Own Your Introversion 

“Don’t underestimate me because I’m quiet. I know more than I say, think more than I speak and observe more than you know.” ~ Michaela Chung

I’ve always know that I’m an introvert. So when I took the Myers-Briggs questionnaire as part of a work-related exercise, it came as no surprise to me that I am classed as an INFJ personality-type. This table should explain that term to anyone unfamiliar with it: 

Source: Wikipedia

I didn’t really think about it until lately, when a former college classmate had taken the questionnaire and asked me about my results. I told him that I was an INFJ and that I fully accepted this description of me. He seemed surprised, as an extrovert himself, that I considered myself introverted. I suppose, on the surface, I appear very comfortable in company and I am able to make idle small-talk with the best of them (topics of choice: the weather, whatever Trump has done this week, the rising cost of saffron), but I know myself that I am much more comfortable either by myself or with a small group of people whom I know well. It was what he said next that really sums up the misconception about introverts: 

It’s just… aren’t introverts…like…a little weird and awkward? 

Full disclosure: Yes, I can be a little weird and awkward. And there’s nothing wrong with that (okay, so I probably should be supervised using adult scissors and I definitely shouldn’t be left alone with your boss, but that’s just common sense). But come on, I’m not some bumbling Hugh Grant archetype who can’t string a coherent sentence together without peeing myself.

Although I can relate to this so much. Dammit Hugh.


Introverts aren’t socially inept idiots. While we may not embrace social gatherings with the same enthusiasm as our extroverted counterparts, it doesn’t mean we don’t like or even enjoy them from time to time. It also doesn’t mean that we’re incapable of conversing with others in a meaningful way. Introverts tend to listen to and really think about what you are saying. It is only when one is quiet that you can really listen. We are contemplative and reflective. That is not necessarily a sign of shyness and most definitely not a sign of weakness. 

I want to banish the misconception that introverts are somehow ineffectual loners who loathe human contact. You can be introverted and lead a fulfilling, successful life. You can work and socialise like any other person. You value your own company because it allows you time to think, to reflect, to create, to be.

Being alone doesn’t mean you’re lonely. Sometimes, I feel most lonely in a room full of people because a situation like that often prevents deep, meaningful communication. Conversations at social gatherings can be inanely superficial. 

I’ve grown to love my own company. I love the silence of it (well, I’m sometimes silent… there are those days I get my Celine Dion on…). I love listening to my inner voice in that silence… although she’s usually telling me that she wants fro yo and a Storage Wars marathon. 


So I’m choosing to own my introversion. I’m not ashamed of it, and you shouldn’t be either. In fact, without this aspect of  my personality, I don’t think I would be blogging. It’s allowed me to be a much more introspective person and that’s key to personal blogging really, isn’t it? That and cats…lots of cats. 

So tell me about your personality; are you an introvert? Or are you more extroverted? (nothing wrong with that, of course *awkwardly bumps you on the arm*) 

Come tell me in the comments! 

Why I am Not Proud to be Irish Today 

Today, March 17, is St. Patrick’s Day; a day where Irish culture and heritage is celebrated in countries all around the world. Here in Ireland, we use it as a day to celebrate and explore our own relationship with our country. We partake in parades and wear shamrocks, a traditional symbol of Irish-ness and our relationship with Saint Patrick. We drink excessive amounts of alcohol, celebrate into the wee hours of the morning with our friends and regret our over-indulgence the following day. In recent years, I have found myself dancing in bars adorned with tricolour flags to traditional Irish music and drinking bad Guinness. But not this year. This year I don’t feel like celebrating. I don’t feel like drunkenly acquiescing with strangers that we do indeed have “a grand little country”. This year, when I think of our history and our relationship with Christianity (which, in essence, is what Saint Patrick’s is at least supposed to be about), I don’t feel a surging sense of pride. 
I feel shame and disgust. 

