Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Blame the ManBooker and Blue M&Ms...............

Feck son#1 and the ManBooker 2014 shortlist. I was shattered, up since 6.30am and running around after kids all day long. I picked son#1 up from work at 7pm and he presented me with a big packet of peanut M&Ms. He never gives me little pressies so I was chuffed; but I’m cursing him now in the wee small hours of the morning. I’m a glutton y'see and I scoffed all those M&Ms – even the blue ones, despite remembering that people used to say that blue Smarties made kids hyper, but sure that was Smarties and my blue colouring was in M&Ms. Let me tell yiz now, blue colouring on ANY sweets can make you hyper!

So there I was, in the leaba since 10pm but me mind whizzing around with all those jumbled up thoughts that lie in wait until my body stops moving; then demand my undivided attention. Feck this, I thought, and switched on the light again. I discarded the dectectivey yoke I had been reading for the ManBoooker shortlisted Ali Smith 's- ‘How to be both’. I’ve tried to read the shortlist every year for the last few and don’t always succeed but I’m determined this year.

Anyway whatever chance I had of sleeping before I started to read I’d none after reading the first few pages. Jesus, I thought, this poor fella’s mind is like mine right now – and I bet there weren’t any blue M&Ms back in the late 15th century. I’ve read that the book changes further in and can be read in two different ways so looking forward to more of it. I heard somewhere ‘some books you read for the story, others for the quality of the prose and sometimes, just sometimes, you can get both’. I think Ms Smith’s book may well be one of those books. Review to follow.

But then my eyes got tired and I can’t read when my eyes are tired so up I got – routed the Jemser from his snoring in front of the telly up to the bed and I changed the channel to ‘Alibi’. That and a couple of rows of knitting will lull my brain into a false sense of security and my body will take advantage and shut the grey cells down. Ye can’t beat  late night TV and the knitting for knocking you out. ‘Course I had to tell the world all about it first so I’ll maybe give my insomnia cure a half hour extra to work to counteracter this typing on a screen. If all else fails I’ll clean the house – now THAT is guaranteed to give me at least four hours kip!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles…………

I am a very privileged person. This week  I spent time with two ladies, one in her eightiues the other in her ninety-first year and today I spent a few hours with my delicious nineteen month old niece Busy Lizzie Long-Legs.

Why do we forget how to live between the ages of 16 and 40? We are human BEINGS not human DOINGS. In a perpetual rush to acquire stuff, accumulate wealth and be better than Joe Bloggs next door we forget the simplest things in life, the ones that give us the greatest pleasure. Time. Time spent with family and friends, people who love us. The three people I mentioned above all have time in abundance and I am privileged that they share that time with me. Chatting. Laughing.  

My older friends like to reminisce about things that happened in their youths, like showing me photographs of their loved ones and telling me about their little foibles and fancies. They like going for gentle strolls, breathing fresh air and enjoying the sights and sounds of the natural world. We talk of  everything and nothing. I always hug them when I greet them and again when I’ leaving. Chats are lovely but hugs are better.

My niece loves the fresh air too. Today we spent some time in the playground, marvelled at all the planes overhead (all going to Africa of course!). Then we walked up to the shopping centre and purchased some Very Important Bubbles – Busy Lizzie LongLegs took the money from me and paid for them herself. We walked back to a nearby park and took our shoes and socks off. We decided that the slightly long grass underfoot was really lovely. We lay down for a while and looked at the clouds. Then we had a tickle fight. Then it was Bubble Blowing Time. Oh! What fun! When you are not yet aged two there is nothing as exciting and joyous as chasing bubbles with someone who loves you in a park on a sunny day. Actually it still applies when you are fifty-two!  

When the bubbles were gone we strolled back to the house, playing Monsters Chasing Evelyn on the way. We decided it had been a really nice day and we are going to repeat it very soon. Busy Lizzie Long Legs is my best buddy for now and we parted with hugs and kisses. I am feeling very loved this week. And I am so looking forward to becoming a step granny in October when stepdaughter#2 gives birth. I’ll be the best step-granny in the twenty six counties.  

