#IAmAReason

Last week acting Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, announced that €12m in funding which had been ring fenced for mental health services would now be diverted to other areas. His justification was that the Fine Gael led government had increased funding by 16% to €827 million and that they had secured a number of achievements in the area since coming to power in 2011.

550 people died by suicide last year. I wouldn’t call that an achievement.

Today, during Dáil debates on mental health, Dublin North-West TD Noel Rock took to Twitter to share a picture of the handful of elected representatives who were present.

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I counted 10 TDs, that’s one for every person who will die by suicide in Ireland this week.

Varadkar himself was not present for the whole debate. His excuse for leaving early was that he was part of the negotiating team who are still in government formation talks with Fianna Fáil. The same talks that have been going on since after the General Election. . . 9 weeks ago. While I agree that the country does need a Government, these talks should have and could have concluded weeks ago if there was the political will to form a new coalition.

Meanwhile, the backlash has continued online with many, including Limerick rap duo The Rubberbandits taking to social media to vent their frustration.

Mental Health demonstrations are due to take place in Dublin, Cork and Galway this Thursday, April 28th.

You can also find a full list of those TDs who contributed to today’s debates here:

https://www.kildarestreet.com/debates/?id=2016-04-26a.54

If your local elected representative was not among those who did speak, all TDs contact details are listed here. Make your voice heard.

http://www.oireachtas.ie/members/mobile/default.asp?housetype=0&HouseNum=32&disp=const

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You can also text PIETA to 50300 to donate €2 or check out http://www.dil.pieta.ie for details of the Darkness into Light events going on around the country on May 7th.

 

 

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Choose Life

Before the Repeal the 8th brigade get up in arms I should point out that this article is less to do with rights of the unborn child and more to do with an oft-overlooked weekend dance extravaganza in Mullingar.

Life Festival
May 27th-29th, Belvedere House & Gardens, Co. Westmeath

Set against the picturesque backdrop of Belvedere House and Gardens, Life Festival XI is back with a bang for it’s 11th installment and bang it shall with the absolutely stellar line-up promised. Marc Kinchen, better known by the moniker MK and 2014 Mixmag Best Breakthrough DJ Hannah Wants are the latest names to be added to the bill which already includes some serious electronic heavyweights:

Paul Kalkbrenner 2ManyDjs  Jamie Jones  Laurent Garnier  Jeff Mills Hot Since 82 Cyril Hahn Patrick Topping  Blawan  Joy Orbison Ejeca  Ben Klock ✖ Heidi Wants  Huxley  Bicep Sunil Sharpe  Krystal Klear

After dabbling with some hip hop acts last year (rapper Nas performed his album ‘Illmatic’) thankfully, Life is back to basics for this year’s festival with their best line up yet.

Life veteran Ben Klock is set to return after an unmissable 6 hour set at the Beach Stage last year. If it hadn’t been for the wind chill factor, you would have been forgiven for thinking you were in Ibiza watching the sunset from outside Cafe Mambo.

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Life Festival, 2014. Hammocks at the Beach Stage.

Paul Kalkbrenner, the German genius, makes his early anticipated Life Festival debut on the back of a huge set at last year’s Electric Picnic. Jamie Jones, he of Hot Creations fame and 2012  Resident Advisor #1 DJ will be bringing his pioneering sound to the stage along with powerhouse producer and DJ Laurent Garnier, the founding father of electronic music, the dynamic duo 2ManyDjs and Jeff Mills, the Detroit born techno producer and founder of Underground Resistance; all fantastic additions to the weekend.

Those with an eye on the domestic music scene will be delighted to see names like Mano Le Tough, fresh from the Coachella stage and producer du jour Sunil Sharpe. Promoters Welcome, Toast Dublin, Connection, SMALL TALK, the Building Society and Room 19 have also been invited to contribute their unique sounds to the weekend and Galway is well represented by Meabh O’Connor and Jamie Behan.

