Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Last Summer

I went to the Gate theatre with the Jemser last night to see 'The Last Supper' - a new play by Declan Hughes. I didn’t know what to expect. Declan has written a number of plays over the years none of which I have seen and more recently he has taken to writing thrillers set in Dublin which have been well received. Declan co-founded Rough Magic Theatre Company in 1984 and directed many of the company's productions.

Anyway the play is set in two time periods one in August 1977 and one 30 years later in August 2007. Four lads from the south side of Dublin await the results of their Leaving Certificate in 1977. They are in a band – the band is about to give its first (and as it happens its only) performance. It is a summer of exploring ideas, their sexuality, of fun and wonderment about the future. The world awaits them - one lad is a dreamer, one determined to make money, one running from his dysfunctional family. There is a girl involved (isn’t there always). In 2007 we again meet three of the men and the woman – all now in their late forties and life has happened to all of them.

It’s not a terribly original play but I’m not into experimental theatre anyway and I thoroughly enjoyed it as did Jemser. We both thought the second act much stronger than the first mainly down to the presence of Gary Lydon as the  adult character of the lad who was determined to make money. He has made money, lots of it, from the Celtic Tiger – which is just about going to come crashing down about his ears. Really strong performance. For us the play was nostalgic – more so for me. I did my Leaving Cert in 1978 and a lot of the pop culture references resonated with me - although I wasn't into it at the time I couldn't help but notice it.

The play reminded me of the blog I posted in the summer of 2011 re my own young man  - link here . I hope his journey through life doesn’t leave him as faintly disappointed as many of the characters in last nights play were by their own lives.

Anyway – it’s a good night’s theatre particularly if you were a teenager in the late Seventies, early Eighties. It’s running until  for another few weeks. Go see.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Pet Day.......and a Competition!.

Yesterday was a glorious day in Ireland. A glorious week for the most part. And boy did we make the most of it, The children were back at school but as soon as they arrived home they changed into shorts and tee shirts and headed out to play We on the East coast have been basking in temperatures in the twenties and the weather has been settled and mild.

Brother#2 reectly took a ten month lease on a house on a beach in Wesford so I drove down with Oscie and Liam and Mollie to have a lok. The spin from Dublin to Wexgfor is lovely particiularly when you go through Wicklow. It was lovely to see all the bales of hay lying uncovered in the fields to help them dry out after a somewhat sodden summer. Speaking of which - my haiku on wrapped bales in Donegal fields is below.

Crow pecked, white x’d bale:
Gleaming plastic buddhas in
rosary-beaded field.

We  arrived at lunchtime and as soon as the lads had togged themselves up they went straight down to the beautiful unspoiled little beach with dog and ball in tow. After a swim in the Irish Sea (which was suprisingly warm) a vigourous game of football was played. Mollie went into a frenzy trying to keep up, I sat up outside the house with Dad chatting and enjoying the sun. After about an hour I walked down steps to the beach conscious that Liam had no sun cream on him. He is so fair-skinned even a half an hour leaves him sun burned. As it happens they were heading back to the house ad because Molly had been in swimming and running around like a whirling dervish on the beach she was completely shattered. She actually couldn't stand! We had to lift her and carry her back to the house.There is loads of space and light in the house and it not only sits on the beach , it is adjacent to a golf course so is slice of heaven for those who enjoy swimming, walking and golfing.

After we ate we went back to the beach to walk its length. Molly was rested by then and was happy to join us. We ran into four other Bicho Freise. What do you call a collection of Bichons? A Bubble of Bichons?a Yip? Prize for the most original title! But the prize is only a copy of my novel 'The Heron's Flood.' Still, there might be an ul' aunt you'd like to give a good read to for Chrimbo (see I mentioned the C word ...and the sky didn't fall in) Dusk was gathering so we started to walk back to the house. the moon came up, it was in a spectacular last quarter and it hung low in the sky like a gigantic slice of lemon.

A pet day. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Thalidomide and the death of a dream..

German based pharmaceutical company Gruenenthal issued an apology - the first in fifty years- to those whose lives were affected by taking the drug designed to counteract morning sickness to the late fifties. This drug was prescribed up to 1961 when it was withdrawn. More than 10,000 babies worldwide were born with limbs missing or foreshortened because their mothers had taken the thalidomide drug. Goodness knows how many miscarried. Of course the babies themselves are the chief sufferers as they grew to adulthood; many never reached adulthood, but mothers fathers siblings and extended families - all their lives were touched too because of a defect in the drug. Scandalously it continued to be prescribed long after doctors had notified the company of their concerns

Listening to the debate on radio/tv/social media about this apology this weekend brought it home to me the tragedy that befell my parents in April 1960. Mam and Dad married in 1959 and were delighted to find they were expecting a baby very shortly after their honeymoon. They were both in their early twenties, he a Garda she a shop assistant with only primary education. It was a brave new world for them. An adventure they were on together - Dad a country lad while Mam hailed from the sophistication of Marino in Dublin. On the 15th of April 1960 they were walking up Griffith Avenue towards their new home in Willow Park Crescent in Ballygall (then Finglas, then Ballymun now Glasnevin!!) chatting about the visit they had just had with Mam's parents and laughing at the antics of the new pup they had 'adopted'. Something startled the pup and she scarpered out onto the road and unfortunately was hit by a car, she died immediately. Mam was awfully upset and she felt the baby leap within her. They wrapped the dog in a bag and carried it home to bury it.

It was three or four days before Mam realised that she hadn't felt the baby move. She'd leave it another day. She couldn't be bothering the doctors with imaginings. Sure she was only seven months - it might be normal for the baby to settle down and be quieter in the last few months. She had no information barring what she could glean from hushed conversations between her mother and neighbours, she was the first of her girlfriends to marry, her older sister was married but living in the States. She was a complete innocent. On the fifth day of stillness in her womb she took herself to the GP who immediately referred her to the Rotunda Hospital. There it was confirmed that there was no heartbeat.

It was the practise at the time to wait to see would Mother Nature take her course and when she didn't labour was induced on April 25th . To have knowingly carried a dead baby inside her must have been so frightening and horrific - no counsellors then! The baby was whisked away and my Mother never saw her first son. She was never allowed hold him, never really allowed grieve My Father was allowed see his dead son and all he ever said was 'She was better off not knowing.' The baby was buried in the Angels plot in Glasnevin Cemetery - stuck in Limbo forever according the Catholic doctrine of the time. Poor little soul! Poor sad parents. They believed for years that the shock Mam had received when the dog died had in some way startled the baby in here womb. In later years Dad did say that the baby had been thalidomide and had decomposed somewhat in the ten days.

God love them - those two youthful souls - their little piece of Paradise ruined. It must've made them grow up very quickly  It is no wonder my arrival eleven months later meant total unparalleled joy for them. Mam said she never ever took her eyes off me. I'd well believe it for in my mind's eye I can still see that face, all smiles and laughter leaning in over my cot to greet me. Her smiling face. The first face I loved. Poor old Dad didn't get a look in in the love fest between the two of us! He must have been so happy to see her restored to some semblance of the carefree girl he had married two years previously.

With the passing of time  we can look at our parents' past and see the events that shape them and us. When we are living an experience we only have the now - and it is only later with the wisdom of hindsight and the mellowing of years that we can see, analyse and forgive all the shortcomings perceived or real of our forbears.

Sleep soundly big brother, wherever your little soul wanders. I grew up hearing all about you. You were loved even though you may not have had life outside the womb. I would love to have met you. It is ironic that thirty years later to the day she gave birth to you my mother found herself again in a hospital - this time at my bedside following my first traumatic mental health hospitalization. Dates had huge significance for Mam - it shows that she never ever forgot her son. Her real first child.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

The last chick..........

A nice short post for a change. I'm wrecked. Son #2 starts secondary school tomorrow. He can't wait, I'll post a picture of him in his big boys uniform, he is embracing the whole nerve wracking experience wholeheartedly. I'm sad for me, a little nervous for him but delighted to have seen him blossom socially this summer. He is a really nice young man. A boy people like to spend time with. One of the neighbours commented 'you could go for a pint with that fella and learn something!' His classmates in school used to say 'Liam - tell us something we don't know!' And he would - for example a pea is neither a fruit nor a vegetable it is a legume (don't ask). He is a font of such random knowledge mostly garnished from QI or Top Gear - his favourite shows.

After Dr Who of course. He is a Dr Who fanatic and claims what we all think is a drama series is actually what he knows as a documentary. So I am officially redundant. I'll only be grunted at from now on and will be reduced to the meal making laundry washing female in his life. Scratch the meal making - Jemser does that now. I'd actually give them all a crash course on the washing machine but I know son#1 would put the machine on for one pair of jeans and that just wrecks my head as well as the environment and my pocket.

Now what am I going to do with the rest of my life? Answers via comment below please..............  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Beauty and Beast of a creative mind

I spent some time today with a fellow writer. Someone who has had a really rough couple of years and is struggling - with family responsibilities, sickness, aging parents, personal relationships and of course in today's Ireland - financial constraints.

My friend is a beautiful woman. A woman with a beautiful mind. A woman with an incredible talent. She is caring, charismatic and empathetic. But she's stretched. With everything that has happened in her life she finds it extremely difficult to find/make/take time to create. And here is the paradox of having a creative mind. Whatever the discipline - music, literature, dance, visual - it's not just a job, a career or a hobby - it is your very reason for living. And if you do not tend that creativity it shrivels up and sours you inside - leaving you as an empty shell - functioning yes but all the time knowing you are not doing what you should be doing. Your raison d'etre.

