Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Bunreacht na hEireann; from Rome Rule to the muscle of Brussels.

“In the name of the most Holy Trinity, from whom is all authority and to whom, at our final end all actions both of men and states must be referred.”                                      -   Preamble to 1937 Constitution of the Republic of Ireland.

2013 has to be a landmark year for Ireland in the EU. Not only is it our seventh time holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union but we are also celebrating (or commiserating, depending on your opinion) 40 years within the institution. And what a year it has been. The commonplace bingo chant ‘13 lucky for some, unlucky for others’ has never seen a truer day. But when you sit back and take note of the public issues of the day you realise how far we have come as a nation since we have joined, and how far we have yet to go.

When De Valera and his men sat down to draft the 1937 Bunreacht na hEireann (Basic Law of Ireland) they sat down to draft a political statement of Ireland’s national identity. It was put to the people and they ratified it; whether it was because they felt it was a good political document or because of their party affiliation with the Anti-treaty side one can’t be sure, but ratify it they did.

Back in the day (1937) Ireland’s political society was conservative, largely rural and very catholic. Hence the dense religious references in our Constitution. There was even reference to the “special position of the Catholic Church” and two Catholic priests were involved in the draft making process; John Charles McQuaid and Edward Cahill. This document screamed we are a legitimate government, an independent state and our people live by a strict moral and legal code. Appropriate in 1937 but not so much now.

We were insular; we had protectionist trade policies and strong cultural revival movements to ensure that our Gaelic identity remained intact. Then in 1973, we joined the European Economic Community. We took part in international conferences, we debated European policies both at home and in Brussels, we became a team player on the European stage. All the while in the background our society was changing. People were more educated (thanks to EU grants), more travelled and more people from different cultures were coming to Ireland to work, study or just visit.  So since our society has changed, surely our statement of national identity should as well?

The Constitution establishes how the Irish state is governed and lists the fundamental rights of our citizens. Many are common place ie right to privacy, right to just procedures etc., while others are more firmly rooted in Catholic beliefs. Central in the list of rights is the idea of your typical (in 1937) Irish family. It specifically mentions “The rights of a family founded on marriage”, this implies a family founded on a marriage between a man and woman.

In 1983, “The right to life of the unborn” was added to the Constitution. In 1986, the Irish people voted against lifting the ban on divorce, in 1995 thankfully we had progressed enough along with the rest of mankind to vote for lifting the ban. In 2002, the 25th Amendment (Protection of Human Life in Pregnancy) to Bunreacht na hEireann was rejected but by a frustratingly small margin – 49.58% (618,485) voted Yes while the No vote reached 50.42% (629,041). This bill aimed to legally redefine abortion (which is still a crime) and rid women of the right to an abortion if they felt suicidal.

The abortion dispute still roars on and has been at the forefront of public debate for some time thanks to the X case and Savita Hallappanavar’s tragic story. A story which may have been avoided had we clearly stated laws in our constitution for the protection of the mother and consequently the medical professionals treating her. This would mean less time debating what constitutes a risk to the mother’s life vs a risk to the mother’s health. We need doctors in our hospitals not lawyers. We also need politicians to take a stance and create a solid, clearly defined piece of legislation.

Fortunately all of our basic laws are not shrouded in cobwebs and old world morality, the shimmering light at the end of the tunnel is that on April 14th 2013 the Convention on the Constitution voted in favour of changing the Constitution to allow for civil marriage for same-sex couples by a clear majority ( Yes – 79%; No – 19%; No Opinion – 1%), not only that, but they also voted in favour of changed arrangements in regard to the parentage, guardianship and the upbringing of children.

While Irish society would have undergone these changes at one time or another, our participation in the EU has definitely accelerated the process especially with the current generation. Our parents were tentatively accepting of Europe whereas we have grown accustomed to its big hovering presence and have gone forth all guns blazing, accepting, participating and questioning it. So it seems the EU has opened minds as well as markets. Long may it continue. 

