Monday, July 30, 2007

It's a new dawn... it's a new day...

And I'm feeeeeelin'..... MEH...

I'm going to try and be more positive, honestly I am. It's a new week, so a new start and I'm going to stop dragging my emotional heels and start looking at things from a whole new perspective.

So on that note - reasons to be cheerful..

1) I wrote a book which approx 10,000 have bought and read. Some of them even liked it.
2) I have written a second book which I'm proud of.
3) My son appears to have forgiven me for traipsing off to Dublin twice in two weeks.
4) The sun is shining.
5) My MOT isn't til next week so I have the use of a car until at least then ;)
6) I'm booking my first foreign holiday in what will be 7 seven years some time VERY soon.

All good going for a Monday morning - don't you think?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Kids can say the nicest things...

As I stated it has been a pretty rubbish day so far.
I ended up taking to my bed with a headache and general meh-ness this afternoon and dreamt that
1) My sister's wedding was being held in a hotel in Basra or the like and we were being hounded out by the local army and were most likely to be killed at a moment's notice.
2) Then that the freak weather conditions currently being experienced were getting even freakier and my car had been blown into a wall and ruined.. and indeed my fancy new build house (which doesn't exist) had also come to a sticky end.
I woke still feeling pretty meh and had words with the fruit of my loins who seems to think pulling every wipe out of the wipe box and every cushion of the sofa would make me smile... wrong.
Anyway, I just made our tea and having adopted his "Fireman Sam" persona whereby I get called Penny he turned to me and said "Penny, you are the best fire fighter in the whole world. And you are my hero.."
He's the baby, gotta love him.

Got my grouchy pants on...

Do you ever have a really, really, really grumpy day when even the act of someone breathing beside you can send you into a rage so fearsome and that everyone near you fears the world may come to an end?
It's just me then?
Want to make something of it?
No, I didn't think so.
Anyway, I hate these days because I'm not a noble grouch. I don't crawl off into my cave and put a "Keep Put" sign on the door - I just mope about feeling sorry for myself and barking at anyone who talks to me or God forbid has the nerve to drive anything other than perfectly within a 10 mile radius of me.
I think I can blame hormones, lack of sleep and lack of chocolate. I NEED CHOCOLATE... but I'm trying to be good because chocolate is not good for me in the long run.
I am going to try and get through the day without killing anyone, but if you don't hear from me in a while you might want to check the news reports for tales of a young Derry author gone on the rampage.
I think it might be time to bring Operation Pollyanna back.

The name game

Naming children is a difficult task. We certainly ummed and aahed over naming our first born.
He went through a series of names during my pregnancy before we finally settled on Joseph for our boy.
Other names on the list included Lewis, Max, Oscar and, if he had been a wee girl he would have been Phoebe.
The husband one had already vetoed my most favouritist name in the world ever Grace as, bizarrely, it reminded him of the old comedy classic ‘Are You Being Served’.
He had also, being English, requested no overtly Irish names so Saoirse was out from the outset. “If you have to explain to me how it is pronounced, we aren’t having it,” he said - which was fair enough.
Jointly we vetoed my father’s suggestion of Sally. (Sally Allan - it’s cruel really), and we spent many an hour looking through baby name books and laughing at some of the suggestions (Thor, Algernon, Brunhilde, Yardley or Fairfax).
Being from Derry, I did that typical thing of laughing uproariously and shouting “Imagine calling him/ her in for their dinner. ‘Fairfax, your a wanted!’”.
In the end we copped out and named him after someone. My grandad was Ernest Joseph, so we conveniently pushed the Ernest to one side and opted for Joseph. We then gave him two middle names after his own grandfathers - so he became Joseph Peter David.
What we didn’t do, however, was try and roll them altogether to make up a whole new name like Jopeda (although that does have a certain ring) - because we knew when it comes to giving a child a name it has to stay with them through their entire life. That includes the times in school when the teacher reads out your middle name and all your class mates laugh. It includes your graduation day, when the Provost reads out your middle name and all your fellow graduands laugh at it and your wedding day when the priest reads out your full name and all the guests laugh etc.
Your name has to carry you into your career. Jopeda Allan, Attorney at Law, doesn’t have the ring of authority about it, nor would it look particularly good in a by-line.
And much as I love my son with all my heart and soul, and call him Handsome Pants as a pet name, I could not imagine actually making this part of his name. Handsome Pants Jopeda Allan really, really doesn’t work. (It’s almost as bad as Sally Allan).
Which all brings me to my point, which is why in the name of all that is pure did Kate ‘Jordan’ Price and the human Ken doll she calls a husband think it would be a good idea to call their new baby daughter Princess Tiaamii?
I know with parents such as Katie and Pete and a big brother called Junior (just Junior, not Peter Junior, or Jordan Junior... ) she wasn’t like to have a normal childhood anyway, and we would have been surprised if her name was something fairly pedestrian, like Katie or Peter for example - but Princess Tiaami?
Surely I’m not the only person who A) can’t help but hear ‘Princess’ in a creepy Dirty Den style voice or B) thinks Tiaamii sounds like some weird Eastern exercise regime? Apparantly they called the little baby Princess because ‘Tinkerbell’ was already taken by a host of celebrity dogs. (I kid you not) and the Tiaamii after their mothers, Thea and Amy. Although apparantly they ‘put two i’s at the end just to make it look a bit different’. Did they not know Princess Tiaamii looked pretty different anyway? You don’t get many of them down in the Bogside.
But then celebrities never have been known for choosing normal names for their children. I’m not sure if they are just so supremely arrogant that they believe their children will escape a good beating in the playground because of their unusual monikers or if they just don’t care.
Names of choice from the great and the good in recent years have included Phoenix Chi and Angel Iris (Scary Spice), Coco (Courtney Cox), Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo (Jamie Oliver) and, perhaps my favourite, Moxie Crime-Fighter (some American comedian pair).
I just don’t know what happened to good old fashioned decent names and I suppose celebrities aren’t the only ones who can be guilty of being a little wacky.
When I had my wee man, and was recovering in hospital, the chaplain called in to offer us a wee blessing on the new baby. When she asked his name and I replied “Joseph” she breathed a sigh of relief :”Thankfully, one I can pronounce and spell!” We’ve all heard tales of Beyonce Doherty, Kylie McLaughlin and a host of double barrelled or uniquely spelled names which sound like they should be in an instruction manual rather than a baby book.
A friend recently sent me a picture of a child’s name label in nursery which proudly declared that this is where Octavious Fooks hangs his little duffle coat. What we need to start remembering is that a name is for life and it would best not to name a child something that you wouldn’t be proud to wander about with yourself.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My road to damascus...