Having a talent for something is both a wonder and a curse. A wonder because when you unearth your talent it gives you a direct line to the sublime. It is the greatest kick you will ever get in your life - better than the first rush you get when you're falling in love, better than feeding whatever addiction you have. Divine. It makes you happy.

It can also make you bloody miserable because sometimes the work isn't going the way you want it to go or you thought it would go. What you thought was fabulous, shining and full of passion when you were writing it turns out to be turgid crap. You're carving out minutes for yourself to work between tending to the needs of others and can begin to resent the fact that you cannot spend all your time on feeding your creativity. Then you feel guilty for feeling that resentment. When I write I feel I am indulging myself because, let's face it, the world doesn't give a shit whether I use the gift given me (if it is in fact given or innate) or not. I tend to think that I should be doing something with my family, earning more money to help them or even cleaning the bloody house. The curse of the Irish Mammy! The creative mind can be a very lonely place - it is hard to explain to others the  way it works. Most creative ventures need solitude, listening to the sound of silence, intererpreting what you see/hear, you become quite intense and driven, shutting out family, friends work colleagues everyday life. The self-doubt can be crippling and don't get me started on the procrastination!

And yet - you are blessed with it. This desire to create something that can explain the world as you see it to others. No matter what happens - whether your work gets delayed for a time because of logistical reasons or needs to be left to brew until it can be made better (note the way stew is always nicer on the second day!)- it will still be there when you have the time to return to it. Then you can dive right in and rewrite, rewrite rewrite until it is as good as you can make it.

So I told my friend she should be nice to herself. Breathe, read, laugh enjoy family moments and stop worrying about things over which she have no control. Love herself. Be mindful of the moment - it works.

Now if only I could take my own advice!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Diary of Liam and Oscar etcetera etcetera blog #3

It’s too bloody hot. And Liam got burned day before yesterday. Despite factor 60 his shoulders still went mad red and VERY SORE. So he wouldn’t go to the pool. So we had to sit in and watch Jeremy Kyle. Which is hilairious.

Evelyn says it’s depressing. Not the hot thing – the Jeremy Kyle thing ‘Spose if you are her age and are looking at all these sad mostly losers it might be. But we think it’s hilarious. Mainly because most of these people have these mad problems about sex. Or rather their supposed-to-be partners having sex with others-who-are-not-them. Sex is hilarious. Even more hilarious than farts and silly names for parts of your body that nobody likes talking about. Although the proper names are even more hilarious than the silly ones.  Shewhomustbeobeyed says we are not to list the names here – either proper or silly; but you all know them. Shewhoetc. is weird – we’re saying all these names and she is googling them looking for the etymology of the word so she can understand it and worse – make us understand it. Etymology – what’s the etymology of that? This is our life at the moment. Jeremy Kyle and mad words. Edumacation.

Another good programme is Cupcake Wars. Yep. These mad Yanks have contests to be the official cupcake maker for some event or other. These eejits are passionate about cupcakes. Cup-bloody-cakes says Evelyn and people starving on the planet. Yep. One of those moods – all because we didn’t move our breakfast bowls. Anyway she’ll have a kip in the sun while we watch something else (there really is only the pool and the tv – no other kids, no SHOP!!). Glee. Desperate Housewives. Liam likes the History Channel – well some programmes, mostly war stuff.

She’s making us WALK to the beach later. Oscar brought it up on his phone and it is 2.7km away – like, that’s down and back from Swords village from the house in Rathbeale ALL IN THE ONE GO. Then we’ll have to walk back again. We wish she’d hire a car but she says she’d be too nervous on the roads. EVELYN!! NERVOUS!! We think last year’s holiday in Wales was better because there was more stuff to do and it wasn’t so hot. Still, it’s better than school!!

See yiz soon


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Diary of Liam (12 'n a 1/3) and Oscar (12 'n a 1/4) from Campo Sol in Torrevieja, Spain blog #2

You may notice a small change in the style of writing as this blog is actually being WRITTEN BY LIAM AND OSCAR. So there will probably be a lot less ''Jeez'' and possibly a few more immature jokes. The blog hasn't been updated since Monday so here's a quick recap.
Pool, pool, pool, walk to the shops a.k.a murder, SUNBURN ON LIAM'S SHOULDERS AHH IT HURTS! Evelyn's just told us that she wont stand for misspelling, o plz, weee wudent du dat ma nd anti-kinz.   

We moved into the apartment we're using for the rest of the holiday yesterday and it's much better because its got floaty noodle things for the pool which is very deep. Apparently most of you (aka those over the age of 8) will stop reading this if I don't mention some sad books so here's a list. Gravedigger's Daughter, Charlotte Grey, Birdsong, and The Little Matchgirl by Hans Christen Andersen.
 I don't know what to talk about now......zzzzz oh yeah!

... other than that massive dinosaur we saw in the park and how he played Texas Hold 'Em with us. And also the brown bear that we wrestled to death. That was cool. I'm sure Evelyn will blog for us later. Don't believe her though, IT'S ALL LIES. LIES I TELL YOU!  

 We love you Evelyn you're ever so kind and we love how you tell the truth all the time xmwah mwah mwah!

Shewhomustbeobeyed says we are merely manipulative. Dunno - we aren't particularly good with our hands


Monday, June 18, 2012

Diary of Liam (12 'n a 1/3) and Oscar (12 'n a 1/4) from Campo Sol in Torrevieja, Spain blog#1

We're back! Almost a year older and twice as brainy ( Evelyn says cheeky - but this is our blog, so....)

We decided as we're almost teenagers that a sun holiday should really be the thing this year. Not. We had no say in it. Shewhomustbeobeyed just tells us what the story is and that's that. She usually does an ok job on arrangements etc so we kinda trust her.

Anyway we left a VERY GREY Dublin this morning and arrived into a VERY GREY Alicante. Evelyn was not amused. And it even rained a little on the journey from the airport to the apartment complex. But it was really really warm so at least that sort of cheered her up. Actually how the hell can she be cheered up when she spent the whole plane ride reading a book called 'The Gravedigger's Daughter'? We asked her what it was about ( barring the obvious daughter of the gravedigger ) and she told us it was too depressing. After page 180 everyone belonging to the gravedigger's daughter was gone/dead and she was all alone in the world. PULLEESE! This woman is supposed to be on her holidays and she is reading about death, murder, violence, hatred insanity and the cruelty of human beings towards each other. And not even a drink in her hand to make it all easier to read about. She decided to abandon that book as not suitable to her frame of mind and instead tonight she is curled up reading ...wait for it... 'The Virgin Suicides'. We'd worry about her if we weren't already a little concerned for our own welbeing. We may have to pretend we are not with her at the pool.

Speaking of pools - the one in the complex is gorgeous. It's small but quite deep so we had great fun. We're in one apartment for tonight and tomorrow night and will be moving to our proper place on Wednesday SOMEONE MESSED UP THE ARRANGEMENTS. And it wasn't Liam. Or Oscar. But at least we're not in the hostel in downtown Alicante which is where the person who is supposed to be protecting us was trying to incarcerate us first. Jeez. We never would have slept.  The nice woman across the lane from us here ( with two lovely little dogs - a bichon and a maltese) was horrified that we even contemplated it. The apartment is nice - not as nice as our mobile last year but it is clean so the Mammy with us is reasonably satisfied.

Only drawback is it is about a fifteen minute walk across some waste ground to get to a supermarket and then we had to carry LOADS of shopping back with herself. Our arms were longer when we came home than they were when we went out and Oscar reckons he has blisters. Liam moaned for Ireland and Spain and HE HAD THE EASIEST JOB!! Evelyn wouldn't let us stay on our own in the apartment while she shopped - we won't be caught out on that one again!!

We expect our blogposts to have a certain adult tone this year. We are a year older you know and not as amused by childish things - like bodily functions (tee hee hee). We're sophisticated consumers now of course (like we weren't already). Liam bought a hat and Oscar a pair of sunglasses in Dublin airport. One must keep up appearances - even if it's only Evelyn we are with.

That poor bewildered woman hasn't a clue. Before dinner she landed down to the pool for a swim; she was in her togs but we had to point out to her that she still had her bra on under them. AND THEN she whipped the bloody thing off in FULL VIEW of the one other person that was there..and it was a maggoty old sweaty one.

JEEEEEEEEEEEZ! It's going to be a long week.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Let's get rid of people........

I’m quite sure that that’s what the banks, globalised industry and The Markets have decided. Or maybe it's just 'let’s get rid of the little people'. People who save money in jars. People who won’t use an automated coin counter because of the high commission rate. People who like to interact with other people. Me.

I saved over €300 in coins since Christmas – it is spending money for a week in the sun with son#2 and nephew supreme. A week away from Irish weather. We opened the stash and counted it, bagged it carefully and I set off to turn it into notes.


My bank doesn’t ‘do’ cash. Not even as a lodgement. They have contracted all cash dealings to the Post Office. An Post can look after those plebs who sully their hands with coins and notes. Banks seem to operate for people who have so much money they don't need actual cash.   So I toddled off to my local Post Office where I was met by a machine with an automated menu from which one should choose a service. But changing coins into notes wasn’t on the list and it didn’t fit into any other category so I pressed Other Services. I got my ticket. I waited.

As I waited a cry of frustration came from an elderly gentleman standing in front of another machine that dispenses stamps for letters and parcels – it has an automated weighing service etc. An Post must be heading away from people too. Another customer - a dreadlocked nose-ringed young man - went and helped the older man to use the machine.