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Dublin Pub Box - Smokey Jo-sephine and other non-LOLs

Day 15

I've fallen off the bandwagon guys, I smoked and drank last night. *Cringes away from the imagined stares of disapproval.

It just happened, I wanted to get that off my chest before this post went any further. I'm sorry to everyone up there on the moral high ground. I used to live there once. It was nice up there. Down here it's all sadness and hangovers. If it's any consolation (I know it's not) I was slip-slip-rolling all over Lillies, and yes, yes I did look like a Grade-A loser.

I feel terrible, this is not going to happen again until after the fight. Soooooooo angry at myself. And the worst thing of all, my anti-smoking housemates were so understanding. I am such a horrible person.

Not much happened really, I think because fight night is so close it's a case of tying off any loose ends. For most of the session, us ladies worked out on the bags while the guys sparred. Then once the guys were done, Richie gave us all one quick sparring session.

We went for 3 rounds, and I was surprised that I felt reasonably ok afterwards. But that is before I reverted back to my old persona, Smokey Jo-sephine. We'll see how I get on tonight.

One thing I gleamed from the latest sparring session is that my fight is all in my head. When I'm feeling good, I fight well, when I'm feeling anxious or nervous, I fight badly. I know that sounds like an obvious thing to most athletes, sporty types but it's something I have just realised. #hindsightis20/20

Now I just have to work on my mental game, stay focused, not be afraid and don't worry. At the end of the day, none of us are professional fighters and this is for charity. Afterwards, we will share some laughs, buy each other a pint and apologise for any injuries we may have given someone. I think some of us are getting flashes of Million Dollar Baby style endings. We need to chill out and by we, I mean me.

Also, I would like to give some props to my gurrrrl, Rainie Somers (best name in the world), for being a big leg-end and co-organising the first annual Dublin Barman Quiz and donating all monies to Pieta House. #Gowanyagudting

Ok you guys,
See you tonight,
I'm going to see if I can run off the shame.
Damn you Smokey Jo-sephine, damn you.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Dublin Pub Box - Miscellaneous

Day 14

Anxiety from previous session still alive and well ? - check.
Cryptic tweet from @DublinPubBox that worsens aforementioned anxiety - check.
Surprise cameo from a former World Champion boxer - check.

So first things first, the lovely Bernard Dunne dropped into the National Stadium to give us some handy pre-fight advice. Note - Eat at least 3 hours before the fight, a) because of digestion and b) because you will be nervous. Guess which reasoning I'm going with. He gave us loads more tips but that's the one that stuck out in my head. Typical me, always thinking about my belly. He stayed on for a good while to answer our questions and give us a couple of his best blue steel poses. I was on camera duty so only got one chance to get a photo and it was blurry. #firstworldproblems

Then after that unexpected excitement it was back to the grind. You know, the usual, touching your inner ankle while jumping in the air and touching the ground with the odd torso twist thrown in to keep things fresh. #simples

I know I am usually jokey and light hearted but on a serious note Day 14 of Dublin Pub Box was definitely not my brightest moment. I'm distracted by my worry. But my distraction in the ring earned me 2 well aimed right hooks to the head. My brain was so rattled I saw stars for about 10 seconds. All that prattle about me being good defensively, scratch that. I was holding my head up like a floating duck waiting to be taken out. I know what I did wrong but I have to admit, my confidence is sorely shaken. I feel like I've hit a wall and then been hit over the head with said wall.

I know I need to stop dwelling on this stuff and think of the bigger picture but I can't help myself. Tonight Matthew I'm going to be a ....sad boxer :(.

But my self-indulgence is distracting me from the whole point of this bloody thing - raising money for a wonderful and unfortunately in-demand charity -Pieta House.

