Thursday, November 30, 2006

A secret smile

WEDNESDAY WAS a pretty stressful day for me as far as stressful days go. I had been staying in Belfast the previous night with my VBF (very best friend) Vicki and despite having the luxurious surroundings of an executive suite of the Europa Hotel to ourselves, I found it almost impossible to sleep.

It was probably because there was no two year old sticking the heel of his foot into my neck or clambering over me at three in the morning declaring that it was time to play, but needless to say by the time the morning came around I had matchsticks propping open my eyes and my mood had deteriorated from happily tipsy the night before to grumpily hungover the morning after.We decided to wander around the Belfast shops to try and inject some festive spirit in my sagging heart, but when the elastic went at the top of my (new and much loved, not to mention expensive) brown suede knee length boots my humour dipped even more- and that was before I clambered on the bus for the journey home to find the heating set to 'tropical heatwave' the whole way to Derry- something which I can assure you does not rest easy with a growing hangover.

Then in my madness, accompanied by a sense of crippling maternal guilt at having dared to leave my boy over night, I decided it would be wise to take him, and his four year old cousin to the madhouse that is McDonalds, at tea time, three weeks before Christmas.The prospect of some "chicky uggies" as Joseph decided to call chicken nuggets (at the top of his voice at the top of the queue) sent both Joseph and Abby into a dizzy fit of over-excitement and as I tried to eat my (hangover cure) tea, I felt my blood pressure rise to the point where I could feel a vein throbbing in my neck.

It was then time to take the wee man home and by this stage, overfed on one of those Mix 'n' Muddles things (ice-cream, Smarties and chocolate sauce for the uninitiated) he was on the mental side of hyper so there were tears before bedtime- both for him and me- before he eventually fell into an exhausted sleep and I took to my bed early with a good book and the heating set to high.
"Don't talk to me for the rest of the night," I told himself, sashaying up the stairs in a dramatic stylee: "I want to be alone."
So I crawled under the covers, in fresh pjs, and allowed myself to sink into my soft pillows and I flicked on the TV just to see if there was anything worth watching.

It was then I stumbled across 'The Secret Millionaire' on Channel 4.
If you want feel good TV, something to lift you from the doldrums and make you forget about what a crappy day you've had then you couldn't go far wrong with this programme.

On Wednesday night's programme 25 year old multi-millionaire Ben Way spent 10 days in what has become known as London's 'Murder Mile' undercover.
He volunteered at a local youth club, got to know the community and find out the aspirations and dreams of some of the most disadvantaged young people in the area.By the end of his 10 days, he would be tasked with choosing several projects or people to give a portion of his fortune too.

At first I was a little cynical, as Ben (who looked all of about 12 and as if he had some 'chicky uggies' for tea himself) wandered about decided what he deemed to be worthy or not of receiving "his money".

However my attitude to the whole thing had changed as the programme ended, just as it seems Ben's had. He decided to invest in the youth club he had been volunteering in- a place where the youth leader had not drawn a wage in two years- and also to give money to an aspiring fashion designer. In addition, he paid for a community leader to get married to his partner of 27 years- something they could never have afforded to do themselves.

What impressed me most however was that as well as his money (£40,000 in total of it) he decided he was so impressed with the people of the 'Murder Mile' that he has decided also to donate his time.

As often as work allows, he comes back to the youth club and helps inspire and encourage the young people. As for the fashion designer, Ben himself is pounding the streets finding outlets to sell the hip new street designs.

As the money was handed out, I realised that perhaps for the first time all day I had a huge cheesy grin on my face. These acts of kindness had lifted me out of my grumpy lull and had left me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

Even though I wasn't in an executive suite at the Europa on Wednesday night, and was in fact just back in my plain old non-executive bed, I slept like a lamb and when, as invariably happens, a wee foot lodged itself in the small of my back at 3am, and the owner of said foot clambered all over me declaring "My own mammy", I didn't mind one bit. I just rolled over, cuddled him closer and told him I loved him. And the cheesy grin stayed firmly on my face all night.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tacky Tuesday- Tina Arena

(NB: I know it's only Monday, but I won't be here tomorrow so tik yer oil, as we would say in Derry)

DURING LAST week's discussion about the tacky music I have now stored in my car, Keris mentioned that Tina Arena's 'Chains' was perhaps the best song to sing whilst under the influence of alcohol.
After much thinking (in other words, I read what Keris said) I agreed that Tina Arena, the Australian songstress, really does provide value for money when it comes to singing while drunk-ability.
Now Chains rocks, which is why I've included it here. But let's not forget her lesser known classics 'Heaven Help My Heart' (there is a class story about my sister, her housemate, loud singing and huge embarassment related to this song) and I'm also loving her 'Wasn't it Good?'.
If you want to go the whole hog to real amazingly tacky and wonderful out of tune singing-ness (on my part, not Tina's, I hasten to add), there is also her rendition of 'Whistle Down the Wind'.
But for now, I leave you with 'Chains' complete with performance advice.
(Sing with hairbrush in hand and make sure your hair is down, so you can swoosh it around dramatically)

