Thursday, December 28, 2006
4am: Joseph wakes. I'm aware himself is not in bed yet. Joseph wants to go downstairs to have Coco Pops. He seems to have forgotten it is Christmas so with the help of a quick punch on the nose he falls back to sleep by 4.15am. Am vaguely aware orf himself coming to bed- apparantly he has been "making the house more Christmassy". Resist the urge to go downstairs and clear up inevitable mess.
8am: Joseph wakes again. I'm feeling excited but Joseph appears to still have forgotten what day it is. I tell him, he says "Wow"- my heart melts just that little bit. We wake a reluctant himself and make for downstairs. I creep down first to switch on lights- himself has left them on all night. Thank God we have not been burned to a crisp in our sleep.
8.15am: Joseph comes down the stairs and promptly explodes at sight of toys. Falls muchos in love with his Thomas toys and once he has gotten over the noise fear factor of his Bob the Builder work bench, he also loves that. The drill goes "whuuuurrrrrr", or so he tells me... a lot.
9am: Start process of brushing up 'snow' (flour) from living room floor and stop only to open present from himself. Himself redeems himself remarkably by purchasing diamond pendant for me. I love him.
10am: Shower and dress with full make up. Feels bizarre for 10am. Joseph decides my hair straighteners are more fun than any of his toys so I leave the house with non-straightened frizzy hair to avoid third degree burns, Christmas in Casualty situation.
11am: Take Joseph to my mums. More presents. He falls in love with his Fireman Sam fire engine courtesy of his grandad. If only we had known- we could have saved a fortune.
11.30: Laugh at inappropriate use of toys including a train that boasts of his very special funny and a dancing Barbie who appears to believe in self love.
2pm: Go home. Attempt to have dinner. Himself does. Joseph eats a little. I pick Fireman Sam from my turkey before dealing with over excited meltdown from the wee man.
3pm: Attempt to watch Monsters Inc. Wee man wants to play with noisy toys instead.
5pm: Back to my mums for promise of chocolate cake. Lose will to stay sober so drink while parents promise to drive us home later. Get drunk on two WKD. Realise I am a lightweight.
8pm: Wee man goes to be without fuss. We settle down for 'Strictly' followed by Vicar of Dibley which was amusing. Eat some nuts, drink some wine, have a festive cry and go to bed.
all done for another year.
I'm now propped up by a jillion pillows in bed with my trust laptop off my head on muscle relaxants. I feel all chaotic and twirly...
There is a really weird film on the TV- or that could just be my addled mind. I need a shower, butr I'm not sure if I could get in or out of it safely.
Drugs, drugs and more drugs....
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The presents are ready to be wrapped. The obligatory Christmas emails sent (we dispensed with cards this year, choosing to donate the money towards Oxfam’s school meals scheme) and our Christmas tree is glistening with an array of coloured lights.
I’ve already spent the best part of the last week fending off the wee man’s scurrilous attempts to remove all the decorations from said tree and leave a trail of them around the house. “A tree is for looking and not for touching,” we’ve repeated to him ad nauseum just in time to see him lift off another gold star and tell us he only wants to give it a cuddle.
Our fridge is heaving with seasonal treats, from the bacon and eggs for Christmas morning breakfast to the bottles of wine chilling in preparation for Saturday night when I will sit down, switch on the telly and catch the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ final.
Then, and only then, will my Christmas break have begun.
I have to admit I’m really excited about the whole thing. I’m probably more excited than a grown woman should be about the whole thing especially given the fact that this year, for the first time, the Allan clan are flying solo on Christmas day.
Turning 30 has had a certain effect on me. Most notably I have decided it is time to start acting like a proper grown up and not running to my mammy’s house every five minutes.
Added to this is the fact that wee man is now approaching three years of age and for the first time has a real understanding of the magic of Christmas. He can’t wait for Santa to slide down the chimney on Christmas Eve and leave him an assortment of toys. (His latest request, replacing ‘Toys ‘R’ Us’ has been ‘the moon and stars’- I think he might a little disappointed with the Fifi Magnadoodle in comparison.) It would be unfair of us to lift from his Aladdin’s Cave of goodies and take him to his granny and grandad’s for the day where he would watch his cousin play with her toys instead, so in the spirit of being responsible grown ups and parents we are staying home.
