The #MeToo Hashtag

Those of you on social media over the last week can't have failed to spot women (and some men) posting the #MeToo hashtag, and sometimes sharing their stories.

It's in response to the recent Harvey Weinstein sex abuse allegations, where victims of similar abuse have bravely declared that it has happened to them as well.

My Facebook feed has been awash with friends posting #MeToo, and every time I see it I find it heartbreaking.

Of course, it's not right that any woman has to deal with any predatory sexual advances, coercion, or abuse. But it seems especially poignant when you learn that it's happened to people that you know and care about.

I'm impressed by their bravery in coming forward, while at the same time being horrified that it's so widespread – especially when you think that for each person goes public there are probably dozens more that have had the same experiences, but prefer (for whatever reason) to keep it private.

Self Inflicted Injury

I’ve been hobbling around for the last few days, with pain in both knees and my lower back.  I occasionally get the odd twinge in these areas, but nothing like the pain I’ve got now! It’s so bad that I’m almost rattling from the number of pain killers I’m taking. But I’m not asking for sympathy, as I freely acknowledge they’re self inflicted injuries.

It all stems from attending a friend’s wedding at the weekend.  The couple in question met through swing dancing, and still regularly dance together.  Indeed, their ‘first dance’ was quite something to behold; a far cry from the usual shuffle around the dance floor. They had prepared an amazing routine, with spins, and lifts!

Anyway, as they had gone to the bother of hiring a swing band for the evening, the couple were keen for everyone to try a bit of swinging!  They enlisted a friend to teach a few basic steps to the novice wedding guests, and then let us loose on the dance floor.  And with a good quantity of wine already consumed over dinner, out inhibitions were lowered.

My dance partner for the evening was my girlfriend, and together we launched into the dance with a little too much gusto!  Insomuch that I obviously over-did things, and pulled one or more muscles in my lower back.  And the girlfriend didn’t escape injury either – not after I fell on her while attempting a dodgy dance move at the end of the night!

The moral of the story is, of course, to avoid dancing.  And to avoid alcohol.  And perhaps even avoid weddings!

Pudding Party

Pudding Party
On Saturday night I was invited to a party – one serving puddings and pink cocktails – and it certainly lived up to its billing. When I arrived, the dining table was already groaning under the weight of a myriad of different puddings (or deserts, if you prefer that word) – but they were just the cold ones. A whole load of other hot puddings would also appear during the evening, squeezed onto any scrap of space vacated on the table as people devoured the deserts.
Myself, I could only manage about three bowls before I was full, but as I was leaving I had a huge amount of bread and butter pudding trust into my hands by the hostess, much of which is still in my fridge two days later. It could last me all week!

Deadly

“We cannot consume more than 2 alcoholic drinks” the text message had said, which was fine by me. The idea was not to go out and get drunk, but to hang out and have a bit of a natter.
Indeed things started off quite well. We met up at 3.00pm in the hotel bar, and had a soft drink each. And if things had continued in the same fashion, then the night might have been very different. But at some point, near the end of my second cup of tea, a member of staff came by and deposited a wine menu on our table, and our meetup took quite a different turn.
“Well we could perhaps have one, and see how it goes.”
I can’t remember which of us said it, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was still only late afternoon, within office hours, and a bit early to be drinking. However, a single glass of white wine would be okay.
Unfortunately it wasn’t just a single glass. The first led to the second, which then led to the third (during which another friend briefly joined us). We then moved location, and began work on the fourth, fifth… and at this point I lost count. A second mutual friend also showed up a some point for another visit, but they had the good sense to have just the one and go home again.
Anyway, so the evening ended with a rather surreal conversation with some strangers – one guy from Slovakia, another from Portugal, and a third from America. I wasn’t capable of proper conversation at this point, but it didn’t stop me trying – no doubt to the chagrin of the multi-cultural gathering I had invaded.
But all in all it was a pretty amazing night… what my lovely friends here in Dublin refer to as “deadly”. I just wish I could remember more of it.

James & Fiona

Last Friday, the 28th December, was the wedding of James Hutchinson and Fiona Robertson in Old Saint Paul’s church in Edinburgh.

I flew over from Dublin on the morning of the ceremony, and arrived at the church about half an hour before the service. Those of us that had been asked to sing during the register signing had been asked to gather early for a quick run through. There would be no choir as such for the service, but instead a select bunch of James’s musical friends present in the congregation who would come forward to perform a piece – in this case Parry I Was Glad. The full harmony of the hymn tunes was also printed in the service sheet, in case anyone wanted to sing harmony.

The service was very beautiful, and very well attended. The bride looked wonderful, and walked very gracefully over the heating grate in the centre isle – which is well known to be just the right size to ensnare unsuspecting wearers of stiletto heels.

After the service, the reception was held in the Merchants’ Hall on Hanover Street. Guests were served a vegetable broth for starters, and pork for the main course. The food was all delightful, but a surprise lay in store for us. It seems that neither the bride nor groom are particular fans of fruit cake and as such had, instead of a wedding cake, cheese – and lots of it. A veritable mountain of different cheeses, complete with oat cakes, and a goodly supply of port too.

I was in seventh heaven, of course, as I’m a huge cheese fan (and rather like my port too). And so I ended up spending rather too much time returning to the cheese table.

Luckily, however, those of us that had over-indulged were also given the opportunity to work off some of our gluttony when the ceilidh started. The band played well, even if we couldn’t hear a word the caller was saying. The PA system wasn’t terribly good, so half the time you just had to guess at what dance you were being called forward for.

The evening finished with the traditional rendition of Auld lang syne, and the departure of the bride and groom.

They are presently honeymooning in Marrakech.