Your arms are warm but they make me feel

As if they're made of cold, cold steel

A simple kiss like a turnin' key

A little click and the lock's on me

Can't move my arms, can't lift my hands

I won't admit to where I am

But I know baby, I'm in chains

I'm in chains (Look dramatically around you)

I pretend I can always leave

Free to go whenever I please

But then the sound of my desperate calls

Echo off these dungeon walls

I've crossed the line from mad to sane (I always thought this was this makes more sense)

A thousand times and back again

I love you baby, I'm in chains

I'm in chains

I'm in chains

I'm in chains (swoosh your hair NOW)

Should have known passing through the gate

That once inside I could not escape

I never thought this could happen to me

Never thought this is where I'd be

But baby, baby, baby, look at me

Baby, baby, look at me, (You have to shout this bit- a grab your hairbrush really tight)

I'm in chains

Day three in the Operation Pollyanna house...

I WILL admit that for today I have struggled- generally down to be so very tired and waiting for all important news that could see me validated as a writer.
My positive things include my amazing son. I finished work today, tired and frazzled and little hormonally emotional and came home to a super smiling face.
Joseph then cuddled up on my knee and we read his 'Charlie and Lola' books together (which is worth it to hear Joseph say Wo-Wa and Soren Lorenson alone).
In the end he went to bed a very tired but very happy little boy and that in turn made me feel nice and contented.
The other Yay for Today is that I am almost ready to go to Belfast to see my bestest friend Vicki who I haven't seen since my birthday in June.
Wine may be consumed, so you will forgive me if there is no post tomorrow.
Sorry that there is no dedicated Strictly Come Dancing post this week- I was working on Saturday and only got home in time to see snippets. I'm glad Claire and Brendan are gone though. I have lost all respect for the woman who was Kim Tate- Kim Tate would never have been so bawdy! And Brendan- yep, he can dance- but I've been reading what a male slapper he is.
Next week will be tough though. The five remaining couples (does anyone else now say "couples" in a Tess Daly style Northern accent???) are all really good.
My money is still on Mark Ramprakash though.... Saturday nights have never been so good.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Operation Pollyanna- On the Jazz

(I dedicate today's post to my work colleague Erin, who is always 'on the jazz')
DID YOU that George Peppard, aka Hannibal from the A Team has a cousin who lives in Derry?
He has a fancy house up the Culmore Road, near Da Vincis- tres posh and yes, his surname is Peppard and not Doherty or something equally Derry.
My friend Erin told me that and she should know as she is the biggest A Team fan in the world- bar none.
Anyway, being such a big A Team fan, Erin has a suitable quote from the show for every occasion. Her most commonly touted expression these days is that she loves it when she is on the jazz, and no that does not refer to any illegal drug taking.
'On the Jazz' refers to those times in your life when you are top form. For me, it's usually when I'm work and the words are flying forth from my fingers and every line is journalistically sound. (You know, the days when I don't spent three quarters of an hour trying to think of a headline before I even start the story.)
Today's positive vibe is that despite it being a Sunday, I was very much on the jazz in work today. I got my head down, battered my copy through and enjoyed it muchly.
And then I got home (a little early) and made dinner for the two men in my life.
It was a lovely day- one where I have almost put all the stressy thoughts in my life at the moment regarding my creative writing to the back of my head.
Simple pleasures people- that's what it is all about.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Operation Pollyanna- A Little World of My Own

DAY ONE of Operation Pollyanna and so far, so good.
Despite himself being a generally grumpy bugger, I've managed not to lose my cool- which is pretty impressive for me.
Now to report the positives from my day
1) My sister has booked me a ticket to see Westlife in the Odyssey next April. Yes, that is my secret shame... I love Westlife and as for Shane, I so would...
I tried to find an appropriately handsome picture for this blog (you know, one with him and his wanger hanging out or something) but apparantly he really is that clean cut. More's the pity.
But pulling my mind back out of the gutter. They may not be big or clever, but Westlife are fun and this will be my second time seeing them in concert. I'm sure it's going to be fandabulous.
2) I managed to write 1,000 words of Signed, Sealed, Delivered today...taking me just over the 40,000 mark which makes me feel very exceptionally happy.
So day one down, two positives. Let's see what tomorrow brings.

Friday, November 24, 2006

I'm not crazy....

THE WONDERFUL Shirley MacLaine, while playing the equally wonderful Ouiser Bordeaux in 'Steel Magnolias', once said: "I'm not crazy, I've just been in a very bad mood for the last 40 years."
I may not be 40 (God forbid, I'm still coming to terms with 30 for now) but I know exactly where the old dear was coming from.
Do you ever catch a glimpse of yourself and wonder who on earth the grumpy baggage looking back at you is?
Or maybe you read over old emails, or forum posts or replay a phone conversation you had and realise that you may in fact be one of those toxic friends you are always warning people about.
You know what I'm talking about here, the kind of friend who brings everyone down with their constant whinging and moaning and generally feeling sorry for themselves-itis.
There are times when I think "I am what I am" (and sing the song of the same name loudly) and realise people can either like me or lump me, but there are also times when I want to change to become a more positive person.
I don't want to do a complete 180 and become a Pollyanna, but just someone who didn't automatically think or fear the worst would be good.
So I'll try a little experiment and each day on this Blog for the next seven nights I will post something positive about my day.
Let's call it Operation Pollyanna!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I don't feel like dancing

This week's colum is inspired somewhat by Tacky Tuesday.

