Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I'm not sure I had these whole belly ripples with Joseph - but I have them countless times a day with the Flipster. She's doing it right now, just so you now, wriggling about like a wee fish - which is ironic really given my pathological fear of all things fish-like. (Apart from Flounder from 'The Little Mermaid' who is very cute).
Generally - and I mean post motherhood - NYE has involved me getting the wee man to sleep as soon as possible and then, after sitting and complaining about the lack of decent telly, going to bed at around 10.30 and do my damndest to be asleep for midnight.
It's not that I don't like the hope of a new year, it's more that I don't do so well with the reflection of the year past. Being a born pessismist I tend to focus on the negative more than the positive and that is so not conducive to a good night's sleep.
I also become an emotional wreck at midnight - positive and negative- and tend to stand over the sleeping boy and cry at how much I love him. Which wakes him up and traumatises him - I mean for the love of God who wants to wake to find their mother sobbing over their bed in the wee small hours?
I'm working tomorrow too - at 9am - and given the current hugemongously pregnant state that I'm in, I don't cope well with less than 10 hours of sleep (including frequent breaks for trips to the toilet, the taking of the middle of the night anti-emetic and the rolling over and listening to my pelvis actually pop back into place).
So for all those celebrating tonight - have fun, drink loads and enjoy yourself. I hope your reflections are positive and your hopes are many.
Tomorrow I think I'll ressurect a best of 2008 post to focus on the positive, but for tonight just wish me sweet dreams.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Here is a pic of "the bump" at 30 weeks gestation. (Sounds kind of freaky alien like, non? Well she feels like it some times - very fond of the full body swivels this one... most disconcerting when you are sitting at your desk and your tummy moves all over the place...)
While the thought of pushing said baby out of my fandango in an experience which will probably smart a little does not fill me with joy, I am looking forward to being done with this pregnancy melarky - for the last time ever!
They say they know when you are done with your family and trust me I am SO done. I am over done. I was done 13 weeks ago when I puked on the plane.
That's not to say I can't wait to meet my little girl - and to love her and care for her and enjoy her as much as possible - but lordy I am ready to not be pregnant any more.
I heard from a friend today that her niece has just given birth and while I'm admittedly having duck disease at the prospect of labour, I did feel jealous. It's over her - she has her baby and the love in can begin in earnest.
Still, that said, I'm not prepared at all really. We have a few things in (the baby has two prams... bargains which could not be turned down) but I've not a vest, nor an ounce of cotton wool, nor a coat for the poor pet yet. Still - 10 weeks to get organised.
That's really not very long is it?
Thursday, December 25, 2008
The boy is asleep in our bed - utterly, utterly exhausted from a day of full on excitement, and I'm here - a little mixture of tired, happy and emotional.
So how was it for you?
Christmas started here early - very early. I got up at 5am to take my middle of the night anti-emetic (Such a fun part of my night-time routine) and was only just nodding back off when Joseph started his morning conversation.
It was 5.25am. There was NO WAY we were getting up at that time - Santa or no. I tried, in vain, to persuade him to go back to sleep and he did really, really try but by 6.30 he was almost crying with frustration.
"Mummy, there is just something in my head which won't let me go back to sleep," he said. "I'm just too excited."
So remembering that feeling well from my own childhood - a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away - I caved. The husband was dispatched downstairs to check if Santa had been and once it was ascertained that indeed he had, Joseph and I followed.
There is nothing as magical as seeing a child's face on Christmas morning - except knowing that they are grateful for all they have got.
"Mammy," he said, "I must have been a really, really good boy this year. Santa has brought me so much."
And you know, Santa hadn't really brought all that much but enough to make my son grin from ear to ear.
After the statutory 7am on Christmas morning eating of inappropriate confectionary (he had Haribo - or "hars bars" as he calls it) and the trashing of our living room, the husband took pity on my pale and sick looking self and allowed me back to bed while he and Joseph bonded over the boys' toys. (I'm crap with Lego. I shouldn't be allowed near it. I only make walls... nothing as fancy as trucks and fire stations).
So two hours later I got up again and we feasted on bacon sandwiches while I played a mean game of Thomas the Tank Engine on the V-Smile.
It was a shower and an application of make up (something I've not done in a long, long time (make up that is, not shower. I do shower regularly)) later we went to my mum's where she was cooking dinner and we would have the family exchange of presents.
And the boy would go into orbit with excitement at the array of gifts he received. The new baby also received some gorgeous bits and pieces.
Dinner (vay lovely) later and a small glass of wine (my first in six months) I felt nicely chilled out and exceptionally fat.
The boy however, having been awake for 13 straight hours, was starting that glazed, manic, huffy thing that only over tired four year olds can pull off. I had planned on staying in my parents a little longer but I know the signs of imminent meltdown well enough to get out of there and quick. I knew when we got the child home, and he was allowed his nightly "nudey rudey" time (he is a exhibitionist at heart) he would be fine.
And he was. He cuddled on my knee, drinking a cup of milk and then we snuggled together til we went to sleep.
"I love you so much mammy," he told me. "I love you every day and not just Christmas. I'm so glad you are my mammy."
I'm exceptionally glad too.
Who could ask for a more meaningful Christmas message?
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Me: "No Joseph, definitely only one. We are going to have *insert name which for now is a secret* and that is all."
J: "No mammy. Definitely two babies."
Me: "Well, I suppose I have you and you are my baby too I'll have my baby boy and baby girl and sure won't that just be lovely?
J: "Yes mammy. But if baby *insert name which for now is a secret* dies you'll have to get another one."
I'm more than a little disturbed.
Then again this is the child who spent the day asking questions about Baby P after finding an old magazine with a picture of the poor pet's injuries in it. I was going to put the magazine in the bin when the boy started crying.
"Please don't mammy. I love Baby P."
Again not sure whether to be touched or seriously disturbed. Wouldn't you just love to know the thought processes of a four year old?
In less disturbing news he woke in the middle of the night recently to tell me his hand "was fizzy".
I'm thinking that will be my new way of describing pins and needles from now on.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Last week I wrote my column in the Journal about this song - a real blast of childhood nostalgia which can reduce me to tears now, even though it's a stuffed dog and a long gone country singer singing.
John Denver is synonymous with my childhood, as are the Muppets, and their Christmas album WAS Christmas chez Davidson.
This song - with promises that next year all our troubles will be far away - is beautiful and poignant and I wish you all a sincere and heartfelt happy Christmas.
In fact every time he hears anyone has a baby in their tummy, he shakes his head in a serious manner and says "Oh dear, they must be throwing up a lot".
I think I have traumatised my child for life.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
This might, in fairness, be a little TMI at times so you have been warned. Anyone of a sensitive disposition should run away, screaming, at this point.
Anyway, on June 25 (the husband's birthday) I got a very faint positive line on a pregnancy test. However I had managed to get distracted between the peeing and the reading of the result so couldn't be sure it was an accurate result and convinced myself it was purely an evaporation line. This was despite feeling rough as the proverbial badger's arse for the previous 10 days.
The following day, I started bleeding so was convinced it had indeed been only an evaporation line and came home from work - poured a mahoosive glass of wine and drowned my sorrows.
Only I was still feeling sick and, well, pregnant.
I was convinced to test again and a positive line came up straight away (no distractions) so immediately all I could think was that yes, I was beduffed, but feck it, I was already miscarrying.
My head, as they say round these parts, was a marly.
The next day, bleeding having stopped, I bought a Clear Blue Digital test which proclaimed "pregnant" at me in large letters and this was one about 2689 pregnancy tests I did over the coming weeks.
Feeling sick as a dog I soon started to feel sorry for myself but reminded myself that with the boy I had felt sick til 13 weeks and then been just fine for the remainder of my pregnancy. The countdown to 13 weeks started in earnest. I would feel well again then - and be able to eat and do what I wished.
At 6 weeks and 2 days beduffed, I started bleeding again. Bright red blood. Now I'd bled with the boy - but it had been browny and "old blood" and he had been fine and while it had been scary, it was nowhere near as scary as bright red blood. I took a panic, told a colleague tearfully in work and she whisked me to A&E - where I did yet another pregnancy test and was sent for a scan.
Now by 6 weeks you should see something in a scan - but they couldn't. They thought they saw a yoke sack, and possibly a foetal pole (which is basically a dot) but there was no heartbeat or anything discernably baby looking.