Our country has had a tortured and somewhat masochistic relationship with Catholicism. In the twentieth century, this relationship with the Catholic Church seemed to be at its zenith. Our most famous Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and later president, Éamon de Valera enshrined the ‘special position’ of the Catholic Church in our country’s constitution. In 1932, the 31st International Eucharistic Congress of the Catholic Church was held in Dublin and attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators. It is estimated that 25% of the country’s population attended a mass held in Dublin that day. This was truly the apex of the Church’s influence over both culture and politics. Church doctrine seeped its way into all aspects of Irish life. Our schools and hospitals maintained their intrinsic link with the Church. The twentieth century was when the marriage between church and state was really cemented. 

This influence wasn’t just evident in the political sphere, however. The people of Ireland aimed to live their lives according to what they were taught at school and mass by nuns, brothers and priests. An odious sense of piety and sanctimony permeated many societal groups. Sexuality morality among all people was something that bishops and nuns obsessed over. There was, as our current Taoiseach Enda Kenny notes, ‘a morbid fascination with respectability.’ 

Contraception was illegal in Ireland between 1935 and 1980 and families, despite widespread poverty, grew large in keeping with traditional Catholic teachings. Sex outside marriage was considered inherently sinful, however. Of course, it still happened and with contraception not being widely available, many women found themselves in the worst possible situation in a repressive, judgemental and unforgiving society. These women were treated as little better than criminals; shunned by their communities and often sent to Magdalene asylums and so-called “mother and baby homes”. Here, they gave birth to their babies, who were subsequently taken away from them, and often never seen again. In the Magdalene asylums, women were worked like virtual slaves to atone for their grievous sins. 

One such mother and baby home was established in Tuam, County Galway by the Bons Secours religious order. Here, unmarried mothers gave birth to their babies, who were then taken from them and raised in a separate part of the Home by the nuns. The children were often later given up for adoption, and often without the consent of their mothers. For their part, the mothers remained in the Home for a year, working unpaid hours to reimburse the nuns for their “services”. 

Tragically, that isn’t the most infuriating or heartbreaking part of the Home’s sadistic history. It was well-known in the local community that there was an undisclosed number of foetal remains close to the site of The Home, which had been abolished in 1972. It was unclear to many, however, just what a gut-wrenching and shameful story lay behind these remains. Thanks to the tireless work of local historian Catherine Corless, however, the story is public. And now, it cannot be silenced. 

Corless discovered that throughout the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s that 796 babies and young children died at the Home.

796

Although infant mortality rates nationwide were indeed higher in the mid-twentieth century than they are today, this number is still considered abnormally high. The infants’ death certificates stated various medical reasons for their deaths, including tuberculosis, measles, whooping cough and influenza. One thing is evident: these children were not treated like human beings. They were treated as they were perceived: as a remnant of their mother’s sin and sexual immorality. And for that, they were punished. 

The nuns left these children in unmarked mass graves. The Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes recently found that the remains were discovered in structure that seems to be “related to the treatment/containment of sewerage  and/or wastewater.” These babies were left to rot in a mass grave, buried without dignity or humanity. 

So today, I don’t celebrate. I don’t feel an overwhelming sense of pride in my nationality. I feel a measure of pride in the sense that justice is finally being sought for these babies, who were never before given a voice. I feel proud of the inimitable Catherine Corless, the woman who never gave up fighting for the defenceless. But I don’t feel proud of my country’s insidious past. I won’t wave a tricolour or drink a pint because I don’t feel like it. I am frankly too disillusioned, too ashamed and too heartbroken. Instead, I will think of the 796 babies lying in the cold ground in County Galway. Babies like Anne Heneghen, who died in 1954 aged 3 months. Or Dermot Gavin who died in 1956, aged 2 weeks. Or Baby Lyons, who died in 1949, aged 5 days. Or Kathleen Murray who died in 1947 aged 3 years. I could go on, but it would take some time. I ask that those of you who read this to please look at this full list of their names. They were invisible while they lived, forgotten and neglected by a society that deemed them an inconvenient truth. 

We cannot and will not ignore them now. 

How to Speak Irish-English

Here in Ireland, we have our own unique take on the English language.
Here are some of our lovely Irish words and phrases:

1. Having “notions”

In any other part of the world, this would be referred to as being pretentious or smug. In Ireland however, we have a much more derisive name for this: you mutter “pfft notions” in the vicinity of anything remotely…notion-y.