HAVING RECENTLY become the not so proud owner of a new (read that as 10 years old) Corsa, I have been reliving my youthful horrendous taste in music due to the fact that I now rely on an olde worlde cassette player for my in-car entertainment.
I admit I was pretty spoiled with our last car (which himself has now claimed as his own). It had a fancy(ish) CD player which allowed me to listen to all the cool tunes of the day while driving to and from work.
There was nothing better than getting behind the steering wheel, switching on the engine and listening to the sexy sounds of James Morrison as I drove over the new bridge on my way home. (Admittedly more often than not, if the wee man was in the car with me, James Morrison would be replaced by 'The Wheels on the Bus'- which was not quite as relaxing).
But when the Corsa came into my ownership, things changed and I had to abandon Mr. Morrison and my other CDs including my newly purchased and much loved Paolo Nutini CD.After several weeks of relying on Radio One for company (Great in the morning with Chris Moyles, kind of rubbish in the afternoon with Scott Mills) I decided to hunt out my old tapes from the top of the wardrobe to see if there was anything actually worth listening to again.

Instead of finding the cutting edge of late 80s and early 90s tunes I uncovered a veritable music collection of shame. In my haul I found two Bros tapes, a Celine Dion album, an offering from Mariah Carey, Garth Brook's Greatest Hits (everyone had this one? Didn't they?) and Lionel Ritchie's 'Back to Front' collection.I had two choices as I saw it. I could hide the tapes back in their darkened hidey hole and hope they never saw the light of day again or I could listen to them and see if they retained any of the appeal that attracted me to them in the first place.I opted for the second option and as the strains of the Celine Dion power ballad 'Think Twice' flooded through my car I was suddenly transported back 12 years to my room in the Halls of Residence at Jordanstown where I would play this song over and over again marvelling at the power of the emotion behind it.
Yes, I suppose I always knew Celine Dion had a pretty annoying voice but it didn't matter back then. Not when I was 18 and full of weird notions about love and slow dances.
Mariah Carey's 'Music Box' brought back equally embarrassing memories- mostly about being madly in love with a class mate who then went on to break my heart, and as for Garth Brooks- it will forever be associated with four hour bus runs to Dublin to spend the weekend with my then boyfriend (now my husband). Of course 'If Tomorrow Never Comes' will always be sung the way I heard it at a street party in Rosemount as 'If My Giro Never Comes'.
No one can fail to smile when listening to Lionel Ritchie. Songs like 'Dancing on the Ceiling' and 'Still' are real guilty pleasures. I know I probably shouldn't like them, but I can't help but enjoy a wee warble along. And if I'm honest, cheesy and all as it is, 'Hello' still brings a wee tear to my cynical eyes. I mean, in the video the blind girl was able to sculpt his face from clay even though she had never seen him.
It was enough to warm the coldest heart.I have to admit that much as I'm supposed to be a sensible, grown up and sophisticated lady of the noughties, reliving my musical youth was quite enjoyable.The songs haven't improved withthe years, but it was nice to experience them again and find that I still remembered all the words.
I mean these are all songs from back in the days when you would sit by your tape player in the evenings, stopping the tape every few seconds so you could write down the words and commit the lyrics to memory. (Please, it wasn't just me, was it?)Most of the songs were of the nature that they could only really properly be enjoyed when in a house or car on your own so that you can sing as loudly and out of tune-ly as possible.
Of course having tapes when you are used to the convenience of CDs is a pain in the bum. You can't just automatically hit the back button to hear the song again or skip past the dodgier tunes like 'The Thunder Rolls' on the Garth Brooks' album.
You have guess when to hit the stop button and if you miss your spot, then you have to rewind a wee bit again. All that said, it was a nice to take a trip down musical memory lane.
But I'm glad- very, very glad- that no cars out there have record players fitted because if you think my tape selection is bad, you should see the quality of my vinyl.
If 'Ice, Ice Baby' by Vanilla Ice doesn't turn you off, then there is always 'Mona' by Craig McLochlainn, aka Henry from Neighbours. Somehow I don't think those musical classics will ever see the light of day again.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A mad mammy moment

IT'S IMPOSSIBLE to explain how this little creature on the right has enhanced and enriched my life over the last two years and 10 months.

Every day I'm proud of him. Every day he makes me laugh a real deep and heartfelt laugh that feels entirely 100% natural.

And there are moments, like tonight when I saw his face completely light up as Santa switched on the Christmas lights in Derry that the very emotion of caring for him, loving him and feeling proud of him almost takes my breath away.

The crowds were cheering around us, but my eyes were locked on this perfect little creature.

There are times were motherhood really does feel like the world's greatest blessing.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tacky Tuesday- Celine Dion

I FULLY realise that 'Tackfest Tuesday' may actually only be serving to show the world what truly appalling taste I had in music, but nonetheless this week is dedicated to the Canadian songstress Celine Dion and specifically her 1993 (so more like 94 over here) album 'The Colour of My Love'.

