Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Have to go cold turkey on the "wow"

My nephew, who is 22 months old and very cute when he is not giving me the evil eye, has christened chocolate "wow".
I can see his point.
Everytime he sees chocolate he shouts "wow", so the result is we have all started calling it "wow" and really, when you think about it chocolate is pretty wow... all that soft, chocolatey, melty goodness.

The problem is, I have developed a wow addiction in the last few weeks after doing really, really well with the diet and the scales are starting to move in the wrong direction.
This MUST stop. I do not want to undo the work I have done. I do not want to get fatter. I look at myself now and cringe when I think how I must have looked at 22lbs heavier. Yikes. And definitely not "wow".

So the wow is being consigned to the bin for now and I will get back on track. I won't use the excuse that I am feeling meh and have vertigo which would make a donkey boke to allow me to eat what I want when I want it.
I'm pretty sure I could stomach more than wow.

Let's hope.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Mammy, why did they shoot people?

Derry watched this week. We stopped, collectively as a city, and we waited. We held our breath and even though the town was thronged with the world’s media it still felt eerily quiet.

No one wanted to speak - no one dared to guess what would or could or might happen. I had tried to explain it to my son that morning as we drove to school. Radio Foyle was on - the journalist in me unable to ignore that the biggest story of my career so far was unfolding on our door step.

“Why are they talking about something which happened years and years ago?” he asked.

I told him a wrong had been done. That the army had come in and shot innocent people in Derry and that it was important that the truth was told.

“But mammy,” he said, “the army are supposed to be there to protect people if they are in danger. Why did they shoot people instead?”

I guess that question, from the mouth of a child - someone who was born 32 years after the events of Bloody Sunday - says it all.

I admit that me - who is usually never stuck for words - struggled to answer his question.

Indeed it took 38 years, and almost £200million for someone to find an answer to the question we have all been asking. The army were supposed to protect people if they were in danger. Why, indeed, did they shoot people instead?

What the army did on that day in Derry was wrong. We always knew that and now the highest figure in country has publicly admitted it. And then they lied about it, and the British government lied about it and it took the strength of 14 families, and the determination of a city, to make them admit they were wrong and say sorry.

Of course to a six year old’s mind, those who do wrong must say sorry. It’s one of the first and most important lessons we teach our children. He looked at me, the confusion still etched across his face and asked why had they not said sorry before?

He’s too young perhaps to understand the politics of the time. Thankfully my children are being raised in a city far changed from that I was raised in the 70s and 80s. We don’t see soldiers on the streets any more. It is not a common occurance to walk down the street and find that a solider has been tracking you with their gun. There are fewer check points. There are certainly fewer bombscares. The air is not so filled with the buzz of helicopters and a drive to the beach on a sunny day no longer involves a long queue in traffic waiting to pass through an army checkpoint and wondering if you were going to be searched. The news, thankfully, is not filled with the same local atrocities as it once was.

I’m grateful for his innocence. I’m certainly very grateful for the life my children live where things are as normal as they can be. I am grateful that they are not in the stranglehold of sectarianism but yet when he asks such questions I do him no favours to brush them aside.

What this city went through - as painful as it was and is - must always be remembered. Those who marched for civil rights on Bloody Sunday - both those who did and didn’t come home that day - must never be forgotten.

The determination of the families of the dead, and of the injured, must be explained to all who can listen. Yes, our children deserve to have their innocence protected but they also need to hear the truth about our past - just as the whole world did on Tuesday.

It would be easier to change the subject and talk about something less painful - but ignoring the truth does not make it go away. Thankfully we have all learned that lesson.

Of course questions will be asked about whether the cost of the inquiry was justified. Questions will be asked as to why it took 12 years from inception to the production of the report. Questions will be asked as to why it took 38 years for the world to acknowledge the truth that the people of Derry knew from the moment the first casualty fell.

In basic terms yes, it should have been unnecessary - because as my six year old would tell you those who did wrong should have just said sorry straight away.

But given that they didn’t - and given that they concocted lie upon lie to justify their own murderous actions - it was of course the very least the people of this city deserved.