For example, say you’re at a party and your friend is serving champagne instead of boxed wine like most normal people, you lean in to the person next to you and whisper “pffffft, notions.”

Here are a few examples of people with notions:

~Anyone who drinks anything “herbal”.
~Anyone with a double-barred surname.
~Anyone who drinks any coffee other than Nescafé instant.

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Oh you better believe they all have notions.

2. A pencil sharpener is a “topper”

This is a hugely contentious issue here in Ireland. Some will refer to it as a parer while us more same types will refer to it by its true moniker, a topper.

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Pff, parers…notions!
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3. Everything is grand

The word “grand” can be used to describe almost every emotional state.
If you’re sick, you’re “grand, just a bit off colour.”
If you’re feeling good, you’re “grand now altogether.”
If you’re asked how you are, you always respond with “grand now.”
It can also be used to describe almost any weather condition:
“Grand soft day, isn’t it?” (When it is torrentially raining.)
“Grand fine day, isn’t it?” (When it is not torrentially raining.)

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4. “I do be watching telly on Saturday.”

In the English language, we mainly have the past, present and future tense. You say “I was”, “I am” and “I will be”. In Irish, we say “bhí mé” for “I was”, we say “tá mé” for “I am” and we say “beidh mé” for “I will be.” However, we also have an extra tense, “bíonn” which has no direct translation. It means “I am continuously”. For example, you maybe always drink tea at eight o’ clock on a Saturday night. To demonstrate this, you could say “I drink tea at eight o’ clock on Saturday night.” But the Irish could not translate it into English so when we want to show that do something continuously, we say “I do be.” If I go out dancing on Friday nights, I would say “on Friday nights, I do be dancing.” Confused? Good, you should be. It might sound a lot like bad grammar, but it ain’t.

5. Giving out

To give out means to get angry and complain.
“Me mam is always giving out to me.”

She is. She really is.

6. Runners

We call “trainers” or “sneakers” “runners”. I wear a lot of runners but I don’t do a lot of running because I’m rebellious like that.

7. “Bye. Bye. Bye bye bye. Bye.”

This is the only acceptable way to end a telephone conversation in Ireland.

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Even Liam Neeson knows…

8. “C’mere till I tell ya”

Roughly translates as “I must tell you something important.”

9. What’s the craic/how’s the craic/any craic?

Basically, we’re very interested in your craic. Wait, that sounds bad…

Craic means fun. It is not a class A drug, repeat, not a class A drug.

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although posters like this don’t help the confusion…
I see what you did there, Dara.

10. At all at all

Us Irish like to exaggerate. We also like to emphasise. We could tell you that we have no money, and you’d probably believe us. If we were to follow that statement with “at all at all”, oho, you’d better believe we’re telling the truth.

Now that you’re practically Irish, here are some bonus phrases for you:

“You know Mary? Mary? She’s related to your man who works for the butcher on a Thursday? No? She has the dog with the gimpy leg? Yeah. She’s dead.”

“So to get to Danny’s house you pass the church on the right. There’ll be a one eyed man with a patch smoking a pipe a hundred yards down the road, turn left. Then you’ll pass the house with the sheepdog. If he barks twice, turn right. If you get to a house with two broken windows, you’ve gone too far.”

“Jaysus, I’m freezin’..”

“Jaysus, I’m roastin’..”

Hope you enjoyed and feel free to share with any Irish friends!

I made the short list!

If you guys didn’t have a chance to catch the international news today, you may not know that I have been shortlisted by The Blog Awards Ireland in the Best Humour Blog category.

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I am thrilled! And hungry…but mostly thrilled! If it wasn’t for my lovely and loyal followers then I would have no reason to blog, so I owe this to you guys. There’s a gratitude owl on its way to you as we speak. (It’s basically a regular owl, but it curtsies.)

Time for me to go party*.

*Not really because I have school tomorrow. Maybe I’ll have a a cup of tea and not use a coaster….okay, I’ll use a coaster.