I should perhaps explain further. In my late teenage years while at university there were two major things in my life which prompted me to listen to the music.
The first was the fact I was dying about this fellah in my class and I literally thought my heart would break into a jillion pieces if he didn't love me back. It got so bad that me and my mucker Gillian would drive around the area where said stalkee lived and looking fornlornly at his house hoping he would see that as a reason to fall in love with me.

It never happened.

But nonetheless what did happen is that I became hopelessly addicted to tacky power ballads the likes of Celine Dion and Mariah Carey and as I also had to spend a good three hours on a bus to and from Belfast each week I listened to them a lot and thought they were singing about me and my unrequited passion and doomed romance.
There are so many wonderfully tacky songs on the 'Colour of My Love' to choose from ('Refuse to Dance' being particularly naff') but this week I'll opt for the power ballad 'Think Twice'.

Don't think I can't feel that there's something wrong
You've been the sweetest part of my life so long
I look in your eyes, there's a distant light
And you and I know there'll be a storm tonight
This is getting serious Are you thinking 'bout you or us (chorus)
Don't say what you're about to say
Look back before you leave my life
Be sure before you close that door
Before you roll those dice
Baby think twice

Baby think twice for the sake of our love, for the memory
For the fire and the faith that was you and me
Baby I know it ain't easy when your soul cries out for a higher ground '
Coz when you're halfway up, you're always halfway down (My favourite bit by the way)
But baby this is serious
Are you thinking 'bout you or us (repeat first chorus)

Baby this is serious (this is serious)
Are you thinking 'bout you or us Baby
Don't say what you're about to say (no no no no) (Best sung when drunk)
Look back before you leave my life (don’t leave my life)
Be sure before you close that door
Before you roll those dice
Baby think twice

Monday, November 20, 2006

SCD week 7- Emma was quite good

I'VE NOT been a huge fan of Emma Bunton throughout this series. I have found her quite smug to be honest, I liked her on Saturday night.

I think the key was not listening to her blether before the dance and just enjoying the performance for what it was. Her dress was tres sparkly (always a good thing for Latin dancing) and she actually seemed to have found her mojo. Baby Spice was all grown up, so I was shocked to see her in the bottom two at the end.

Mark and Karen continued to delight. (Though has anyone noticed how Karen seems to look more and more manic each week?) Brendan continued to be hugely annoying. Louisa was technically wonderful but the tango is too grown up a dance for a 17 years old. Matt and Lilia, well yes they were good- but ballroom doesn't do it for me. Give me some spice!

And Peter and Erin. Now what I'm going to say next is very cruel, so please forgive me. But surely I'm not the only one who thinks Peter bears more than a passing resemblance to the monster from 'Young Frankenstein'? Especially when dancing? Think back to the classic Gene Wilder/ Monster 'Putting on the Ritz' scene and you've got Peter Schmeical.

Need more proof?

Yes, he was a gentleman but no he cannot dance and he had to go. But with the shock of Emma in the bottom two this week, we can only wonder who is next?

Friday, November 17, 2006

Get Real

(Apologies as this is on the theme of the Dove Self Esteem fund AGAIN)

THE DOVE Real Women campaign has stepped up a gear this month and I'm delighted to see it.

IF you have access to the Internet and to the website you can catch a glimpse of their latest ad (Just search for Dove Evolution- I'm so down with the kids with all this You Tube malarkey).

The ad shows how, with the magic of a little make up, a professional hairstylist a photoshop even the most normal looking of us can be transformed into supermodel material.

The girl the Dove people have chosen is pretty in her own right, but her hair is a little lank (much like mine at the end of a long hard Wednesday in an air-conditioned office) and her skin had a few blemishes (much like mine thanks to my addiction to WeightWatcher Chocolate Brownies).

But then the make up artists get to work, painting, plucking, teasing, highlighting before the hairdressers step in with their tongs and straighteners and 16 cans of hairspray. Add some mood lighting into the mix and you've got one gorgeous girlie. But do the cosmetic companies and magazine publishers stop there? Why no. They use their computer packages to lengthen her neck, widen her eyes, make her shoulders more streamline and her eyebrows more arched.

And then, this primped, preened and photoshopped image is sold to women the world over as what 'real beauty' is.

Admit it, we've all looked at a magazine cover and felt a pang of jealousy at the lack of wrinkles and blemishes on a celebrity's face or at how blue and doe-eyed their eyes look. I'm not sure if we should be angry or relieved to find out it's all one big, fat (or digitally enhanced, if you prefer) lie. We all know that Dove have set about debunking as many beauty myths as possible and I suppose their campaign to have the average woman feel good about her body has sparked off a plethora of TV shows and magazine features detailing how you don't have to be a size 10 to look absolutely fabulous.
That said, I'm not sure the message is getting through. The majority of my friends still crave to be no bigger than a 12 and perhaps a 10 if at all possible.

They consider themselves 'fat' at a size 14. (I can only dream of being a size 14, I think I was the same age or thereabouts the last time anything under a 16 slid up past my thunder thighs) and it does sadden me. On a similar note, I have the most gorgeous cousin in the world. She is 16 and puts me to shame because (and I kind of hate her for this) she has never gone through an embarrassingly gawky and awkward teenage stage. You could search all you want but you won't find a picture of her with a frizzy perm or unfortunate ra-ra style skirt combo.

