Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Brush until you bleed

I have excellent teeth, my dentist uses these words, she says "Sarah, you have excellent teeth." I have never had a filling. I went to my dental hygienist recently - Daphne. She performed her cleaning ritual, which was brutal, as always. She uses a sharp hook to scrape away most of my gums, placing her knee on my chest for balance. Afterwards my teeth feel squeaky clean but they don't feel very firmly attached to my head. She asks questions about my life while holding my tongue down with a tiny mirror on a stick. "Oh you live in Dublin, hmm? My husband and I went to see Phantom of the Opera at the new Grand Canal Bord Gáis Energy Theatre. Fabulous. Have you been?" I try to shake my head and say "nnhghg nu naah-", "Ah-ah" she cuts me off, "don't try and speak". She hooks her hand around my top teeth and prods the roof of my mouth. She pulls my head back for a look. "Spongey gums, Sarah," she says, frowning and poking her hook deep into the delicate flesh around my teeth. Spongey gums? This apparently grave condition needs to be rectified as quickly as possible by poking a hairy rubber stick through the gaps between each tooth twice a day or my teeth will fall out. Excellent. Thank you Daphne. "Brush until you bleed, Sarah, focus on the gums," she tells me handing me some complimentary toothpaste.

Then I go in to see the dentist: 2 cavities, all of a sudden. Two? What? But I have excellent teeth? "Yes, I must say it's very strange Sarah, has there been any change in your eating or drinking habits?" I avoid her gaze and quietly mumble that this year I started drinking Diet Coke. She pushes her chair back and looks at me like I've just swallowed her car keys. What are you doing? You never tell the dentist you drink Coke. She slowly pulls the plastic mask down from her face and holds my gaze. Then she says quietly that only after 7 years will we know the full extent of the damage I have inflicted on my teeth. This is how long it will take for the consequences of my disgusting habit to fully manifest themselves. (Oh holy god.) Then as punishment, she gives everybody a sticker except me.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I have owned a lot of mobile phones. Lose them, break them, drop them in the sea/toilet - more frequently than most. I just get a new number each time for speed. Friends have had up to 12 different possible numbers assigned to my name. My mother saves my ‘current number’ with the month that I tell it to her. (We're on ‘Sarah October'. It's January so we're going well so far.)
Four days ago, in a wildly unexpected turn of events, my phone went missing somewhere in my room. I didn’t really notice on day one. On day two someone sent me a message, and I heard the alert tone and thought, ‘oh good, I haven’t lost my phone,’ which is what I think most times my phone makes a noise. However my £10 phone (I know!! How do they make them so cheap?? It’s madness!) alerts me with some serious beeping when my inbox is full. This message happened to be the one to tip it over the edge. So my phone (bear in mind, hidden somewhere in my room) has been beeping every half hour for the last 3 days. I kept forgetting to look for it in the glorious period of silence between the beeps. Last night at 1.00am enough was enough.
This is how it goes:

Call mobile using house phone. Rings twice, stop to listen. Sounds oddly muffled like it is inside something. Panic in case I’ve swallowed it without realising. Decide unlikely - rule it out for now. Rings twice more and stops - gone to voicemail. Battery dead. So begins the process of elimination: strip bed, check pillowcases, pull bed away from wall, empty ‘stuff’ box under bed, check pockets of clothes on floor, poke behind radiator with coat hanger. Pause. Try calling using house phone again, battery still dead. Pull clothes out of wardrobe, lift loose floorboard, stub toe, strip bed again, re-check pockets, open drawers, open dvd cases, open curtains, open Terry’s Chocolate Orange for a break. Eat nearly all Terry’s Chocolate Orange except for three bits. Feel sick. Lie down on bed.

Spot bin. Check bin. Touch something damp. Continue rummage with coat hanger. Find phone in bin, inside a pair of laddered tights, covered in hair.

I don't understand. ‘Sarah October’ lives to text another day.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bum hole

I have a pair of very old jeans which have a small hole in the bum and have worn through to fine threads between the thighs, because of the way they rub together when I walk. It happens to all my jeans after a time. But these jeans are good to wear for work because it doesn't matter if they get dirty. Last week I wore them to cycle in to Belfast, a journey which should have taken about 35 mins, but took an hour and a half because I was on a child's mountain bike which had very small wheels and insufficient gears. I hopped off the bike struggling to stand up on my wobbly legs and it transpired that the threadbare patches between the thighs had merged with the small hole in the bum and somehow the crotch had dropped entirely out of my jeans. Completely gone. Worn away to the extent that I had to tie a sweater around my waist so my pants weren't out. I got the train home, tugging my coat down at the back to preserve my modesty.

Yet, quite inexplicably, I have worn the jeans twice more since, thinking each morning, "they aren't that bad, at least it won't matter if they get dirty," and then arriving in work thinking, "Why am i wearing these crotchless trousers, again? How does this keep happening?" People are starting to talk.

So I'm thinking of getting a thigh gap for Christmas - ground-breaking surgery where the flesh of the inner thighs is pinned to the backs of the knees. It looks a bit strange in profile and from the back but I'll make sure to only be photographed from the front and to walk into rooms sideways, like a crab. Not only will I look incredible but I am going to save a fortune on jeans.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Surprise rug

There is a rug which lives in the kitchen in front of the sink. Bits of washed dishes have a habit of slipping off the draining board and smashing on the floor because we just stack them up precariously instead of putting them away so the surface of the rug had become littered with the sprinklings of a thousand bowls and plates and wine glasses. We decided it was a bit dangerous so we shook it out and moved it to the hallway outside my room, which is next door to the kitchen and seemed to be crying out for a rug.