I was told to go home, rest, and wait it out for two weeks before a rescan. All the while still bleeding. (With that fecking Leona Lewis song playing through my head the whole time... "keep bleeding, keep, keep bleeding").
It was the longest two weeks of my life. And yet I was feeling sicker and sicker. (I started to wonder was it possible to actually feel any sicker?) But when we reached 8 weeks (5 weeks before the hurrah! 13 week mark) I was taken for me scan.
And lo, there was a heartbeat and a shrimpy shaped thing on screen wiggling at us. Our baby was alive. The bleeding had stopped. We would most likely be parents again.
13 weeks came and went - the sickness just came and came. I went to Dublin at 14 weeks for book promo and ended up violently ill in Bewley's Hotel (entirely pregnancy related). I learned the valuable lesson that day that mushrooms take a long time to digest.
Two weeks later I went to Dublin again thinking I would be safe if I flew down- and spent the day trying not to be sick - only to find on the flight home that there was nothing in this world which was going to stop me puking. All over myself. Twas not my finest hour.
At that stage (16 weeks and three weeks past the magical 13 week mark) I begged the doctor for help and was prescribed metoclopromide for hyperemesis - even though at that stage I was only being physically sick 2/3 times a week - the nausea was becoming a little much to take.
So I took metoclopromide for 8 weeks until I was advised to try not taking it - just to see how I went. By this stage, I should say, even on medication I was now being sick daily.
The day after I took my last metoclopromide I woke in what can only be described as a state of panic. (I should state that two weeks prior to this, partly I think to the constant sickness, I had been diagnosed once again with my arch nemesis depression and put on Prozac- I have thought long and hard about revealing that on this blog but as I have been so open about my depression in the past it would be remiss of me to pretend to be just fine and dandy now).
Anyway, that panic attack didn't lift and was accompanied by constant retching, throwing up and a total loss of appetite. I spent that weekend crying, throwing up and feeling utterly, utterly rotten. I can put my hand on my heart and say that I have never felt so low - so utterly in hell - as I did that weekend.
And yet my brain was addled. By Monday morning - despite not having eaten in three days, not being able to keep water down and bursting into tears at every opportunity I insisted on getting ready for work. I dressed, throwing up into a basin beside me, and it was only when I narrowly avoided fainting that I realised something was seriously wrong. By that stage I couldn't even keep a sip of water down.
Cue me being taken to the doctors and admitted to hospital (see post further down about that).
I was rehydrated, given different medication and urged to keep taking the Prozac. The panic didn't ease. I spent hours staring into space feeling as if I wanted to give up. I saw no joy in anything - I just felt beyond wretched. In many ways I think I had a breakdown of sorts - which I know was contributed to by the dehydration.
Earlier this week, or perhaps last, something changed. Whether it was body recovering from the dehydration - whether it is the new anti-sickness medication (valoid) working, or the Prozac kicking in I have felt able to cope. Yes, I'm still being sick on a daily basis and it does get me down - despite having mastered the art of projectile vomiting - but I see hope and joy again.
I can put my hand on my heart and say in the last week I have finally been able to feel excited about the prospect of being a mum again - and it's not forced or because I should feel that way. It is genuinely and honestly how I feel - and it had destroyed me for a long time not feeling any glimmer of hope or excitement.
So if you want to know why I've not been posting as much, now you do. I felt the need to share so that anyone else going through this doesn't feel quite so alone.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I've actually managed not to puke today (there was a minor reflux incident when I drank some water this morning but no stomach turning retching).
Nonetheless I knew it would be unwise of me to join my colleagues for a four course dinner. Damn it, if I'm going to throw up in front of people I'd prefer for it to me drink related rather than 6.5 month pregnancy related.
So while I sincerely hope they are having a good time - and I'm gutted to be missing out on discovering who won the elusive 'Rear of the Year' award - I know I'm better off where I am.
And all being well I'll be asleep by 10pm.
The only question is whether or not I order a pink car seat from the Mothercare sale before I toddle off up the stairs. Even though three seperate sonographers have now told me this baby is a girl, I'm still expecting her to come out avec winky. Could I really subject a son of mine to a pink car seat for the first four years of his life? Perhaps not.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
I took til gone 12 to drop off and was awake again at 4. You can imagine how delightful I look today at my desk!
But still this is supposed to be the spirit of gratefulness. Well today I'm grateful for the fact that is now just 3 months til this baby this due. Despite being just over 27 weeks gone, I just hit the 6 month mark today (Baby is due March 9).
I'm officially in my third trimester and on the home straight. I'm sure it won't be plain sailing from here on in - it hasn't been so far - but I am closer to meeting our new edition and bringing her into our family.
It is sometimes hard, when things have been so physically and emotionally demanding, to remember that there is a pot of gold at the end of this all. There are times when I can't see past the next few days or hours - but at the end of it all I will have a beautiful baby girl. She will complete our family, be a daughter to my husband, a sister to my son and hopefully a lifelong friend to me.
I marvelled last night as I made up Joseph's packed lunch at how quick children grow up. He was standing beside me, chatting all the time and exerting his gorgeously bubbly personality and I thought "Oh my God, I'm going to experience this all over again with a new human being soon".
So I'm grateful today for my baby - I probably don't say that half enough.
Monday, December 08, 2008
I'm back at work today - so far, so good. No puking in the loos, mad panic attacks or bursts of uncontrollable hormonally driven crying. But I am tired - vay tired - and can't deny I'm looking forward to home time.
By which stage I will gratefully crawl into my bed as soon as the boy has gone to his and curl up for a big sleep.
There is nothing as blissful as a comfy bed when you are bone tired and feeling a little fragile.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Feeling a little bruised and battered lately it was the perfect antidote to my current circumstances.
I was offered the choice between traditional Reiki and Angel Reiki - now whether or not you believe in the power or existance of angels is one thing but having previously had a few sessions of angel healing for a feature article I was writing I was willing to give it a go.
The lovely lady guided me through the session -picking up on my key stress points and worries and channelling messages to me about how I need to relax more and go with the flow.
My life is going through changes at the moment and I'm not one to cope well with change. Even if, like this baby, that change is something I very much desire. I've been waking in the middle of the night thinking we are off our head to change from the status quo and wondering how we will divide our time/money/ affection to another human being (and one who will be very demanding at first).
The key message I got from my session was that just because I don't know where my journey is going right now (and I don't - I face uncertainty in a lot of aspects of my life) that does not mean I won't be safe when I reach my destination. So I'm to trust in myself that I will get there and I will be happy. The control freak in me doesn't like leaving things to chance, but this is what I need to do. Keep doing what I can - and not trying to do too much - and trust that things will be okay.
So today's gratefulness post is about just that - trusting that it will be okay and being grateful for what I have now not what I could or couldn't have in the future.
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I got this today from the lovely BFS blog and the best bit about it is that I have to list six things I value the most and then spread some love around.
Given that I'm trying to be very positive minded at the moment and not always getting there this is a great challenge and honour for me.
So here goes,,,
- I value my friends. I have the best friends a girl could ask for - friends who would walk over hot coals for me. Friends who inspire me. Friends who are there on the other end of the phone or email if I need a laugh, or a cry, or a chat or just to say some bad words. Some of these friends I've been blessed to make in adulthood which I do think is amazing as adulthood doesn't often bring true friendship.
- My family - that includes my husband, son and unborn baby daughter of course. They keep me grounded and make me feel cherished. (Well madam doesn't so much make me feel cherished as make me feel sick - but she is bringing me a lifetime's ambition and making me the mother of a little girl.) As for the boy - he is my light and my soul. Also in the family connection are my parents and my siblings. I honestly struck gold.
- My job - which allows me a degree of creativity but also office banter that hilarious, witty and mostly non-repeatable. Without the opportunities afforded to me in my work place I don't think I would have found the courage to write books.
- Which brings me on to my talent. Now when I was wee we were told pride was a sin and that we weren't to boast of our talents. Now I don't think I'm any literary giant, but I write books people respond nicely too and that is a great, great honour.
- Which links me on to the lovely people at Poolbeg - the most supportive publishing house in the industry. I could never have dreamed of a top ten bestseller without their hard work.