The added bonus for me is that himself has agreed to cook and while I’m on driving duty that day so having to abstain from alcohol, it still means I can plonk myself down on the floor with the wee man and have a wonderful day playing in front of the tree. And when Joseph goes to bed, I’ll be opening the wine and getting pleasantly sozzled and watching the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ Christmas Special, followed by a healthy dose of Hugh Grant being devilishly handsome in ‘Love Actually’.
We have the day planned out, from creeping down the stairs in the morning to checking if the big man in the red suit has been to creeping back up again in the evening and falling into a drink induced sleep.
Of course I’ll be carrying on the traditions of my childhood. Joseph has new clothes- everything from his vest and socks to his shiny new red shoes. Admittedly I had to battle with my husband on that one who argued that I was mad to go the whole hog and that nowhere was it written that a child needed new shoes for Christmas-“The baby Jesus didn’t get new shoes, and I don’t see why Joseph needs them,” he arugued. But he failed to understand that it is tradition round these parts.
When we were wee, and money was tight, Christmas was one of the very few times of the year when you were guaranteed new clothes- from jammies to jumpers. You never got a hand me down for Christmas Day, no matter what other fashion crimes littered your junior wardrobe.
I still remember how wonderful it felt to put on crisp new pyjamas after your Christmas Eve bath and snuggle down in crisp clean sheets and try desperately to fall asleep while waiting for Santa. And it felt even better to dress the next morning in the latest styles, from flouncy dresses to patent leather shoes.
The second tradition was the visit to your granny’s house. My Granny McGuinness’ house was a special treat because having 10 children herself, you were always guaranteed to see most of your family on Christmas morning. We were always treated to presents and a glass of 7Up and a slice of boiled ham. God love my granny, but with 10 children, their partners and a million grandchildren I doubt there was much of the ham, or the 7Up left by the time it came to her sitting down for her dinner.
It was then on to my Granny Davidson’s where my English cousins would be, and we would sit in front of the Top of the Pops Christmas Special and tease my granny about the latest fashions while singing along at the top of our voices.
So I’ll be strapping the J-man into his car seat on Christmas morning and visiting my own parents. I’ve to persuade them to get some ham in for me to snaffle and some 7Up to send Joseph into a sugar induced state of hyperness.
And then it will be home for dinner- a feast of turkey, stuffing, potatoes and broccoli (or Turkey, stuffing, tetatoes and broccowi as Joseph puts it) and TV and booze fest.
All too soon it will be over for another year, but hopefully we, and Joseph, will have a myriad of memories to keep us warm until next year.
I hope the festive season is memorable for you all too and in the words of Rolf from the Muppets: “Have yourself a Merry a little Christmas. May your hearts be light. Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.” God bless.
I'll be signing off now for the festivities. Have a peaceful and prosperous festive season one and all.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Monday was a killer. Work was insane and you know I had my first live interview to do about the book on Radio Foyle. I was desperately worried I would boke or swear or fart or something equally embarrassing live on air- but in the end it went okay.
Tuesday wasn't much better. We decluttered the house before Christmas and I spent a substantial amount of time driving around in my horrible untrustworthy Corsa hoping she wouldn't overheat or explode or something like that- which she likes to do just to freak the bejaysus out of me.
In the end my m bum did not hit the sofa til gone 9pm at which stage I was neither in tacky mode or Christmas mode.
Today has been almost as manic, but that doesn't mean I can't share some festive joy. This week's guilty pleasure is courtesy of Mariah Carey.
"All I Want for Christmas is You" is perhaps the most uplifting and cheerful festive song on the planet. Yes, I know 'Fairytale of New York' is good, but for feck sake the only thing festive about it is when you sing it in a drunken fit at the office do.
So Mariah Carey, I love you for making Christmas fun.
I promise to be more on the ball next week.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
I think perhaps he realised that every time Mammy watches 'Strictly' a little bit less of her heart belongs to daddy and a little more to Rampant Ramprakash...
Anyway, the upshot was I missed his Tango, which is a bummer given that they scored a whopping 39/40 for it.
Their quick step was good, but as I've said before the ballroom doesn't do it for me in the same way as the Latin dances.
