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  • Michael McMahon


Updated: Apr 29

Michael is a truly wonderful person. (I did not write that myself!)

You thought correctly; when I go to the hairdresser I always get a jack-of-all-trades hairstyle. Short on the sides for a slightly defensive look, a tight moustache for a hint of professionalism, a medium-length beard for a wild coming-down-the-mountain appearance, all of which will be balanced by long hair on the top for whenever I need to exude a meditative vibe! I was told to shave the whiskers to look 10 years younger but I'm actually OK with looking wise beyond my years! My beard hairs have pain sensors such that trimming them would be torture!

I originally titled it sample of my CV only to realise that it was the entirety of my CV!

I handed out deliveries and once or twice I got a few unhappy faces. It was only afterwards I realised the letters could have been them getting sued! My scanning, printing and stapling skills were a force to be reckoned with! I learned that if you ever spill fish soup on your bag be sure not to leave it around electrical systems or people will think something is melting. It was a handy stint because whenever I was bored of being inside I could go out and be a postman! Any free time was spent pretending to look busy by the shredder! Capitalism made me feel "objectified"! I tried not to sneak in a hot chocolate break on my walk back! They trusted me with the cheque lodgements and I swear that I was never tempted to escape the pouring rain and make a runner to Hawaii. I worked 11am-6pm which was a life-saver for my weary mornings!

I actually tried to self-educate by Googling my own personal syllabus on the phone a lot of the time when I was trying to form new ideas. You could be an 80 year old sage who writes down endless wisdom in a giant book but unless you can summarise your arguments in a Google article with a few photos and internet links then I'll never be able to learn from you since I'll probably never even have the energy to read it unfortunately!

Society thinks correctly. I confess my 3 years studying for the Junior Cert had nothing at all to do with my interest in the subjects. I just used it solely as a decoy so that by the end of it I could scoff at underachievers. Time well spent!

It's funny how students always asked me what subject I got a C in whenever they asked me about my results. I got the C in Irish where I still studied a bit in the subject in case I ever became Taoiseach! I gave up history for my leaving cert because my intention was to make history rather than to write history as an adult!

(joke to self) I was thinking of maybe adding a middle initial to my name: Michael C. McMahon. Then the C can stand for Chief! Even my former boss in Limerick called me chief once with my big beard!

I'll make a confession: I'm never good at getting up in the mornings. Too much lucid dreaming! The sports course was a 40 minute walk from my accommodation and so I'd a routine where if I was going to be 20 minutes late I'd get away with walking while if it was going to be later I'd have to spend money on a taxi instead!

I'd to do 60hrs work placement in a gym during the course. I helped out with the cleaning and sweeping. They offered me free lunch each day I was there. I was grateful because technically they didn't have to pay me at all. It did help my motivation where I'd have all the chores done before my meal. All my hours work just to fund my food; that's what you call a subsistence wage!