Last year alone, Pieta House helped over 3,000 people. They have counselled people from as young as 8 years of age all the way up to 80. Hard to swallow isn't it, that someone as young as 8 would contemplate taking their own life. Someone who should be full of innocence and blissfully ignorant of life's ills should never know the darkness of suicide. Really puts my petty problems into perspective. If you're interested and have 3 minutes and 40 seconds to spare here is the story behind Pieta House;

See you all tomorrow night,
Until then lets just be thankful for everything we have.
Carlynn xxx

Also, Bernard Dunne is a legend. That is all. Goodbye.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Dublin Pub Box - YOLO

Day 13 

EEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPPPPP!!!! Prior to last night's training session I had an overwhelming sense of doom. All weekend, the anxiety was growing and growing until I thought about not going to training. I genuinely don't know why it was this particular session that freaked me out but it did. Maybe subconsciously I realised that it was session no. 13....

Also, Tuesday morning I went and bought some head gear on Capel street. Considering the location I should probably clarify that I purchased boxing head gear and not a gimp mask. Although the latter might have been both cheaper and more becoming of a young lady such as myself. I have to say didn't feel my most attractive with that glorified lagging jacket/sweat bucket on my head, that was not helped by the two half-naked blondes cavorting around ring no.3. Eugh!!

Heard through the grapevine that we might find out who our opponents are this Thursday. I am completely crapping my pants now. I would much rather not know...I think....I don't really know what I want to know to be honest. Why have I signed up for this bloody thing?!?! What's wrong with me? Why did I choose to put myself in a small amount of space with someone who wants to knock my block off? Why have I not realised what I have done until right now? Why have I enjoyed every minute of it up until now? Why do I have a sneaking suspicion that I am going to keep this up once the match is over? Why? Why? Bloody why?

I came home from training in a bit of a panic and thought the only way to master my fear was by eating a snickers and half a bag of bourbons. They didn't help me master anything but they did distract me from the whole boxing thing for a while as I debated which was healthier; smoking or obesity, because since I quit smoking I've been eating everything that hasn't been nailed to the ground.

Anyway, I know I say this every week but this s**t just got very real. By the time fight night comes I will be inhabiting an alternate realm of hyper reality where I am completely incapacitated by my own fear, kinda like these guys;

Until tomorrow guys,
Remember YOLO, be careful-O,

Monday, 18 February 2013

Dublin Pub Box - Mrs. Potato Head

Days 10/11/12

So sorry I've fallen off the radar the last few sessions guys. Life and love respectively have kept me away from both training and Firstly, I was ill for Day 10, I went to Day 11 and had to work for the 12th training session as it was Die Hard Day also known as Valentines. A big night in the pub calendar. So here's what's gone down since we last spoke;

  • I'm still off the cigarettes. 14 days and counting,
  • I've confirmed Honey Badger as my boxing nickname - There's no going back now. *Wrings hands fretfully,
  • I sparred for the first time on Day 11. As with everything in that god forsaken gym, it was an eye-opener, ironic really, when you think about how it usually manages to close a few eyes in the process. 
I sparred 3 times; once with Michelle, once with Lisa and once with Niamh.

To be perfectly honest the first sparring session was a complete waste of everyone's time. Myself and Michelle would have been better off tickling each other and making friendship bracelets for the minute and a half we were supposed to punch each other in the head. #BFFs

The second one was more like an actual round. I say this because I was absolutely exhausted after about 50 seconds. I just remember John roaring "This is the battle of the Jab hands". It sounded so like Jazz hands that I couldn't help laughing. Then I hit Lisa and apologised for it! John told me to stop apologising for hitting her, it's kinda what I'm here for. Then I apologised to John for apologising. #sozbabes

The third one was quite nervewracking because it was against Niamh and in my opinion she is one of the strongest. So I just went in there ready to receive a bit of a beating and I didn't. It turns out my defence is quite good. I just need to punch more. Apparently they don't give you points for defence. #bummer

Then as if that wasn't punishment enough in itself the only pictures the photographers took of me were during the sparring. My face looks like a squashed potato in all of them. Seriously guys thanks for that. Here's one of the pics as proof --->

Then we had to fill in our boxing profiles for the pamphlets and they ask you what's your fighting style....Seriously!!! There is absolutely nothing stylish about the way I fight. This guy on the other hand...even his nickname is better than mine;

''I'll see ya tamarraw after school'',

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Dublin Pub Box - The cold shoulder

Day 9

So Tuesday, full of good intentions, I went to the National Stadium at 5.30pm to get an extra hour of training in, only to be greeted by a locked door and sub-zero temperatures. Not conducive to good intentions or blood flow. Stood around for 30 minutes, freezing my ass off debating whether or not to just head home and go on the absolute lash with a friend of mine.