She attended a formal last week and looked really stunning in a dress that would, possibly if pushed and let out a little bit, fit over my thigh and yet her mammy tells me she thinks she has a fat belly. She no more has a fat belly than I have a thin one, but her self image is distorted- just like that of my many friends who crave to fit into a certain size label.

What they don't realise is that curves, stretchmarks and wobbly bits and all they still look amazing. Sure they are never going to make it on that Channel 5 drivel 'Make me a Supermodel' but who wants to make a living walking like a constipated ostrich down a catwalk anyway?

These are real women, living real lives, doing normal everyday things. Some are watching their children from sun up to sun down (or son up to son down as one mammy of a wee boy put it), some spend their days in busy offices shoving lunch down El Desco (heard that expression this week and loved it) and others, like my 16 year old cousin, are studying their way towards important exams.

All of them have more pressing things to be concerned about and all of them have so much to be proud of and yet all of them, and even myself included, can't escape their feelings of inadequacy regarding their physical appearance.
And that is exactly why campaigns such as the Dove one, which particularly works to target younger women and teenage girls, are so important. When I watched the Evolution ad, I felt a little better about myself. It made me realise just how fake the industry portrayal of beauty is.I realised that with the help of a make up artist, hairdresser and photoshop I too could look stunning. I could forget all my efforts and WeightWatchers and simply digitally shave several inches (or feet as the case may be) off my outline and look like a real glamour puss.

Reversing that thinking, I realise that even the most famous celebrity or supermodel won't wake up each morning looking a million dollars. She probably has bed head, greasy skin and bags under her eyes too.And cellulite- I'm hoping she has bucketloads of cellulite.So well done to Dove. Long may they keep it real! Let's just hope we all start listening soon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tackfest Tuesday- Lovers Around 11

DOES YOUR local radio station have a cheesy hour of love songs they play around 11pm to get "all those loving couples out there in the mood?"
Mine does. Our local station is Q102 and it brings you Lovers Around 11 each night. Cool FM in Belfast does a very similar Lights Out thing each night and when I was in sixth form and at university (and was loved by no one) I was an addict.
Generally the rules for lovers around 11 is that you choose any number of tacky love ballads, preferably from the 80s and share them with the listeners. There's a helluva lot of Foreigner played on Lovers Around 11.
Now I'm a fan of 80s power ballads. They might be really tacky. The lyrics might make absolutely no sense at all, but my goodness they are fun to sing along with.
Now setting aside your Celine Dion and Mariah Carey nonsense for another day, the two songs I would like to feature this week are the wonderfully bad 'Gonna write a Classic'
This should be enough to tell of the standard
Gonna write a classic
Gonna write it in an attic
Ooh babe, I'm an addict, now
An addict for your love.
If anyone can find the full lyrics, I'll love you forever.
Next in line is 'All Out Of Love' by Air Supply (I think).
I just love the imagery of the head on the phone.
I'm lying alone with my head on the phone
Thinking of you till it hurts
I know you hurt too but what else can we do
Tormented and torn apart
I wish I could carry your smile and my heart
For times when my life feels so low
It would make me believe what tomorrow could bring
When today doesn't really know, doesn't really know
Chorus: I 'm all out of love, I'm so lost without you
I know you were right believing for so long
I 'm all out of love, what am I without you
I can't be too late to say that I was so wrong
My sister could even sing the harmonies to that one. Tearjerkingly briliant!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Baggy trousers

Today as I nipped out to Sainsburys (or Sainsbries as I prefer to call it) for lunch, my trousers slipped down from my waist and rested on my heretofore gargantuan hips.
The hems of said trousers got soaked and I spent most of the afternoon with cold ankles wondering when exactly the Seven Dwarves of Apocalypse would next make me a visit.
But the other side of it is that I felt utterly smug and delighted with myself because dear reader, I have managed to lose 12.5lbs over the last eight weeks.
Now, those who have cast their eyes over my person will know that is drop in the ocean compared to what I do have to lose but it is a start and tonight I was able to try on clothes a whole size smaller and see them zip up with a little room to spare.
The main reason behind all is that I'm going to be a bridesmaid for my sister next June and I want to look respectable as I tootle down the aisle in front of her. The other reason is that I want to look and feel better. Yes, at the moment with my baggy trousers I look a little like MC Hammer but I feel so much more confident.

SCD Week 6- Give Carol a break!

She may not be the best dancer in the world, but the woman has guts.
Yes, her hands did look a little like she was a little girl who was doing ballet but her lifts were impeccable and graceful.
The judges really need to start giving Smiley Smiley Carol Smilie a break!
I'm not a fan of Craig Revel-Horwood anyway- I think he personifies smug but there was no need for him to tear her apart the way he did on Saturday night.
The judges weren't half as nasty to Peter Schmeichal and quite frankly- he was pants. He may have been good at football once but his Samba left me cringing. Please, please can I never, ever be subjected to that again?
Louisa as always was strong and I LOVED her song- it was one of my favourites in my dancing days. Emma was good, I suppose, but surely I'm not the only person in the world to find her smug and leeeetle tedious? I can't warm to the girl no matter how good her shoulder shimmies.
And that leads me to two things.
First of all Ray and Camilla. What the feck was that about? How did they get voted out? Saturday night's will be a sorrier place because now I only have one man to drool over.
Mark's American Smooth didn't set me on fire the way his salsa did, but it was elegant and I long for my very own man in a tux to spin me around the dance floor.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A world gone mad?