‘I pressed every button,’ the old man said, ‘every bloody button – and nothing happened. It kept sending me back to that bloody Main Menu. I've no stamps or money now.’ His voice quavered and one could see the bewilderment in his eyes. He is lost in a world of machines – machines that chew up his money and won't explain why.Nahnahnehnehneh. It must surely feel as if Big Brother has truly arrived . (Yes I know I’m exaggerating – bear with me, it was a frustrating day).

‘I only wanted a bloody stamp.’ The old man said as his dreadlocked noseringed saviour smiled and handed him his stamps and his change.

‘It’s not easy,’ said the younger man.

‘You said it son you said it.’

My number was called and I plopped my coins on the desk ( all correctly bagged I might add). The very-nice-young-man told me he couldn’t change them for me.

’But you handle cash for my bank!’ I said.

‘Ah well, in that case you have to lodge it,’ he said.

‘And probably pay a fee,’ I said. He shrugged. I sighed and rooted for my chequebook to get a credit slip. 

No cheque book.

 ‘Sorry’ I said, defeated by rules I didn’t know.

I put all my coins back into my bag and marched home again. I would take the coins on hols with me if I could but we’re flying Ryanair and they’d probably surcharge me.

In the greater scheme of things this is only a minor irritation. But then I had to contact our Internet/tv provider about an error in the bill and spent an hour and a half trying to navigate my way through an automated greeting menu in order to speak to a real live person.  Once I talked to the person all was well but sweet lamb of divine god I was totally frustrated at the end of it and when I got off the phone I had to rant about bloody companies squeezing every last penny out of you. Hence this post.

I'm convinced all these institutions are trying to force all us ordinary Joes and Joesephines to stay in our homes and only communicate with each other via the net. We'll be like bees in a hive, ants in their hills. If banks can make a simple procedure like lodging coin as complicated as possible then everyone will eventually be forced to sit in front of a computer screen to do basic tasks. Then, slowly slowly catchee monkey the little tentacles of The Markets will sucker their way into our lives, targeting us for marketing and managing the herd, keeping us in our boxes. Deffo Big Brother.
But - be warned all you people (are they people? Maybe they're aliens) behind desks in soaring skyscrapers with profit margins as your driving force. Greed kills. One day someone, somewhere will snap - like Michael Douglas in Falling Down - and run amok. Maybe a whole bunch of us frustrated little people will break out of the coraal into which you are shoving us. And woe betide you when we do.  

Monday, June 4, 2012

He's almost there......

Last summer I blogged about son#1 and his seventeeth summer. About how it would be the summer he will remember for the rest of his life. A summer of being care free and loving it, of girls and football, of music and friends. Realistically his last childhood summer.

This summer will be his first adult summer. He left school last week and is facing into his Leaving Cert, starting the day after tomorrow. He cannot wait be done with it – to get to college, to work and earn his own money; to spread his wings and soar. When Seamai (son#1) was seven years old he wrote a lovely little essay called 'If I were a Butterfly…' in which he wrote about flying as high and as far as he could, about not staying in one dull place all the time, flying to Brazil was mentioned. It was about shining.  I remember him bringing the essay home, thrilled because his beloved teacher told him it was wonderful. It still is wonderful. I'm proud of him, so proud. Jemser and I instilled that into him. Self-belief, confidence, that desire to soar, to shine, to own the world. Or perhaps even way back then he just wanted to get away from us!! No matter. Whatever his motive when he wrote his excellent little esssay I hope he achieves his wish and fulfils his enormous potential.

I recognised the adult in Seamai some years back and that fine adult has now emerged fully formed - he still has blips (Christ, don't we all!). I wish that, at eighteen, I had been half as mature as he is now. I can safely let him off. Once we (parents and child) get through these particular exams our relationship is totally different. We are three adults. And I like the other adults in that relationship. I love them. I always will.

I'll be decked for blogging about him. I don't care. I'll tell the world about him - I've been telling the world about him since I told them all at tea break when I was five minutes pregnant. My son, my son. 

Shine, Seamai -shine.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Flirtin' in the sunshine.........

The sun is shining in Dublin since yesterday and it has caused major chaos. You see the sun makes us Irish happy because it is a rare visitor and when it deigns to shine on this godforsaken bog we all go slightly baloobas. We start smiling at each other, and of course smiling at each other ramps up the game and we start flirting with each other and absolutely no work gets. We should all be given the day off when the sun shines in Ireland. Will we have a referendum on it? I betcha it would be passed with a resounding YES!!

 Yiz know my theory on flirtin' don't you? No? Well, I reckon flirtin' makes the world go round, keeps humanity sane and above all hopeful. Without hope all is hopeless, (amn't I fierce profound!). I learned to flirt at my mother's knee. Mam was the best flirt I ever met and she couldn't resist it and nobody could resist her. And d'y'know what - it works. When we flirt with someone it cheers us up, a little pep in our step. Well, it does me anyway. I give the poor barista in Starbucks in the Pavilions a terrible time. He is a deadly flirt and he makes me laugh every time I go in. He should be bottled and distributed to all instead of Prozac. Thank you Mr Barista (the Italian (I think) fella) for making my days!

I told him my flirtin' makes the world go round theory - not sex, not power, not money.
 'Are you sure it's not the other thing?' he asked.
'Positive.' sez I firmly, 'All them other things cause trouble. A bit of flirtin' never hurt anyone.'
'Y'know. You are right' sez he.

'Course I'm right. Mammy is always right.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The story that never wins anything....

I love this story but it's never been successful for me (I'd say it's too sentimental - my old fault) and I now regretfully have to consign it to the rubbish bin. But I thought I'd give it a last little chance of life - so over to you dear reader.

In These Shoes

            She sat for a while. Looked. Listened. It was thirty years since she had been to the city and it had changed - utterly. So many people. Busy, confident, attractive looking people.
 It did not look like Dublin anymore.
 She manoeuvred her wheelchair into the heaving shopping centre and with the instinct of a bassett hound trundled towards the shoe shop she wanted. As the shop window came into focus her heart started doing the Siege Of Ennis. She stopped, gasped in admiration.
A single suspended shoe was on display. A floating shoe. Shiny patent ruby red with a winklepicker toe and a treacherously spiked heel.
Shoes to do damage in.
Sexy shoes.
Racy shoes.
In these shoes she thought she might once again dance a tango. She could close her eyes and a straight-backed young man in a pristine white shirt and well pressed black trousers would hold her, lead her tease her; glide her across a highly polished wooden floor in time to music that filled her completely.
She watched her reflection in the plate glass window and superimposed on the elderly overweight solitary figure fumbling beneath the chair for her purse she saw a pretty girl. A pretty girl with laughing eyes and wavy dark hair. She sighed for the 4711 smell of the spirited girl; thought of her wavy dark hair,  that tight-bodiced full-skirted rose printed dress and longed for just one more day on those shapely legs in the sheerest of nylon stockings. Her arthritic knuckles found the much handled ad from a magazine. Unfolding it she laughed aloud. Yes! These shoes, the one in the window, the ones in the magazine.
Jimmy Choo shoes.
Soon to be her shoes.
Her heart was pounding - harder than it should, and she fleetingly wondered was she having a heart attack.
No matter. If she were to die they’d know – they’d all know - to bury her with her shoes on.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Irish weather and magic of the Hawthorn

Ireland is weather. It doesn't do climate, you may well (particularly in what passes for spring and summer) have glorious sunshine (very far away sun tho') then rain/wind and possibly sleet or snow for a brief spell before the whole damn unpredictability starts again.

I decided years ago to stop giving out about the weather. I have absolutely no control over it - nor does anyone I love/hate/vote for/work with/live with/etc/etc. But, I'm Irish - it's a national conversation - God knows why, imagine the conundrums of the world we could solve if we didn't have to spend so much time considering, discussing and dissing the weather. I have a feeling we might well be invincible. Because if the Irish weather hadn't us all in a perpetual state of depression then nothing ever will. It is unreliable, capricious, fickle and every other word you never came across for downright irritating. Perhaps the reason we/they are renowned world wide as being capricious, fickle, unreliable  etc...but adored all the same. Bring Paddy to the party - nothing gets him down.

Oh Lord! An Irish sunny day in any season is something to gladden the heart, quicken the pulse; and make one quite glad to simply be breathing.

The reason for this glasnost of hyperbole in relation to our climate/weather today  is the fact I think that in Dublin today that autumnal/winter chill is finally leaching away from the air (thank god for my heating bills!) It is about six weeks later than it ought - but still, there is definitely a hint of Summer in the air this Sunday.

I'm propped up in the leaba in my north facing bedroom writing this. The sky outside is grey (light grey but still threatening). The hawthorn in next-door's garden is in full glorious boom - magnificent. My early clematis is winding its way through the hedge and the weigelia - which is just about to burst into bloom. I can see many roofs from my position but I can also see trees and hills in the distance - on said hills I see a field of rape, it gleams like a far away Eden every time the sun pops weakly through cloud to highlight it.

Yes, summer is in the offing. And y'know - I think it'll be a good one. It'll be one I'll embrace anyway - no matter if it only lasts one day. Join me in celebrating it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why I write.......

Back to the blog after a short hiatus. I was involved in an amateur production of the female version of ‘The Odd Couple’ by Neil Simon and life was hectic for a few weeks. Anyway, curtain pulled for the last time on Friday last so back to the ordinary madness of my life.

I’ve written very little for the last few months – I have been collaborating on a project with a songwriter friend, the very talented Karen Coleman. Remember where you heard her name first folks – it will be extremely well known soon. Between that, the play, working and vaguely trying to run a home is it any wonder I’m shattered.