Got into the high performance gym at around 6pm, stiff, runny-nosed and feeling very sorry for myself. I also have a pretty bad cold and a chest infection, so my little sojourn outside didn't really help matters.

Inside, there were no pads so we just went to work on the bags. I really need to work on my speed so I decided to practice quick jabs for 20 minutes. This it turns out wasn't my brightest idea, considering the emphasis of our training was bag work and squats, plus I had no partner. So I did double the work.

Today I am about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. I can barely move my arms and don't get me started on my ass. Every time I stand up/sit down/cough/laugh/move in general something twinges or aches. I reached to get some coffee from the top shelf earlier and  pulled something in my left butt cheek that was never intended to be pulled.

I have a pain in my stomach as well and I don't know if it comes from coughing or that finally after years of half-arsed trips to the gym I am getting the abs of my dreams. Unfortunately, I think it may be the former.

I planned on watching the rest of the Rocky movies over the weekend but decided to have a Harry Potter marathon instead. I know right, super useful! I can tell you all the rules of Quidditch but my shadow-boxing still leaves a lot to be desired.

I really need to get my Rocky marathon out of the way because the new Die Hard is out soon therefore I'm due a Die Hard marathon. So many movie marathons, so little time. These are the things that keep me up at night people?!?!?!? What to do, what to do.

I've also been off the cigarettes for 48 hours and I haven't eaten any of my loved ones alive, which is a good thing, however, I haven't taken my head out of the fridge in days, I might as well just pull up a chair. I think this non-smoking will power has more to do with my chest infection than any real internal strength on my part.

I'm feeling too sorry for myself to do any kind of training over the next few days. I'm going to go for a paracetamol induced nap and maybe watch Rocky II.

Laters my dears,

PS. Regards nicknames I was thinking Carlynn 'the honey badger' McCarthy, here's why;

Friday, 1 February 2013

Dublin Pub Box - Return of the McC

Day 8 

FYI - You guys should read the following blog post with Mark Morrsion's classic 90s track 'Return of the mack' playing in your heads. If you need to refresh your memory please click here.

Tuesday I hit a wall but now I'm back in the game. I'm the proud owner of a new skipping rope - thank you Terry. If Carlsberg did equipment fairies...

(Some nice product placement there, if anyone from Carlsberg is reading this, I am open to accepting huge amounts of cash in order to promote your beverage here. Integrity is over-rated and my current account is under-performing at the moment. So like I said, please feel free to get in touch.)

Training was excruciating as ever. Richie, if you're reading this; you are a horrible, horrible man but a great trainer.

I swing from loving him to hating him about 16 times a night. I'll love him again when I have abs of steel, right now they look more like wrinkly pre-used tinfoil, but I have it on good authority that calves are the new abs so I'm not too worried.

Shadow-boxed today. Felt a little bit silly at first, but really got into it. Then my short attention span kicked in and before I knew it I was quoting Robert De Niro's character from Taxi Driver in English and Irish; "An bhfuil tusa ag labhairt liomsa?", while plucking my eyebrows and exfoliating my T-zone. After that, I watched Rocky I. Now I really want a running partner called Buttkiss.....any takers? You don't have to be officially called Buttkiss, you just have to allow me to call you that as we run through the streets of Dublin.

*Speaks out of the corner of her mouth and whispers; "I'm also toying with the idea of giving up cigarettes." *Shocked at her own level of daring, she looks around furtively to see if anyone else has over heard ie her anti-smoking housemates who will be sure to hold her to it.

