The Avondhu - By The Fireside


- Mary Meaney

I hesitate to say it, but the grinch stole Christmas of 2021. You couldn’t throw a slipper without hitting someone infected with the new strain of Covid (New Year only needs a cursory mention here). Just as we were seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, someone officially turned off the switch.

A new level of bleakness - Russia invaded Ukraine. Then the economic sky fell in, the cost of food and fuel bills quickly began to soar and double in price.

There are moments in life no matter how strong you are, life will go from bad to worse - to unbearable. Life is hard and who ever told you anything to the contrary is lying.

History after all is a never-ending moment.

Poverty is the deadliest of all diseases, it is a parasite that torments people and evokes a desire for escape. The psychic landscape of class, the social exclusion of blame is the key driver. There is an emphasis placed on social status - the unemployed are rendered socially stigmatise­d. Stereotype­s are never as rosy as they are portrayed out to be.

The Government prattle on about the convulsion effect poverty has on families which only deepens dependency on welfare. The Irish indignatio­n, of needing villains, pay Peter to pay Paul but depend on Paul. Families are suffocatin­g under the moral weight placed heavily upon them.

People are not unmotivate­d, but living in survival mode which is exhausting that is the big difference. A home should be a place of nourishmen­t, not stressful in how to make-ends-meet, when outside forces move the ends.

Let that sentence sit there for a second….

You can never understand unless you experience it yourself; and once you do, you’ll withdraw your prior judgement.

I hear you say, but Reggie you are just a dog. This life crisis is none of your concern. This is an asinine statement but deserves an answer. Brace yourself for the revelation, that definition is correct, I am a dog! but I am also a writer.



Writers are a misunderst­ood lot, make no bones about, I will sell you out, anything humans say or do will be written into a short story. To put it in therapeuti­c language; humans see with their moral eyes, they cannot observe beyond the walls of a room. So, I am the most reliable witness in their affairs.

From an evolutiona­ry point of view, humans are hardwired as intuitive beings with telepathic psychic abilities to be extremely logical. One of the most distinctiv­e of human behaviours over animals is their imaginatio­n. Human nature being what it is, people will cut the ‘proverbial cloth’ according to measure in the cost-of-living crisis.

In this stressful environmen­t, dogs rescue people, we are natural healers - hugs and cuddles are a healthy currency.


is the worse time for us dogs - that period between Christmas and New Year. Bone idleness is positively encouraged, my family lives on a diet of chocolate which gets on my last nerve. I believe rituals reinforce family pathology, guess, but how many healthy walks I had in the forest last year? Yes, you guessed right! None.

I was barking mad, so I staged a revolution, since I was bored of playing with my toys, I buried a large elephant in the sofa. To make matters worse cue dramatic music…. mother human spent two years paying off this very sofa in HP. When I heard her scream the full title of my name Reginald Perrin (I

Cosy up by the fire this Christmas with some homemade Gingerbrea­d Cookies – recipe courtesy of Siúcra - and a hot cup of cocoa. A treat that Santa Claus and the family are sure to enjoy.

This recipe will serve 30 gingerbrea­d treats, all with only 1 hour of prep time!

Cooking time is just 15 minutes, ideal for those who can’t fight the aroma in the kitchen for much longer and just want to sample some gingerbrea­d heaven. So, that’s just 1 hour and 20 minutes total time from start to finish.

With a ‘difficulty level’ of easy, there’s no reason not to start baking today!


am named after a British novelist and comedy writer), I innately knew I was in the ‘metaphoric­al dog-house’. The living room was a sea of foam. She only dived in, delighted she found more uneaten chocolate. She said “Reggie you are the best dog”. This was a head scratching experience for me.

I am resigned to the fact there will be no healthy walks in the forest this year either.

For obvious reasons, it has been a year most of us would rather forget. There is a tradition in Ireland on New Year’s Eve at midnight to open the front door and sweep out the old and welcome in the New Year.

In a bowl, cream the butter and Siúcra brown sugar together. Add the golden syrup and egg and beat until well combined.

In a separate bowl, sift together the remaining ingredient­s and stir.

Add the dry ingredient­s to the wet and mix to combine thoroughly. Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerat­e for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas mark 3. Remove the dough from the fridge and knead on a well-floured work surface until just soft.

Roll out to ½cm thick and cut into desired

I suggest this year open all the windows and doors in your homes.

I must dash now Dear Reader, but beware and repeat after me, anything humans say or do will be written into a short story in 2023. I do hope there will be better days ahead. shapes using a biscuit cutter. Place on three large parchment paper lined baking trays. (Bake two trays at a time in the oven)

Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Leave the biscuits to cool on the baking tray for five minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the Siúcra icing, beat the egg white until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the icing sugar until stiff.

Transfer the icing into a piping bag (or a plastic bag with a small corner snipped off) and decorate your cooled biscuits to your liking.


Use the pointed end of a wooden skewer or cocktail stick to fix or shape any icing mishaps.

Visit www.nordzucker­ for more recipes, inspiratio­n and top tips for cooking and baking.

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Reginald Perrin - not a lover of Twixmas.

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