- And finally - my house - messy and all as it is, for it provides me shelter and comfort when the outside world seems too much.
Now - I have to share the love - so the awards go to...
Fionnuala at Talksville - Population One
The fabulous Keris Stainton
Emily at Doing the Compossible
Sharon Owens (Okay so not technically a Blog... but she updates regularly).
Honest to goodness this baby better be worth it!
So I'm trying to get back into some kind of routine. I'm actually (madly) looking forward to getting back to work and having the office banter to keep me going during the day and keep my sanity in check.
I'm also trying to get back on the writing horse - having taken a dehydrated leave of absence (honest, I tried, but it was a bit gobble-de-gooky and rambly) and get my house in order for Christmas. Apart from Santa shopping nothing is done - and I mean nothing, so sorry to everyone who hasn't or won't receive anything from me this year. I think I have a good excuse.
So I'll be trying to blog more and make more of a contribution.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
On Saturday last I had what can only be described as a bit of a meltdown. On the advice of doctors I stopped taking my anti-sickness tablet to see how I went.
By Monday morning I was a snivelling "I want my mammy" wreck who could not even keep water down. (It wasn't pretty - really, really unpretty).
So I was dispatched to the doctors at lunchtime and by mid afternoon I was in hospital, attached to a drip and drugged up on a new anti-sickness drug which does in fact work (when I can manage to keep it down in the first instance).
I spent 24 hours attached to a drip while three litres of saline were pumped into my body and I was encouraged to drink as much as possible. The only downside being that every time I needed to pee (which was an awful lot) I had to literally unplug my drip from the wall and push the heaviest stand in the world ever down the corridor to the tiny loo and try to pee without pulling the canula from my arm.
I shared my hospital room with several expectant mums - all of whom in early labour or ready for induction and spent an awful lot of time saying "No, no, I've 15 weeks to go. No I'm just in here cos I'm sick" and freaking out as their pains grew.
I got out of hospital on Wednesday - still dehydrated but tolerating water - and I have honestly felt the worst I ever have in my life in these past few days. I'm prone to anxiety anyway - but couple that with dehydration you end up with pretty much a 24/7 panic attack. Plus I feel so very, very weak.
Good news? I'm now lighter than I was before I got pregnant - although I'm pretty sure that's not meant to happen and at this stage I would welcome some weight gain.
Actually I would welcome being able to sit down and enjoy a decent meal - I'm hungry but very scared of vomitting so living on toast and scrambled egg where possible and averaging about 600 calories a day (which is very not enough!).
So I'm trying to get back into the spirit of writing and being positive and trying to shake this awful bad feeling I have.
I want to feel better - physically and emotionally. I want to get back to work (I miss that place - for my sins) and spend my day doing something more constructive than staring at the toilet.
And I want to start getting excited about this little babba in my tummy - who is kicking away like a good 'un to let me know she's there.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
It is perhaps because I've been awake since 5.30am (puking then Joseph with random questions) and that I didn't sleep well particularly anyway (very disturbing dream about being in a concentration camp - not pleasant at all) but it feels like it should be about 10pm.
Have been reading news websites to find inspiration for my weekly column and after last week's 'Accentuate the Positive' it has been hard to find happy stories. I've ended up writing about Baby P which has made me feel like crying - but also made me appreciate the questions at 5.30am from the boy.
Five weeks til Christmas Eve - are you ready yet?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Yes, you are also a mum to be. You are, for all intents and purposes, a host or an incubator for a new life and boy do we women know it. From the moment the second line appears on that testing stick your life changes. Out goes the wine and the Nurofen (I miss wine and I REALLY miss nurofen). If you are stressed you are supposed to channel love and light - not mild anti-psychotics and if you are poorly sick you are allowed two paracetamol on an occasional basis.
Another reward for this pregnancy melarky is acid reflux and the treatment that is Gaviscon. What kind of medieval torturous mind came up with that sick in a bottle?
It is hard, therefore, just sometimes not to want to scream that you are in there and you matter too. And you want a nurofen and a handful of peanuts and to be treated as an individual not just someone's mammy to be. At every turn of this pregnancy I've been advised to "think of baby" and much as I know baby is a defenceless little creature who needs me to wear my sensible hat there is a part of me - a selfish part of me - which wants to think of me.
Yesterday I had an appointment at the hospital and for the first time in this pregnancy I was treated like me - just me. While doling out advice the lovely consultant I was speaking to said that while baby was obviously very important his main concern was me and my health - healthy mammy works well to make healthy baby.
I wanted to kiss him (no tongues, just on the cheek) and thank him for thinking of me first for making me feel like more than a host or an incubator which in turn does actually make me appreciate "baby" all the more.
Friday, November 14, 2008
I swear I am reaching the stage where if I hear a single mention of the “current climate” or “economic downturn” one more time I’m not going to held responsible for my actions.
Sure, things are tough out there at the moment for a lot of people - but being constantly reminded of the fact is not making life any more bearable or enjoyable.
I’m not advocating a bury your head in the sand approach to the whole thing - although sometimes hiding under the duvet, putting my fingers in my ears and singing “La La La, I can’t hear you” sounds mightily appealing. What I am, however, advocating is that we all just stop being such merchants of doom and gloom. Life is tough, but it’s not impossible.
A friend and I have decided to make sure we focus on the more positive things in life for a bit. Like most people we are feeling the pinch but, as my friend so rightly said there is some comfort in at least knowing that we (in a High School Musical fashion) are all in this together.
We are all being challenged on a daily basis to think more creatively with our finances and to do the best we can to protect our children from the feeling the strain.
I’m trying my best to remind myself of when we were growing up. Like a lot of Derry families we didn’t have much money - but there were very few occasions when I actually felt deprived.
In fact the only one that truly springs to mind was not having Levi jeans when the rest of my Bros loving friends had them. I made do with the Dunnes Stores, Better Value version.
There was always food on the table, clothes on our backs and plenty of presents under the tree at Christmas. In hindsight - and after talking these things through with my parents as an adult -things were tight on more than one occasion.
There is a story of legend in our house about how my mother fed us wains custard for our tea one night as the cupboards were bare and at least we would be getting something warm in us, and a good dose of milk.
I know my parents spent a lot of our childhood eeking things out and making do - but as children were protected from their financial worries and in fact we found different ways to pass the time. Sure there were no personal computers or games consoles. We didn’t always have the latest must-have toys. (Although I did get a Crystal Barbie one year and was over the moon with myself - she was the most envied doll in Rosemount Primary School). And as I’ve said high fashion didn’t come into it. We were a family clothed in home knits and hand me downs - although there were always new clothes for special occasions and the excitement of new pyjamas at Christmas. (I’m pretty sure we got new pjs during the year, for the record. We didn’t have just the one set to see us through - but Christmas stands out.)
My husband always has a good laugh when I tell him that there were no array of breakfast cereals in our house and we made do with Weetabix or Ready Brek except for at Christmas were there was an annual box of Sugar Puffs - which was a source of amazing excitement.
And as I’ve become a little bit (for that read a lot) obsessive about cutting down on our oil consumption, I remind myself there was a time when central heating was unheard of and the only source of heat in the house was the fire in the living room. (Which was an experience I endured, and survived, again at university in our icebox house just off the Shore Road in Newtownabbey).
The thing is - apart from the memory of going to bed in three layers of pjs at university - none of these memories are particulary bad and they are certainly aren’t painful.
It wasn’t hard to deal with - it was just the way things were. And to be honest I’m pretty sure we were more appreciative of the little things (like Sugar Puffs and a Crystal Barbie) and we certainly didn’t feel deprived.
Perhaps my parents had their share of sleepless nights over it but we certainly were not aware of that. Childhood remained as innocent as it should be.
So even though times are undoubtedly hard for many people it’s time to just get on with it - batten down the hatches, put a smile on your face and cope as best as our parents, and their parents did before us.
There might be a lot to worry about out there, but there is also a lot to be thankful for.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
And you make your way to school and notice that the classrooms seem eerily quiet.
And his teacher looks at you as if you are slightly demented (which you just actually might be) and then it dawns on you that the meeting was next week and not this.
And you wonder if his teacher suddenly thinks that your poor child hasn't a chance with a disorganised eejit at the helm like me.
I blame working too hard, and pregnancy hormones.