To be honest, I'm a little bit sick of sounding like a bad extra from some tuberculosis-filled period drama. I'm whooping like I've got the black lung for christ sake. Plus, if Rocky can do it, so can I.

Remember guys " be a thinker not a stinker",
Until Tuesday,
Carlynn xxx

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Dublin Pub Box - Bah bloody humbug

Day 7

So, still haven't bought a skipping rope, nor have I found suitable steps to run up and down like a mad thing. I haven't had a chance to do any interval training this week, nor have I had the opportunity to go to those extra sessions in RAW gym. I have eaten my housemate's Bourbon Creams, I've had a couple of sneaky pints of Guinness after work and I have developed an unhealthy obsession with peanut butter.

"Frailty thy name is woman!"

As if that wasn't bad enough my lungs are on fire and I have a raspy, horrible smokers cough. My UPC remote has stopped working and I'm stuck watching bloody 'Toddlers & Tiaras'. Aaaaaaaagghhhhhh - face melting.

Rant over.

On the upside, I have my own gloves now, so my hands don't smell like hairy man ass after every training session and I washed my hand wraps so they are meadow-y fresh. Personal hygiene for the win! I trained with my gum shield on again last night and it didn't feel quite so humiliating, I don't know if I'm getting used to it or if I just have no dignity left.

Still trying to figure out a nickname....what about 'Gassius Clay'? People tell me I'm gas all the time....oh wait,   maybe they said gassy.....

Ok that's it until next time folks,
I'll try to be in a better/more productive mood,

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Dublin Pub Box - And the gloves are off

Day 6

The following is a true story and is intended for mature audiences only.  This writing
contains strong language, graphic scenes of violence and senseless torture.  Those who are faint of heart should refrain from reading further.  You have been warned. 

This post is mostly about three things;
- boxing gloves,
- mental acrobatics, and,
- running oneself ragged.

Thursday night's training session was pretty uneventful as training sessions go, were it not for the 'moist' gloves. Having finished our warm up we all ran to the cage to get our gloves. I saw that there were some paired up outside of the cage and took the easy way out snatching them up off the ground and jumping into the ring.

I hurriedly stuck my hands into the gloves, only to gawk in disgust as a film of someone else's body juice clung to both my skin and my hand wraps. *Shudders at the memory. Now; it is a testament to my repulsion that I am using the word 'moist' to describe the gloves, as I hate the word. It sounds creepy, cretinous and just icky in general; moissssssssst. Eugh! But needless to say, I have ordered my own gloves.

At the beginning of Thursday's session, I genuinely thought I was finally getting to grips with the punch combinations and footwork;

- "Forward step, double jab, right hand",
- "Backward step, double jab, right hand, hook",
- "Step to the left, 1,2,1,2",

Then body sparring happened and I was shown the error of my ways. In my defence, I was a little nonplussed by the aforementioned 'moist' gloves. *Shudder, shudder. It turns out, rather than getting to  grips, I need to get a grip. Practising punches on thin air, in line formation is not the same as trying to land a shot on a fully functional human, who would have thought, not me obviously. After that little humdinger, I now have even more respect for boxers, they have brains and brawn.

At first, I thought it was my fitness that was going to let me down in the ring but, alas, I fear it might actually be the 'ould noggin. I can't concentrate long enough to finish one measly box in Sudoku on a Sunday morning, how the hell am I supposed to out-wit a fighter in the ring!

Due to the panic that ensued following our last training session, I decided that I would throw myself into the interval training. I used to run quite a bit before so thought it would be a walk in the park. Yeah, again, mistaken. (Seriously, how many mistakes can one girl bloody make!!!). I sprinted for one minute, rested for one minute, then ran as fast as I could for two, then rested again for one and ran for three. I repeated that twice. Now by the time I got to 3 minutes, running as fast as I could wasn't very fast at all. Speed-wise it was more of a brisk walk but I was going through the running motions; on tip toes, elbows bent, face puce etc.