So life is good – filled with people I love and people who need me and long may it continue.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

More eulogising and wafflin'.........

And so our pet Irish summer continues. It's been a bit teenagery the last few days but when that aul cyclin' Auntie settles down we'll be back to what has become normal for us this year - SUNNY!

I left the house this morning with full intentions of going directly to the library to write at least a thousand words. But it was such a nice fresh morning I decided to go for a walk first. I walked the promenade between Malahide and Portmarnock, drinking in the views and the smiles on people's faces, the kids messing about on the sand or in rock pools and yet again thanked my lucky stars that I could retire early. I am in a privileged position I know, and thousands upon thousands of people have been horribly hit by the recession. But we all have the sand and the sea and the sun. Most of us in this county have food to eat, clean drinking water good shelter, heat, light, a place to rest and above all people who love us and we love in return. Yes, many have money worries and are so stressed they feel they will crack up. Relax. Breathe. It's only effin' money. We don't NEED most of the STUFF we spend the bloody thing on - those of us lucky enough to have spare cash after our basic living costs have been met that is. So what if your credit rating is ruined by not paying back to the banks (now buttressed behind closed branch network doors) unrealistic amounts that you were enveigled into borrowing before 2008. Live your life without credit. I bet you'll find you can do it AND sleep better at night.

JC himself (not the Jemser the biblical JC) apparently turfed the money lenders out of the temple. I, you, we, us, all of us are the temple. The banks defiled us and almost turned us back into a third world country. Get rid of them, go back to a cash basis. Lots of people never left it and y'know they were the wise ones - living frugally and only spending what was in  the purse/pocket. Use whatever talent you have (and we all have different talents, different types of intelligence) to do something you like doing and maybe earn a crust at it too or get some non monetary reward that you'd like for it. Bartering I suppose. Will I start a revolution?

A friend of mine grabbed his unemployment situation by the horns and wrote a play with some friends , they acted, directed and formed a production comapny to hustle the finances - they pulled together doing something they loved. I don't know if they broke even on it but the point is they DID it, thus putting something new on a CV and, learning the business on the way.

'Nuff about the state of the nation - it'll ease up and the sky hasn't fallen in yet. Believe in that and stop your worrying. After all my ruminations my lovely walk I popped into the Vde P shop in Malahide and retail therapied myself for half an hour. Retail therapy is so guilt free in any of the charity shops! And so to Rush library - it's as quiet as a church here (it is an old church!) and the sun is streaming through the stained glass windows, the ambience so peaceful and suitable for reading or writing. I'll sit and write quite happily here for another few hours. ONE THOUSAND WORDS....no messin'!

Chat again soon...and remember - chattin' and flirtin' make the world go round so keep this great world spinnin'!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Son#2 and an electronic snakebite........

We had a brilliant day today. Jemser, myself and son#2 set off for Gowran in Co Kilkenny to visit the reptile village there  http://reptilevillage.net/. My men love snakes and lizards and scary things, I'm not as enamored but I must admit when the lovely keeper put a magnificent albino python around my neck I was impressed. I couldn't get over how soft and sensuous the skin was - and the weight of it!

Son #2 was in his element going from tank to tank and telling us all sorts of details about the creatures that he had picked up on the net or from the holy grail that is QI. He got to touch and hold snakes, lizards, tortoises and other yokes with four legs and scaly skin! There are even a few crocodiles - not for touching, natch!

 An enormous Barn Owl (my personal favourite, ye all know my obsession with wise old Owls) surveys all from a viewing gallery where there there is an area where smaller children can colour in pictures of the animals they have seen. There is an small equipped indoor play area for smaller children and an indoor picnic area. Tea, coffee and snacks from machines are available. The staff are incredible, kind and patient with both hysterical adults and curious kids; they are very well informed on what they do.

So we saw all there was to see and son#2 took loads and loads of photos. As we had our picnic he was checking them out deciding which ones he could post to Facebook when he got home. We had a row (mock) when he deleted one I took (apparently it wasn't good enough). It was nice y'know. We rarely do things as a family now - I would have loved to  have visited a place like the Reptile village during the holidays when both lads were small. It's a little over an hour from Dublin and it's a very reasonably priced day out. It's suitable for all ages. Great to see someone turning a hobby as a kid into a passion into a business. This place deserves all our support and encouragement, it is tiny businesses like it that bring life and commerce back into our towns and villages.