With just over a month to kick off, tickets seem to be selling fast. When you look at the inflated prices that Electric Picnic tickets are changing hands for, its easy to see why smaller boutique festivals are really becoming popular, and Life is no exception. With plenty to cater for all tastes from the chilled out Beach Stage to the madness of the psytrance, Life always attracts a great crowd to what is undoubtedly one of the prettiest settings for a music festival. It’s compact and easy to navigate and if we get the sun like the fabled weekend in 2013 it could be one of the best shouts of the summer.

A tier 4 weekend camping pass will set you back €149 + BF.

Choose Life.

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Life Festival, Belvedere House, 2015.

Depression and ‘Double Life’.

Since Doug Leddin posted an emotional short film about his battle with depression on Facebook yesterday evening, it been viewed over half a million times and has gone super viral, and deservedly so. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out at the link below.

 

Leddin has lent his voice to the growing national conversation about mental health joining well known faces like Bressie and the Rubberbandits, both of whom have been particularly vocal in terms of criticizing the Government’s response to what is undoubtably a mental health epidemic in this country and working hard to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health.

Leddin touches on these issues in his tearful address. He explains that those suffering with mental illness often fear being misunderstood whether by co-workers, employers, friends or family and often suffer in silence, hiding their struggle; ‘The Double Life’.

‘If you asked my family or friends what they thought about me they’d probably tell you that I’m a happy-go-lucky, positive, hard-working and confident guy. But all that’s a bit of a lie. You see, I’m living a completely different life inside. I’m living the life of someone who suffers immensely with depression. And this is so hard for me to talk about, but it’s not just me’.

In taking this brave step, Leddin challenges others to do the same. This is particularly poignant as it is precisely his demographic who are most affected by depression and mental illness. Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts. Last year 550 people took their own lives in this country. I’ll leave you to do the maths.

‘The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one. How can we expect to find an answer when we’re still afraid of the question?’ he asks.

With 1 in 10 Irish people currently suffering from mental health issues, everyone has a role to play in the fight against depression and mental illness and its high time we all stepped up. We need to shine a light into the darkest corners and we need to do it together.

‘We need to speak up if we’re suffering in silence it’s the only way we’re going to beat the stigma it’s the only way we’re gonna help ourselves and help each other’.

Fairplay Doug!

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Sinusitis: Causes and Cures.

Unless you’ve experienced the teeth-shattering pain of sinusitis you really can’t empathise with people who have. It’s like heart burn, or childbirth or someone drilling through your cheek with a Black and Decker.

Ouch.

In technical terms, sinusitis or sinus infection is an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses. Normally, sinuses are filled with air, but when sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, germs (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) can grow and cause an infection. Causes include things like common colds, allergies or a deviated septum.

About 2 weeks ago I started sniffling and spluttering a little more so that usual . Determined to save myself the €50 doctor’s fee, I stocked up on Actifed and Neurofen Plus. I battled hard but a fortnight later I was as sick as ever so I relented and went to the Doctor. She laughed at me. Then perscribed me antibiotics, steroids, painkillers, gave me a sick note for the week and warned me to come straight in next time I have sinus pain. Sound.

Anyway, over the course of the last few days, here are a few things that you can do if your sinuses are giving you jip.

Sudafed/Actifed

Both have decongestant properties that can free up your airways and relieve the pressure. Both also contain codeine so no heavy machinery.

Steam

Steam inhalation, either in a sauna/steamroom or putting your head over a basin of hot water, can also help alleviate symptoms.

Warm compresses

Aka a hot water bottle or a warm facecloth can help with pain relief as they numb the pain. (Not sure how heat numbs your face but roll with it, it’s very effective!)

Sinus Flushing

This is grim, but effective and involves pouring a saline solution in one nostril and out the other. You can get special ‘irrigation devices’ like syringes, pumps or jugs in any chemist. If you are going to attempt this, definitely ask the pharmacist for a few pointers.

 

 

The Remorseful Day

There was very little to be remorseful about on our whistlestop tour of Oxford and it’s actually a cleverly disguised Inspector Morse pun. Clever, aren’t I.

Colin Dexter’s fictional character Chief Inspector Morse is, in fact, one of the city’s most famous exports. John Thaw starred as Inspector Morse alongside Kevin Whateley (Inspector Lewis) in the TV adaptation of the same name. 33 episodes were flmed in and around Oxford city and it’s myriad universities so we took to the streets to visit some of the most famous scenes.