One thing that really annoyed me, was that people kept throwing me pitying looks and smug grins; I knew they were thinking, "Ah, bless, this is obviously her first time running, she doesn't know how to pace herself", "Some people are so unfit, unlike me of course". I felt like screaming "I'm bloody interval training, it's like your poncy running except waaaaay more hardcore", all while secretly wishing a big gust of wind would knock them off their high horses. I didn't actually say anything as I was too busy concentrating on the awful burning sensation emanating from both my lungs and calves.

Next week's training regime is mostly made up of me watching the Rocky box set, purchasing a skipping rope and searching for some suitable steps I can run up and down a la Mr. Balboa. All while ignoring my housemate's packet of Bourbon creams in the right hand corner of the cupboard.

Wish me luck,
Until Tuesday my fellow bruisers,

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Dublin Pub Box - In for a penny, in for 14 pounds

Day 5

So the whole weekend conditioning thing didn't really take off. And by 'didn't really take off' I mean I sat on my couch eating bourbon creams watching youtube videos (ie perving) on Michael Fassbender.

So this week I'm determined to sort out my diet and bring down my body fat percentage. I have quite good eating habits were it not for my love/hate relationship with chocolate. I love chocolate and hate myself once I've eaten it. So that's the first thing that needs to get sorted.

I have a really sweet tooth so I can't be fobbed off with raw carrot sticks dipped in cottage cheese as a replacement for my chocolate addiction. I'm trying rice cakes with some peanut butter on top and so far, so good. Also, eton mess without the meringue (or very little meringue is quite a good substitute, don't know how healthy it is but it feels pretty above board on the diet stakes).

So, last night's training session was interesting to say the least. It was my first time training with my mouth guard on. Tougher than it looks. I resembled a rabid dog by the end of it, foaming at the mouth with dribble down the front of my t-shirt; whoever says boxing is not an attractive sport, clearly don't know attractive when they see it. Due to the combination of the two-hour diet and wearing the mouth guard for the first time my main worry was that I would gag when I was wearing it and turn the National Stadium into chunder city (I am nothing if not classy). Alas, my fears were unfounded.

Therefore, guys and gals, I would recommend wearing it as soon as possible so that;
a) you get used to it before the big fight and
b) I don't look like such an ass at training.

Last night we practised our blocking skills which is handy but we did quite a lot of bag work as well. We had to do the minute of madness, where you belted the living daylights out of the bag solidly for 30 seconds, then 25, then 20 and so on and so on. Our trainer referred to these punches as 'haymakers'. At first this was great but halfway through I very nearly swallowed my gum shield whole! Totes awkies.

Then came the cool down at the end of training, normally we do some crouching tiger stuff (pilates-esque stretching) but we had the other coach. Turns out he isn't really into that slow-burn stretchy muscle thingy. He takes more of a little 'Grasshopper' approach to the last ten minutes. I was expecting to start calmly stretching, next thing, your man took off bouncing up and down like Busta Rhymes on speed, knees up to his earlobes no less. I made a valiant attempt at the beginning but towards the end I resembled a fatigued and confused reindeer just prancing tiredly on the spot, feet barely leaving the floor.

O.K. duty calls, I've got to go get ready for work,
Sayonara Daniel-sans,
Chat soon,

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Dublin Pub Box - It's a wrap.

Day 4

Hey guys,

Welcome (note the serenity in my voice). Today is a good day. Thursday's training session was a good training session. The universe's balance has been righted and my heart doesn't want to explode in my chest every time I think of fight night. This is mostly down to lovely John from the Grafton Lounge contingent and a little down to the fact that Thursday I put on my hand wraps correctly for the first time (note pun in post title).

Maybe my nickname should be Carlynn 'Pun Gun' McCarthy? I am partial to a good pun...

John, after spotting me aggressively tickle one of the punching bags took it upon himself to teach me the basics of boxing. Our trainers are fantastic, but there are quite a lot of us and I don't think they have realised how much of a disaster I really am. I have a third level education but for the life of me can't co-ordinate legs, arms and head swivels. Whenever we leave the ring I'm cross-eyed from concentrating on the moves.

