Grandad’s anniversary 2015

Blogging feels less relevant to my life and perhaps to the world. It does give a focus for this once-a-year moment though.

My life has become full. A job that’s intense and two kids that are lovely but certainly keep me busy. Full to bursting.

So… no pint in my local this year. A brandy. A very short one before bed.

For personal reasons this year is especially poignant. A time laden with meaning in which to regard my grandfather and pause for thought.

So… I’m tired and I wonder what’s worth saying this year that I don’t record elsewhere. I email my kids sometimes. Mainly photos; not enough text. I keep a five year journal though there are blank pages where my discipline fails.

What’s worth saying? What hasn’t been thought of? What can I squeeze into a few minutes before sleep?

We’ll head back to Dublin for a short break in a few days. It’s a helluva journey but it’ll be good to be there. I’d like to get into the city. I don’t think my kids have ever actually been there. St.Stephen’s Green maybe. It’ll hold no meaning for them if I tell them about times spent sitting on the grass or trying to hop the fence (and failing) while drunk.

I think walking down Grafton St. might be more an exercise in kid control than a sentimental tour.

But maybe not.

Ah…. now I am being maudlin. There’s too much happening to weigh upon this. I need to sign off and go to bed and be fresh in the morning for my kids. It’s what my grandad would have done.


Grandad’s anniversary 2014


So… once a year, I drink a pint of Guinness in our local pub by myself.

I do this on the anniversary of my grandad’s death.

When I first did it, not so long ago, I said that I would remember him each year. A running memorial of a sort.

I missed it last year. Our daughter (hello pet) had recently been born and it seemed too much a luxury to head out myself. I was confident he’d understand.

Now that I return to it two years later, I find myself questioning if the whole exercise is rather silly. An indulgence that will fade with time.

I’ve been mulling over something recently. An argument with my son (hey buddy) over something silly sparked it off. And two articles recently; one on parenting, the other about Ghandi… yes, I know I’m straying into the pretentious…

The former spoke about parents’ anxiety over their children’s excessive use of digital devices. It drew a clear correlation between the kids who spent a worrying number of hours staring at screens and their parents doing the same. I read a Ghandi quote a moment later “be the change you want in the world” and I thought it applied to parenthood… “model the adult behaviour you want to see in the world”.

I remember my grandad taking a great pleasure from simple things, enjoying quiet and remaining a loving man in difficult circumstances. Circumstances that, I’m sure, tested those qualities.

You had your faults of course, but you modeled behaviour that I now wish to inculcate in myself. I won’t always succeed but at least I have a model to work to. Thanks grandad.

I’ll try my best. Once a year, I’ll contemplate him and those attributes. Less a maudlin memento mori and more a moment of reflection and calm. Though remembering the presence of death is a positive act I’m told.

I hope I’m still doing this years from now. And, I hope, my kids’ll join me here for a drink over a decade from now.


I wonder where we’ll all be.


Family as blood

I’ve signed up for a Coursera called “The Camera Never Lies”. The first task is to present an image of personal importance to you.

On reading the first reflective task, one image came immediately to mind.

It’s a professional portrait though not an especially interesting one. Except perhaps for its age.

There are a few others that spring to mind (a shot of my now-wife on our first big holiday years ago sharing the back of a pick-up truck bringing us to a beach on a Thai island, many shots of my children, a few photos I captured myself that I’m proud of) but this is probably the most relevant and certainly the most shareable.

I became a father just under two years ago. I’d never been around children prior to having my own; no younger siblings, time spent around younger cousins and so on. The first time I’d held a baby for more than a passing moment was my son’s birth.

So, I found myself considering the concept of family in a very different light. One more rooted in the physical, more about ‘blood’ than an abstract notion forced upon a gloomy teenager.

My grandmother uncovered these photographs from the late nineteenth century a few months later. They were both taken around the same time and are images of my great-grandfather and uncle.



I look exactly like my great-granduncle (the dude with the pipe). So much so that, when I posted the shot on Facebook, friends asked where the costume party had been and noted my use of Photoshop to age the image (in this case, the camera was assumed to be lying and was not 😉 ).

It’s only now that I am able to make those connections. Few photographs exist of my parents as children (even fewer of previous generations) so it’s only now that I am old enough to see my likeness in their recorded images. And only now that I can compare images of myself as a baby and see my own son looking at from a photograph near four decades old.

It’s important to me that I am able to draw that line back into my past; all the more important now that I can draw that line into the future.


Brave, selfless and terrifying protest

Considering the recent events in Woolwich (a stupid and pointless act by ignorant morons), the sacrifice of Emily Davison was mentioned in this morning’s Metro.

100 years ago she stepped in front the King’s Horse running at Epsom. It’s unknown if she intended to commit suicide or simply pin a protest banner to the horse with little knowledge of the speed and power of the animal.

*That’s* bravery. A selfless and truly awful action that made the news.


Grandad pint 2012

Start my annual conversation.


Hi grandad. This is a picture of my son. Your great grandson. Cheers.

I think he’s got a little of you in him. I can see it now looking at photos of him laughing and thinking of you. He’s got some of your smile. And maybe your build, though that’s hard to tell. I’m sorry I didn’t see it before, it’s been a hectic year.