The outcome was okay however. We had our meeting and the boy is a genius - or at least a very capable and lovely student who makes everyone laugh. (Thankfully with him and not at him... unlike his mother).
I did struggle to look his teacher in the face this morning however - even though she said she was glad she wasn't the only one who made such gaffs.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
It's flowing, it's funny - it feels right.
I'm not brave enough to do NANO but I'm pushing myself on anyway.
Anyway 6500 words down, just (ha!) 103,500 to go!
Oh and I'm also working on a non-fiction piece for Poolbeg on the joys of parenthood.
Feel free to share your best and worst parenting experiences!
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
I only hope (and REALLY hope) that America proves itself and votes in the only right man for the job.
It's been a topic for much discussion in our office, as you can imagine. And last week I raised the issue that this will really come to down to whether or not America is still racist at heart.
It's one thing to say you are voting for Obama in an opinion poll, it is another thing to stand in the privacy of a polling booth and vote knowing that no one will know it was you who ticked the box.
One colleague said the race issue didn't matter any more and I have to disagree. It may well be 40 plus years ago that the civil rights movement kicked off Stateside but even though there are now laws to protect people regardless of creed or colour - there does appear to remain an undercurrent.
I've heard that there are Democrats who will be voting against themselves - so opposed are they to the notion of a black President even if that black President holds the same political views as them.
I only hope the record turn out at the polls will prove that the vast majority of Americans are forward thinking rational people who are prepared to give the new man a chance
I will be watching with great interest and I hope that we truly are living in historic times. The world needs some good news.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Not only do we get to enjoy the usual fireworks display (approximately 15 minutes of ‘Oohing’ and ‘Aahing’ at 30 second intervals as the sky lights up) but we also get a host of other family friendly adventures including the drive-in movie screening of ‘Ghostbusters’.
With a four year who is dressing up as Peter Venkman for the occasion he has been almost uncontrollable with excitement at the prospect of seeing his favourite movie on the big screen. (Apart from the ghost in the library, he doesn’t like her one little bit - and sadly drive-in movies have no fast forward facility).
The truth is having a four year old has made Hallowe’en (‘Ghostbusters’ or not) all the more enjoyable again. I’ve gone through different stages of loving and hating Hallowe’en.
As a child, it was a great adventure altogether. We’d haul down old curtains, discarded First Communion dresses and cover cardboard wands with tin foil to make them shine and dress up as a variety of witches, fairies and vampires. Armed with our Wellworths bags we would take to the streets of Creggan, rattling on the doors of neighbours and sing-songing “Any ‘hing fer Halloween?” over and over again until our bags were laden with mandarin oranges, apples, monkey nuts and grapes.
If you were lucky the odd lollypop, toffee apple or rice crispie bun made their way into your bag. (There was a wee woman on Broadway who made the nicest toffee apples in the world ever!).
True success on the big night was measured in two ways however. Whoever got the most hazelnuts/ brazil nuts and survived a raid by one of the gangs from the neighbouring streets was the winner. We would sit, all on the carpet, pouring out our loot and fighting over the one pair of nut crackers my mother owned. If we got really impatient we would batter the living daylights out of the poor nuts with the back of the metal poker and try and catch the nuts before they sped across the room at the speed of light to disappear under sideboard never to be seen again. (Well not until the big Christmas clean anyway).
It was all good, innocent fun. (Apart from the evil raiders who were merciless with their hijacking of hard earned monkeynuts.)
I still loved Hallowe’en into my late teens and early 20s when you just had to make it out the town. I didn’t care then that you couldn’t get into a pub unless you went at an ungodly hour or that there was no chance of a seat or getting a drink from the bar without a ten minute wait and that a taxi home was out of the question. (Now that I’m well established in my 30s all these things are very important to me. Forget a mad night’s dancing - sharing a bottle of wine in a quiet corner of a bar with friends before stumbling into a taxi is my idea of non-pregnant heaven).
I remember my feet hurting for days after from all the dancing and the eerie feeling of the morning after the night before as worn out looking Cinderellas, bumble bees and werewolves wound their way home in the early hours. But it did then reach a stage where it all seemed like too much trouble.
Sure I’d watch the fireworks from the warm and comfy vantage point of my back bedroom window but apart from that it was a case of hiding from the wains who knocked at the door (yes, I became a Halloween Grinch) and putting on a distinctly unHallowe’en-y movie.
Having a four year old (and a Peter Venkman impersonating ‘Ghostbusting’ four year old at that) has changed things again and I’m almost as excited as I get at Christmas. We hunted for his perfect costume, complete with inflatable proton pack and I’ve managed to find a small toy ghost for him to “bust” all night. I
’ve been reading ‘Room on the Broom’ (a gorgeous, gorgeous children’s book) ad nauseum and singing ‘The Witches of Halloween’ on a loop. (Thank you to Mrs McDowell at Galliagh Nursery for reintroducing that to my repertoire last year).
Tonight (if we can tackle the fear of the library ghostie) we’ll be going to the drive-in and then on to watch the fireworks. Then it will be back to my sister’s for some Hallowe’en games, probably too much chocolate and maybe one or two hazelnuts smashed with the back of a poker.
There will be dancing to the “Monster Mash” and maybe a spot of ‘Trick or Treating’ (although I still prefer the old war cry of ‘Any ‘hing fer Halloween?’). There might not be drunken queues at the bar or the walk of shame home in the early hours but it will still be magical all the same.
If I thought there was a ghost’s chance in hell of it still fitting I would slip on my wedding dress and cover some cardboard in tinfoil to make a wand. So whatever you’re doing tonight - enjoy the party and let’s show everyone how Derry still does Hallowe’en best - be it with an old curtain, a drive-in movie or a fireworks display.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Pictured in this post, as an example of how precious these memories can be is me (the ickle tiny baby in the shawl) on my christening day, my big sister, my beloved, late, grandad and my beloved granny when she was in better health.
You really cannot buy such memories.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Every now and again I pop on Amazon and have a look at how my babies (aka my books) are doing. Now part of being a writer is that you take the rough with the smooth.
You realise that not everyone is going to gush over your book the way you yourself would. I certainly now, in hindsight, can look at Rainy Days and Tuesdays and feel that bits certainly could have been written better. But, that was the story that was in me at the time (a shocking three years ago now!).
Some times I'll take a review on the chin. Some times I'll shake my head in disbelief. Some of the corkers I've received are that "it reads too like an autobiography". Now if this person knew my life intimately they would know it's NOT ABOUT ME. If they don't then how on earth could they say it read like an autobiography? It is one woman's life - it is supposed to be one woman's story.
Another review, which has come up several times recently, is that mum lit has had it's day. Well I disagree but regardless RD&T was written 3 years ago. It was of the moment three years ago. It was published a year and a half ago, when it was still of its time- the charts were filled with mum lit and still are.
The third gripe thrown at me is that the book is "too expensive for Amazon". Amazon do not sell books in the format some low cost airlines sell flights. The price is there from the outset. It's no surprise. It is also not set by me, or determined by me on any level. May I suggest if someone does not like the price of a book then simply do not read it.
Of course I've had more good reviews than bad (funny being a writer we don't tend to focus on the good...) but when the reviews are sometimes a little weird you can't help but get the urge to GRRRRR back at the reviewer.
It's not only that I think 16 is too young to make a lifetime's commitment to someone (I married at 24 and even now look back at and think I was a bit of a wain), it's also that £100,000 is just an obscene amount of money to spend on a wedding - regardless of background or beliefs.
The couple, who initially appealed for privacy to help them get through this difficult time, have spent the last week tearing shreds off each other as they battle for the best headlines and public sympathy in a divorce battle that will no doubt make Heather Mills and Paul McCartney look like an episode of the Tweenies.
Apparantly (according to “friends close to the couple”) Ritchie was a money grabber who spent Madge’s money like it was going out of fashion. While she was and is an self obsessed harpy more interested in sculpting her body into a lean, mean muscly machine than spending time sculpting her marriage into a happy and successful relationship. (The woman works out for four or five hours a day.
How is that even possible without dying of exhaustion?) And then, of course, there is the issue of the children. Madonna has a daughter, Lourdes, who is said not to like Ritchie, and they have a son together, Rocco who does (funnily enough) like Ritchie while there is also a wee adopted toddler David who probably doesn’t know his nappy from his elbow at the moment.