I have a little favour to ask you oh friends of the internet

I had planned this hilarious* post about my recent trips to the doctor. Instead, I’ve conceded defeat to my mystery illness and am currently doped up on antibiotics, painkillers, folic acid and seizure meds while dancing with an elephant. While I curse my family’s genes and wonder why I’ve been bred like a junkyard mongrel, I have one special favour to ask you guys.

The Irish Blog Awards are taking place soon and they are currently accepting nominations.
Now I don’t want to ask you guys to nominate me. That’s right, I don’t want to ask you guys. Hint hint. Cough cough. Nudge nudge. Wink wink. Hula dances towards you. Okay, so maybe I would like to be nominated, I probably didn’t make that obvious enough. I can put away the coconut bikini now.

If you would like to nominate me, you can click here. Since there doesn’t seem to be an owl category, I guess I’ll have to fit into humour, because according to my imaginary friend Sally,
I’m a funny gal. If you don’t want to nominate me, that’s cool, I won’t send my flea-infested flying monkeys after you. What? I said I won’t.

To be serious for a second (FYI, it’ll be more than a second) I have been unwell lately and I don’t know what’s wrong. You could say I’m going for the sympathy vote here, and you’d be right. I am.

Anyone who does nominate me, I sincerely thank you. When I get better, I will dedicate my next dance fight to you.

So please help me look like this:

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Jurassic Park B***hes!
And don’t make me do this:

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That was the best blog post about owls of all time, OF ALL TIME!

Thanks guys,
I’m going to take a little rest for a while but I’ll be back (said in a very non-threatening manner).

*I bought my own pee. Trust me, it was hilarious.

I should probably add that nominations close tomorrow, but whatever. *stares intently at you*

You will need the following info:
My email is cupidorcats@hotmail.com and I live in Co. Roscommon.

That will make stalking me a lot easier.

A Poem for Parents

Julie over at Musings from a workaholic wrote a lovely post about her sons and the various activities they got up to as kids.

It reminded me of an Irish poem that my parents had up on our fridge when I was young. I will post it in it’s original Irish form (and it is much nicer in Irish) but I’ll also post an English translation. I think those of you with kids will love it.

Subh Milis

Bhí subh milis
Ar bhaschrann an dorais
Ach mhúch mé an corraí
Ionam d’éirigh,
Mar smaoinigh mé ar an lá
A bheas an baschrann glan,
Agus an láimh bheag
Ar iarraidh.

Jam

There was jam
On the door handle
But I quenched the anger
That rose in me
Because I thought of the day
That the door handle would be clean
And the little hand
Would be gone

Seamus O’ Neill

Also, a big thank you to Lydia for the Sunshine Award. I know I’ve taken forever to get to it so apologies! To spread a little sunshine to your day, here’s a picture of me on my graduation day:

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Note: That is not actually me. I’m much less adorable.

My Happy Place

“Just, I don’t know…kick it in.”
“I can’t just kick it in. What if I break it?”

My boyfriend and I are standing at the door of an abandoned cottage. I know the walls are whitewashed, but they now appear a sinister mossy green colour after years of neglect. The thatched roof is on the verge of collapse and as I look up, I spy a small tree sprouting up from behind the chimney.

Jack shoulder-charges into the door again. It doesn’t budge. Shoulder and ego bruised, he turns to me. “You know technically, we’re breaking and entering here.”

“Calm down Sipowicz,” I snap, “this is my grandparent’s house. I have every right to be here.”

As a child, this was my favourite home to visit. I use the word ‘home’ because it was a home in every sense of the word.

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Located miles away from a main road, down a tiny boreen (boreen is the anglicised version of the Irish word ‘bóithrín’, meaning ‘little road’), it could have been an illustration in a Grimm’s fairytale. Surrounded by lush greenery and colourful flowers, it was a simple whitewashed cottage with a beautiful straw thatched roof.
Down the garden, a swing hung from a large oak tree. A stream separated the pretty garden from my grandparent’s vegetable patch, where they grew all their own produce. Hens roamed freely out in the yard and the din of my grandfather’s beehive could be heard faintly from the front door.