I used to be very disorganised and didn’t have my study completed in time for the leaving cert exams. I might have tried to do too many subjects and I never really scheduled my study. I left a lot of chapters until the week of the exams and of course I became too fatigued and burnt out to get it finished. Maths is a very tricky subject to fall behind in because it's harder to know how long it will take to learn the methods of the remaining chapters compared to the simple case of seeing how many pages are left in a biology book. It consumed a week of study before the exams just to get my head around the probability section. Complacency crept in where I focused more on learning the material without being sufficiently exam-oriented. I took a few liberties studying extra poets and doing optional geography chapters. I didn't get all of the syllabus completed and some of my coursework was completed but not fully revised. I thought I'd have enough time studying after each exam and forgot about the added stress of exam week. At the beginning of the year I never envisioned timing to be a problem but I left it too late to cram in the weeks beforehand. I didn't attend school in the month before the exams in order to study from home. I thought that would be enough time to race ahead. Maybe if I'd two months to myself then I might have been able to at least get the bulk of my revision finished and pass everything adequately even if I wasn't going to get A's or B's. Furthermore the cramming left me totally fatigued by the time of the exams and I might have been better off omitting parts of my study and taking a rest beforehand. You might do better in an exam by half-knowing the material rather than turn up sleepy and clumsy! It's fine to be tired while doing tick-the-box questions but writing essays requires a lot of mental energy. I remember giving up questions in my paper 2 English exam out of sheer apathy and demotivation even though I would have recalled the information much easier if I were only more alert. The exhaustion made me forget much of my learning. In retrospect I should've hastened my study to get more of it completed but at the time I took too much of a risk and didn't want to compromise my grades for college entrance. I went to a revision school in my last year where the course is taught from the beginning again. This might have confused me a small bit because I was doing three extra subjects. I should've studied ahead while we were going over my previous year's syllabus and I may have been slightly complacent. Perhaps I also should've studied for a few weeks during the previous summer holidays to free up time so that I could have taken more breaks in the months leading up to the exams. During 4th year I sometimes sat a half-day on Wednesdays to catch up on other subjects at home. I had PE on Wednesday afternoons where I occasionally did a sprint in the gym instead to save time. I studied geography as a distance course in 4th year and then as a classroom subject in 5th year. Hence I'd a bit of leeway to take some time off school in 4th year. There were two other classes on Wednesday afternoons that were relaxed where I sometimes had to skip. This made the school week look shorter in spite of a heavy study routine. Very rarely I'd take a few days off school during both my leaving cert years to catch-up on different subjects. I never felt comfortable extending the home-study in case I missed out on a lot of new material in class. Perhaps given my own personal timing difficulties I should've taken slightly more risks with self-study weekdays. I didn't relax enough on weekends and the stress only got to me at the end of the year. I used to run a lot in order to refocus but I wasn't able to get in enough sleep for recovery. Hence I was physically wrecked during the weeks before the exams too. Not resting meant I didn't have time to plan my study and instead just dug right into it. I was often thinking of one day ahead or a week at most. I cared so much about studying my science books that ironically by the end of it I didn't actually care much about exams. I really liked the subjects I studied but maybe I forced myself to work harder at them without loving each subject. Hence some of what I studied didn't fully sink in when I never thought of them in my spare time outside of study. For example people can learn a language by conversing in the language outside of class. Doing diverse leaving cert subjects made it easier to switch subjects in short intervals for homework when I needed to unwind.

I got a D3 in Maths which means I must of aced paper 1 as I never sat paper 2. I got an E in Irish as the examiner didn’t appreciate my attempt at a mixed language in the oral exam. I got a B3 in English as I was rushing and not paying attention so I probably answered the wrong questions. I'd learned off so many idioms and complex English words in the months beforehand that I might have exhausted my subconscious. In ordinary level French I got a B2 which was quite the achievement considering I gave up the subject 6 months earlier. I probably should have studied it at pass level from the very beginning to have saved time. With geography I got a B3 as I never revised any of the early chapters and was mostly relying on general knowledge. I skipped applied maths, chemistry, biology and physics. But I never actually got around to doing it again as I was busy with other things. I was also worried that if I failed many exams that it could undermine a possible attempt to re-apply to universities in England and Scotland where entrance is often based on interviews and past results rather than just your current exams. It just so happened that the grinds school I was attending had offered a 3 year LC course and I could have pretended I was doing that all along! So technically I didn’t fail my exams simply because I didn’t actually sit them! I could have taken a break from my exams and sat the last few exams yet I was exhausted for weeks afterwards. I didn't immediately know how I wanted to pursue university education but that I desperately needed a change of lifestyle. I didn't actually do the mock exams either in the months beforehand so I was well used to saying I was too sick to sit them! Failed university interviews eventually gave me more resistance to overcoming a failing leaving cert. In fact the failed leaving cert exams also made me more resilient to later bouts of mental illness and helped me to control my anger on other issues. I didn't even feel much stress by the end of my leaving cert where there was only a bit of apathy. Skipping exams might not be advisable to others but I made the decision based on my own individual circumstances. Perhaps I needed a gap year to meditate anyway!