Apparantly (again according to “friends close to the couple”) Madonna wanted to adopt more, while Ritchie was happy enough with the brood they had - especially given the fact the pair both have punishing work schedules. This caused terrible strife among the pair which was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Now the whole sorry scenario is playing out like a soap opera and much as I would like to say I’m retaining a dignified distance from the gossip columns, I just can’t stay away. I admit I, like the majority of people, do enjoy a bit of scandal. (Especially given the fact my own life is so sedate at the moment).
I do however, salacious gossip aside, wish they would keep it to themselves. I can’t help but feel it’s not right to be so openly nasty about each other. Sure they obviously have certain gripes with each other to split in the first place but whatever happened to retaining an ounce of dignity - if not for their own selves but for the sake of the children?
In my opinion and experience it never ends well to air your dirty linen in public - not least for the children who years from now will look back and see the plethora of insults thrown between mammy and daddy while trying to convince themselves there must have been some love shared between the two in the first place.
I’m really sure that Rocco will not want to read in future years that his mother was a horrible woman to live with who was so muscly she turned his daddy off in bed. Nor will David want to know that some “friend close to the couple” are blaming his adoption for their split. It’s hateful to think what these children are growing up with - even though their lives were unlikely to ever be normal anyway.
Couples who split - celebrities or not - should try their damndest to keep their cool and not let their lives become a soap opera for the general masses. Splitting up is, I imagine, hard enough without having to consult your PR spokesperson first. Splitting up should be a matter of doing what is best for all parties without launching a public attack on the the person you once pledged ‘Til death do us part’ to.
Regardless of their (alleged) wrongdoings - listing their grievances in public is never going to win you an army of fans. Already the public is turning against Madonna and already, just one week into this latest celebrity scandal, people are growing weary of their in-fighting. Madonna is being accused of putting her PR machine into gear - casting aspersions on the couple’s entire relationship, while Ritchie is said to have held a counsel of war in his (their) mansion to come up with ways to tackle the onslaught. Friends, previously loyal, are falling over themselves to spill the dirt and the public - while still reading (of course) are becoming uncomfortable with just how nasty it has become so quickly.
So even though Madonna is unlikely to be one bit bothered by what one reporter in Derry is saying about her, I’m hoping she catches herself on soon and waves the white flag. For the sake of her children, if nothing else.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
David died a year ago, at the ripe old age of 81, surrounded by his family. It has taken this long to arrange for us all to get together again to scatter his ashes. So on Saturday we (being me, husband and the boy, two sisters in law and their husbands, a niece, two nephews and two police dogs) traipsed into a muddy field in Cheshire to scatter his ashes in a place dear to his heart.
It is close to where he used to live, and where hubby grew up, and also the same spot where my mother in law's ashes were scattered just before I met my husband.
I'd not been there before but it really was a gorgeous place - rain and muck included. With wellies on, and me trying to balance my wibbly wobbly almost five month gone tummy, we trekked through the field. It was hard to get maudlin with Joseoph whooping with laughter at the dogs and asking if we were in heaven (Because you know, Grandpa is in heaven).
We all took turns to scatter a little bit of his ashes - even Joseph gave it a turn - and there was nothing sad or solemn. It was a family walk, with lots of laughter, lots of memories and plenty of cow pats.
Obviously the passing of nearly a year made it easier to take, but I couldn't help but feel it was at least all that bit more peaceful and gentle a goodbye than the harshness of a funeral on a winter's day.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
For many years an agent at PFD she represented the likes of Joanna Trollope and Ruth Rendell.
She has died, aged 68, after battling a brain tumour.
My personal connection to Pat is pretty minimal. She was the first person to reject my work - back in 2006. She, a big player in a huge firm, sent a gorgeous two page letter praising my writing, wishing me well and ultimately saying she didn't do chick lit - but in a nice, non-patronising way.
She was a lady.
Anyway, I feel a little sad today to hear of her passing and I just wanted to mark it some little way.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I know that every year I say I won’t get caught up in the hype and yet every year I do and now, as the weekend approaches, I get a little excited at the thought of my Saturday night in front of the telly. (Which isn’t as sad as it sounds, honest, being almost five months pregnant - a girl is allowed a few indulgences.)
In fairness ‘Strictly’ has a special place in my heart. Having taken dance lessons a few years back I watch it wistfully with an air of “I coulda been a contender” in my heart. Of course my dance teachers at the time might well disagree with that but what woman doesn’t watch the likes of Erin Boag and Lilia Kopylova and not feel that pang of jealously?
There are the sparkly dresses, the chiffon, the delicate gold ballroom shoes and the hair adorned with sparkling chips and glittery hairspray. Not to mention these ladies have legs which go one for miles and tummies without a single stretch mark (stark contrast to my current roadmap status).
Yes, we may be grown up, but nothing sets a woman’s heart racing more than a bit of glitz and glamour (and the sight of Vincent Simone shaking his hips in a delicious salsa). ‘Strictly’ is my guilty pleasure. Yes sometimes the boy will look to watch it with me, but most of the time he can be persuaded into another room and I’ll lose myself in the dances and make suitably impressed or disgusted noises at the judges’ observations.
By the time it’s over, I always convince myself that once I’m fit and able, I’ll get back to those dance classes and I spend the evening daydreaming of my once around the floor with one of the hunky professionals.
Then of course, it’s time for the X-factor and this is where the real family entertainment bit comes into play. The boy arrives in to dance to the theme tune and stand hands crossed declaring he has the X-factor while my husband takes to his favourite chair to do his best grumpy Simon Cowell impression throughout.
For a man who has not a note in his head (and as an equally tuneless person, I should know) I’m constantly amazed at how he turns into a musical expert each and every Saturday night. But then I suppose part of the fun of X-factor is that we all take our place on the judging panel - passing comment on everything from the singing to the clothes to the hairstyles. (For the record, contestants could you please brush your hair tomorrow night? I don’t care if the ‘bedhead’ look is in at the moment - I want some personal grooming, thank you.)
This year we do have a local interest in the form of Eoghan Quigg - who is apparantly 16 but doesn’t look a day over 12. I have to say I watched the show last week from behind a cushion. There are some amazing singers this year - with Alexandra and Laura to name but two giving outstanding performances. How on earth would or could the wee lad from Dungiven match up? I almost, almost didn’t want to watch and when the band started up with the opening notes of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ I really didn’t want to watch. But he did good - he even made me cry (which in fairness due to the hormones, isn’t that difficult. I cry at advertisements at the moment.)
The husband, not being from Derry, made “Hmmm, that was okay” noises, and sheer loyalty to a local lad had us all phoning to vote for him anyway. But what is it that makes these programmes so appealing? Sure it’s good clean entertainment and that always helps when it comes to me deciding our family viewing - but there is more to the appeal of these shows than just that. Maybe it is because they are showing us people achieving their dreams, pushing themselves a wee bit harder and working to get to the end of the series.
Perhaps it is the fear of them falling flat on their face (literally as the case may be in ‘Strictly Come Dancing’) that keeps us tuning in. I’d like to think the biggest part of the attraction for me is knowing that they are going out there, live on stage and doing their best. That takes a certain amount of guts - putting yourself up for public praise or public criticism takes a lot of guts. Knowing that to achieve your goal you have to put yourself in the eye of the media storm and take whatever comes at you isn’t easy.
Be it one false turn on the dance floor, one dud note in a power ballad - these contestants can have their fortunes turn in a heartbeat. And that, to me, makes great viewing. So roll on tomorrow night - I’ll be there in front of the telly, cheering them all on.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
1. Where is your cell phone? Desk
2. Where is your significant other? Car
3. Your hair color? Brown-ish
4. Your mother? Karen
5. Your father? Peter
6. Your favorite thing? Joseph
7. Your dream last night? Weird
8. Your dream/goal? Happiness
9. The room you're in? Depressing
10. Your hobby? Writing
11. Your fear? Depression
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Happier
13. Where were you last night? Bed
14. What you're not? Jolly
15. One of your wish-list items? Pram
16. Where you grew up? incomplete
17. The last thing you did? lunch
18. What are you wearing? Clothes
19. Your TV? Off
20. Your pets? None
21. Your computer? off
22. Your mood? Meh
23. Missing someone? Lots
24. Your car? Skip
25. Something you're not wearing? Smile
26. Favorite store? Next
27. Your summer? Over
28. Love someone? Family
29. Your favorite color? Blue
30. When is the last time you laughed? Morning
31. Last time you cried? yesterday
I particularly like the penmanship.