Inside the house, there was three rooms. Three rooms in the entire house; the main room, which functioned as a kitchen and living room in one, and two bedrooms. That was it. When I was a very young child, my grandparents didn’t have electricity, so they heated their water in a large pot above the fire. The fire was the centre of their home; a beautiful open fire that seemed to be eternally lighting. There was a wheel beside it that you had to spin in order to stoke the flames and as kids, that was our favourite novelty activity in the house.

My grandmother was always baking. Her favourites were apple and rhubarb pies and different types of breads. Everyone’s absolute favourite was her soda bread and I can still smell the bread baking in the oven and wafting all around the cottage as we waiting impatiently at the table. She would always let me ‘help’ her, though I wasn’t tall enough to reach the counter top and I always ended up with flour all over my face. She would construct a miniature version of whatever she was baking for me and then tell everyone proudly that I made it.

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When I cast my mind back to my childhood, this is the place that I felt happiest. Whether I was acting as my grandmother’s sous chef or evading cantankerous hens in the yard, I was carefree in this idyllic haven.

Then, suddenly, my father and my grandparents stopped speaking. I’m not going to explore the reasons behind their rift here, but it was a serious falling out. When you are a child, you are completely unaware of the complexities of adult relationships and I was no different. I had no idea why we had stopped visiting my grandparents; all I knew was that we had.

My grandmother died first. When we heard she was sick, we went to see her in hospital. Although she didn’t have the strength to speak, I will never forget how she squeezed my hand. I will also never forget the single tear that slid down her wrinkled face as she smiled weakly at me.

When she passed away, my father and his father still did not mend their rift. I never got to return to the cottage while anyone was living there. My grandfather died a few years later, and the house was abandoned. As the years passed, it seemed to exist solely in my memory. I could not bring myself to visit it.

One day, I visited my own father in the house I had grown up in. As I prepared coffee for us both, I spied something hanging on the wall. It was a commemorative plate, with a prayer and a picture of Pope John Paul II. One identical to this had hung above my grandparent’s fireplace.

“Dad, where did you get that?” I pointed to the wall. His eyes followed my finger and a sad smile settled on his face.

“I got it from your grandparent’s house,” he answered. There was a silence while I attempted to figure out how he could have done this. He must have registered the look of bewilderment on my face. “I went to the house a few weeks ago.”

I can’t describe how I felt on hearing this. You know that feeling you get when you’re not sure whether you’re ecstatically happy or heartbroken? I just shook my head when words evaded me. Dad looked sympathetically at me.

“The door is unlocked. It is abandoned and no one has been there for a long time. You should go and see it but…be careful.”

Be careful. I still remember him saying that, because it seemed an odd choice of words.

I asked Jack to come with me. I felt apprehensive and I didn’t quite know why. This was the place where all my happiest childhood memories lived.

The pathway to the house was completely overgrown, so we had to negotiate through briars and brambles. Several cuts and swear words later, we were standing in front of the cottage.

It was different. Of course it was, it was years later. Still, I felt a profound sadness looking at it. The clean whitewashed walls were now covered with years of fungal growth. The roof was beginning to cave in. I imagined the house like a soldier returning from war; damaged, ravaged, broken and changed forever.

Tears streamed down my face as I took in the nettles, the briars and the green moss that seemed to have infested every beautiful inch of the house. Jack squeezed my hand and planted a soft kiss on my head.

“Are you okay?” he asked tentatively, as I dried my eyes.

“Yes. I’m okay. There’s just such a profound sadness in knowing that this is what that beautiful, magical place has become. This house was the most beautiful part of my life and now it barely even exists.”

We stood looking at it, until I felt ready to go inside. When Jack finally got the door to open, the smell of dampness and neglect welcomed us. I stepped in gingerly to the main room. Dampness crept up the walls. The whole place was shrouded in darkness.

As dreary as the place looked, it wasn’t what affected me the most. The mouldy surrounding moved out of focus. Everything was exactly as I had remembered it; perfectly preserved like it had just jumped from straight from my memory. My grandmother’s Blue Willow China adorned the large oak cabinet, my grandfather’s patchwork blanket still rested on the back of his rocking chair, cutlery lay in the drawer by the sink just as it always had. The beds were still made. Pictures of relatives hung on the walls. I could almost hear the squabbling of all of us children over the wheel by the fire. I could almost feel my grandmothers gnarled and warm hand on mine as we baked together. The stories that a neighbour used to tell of the púca and the banshee when he visited echoed around the room.