I'd originally intended to repeat by studying myself and maybe do other subjects to pass the time. Multitasking new subjects could reduce the boredom of redoing the same courses. I considered doing A-levels to retry applying to universities in England but I became uncertain because the interviews can be subjective and a lot of it is down to chance. A levels would be convenient for repeat students because a lot of the exams could be sat in November instead waiting until the following June. Moreover an A level could allow you to work ahead on 1st year university content relative to the broader leaving cert syllabus. It just so happened that I was too busy on something everyday in the years since the leaving cert to reconsider a repeat attempt. At least I acquired some analytical skills studying each subject and so I didn't view it as a waste of time that I didn't get grades for them. For example we use the English language every day and so studying it is useful even if there's no external reward for having learned off the school poems! I might have to buy my retirement home in France just so I can say I'll have made some use of my French study! Or perhaps I could resit my exams when I'm elderly! The experiments in physics, chemistry and biology imbued a sense of innovation and risk-taking in me. A lot of people get jobs in areas completely unrelated to their area of study and they don't view their time studying as unnecessary. I even got high marks for my junior cert history and classical studies without an expectation that the content would be relevant in adult life. I freely chose to put in a lot of time studying each subject simply because I found them interesting. Even if there isn't much benefit in the short-term the learned information might occasionally be relevant over the long-term. An unconventional way to interpret poetry is to realise that you'd never be as articulate as the poet in order to prevent megalomania. Studying simultaneous equations in maths helped me multitask different forms of thinking in other areas. Mathematics is almost like a kamikaze subject that forces you to be self-deprecating in any other subject you're not good in. I need to be optimistic that my study will prove useful into the distant future. Elderly people often challenge themselves with puzzles to maintain their focus and so study of any kind will always help your memory and longevity. In the future I could do courses that are related to my leaving cert if I didn't want to do it directly. For example a distance geography course would capture some of my past study in other subjects like science and maths. An optimistic way of looking at it is that the ordeal of my final exams helped me be more resilient and resourceful for dealing with future problems. Thinking clearly while under pressure is an important skill to work on. The experience emphasised to me the need to study for its own sake and to be more self-critical. I succeeded in learning the information over the two years for most of the leaving cert and the failed exams shouldn't detract from that. There may have been a few bits in the syllabus that I don't really need to use again like the chemical formulas. Nonetheless any study no matter the subject will improve your general study skills even if we take that for granted. Creativity can come from even the most mundane associations in our past learning. For example chemistry often involves the process of breaking a problem down into more manageable pieces and this reductionistic thinking can help other personal problems. I could go meta where the very fact I felt no resistance to long hours of study meant that my far-sighted brain approved of the analytical skills acquired even if it's not always apparent to my unconscious mind. I could even embrace absurdity by saying the failed exams gave me more resilience to withstand pain during later bouts of mental illnesses. I missed out on a reward for my study but it was only a small loss in hindsight. It helped me to be more self-reliant and concentrate on my own self-study afterwards to compensate for a lack of qualifications. The failure motivated me to keep working hard for many years to come. I tried to be more efficient in my informal study by focusing on topics most relevant to my interests and career. The failed exams reminded me not to choose a subject simply to get a pass. In other words if you knew in advance that there'd be no final test, would you still find it worthwhile to read all of it? At the end of the day a list of exam grades are mere letters on a piece of paper. I also learned to appreciate the need to unwind more often in order to regain energy and mental focus. We don't sit state exams at the end of primary school and that doesn't mean we wasted 8 years!

A small mistake was that I studied each textbook too intensely without concern for the overall themes. For example during junior cert history I went overboard learning each chapter. The problem is that over time you're forced to relate the information back to previous learned material which could overload your brain. I became disillusioned by my homework routine at both my prior schools where I almost had to study every school evening for hours until 9 or 10 pm. Sometimes it was circular where I was sleep-deprived during school hours and overcompensating with intense homework. My disorganised study routine sometimes made some of my teachers quite annoyed during my final year. The odd time I forgot my notes or books for class. I was temporarily suspended from my Irish class for forgetting notes and I was excluded from a few physics classes for being late. The teachers were all highly-skilled and friendly but I began to find self-study more relaxing. One challenge with creating your own syllabus is that you can't rest on your laurels and you must work out its usefulness yourself.