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Here’s Dad at The Trout Inn which appears in “The Wolvercote Tongue” episode.

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The Morse Bar at the Randolph Hotel also appears in the ‘Wolvercote Tongue’ and the cast stayed at the Randolph Hotel during filming in 1987. The Morse Bar also boasts a mouth watering and indeed eye watering (average price per cocktail is £25) cocktail menu.

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Here we are at the University of Oxford Botanical Gardens which appears in ‘The Silent World of Nicholas Quinn’ and is the oldest botanical garden in Britain.

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Magdalen College where we caught evening vespers, features in ‘The Dead of Jerico’.

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We saw an Andy Warhol exhibition in the AShmolean Museum which also features in ‘The Wolvercote Tongue’. On a side note, the Andy Warhol exhibition was fabulous.

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The Bodelain Library  the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. With over 12 million items, it is the second biggest library in Britain after the British Library. It features in ‘The Wench is Dead’ and is also home to the Divinity School which is featured in ‘The Setting of the Sun’.

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Now, if you’re not completely nerded out, some further trivia. Both the Bodelain Library and Divinity School feature in the Harry Potter movies. The Bodelain Library is used as the Restricted Section of the Hogwarts Library and the Diviniy School doubles as the Hospital Wing where a petrified Hermione was taken in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and the hall where Minerva McGonagall prepares the students for the Yule Ball in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

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Bet you didn’t see that coming.

36 hours in London

While my students were off ‘doing Europe’ for Spring Break, I thought it was high time to take a Spring Break of my own. 36 hours in London with the parents in tow. Let’s do this thing!

Friday

We arrived at the hotel at 9PM on Friday evening, dumped the bags and about turned out the door with food firmly on our minds. It was late and as we cast around desperately for anywhere that wasn’t a kebabaria, we stumbled onto Cabana, a very cool Brasilian Barbeque spot on the Islington High Street. Food was fab, staff were lovely and the decor was very funky; a stroke of luck. 13016604_1580760792236293_683599116_o.jpg

Back to the ‘otel where a slight mix up with the rooms meant we had one double bed between the three of us. Not unaccustomed to roughing it, I gallantly offered to sleep on the floor and all credit to Hilton’s choice of carpet fabric, I slept like a log.

Saturday

Saturday morning was a slow starter, mainly due to the fact I had to go in search of actifed for my ever bothersome sinuses. That and the fact I wanted to make full use of the H&M around the corner. (We don’t have a H&M in Galway so when the opportunity presents itself, I usually pounce)

Saturday was also match day; Arsenal v Watford. You can read all about that here:

https://downtherabbitehole.wordpress.com/2016/04/05/arsenal-v-watford/

After Arsenal’s 4-0 win, we mosey’d to the nearby 12 Pins. As one Yelp review eloquently surmised: ‘This is a grubby dark dingy pub. Not many would venture here on a weekday. But on Arsenal or Premiership games this pub comes alive.Probably the best atmosphere to watch a football match. Even better than going to the stadium in truth. It’s a hardcore Gooner pub with a lot of memories to go with it for most. So for a football pub, especially if you’re an Arsenal fan this is a must gameday.’

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In 2011, I spent a semester on Erasmus in Toulouse in the south of France. By virtue of our native tongues, quite a few of my friends there turned out to be Welsh/English/Irish and, having finished college, several of them had settled in London. Cue messy drunk night out/ catch up/reunion. XOYO in Shoreditch was our chosen venue to see Ben Pearce supporting the inimitable Greg Wilson.

I digress momentarily at this point to tell you the most stereotypical Paddy abroad story ever. The aul lads were not keen on their pride and joy heading off out into the (wet and miserable) night in London town nursing what transpired to be the beginning of sinusitis and did everything in their power to persuade me not to head out. Undeterred, I zipped up my bright blue Regatta jacket (the height of style) and Dad escorted me to the bus stop. By my calculations, Shoreditch was a 10 minute hop from Islington. 25 minutes later I was still on the bus. 40 minutes later we still hadn’t arrived and I was becoming suspicious, wondering had I somehow missed my stop. By the time it dawned on me to check Google maps, I’d reached the terminus of the bus. Terrified of running out of data (roaming charges are a disaster) and being left at the side of the road in the middle of London, I ran to the front of the bus to ask the driver how to get to Shoreditch. To his credit, he tried to stifle the laughted as he explained I’d got the bus going the wrong direction and would have to stay on the bus for another 50 minutes to get back to more-or-less where I started. I was  literally too embarassed to answer the phone when my friends rang to see why I was so late.