And I’m sorry I missed last year’s pint. The date was just a week after he was born and things were crazy. I thought of just doing this a week late. But it’s not the same, it has to be this date.

I wish you could’ve seen him. Just a few times. You’d have loved him and laughed together.

I wish you could be here for him, now and then on the odd Saturday morning, like you were for me. Cartoons and Christmases. And blue plastic toy motorbike helmets.

I know you’d be saddened by him being here in London. It’s a great city and I know you understand that and the realities of life’s meandering path and of recession


But I do want him to walk the same streets as you. Hear the same stories and drink the same drink.

If he doesn’t like Guinness I’ll disown him.

I miss you. I’ll see you next year.



My morning startson the corner

A: “So, I came off coffee for a while and I felt much better. I mean, you’ve made and it’s there so I’ll have some”.

B: ” Yeah, you were better when you were off it”.

A: ” But I’ll have some”.

B: ” Sure, sure. I mean it’s right here”.

A: ” I’ll stop tomorrow”.

B: “Yeah, yeah. Go off it tomorrow”.

… Oh dear.


A perfect cocktail menu for a 1920’s party

We ran a murder mystery night for about 15 friends a year or so ago. The theme was prohibition era Chicago so we needed to serve appropriately.

Running the bar was a bit of craic though cleaning the flat was a trial the following morning (example – cocktail sausages in my shoes and prawns between books on shelves).

But, it was a good menu. So for the good of the interweb here it is:


Cocktail List

3 rounds of cocktails with the following choices:

  1. Gin Gimlet or Watermelon Martini
  2. Bloody Mary or Moskow Mule
  3. Whiskey Sour or Seabreeze

Round one:

Gimlet (Gin and lime)

  • 2 Measures Hendricks Gin
  • 2 Measures Lime Cordial
  • 0.5 Measure Soda Water


  1. Pour the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Watermelon Martini (vodka and watermelon) (make a jug)

  • 1 cup watermelon juice (press watermelon through a sieve or cheesecloth)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) Vodka
  • 1/4 cup simple syrup (sugar)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tablespoons salt (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • ice
  • Watermelon slices, for garnish (optional)


  1. Mix together the sugar and salt if using.
  2. Wet the rim of a chilled martini glass with a piece of watermelon. Dip the rim into the
  3. sugar and salt mixture. Repeat for other glass.
  4. Place the watermelon juice, vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker.
  5. Top with ice. Shake well.
  6. Pour contents through strainer into martini glasses.
  7. Garnish with a wedge of watermelon if desired.


Round two:

Bloody Mary (vodka and juice)

Bloody Mary recipe as taught by the New York School of Bartending:

  • 1 oz. to 1½ oz. (30-45 ml) vodka in a highball glass filled with ice.
  • Fill glass with tomato juice
  • 1 dash celery salt
  • 1 dash ground black pepper
  • 1 dash Tabasco sauce
  • 2-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 tsp. horseradish (pure, never creamed)
  • Dash of lemon juice


  1. Build over cubed ice.
  2. Garnish with celery stalk.



Moskow Mule (vodka and ginger beer)


  1. Pour 1 1/2 ounces vodka and the juice of half a lime over ice cubes in a water glass
  2. Fill with ginger beer.
  3. Stir and garnish with a slice of lime.



Round three:
Whiskey Sour (whiskey and egg)

(If possible replace the whiskey with Peruvian pisco)

You will need:

  • Shaker & Cocktail strainer
  • Martini/Rocks glasses
  • 50ml/1.5oz whisk(e)y of your choice
  • 25ml/0.75oz lemon juice
  • 12.5ml/0.4oz sugar syrup
  • Dash of bitters
  • 25ml egg white (optional)
  • Lemon slice and cherry to garnish


  1. In an ice-filled mixing glass add all liquid ingredients
  2. Place the Boston tin on top of the mixing glass ensuring a good seal
  3. Shake hard until frost forms on the outside of the Boston tin
  4. Strain into either a chilled martini glass or ice-filled tumbler/rocks glass
  5. Run a piece of lemon zest around the rim of the glass to release the fragrance
  6. Garnish with a fresh lemon slice and a cherry
  7. If using the egg white (which you should if you’re going near this drink)  make sure it is really really fresh. This gives the drink a frothy lightness which brings it to life

Seabreeze (vodka – fruit)

  • 2 Measures Russian Standard Vodka
  • 4 Measures Cranberry Juice
  • 2 Measures Grapefruit Juice


  1. Build over cubed ice.

Shopping List

  • Cocktail shaker and strainer
  • Gin (Branded – Hendricks, Blue Sapphire)
  • Rye whiskey (Kentucky Bourbon at a stretch)
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Tomato Juice x 2
  • Cranbery juice x 2
  • Orange juice x 2
  • Grapefruit juice x 2
  • Soda water x 2
  • Sparkling water x 2
  • A *lot* of limes
  • 8 x Lemons
  • 5 x Grapefruit
  • Cherries
  • Watermelon x 2
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Black pepper
  • Celery
  • Horseradish
  • Eggs
  • Cocktail sticks
  • Ice

Suscribe to my drivelly ramblings

I want to kill everyone. Satan is good. Satan is my friend.


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