I lay awake the other night wondering why in the name of the Universe did I do it to myself? I’m exhausted to the point of bringing on insomnia. I mean I could easily stop writing – it’s not as if the world was holding its breath waiting to see what I’ll write next. I could go back to work full-time thus throwing an extra couple of hundred into the family purse every month. I could chill in the evenings in my garden from Spring to Autumn. In winter I could curl up (guiltfree) with a book by the fire. I might even (heaven forbid) start talking to Jemser again; out on long boozy nights in some hostelry where we sort out all the conundrums of the universe – at least I do, all he has to do is pretend to listen, secretly wondering what happened to him at that last hole in Corballis.

Last year at Listowel Writers’ Week I took part in a workshop facilitated by the lovely Marina Carr, playwright extraordinaire. At one stage Marina said
‘Why do we do it? I mean nobody really gives a s**t.’ I came out with the stock answer,
 ‘Because we have to.
 ‘No. We think we have to.’ Marina replied, Marina is an intellectual – someone who thinks deeply on all matters and then puts her thoughts into the speech and movements of her characters thus producing some of the finest plays this country has seen. I respect her opinions and I've pondered over what she said for almost a year. BTW Listowel Writers Week 2012 starts Wednesday May 30th and if you haven't paid them a visit yet make it a 'must' on your calendar. A fantastic week with like minded people in the welcoming atmosphere of Listowel - the drink flows too! I can't go this year and I think I'll probably go into a decline! Dublin Writers Weeek is on and I'll probably attend some of those events. Listowel however beats them all for atmosphere.  

I know I don’t have to write– on one level – yet something drives me. I don’t know. My mother would have called it God given – any talent is innate I suppose, but unless you practise, use that talent; it will fade. If I lost the ability to tell stories in the way I choose through any fault of my own  e.g. not writing or by procrastinating for too long then I think it would be the nearest thing to a sin against God, Nature, The Universe – what ever.

When I was nominated for the Hennessy Award for first fiction some years ago a friend of Jemser’s (and my friend too I hope!) – Galway poet Gerard Hanberry - sent me a text telling me of a writer son who came proudly to his writing father with his first small success – Dad congratulated son then said ‘Welcome to Hell’. I laughed when I read it  but believe me five years later I know exactly what he meant! Ger is a poet and author of ‘More Lives than One’ a beautiful book about the family of the great Oscar Wilde, a book that is truly a labour of love. He also told me that having won the Hennessy I could never turn my back on writing. He is right, and I never will.

When I found ‘my voice’ something miraculous happened for me. Finally I fitted into the world around me. Up to that I always ached for something – not knowing what it was I ached for. I tried to fill the void with myriad things – alcohol, cigarettes, friends, family. But there was always something missing. I always wanted just one more ‘thing’ Someone very wise once asked me, in an unusual temper,just what it was that would make me happy?

I opened my mouth to retort at the time – then promptly shut it again. I had a bing moment. I was responsible for my own happiness. Nothing anyone did for me would work. I had to find it myself– that key, the key to my happiness. And find it I did and thank Heaven for it. Writing may well be thankless but it fulfils me. The world doesn’t care about it, but I do. I love it and it loves me (except when it needs a rest from me!). Best of all I’m not annoying anyone by rabbitting on all the time at a pace that no-one can keep up with, jumping from one subject to another. There are sections of Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ that remind me of my restless brain (I’m not claiming talent here!). On and on and on and on – to what end?

If technology ever advances to the point where they can scan your brain in to see what’s going on in all the thinking areas I’d love to see a printout of mine! I’d say it would be like one of  those abstract paintings – mad mad mad swirling colours. I write because it puts order on me. The black marks on the white of the page make me focus on the task at hand not meander down the many many byroads that pop up on my path to distract me from the job at hand.

Marina Carr may well be right about writers– I bow to her incredible intellect - but I, for one, KNOW that I write because I have to. It is the only medium through which I can express myself fully.

Now  - off to write………..

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mental weekends

This is a delayed posting because my back went out after the gardening and I ended up in the leaba for 48 hours - slowly crawling about now grumping and giving out and wondering where the jollity of this unpublished post is gone. Away with the absence of alcohol I suppose. Still. 'Twas worth it. A lovely loved up night out with the sisters followed by swimming with the boys (next morning!) and HRH Fingal's story Queen foolacting with kids then my beloved gardening to bring me gently down from HRH's insanity. Written  three days ago. Read on.
SLoDG - I'm knackered. My life has been mental for the last 24 hours and I am quite sure I will be asleep before my only personally essential viewing - 'Casualty' on the Beeb at nine bells. Thank technology for the ability to auto record a whole series. I can watch back-to-back episodes on whatever insomnia night I have every week.

I was out with 'de sisters' last night. We were supposed to go into town (for town read Dublin city) to celebrate Sister#2 (I'm #1) significant birthday. But we started with pints in sister #4's local hostelry the Beachcomber in Killester - one led to another and we ended up just popping next door to the 'NutHouse' (no wisecracks please - we've heard them all) for a really lovely meal. It's a trattoria type restaurant and really really good. Recommended.

Sister#2 - our reason for celebrating - and myself were the sensible elder lemons and headed home after the meal - of course our bolder young siblings, sisters#3&#4 returned to the hostelry and I have NO IDEA WHAT TIME THEY WENT HOME.  Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose!

So to bed, and an early start today (this was Saturday) - I went for a swim with son#1 and pretend son Oscie. Then a quick dash home to Swords for a change of persona ( btw check out  my pitch for Swords as the best place to live in in Ireland).

HRH the Story Queen was running about the North County all morning Saturday, a fabulous session in the the library in Malahide - where the fashion on show was superb by my young friends and I was presented with a beautiful picture of 'Hello Kitty' especially coloured in for me by one young lady who must be magic! She didn't know as she coloured her picture that I had a very stylish pair of size 8 pink Hello Kitty crocs in my bag - HRH needed advice you see as to whether they were suitable summer footwear. It was agreed a queen could get away with them - especially when she is 437 with bunions.

After Malahide The Story Queen dashed to Easons in the Pavilions in Swords - lovely new children's section, check it out. Then a quick jaunt over to Imaginarium - a heavenly place for anyone who never grew up! The lovely staff there presented HRH with Butlers chocs (fit for a Queen) despite her causing havoc - pretend duelling, trying out a red trike and touching EVERY beautiful toy/puzzle/book in the store

Pretty tired by that stage - but one must soldier on. The other me (I'm afraid to say real - because I wonder. I really do wonder!) had trees and shrubs to plant - staking of happily growing summer perennials etc etc - and it was too nice an evening to waste in sleep. I planted a 'wedding cake' tree in our front garden - in a perfectly proportioned hole dug by son#1 - he's finally becoming useful about the place, love you son#1! If my tree grows ( as son#1 said in disbelief - 'that big hole for a stick?') it will -eventually- be stunning.

I didn't cook - I thought it was safer not to at that stage  and the juniors were really quite pleased by the takeout from our local chipper.  Now sitting here, eyelids closing and perfectly aware I'm about to have the lovliest doze.

A good day - a great weekend - and I've still got tomorrow to look forward to!!

I woke up five hours later completley and utterly crippled - had to crawl up the stairs and suffered ( not silently) for almost two days.

But it was still a great weekend. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Our Judy, Jemser and the Art of Zen

Our Judy hits a significant birthday this month. My inner ‘don’t say that’ alarm has finally started to work – after donkeys’ years of embarrassing people by innocently revealing things which are - to some – private. Now I just stick all those things in my stories/novels and they have to be read to discover what page said revelation is on!

Our Judy is much quieter than me. She is also very beautiful. I was insanely jealous of her when we were growing up. When we were small, people in the neighbourhood would actually stop my mother in the street as we toddled after her and the pram which contained whoeverhappenedtobethebaby that year. They would smile at us all but their glances lingered longer on Judy. ’She’s so cute – you have to enter her into the bonny baby competition!’

So Mam did – she got someone who possessed a camera to come and take our photos and she sent one of Judy off to the ‘Pond’s Cold Cream’ sponsored competition. And our Judy won a prize! Whatever it was or where she was placed in the competition is long lost in the annals of family history but it was official - Judy was (still is) beautiful.

So my jealousy melted away or rather I accepted facts – she was officially beautiful. When we started school I became officially ‘the bright one’; although Judy’s no eejit – in fact academically she always scored higher than me – but I bullshit better! We killed each other until our late teens; hands on hair-pulling, scabbing, kicking physical fights and the incredible bitchiness of teenage girls resulting from the sheer frustration at having to live with each other’s entirely different personalities.

I’m the oldest and bossy with it and Judy baulked at the notion of being told what to do by a sibling who had been left in charge of a household teeming with kids while parents worked. I would get frustrated at having to do ‘everything’ myself because I wanted things to be nice for Mam when she came home. Judy did her chores, but in her own time and her own way. I remember saying to Mam at one stage ‘I envy Judy. She does things becsuse she wants to. I do them because I think I have to.’ So Judy got the Art of Zen long before me – she lived it.

I have been thinking a lot lately about mindfulness, of being aware of living every moment, of simply being in any particular moment, of breathing and being aware that in order to live breathing is all I have to do. Of realising that I am part of something that is infinite and that my role for now in that infinity is breathing in and out of the body that has been assigned to me. Judy lives this – always has. Jemser epitomises it - he’s been telling me it for years but I had to find out for myself and label it in my own way – when I said this to him the other night he laughed and said in his case it could be called ‘mindlessness’.