That said, I could never take Emma seriously when she was dancing Latin... her argentine Tango left me a little cold last night- too many legs flailing in too many directions. Her salsa looked good though, I'll give the girl that much.
Now I have a dilemma when it comes to Lilia Kopylova and Matt Dawson. Matt, I think is perhaps the most boring competitor ever to hit the 'Strictly' stage, but I do adore Lilia. Their dances are worth while just to watch her if nothing else.
As for the result, well, all I can say is that I'm glad Mark stayed in. I felt a little eeny bit sorry for Emma (just a little mind) but secretly I'm hoping that now she is gone Mark will be highly likely to win the series.
Roll on next week...
(But what will become of my Saturday nights when it is all done?)
Thursday, December 14, 2006
DERRY JOURNAL reporter Claire Allan has fulfilled the dream of a lifetime after signing a four book deal with Irish publishing giant Poolbeg.
By Erin Hutcheon
Her first novel, ‘Rainy Days and Tuesdays’ is set to hit the shops in Autumn 2007.
Claire, who has been with the ‘Journal’ for eight years and writes a weekly column ‘Skirting the Issue,’ says becoming a published author is a “dream come true.”
And with three more books to write in the next three years Claire, mother to two year-old Joseph, knows she’s in for a busy time of it.
“I’m lucky in that my wee man, Joseph, goes to bed nice and early and my other half works evenings so that frees up time for me to write,” said Claire.
“My house is a total pigsty, but something has to give!
“But that’s part of what the book is all about - I mean Mary Poppins was only ‘practically perfect’.”
It was Claire’s fast approaching 30th birthday that spurred her on to write her first novel.
“I set myself a series of challenges when I was 29,” she said. “To pass my driving test and write a novel.
“I passed my driving test in March and finished my book in June, just two weeks before my birthday.
“When we went out for my birthday my sister and mum presented me with a bound copy of my book as a present.
“I was so unbelievably touched and it was amazing to see the book in print. God love them though, because then I made them read it!”
Once Claire had finished writing the book, the hard work of securing an agent and publisher started.
“I wouldn’t be the most patient person in the world and I found it really nerve-wracking posting off the sample chapters and waiting for a response.
“My husband can tell you I was a bag of cats every time the letterbox rattled.
“But in the end I didn’t have to wait all that long. In August, Ger Nichol- who has been an absolute dote- from the Book Bureau offered to represent me and things really got moving.”
Just two weeks ago Claire got the call she had been waiting her whole life for, when Poolbeg offered her a four book deal.
“I was in the Journal office when Ger rang with the news,” Claire said. “I think I went into shock for about a week and then I started to get very excited every time I walked past Eason and through the book section at Tesco.
“I have to say my colleagues at the ‘Journal’ have been really supportive and my family are delighted for me. Everyone wants a free copy when I’m published!”
Claire was just 16 when she first discovered the joy of a Poolbeg book. She recalled: “It was Patricia Scanlan’s ‘City Girls’, as recommended by my friend Mandi, and from that moment on I always had a wee dream of getting published and having that famous red lighthouse logo on the back of my novel.
“Poolbeg have an amazing representation for supporting new authors and have been responsible for discovering new Irish talent like Marian Keyes, Cathy Kelly, Sheila O’Flanagan and Melissa Hill. It’s amazing company to be in and already I’ve been made to feel very welcome by the editorial team.”
And for Claire writing a book like ‘Rainy Days and Tuesdays’ was a natural progression from journalism. "
“After writing Skirting the Issue for a few years people started to tell me I should write a book but I always found a reason to put it off.
“At the start of this year I set myself a challenge however to sit down and write something and soon I found it quite addictive.
“I got lost in the story, and even though I would be tired after a day at work I would find myself looking forward to switching on the PC at night and finding out what happened to the characters next. It was a really thrilling experience.”
‘Rainy Days and Tuesdays’ tells the story of Grace Duddy, a working mother who, on paper, has the perfect life. However she feels at odds with herself and when she finds out her work colleagues have been talking about her behind her back in less than glowing terms things come to a head.