THE WORLD is in a pretty sad state if one of the lead stories on the lunchtime news is that a four year old in England is suffering from depression.
I clicked on the link to the story with the trepidation only a mother can feel at reading sad and moving stories about children. I wondered what her story would be.
Was the poor wee thing getting bullied? Was she ill? Was she the product of a broken home?
No. Mollie Murphy from Sunderland didn't get into the primary school she wanted.
So that begged the inevitable questions- was this because of some sort of prejudice or bigotry? Is that why the poor wee lamb is contemplating Prozac at such an young age?
My maternal heart strings were twanging like never before until I found out, that Mollie didn't get into the primary school she wanted because her mother didn't submit the form in time. Instead of encouraging her daughter to settle into her new primary school, make friends and get on with her young life, Mollie's mother has taken it upon herself to go to the national media and tell them how her daughter is suffering because she is going to a different school than her wee nursery pals.
She has even taken poor Mollie, talked her into pulling a very sad and depressed looking face with a petted lip that would put even my own wee man to shame, and allowed umpteen photographers to take her picture.
This has encouraged people throughout the country to feel sorry for the wee love while at the same time feel utterly horrified that any child could suffer from such a 'grown up' condition as depression.In my opinion what this mother has done is disgusting beyond words.
I've no doubt the girl was a little sad that she didn't get to the same school as her nursery school chums. My own niece was a little sad that she wasn't placed in the same P1 class as her best friend Aoibheann.But was she depressed?
To use a popular Derry expression- Was she feck?
With encouragement from her family my niece managed to get all excited about the new friends she would make in her new class and, at the same time, we helped her stay in touch with her old best friend from nursery.Her mammy didn't phone down to the 'Journal' and demand we run a story about it, because she, like most sane and rational people, realises that sometimes life doesn't go exactly to plan and you have to make the most of what you have.
To brand a child 'depressed' over this most basic of things sets that child up for a victim mentality the rest of her life.
Depression is a very real, very horrible and all encompassing illness that can paralyse a person mentally and emotionally. It's a far cry from a wain who has a head on her because she didn't get into the class she wanted for primary one.
Shout loud enoughThis episode simply serves to teach the world that if you shout loud enough, and use scary words like 'depression' you will get what you want. In other words- huffing gets results. What a fabulous life lesson to teach your child.
As regular readers of this column will know I have a two-year-old son. Being of that certain age he has, in recent weeks, developed the ability to be a stroppy wee monkey and thinks nothing of throwing a full scale tantrum if he doesn't get what he wants.
Much as I don't like to see any child unhappy (especially not my own, after all it will be me who has to listen to the whinging and crying) children have to learn the lesson that the world does not owe them a living and they just have to get on with that.Trust me, it's perhaps easier to give into a huffing child. It would certainly be easier to buy yet another Thomas the Tank Engine toy than put up with embarrassment of an off the scale tantrum as I drag him, legs flailing, out of Smyths.But if I buy that toy, I won't have taught him anything and I think Mollie Murphy most certainly won't be learning anything from this sorry episode either.
What happens when she starts secondary school, or university, or work? Will there be the same outcry of depression if she doesn't get what she wants then?Being a bona-fide card carrying member of the press, I don't often slag the profession off- but I am amazed this story made the headlines in the first place.
There are hundreds if not thousands of children out there who have real problems, who live with abuse, violence, neglect and illness.
They don't get their voices heard in the same way this family have and I'm genuinely baffled as to the reasoning behind the whole thing.If Mollie Murphy were my own child, I would sit her down and give a firm but kind talking too. I would walk down to school with her, sit in on a class if necessary and perhaps invite some of her new classmates round for tea.In short, I would get over myself and help my child move on.
But as I am not Mollie Murphy's mother, I'll just sit with my head in my hands and wonder what on earth the world is coming too.

Shameless self publicity

Be sure to check out my Trashionista review of The Rise and Fall of a Yummy Mummy


If you get the chance pick up the December issue of Practical Parenting and read Keris' article 'It Wasn't Meant to be Like This'. You might just see my ugly mug staring back out at you.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

How gorgeous are you?

I found this very interesting indeed.

Many thanks to my lovely friend Vicki for sharing it with me.
I've commented before on how much of a good idea I think the Dove Self Esteem fund is.

Let's teach the next generation of women just how bloody gorgeous they are.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

2006- the year I wrote a book?