To paraphrase the words of Lord Saville himself, the killings were unjustified and unjustifiable. Therefore the inquiry - whatever the cost - was both justified and justifiable. Even my six year old agrees.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Random conversations with the boy - the joy of music

Joseph has decided he wants to be in a rock band when he is older. He knows already that it will be called "Rock Bros"  (that's Bros pronounced BROOOOOS, not Bros as in Matt and Luke Goss, he is very particular about that...)

As part of their repetoire he tells me they will sing 'Dream On' by Aerosmith (which he likes listening to on the Glee soundtrack).

"When Aerosmith die, mammy, I will sing that at their funeral and then I'll become the new Aerosmith."

He isn't content with being a cover artist though - he has some original ideas.
J: "I'm already writing songs, mammy. Our first one will be about knowledge."
Me: "And how will that go?"
J (singing) : "Hamsters live in a cage, but they die very soon. Fish swim in the water and they need the water to live."

The boy is going to be a star!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What the day will hold

I sit in the relative quietness of the Derry Journal newsroom.
In a short time this will turn into one of the busiest days in our history.
This afternoon the Saville Report into the events of Bloody Sunday will be published. As a much younger reporter I covered the hearings as they took place in Derry's Guildhall.
I know how important what happens today will be to the people of Derry - mostly of course to the families of those who died on that horrible, devastating day.
This morning I walked with the families as they made their way to the Guildhall and the sense of grief really did seem raw and palpable.

I only hope that the truth will out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Letting go

I went for the angel reading yesterday - I'm still mulling it over. Some of it was completely off the wall - some seemed to relate to the relations who had accompanied me and were sauntering about upstairs in the shop.
A lot was spot on, I suppose. Yes, my confidence has taken a battering over the years and I'm certainly not the assertive young woman I once was when I thought the world was at my feet (Yes, I know it still is, but life has a habit of getting in the way...) She pinpointed events (oh how I remember how absolutely dying in love I was with a tall dark haired man only for him to take a fancy to one of my friends.... And how on another occasion I sat one day and just stared into space for hours unable to move, crippled with depression, but how an angel was by my side the whole time...)
She pinpointed that I was crippled with anxiety and that particularly lately things had been tough.
She told me it would be okay.
But she also told me I needed to put more of me into my writing. I'm trying to mull that over. I think I do put a lot of me in my books, and in my columns. Some times I feel as if I lay myself out on line too much and that is why, at times, I feel completely raw as if I have no secrets.
But then again there is so much of me that is just me - that I put on a show, plaster on a smile and become "author Claire" as opposed to boring mammy/ wife Claire who just gets on with things and has some Very Dark Thoughts from time to time.
I 'm just not sure which one of those ladies is real me though. Is it the bubbly, confident one who can make people smile or is it the boring, moping, dour one who makes people switch off. I'm a little bit afraid of both.
But I do remember that day, aged about 19 when I got all glammed up for a night out with friends (including the big crush). He looked at me, genuinely really shocked at how well I scrubbed up and he flirted mercilessly all night. He even stayed over (he slept in the living room, you dirt birds). He made a move and I backed off - always a little scared. That same week he told our mutual friend he was mad about her and "Claire was okay... but he really liked her".
And thus sealed my belief that I always was the consolation prize.
The angel lady gave me some techniques for dealing with negative feelings and they are helping, but having brought things I'd thought I'd long forgotten back to my consciousness, I now have to work through them. I have to make myself believe that I am more than "just ok".

Thursday, June 10, 2010

And breathe...

...The meh-ness continues. I can block it out if I keep busy - like very, very, very busy - but if I sit down for anything more than three minutes the panic kicks in.
This is not helped by the boy being uber whingey and the baby being uber clingy. Admittedly they are probably picking up on my mood so now I have the meh-ness AND the guilt that I am mentally damaging my children.

I do, however, feel over the moon that Jumping in Puddles has hit the top ten. There is a nice voice that is running through my head saying "three times bestselling author Claire Allan" over and over which is comforting. It is certainly less annoying than the voice which is trying to shout over it going "crappity crappity crap crap" over and over.