Anyway, all thanks to my readers, Blogger, my parents, my agents, my children (born and unborn) and the special tablets the doctor gave me to stop me puking.
A condition of said award is that is that I have to answer the following meme so here goes...
1. Where is your cell phone? On my desk beside me... it's cracked.. a bit like me (For non Irish readers that means slightly mad, not off my head on drugs...)
2. Where is your significant other? Half way to Antrim for work, I think.
3. Your hair color? Chestnut brown, with greyish roots. Need a date with Clairol.
4. Your mother? Is 52 today! Yay mammy, I love her.
5. Your father? Is at work, after making the kiddies laugh by chasing the car this morning.
6. Your favorite thing? Joseph.
7. Your dream last night? There were many and they were weird - from being carjacked to being able to hold the unborn baby's hand through my tummy.
8. Your dream/goal? Not to get the evil PND this time round.
9. The room you're in? Work, office, noisy, artificial light, kind of cold.
10. Your hobby? Writing. Although when DH calls it a hobby I want to kill him.
11. Your fear? The evil PND next time around.
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Happier, more successful, content.
13. Where were you last night? At home, asleep from 8pm with the boy. I was vay tired.
14. What you're not? Content or confident.
15. One of your wish-list items? All baby related at present.
16. Where you grew up? That is still a work in progress.
17. The last thing you did?Answer the last question.
18. What are you wearing? Black maternity trousers, turquoisey top, look of concentration
19. Your TV? At home, without me.
20. Your pets? None
21. Your computer? My nice (non work) computer is also at home. This is a work one and it is very busy.
22. Your mood? Meh
23. Missing someone? Always
24. Your car? In the car park - a 2005 Suzuki Liana
25. Something you're not wearing? Pants (not really, of course I am.. but it seemed like a funny answer)
26. Favorite store? Next
27. Your summer? Is all done.
28. Love someone? Yes, several, in different ways.
29. Your favorite color? Joseph says it has to be Blue... like his favourite colour.
30. When is the last time you laughed? This morning at the crazy boy
31. Last time you cried? Last night - it was a sicky bad night
I've to pass it on, but I think everyone else I *heart* already has it, so I'll get back to you.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sharon writes beautifully quirky and dry witted stories about lovely people and her books are perfect winter warmers. 'Seven Secrets' sounds just as lovely - telling the story of widow Ruby O'Neill who puts her life back together after the death of her husband.
To generate a little buzz about the book (as if she needs it!) Sharon has commissioned some gorgeous handmade velvet bags to give away - one a month - to readers. If you want to read more, or fancy a chance at winning, then visit her website at www.sharonowens.co.uk
Thursday, October 09, 2008
"Hello Mummy. I'm on the computer, on Cbeebies. Brum is on."
"Great Joseph, sure you can tell me all about it when I get home."
"No mummy, hang on. I'll just put you on speaker phone."
Speaker phone??? He's four!
Many times in the last 2 years, since my writing career began, people have looked at me with a little sense of wonder (or maybe it is sympathy) and asked how I find the time to find everything in. The shocking truth is that these days, I don't.
My house, well it's a mess. Last week in a fit of pique I tried to persuade the husband to buy a new one so I didn't actually have to clean the existing homestead (Yes, I know, madness... but I'm hormonal). My child lives on potato waffles (or wobbles as he calls them) and I live on toast and water with occasional jacket potatoes.
So blogging, much as I love it, has dropped off the radar a bit. I promise I'll try to do better.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Seriously, I know it's bad and I'm not being flippant but please everyone SHUT UP ALREADY.
With a husban who works in financial services and a baby on the way I don't need the stress.
I may stop reading the news - which is bad news for a journalist but seriously, feck up. It's depressing.
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Foundation: Something from Boots, number 7. I think it's a moisturising one and in a very light shade as I am almost translucent and not in a lovely Kiera Knightly way, more in a Morticia Adams kind of a way.
Mascara: One of the benefits of working in a newspaper office is that we sometimes get free samples and as I as deal with the lovely ladies from Clarins, I get some Clarins doodahs now again. So my mascara dejour is whatever Clarins ones they've sent me. (Apart from the purple one). I don't wear it every day because I do have incredibly long lashes and would look like a hooker.
Day Cream: It's from Clarins (but not a freebie) and it's in a green bottle. Multi hydrafying something or other. My sister recommended it and I bought it. It's very light and lovely.
Essential Beauty Product: Clarins (sense a theme?) although also paid for, Peach Water essential cleanser. It's the only thing that suits my skin.
Favourite Makeup Product: Eye shadow, especially glittery stuff from Urban Decay. They also do a wee eyeliner doodah which is almost entirely glitter and I love it more than life. However I rarely get the chance to wear it.
Perfume: I am insanely in love with Alien by Thierry Mugler which is an acquired taste and doesn't suit everyone but every time I wear it, I get complimented. I'm also quite traditional and love Chanel No. 5 which I bought on my honeymoon and Organza which I wore on my wedding day. The lovely Sharon Owens bought me Gucci by Gucci and it's my proper grown up, nice night out perfume.
Nails: Are mildly better since being pregnant. Still they break a lot. I used to always have them polished but now I rarely do.
Hands: Keris' answer was Every now and then I think I need to look after my hands and I buy some hand cream, apply it every night for - ooh - two or three nights and then it lingers on my dressing table until, months later, I throw it away. Mine is remarkably similar, although I do keep a bottle of Sanctuary hand cream on my desk in work (and assorted Clarins freebies).
Feet: I have two. They stay hidden except for summer when I'll buff them and put on some nail polish.
Three Products to bring on a deserted island: Deoderant (or however it is spelled), toothpaste and face cream.
Women I admire for their beauty: Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn and Doris Day.
Women with the Best Sense of Style: I think in the next life I'd like to be Jennifer Aniston, thank you very much.
My Ultimate Dream: To one day think "You'll do" when I look in the mirror and mean it.
How Do I Define Womanhood: Compassion, empathy, warmth and resilience.
Favourite Fashion Publication: The Next Directory is as far as it goes here.
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Of course I do and he sighed and gave me a kiss and a cuddle. And then he slipped his hand in mind and I thought how precious it is to have a child's hand to hold. The gorgeous, pudgyness - the softness of his skin and the trust that hand hold entails.
I'm a very lucky mummy.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
So I arrived in Dublin just after 9am.. feeling rough. Managed not to be sick in Dublin airport (huzzah!) and calmed my preggy tummy with a Cranberry juice while waiting to meet my agent for tea and scones.
By the time she arrived I was thankfully not green around the gills and we had a lovely hour or so chatting. Boy that woman knows how to pamper my ego!
So then, as she leaves, I turn around and there is fecking Cecelia Ahern sat about four foot away from me. What, I ask myself, is yer wan Ahern doing here? And then it dawns on me (yes, I'm thick at the moment, blame the baby) that perhaps this "do" isn't as casual as I thought it would be. That is confirmed when Sheila O'Flanagan walks in, and Collette Caddle, Amanda Brunker, Martina Reilly and a host of other "names" from the Irish writing scene.
Dinner is nice. I'm sat becside some of the head honchos from Eason and a couple of lovely booksellers from Cork. I'm relaxed. Cecelia Ahern seems very lovely, although all the while I'm thinking I once said in a magazine I greatly disliked her book 'A Place Called Here' and at a second's notice she might come over and lamp me.
But then, I realise she hasn't a clue who I am (and the fact my name badge says 'Clarie Allen' might help in my cunning disguise.)
But dinner soon ends and the lovely people from Eason get up to have a wee chat and they decide to thank all the authors who have attended. (Now this bit is important) In. Alphabetical. Order.
Immediately I suss what this will mean. Yer wan Ahern is up first. They list off her (many) achievements that would make many a grown writer weep with jealously and they ask her to stand up for applause. I smile and applaud nicely.
Then, because of the alphabeticalness of it all, I'm up next. Claire Allan (or Clarie Allen) has written two books. Da Dah!!! (Well in fairness, Eason were lovely - they said RD&T was one of the strongest debuts they'd had for years and the second book was selling brilliantly and I was a bright light yadda yadda... but compared to Yer Wan, it really did sound a little "Claire Allan has written two books".)