IN JANUARY 2002, myself and my then best friend (long story, save it for the next book) decided to start taking Salsa classes.
(Honestly, this is not another SCD post!). I loved dancing and you know what, I was damn good at it. My friend- well she struggled a little- but she loved it too.
We became somewhat obsessed and went to two classes a week as well as a social night. It became my life. I spent hours practising and while I've never been able to do a floor spin, I could move my hips bloody nicely- thank you.
I even had the chance to dance with a world champion at a salsa festival in Donegal (of all unlikely places).
Anyway, in the midst of our obsession I remember turning to my friend and saying: "Let's make sure we never look back on this and say 'Remember that year we did the salsa?'"
We laughed at the time, because it seemed so unlikely it would or could ever be the case that we just wouldn't want to dance anymore.
In that September, when I was getting really good, I took a fall. That fall happened just days before the salsa fest in Derry and even though I attended my confidence was knocked. My front tooth was broken, my face was battered and I was teamed up with a truly awful dancer. I just didn't have the confidence from that moment on and over the next six months I slid out of the dance scene.
My friend on the other hand went on to become a fantabulous dancer and teacher.
Fast forward to the present day. This year my passion has been writing, but all it takes is one little, seemingly insignificant thing to knock my confidence and convince me I've been fooling myself all along.
I'm waiting for that event and I'm hoping it won't come. Please let it not be the case that in four years from now I reminisce about how I could have been a writer once...

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Tackfest Tuesday- Bryan Adams

In August 2001 I, along with 10,000 other people, crowded into a playing field in Prehen to watch a Bryan Adams concert.
It was memorable for a number of reasons- the first being that I live in Derry and we never, ever get anyone famous come to play a concert.
The second was that I got my tickets for free on the basis that I would review the concert for the paper afterwards.
The third reason is that much as I kind of thought Bryan was okay in a secret guilty pleasure way before the concert, afterwards I thought he - well- rocked.
The thing about Bryan Adams is that he writes songs that we women love. He tries to be all manly and rock-starrish but his ballads are every woman's dream.
I was reminded of that as I watched 'Strictly Come Dancing' on Saturday night and saw Peter and Erin dance to "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman" from the sound track of the film Don Juan De Marco.
Now the thing Don Juan De Marco did was combine the swoony lyrics of Bryan Adams with the total sex-goddishness of Johnny Depp. What more could a woman want?
So in honour of this week's tacky Tuesday, I bring you the Lyrics to 'Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman' by Bryan Adams.
To really love a woman
To understand her - you gotta know her deep inside
Hear every thought - see every dream
Give her wings - when she wants to fly
Then when you find yourself lyin' helpless in her arms
You know you really love a woman
When you love a woman you tell her that she's really wanted When you love a woman you tell her that she's the one
She needs somebody to tell herthat it's gonna last forever
So tell me have you ever really - really really ever loved a woman?
To really love a woman Let her hold you - til younow how she needs to be touched
You've gotta breathe her - really taste her
Til you can feel her in your blood
And when you can see your unborn children in her eyes
You know you really love a woman
I was about 19 when that song came out and I thought it was possible the most romantic thing I'd ever heard in my life. Of course now, if a man told me he could see his unborn children in my eyes I would run a mile screaming- but it was a nice thought at the time.
For my notions on love and passion, Mr. Bryan Adams, I thank you.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Looky what I found!

Sexy- everything about me's so sex-eeeee

Behold that thing of beauty in this picture- for she looks much the same as I do today.

Yes, I have a cold and am a delightful shade of green. I've been sneezing and wheezing since sun up and even now that it's dark I'm still coughing and spluttering.

Let me paint you a picture. It is 8.40pm. I am wearing my oversized pink pyjama bottoms with a tunic style top which looks akin to maternity wear. I am not pregnant- I am just fat.
On my feet are two of the meanest looking fluffy pink slippers you will ever see and I am wearing an oversized lilac fleece dressing gown from my pregnancy days which has long lost its belt. My hair looks as though I have stuck my finger in an electrical outlet and I've taken off my make up so that my nose glows brightly- guiding lost Derry wans up the Foyle and safely home.
I have lathered on some green hemp cream from the Body Shop to ease the dry skin around my face and there are approximately 655 used tissues lying across my desk.

In addition, I keep making snorting, sneezing phlegmy noises.

Sexy? I'm a fecking babe!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

SCD week 5- We have a favourite

IT'S NO secret that I have a love of salsa and thanks to my boss kindly letting me away from work an hour early on Saturday night, I was able to get home in time to see Saturday's unmissable SCD.
Now, let me state from the start that I utterly and totally agreed with nasty Craig about Claire and Brendan- who I did quite like- their dancing was naff. I could have done better and it's a good three years since I donned my salsa shoes.
Carol was okay- her dancing was at the level I used to dance. It didn't blow me away.
But Mark and Karen- wow. It was hot, hot, hot and the man can move. Having been on the receiving end of several really dodgy partners in my salsa time, it was clear that Mark can lead and boy can he shake those hips.
I needed a cold shower afterwards.
How anyone thinks SCD is inferior to watching that eejit Ashley ponce about on X Factor is beyond me.
So, as far as I'm concerned now it's Mark and Karen to win- closely followed by Luisa and whatever her man is called.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Month 33- Must stop swearing

Dear Joseph,

I am terribly sorry for corrupting your innocent wee mind.

Let's discuss language and it's appropriate uses. I am a new driver- that means that much like you, I am still learning the finer points of interaction. You are learning to interact with the world around you, I am learning not to kill other drivers or indeed be killed myself.

