Go way outta that!’  Said in surprise at something.  When my eldest was about 6 years old she asked me why ‘Granny’ didn’t like me, and when I asked her where she got that idea, she replied ‘Because she keeps telling you to ‘go away’!

She’s got a face like a slapped arse/wet week-   someone who looks miserable

She’d bring a tear to a glass eye – someone who can move you to tears

It’s’ banjaxed’ meaning it’s broken or irreparable. 

The Jacks – the toilet

I haven’t seen her in donkey’s years….a very long time

Put the heart crossways – to give someone a fright
Macroom, Co. Cork

The guards – Garda Síochána …the Police

Ossified – drunk out of your mind

Will you stop acting the maggot?  You’re a right toe-rag!  Usually said to children when they’re messing around and being annoying

Taytos – ALL crisps, whatever brand, are called Taytos going back to when Taytos were the only crisps to be bought in Ireland.

A culchie – someone who comes from the countryside

Topper – a pencil sharpener

A sliced pan – a sliced loaf of bread

Hair like rats tails – lanky and greasy and uncombed

Between the jigs and the reels  – as in ‘between the jigs and the reels he never got there in the end’ meaning ‘between one thing and another’.

If you’re in Cork you can’t help notice that they put ‘like’ in every sentence, and if the sentence is a long one it can appear more than once: I was down the Mardyke like and I heard yar man was selling this yoke like and I thought to myself like that would look great in the sitting (living) room like.

Boy (pronounced ‘bye) is another popular ending to many a question or statement in Cork as in Are you alright there now boy? Sure that’s grand boy!  Which brings me to a Cork joke:

An Arab and a Cork man were travelling through the desert , when the Arab said I think I’ll build a city here’ to which the Cork man answered ‘Do Boy!’

Stand back and let the dog see the rabbit – another of my Dad’s old favourites, when he was about to tackle a difficult job.

He’s a right plámáser (pronounced ‘plawmawser’)/ Stop your plámásingplámás meaning to flatter or suck up.

So now….if you visit Ireland for the first time you’ll be able to talk about the weather as good as the next wan,  and you’ll  know when you’re being insulted up to the eyeballs….maybe…..because often it’s done with such charm it might go right past you!

And finally, although this has nothing whatsoever to do with Irish sayings I still think it’s amusing enough to share.  Of all the things I’ve learnt in Irish in school, the only verb that I can still successfully conjugate in the language, much to the great delight of my children,  is ‘to see’ in the present tense:

To See – Feic (pronounced ‘Feck’)

1 sg     feicim
2 sg.    feiceann tú
3 sg.    feiceann sé/ sí
1 pl.    feicimid
2 pl.    feiceann sibh
3 pl.    feiceann siad

Can’t think why this has always stayed with me…..along with the Irish word for….word…..’focal’ (pronounced ‘fokkal’).
West Cork

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The joys of being an odd-ball

Ever since I was very young I’ve always considered myself to be…well….not to put too fine a point on it….odd!!!  I know that each one of us is a unique individual, and as a result, we may each appear odd to others at times, I’ve always felt my personality borders on the downright weird, and I have thought maybe it’s my background.  I mean, what’s the point in having a slightly (some might think that was an understatement)  unorthodox  upbringing if you can’t use it to hang all your most undesirable traits.  At the same time….I do think I hide it well......most of the time. 

Then a few years ago my eldest daughter, Sarah informed me that I was an introvert.  I immediately dismissed it as hogwash – I had the idea that an introvert was someone who was shy and quiet, and seeing as I could talk the hind legs off a horse with anyone, including those with whom I have no common language, I certainly didn’t fit the bill.  But then she said something that totally resonated with me – extroverts are people who, after socialising, return with a buzz and a real feel-good factor, whereas introverts return from the same situation with a desperate need to wind down and be quiet and alone.  Sometime after this I saw an article on Facebook entitled something on the lines of 'the 23 signs you are an Introvert', and when I went through them 19 of them were so me, and it was a light-bulb moment for me – there was a name for what I was and..... it wasn’t ‘peculiar’!

Recently Sarah did the Carl Jung’s and Isabel Briggs Myers’ typological approach to personality tests (can be found here) first for herself and then with my eldest son and other daughter, and then she turned her attention to me.   I found some of the questions difficult to answer as it wasn’t always clear to me exactly what they meant, so we had quite a few discussions and a lot of laughs.  Finally I got my result – ISFJ but with a margin of only 1% between  Sensing over Intuitive and very high introversion, some of the personality characteristics of both INFJ and ISFJ could apply to me, with stronger leanings towards INFJ.  I did the test again on my own, going with my gut instinct this time when answering the questions and came out with almost the exact same result!

And it has been a revelation to read a description of me by someone who has never met me!

They are notoriously bad at delegating ("If you want it done right, do it yourself"). And although they're hurt by being treated like doormats, they are often unwilling to toot their own horns about their accomplishments because they feel that although they deserve more credit than they're getting, it's somehow wrong to want any sort of reward for doing work (which is supposed to be a virtue in itself). That’s me!