Anyway we got home and I asked son#2 to email me the photos.
     'Sure' sez he, whipping out the iPod, thumbs moving in a blur as he slid, clicked, double clicked across the screen. Then his face fell - I mean it actually FELL and his eyes filled with tears of rage and disappointment.
     'I don't believe it, I can't have....I effin' did!' . The poor bugger didn't R.T.F.M and accidentally deleted all his photos. He was devastated. That's what happens when a trigger happy kid tries to capture an electronic snake!

Sssh! Don't tell him, I'll bring him back to the village before the summer is out. Yeah, I know...I know...I'm a sap........  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

On sunshine...actually no - it should be - 'On SunShine'...no, on SUN SHINE...............

What a week! The god-forsaken bog I live on has had four days of unbroken sunshine, blue skies and warmth. It's unprecedented - at least in short-term memory it's unprecedented; and we love it - we Irish becomes even more Irish when the sun shines - in Ireland only of course. I feel like I'm on holidays with all my neighbours. We're all rambling around in shorts and strappy tops and sandals - and that's only the men! Even the older lady who normally walks up the road wrapped up like Michelin Man has been spotted sitting outside her front door stripped down to cardigan, blouse and skirt and ...drumroll...NO TIGHTS!  

It started on bank holiday Monday - it was a gorgeous day after a disappointing Saturday and Sunday which were dry but dull and still a little chilly. So when I woke to the sun I plonked myself out the back garden with books and newpapers and read and dozed my way through the day. Well, that's what bank holidays are for. Then came Tuesday and whaddya know - the sun was still shining. Y'can't do any housework on a sunny day (Housewives Commandments No 5) so out to the garden again with me - this time I did actually take a break from sunbathing to walk the dog and cook a dinner (not at same time natch!). Wednesday - S.L.O.D.G -still sunny! I started to feel guilty over spending another day in the garden so bought a few plants and did a little weeding to ease my Irish Catholic guilty conscience over actually enjoying myself doing Sweet Fanny Adams.

Today is Thursday and I had an appointment to meet an illustrator in Malahide for a series of books I have planned for HRH The Story Queen. I couldn't believe it - the sun was still shining; I've decided it's shining because I decided not to go to the Continent on hols this year . God must've looked down and said 'That poor woman - I better send a few rays her way.'

I walked to Malahide; it was a beautiful morning to walk along the Estuary - drinking in the beauty of Nature on my doorstep. I got on like a house on fire with the illustrator - she's brilliant and on my wave-length so I think we may be poised for WORLD DOMINATION. Or at least 26 county saturation! I walked back to Swords after the meeting marveling to myself that this is now what I call work. Work! Hah!

Tomorrow I'm into Fighting Words in the a.m. and have a Story Queen date with a five year old in the p.m. Oh and yeah - the sun is supposed to shine all weekend as well........I may never leave Ireland again.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Tyrone Guthrie Centre

Well – this week finds me yet again in my second house/home. And the beauty about being in this enormous rambling creaky old house for brief (too brief) a period is that here I have no bills to worry about, no meals to prepare or beds to make, no cleaning to be done, no washing – endless bloody washing to be put on, put out, taken in, sorted and redistributed; then the whole bloody cycle starts again.

I love this place. I love the people who work here. I love the laughter with them - the slagging and the inevitable smutty chat. Smuttiness is good. Almost as good as flirting.  Flirting and laughing and smutty talk make the world go round.

 I love the silence and the space. I love the erudite conversation and hilarious discourse around the table at the evening meal. I love the food. Good food. Great food. Almost as good as sex food. Even almost as good as chocolate food!