There are times, I admit, when swear words spout forth from my usually quite eloquent tongue. This does not permit you to copy them, least of all because much as I try to be quite stern about it, I generally find myself lapsing into fits of embarrassed and childish giggles.

Yesterday, as I drove over a speed bump a little too fast, you interjected with: "That was a f*ck sake bump, wasn't it mammy?"

You can imagine my shock! I nearly crashed the f*cking car.

So I suppose what I'm saying is that this month while you've still not wanted to use your potty, you are coming on in leaps and bounds in your verbal skills. Your Auntie Emma has commented that she now has proper little conversations with you and I agree, you do like to talk.

I'm frequently woken at 3am now to hear about your adventures and I swear, if you weren't so damned cute you would have been put up for adoption now.

But you have a way, in almost everything you do, of making me smile and making me proud. Even if it does involve expletives.

Love you always,



Thursday, November 02, 2006

Strictly pants

I've just realised I'm working til 6 on Saturday and SCD starts at 5.50....


The Gods are laughing at me. I can hear them chuckle. B*stards.

One night in October

I SHARED a wonderful experience with my son this week. On Tuesday night, long past his bedtime, we walked down the street to Riverview Terrace and watched the fireworks light up the night sky.

My sleepy boy, dressed in the trousers from his Dracula costume, an orange sweater and his winter coat cuddled into my arms and watched the sky light up with greens, reds, gold and silver.I

'm not sure which of us shouting "Wow" the loudest or which one of us was most impressed but for those twenty minutes on Tuesday night we both saw a little magic in the air. Joseph was convinced the fireworks were exploding stars and treated all those around him to a resounding rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle" before we padded back up the hill.

As we put him to bed, he fought to keep his eyes open just in case there was one stray firework still waiting to go off.

I'm sure it was a scene played out in many homes in the city on Tuesday night and I'll admit it brought a tear of pride to my eye. Of course, it's a far cry from my day.

While we took Joseph out in his (shop bought) costume, after his Halloween themed party (complete with frightening green cake), we all got to talking about how different it was when we were wee.No one was bought a costume. (Well, no one that I knew anyway). We made do with what was found around the house and I have fond memories of my mother pulling out a huge bag of old curtains for us to choose from.

A purple curtain could transform you into a vampire or a witch. A net curtain would transform you into a bride or a fairy. If you were really lucky you or one of your siblings would have made their First Holy Communion that year and there would be a dress to wear. In the worst case you got a 30p mask from Wellworths and strapped it over your face and buttoned your duffle coat up as far as it could go.

As far as I'm concerned those blasted masks (or false faces as some called them) were responsible for rearing a generation of Derry claustrophobics who struggled to breathe through the tiny air holes while the inside of the mask steamed up with the heat of your breath.

God forbid you insisted on wearing your mask before the big day and you nipped the elastic. You would either then have to walk about just holding your mask to your face or settle for the back of a Cornflakes box cut into a spooky shape and tied on with a stray piece of wool from your mammy's knitting bag.

As my friend put it, you inevitably took on the look of yer man from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

We didn't know about trick or treating and we never expected sweets with our loot. We jusbanged on doors shouting: "Any 'hing fer Hallowe'en?" or "Any nuts and apples?" If we got a Rice Krispie bun in our (Wellworths) bag we thought we had won the lottery- even if it would have disintegrated into a thousand pieces by the time we got home.

When we made it back to the safety of the house, we poured out our bag of treats on the floor. After discarding the bruised apples and the Rice Krispie debris, we set about dividing our nuts into their respective piles.

Monkey nuts were a breeze. Anyone could open them. Hazelnuts were a little tougher to handle. We only had one set of nutcrackers in our house and it was a battle to see who got them first. Those who 'lost', set about either trying smash doors closed on the blasted things, get a hammer out, the end of the poker or- if you were feeling really brave- trying to crush them between your teeth.

Anything bigger than a hazelnut and we knew we were in bother- and there was always at least one mammoth king of the nuts that no one actually knew the name of which would take a sustained effort with the hammer AND poker to get open.

It was all different on Tuesday night. Joseph's costume had been bought weeks ago in Tesco. My sister had stocked up on little pumpkin buckets for him and his cousin to carry and bought pumpkin lights to hang from the window. She was the person responsible for the green cake (which even Joseph turned his nose up at- and he would eat cake over any other food stuff) and she even managed to print out a selection of scary Hallowe'en colouring-in pictures for them to be creative with."
There wasn't a scary king of nuts, a poker or a Wellworths bag to be seen. That said, I suppose Hallowe'en has had to change and move on.

You couldn't possibly send your wains out into the street on a dark night with only a bag of nuts and apples to protect themselves any more- so it's natural, if a little sad, that parties have moved in-doors.

Sure we could do without the sweets and the expensive costumes, but at the same time it's nice to have occasions when the whole family can get together and share a magic moment.For me, I'll be putting the look of wonder on Joseph's face as the fireworks exploded around him in my mental memory book along with the dodgy masks and fun we had swathed in metres of purple 70s style curtains. Both are equally as memorable.
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