After my failed leaving cert I was weighing up part-time day courses as a way forward instead of university where I could predominantly self-study while also having a few hours of social interaction at class. I didn't have many friends at the school I attended during the final year and I was lonely for a long time before the leaving cert. Then again I didn't set out to make friends when I was so busy studying. I was worried that I might struggle to make friends in university when I'd be caught up with study routines given that I was already introverted and socially awkward. I'd been so stressed by asking my father to change school repeatedly in 4th year that by the time I did change I was too tired. My parents booked interviews in grinds schools but would never commit to sending me there until the summer holidays beforehand. So I had very little planning time. Then again I was so tired after studying each evening in 4th year that I probably over-indulged in rest during the summer holidays anyway. I actually weighed up changing to A-levels long before my leaving cert exams which is why I found it easier to contemplate stopping the exams when the going got tough. A levels were a narrower syllabus that might have helped for entrance into English universities even if I wasn't aware of the benefits between a generalist and specialist syllabus. I enjoyed the language subjects even if they weren't relevant to a scientific career. For example skipping English class in favour of two maths classes might be short-sighted unless you're committed to maths. Human geography isn't too relatable to a physics career even if physical geography is relevant to the hard sciences. I wanted to pursue science creatively such that I enjoyed arts subjects as creative practice even if the benefits were very indirect. I like my scientific work being well-written even if I'm not as passionate about the actual scientific results of an experiment! I did geography as a self-studied subject outside of school in 4th year. Although I might have been better off doing A level maths to complement the leaving cert syllabus for university interviews. Nonetheless geography is a great subject for creativity by forcing you to analyse the human environment. I might not get much use of technical anatomy diagrams in biology but there's bound to be hidden analytical skills in the subject. After all it took the work of thousands of scientists to get the information needed to publish the biology book. Many historical scientists were wealthy aristocrats who didn't even need formal qualifications to validate their discoveries in chemistry! I wholeheartedly embraced the scatter-brained scientist and mad genius stereotype! Who knows if I could restart biology study someday just as a hobby! Perhaps I could be like one of those Renaissance grave-diggers studying anatomy! When students pick a subject to study in university they must give up all of their other secondary school subjects. As such adults might not actively go out of their way to make use of their learning from secondary school if their sole objective with education was a career. Perhaps if people learn history in secondary school then they might need to somehow envision themselves either sightseeing historical sites as an adult or having casual history conversations with others! It sounds almost facetious to meet random people in the street and talk about history yet from the perspective of a foreign person that's simply how serious we should all be after studying the subject for so many years. Perhaps we'd have to create museum conferences and battle re-enactments to get more fun about learning about native history. If students wanted a career in the civil service then truth be told no school learning besides the skills being performed on the job would be necessary. Therefore any excess study by students is really just for the private market when a collective society would guarantee your job. That is to say any mandatory subject is often for the benefit of the private market rather than the public good and must be mutually beneficial for students for it to be worthwhile.