And then I had to stand up... in front of Cecelia Ahern - cover blown. But she did clap (and not in a vicious way) and no books came hurtling towards my head.
When dinner was over, I went and chatted to the lovely Chris Binchy (fabulous and very tall male author who has a very famous auntie) and we had a great old gossip. I also chatted with Noelle Harrison, who is also very lovely while all the while avoiding Yer Wan. I also had a lovely chat with Martina Reilly and Kathryn Thomas (off the telly), although she was much too glam for my liking.
But all in all, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet some lovely booksellers (all hail the booksellers) and lovely writers and have a great story to tell about Cecelia Ahern.
Now since the last time I went for dinner with the people from Poolbeg I managed to end the evening in a fit of projectile vomit, I was delighted to have made it through the dinner unscathed. I made my way back to the airport, feeling grand and looking forward to the short flight home.
Mistake. Big Mistake.
It was windy, you see. And turbulent and being that it was now evening (being that my morning sickness gets worse in the evenings) this was not boding well.
I deep breathed throughout. "I'll be fine," I said. And I almost, almost was. Just as the plane came into land I wasn't. Thankfully the air steward at Air Arran (a very cheerful American called Troy) was absolutely lovely and didn't bat an eyelid at my projectile vomit. I managed to clear off the plane before most people walked past me, but the smell of sick hung heavy in the air as I traipsed back to the car.
So, a morning of ego boosting, an afternoon of schmoozing with the stars and an evening of puking on myself in a public place. My life - are you jealous?
Friday, September 26, 2008
This week Barnoness Warnock - from all accounts an old biddy with not an ounce of compassion - stated that elderly and frail people should consider that they have duty to end their own lives in order to stop themselves becoming a burden on their families.
In particular Lady Warnock, an influential figure in Whitehall, referred to dementia sufferers stating: “If you are demented, you are wasting people's lives, your family's lives, and you are wasting the resources of the National Health Service.”
I’m almost tempted to let her comments hang there.
Surely such an inhumane approach to the weaker members of our society needs no comment. Are we really willing to accept a new order where the answer to the growing number of people developing dementia is to encourage those people to commit suicide? Surely we can’t possibly be promoting a society where only the fittest and most able minded should be encouraged to live out their natural lives?
Haven’t we been here before, in or around the 1940s, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t end well then? Now previously I’ve been in the camp where I’ve agreed with the idea of Euthanasia. When someone is in intolerable pain and wishes to end their life with dignity then I feel they should have that option.
After all, we live in a society where we put animals to sleep rather than let them endure extremes of pain or suffering. But after reading Baroness Warnock’s comments (she being one of the biggest campaigners for euthanasia in the UK), I’m not so sure.
Where can we be sure when to draw the line? I’ve always hated that “start of a slippery slope” argument believing that there is no point in pre-empting problems where none exist, but suddenly it has come into sharp focus.
What defines a burden? Who decides if that burden is too much? Is it the once healthy and capable human crippled, emotionally and physically by the effects of their decline into ill health? Or is it the family who have to rally round to provide care? Or is it, as some observers have suggested could be the case, the supposed support services struggling to meet the needs of those who need care?
To suggest it would be less of a burden on a family, a society or the health service to simply top yourself as the first signs of old age kick in (taking into account those most severely affected by dementia would not have the capability to make a decision to end their lives never mind carry it out), is nothing more than a disgrace.
We should not, as human beings, even dare to suggest that those less well and fit should die - we should instead be campaigning - and as loudly as possible - for an improvement in funding for research into causes and treatments for dementia and for the appropriate support services to be put in place for those affected and their families. Funding for research into the causes and treatments of Alzheimer’s is minimal. Access to invaluable treatment is also exceptionally limited. NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) guidelines recommend that only people in the moderate stages of the illness receive the appropriate medication.
The ability to keep someone’s memories and ability to function alive is not, according to NICE, worth £2.50 a day. The availability of carers and support is limited - with resources stretched to the absolute limit so that families caring for someone with Alzheimer’s do take on the bulk of care for their loved ones - sometimes feeling as if they are out on their own.
Surely the humane response to all this is to take a more serious approach to the treatment and care of Alzheimer’s patients and make decent respite care readily available. In the UK 700,000 people suffer from dementia. This number will rise with the growing age of the population. None of us knows how we will end our days or what support we will need in the end stages of our lives - so how any of us can stand callously back and not rile up against this woman and her vile beliefs is beyond me.
People with dementia are not easy to live with or care for. It is hard, especially for those responsible for the bulk of the care. There is nothing more devastating that being stared at blankly by a face that used to welcome you warmly to their house, or to watch that same face fade away - from the inside out - through one of life’s most cruel conditions. But that does not take away the humanity of dementia sufferers and we leave our humanity behind entirely if we start picking off the weak and infirm. It may start, as Baroness Warnock has suggested, with those with dementia - but where will it end? Will we pick away and pick away until only a master race remain? We cannot and must not let this happen. For all our sakes.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I wouldn't say I'm jealous of Fionn. Just because she's getting her happy ending while I seemed to have morphed my life into one of those "choose your own ending" books with umpteen choices and no idea how to get to any of them.
She deserves her happy ending - I believe that entirely. But still I couldn't help, as I watched her walk out of the changing room in her stunning shot silk gown, her eyes misty with emotion, feeling a little green around the gills with envy (and the remnants of last night's vodka).
"She's gorgeous, isn't she?" the over enthusiastic shop assistant almost squealed, while I nodded.
"Do you really like it?" Fionn asked, her face begging me to say yes.
"I do," I said and I wasn't lying. It was a stunning dress which accentuated my friend's natural beauty but when I choked back a tear it was because I couldn't ever see myself in her position - no matter how carefully I had planned every aspect of my life.
You see I had this wonderfully crappy habit of messing things up. If there was a degree in being a fuck up I would have passed with first class honours.
"I'm so glad you like it," Fionn said, waving her hands in front of her face to try and stem her tears, "Because I really think this is the one. This is my wedding dress, Annie. My wedding dress." She emphasised the words while twirling around like some sort of demented overgrown fairy princess and the shop assistant actually did squeal with delight at this stage.
I just sobbed into my hanky. In a most undignified manner.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I only thought I knew what stress was doing the nursery run when I had to run, a mere 30 ft, in the rain to class room and peel a child off my leg.
But Primary School has brought it's own unique joys.
First off all, the boy goes to school approximately five miles from our house (and just round the corner from my work) and I have to pick my niece off to leave her to school too.
Now the boy refuses to leave before Thomas & Friends ends on Milkshake. He never used to mind but now thy have animated the trains' faces and you can see them talk and he's all a frenzy. So there is a little mini row each morning as we try and force him out the door before driving to my niece's. Now my niece is lovely, but she likes to forget things, or dawdle, or just generally chat to you before she puts her seatbelt on - while all the time the clock is ticking.
I'm already close to meltdown by the time we set off on the bulk of our drive, through rush hour traffic at a virtual standstill while the clock ticks on.
Reaching the school, usually, five minutes before the bell tolls we face another joy. You can't park in the school grounds, you see. Or anywhere near the doors. And it's busy, really busy so generally you find yourself having a good old sprint to get there in time - remembering coats, schoolbags, lunch bags and children as you go.
Reaching the school, we deposit my niece first - cue ceremonial hugging, kissing and "I'll miss you" between her and her cousin and then we walk, about 234 miles to the other end of the school to deposit the boy.
We are still there before 9.10am - but still we seem to always be the last ones to arrive and his teacher smiles at me sympathetically as we scurry through the door.
Joseph has even started apologising for me. "Sorry teacher, the traffic on the bridge was really, really bad" and I batter on red-faced and stressed because 10 past nine is still 10 minutes after I'm supposed to be in work.
So I run back to the car, drive like the clappers and get to work 15 minutes late, and feel like I've run a marathon.
My only consolation is that as I arrive I generally bump into my colleagues with children who all have the same look of stress and harassment as they walk through the door hoping no-one notices.
The up[side is that nothing in your day is as stressful after that.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
This little gadgety thing does away with the need for books - glorious, paper smelling, thick, print-laden books.