I had to pee last night. Still half asleep on the way back from the toilet I saw something move out of the corner of my eye, which made my heart explode and I panicked and bolted back to my room (firstly, this extreme night-time panicking happens fairly regularly; secondly, the movement I saw turned out to be my own reflection, but that's not important)

I forgot about the rug, strategically placed over the extremely slippy clic floor - freshly polished by a well-meaning housemate. My legs shot out from under me like bullets going in different directions and knocked me sideways and I became somehow suddenly wedged between the two walls of the narrow corridor, propped by the side of my head and my inside left ankle. I remained suspended, in shock for some time, quietly wondering if anybody had heard the fall and considering the merits of carpeted flooring.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Neighbours Part II: Harvest

The Beattie’s house was next door to ours. It was pebble-dashed and had bits of moss growing in between the pebbles. I used to lean on the wall and pick out the bits with my finger. I once picked at a quite large piece, which turned out to be thousands of baby spiders, which immediately scattered all over the wall. I have struggled with moss issues ever since.

There was a large net hammock at the bottom of the Beattie’s garden. The hammock hung over a bed of hundreds of bright yellow daffodils, a very agreeable place to lie in the shade of the Birch trees and read a book about bee-keeping or listen to the afternoon play on Radio 4. One day I picked all the daffodils and put them in the holes of the hammock. Delighted with my work I ran home and collected my parents to bring them to see the great thing I had done. To my complete shock and utter disbelief, I was frogmarched to the Beattie’s door and made to apologise. (I know, right? What is that about?) I was banned from the garden for a month.

Undeterred, I got an even better idea. The front of the Price’s house was covered in vines peppered with bright red berries. They went on holiday to Scotland this one particular week, so myself, my sister and the Beattie kids picked all the berries our small arms could reach and put them into a big black bucket we found. Then we borrowed the Beattie’s Dad’s ladder and picked the higher ones. “We’ll put the bucket on top of a door and when someone opens the door all the berries will fall on them!” I said. “It’s going to be great!” everyone agreed. It took a couple of days to fill the bucket. It’s good to have a project.

Such traps work like a charm in films, but seldom in real life especially if the eldest member of your gang is 8 years old. I think we knew that – it was never really about the trap; we didn’t even try to set it up. It was like digging a really big hole – we laboured, it was enormous and sublime: thousands of berries were in the bucket because we had picked them and put them there. A more qualified person could not have done a better job. It looked spectacular, a big black bucket spilling over with super saturated bright red beads of effort. We plunged our hands in, letting the berries fall through our fingers. "Hurrah!" we cried, "look what we have acheived!"
Then it was done so we went to play rounders.

When I proudly related the success of the endeavour I was once more shocked and appalled by the largely negative reaction of my idiot parents. I failed to see any parallel with the daffodil incident. Anticipating the Price's reaction may be similar to that of my parents, we panicked and poured the evidence into the stream at the bottom of the garden. This caused a significant enough blockage to cause the water level to overflow and flood the lawn. The Price's returned to their home to find complete and utter devastation. When they dropped round a box of souvenir shortbread later that evening I was expressly forbidden from having any.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Neighbours Part 1: Trees

My sister and I were friends with the kids next door so a group of us had the run of a number of neighbouring gardens. Access to the Price’s garden was through a hole in the hedge at the bottom of the Beattie’s garden. The Price’s garden led to the Speers’, the Speers’ led to Pat’s. Pat had a pond, which sometimes had frogs. I have included a map.

(Subsequently the Brickies moved into the Beatties', the Laverty's moved into the Price's, and the Price's moved into Pat's, so for the sake of currency I have included a revised map.)

The Price’s garden was easily the best because it had two big trees: a large Horse Chestnut called ‘Old Mr Knobby’ and a huge Oak called ‘Paula’. Mr Knobby was a good tree for climbing because it had lots of branches. Paula, too difficult to climb, usually represented an enemy ship or a neighbouring office block, depending on the requirements of the game. Mr Knobby’s trunk split into two half way up, forming a very snug pod for holding meetings in. There was a long bendy branch, which we used as a steering stick for when we played ships. I once tried to change course a bit too enthusiastically and the stick snapped and I fell a good 10ft and landed on my face and my arm, which broke. The breakage went unnoticed and as a result my wrist grew an extra bone, which is entirely noticeable if I point it out. My cross to bear.

On another occasion I was trying to make a jump. Caught up in the moment I forgot about the sharp broken branch hidden on the underside of the larger branch I was perched on. As I slid passed it the small broken branch ripped through my shorts and pants and hoiked me back mid-jump. I was suddenly dangling in the air, completely immobilised, hanging from a tree by my underwear where I revolved slowly for a number of minutes. Eventually the fabric tore and I was ungraciously dropped from my awkward captivity and liberated from the whole bum of my shorts. I don’t think I even went home to change: we were hardy back then and there were games to be played.

Friday, October 28, 2011

review of the day so far

Today I ate a yogurt which was 8 days out of date. It tasted a bit fizzy and it had two small lumps in the middle, which I also ate.

BUT I also stole two pens from the bank.


I can't wait until someone asks me if they can borrow a pen, I will smile and vomit yogurt all over their shoes.