This time I’m billeted in the Morning Room where I write with a morning cuppa for an hour or so. I don’t know why it’s called the Morning Room as the sun never quite reaches it at any time of day. After breakfast I take a stroll, the length of which depends on how well the work is going. So far it’s been going well. After another hour or two I take another break. Maybe wander down to the sitting room (where I sprawl as I’m writing this) and gaze at the lake which can be either still and eerily flat or glint with dancing sunshine. I am quiet. The house is quiet. The silence here is really extraordinary – it has a quality to it I have never felt (heard?) anywhere else – not even in my beloved Donegal. They say the earth hums in B flat. Well, the Big House definitely hums a different note.   

At lunchtime I might run into one or other of the guests who are here – one’s rarely bored with people staying in Annamak – all with fascinating tales to tell. Someone should write a book set in this place. A good old murder mystery maybe – g’wan all you crime-writers out there – double dare ye!  The house is an ideal place in which to set a ghost story – and the story of the ghost in one of the rooms here invariably comes up. People believe what they want to believe – its called faith.

The early afternoon I dedicate to a little thinking and reading, then try to write for another two hours. Then dinner. Oh! Annamak dinners! Depending on what stage people are at there might be long chats over glasses of wine. Or, as happened on my first night her, a few songs from musicians – what voices they had! What songs they knew – wonderful. On another occasion some years ago there was an art exhibition and story reading from other guests.

When we wind up for the evening I sometimes stroll in the grounds or if I have some detail on my mind return to the desk and write again. I give no time to mundane tasks – barring showering of course! In Annamak I simply am.

The other Evelyn Walsh will be back here next week.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

No more rushin' around.......

The beauty of early retirement is that for the first time in your life you have lots of time to do all the things you always said you wanted to do but never had either the time or the money. It can also be the worst thing. The cold gray short days in the six weeks after Christmas nearly drove me insane. I wasn't able to write and the course I wanted to do was delayed in starting up so I had a lot of time on my hands. I cleaned everything that stood still, then started on the things that move occasionally (the men in my life!). I read until my eyes were sore and found there is never anything but rubbish on the blasted screen in the corner. My hands started cramping from knitting and it was too wet and cold for me to garden - anyway there isn't much to do in that period. I even resorted to going to the gym.

Just when I thought I could stand it no more and was considering buying paint to paint walls that didn't particularly need painting Ireland did what Ireland always does; she threw me several days together of hard bright winter sunshine. O Joy! I got out of bed early every day and walked the feet off myself in all the lovely coastal villages that you find in Fingal, my favourite being the coastal path that runs from Malahide to Portmarnock. People were smiling at each other and I heard greetings of 'isn't it a grand day' and 'great day thank God' over and over again. I even managed to get some washing almost dried out in the fresh air! In February! They say a lot of medics take vitamin D pills all winter or use those seasonally affected disorder lamps to reduce the mental health problems that a shortage of daylight seems to cause. I think I'll follow that regime myself next year.

Anyway today I was walking in Rush, a lovely little seaside village that sits on the coastline. It was absolutely Baltic and as the library wasn't open when I finished my walk I stopped into a little restaurant and coffee shop called The Thatch on the main street. I was their only customer at that hour and I settled myself and my paper into a table by the fire. A friendly young man brought me a latte and a scone to die for. The scone was just out of the oven and of course I ladled on the butter, the jam and the double cream - thus negating the benefits (fat wise) of my brisk walk. I noticed that they had a good lunch and evening meal menu and I will certainly go back at some stage to sample those menus.

And so to the library to work. I'm working on a new ghost-writing project just now and a few short stories as I'm struggling with my second novel. I've put it to one side for the moment and may or may not go back to it - the beauty of being your own boss! The library closes for lunch which is a bit of a nuisance but I sat in my car and had a sandwich then went for another walk, calling into the charity shop where I picked up some more than serviceable garments, a cushion (don't tell Jemser - cushions do his head in) and a little giraffe ornament for my collection. The things people throw away! Lots of the clothes looked as if they had only been worn once or twice. This will be remembered as the throw-away period of history. Back for another few hours writing and a bit of a chat with a nice young man who, like me. had to leave his house in order to ensure he did some work. Didn't work though - we both ended up wasting time talking. Chats are lovely though and, yes, I know I'm not supposed to talk in the library!