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.

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