To the annoying per-pubescent kid from earlier today

And the pushy one

And the one who looked sullen all day

And the one with the all-messed-up hipster hair

And the fat one

And the one who looked too skinny

And the one who threw the tantrum in the gift shop

And the one on the zip wire who was so much less nervous than me

And the one with the annoying voice

And the misguided Man United fan

And the hyper one

And the graceful one

And the one with the posh voice

And the one with the funny walk

And all the others I met earlier today

Keep on being wonderful

Down syndrome couldn’t make you all the same even if it wanted to

Mr Tayto has been an icon for generations of Irish kids, since the mid 50s. Thanks to Tayto Park for throwing the doors open and giving all proceeds to Down Syndrome Ireland on Saturday 15th September. It was a meaningful gesture, and a great opportunity for everybody to be normal.

Down Syndrome Ireland is going to the dogs

Yeah I know, it’s a truly awful headline. But I likes a pun, see, and there’s a whole litter more where that came from. Sorry. (No, I’m not.)

First though, the important stuff: DSI is taking over ten greyhound stadiums on Feb 26th to raise funds at the following locations.

  • Cork
  • Shelbourne
  • Dundalk
  • Galway
  • Limerick
  • Mullingar
  • Newbridge
  • Thurles
  • Tralee
  • Waterford

Tickets are €10 each, and as well as having a flutter on skinny daft dogs chasing a mechanical gizmo, you can join in with raffles, auctions and all sorts of stuff. Have a drink, have two, wake up feeling ruff next morning but hey! Better than blowing it at  the dog trac- er, yeah…

But seriously. As fun goes, there are worse ways to spend a tenner, and the wonderful folks at DSI need our support. It might seem obvious to state that we need theirs even more. So no bitching.

I’ll no doubt hound you some more on this later. With dogged determination. It will be ceaseless and without paws.

Ok, gone now.

Visit Down Syndrome Ireland here

Or phone 01 426 6500

Arts and grafts: some upcoming events

Thurs 8 July there’s an art auction for Saplings, the school in Rathfarnham. Proceeds go to vital services for autistic kids such as Speech, Language and Occupational Therapy. Full details are here. The fabulous Annie West has donated a piece. Hope to meet some of you there, and thanks Hammie for the tip.

Launch and Buying Party Thursday 8th July at 6:30pm
Sale Continues ’til 22nd July
12 South Richmond Street, Portobello


Later on in August there’s the Tour de Munster to look forward to. My buddy Yvonne tells me her cousin Paddy is cycling for Down Syndrome Ireland. 600 km over four days? Padding is my small suggestion. And to support Paddy’s padding, as it were, you can sponsor him here.

Tour de Munster 2010
600 km charity cycle in aid of
Down Syndrome Ireland

Thurs 12th to Sun 15th August

Thus endeth a poxy summer

Today I didn’t run the Dublin City Marathon. I didn’t come in under four hours. I’m not bruised and sore. I didn’t get the endorphin rush that comes with scraping over the line and I didn’t raise a shedload of cash for Down Syndrome Ireland and St Michael’s House. Gah! I didn’t get to look like this bundle of pent-up energy from four years back. And what an unstoppable force he is. Coiled tight like a… like a dishrag.

So no marathon 08. The writing was put on the wall back in summer. Tuesday 22nd July, while I was visiting my father in hospital, I got a phone call. He’d just had a quadruple bypass. Last thing he needed to hear was how my employer of fourteen years was closing down and laying all the staff off. I didn’t especially need to hear it myself. Luckily (for Pops at least) my guardian angel had conveniently arranged for me to leave my phone on the driver’s seat of the car on a dodgy side street, in full view of every pigeon-necked shoe-shuffling skanger in Dublin 7.

Well done Archangel Nokia. Because of you Dad didn’t get to have a pained reaction and wander off towards the light as he watched me take that phone call. And it also meant that I had a car seat under my ass when I got to hear the news.

We were given six weeks.

It’s hard to quantify the feeling. It felt like a chasm had opened up beneath me. No, not opened up. Revealed itself. A big, grinning maw of spikes and jagged rocks far below that had always been there, but fourteen good years on the front tit kept me from seeing it. Well it was there now, and it would never not be there again. The grip of friendships felt suddenly tenuous. The long cycle up the road to home (our suddenly threatened home) made me feel that every single neighbour knew my shame and inadequacy, and was secretly indifferent. Nobody had any idea, but that didn’t stop me from feeling intensely watched. First there’s a paralysis, then there’s a frantic burst of misdirected energy and all the while there’s a feeling like the world has gently fallen away and you’ve got too much caffeine in your system. We’ll lose the house! What the hell’s going to happen with the kids? They’re babies! Jacob can’t look after himself HE CAN’T LOOK AFTER HIMSELF!!

It takes a lot to make me lose sleep. But I lost sleep. With spectacular timing the builders had just started the attic conversion, so we were all homeless vagabonds crashing in the houses of whichever family members were on holiday right then. Jacob had just been discharged from hospital, Dad was starting the slow road to discovery and I was standing on a tightrope high above it all. So marathon training kinda came undone at that point.

My apologies to those who pledged and gave cash and to those who offered me such good encouragement. A plan is being formulated and the roads will not be safe from me for much longer. And the rest of this story is already on the boil.