When Judy and I started getting drunk together in our late teens/early twenties we told each other how much we loved each other despite our differences and things settled down. We found partners, had children around the same time and drift in and out of each other’s lives a few times every year. Judy is still extraordinarily beautiful, she always looked after her skin, she has a calmness about her - but also a fiery streak that can be roused and woe betide the arouser! She is wonderful and I feel very privileged to be her big sister – even though I know I’m ‘not the boss’ of her! Love you Juders!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tyrone Guthrie Centre blog#3

Another glorious day in Co. Monaghan. The drumlins are ablaze with furze bushes and the countryside resplendent with goat willow and rowan flower. It was a little cooler today but still sunny enough to ramble about in a tee-shirt. I ‘discovered’ the conservatory which I didn’t know existed and was delighted to see a passionflower trained up a gorgeous stone wall and some variegated perlagonium full bloom – I sat there reading and writing for a good while – did some good work on Daisy Killer plus fleshed out a short story; to be shaved back brutally at some later stage.

Lavinia continues to encourage me to be fatter – divine potato cakes for breakfast with (I think) shavings of scallions in them. N’yum. Lots of lovely cold meats, salad; including ‘real’ lettuce (as per Jemser) – home grown butterhead. Both meals shared with lovely interesting company. I know ye all think I’m mad and talk too much and stuff. But a lot of these lovely ‘artistes’ are the same. So we all speak the same language albeit in slightly different accents and disciplines. I have never met a person in this house that I was uneasy with. It is home.

After lunch the Story Queen appeared on the lawn in front of the house (singing ‘Nellie the Elephant’ off-key) as she approached and talked and read stories to Lavinia’s wee boys – two dotes. Luke was well enthralled – loved ‘Owl Babies’ and took ‘The Gruffalo' away with him. Lavinia’s heart will be scalded reading it to him for the next few years!!

Then HRH waved goodbye and wandered away singing ‘the wonderful thing about Tiggers’ and decided she would like to have her picture taken riding the lovely girly 1930’s style bike in the conservatory. Esther obliged as camerawoman and Lavinia’s boys were delighted when HRH almost crashed into a garden bed. Much hilarity ensued.

Back to work then and the treatment for the animated feature I’m collaborating on with the lovely Karen was polished up to our satisfaction – well, near enough. So off it will go with a kiss and a wish into the big bad world to see can we get a bite from some nice big fish in the world of animation. I shed emotional tears over a few scenes and laughed at others – but then I am ridiculously emotional and sentimental. Here’s hoping. We had great fun doing it anyway.

A walk around the grounds and back in for one of Lavinia’s legendary dinners where serendipity and crazy crazy co-incidences were discussed – with much laughter . Another successful night. Some have drifted off now to work, others to read or watch a movie. There appears to be some wine-supping going on in the kitchen, but I’m just too tired. Me! Too tired to drink!

There was some suggestion of Scrabble earlier – but these are seriously brainy people and I’m just not competitive enough. I’ll sit here in my lovely room, listen to John Prine, check Facebbok and Twitter, ring my babies and after a nice long bath will head to the leaba with a good book – there is a houseful to choose from.

‘Night x

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Another beautiful day in rural Ireland........

Another glorious day in Newbliss. I knew the weather forecast was good and that Jemser and son#2 were coming up for a visit to celebrate his ‘not making my confirmation’ day. So I got up a 6am and the view of the mist over the estate was breathtaking. Then a cuppa tae and some fruit and down to work. Got the treatment for the animated feature I’m collaborating on completed to my relative satisfaction and tidied it up and sent it off.

Down to the kitchen around 9am and a lovely healthy breakfast before a quick stroll around the grounds. Back to the laptop and I did a few hours work on Daisy Killer my new novel. I rambled the few kilometres into Newbliss where I met my lovely men and a deliriously excited Molly – she almost licked the face off me. We bought the makings of a picnic and drove back to the house. The place bowled the lads over as I knew it would and I introduced them to those we met. We sat in the sun in the grounds and had our picnic; then strolled down to the lake. There was no debate as to swimming – no way was son#2 getting in – he decided there were definitely fish in it and quite possibly some sort of Loch Annamakerrig Nessie. Mind you he threw poor Molly in – and she had a grand little swim for herself. Then we walked back through the wood and the gents took their leave of me. Son#2 was really delighted to see me and where I was staying – he only has four more days now to wait until I’m home.

I set him a series of tasks to do for me, he’s a great P.A. – he’s booked Ryanair flights for myself himself and his cousin Oscar for a few days in the sun in Spain in late June. As soon as I get my website up and running he’s going to maintain it for me, reply to mails, post books etcetera. Handy having a twelve year old genius in the house!

When they left I came back to my room to work – but honestly it was too nice a day to be indoors – so I took some of my research books and a notebook and worked for an hour or two in the sun – actually I fell asleep for the last half hour of that! So refreshed after my nap I came back to the house and did some really good work – although that opinion might be reviewed when I re-read it in a month’s time. Time for dinner then – which was of course divine. Lavinia thinks she hasn’t done her job properly unless we leave the house weighing half a stone more than we did when we landed. And all in the company of lovely warm quirky people. Now for some strong keep me awake coffee and I intend doing another few hours work.

It’s all going really well – but then this place is magical. If you ever, ever get the chance to visit grab it with both hands.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Where to start.....Life is Beautiful

Right – where do I start? Last weekend was the perfick weekend – in that I had pints with Jemser of the Friday, after swimmin’ with son#2 for (I think) ten lengths.

Then of the Saturday I did Story Queen in Blanch Library to a most appreciative audience.

Then Sunday and Oor Lizzie was christened over in Sandymount – fandabbydouble dozy church, Star of the Sea. Lovely priest and lots of friendly people doing biccies and tea in the now disused old NS beside the Church - lots of lovely chats with lovely Sandymount people. Don Liam Walsheone – the godfather got the pressie so-o-o-o- right – a reconditioned MAGNIFICENT Silver Cross pram. I always said the proudest days of my life were my pram pushing days - I was a Mammy - somebody's favourite person. I miss my pram pushing days. Anyway, I am going to kidnap both pram and baby some day this summer. She will be pushed all around Swords/Malahide/Finglas anywhere I can push her - not very bus friendly the aul' Silver Cross - but deadly suspension. Plus if it's good enough for HRH in Great Britain it's good enough for oor Lizzie. Then off to Roly's Bistro for the christening lunch - feckin' gorgeous. How did the Walshies end up dining in such a gaff? Plus very very reasonable per head. Mind you I wasn't paying, lovely to be with so many family on such a lovely summer's day - and it only March.

Then on Monday I was tortured into coming to the most peaceful place on any planet – the Tyrone Guthrie in Annamakerrig, Newbliss Co Monaghan. God,t'was hard leaving work and housework for a week to come to the most beautiful place on earth (after Port, Co Donegal of course), miss the lads and Jemser and Molly but as I drove up the avenue I felt like I was coming home…I love it. And then to be spoiled rotten by the lovely Lavinia, Robbie, Esther et all - I might have to kill Lavinia though, or at least disable her cooking skills - her desserts are just too scrumptious. I think she might be a devilish imp in disguise tempting me with glorious food. Kidding - how could anyone be cross with Lavinia!

But I did a 6k walk (or ramble) into Newbliss today - the weather was quite simply too beautiful not to go out, I don't care about word count - good days don't come often in this aul' bog we live on. There are Donegal connected Yanks home and they are claiming credit for the weather. I'm glad Anne Behringer and her daughter Debbie's lads got to see Donegal in the sun - they might just keep coming with their own kids in the future. Cherish our 'diaspora' folks - it'll be what saves us financially.

Now - tomorrow Weds is the Confirmation day in son#2's school. He decided last summer he didn't want to make it so I supported him in his decision, but I think he might be feeling a little lonely tomorrow, he misses me (yes - still!) - all of his classmates are having days being spoiled by their families and neighbours (not to mention the cash!) so Jemser and I hatched a plan and they're driving up to meet me in Newbliss for lunch and we might chance a swim in the lake - if son#2 doesn't wimp out!

The work is getting done - just at slightly unusual hours - almost finished treatment for collaborative exercise with Karen Coleman - songwriter supreme, novel #2 taking shape and hatching a lovely plot for novel#3 - a ghost lover in an artist's retreat........h'mm plus polishing a couple of stories and a children's book. And then there's sleep, reading and eating.

Night night.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Today is the twenty-first anniversary of Mam's death. And the pain is still as raw and gaping as it was on that day. Oh I've learned to live with it - but part of me is missing. I've tried to live my life in honour of hers since her death, for she loved life, was full of it - laughing, smiling, mischievous, loving - she had the biggest heart and always had time for everyone. Her only fault a quick temper - but it passed as quickly as it brewed. She was mad about Dad but they had tough times - too little money, too many kids and demands pulling from everywhere. A Church that had too much influence on a young State did not make things easy. They were a passionate couple and passion doesn't always make the best marriage. But they did their best.

The day Mam died Dad shouted at me 'You don't understand! My life is over!Over!' His heart was broken, his spirit destroyed. He had just 'gotten her back' from the rearing of their brood, he had retired early from the Gardai and they had been talking about relocating to Wexford, his home town - perhaps starting a little fabric shop. Mam loved material, sewing, fashion and had worked all her life as a sales assistant in shops like Cassidys and Hickeys. She made us all lovely clothes (of which we were not in the least bit grateful - or not grateful enough anyway). I had home made hotpants, maxi dresses, angel tops, dresses for special occasions. When I'd moan 'I've nothing to wear' she'd call me 'the best dressed girl in the County Council' when I'd nag her into helping me pick some fabric and pattern and then into making it for me.