ISFJs make pleasant and reliable co-workers and exemplary employees, but tend to be harried and uncomfortable in supervisory roles. It may come as a surprise to some…but in reality…..I hate telling people what to do!

They hate confrontation; if you get into a fight, don't expect them to jump in after you. You can count on them, however, to run and get the nearest authority figure.  I will do my very level best to avoid a confrontation at all costs, or to diffuse one, however that does not mean that I don’t blow up every now and then when the pressure builds to breaking point.

They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behaviour, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.  This explanation is one that probably best describes me.  If I don’t go to an event it’s not because I won’t enjoy it or the interaction with people.  I know, for a fact that I will have a wonderful time,  but I choose to stay at home, alone, because I need that more, I need my alone time to recharge my batteries, or I’m in danger of burn-out and becoming stressed.

Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills.  This is SO me!!!!  I don’t know anyone else who would prefer to write to someone rather than to talk to them on the phone.

There were other observations that I recognised in myself but….as they were of the more complimentary nature I just could not bring myself to copy them here.  I just ….could….not.

Obviously you cannot take the millions of people in the world, add to them the millions upon millions of people who have lived since our time began, and just squeeze them all into 16 personality traits.  There is so much more that defines who we are, how we perceive the world and how we react to what happens in our lives.  We are, each of us unique, so much so that all of us, at one time or another will have that feeling of total isolation where we feel as if nobody else can possibly understand us in the same way as we ourselves understand who we are.  It can be overwhelming to feel that total sense of ….aloneness.  But, I think, this is not something to be feared but actually something to embrace and rejoice in because it is the perfect representation of our uniqueness – there has never been anybody else in the world who has ever been the exact same as each one of us (in my case some may breathe a huge sigh of relief!).   It has always seemed so strange to me that, in a world where individuality and being your own person is so highly valued, at the same time there is a huge pressure to conform to the norm.

But just as being male or female has a bearing on how we view the world, I think these tests can help to enable us to become more self-aware and,  personally for me, have helped me to be more true to myself and not look on some of these traits as something for which I have to apologise.  Even more importantly they have helped me to understand some of the traits I have seen in those closest to me which previously I could not comprehend and caused me to take personal affront.  We all had such a laugh while doing these tests…..there were so many ‘a-HA’ moments and, as a result, I think, a deeper tolerance and acceptance of each other inshallah.

If anything, these tests have revealed to me yet another facet of the wonderful intricacies of Allah’s amazing creation.  MashAllah.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A day in the life....

Pitta bread ready for the oven

Have you ever had one of those days when you know that you would have had a more productive day if you had just stayed in bed?  First I put the bread maker on to make Pizza and realised I had put in the ingredients for pitta bread instead.  So now……I have 8 pitta bread, because, of course, I just had to double the quantity…and the blunder.  I still have to make the Pizza dough because I have nothing to put in the pitta bread as yet.

Then, as I was minding my own business (not very well I’ll admit) I heard this very peculiar noise from the back garden.  It sounded like someone cranking a piece of scaffolding or something like that, and when I looked I just couldn’t believe my eyes!  What is it with our garden and birds???  Last year it was Moriarty the seagull and this year it’s a ……turkey (Actually.....NOT a turkey but a guiinea fowl as corrected by a lovely reader in the comments below, mashAllah) !  I just have this nasty suspicion that someone is trying to tell me……I’m for the birds.  Tell me something I don’t know.  Then, as I was trying to take a photo of the flamin’ thing my camera wouldn’t work and I think that the memory stick has gone kaput.  And….to cap it all….I burnt my milk saucepan.  It was wet, I NEEDED a cup of milky coffee so I put it on the cooker to dry before I put the milk in and ….promptly forgot about it until I smelt it. All of this before 9.30 am.  I really wished I’d stayed in bed.  So now I’m going to make pizza and then I’m off to do my spring cleaning.  I mean….what can go wrong with a bucket of hot, bleachy, suddy water and a cloth??? 

You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to give the kitchen in this house a really good scrub.  The problem is not with its size but more to do with its popularity.  There is ALWAYS someone in it needing something to eat, or drink or put the kettle on.  I have always really admired the way Algerian women in small over crowded apartments just bulldoze their way to a clean home every morning, cleaning everything in sight and not letting anything or anyone get in their way.  I just don’t have that knack so a simple scrub turns into an all day job.
Loquat fruit tree or Mishemsha as it's called here in /Algeria

But the upshot of my inauspicious morning is that the guinea fowl flew off, only to return briefly at coffee time, my camera memory card works on my daughter’s laptop so my son’s pictures of his visit to the countryside are not all lost Alhamdulilah, the pizza went down a treat and everyone’s looking forward to pitta bread for tea, and the Loquat fruit tree (mishemsha in Algerian derja) in the front yard and the fig tree in the back yard are both bearing fruit Alhamdulilah. Soon after we moved into this house my youngest was at a neighbours' house devouring their mishemsha when the lady of the house told him to plant the seeds in his garden and the picture above is the result mashAllah.   The fig trees were already in the garden when we moved in and both fruit trees have withstood total neglect on one hand or too much water on the other,  on my part, and total abuse by various workmen down the years Alhamdulilhah. April!!!!!