I suppose I could repeat the exams since it wouldn't take me too long to relearn the material but the drop-out image is kind of cool! Some street cred! Failed exams can at the very least inspire humility and gratitude towards other hard workers. I soon got distracted by other topics mentioned in the blog and became unsure about my previous goal of studying science where I started thinking about freelance journalism or philosophy instead. I'd bought various university books on neuroscience and physics where I even contemplated self-studying such textbooks without a formal course for a year or two. My chemistry and biology leaving cert courses helped me get past a few introductory chapters on neuroscience. Yet I realised after several chapters of the neuroscience book that I was too obsessed about the science of consciousness to think about other subjects. The problem of course is that it's a very mysterious and open-ended subject that doesn't lend itself to one academic domain in particular. I watched many episodes of Lawrence Kuhn in his Closer to Truth series online where in spite of having a neuroscience PhD himself was still left to interview other intellectuals for their take on the mind/body problem instead of giving his own thesis on consciousness. He gave sharp points but the series indicated that such philosophical conundrums might be a collective rather than individual issue in academia. In school I pursued science not only for academia but also to learn about the methods for learning about the hard problems of reality. General science really intrigued me in secondary school but I realised when I bought specialist 3rd level calculus and astrophysics textbooks that they were too divergent from philosophy. In other words I never once thought about the limits of science as a beginner until I was confronted with the possibility of studying multi-year courses in university. Paradoxically I always envisioned myself being a kind of scientific researcher without ever thinking about a specific career like a laboratory technician for example. My experiences with lucid dreaming and spirituality however undermined my motivation to relearn science. I ended up trying to create my own subjects entirely with anti-realism and so forth! So I was confused between pursuing a simple career versus pursuing a hobby as a career. I investigated studying with the Open University after the leaving cert but the finance didn't work out. I was so preoccupied with an existential crises that I reasoned I'd just do my own thing! I originally thought repeating the exams would be worthwhile if I not only got good grades but even great grades. Aiming for perfect grades can sound arrogant or obsessive until you realise that they're required for certain course applications rather than just for the aesthetics of marked exams! Perhaps I could've even dropped the A-levels idea to sit even 10 or more leaving cert subjects but I no longer felt a need to socially compete with exams. Yet I became so desensitised to exams that I developed the opposite problem. I started studying random topics militantly knowing that any information learned might need to be sacrificed! I'd started a distance-learning journalism course but then I got too distracted by my own journalistic ideas to get it finished. A difficulty with journalism is that creative ideas can take an unpredictable amount of time to produce. For example if I knew everything I wanted to write for my entire lucid thread in advance then it might take me less than a day to physically type it all out. Yet I wasn't able to reference it all from books and had to wait for years to keep coming up with new interpretations about a mysterious topic. A few thought I was just doodling on the internet seeing as it's easy to expend a lot of time on social media or entertainment. But in truth there's libraries worth of encyclopaedias on the internet whereby there's not much you can find in a textbook that isn't freely available on the internet with 20 euro a month free mobile data! Its educational value all depends on how you use it. I'd often have up to ten tabs to return to after finding links in articles along with getting lost in an exponential series of links found within links. Intermittently I thought about going to university. I looked around a university bookstore in Dublin to see if there was any topic I'd be interested in studying. But I knew I'd lost interest in going back to college when I was only drawn to the shamanic section on the top floor of the book shop! I temporarily did a science access course in UL when I was 24 before determining that it'd take a bit too long to become fully qualified and opted to look for work experience instead. Nonetheless I got an enjoyable glimpse of university life and the lecture format. Recently I was doing a distance philosophy course only to leave it incomplete as I became too preoccupied by my own philosophy threads! The subjects I studied in secondary school helped me to form some of my ideas for the different topics in the blog. For example some of my physics course was relevant for my anti-realism thread. It's possible that I slightly overestimated the amount of analytical skills learned from the leaving cert study in the months after the failed exams seeing as my memory of each subject fades a bit with the years where repeating the exams would become more and more difficult. Identifying analytical skills is very difficult because it relates to your own style of thinking. For example I often can't directly relate a creative insight in later life to what I learned in school. I don't have another version of myself that didn't do leaving cert maths who I could contrast myself with. Knowing more analytical skills can pre-empt personal problems. Thus I somehow might have had more challenges in life had I not studied each leaving cert subject. Although the dilemma is that these nullified personal problems are invisible. Hence you'll always hear adults complaining about how they never needed to use the calculus they learned at school ever again!

The way education helps you emotionally can be paradoxical through Socratic ignorance and humility. For example history as a subject can be random when the content is dependent on the region and nation. As such you can't be intrinsically talented at history in a way that mitigates more formal subjects like literature. It might be the case that trigonometry would be instinctive for the ancient Egyptians building pyramids as a form of megalomania where each pyramid would be slanted uniquely. As such the idea of mathematical platonism might relate to how an evil system can be mysterious in producing counter-intuitive results that can be ethical in extreme circumstances. Inferring that your unconscious mind knows the answer to a problem that your conscious mind is unsure of can be problematic because your physical brain isn't part of your religion or spiritual worldview. As such I don't know how much my physical brain learned from my years at school even my unconscious mind somehow feels satisfied that something was learned. As such I need to rely on faith that my study was worthwhile. After all the entire education system in Ireland helps prevent third world poverty but this can be limited in how Africa also has non-educational problems in reducing conflict. I could have done A levels after my failed Leaving Cert but were I not to go to university after sitting the A levels then it might have appeared overly defensive. Hence my self-study was a quest for educational puritanism! The irony of trying to find the analytical skills learned from education is that if it were fully correct then you shouldn't have to think about the analytical skills where your unconscious mind would emotionally hint at the specific analytical skills that were learned! Anyway learning lots of academic subjects helped me deal better with episodes of mental illness. No matter what the subject is there's always some logic involved. We simply lack the memory of all of our past personal decisions to know how much the logic at school helped guide our thoughts. So learning history is great for emotional intelligence in learning how entire collectives defended against evil rather than learning ethics from just a few detectives in a police movie. A limit of learning from history books is simply that our empathy is finite. If an academic subject is capable of being turned into a TV documentary then it's always redeemable by not being too abstract! Short time allowances in school tests is almost like a bomb disposal task! I could have repeated the leaving cert over 10 times in the years afterwards but perhaps I was deterred by my junior cert history teacher's joke about anyone repeating the junior cert! The humility gained from failing my leaving cert not only made me more vigilant on other personal and career goals but also deterred me being too immoral on these issues too given how temperamental my blog could be! So I rarely felt ashamed about my leaving cert but never seemed to care about feeling ashamed either for many years because I was too prone to anger on other issues only that it's a risky strategy to stay self-controlled in case it ever boils over. Studying applied mathematics always had a macho vibe as a symbol of authority because to make practical use of the subject meant that you'd to ensure that you wouldn't be at risk of violating the subject as if you were on the verge of total evil! Academia can help you be more objective in a way that can be too easily taken for granted and ignored if you don't sit your exams. For example studying French history in the French language would help your language comprehension in a way that's downplayed when we learn history in English when we don't like to admit how limited we might have been when we were children. There’s no limit to self-criticism as a form of humility which is why academia works well even though I failed my leaving cert.