I've been pondering my third book for a while now. I had an idea which I loved and had researched it - starting writing it - and gone off the boil.
That fecker Grace Adams keeps wanting back in on the action and I've been trying to quieten her down.
But last night, as I tried and failed to get to sleep...seriously, it's no craic not being able to sleep... I had my epiphany and now I'm itching to get writing.

Ooooh, it's gonna be fun!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Holding its own!

Just had an email from the Lovely Niamh at Poolbeg and Rainy Days and Tuesdays is sat at number 11 this week on the Original Fiction Bestsellers list.

Not bad considering yer wan JK Rowling brought out some new book.

"capitulation to market-induced self-loathing"

Sometimes I love my job!
This letter received on our website certainly raised a smile (and a hackle or two) today.

Dear Sir,
I am puzzled by the inclusion of the feminist symbol in Claire Allen's column, as her musings would tend to indicate acceptance of gender-specific roles as opposed to questioning the male hegemony.
In the words of eminent Zappologist Paul Sutton I think she is mistaken if she views her column as a creative act of resistance and self-formation, rather than as a capitulation to market-induced self-loathing.

First of all, I would like to point out to the writer of said letter that my name is spelled Allan, that's Allan with an A, not an E. You really would have thought someone who can spell hegemony and capitulation would find such a word simple to spell.

Second of all, the writer of this letter is male. This poses a problem to me. If I take on board his statement (once I've figured out what a Zappologist is) then I will be conforming to his own very special brand of hegemony. I'm a woman - I feel as the owner of a uterus and ovaries that gives me the right to discuss the issues I feel relevant to the modern woman. Sorry if I'm not battering the glass ceiling every week, but you know sometimes Kate Winslet's weight really is more important...

Thirdly I am not capitulating to any notion of self-loathing. I don't hate myself (all the time). I am instead using the comedic skill of self depracation. It's actually very funny and I think that the writer of the above letter would do well to learn how to use it himself.

And finally as a career woman, working as a senior reporter in a male dominated industry and having gained a plethora of qualifications and driving a Corsa (the traditional car of wee spides out racing down the Dungiven Road) I really, really don't think I'm conforming to gender specific roles - unless of course you are referring to the whole giving birth thing. Well I tried to talk my other half into doing that for me, but for some reason he refused.

Phew... that feels better.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Shameless self promotion

Sorry I can't get the angle right

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Just what the doctor ordered...

For a wee laugh...

Funny, funny stuff with so many quotable lines...

"She needs food.."
"Annie Goulihee?"
"I was a short, fat slut..."

But perhaps this bit best of all... buh buh buh buh buh buh

Dumpsville- Population me...