- "One, Two"
- "Left, Right"
- "Slip, Slip, Roll"
- "Check your stance"

Mother of god, I have tied myself in knots trying to do these, my pasty limbs flailing all over the place. So John gave me a kind of boxing for dummies class. I really needed that. Thanks John.

So while I feel better about the whole co-ordinated movement thing, I did realise one major draw-back for anyone contemplating even a temporary venture into boxing; I'm afraid of hitting my training partner in case I hurt them.

Not very conducive to the sport's aims. So unless I plan on killing my opponent with kindness I need to get over this stumbling block pretty quickly.

This weekend I am going to work on my conditioning ie watch videos of other people doing terrible things to their bodies in the name of fitness.

Yippee Kai-yay mother lovers,
Until Tuesday,

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Dublin Pub Box - Reality hits home

Day 3

Hey guys, what's the craic? Good, I hope, because I am seriously starting to worry about this boxing malarkey. Day 3 of training was very eventful.

I received my first blow (unexpected tap) to the face on Tuesday. Admittedly, it was by myself but I'd like to share the blame with my training partner, it makes me feel like less of an idiot.

Here's how it went down; we were in the ring and were practising our punches on actual human beings. One person kept their arms stretched out and tensed (this is the part I forgot) while the other person 1,2'd them for 60 seconds. I didn't really grasp the whole thing very well (still having issues with the 'ould left, right) but pranced around my partner for a minute while throwing the occasional punch. Then it was my turn to let him practise, it was all going grand until I stopped tensing my arms, my partner jabbed, my hand flew back and hit me right in the eye. True story.

What followed was nothing short of a revelation. That slight jab in the face brought home to me the fact that I actually have to fight someone. I know that sounds a bit strange considering I signed up for a charity boxing match, but up until that point it was just a bit of fun, a way to raise money for charity, get fit and a good excuse for a night out. It turns out self-delusion is not as powerful as a good old-fashioned belt in the face. Reality has most definitely been checked.

So now I have to train like a crazy person in the vain hope I won't have a panic attack the day I enter the ring for real. I have awful images of me running around in circles crying, "not the face, for the love of god, not the face". If this does happen, I am openly pleading with my future opponent to K.O me immediately.

Also, normally when I do any form of exercise, I suffer from stiffness or muscle pain the following day. With this training however, it's immediate. Five minutes after training ends I can feel my muscles tensing up on the walk home and the next day I'm fine. Is this normal?

Not the most convenient considering in order to reach my apartment you have to climb two sets of stairs, last Tuesday, I stood at the end of the staircase for exactly 7 minutes before I could work up the courage to take them very, very slowly. It wasn't a pretty sight to behold. The twitching curtains on the lower floors of the building have reinforced my impression that my neighbours now fear the weird girl from Apartment 5 who looks at the stairs as if she is about to burst into tears and then makes noises like a strangled cat as she ascends them. This gig is not good for my reputation.

So, as things stand, I'm more John Wayne than Wayne McCullough at the moment, but hey, it's progress, last week I was comparing myself to Quasimodo and R2-D2. Have training again tonight, here's hoping I don't score another own goal and the curtain twitchers are all otherwise engaged.

Chat soon,

P.S. No cats were strangled in the making of this post.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Dublin Pub Box - Round Two

Day 2

"It's for charity." I chant to myself as I force one stiff leg in front of the other on my way to work. "It's for charity." I whimper every time I try to get up from a seated position or walk down steps. "It's for charity." I growl as I hear the angry rattle of other competitors punch bags as they pound them to a pulp, (at my best, I have managed to get what can only be described as a surprised cough sound out of my bag).