For my leaving cert I had originally studied honours maths, applied maths, chemistry, physics, biology, geography, French, English and pass Irish.

Failed exams can always lead to creativity(!):

Smash Mouth - All Star

I learned chemistry and nuclear physics but failed to sit my leaving cert exams. I hope I’m not suspicious for nuclear terrorism!

“According to the Pan Am manager, they considered it odd that Moussaoui (a 9/11 terrorist) said that all he wanted to learn was how to take off and land the plane, giving the reason that it was “an ego boosting thing”. oig justice

I’d often write down any new ideas I thought of wherever I could conveniently put them on my phone. I wouldn’t write it all out but just one-word reminders. One day I’d an appointment with a nurse in Dublin. I was doing a lot of thinking on the train on various topics. But after I met her I accidentally sent her a list of words, “cannibalism, nightmare...”. I tried to apologise and was desperately telling her it was just for a South American history article I was writing. Luckily she was understanding. So if you’re ever forming a blog it’s best to write your ideas on a notebook and not on message drafts! I was there to participate in a brain scan for a study they were doing. I’m not sure how helpful I was seeing as I was very tired after the journey. I was half-asleep lying down in the scan while they were trying to ask me the questions. I told a friend the brain scan was cryogenic back-up to recreate my brain after death! He took me seriously and looked worried!

I asked them to reprint my results and they actually typed an A grade for my classical studies test. I should probably let them know but I won’t say anything! The exam was the last one and a week after all of the rest. I was meaning to study for it but took took the week off unfortunately. I’m probably owed a few brownie points for once having went overboard and wrote a 4 page essay for homework on Achilles in the Illiad. When I read it out in class the teacher made everyone redo their answers for homework.

Totally Miscellaneous Jokes Section:

Ever lost a match 6-0 6-1 only for the tournament to upload 6-0 6-0? In tennis terminology that's a double bagel. There's nothing more dismissive than this as they know you'll be too embarrassed to complain for that lone game. I mentioned this to a friend and he told me they do that all the time and it's their way of saying "back to Clare with you!"

I remember losing a match and heading afterwards to a restaurant. Whatever happened I started speaking to the three chair umpires and we went to the bar to have some drinks. We were discussing training schedules and they were telling jokes. The next day I was thinking if only I’d bought them more drinks I could have talked my way into a few wildcards!