I've kind of promised I won't use this blog for little whinges and whines because, contrary to popular opinion, a lot of the time I'm quite happy person. (Well on the outside - inside I'm generally crying over my weight and my skin and my son's lack of desire to lstop losing the bap at regular intervals just for the craic.)
But I'm feeling a little low this week. Perhaps it is the come down from the last number of weeks - bridezilla's wedding which, yes, I know I've not posted pictures of yet- Nora's gorgeous new baby boy arriving (my uterus skipped a beat when I held him and he did that delicious snuggling into my neck thing that new borns do) and of course the small matter of becoming (for a week anyway) a top ten best-selling author.
For the past year I have had something to look forward to and now, while I'm loving looking back at it, it feels a bit empty now. Of course there is 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered' which please God the publishers will love as much as I love, but apart from that it's work and the day to day routine which seem to be calling.
I have become so eager to have something to look forward to that I'm even (someone stop me) getting broody- not helped by the fact that everywhere I look these days are gorgeous, blooming pregnant women or ickle, tiny, beautiful babbies like wee Finn.
I don't actually 'do' pregnancy very well at all, so why I would look forward to it is beyond me. Maybe it is the thought that my 'baby' is starting pre-school in about six weeks and is riding a big boy bike and forsaking his rather girly coloured Balamory Trike. (Anyone need a Balamory Trike?), or maybe it is that my other baby (Rainy Days and Tuesdays) has flown the nest and no longer needs me to primp and preen it and care for it tenderly?
Then again, I could forget it all and get a wriggle on with writing my third book which so far pays homage to Pea and Ham Soup and not much else.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Leave the Mum Lit writers alone please...

My friend and colleague Erin recently showed me an article from a national paper complaining about the current glut of ‘Mum Lit’ hitting the shelves in Ireland.
Being part of that glut I felt somewhat personally aggrieved. It seems the writer in question thinks it’s all a bit too formulaic and boring.
And it doesn’t really offer women any real sustenance in terms of good reading.
And besides, it’s all done before. Sure in Marian Keyes’ first novel ‘Watermelon’ the main character has a baby and sure isn’t that book just gas... (And it is, in case you wondered... I admit it's bloody brilliant).
But the fact is that there are very few original stories still out there - but there are original ways to tell them. That’s what every writer, from Queen Marian to yours truly tries to achieve each time we sit down and batter out something on our laptops.
And what we are all (well perhaps not Marian as she is at the tippity top of her game) trying to do is be accepted as writers, as valid contributors to society. We are trying to get a foothold in a competitive and harsh business. I think that is pretty damn admirable.
What said writer was doing was throwing the same old well rehearsed criticisms at Mum Lit as have been traditionally and predictably thrown at Chick Lit and the most frustrating thing about the whole damned thing is that said writer is a woman (and, I believe, a mother to boot).
I could wax lyrical about why this makes me angry, but since this writer clearly thinks Marian Keyes is the better woman (and hell, so do I), I’ll leave it to her to make my point.

“I feel a rant coming on. Just sick – BORED, BORED, BORED – mes amies, of being attacked for being a pink fluffy writer by a load of fuckheads with a misogynistic agenda, who have never read my books or the great reviews they get. ... I have nothing but contempt for those men and sometimes women (I call them collaborators) who write articles undermining what women like and enjoy, intending to unsettle women enough that they won’t ask for things. Like equal pay. And decent child-care. And money for refuges for victims of domestic violence. And an end to joke sentences for convicted rapists. I could go on… but mes amies, I’m so tremendously bored of it.
(And can I also say, because if I don’t, the fuckheads will, that I don’t expect everyone to like my books. I am simply asking for 2 things. 1) Don’t judge my books if you haven’t read them. 2) Leave women alone. We don’t try to make you feel ashamed for the things you like, like Kate Moss’s arse and expensive hifi’s. Please return the favour.)”

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Excuse me.... but do I know you?

I've been stopped three times by random strangers in the past two days to congratulate me on the book.
It's been lovely, if a little scary. On one occasion Joseph was clinging to me whining because he wanted to go to the car and open the toy car I'd bought him (bribery and corruption being frequent themes in this house) and on another in a restaurant toilets while I had "words" with Mr. Allan on the phone about Joseph's reluctance to go to sleep without me being in the house.

Faced with such circumstances I tend to turn an attractive puce colour and thank people profusely before walking away. Hope no one thinks I'm getting ideas above my station!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Two weeks in...

Or is it closer to three?
I've kind of lost track... things have been mad... and by mad I mean totallly mind-alteringly mental, like nothing I've ever experienced before.
This morning I found myself, at 7.30am sat on a sofa drinking tea having a wee chat with Frank 'It's a cracker' Carson at the studios of TV3.
Last week I sat on the hallowed sofas of UTV and on Saturday past I spent two hours sitting at a desk in the middle of Eason signing books for the lovely and very supportive people of Derry.
In between times I've been traipsing around Dublin with the very funky Lynda from Poolbeg, and having dinner with supermum Paula Campbell and the lovely Niamh.
Today the lovely Niamh made herself seem even more lovely my eyes by phoning me and telling me RD&T has reached number 9 in the original fiction chart!
Aside from chart positions though, I had a number of women tell me how the book has moved them to laughter and tears and how it has in some way made them re-evaluate their lives.
You can't get better than that!
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