Thursday's training session went better than I thought it would. It was tough but I managed fine with most of it. A substantial feat considering all my ligaments have been suffering from some kind of gag reflex since our previous session. This gag reflex started out friendly enough, a slight twinge here, a dull pain there, however it got so bad that I was convinced I could hear my muscles actually creak. I felt like a rusty R2-D2; all jerky movement and squeaky sound. The situation got consistently worse throughout the day, so much so, that by the end of it I was more like Quasimodo than the lovable Star Wars cyborg.

Warm up and conditioning were pretty much the same as before, lot's of planking (*shakes fist angrily at the evil genius who created this affliction to fitness fanatics the world over), sit-ups and press ups. We learnt two new punches, the hook and uppercut. I like them; the hook makes me feel powerful and I think the uppercut just looks the absolute business. For the hook, you move your entire torso and put all your strength behind the punch. It's quick, effective and if used correctly can completely disorientate your opponent. The uppercut is a good follow-up to the hook, if you're quick off the mark and aim correctly. Unfortunately for me I am neither quick nor have good aim. I almost K.O'd myself with my own hook and was lucky I didn't need to get dentures after trying to move left and uppercut at the same time. Multi-tasking, it turns out, is not my forte.

But onwards and upwards. I currently sting like a butterfly and fly like a drunken bee with a dodgy wing but, hey, have I mentioned it's for charity?!?

I am going to try and overcome my planking phobia by watching G.I. Jane.

Chat soon,

Tuesday, 8 January 2013


Hi guys,

I know it's been a while since I posted here, (I say as I blow the cobwebs out of the corners of my old blogging haunt) but I have returned for a noble cause. In the hazy blur that was the Yuletide season, a time for giving and for sharing, I heard about Dublin Pub Box, a charity boxing event where various pubs around Dublin, sponsor willing 'victims', ehem, I mean, willing bar staff to go toe to toe with one another in the name of goodwill. This year we will be trying to raise some essential funds for Pieta House and St. Vincent de Paul. 28 members of the hospitality industry have to become not quite mediocre boxers in 2 months which equals 17 hours training. Me, ever the adventuress, thought it was a splendid idea. I am going to blog my experience in a post training diary, a blow by blow account if you will (unfortunately that pun was intentional) plus you guys have to read it, I'm doing this for charity, so if you don't it makes you a bad person. 

Day 1

Prior to entering the gym today I was  mainly worried about what my entrance song (Smack My Bitch Up by The Prodigy) and nickname (TBC) for the match were going to be, following today's little training session I am now more worried about the fact that my muscles are cramping so much there is a real chance that all of my limbs may regress into my own backside overnight. I was swimming in a sea of my own sweat 5 minutes into the so-called 'warm-up'. Don't be fooled by the gentle nature of the word 'warm-up', in boxing it's merely code for lets just run around until someone's lungs cave in on themselves. Unfortunately, we were all reasonably fit and that didn't happen, so we had to 'warm-up' for a really, really long time.

We learnt about technique; your stance, how to jab, how to punch etc. that was actually a bit of a hoot. However, I am not the most co-ordinated individual and truthfully at the ripe old age of twenty-five I still question which way is left and which way is right, so while it was my favourite bit, it's not my strongest part of the training. 

Then we moved on to what our trainer/fuehrer referred to as conditioning, during 'conditioning' I became privy to some information I had never known up until that moment. The entire quarter of a century that I have roamed this earth I have always thought there were only two forms of the medieval torture that is known as 'the plank'; front plank and side plank. How horribly misguided of me, it turns out, the plank has its own evil alternate realm FULL of different planking styles, a particular favourite of mine was the front plank that converted into a forearm plank, genuinely thought I had simultaneously suffered from an aneurysm and a hernia during that little gem. 

Other than that, everything was good, the other people taking part seem really nice, even though they are going to try and knock the head off me numerous times over the coming weeks AND Darren O'Neill was at the gym while we were there, yep, you heard right, we were training in the line of vision of a member of the Irish Olympic boxing team #likebosses. Now back to the more pressing issue of a nickname, do you guys have any suggestions? Nothing with any reference to genitals please, my mom might be reading this, let's try and maintain some semblance of decorum.

Until Thursday,