XOYO was absolutely immense on the night. On previous outings when we’ve seen Ben Pearce he’s played mainly Deep House but he rpoved his versatility with the funkiest electro set I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing him play and the entire sweaty, smoky dancefloor were out on their feet groovin’ for two hours straight. Greg Wilson was actually quite disappointing. His set included a lot of more expiremental noise and distorted sounds repeated on a loop. Just as he was about to lose the dancefloor, he pulled it back with the 80s classic Frankie Goes To Hollywood ‘Relax’. Sometimes all the punters want is a song with a few words. The night wound up shortly after and, unwilling to risk another 5 hour round trip on the Nightbus, I got my first Uber.

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Sunday

As is by now an O’Malley family tradition, we spent our last morning in The Breakfast Club, Angel. Although the queue is usually bananas (you could be waiting anywhere up to an hour) it’s worth the wait. Inspired by the iconic 1985 film of the same name, the cafe is littered with memorabilia and stills from the movie and has a huge all-day breakfast menu. Hard to argue with the sugar rush from a giant stack of pancakes after a night on the hooch.

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Flights Aer Lingus : Shannon – Heathrow return

Accom : Double Tree by Hilton, Islington

Arsenal v Watford

Last Saturday marked our annual pilgrimage to the Emirates Stadium to watch Arsenal take on Watford, the team that had unceremoniously dumped them out of the FA Cup only two weeks previously. Sure enough, Arsenal romped home 4-0 victors playing beautiful, expansive football and leaving fans scratching their heads as to how the squad had squandered their chance to reclaim the FA Cup for the third time at the hands of their opponents.

There was a marked change in personnel from the team that lined out against Watford in the Cup with Chambers, Gibbs, Mertesacker, Campbell and Giroud making way for Bellerin, Monreal, Koscielny, Iwobi and Welbeck on Saturday indicating defence had let the side down in the previous tie.

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Alexis Sanchez thumped home an early goal after the inital header was saved before Iwobi banged in another, making it 2-0. These early goals proved the difference and Arsenal were in cruise control playing a confident, slick brand of football. Hector Bellerin netted a third early on in the second half before Theo Walcott tapped home having been set up by fellow sub Joel Campbell. Typical Arsenal, when the pressure is off they start playing well.

Before Saturday’s game, Arsenal had dropped 15 points in 14 home games with three home defeats to West Ham, Chelsea and Swansea and three home draws against Liverpool, Spurs and Southampton. As the table currently stands, with Leicester 11 points ahead of Arsenal albeit with an extra game played, Arsenal’s dreams of winning the League are fading fast and it seems the Leicester fairytale might have a happy ending and the priority now for Arsenal must surely to finish above Tottenham.

On a personal note, Saturday’s game was a great game to be at. Who doesn’t enjoy watching their team bang home four goals. The catcalls were second to none, my personal fave was the geezer behind me calling Hector Bellerin a ‘saucy mare’ as he pirouetted past two Watford defenders, ball at his feet, to the delighted wolf whistles of the home fans. The entire stadium was on their feet seven minutes to applaud the legendary David ‘Rocky’ Rocastle onthe fifteenth anniversary of his untimely death. Unfortunately, as soon as the final whistle blew the players left the pitch unlike the West Brom game we were at last year where the players did a lap of the pitch, thanking the fans and Aaron Ramsey’s adorable children had a kick around with their Dad. Cutie patauties.

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With the season winding down, it remains to be seen what Arsenal can salvage from the season that was surely set up to be theirs for the taking. Will Arsene see out the remaining year of his contract or will the increasing calls for his retirement be heeded? Only time will tell.

Come on you Gooners. #COYG