I was too shy to go into the open changing rooms in shops then. I hated my big angular body. I was five foot nine and a half and about ten stone on a big frame. I was an awful eejit.The only bit of me I liked was my back - the skin was sallow and flawless so Mam made me occasion dresses to celebrate that. If Mam said I looked fabulous I almost believed her. I never believed anyone else.And I certainly didn't trust my own judgement. I was the oldest, the fat one, specky four eyed bossy know-it-all. Oh what fools we are in youth!And oh how sorry I feel for that young girl/woman - I wish I could wrap mt arms around her - tell her she is wise and strong and compassionate. That she will meet and mate with a good, good man and have the babies she yearned for, that she would find her voice and use it to tell the truth and above all that people would (eventually) understand her.

My Mam made me. And she did a good job. My flaws are the mistakes I made when I deviated from the path she set me on or when I neglected my father's mantra of 'tell the truth'. I miss you Mam, I love you and your DNA is carried on in all of us, in all our children and eventually in their children. In this way you will be with us forever.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Ditch Cassidy and angels' voices

I haven't been out at night much for the last fifteen years - too busy working, minding me wains and reading to be bothered leaving my comfy couch at the end of a long day to struggle through a packed pub where one has to compete with blaring music or bloody sport on TV to chat to friends.

But for the last few months I have taken to joining Jemser on the odd Sunday night in a pub called 'The Slaughtered Lamb' in Swords, ( built on the site of what was once an abattoir) known locally as 'The Lamb'. The bigger lounge in the back caters for the younger crowd, bands and loud music and scantily clad young women - it also attracts a large Easter European crowd - our lovely new Irish who keep our little town going. It is in the smaller bar to the front that myself and Jemser go. The clientele in the Lamb is as varied as the band members of Ditch Cassidy's band - a lot of the audience members of the same age profile Jemser and I belong to , and a nice healthy smattering of younger people who just enjoy a great night's music.

Ditch Cassidy is something of a legend in Dublin - he has been fronting bands singing blues/soul/rock since the 1960s - his voice has that lovely raspy wellworn quality neccessary for a singer in this genre. He works with two other musicians (sorry lads - didn't catch your names ) a fantastic lead guitar who loves the instrument he plays and a solemn sweet young dreadlocked bass player completes the eclectic trio. They bring the house down every night they play (mostly Sundays from 9.30pm on).

Last night Ditch called on a young woman Ciara Moran to sing a few numbers. Jesus! The hairs on the back of my neck stood up! You know the feeling you get when you are in the presence of greatness? Well, Ciara Moran's rendition of 'Somewhere over the Rainbow' gave me that - it was in-bloody-credible, and if her full time job is not somewhere in the music business it should be. A name to listen for folks. Definitely.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St Patrick's Day in Swords Co. Dublin

I work alongside the events management staff of Fingal County Council and had to calm down some of my colleagues frazzled nerves yesterday. They were (of all things) worried about the weather for today's parade - the one thing they cannot control! So I assured them that by the sheer force of my will I would ensure that no rain fell in Swords between 10am and I.30pm! I was right! Mammy is always right.....

I had volunteered the Story Queen to tootle up and down Main Street talking to lots and lots of boys and girls ably assisted by my wonderful little pal Rachel Barker, who took the role of Princess Semolina. We had a basket full of St Patrick's Day lollipops which we distributed regally to all. Molly, my badly home-shorn bichon freise accompanied me with a lovely spray of bright green hair colour on the back. She was sumptuous and proud and a huge hit with the spectators. The Story Queen told the children that when she woke up that morning Molly had all this green spray on her and Ihe Queen got a frightful shock!

But Princess Semolina immediately knew what was wrong - 'Mama' she cried 'We must travel to Ireland - the green is a sign telling us to go!'' Well. I was terribly tired, I am 437 years old after all but Semolina was right and we hopped onto the next Space Shuttle (which is the second planet after the North Pole). We popped into Santa on the way and asked him to have a word with the clouds so that they might keep the rain away, Mrs Clause has just about recovered from the exhaustion she felt after Christmas and they are going to take a nice relaxing holiday next month.

So Princess Semolina, Molly and I chatted to beautifully decorated children up and down Swords Main Street, everyone there had made so much effort on their appearance. Everyone was happy and smiling and waving and clapping. I even got one or two little girls out to dance with me! A very nice Garda Siochana linked me for a few steps of little jig and I had my picture taken as I handed out lollipops to the wonderful Civil Defence people - who were petrified I might make them dance too!

The Parade proper started the with the Lord Mayor waving regally from an open top vintage car (my regal wave is of course the correct one - he was just imitating me) - there were football clubs, athletics clubs, dancing schools, all manner of wonderful floats and entertainment. Colleagues Caroline Bradley (who shaved her head last week and raised 1400 euro for cancer research) and Christine Mullen were exhibiting their wonderful photographs on the railings of County Hall - the staff of Fingal County Council are bursting with creativity and dedication to their community. I felt very very proud to say I worked for the Council today. And you will rarely hear me say that!

No staff member who partook today was paid overtime for their work. Some will be given time in lieu at some later date, others at higher levels regard it as part of their roles. We do take our jobs seriously citizens, we make mistakes but for the most part your public service is just that - there to serve you. And I'm your Queen!

It's St Patrick's Day - a day to dream and philosophize and we Irish do that so well! Maith Sinn.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fally down socks days..........

Mild grey March morning and I'm sitting in my usual spot in the lovely library in Rush – it really is a fabulous building, if you are ever in North County Dublin you should try visit it. And Skerries Mills. And Ardgillan Castle. And – well, the list is endless. Just visit Fingal on the east coast of Dublin and you’ll find lots to see and do – we’re horrid cultured y’know!

Lots of topics I could blog about today but I decided I’d give you all a laugh about my ‘fally-down socks’ day yesterday.

I had to follow Jemser over to Ashbourne yesterday evening to the garage he has his car serviced in (Rath Service Station-brilliant and Eugene is a sound man, totally recommend him – particularly for Saab and Opel.) I switched to the passenger seat in my car coming home as he drives me mad if I’m driving because he makes me nervous, he’s convinced I’m going to do something wrong – and y’know what Will says ‘Nothing’s either good or bad but thinking makes it so’. So in the interests of marital harmony if we’re both in a car together he drives – unless he needs to sleep – then I can take over. I’m rambling – but I’ll get going now, I promise!

Once I dropped Jemser back to our home I left straight away again – I was due to do an interview with the lovely Debbie on Near 90.3fm in Coolock at 7pm and I was supposed to toddle down to my wonderful songwriting/singer/musician / all round creative person Karen Coleman off the Tonlegee Road (mark my words – this lady is going to be the biggest thing in Ireland and abroad since Imelda May) for a cup of tea and a chat. We both have busy lives and always seem to miss each other at different events so we needed a good old chin wag.

Those of you who know me know I have absolutely no sense of direction. The kids used to say it was an adventure getting into the car with me – because you never knew where you would end up! I drove around and around in circles looking for the big white building that houses the radio station. Eventually it clicked with me that the station was in the shared services Civic offices (great idea Dublin City Council btw, hats off to ye) off the Oscar Traynor road and I pulled into the car park relieved that I was still early. I always add a 15 minute ‘just in case’ into timing any journey when I’m driving.

Had a chat and a laugh with two lovely women in Near 90.3fm, Debbie and Rebecca - this is community radio at its best; they cover all that’s going in the North Dublin ( both city and county) area and its all done by volunteer presenters – they are always looking for volunteers so if interested go here

When we went on air I was a bit nervous so decided I’d just be myself – well a slightly less manic version of myself! I spoke too quickly at first but eventually settled down into a chat with the presenters who put me totally at ease - we could have been sitting in a Starbucks shooting the breeze.We spoke about my writing career to date, the novel I self published (available here ) and I even plugged my appearances as the Story Queen (voluntary work) in Fingal libraries on Saturday mornings through out the years. I then read a little passage from The Heron's Flood and although my mouth was dry I got through it. A really pleasant experience. So thanks Debbie and Rebecca!

So, at this stage I was looking forward to my chat with Karen and was dying for a cuppa tay. I went looking for my mobile to check the address she had texted to me. No bloody phone. I’m always mislaying it. Typical! I had probably left it on the table at home when I ran in to collect copies of the which I was donating as prizes in a text-in on the station. So – no phone, no directions to house – what do I do? I debated driving back to Swords to get my mobile but didn’t want to be that late for Karen and Anne (Karen's darling Mam.) No, I thought - I’ll find a phone box – ring home and get them to read me out the address on my mobile. Good thinking Batman. ‘Cept I couldn’t find a phone box – I drove around and around and around – nary a one. Where did they all go? Is there some big warehouse somewhere holding hundreds of phone boxes waiting to be recycled as Superman changing rooms or Dr Whos's Tardis? I felt like Robinson Crusoe – shipwrecked in my Opel Corsa in the Donahies/Coolock/Artane area and nary a Man Friday in sight. Mad.