I've booked to have my angel cards read on Sunday.  I am hoping that lifts me from my funk.

Any other ideas?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010



Thank you to everyone who bought the book, read the book, tweeted about the book or put it at the front of the queue in Eason.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Me on the radio


The vice like grip

For the past week I have been gripped by anxiety. Yes, I have had good times in that week but then when I least expect it a knot of tension will rise inside me and I will get the familiar urge to crawl into a dark space and just be for a bit.
It has been building for a while but last Thursday as I drove to Dublin for the book tour I felt it overwhelm me. I pulled over, felt my chest tighten and my head swim, and texted my husband and mammy to say that I just wanted to turn the car around and drive home. I had a feeling Very Bad Things were going to happen. I couldn't quantify the Very Bad Things - it was just that feeling and in that instance I didn't want to talk to anyone, drive anywhere or put on my happy smiley author face and run the gamut (is that spelled right?) of interviews and booksignings - all of which can be lovely but which can also make you feel like you are walking into your work stark naked and hoping no-one notices you.
My mammy - she who is wonderful - and my hubby - he who increasingly patient - both encouraged me to carry on with my journey. Yes, I was to take a little pit stop, breathe a little and then set off again and take it an hour at a time, an interview at a time and a bookshop at a time.
The feeling that Very Bad Things were going to happen didn't leave. In fact I was perhaps more paranoid than usual climbing into taxis and Darts and walking the mean streets of Dublin* that someone would rob me, or I would get lost or the few measly Euro secreted in my bag would not be enough to pay for ANYTHING (I have a pathological fear of the Euro... I have no understanding at all of its value. I just hand coins and notes to people and pray they don't laugh. In that respect I am an easy target for swizzers).
The interviews went well - helped by the fact that the interviewers were lovely - even the one who said "How come such a well educated person as you is writing chick lit?" in a tone which sounded a lot like "You kill puppies? For fun? How could you?"
Turns out he was just after a bit of banter. The banter was great also when I met the lovely people from Poolbeg for dinner (and perhaps too many drinks). I left feeling my ego had been pampered but also with a sobering (literally) picture of what the book market is like just now.
The booksellers were, as always, lovely. Like REALLY lovely but for the first time seeing my wee book there among the jillions of other new titles I felt sorry for it. I wanted to tell it never to worry, it will be okay and all it can do is it's best and sure that's good enough.... isn't it?
I drove home to Derry, mission accomplished, still with that Very Bad Feeling and it hasn't gone away, you know.
In the last three nights I have had every anxiety dream in the book - teeth falling out, remembering I've not cancelled the lease on my old student digs and owe 13 years rent, having to sit my A Levels again, being back in my old student house starting my degree again and wondering how I'll pay the mortgage, fighting with people yadda yadda yadda.
I look, and feel, zombified. I'm told the dreams are my internal fears about how I'm seen externally and I suppose that is true. The control freak in me does not like the lack of control which comes with books being out there and, well, generally with me a nutcase. I've been dosing the Prozac into me like a good 'un. Admittedly I've not been the best when it comes to taking it recently and that must have made an impact on my mood. I'm trying to get out and about more. I'm trying to assure myself that the Very Bad Things which might happen will not be insurmountable and in the grand scheme of things a book flopping is nothing as long as I have my kids and my health and - most importantly - their health.
Still, my head hurts and the desire to curl into a foetal position and wish away the days has not left and I feel as if I'm teetering on the edge of something. It could either be good or Very Bad Indeed but for now I'm just sitting here, arms outstretched, trying to keep my balance and hoping that very soon someone shows up with a safety net.

*I do not think all Dublin folk are robbers and murderers. I'm just a yokel from the North who is scared of all big cities. Even Belfast, which is quite wee really.On really bad days even Dungiven gives me the shakes.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Tales from the book promo tour, part two

How authors trash rooms.... not as cool as rock stars but here's my crap.. half an hour into my stay at the Hilton

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Tales from the book promo trail part 1.

See that? Me and my friend Patricia Cornwell all book of the weeky together in Tesco! See, I'm not making this up - not even one wee bit!
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