“I think the book deals with issues many modern women face,” said Claire. “We are all struggling to live up to the notion of what is perfect- be it the perfect wife, the perfect mammy and the perfect employee and most of us struggle with that.
“Grace is just like that, but she is a real fighter and takes steps to turn her life around.
“The book deals with some pretty serious issues, such as post natal depression, but there is a lot of humour and warmth in it.”
The book has several very strong female characters. Along with Grace, there is Daisy, her feisty best friend who is a single mother and successful business woman, and there is also a strong and supportive Derry mammy thrown into the mix.
“The book is set completely in Derry and Donegal, which some people have been surprised at,” said Claire.
“We’re not used to having books set locally- not chick lit books anyway. There are some real locations people will be more than familiar with so hopefully it is a book the people of Derry can take to their hearts.”
Claire is already 40,000 words into her second novel, which has a working title of ‘Signed, Sealed, Delivered’ and is due for release in 2008.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
As revealed last week my sister (aka Bridezilla) has arranged for us to go and see Westlife next April in Belfast and this will be the second such time I'll have seen the boys in concert. (I have never seen Brian 'Fat-head' McFadden though, he left and got all up his own arse before I saw them before).
Now you may assumed that this week's song will be 'Flying Without Wings'- indeed it is featured on myself and Mr. Allan's wedding video and I have cried to that 'in the eyes of their children' line many times since becoming a mum. Indeed, Bridezilla has even talking the future Mr. Bridezilla into allowing her to have it as their first dance at their wedding- but this week's song is a little more upbeat.
Forget your choirs and emotional high notes, 'World of Our Own' will always be special to me because I used to sing to my niece - the Dabster- when she was ickle baby tiny.
The instructions for singing this one are simple... Hold a six month old giggling baby girl in your arms and dance around like a lunatic... couldn't be easier.
You make me feel funny
When you come around
Yeah that's what I found out honey
What am I doing without you
You make me feel happy
When I leave you behind
It plays on my mind now honey
What am I doing without you
Took for granted everything we had
As if I'd find someone
Who's just like you
We got a little world of our own
I'll tell you things that no one else knows
I let you in where no-one else goes
What am I doing without you
And all of the things I've been looking for
Have always been here outside of my door
And all of the time I'm looking for something new
What am I doing without you
Well I guess I'm ready For settling down
And fooling around is over
And I swear that it's true
No buts or maybes
When I'm falling down
There's always someone who saves me
And girl it's you
Funny how life can be so surprising
I'm just realising what you do
You've been a little sick lately. Well I say a little, I mean a lot. It started with a bit of a cough of Sunday (your official 34 months birthday) and it's still ongoing.
You went to bed like a wee lamb on Sunday night but within two hours had clambered into bed beside me and lay there moaning, your temperature soaring.
You then threw up everywhere- the most prolific boke of your life if I'm honest- and I tried not to join in as I cleaned it up and got you sorted.
You slept fitfully, the fever making you delirious and my maternal senses were on red alert.
As it turns out it has only been a wee bug. You still have the cough and you turned down sausages today which makes me think you are not quite at yourself, but on Sunday night I really worried about you.
There is nothing worse than thoughts which jump through a parent's mind that something might be really wrong with your child. Yet at the same time I was so grateful because there are parents who every day face the reality of a seriously ill child. All I wanted to do in those hours was make it all better and protect you.
But apart from your bouts of lurgy, you have been in fine form this past month. I see your quirky sense of humour emerge more and more each day. You are obsessed with 'Charlie and Lola' and rockets - in fact every song you know has to have the word rocket in it.
You have taken to singing and talking in your sleep. I was treated to the full version of 'Santa Claus is Coming To Town' last night...
At those moments I want to be cross and tell you to be quiet but who can resist a singing toddler? Whatever the time on the clock.
I love you baby boy.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
You've just got to love Marian Keyes and this is why. The woman is the undisputed Queen of Chick Lit!
There now seems to be a problem with this link, so try this for size...
Nik has written (and published) the wonder 'I met a Roman night, what did you do?'- a kids books well worth a read.
He also remains ones of writings truly really nice guys- always willing to offer support and advice to those of us a little further down the ladder.
And if you ask me, he's quite cute too!
Check out his website, buy his book or stop buy Write Words for a chat. You know you want to.