Eventually I pulled into a little row of shops on the Tonlegee Road and stuck my head into a pharmacy to see if they knew where there was such an archaic device as a phone box - are they collectors' items I wonder?. Well d’y know what – I met the three loveliest women there. Not only did they let me use the phone in the shop they even trawled down through their prescription system to see if they could find an address for me – Karen has special needs brothers and would use the chemist a lot. But. I wasn’t sure if Karen’s surname was her maiden name or married name. No answer to the home phone – as per usual - son#1 not there, son#2 installed in front of the PS3 and oblivious to everything but the game he’s playing and the Jemser was sitting in the kitchen with the headphones on listening to his new best friend ‘YouTube’

Right sez I , I’ll try his mobile – which is the only other number I knew off the top of my head. It went to voice mail. Feck. He told me later he doesn’t answer his mobile unless he recognises the number, but later on curiosity got the better of him and he rang the number anywayto see who had called! Those three women must think we are a family of ding-bats!As all my attempts to find the address had failed I decided I’d have to drive back to Swords to collect phone and travel back to Coolock. Story of my life –


As I headed out the Malahide Road I heard a beep beep and in my peripheral vision I spotted a flash of green from the internallittle cubby hole on the passenger's door. The bloody phone had been there all along, I must have popped it in when I switched seats with Jemser in Ashbourne!
So it's all his fault - as bloody per!

Are y’still reading? Fair play – I’d be away to Twitter by paragraph three. I think my blog is like one of those slow cookers as opposed to a pressure cooker! So - I was now fully armed with the addressand I headed off again; but I still went around in circles. Karen can’t give directions and I can’t take them in – we are like two lost souls but we have these magnets y’see and we always find each other in the end! I stopped the car at a little green and phoned her again,

‘I’m coming out the front door’ sez she. ‘Can you see me now?’

‘No,’ sez I, then in the rear view mirror I spotted her walking across the green, phone to ear and barefoot on the grass. Big hugs all round and we adjourned to the comfortable kitchen of her home where Bear – Karen’s ‘to die for’ St Bernard (Old English Sheepdog maybe) took a fancy to me – He’s no Molly so he didn’t end up on my lap but I’d say if I let him he would’ve had a go!. Karen, Anne and I drank cups of tea and chatted about all manner of things. Chats are lovely. Chats and flirtin' make the world go round.Amn't I right?

Karen Coleman is so talented folks – her songs are beautifully crafted and her talent doesn’t end with music she writes really well - particularly dialogue. I love spending time with her – reassuring her that all she has to do is work hard, do the right thing and shine and the Universe will provide. I KNOW THIS AND IT WILL HAPPEN BECAUSE BY SHEER FORCE OF WILL I WILL MAKE IT SO! She needs one tiny bit of luck – one financial backer and a manager to look after the business end of things. She’s tired, needs minding and space to do what she excels at. Plus she’s about to become a granny and Anne a great granny! Isn’t it brilliant – four generations under the one roof. Family.

If I could help her at all, in any way, I would – because I cannot bear to see talent going unrecognised. Ye better all hide your piggy banks because I’m coming on the scrounge!

So that was my Tuesday – interesting wasn’t it . Oh! And I didn’t get lost going home! Now, I'm away - off to give my first ever creative writing workshop - I feel like a little girl starting in Junior Infants - terrified but determined I'm going to be a big girl, not be afraid and JUST DO IT.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Gardening for the soul

Today was my first ‘official’ day in 2012 to spend some time pottering about the garden. I powerwashed the patio yesterday and today brushed away all the moss, algae and dust it had loosened. I weeded a little and removed some of the detritus of the winter, planned a few small changes in layout and in general relaxed through physical work.

Before you all start giving out to me for gardening a few days after I lay crippled with my back let me say this. Gardening is good for my soul mind, sense of well-being etc. It reduces my continuous boring draining existential angst. And I mind my back. I get down on my knees and have every weeding device known to man at my disposable and I rarely spend more than two hours at it because I have learned to listen to my back – so no giving out! Please?

It was a lovely mild spring day today, albeit a little dull – but thankfully winter seems to be well on its way to the other side of the planet and the evenings are lengthening. It’s funny – for some reason this time of year tends to be the time when I get most of my really bad depressive bouts – no moving no talking crying jags bouts. I don’t understand it – unless it has something to do with the fact that my beloved mother died in late March in 1991. January to early April – every year. Paradoxically it’s actually a time of year I enjoy on another level – again because each day brings new growth about me.

But at least at this stage of my life – twenty seven years into this awful illness I am sure of one thing – it passes. I avoid all cerebral pursuits and shun human company (I wouldn’t inflict my melancholy face on anyone) when I’m unwell – I walk, garden, cuddle the dog, listen to music, veg on the sofa in front of favourite DVDs.I wonder is it because my body is so low in Vitamin D after the winter that this happens? I think during next winter I will try taking a Vitamin D supplement and see how Spring 2013 treats me. I’ll keep you posted.

In the meantime there is my garden – the daffs are well up cheerfully bobbing their yellow heads at me, aconites, bluebells and the last of the snowdrops – the primulas are coming along nicely and the tulipss will be here soon. The buds are well formed on my wonderful choisya, the clematis are producing new growth and as all three are now a good size I’m looking forward to a riotous display this year. Gardening, like writing, is a long-term project. Never quite finished to our satisfaction and always always needing clipping,tending or tidying.

Of course Molly – the new dog in the house – has caused some havoc in my little plot but she’s forgiven. It’s in her nature to dig so I’ll try confining her to the spots she can do least damage. Anyway I owe the poor bitch for the awful haircut I gave her – she looks like that poor badly shorn sheep dog in the Specsavers ad!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grubby ceilings and lost boys............

I'm flat on my back with a lower back muscle spasm since Monday morning and finally worked out I can type by using son#2's little netbook open wide against two pillows balanced on my considerable stomach. Not a pretty sight. And I have far too much time to think despite the semi drugged fug brought about by difene and paracetamol.

It reminds me vividly of the time I was expecting son#2. He's twelve next week and I feel him slipping away from me daily. I'm glad for him - he's developing into a funny, caring human being and Jemser and I had something to do with that. But my baby boy!I was gi-bloody-normous and had back problems and chronic insomnia in the last trimester of that pregnancy. Many many nights were spent lying on the floor staring at the ceiling talking to our unborn child - telling him (or her at the time) how great it was all going to be when we finally met.

And it has been great,every single minute. That child never ever gave us a moment's worry. He is healthy, incredibly bright and funny. Like me he can be a bit awkward and is going through an incredibly sensitive phase but he is maturing faster than I ever did and his social skills will be better than mine ever were as a teen or young adult. He's not afraid to talk about how he feels or what plans he has for his future. So much potential.

But for another little while he will be my baby boy, still needing hugs and physical contact. Soon that will be forbidden by teenage withdrawal but it comes back, son#1 doles out bear hugs every so often - just 'cause I'm his Mam, and I cherish each one.

Neck and arms getting sore now, so back to contemplating the mysteries of parenthood and looking at my grubby ceilings. Jemser! Where's the paint brush?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

G'wan De Yella Bellies.........

D’y’know the way I’m always blethering and dramatizing things? Well, that comes from all the artistic DNA I have. Granda Kennedy (on whose life my next novel is loosely based) was an intelligent well read man – he worked in the printing game all his life and loved books and songs and stories, poetry and plays. It was Granda Kennedy who took me for my first visit to the mobile library. Granda Kennedy who published my first poem - on the first page of the Marino Parish Newsletter – all done up in a fancy font with an elegant box around it, I was eight years old and hugely proud of myself. So that’s the maternal side – words.

On the paternal side Granda Walsh was an erudite, dapper little man. He loved theatre, Irish dancing (the real kind – none of your wigs and orange tan). He was a staunch Republican and like many young men of his time was in the IRB, was captured dutring the War of Independence and jailed in Wexford jail, he subsequently escaped. I listened wide–eyed when Dad told me tales of this hero of our country - my Grandad Walsh. Grandad was very involved in amateur drama in Wexford. My father still has numerous photos of Grandad in heavy grease paint and costume, I laugh when i look at them because he he looks so fierce in them!Grandad Walsh's treasured collection of George Bernard Shaw’s plays was left for me when the old man died.

When I started to appear in school plays myself Grandad gave me enormous encouragement – although when our group won the Shakespeare Society’s school drama festival and our picture subsequently appeared in the Irish Times, he was horrified at the untidily darned ladder in Hamlet's (aka mine)gym tights. I was disgraced in front of the nation – and in the bloody Times too! So when I spotted that Wexford Drama Group were appearing in Rush Drama Festival with their production of Bryony Lavery’s 'Frozen' I though I’d go along. Wexford Drama Group group was formed in 1966 and although Grandad was seventy at that time family lore has it that he was instrumental in setting it up – I’m not sure of this though.

By God! If he was instrumental in forming the group (we’ll pretend he was – it makes a better story) he must be lepping a jig or a reel in whatever other dimension he has been in for the last thirty odd years. I knew nothing about the play before I went and it blew me away. I’m not going to tell you the plot – because I’d ramble all over the place and you’d get fed up and stop reading! It’s not easy theatre as the play pushes you out of your comfort zones but if you ever get a chance to see a production of it I wholeheartedly recommend it.

There are four characters in the play and every actor played their roles magnificently. But I’d have to single out John Crosbie for his incredible portrayal of the serial killer Ralph.. The tension created every time he came on stage was palpable – this guy was truly the Bogey man (with a little Gollum dropped in.) The set was fabulous and worked brilliantly well on so many levels – sound effects and lighting ditto. I have seen many professional production of different plays my thirty five years of theatre going and this ‘amateur’ performance can proudly hold its own with them. Bravo Wexford Drama Group. The vibrant amateur scene in Ireland is still thriving I’m glad to see. Actually I hope to get my hands dirty myself again, I’m appearing in the female version of the Portrane/Donabate’s Drama Society production of ‘The Odd Couple’ I play Mickey – the female cop! Won’t yiz all come? All over Fingal there are drama groups and little theatres – particularly in the north county. We are truly a nation of story-tellers, whether it be through literature, music, dance, drama or film. Aren’t we deadly!