Instead you get a cool metal gadgety doodah, which no doubt eats batteries or needs plugging in and you read your latest "must read" on screen.
Oh no. It's wrong. It's simply wrong. Not only will it give you eye-strain, but you lose the best bit of the book experience.
You lose the feel of a book, the weight of it in your hands, the chance to run your fingers over the embossed cover, the chance to flick back and forth, to fold down the corners (yes, yes I know, this is vay bad habit), to feel the warm texture of the paper and to enjoy the smell.
I've had cause to visit both Eason HQ and the warehouses of Argosy Books in Dublin and the thing that struck me was the delicious smell of print, the piles of books all fresh and ready for the reading.
The Sony Reader, takes away that lovely personal relationship with books and makes it all mechanical.
Sure it might take up less room in your luggage while on holiday, but woe betide your battery runs out just as the big plot twist kicks in.
No, Sony, we don't want your reader. Thank you.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
We know we pretty much wants a baby brother and we've trie to tell him that we don't have a choice in the matter - nonetheless we are talking about boys' names.
Joseph: "Is Jesus a boy's name?"
Me. "Yes, it is."
Joseph: " We could call our baby Jesus. That's a good name."
Can't fault the reasoning.
This was the first time we saw a baby - not a wee shrimpy looking thing - but a baby with wee hands, curling and stretching and legs kicking furiously like it was doing a jig.
I've had my issues with bonding with this baby (probably due to the early scariness) but today my heart flipped when I saw my baby. (Our baby as my husband reminds me).
I've been getting myself into all sorts of hormonal states because I've not been feeling stupidly emotional over this baby - not bawling at silly songs in the car on the way to the shops etc.
So today, when I fought back tears listening to Michael Buble's 'Everything' I knew that things were going to be okay.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Let me tell you a story...
So last Thursday things were going well - too well. I did a day of signings around the M50 and managed to not feel at all sick. I was thirsty yes, but not at all sick.
I was delighted - absolutely over the moon. In fact it prompted me to do a little happy dance that my morning sickness was gone.
So that evening I get ready, straighten my hair, wear most flattering preggy dress, do make up. I'm picked up by lovely Poolbeg people who drive me to a lovely restaurant where I'm to meet the rest of the Poolbeg people and some lovely booksellers.
The restaurant looked lovely. (Although the menu referenced oysters which was never going to go down well).
So anyway I start to feel sick - like really sick. And a little faint. So I get a drink of water. I'll be grand, I tell myself and the lovely publisher lady is very concerned. I go to get some air and s comes and sits with me, like my mammy, and is very soothing and reassuring.
I just feel worse.
So in the end I get a lift back to the hotel, in the car of a lovely Poolbeg girl who has not long passed her test and is clearly in love with her car and terrified that I might chunder everywhere. She drives at about 5 miles per hour (exaggerated for creative licence) and is very considerately gentle at speed bumps.
I get to the hotel without so much as a goodbye and run, yes RUN, to my hotel room where I'm so violently ill I burst the blood vessels in my eyes.
I then lie, moaning on the bed, all night before driving the 200 miles home weeping with sheer embarrassment.
This was not the impression I was hoping to make.
Yet still, I'll laugh about it sometime I'm sure and it might even make it into a book
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Three and a half hours (with occasional "comfort breaks" being as that I'm pregnant and all) and I arrived in Dublin. I practically kissed the hotel receptionist who handed me the key to my room and was all toasty and asleep by 10pm.
Now the Sat Nav was grand, except it doesn't know there is a new motorway between Monaghan and the M1 and it kept sending me off on mad goose chases.
The annoying lady kept telling me to turn left - you can't turn fecking left on a motorway - and when I could I found myself in someone's very lovely driveway.
I ended up stopping Castleblaney, which was entirely unnecessary, and feeling the will to live drift away.
I then promptly ignore the Sat Nav and followed the signs for the airport - sorted.
I've spent today stalking Melissa Hill (not really, but she's on the same book tour and I'm signing books in all the same shops she's been to, so it feels a bit Norman Bates) and trying to ascertain whether or not my morning sickness has gone, or is just in hiding. Time will tell (prob on the drive home tomorrow).
Things with the book are going okay. It's number 13 in the Borders Bestsellers and Hughes and Hughes are expecting it to chart this weekend. It's also gone into a big promo at Eason - so fingers crossed.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
It's approximately 200 miles in a direction I have never driven before. (I've never driven 200 miles in the one go either). I haven't a feckin' clue how to get to where I need to go and the fact that my husband has equipped me with his Sat Nav is no help either.
(This is me, who got lost in Belfast with the "help" of Sat Nav. I tend to spend entire journeys shouting at it ala "But I can't stay right, right is three lanes over. Ya big smug eejit computer fecker" and things like that).
Added to that, I'll be driving 200 miles - with morning sickness. Which is why I'm driving, for the record, as a non- morning-sicknessy bus ride to Dublin earlier this year made me feel rotten - I'd be dead for sure trying it now.
I'm taking a packed lunch (rock and roll) and some cheesy CDs.
If you don't hear from me any time soon, I'll probably be lost somewhere near Cork, shouting at at the Sat Nav... of course.
Allan has a strong writing style that is smart and funny.
Feels Like Maybe ... is a sparkling and feel good romantic read.
The review also references that the subject of infertility has been done before in contemporary fiction and I can't deny that. Again I would say there are no new stories. but just new ways of telling them.
Still "sparkling and feel good" works for me.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Feels Like Maybe was a breeze and a joy to read. In fact, it's one of those books where you don't notice you're reading; when I think of it now, I feel like I watched it on TV. It addresses so many different relationships with warmth, wit and wisdom. At times, my heart hurt for both Aoife and Beth and at others I laughed out loud. Loved it.
I think I love this one!
Friday, September 05, 2008
I met Ethan yesterday morning - looking very much like his big cousin Joseph did at the same age. All 6lbs something on him, with blonde hair and chicken legs.
My sister is besotted. (Sore, ya know, but besotted). She doesn't want to put him down and can't say as I blame her - he's pretty damn cute.
But a little part of my heart broke yesterday because I thought I was over my birth experience and my post natal experience. I saw her cuddle him, and hug him and thought back to the 24 hours after Joseph was born. I barely held him. I was too damn tired.
I knew he was my baby and I knew I would bust the arse of anyone who tried to hurt him, but I didn't passionately feel that mother love. I didn't marvel at his ears, and his fingers and his long feet. I didn't spend my day smelling his head and kissing him. I fed him, and changed him and saw to his needs.
That made me so very sad - to see her like that yesterday. Happy for her, of course, but sad for me because I'll never get that back with Joseph now and while I love him and he loves me and we are close as two close things in a close place I'll never have the memory of marvelling over a newborn him.
That kind of really, really sucks.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Claire Allan's second novel has struck the perfect balance between humour and emotion. Despite dealing with a very sensitive subject honestly and thoughtfully, there are many laughs along the way with the situations Beth and Aoife find themselves in.
I quite like that!
Monday, September 01, 2008
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Now one of the threads currently on the fledgeling forum is about your favourite books and it got me to thinking of the first Poolbeg book I read, way, way, way back in the very early 90s.
It was 'City Girls' by Patricia Scanlan and it centred around three friends, coming through awful adversity to become a success. It was the first of a trilogy of books by Ms Scanlan on the three City Girls and I so wanted to be Devlin - officially the coolest girl on the block.
Sure she had her tough times - an unwanted pregnancy, a stint in Ballymum (one of Dublin's notorious high rise areas) and a great fecking whack of tragedy. But she pulled herself through it to become a success, find love and launch City Women - a chain of plush fitness and beauty spas.
She had a cool name, funky business suits, a sexy boyfriend and a very nice blonde bob.
So, when you were younger - who did you want to be?
Thursday, August 28, 2008
So now my sister is two weeks off giving birth to my wee nephew and today, when I received an email from her to say she was feeling a little niggly I felt that flutter of excitement again.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
"Leave a message for mummy. It's an answering machine. Say something nice."
"Mummy, I love you."
"Say something else.
"Good mummy. Great mummy. You're the best."
"Okay, say goodbye."
"Say you love her..."
"I love you so much, mummy. See you soon."
I particularly loved the "Good mummy, great mummy, you're the best".