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I stood still, taking it all in with a find smile. Jack slid his arm around me.

“It’s beautiful,” he whispered. I nodded. It was no longer confined to the deepest recesses of my memory, but instead was here in front of me; a house filled with stories.

“I’m ready to go. At least this time, I can say goodbye.” I felt a strong sense of comfort leaving and I feel it now. Knowing that the house is preserved like that, with all the utensils that my grandmother lovingly used still hanging up over the cooker, gives me a warm feeling that I will hold onto for a long time.

As we drove back to our own home that summer’s evening, I considered my dad’s words- “be careful”. I now knew what he meant. Revisiting old memories can be a painful business. It can leave you weary and unfulfilled. This wasn’t like that for me though. I left that house that day knowing that it was just as perfect as I had always remembered. I realised that it belonged in my past, and it was a part of my life that I would never forget. It’s time for me to make some new memories.

Do you have a cherished childhood memory? A place you go to (even in your mind) when you need comfort?

I am not stalking my neighbours with binoculars

So, a few days ago I told you guys about my obsession with all things space-related (yes, that includes David Bowie and Buzz Lightyear).

Last night, the planet Mars was shining a beautiful red colour above my house. In my excitement, I went to grab my binoculars to get a better look.

My house is a semi-detached and I might have mentioned that I don’t really get on with my neighbour (who refuses to acknowledge my cheerful “hellloooo” every morning. Now I just say things like “tabby cat” or “speedo wedgie” to illicit a response. Nothing). Last night, the best view of Mars that I could get with my binoculars was from my back garden, just above my neighbour’s roof.

I peeked through the binoculars, trying to get the focus right. That’s when I heard a really loud cough, and realised that to an observer of my antics, it may have appeared that I was spying on my neighbours in their top floor bedroom from my back garden. With binoculars. Hence my neighbour’s exasperated cough from above.

While I legged it inside (you know, the natural thing to do when you are trying to look less suspicious), I mumbled “I was looking at Mars. Not you guys. Mars.”

So I think it’s safe to say if my neighbours thought I was weird before, they now think I’m completely insane. And related to Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker. Great.

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How to be Irish

On Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone likes to be a little Irish. If you would like to pass as genuinely Irish, follow these tips:

1. We like to talk about the weather. A lot. If you utter any of the following phrases, you will pass as Irish every time:

Grand day, isn’t it?

Grand soft day out now.

Jaysus, it’s roasting (anytime the temperature rises above 15 degrees Celsius).

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2. We can’t take compliments

“Oh this? €5 in Penneys, girl. Makes me look like a heifer.”

3. We can’t give compliments

“Happy birthday, ya dope!”

4. We can make fun of ourselves…

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5. …but if someone else does:

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6. We blame everything on the English

“It’s raining out. The English probably sent it.”

7. We can’t be affectionate

We leave that to our cheek-kissing, randy neighbours on the continent. As my Grandfather would have said: “hugging every time they say hello, pah! Cop on to yerselves!”

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7. We are unimpressed with anything fancy

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8. If you’re not drinking, there has to be a valid excuse

“Oh, you’re not drinking? Are you on antibiotics?”

9. We are superstitious

“I’ve a job interview tomorrow, so I’m going to go wave at some magpies for luck.”
Natch.

10. Every illness can be fixed with flat 7up

“Oh, your appendix is about to burst. Flat 7up. Be grand.”

“Oh, you’re bleeding internally? Flat 7up. Be grand.”

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11. We really do love potatoes, but we call them “spuds”

“A dinner without spuds? I mean, I just never thought about it before…I suppose I could try it but I’m skeptical.”

12. Our mothers are brilliant…but terrifying

“You failed your test?! Right, I’m getting the wooden spoon.”

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13. Leaving the immersion on fills us with dread

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