G‘wan the Irish – and stop drinking. Alcohol blocks creativity, give up the gargle and we can all shine!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another Bloody Referendum............

I wrote this before the second Lisbon Referendum. It's still valid!

A Pint over Lisbon

Confucius and Solomon, pals for years, meet every Friday evening for a pint in their local hostelry and discuss the problems of the world.
One cold Friday evening in January 2009 they sat on their usual stools delighted that the pub had regained its pre holiday season peace. In companionable silence they pulled on their pints and watched the six o’clock news. There was a piece on the proposed second referendum on whether we should or shouldn’t sign up to the Lisbon Treaty.
“Remember,” said Solomon, “the last time out? I tried to read it. Now I got past the preamble but I got a little lost somewhere in Title Three. I think it was around about subsection D.”
Confucius nodded and contemplated his drink. The Magi walked in and settled themselves at the bar. Nods and grunts all round.
“How’re the men?” greeted Solomon, “We’re just discussing Lisbon. Again.”
Balthazar groaned and called “Three stout, Tommy”
“Lord, I lost the will to live after Title Four section 2, subsection (ii)” says Melchior.
“I think they’re getting their own back on us for sending that turkey to the Eurovision,” Gaspar looked up the bar at Confucius finishing his pint. “Well, boss – what would you do about the whole thing?”
“It’s simple really,” sighed Confucius. “Read it with the blind man’s eye, listen to the debates with the deaf man’s ear. Then make up your own mind. It won't make any difference. Solomon, your round I think.”

Monday, February 27, 2012

A little incident today made me feel a little sad – and completely embarrassed. At about four pm I walked through the office I am incarcerated in from 9 to 5. It’s a big office - with many vacant seats in recent years – but there are still around fifty people working in the area.

The floor is divided into individual screened workstations and to talk to someone you really need to stand up and talk over the screen or move into their desk space. I hate talking to someone when I can’t see them, I was never one for long phone conversations but with Skype I don't mind. I’m an animal who needs to read body language. I blether with my hands going like the clappers for dramatic effect and I’m told I have a very expressive face (which is a bugger if you’re telling little fibs!). Jemser always knows when I’m getting depressed or melancholic before I do because he sees it in my face before it hits me.

Anyway I had a big red face on me this afternoon because I had been walking around with my skirt caught up in my knickers. Jesus! Like a big child (which I am of course). The last time I'd used the bathroom before my discovery was about one o’clock. Three hours of pottering about my area! Up and down the centre of the floor to the tea station at least twice plus I walked up three flights of stairs to visit our HR section. It was only as I left HR that one of my colleagues came running out after me to inform me of my state of undress. We roared laughing as I fumbled about adjusting my attire – isn’t it great that we can all laugh like kids at silly things?

Years ago, in the not always that good old days, we all sat in much smaller offices without screens and I swear if you sneezed everybody would comment. We noticed each other – a new item of clothing would be commented on, we’d chat briefly on and off during the course of the day both work related conversations and other minor natters. It was mostly friendly banter and you certainly wouldn’t get away with wandering about all afternoon with your knickers showing!

Although technology has made life easier in some ways it is also increasingly isolating people. We have evolved until now as social creatures who both need and enjoy the company of most of our fellow human beings. But at the moment we all appear to be permanently locked on to some device - computer, laptop,mobiles, IPhones, IPads social media sites and on and on and on. Staring ahead of us at or down at a winking screen totally caught up in what we are doing to the exclusion of others. All living in our own tiny universes. Can this be healthy? Apart from saving me from making a twit of myself at an earlier stage if we lift our heads and look to connect with others we can have a laugh or a smile and a chat - both guaranteed to lighten ones mood and important for both mental and physical health.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Kennedys of Glandore Road

About a month ago I blogged about having to make a decision between two pieces of work, two sets of characters, two novels I have been tinkering with. I wanted to concentrate on one of them, stop shilly-shallying and move it along briskly - I know I can do it once I actually apply myself. Eventually I plumped for 'The Daisy Killer' a novel that is based very very loosely on my grandfather's life. I had mentioned the novel to the last surviving member of my grandfather's family - my lovely uncle Tom Kennedy. Tom was delighted , I told him I was inventing an affair for Grandad in Detroit - a city where he worked for some years in the 50s. 'Well, he deserved it,' said Tom, 'I'm sure he would have a good chuckle over it.'

I was delighted and told Tom I'd be dedicating the book to the Kennedys of Glandore Road and more particularly to him. My lovely Uncle Tom died last night - a young man, he was only in his mid sixties and he joins the rest of the Kennedys of Glandore Road somewhere outside of this dimension we know. They all died young these Kennedy siblings, Norah in her forties, Mam - Elizabeth in her fifties and Tom - the baby of the family - in his sixties.

But by God did Tom enjoy life! He was the a firm believer in living in the moment, rarely worried and always got by. He reared four lovely children in Swords, where I now also live, and his family were always close. He adored his wife Margaret and they were well known about the village - enjoying socialising with others - they have a wide circle of friends and loved a good meal, a few drinks and lively conversation. Tom was a great raconteur - he always had a yarn for you and if he met you out at night nothing suited him better than a chat and a pint - he'd dodge out for a fag and possibly a bet over the course of the evening-he delighted in taking money from the bookies! He was very like Grandad in his gentleness of manner, in his courtesy and respect. A lovely man.

Tom and Margaret were like Darby and Joan - they went everywhere together and were great pals as well as lovers and parents. My heart is sore at the thought of how Margaret must now be feeling. The other half of her gone. But he is truly only gone in the flesh. For Margaret is surrounded by their loving children and many grandchildren. And in every one of those children and grandchildren Tom lives on. In a word, a look, a smile, a laugh.

I could ramble on for hours about Tom, tell loads of stories about him but there is one that I feel is particularly apt for it shows his sense of humour - that which kept him buoyed up even in the darkest days and nights of his illness. Tom's Dad, my Grandad- died when I was about fourteen. Grandad had been in the printing game as had his father before him and Tom was also involved in printing. In the funeral car Tom sat in with the driver and I sat behind with my mother, grandmother and other elderly relatives. Tom lit up his ubiquitous cigarette and started to regale us all with stories about his Dad - a man he loved very much. Grandad had been very friendly with the Kirwan family - a long established undertaking firm in Dublin . At one stage they were wondering how they could go about advertising their business and brought up the subject with Grandad. Grandad promptly came up with the legend 'Kirwan's Kosy Koffins Make Korpses Komfortable'. My mother, the driver and I all burst into laughter - smothered quickly by the look on the Great Aunt Norah's face. That was Tom - a man who celebrated life and enjoyed every minute he drew breath. A life lived in the only way it should be - fully.

Coladh Samh Tom - I'll miss you. x

Friday, February 17, 2012


Took the eleven year olds to The Muppets this evening. Only fault in the movie was that there were too many humans singing and dancing and acting like idiots. The Muppets themselves were superb - Miss Piggy, Kermit, Fozzy, Gonzo, Animal - all the gang. It was like meeting up with with old friends again and made me all nostalgic for the late 70s and early 80s. I could kill Viko Nikci though - his screenwriting workshop (brilliant - if you ever get a chance to do it) has flippin' ruined movies for me by making me observe each scene and seeing the way it is structured. The same thing happen with novels when I started writing fiction. It becomes like homework instead of just absorbing the images and words.

Meself and Jemser are like Waldorf and Statler at this hour of our lives - sitting on the couch criticising things on the TV - I can see us tottering into our dotage like that; and it's nice. I'm still allowed give out about him though - about stupid things like the fact he is a lazy male and whether drying clothes on radiators blocks heat and significant differences in standards of hygiene. He can give out about me opening windows when the heat is on and not putting the lids back on anything properly. I can grump away at him and he can grump back at me. And I'm glad we made it this afar, to still be good pals after twenty four years together. And all the rest of that lovey dovey stuff. The Muppets have made me all soft and 'aaaaaaahhhh'.

When I started writing my one regret was that I had left it so late in my life to start - all the hours I couldn't get back that I spent plonked in front of the TV watching a lot of rubbish. Not all of it was pap I suppose - the Muppets were clever as was Spitting Image, Brideshead Revisited, The Jewel in The Crown, the Forsythe Saga, Upstairs Downstairs, adaptations of Austen, Hardy and Dickens - were all quality. But oh my lord - there was the awful Dallas and Dynasty and Falcon's Crest. And soaps. No wonder we all drank so much - you'd have to be half cut to sit through that lot on a winter's evening - Big Brother keeping us all anesthesised with flickering images of false lives.

Anyway once the babies came there was precious little time for television - or anything else outside of work and family. When I look at it now at a slight remove my reading tastes and habits changed completely over the twelve to fifteen year period that I was wrapped up in rearing the boys. I read mostly crime/horror novels and even then only for a half hour in bed at night - anything weightier I couldn't handle. I was convinced I lost half my cognitive function with the placenta after each birth, Nuala Ni Chonchuir calls it 'nappy brain'!

So there y'are a ramble through the television of my late teens, twenties and early thirties. Sad isn't it? Groucho Marx said 'I find television very educational. Every time someone turns on the set I go into the other room and read a book.' And wasn't he right -a waste of time - makes me - and many of us out to be right Muppets. do d' dooby do.........