Camping on the tennis trail! There’s no better way to practice shock absorption than hitting a few old balls at top speed into the woods! I'd booked a campsite but the taxi wouldn't drive on the track. I'd too many bags to carry so I decided to set up camp in a cosy field surrounded by forest instead. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and seeing one of the most vivid night-sky of stars I've ever seen. There were no clouds or artificial lights to block my gaze. I don't think a psychedelic drug could ever match a clear view of every star. It felt like I was admiring the stars from my standing position on the Moon where there isn't any distorting atmosphere at all! The dark outline of the forest in the distance looked immense; just as if it were a cliff stretching into the horizon. Darkness can create optical illusions where whatever you can't see is a mystery for your imagination to fill in. At night the creepy forest seemed never-ending just like the Amazon or Siberia and when I investigated it the following day there actually was quite a lot of depth to it. I ended up staying put for 3 nights because I enjoyed it so much! Sometimes I slept during the evening to avoid having to sleep through the cold at night. This was actually a typical tactic of hunter-gatherers and it's a convenient way to maintain focus while you watch the night turn to day.

One blog to rule them all!

If a day is 24 hours long, then turning up to a hotel at 1am means you should really get two nights for the price of one when you round upwards.

I try to avoid ambiguous and coarse language when I'm angry. These days there's so much openness that shouting "fu*k you" to someone could be interpreted either as an insulting dismissal or else an honest sexual request. Be very wary if you call someone an a**hole and they decide to take it literally!

Pretending to read something can sometimes be a good strategy to avoid awkward silences. I made a mistake one time of reading the mineral contents of my water bottle which led everyone to speculate on who'd ever spend so long studying such material?

If this mixed bathroom were at a disco then it'd be the source of endless flirtation:

Woman - Hey you were the guy at the party!

Man - Oh yeah hi how are you?

Woman - I'm good. Why don't we sneak in for a kiss?

Man - Thanks but I can't right now; sorry.

Woman - Why do you not like me?

Man - I do but I actually did have to use the bathroom.

Woman - Oh!

I stayed in a mixed dorm in a hostel where I was awoken in the in the night by a young woman. She asked me if we were the only ones in the room. I nodded curiously. She was quick to say that she was just checking in case she were to pack too loudly!

A friend advised me not to try the "tweener" tennis shot between the legs in case I hit the wrong ball.

My street football skills are a little different to the foot-skills of Fifa street. My most cunning tactic was pretending to start a friendly conversation with my opponent as the goalkeeper was passing out the ball so that I could sneak out in front and steal it.

I used to visit a friend's house to shoot the zombies on Call of Duty. Eventually he laughed, "Is this all I am to you? Someone you get to kill your zombies?" It can be a tense game when you're killed just before the next round were about to begin.

It's invariably your cousins who tell the most messed up jokes. Apparently there were these foreign language students who stayed in their neighbour's house. They were two teenage girls and they had dinner each evening with the family. It seems like they had a crush on the father and spoke to each other in their native language about him. The father actually spoke their language but said nothing because it started off light enough. It was only before they left a few weeks later that the father had to interrupt them because their conversations were becoming increasingly explicit and erotic. It must have been a big shock when they realised he could understand them!

I'm often in a t-shirt when it rains in town. It's one of the rare times that slightly overweight people like myself can really show off our physicality with the added layer of body insulation!

How many people have pressed format on their camera expecting to find the layout settings, only to have erased their precious photos?

I'd a choice between spending 90 euro on a 4 star hotel and be out of money for the next day or else spend another half hour looking for a cheaper room. As you can imagine I took the 4 star hotel and had a nap on my suitcase the following night! It's ironic that when my money was shortest my diet was most nutritious. It's only when you're at your most desperate that you can tolerate the bony taste of tinned sardines and have a few olives for desert! The heat got to me in these countries where I could never think straight about returning home! I was stuck in a time loop where I'd to continuously think about only the next day!

Luckily someone else had the same idea I had and there was a deserted camp by the river.

I used to sleep on benches for 3 nights each week for a total of 3 weeks. I'd a choice between returning to Ireland or extending the trip by sleeping rough the odd night. I'd accommodation back in Ireland but I decided I'd have more fun in Portugal. This is one of the advantages of booking a one-way ticket where you can artificially extend your stay by camping or "chilling". I took too many indulgences by eating out in restaurants while I'd be in the hostel. Of course I'd be so exhausted by sleeping at a park by the beach such that as soon as the next week came I'd be dining out again. As you can see it was going in a bit of a circle. At the time I wasn't speaking to certain relatives and I didn't want to ask them for help. Anyway they took pity on my plight and gave me extra allowances so I could stay at a hostel every night!

Some airbnb's can be difficult to please!

It's either the moon or a hot-air balloon!


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