Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fictional places I want to live Part Three

This is one is probably very obvious, but here we have it, Carrie Bradshaw's apartment (pre: Sex and the City movie makeover).
I'm sure the noise of the busy New York streets below would drive to me distraction but there is so much character in the old building that it seems like the perfect place to retreat. There are a number of fantastic writing spaces (at the window, on the bed, on any of the mismatched chairs..) and those tree lined streets, heaving with Aidans and Mr Bigs are never far away.
I'd move there in a New York minute.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Random conversations with the boy - some gems

So we are in the car listening to Amy Winehouse.
The boy turns to me, very seriously, and askes "Mammy, is rehab a real country?"

Another car journey, this time over a bridge. The topic of conversation turns to whales.
"Did you know, mammy, that whales can't kill you. They just blow you out of their holes."

I know it was very childish, but I laughed.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The universe makes some sense sometimes

Today's note

If suddenly and without warning, Claire, you had absolutely nothing to worry about, do you know what the world would begin to look like?
Un-huh, exactly the same as it does right now.
Alright, if suddenly you had absolutely nothing to be afraid of, do you know what you'd begin to look like right now?
Yeah, cool as ever.
OK, OK. If suddenly you had absolutely no expectations to live up to and no one to disappoint, do you know how free you'd suddenly be?
Yeah, same, same.
Get it? The only thing that would really change is your thoughts. And you don't need circumstances or other people to help you with that, do you?
I say it's time to blow the lid off this popsicle stand -

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Still thinking of Camille

Some of you have asked me recently how Camille Shave is doing.
For those who have not read my previous posts on Camille, she is perhaps the bravest little girl in the world. Just three years old, she will be undergoing brain surgery in just over two weeks to try and resect as much of her tumour as possible and give her the best chance of survival. Her parents, Hayley and Martin, have some devastating and difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks - decisions no parent should be faced with.
I think of Camille most days. I think of Hayley and Martin and their other daughter Lucia too but at times, I'll selfishly admit, I have to try not to think about them because I find the situation so painful. I'm lucky though, I can distract myself with other things.
Through all this Camille remains a funny, happy and beautifully delightful child. Hayley and Martin remain positive and inspirational.
It's Got to Be Perfect raised money for 'Camille's Appeal'. Camille and Lucia even make a guest appearance in the book. It was the very least (believe me) that I could do.

If you have five minutes and need a reminder why this charity is so important then please read this extract from Martin's latest blog.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Future Footballer's Wife? I don't think so

I was walking through a very well known clothing shop the other day when I spotted a table loaded with slogan T-shirts for young girls.

Being the mother of a young girl with a compulsion for buying her pretty clothes I stopped to have a look - and I turned on my heels and walked on as soon as I saw one T-shirt emblazoned with ‘Future Footballer’s Wife’.

I have many hopes and dreams for my daughter - not least that she will be happy and healthy. I hope she is successful at whatever she chooses to do and that she feels she can shoot for the stars and achieve whatever her heart desires.

My greatest wish for her is not that her ultimate ambition in life is to be married to some loutish eejit who kicks a ball around for a living.

I find it sad that there is a culture out there where a woman’s greatest ambition is to live the life of a z-list celebrity. That her dreams and desires centre solely around wearing Prada and Jimmy Choos and getting photographed for Heat magazine. I find it sad that some women’s ideas of success are tied up in how full their hair extensions are or how manicured their nails are.

I find it particularly sad that the culture of the WAG means that many women will put up with being treated as little more than a trophy in return for a bulging bank balance and their fifteen minutes of fame.

I’ve tried to think this one through - to ask myself if my ambitions were anyway similar when I was a little girl? Of course I wanted to be like some of the big stars of the day. I would have given my eye teeth to be Princess Leia (yes, I used to pray that I would be her best friend, I was that sad). I suppose there was a time when I wanted to be Madonna. I liked her clothes and dreamed of dancing around on a stage singing my heart out. But both these were women were, arguably, strong and positive role models. They were successes in their own right.

WAGs? Well, they just hang onto the laces of their men’s football boots.

I despair of the world my daughter is growing up in. The pressure on women to be beautiful, to appear flawless, to bag a man is more intense than it ever was in my childhood, teenage years and early adulthood.

I wonder what message she is being given by the media around her (of course I know she is too young to understand just yet, but T-shirts with such slogans show just how pervasive this dumbing down of the younger generation is). Is it really a case that a woman’s worth these days can only be measured by the effectiveness of her boob job, the amount of botox running through her forehead or the strength of the smell of the San Tropez wafting from her?

You may think I’m bitter. After all, I’m hardly the WAG type myself. I don’t have a semi-skeletal frame and when I write books I actually do it myself and don’t get someone to ghost write for me - but there is more to my objection than this.

A WAG, I would argue, is different to just being just the partner of a footballer. Being a WAG is following a culture in itself. It is about selfishness and vanity at the highest level. It is not about being a strong woman. How many times have we seen high profile WAGs have their heart trampled on by their cheating partners only to take them back for fear of losing out on the celebrity lifestyle?

Setting our children up with the notion that being a WAG is a worthy ambition is shameful. Telling our young girls that their greatest desire should be to marry someone with bags of money and live quite happily out of their bank account with no ambition to actually make anything of themselves outside of maybe launching a clothing line for a catalogue company is shocking.

I don’t expect the shops to launch t-shirts with slogans such as “future brain surgeon” or “future barrister”, but do we really have to sink so low? Do we have to stick with WAG slogans or ‘Future Shopaholic’ slogans or things which, from the earliest of ages, seem to put women in their place as silly, flighty creatures?

I’ve criticized the Pink Stinks campaign before - which wants gender specific toys in hues of pinks banned - but on this one I’m with them. They have their own WAGS t-shirts - but clearly the letters stand for Women Against Gender Sterotyping and as for their children’s t-shirts, I’ll think I’ll go with the one emblazoned with ‘Future Role Model’ for my daughter.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The new term was surprisingly emotional

I thought I was an old hand at these things.
I have packed the boy off to school for four years now (nursery, P1, P2 and now P3).
I didn't give it much thought to be honest apart from a passing nervousness about the amount of homework we are supposed to expect this year.
I took him to school, his enthusiasm infectious, and was delighted to see all his wee friends outside of the classroom as we waited for his teacher to open the classroom door.
Now I may be an overprotective mammy. I'm used to leaving him into the classroom, to his desk, and giving him a wee kiss before I go.
This morning was different. For those unfamiliar with the Northern Ireland school's system, our kids work under a new curriculum whereby Primary 1 and Primary 2 is supposed to be an extension of nursery - learning is focused through play and is less structured. (Although for my money the boys and girls in Joseph's class could give anyone a run for their money with their reading and writing).
Primary 3 is where the real works begins. As the school principal told Joseph before the summer "It's gonna be tough" (thankfully, he taught the children to say "It's gonna be tough, but I'm gonna do it!").
Leaving him today reinforced that. The teacher came to the classroom door and announced "Say bye to your mammies now, children!".
I, and several other of the self titled 'Over protective mammies brigade' almost had a stroke. What? Leave them? Here? At the door? Without knowing where they are sitting? Without knowing they are okay? Without having a wee chat with the teacher about how individually amazing our children are??????
Three of us stood, darting our head around the door trying to see that our (oblivious to our distress) children were getting on. We walked out, bereft. I have to say I fought back tears. It just seemed so grown up and it was hard for me to leave him with someone I know nothing about apart from her name.
I'm sure he is fine (she said, reassuring herself) and that he isn't given a second thought to his poor old mammy sitting fretting in her work.
But already I'm longing for hometime - just to see him and hear that it went okay.
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