Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Random conversations with the boy - be careful what you ask

The boy's homework last night was to write about my hobbies - obviously on a Mother's Day kind of theme.

So the boy rambled on about writing books, and singing in the choir and we were having a lovely conversation where he said one of my favourite things was being his best friend.

Buoyed by this sense of confidence I decided I push things one step further which I should have known was a bad move.

"So I'm a good mummy then?" I ask. (Needy? Moi? Yep!)

"Oh yes mummy. The best."

"So, if you could choose a mummy out of all the mummies in the entire world, who would you pick?"

He paused. Thought about it for a while and replied with a very serious face. "I think I'd choose an Egyptian mummy. That would be really interesting."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Random conversations with the boy

So the weekend my father took it on himself to tell Joseph a story about a wee boy he knew who had been gifted a football signed by the entire Chelsea team by a businessman who had heard the wee boy was sad and wanted to cheer him up. The wee boy was said because he had recently lost a friend in tragic circumstances.

Joseph thought this through for a while, and paused, "Well if anything happened to *insert name of best friend* here, it would cheer me up to get a signed Liverpool ball. That would make me happy."

I may need to tell the friend in question to watch his back.

I'm off to the see Wizard (well, not actually the wizard)

Oh readers, I am very excited. More excited than a grown woman should be perhaps... but excited all the same.
On Thursday I will be travelling to Dublin (ON. MY. OWN. aka NO. KIDS) to
  • Meet with some lovely writerly friends for drinks and dinner
  • Stay in a hotel on my lone (as Joseph would say) and have a bed all to my self.
  • To get dressed up in nice clothes, with make up and everything (Can you tell I really don't get out much?)
  • And...wait for it... to meet a whole big pile of writers who have inspired, entertained, mentored me over a very long time indeed.
Among those writers will be Patricia Scanlan. Her City Girls was the first Poolbeg book I ever bought with my very own money! (When I was around 15, from memory). I wanted to be Devlin. I wanted the blonde bob and the chain of spas and the hunky man and basically, well, everything she had (apart from tragic early Ballymun years).
The City Girls trilogy shaped my teenage years and I may well faint/boke/ talk rubbish when face to face with the actual Patricia Scanlan.

Similarly Sheila O'Flanagan AND Cathy Kelly will be there. And I know i'm going to meet them because they said so and honestly I took weak for about half an hour afterwards because these ladies were my 20s.

A host of other writers will also be there including Melissa Hill, Ciara Geraghty, Emma Hannigan, Shirley Benton, Clodagh Murphy and many others and I'm excited about that too. In fact very excited.

And there is just such a lovely buzz about the whole event that it feels like it will be something very special indeed.

I promise to post pictures!

Friday, March 18, 2011

God save us from zealots

Of all the images which have haunted me since the earthquake and tsunami rocked Japan last week, the one I have found most poignant is that of a child - no older than two or three - standing, his arms raised over his head - being scanned for radiation poisoning by a man in scary white suit and mask.

I’ve thought about that child a lot - and about the other children in Japan - and of the fear they must be feeling. And I’ve thought about his mother and father and how they must feel helpless and, perhaps, increasingly desperate as the mixed messages about meltdowns, and radiation leaks and contamination circulate.

We cannot, in this city, really begin to understand the scale of the disaster which has hit Japan and I will be the first to put my hand up and say that, utterly selfishly, there have been times when I have switched the TV off, or clicked off an online newsfeed or turned the radio over when a report has come on.

It’s not that I don’t care - far from it - it is just that my brain cannot comprehend the level of destruction and loss being played out on the tv. It’s too much and it’s too painful and yes, it is too scary.

Part of me too wants to protect my children from it. Perhaps that is foolish - but as the mother of a child with a particularly overactive imagination and curious fascination with natural catastrophies - I felt it best to save him from the worry.

To first hear the news of an earthquake hitting, and to hear follow up reports of a devastating tsunami washing away entire towns, entire communities and entire families was terrifying enough.

To have that followed up with talks of nuclear meltdown, radiation clouds and scenes reminiscent of Hiroshima was beyond comprehension.

The deathtoll as I write is in the thousands and rising and there is grisly talk of thousands of bodies being washed up on the drowned beaches of Japan as things settle.

There is fear of another earthquake, perhaps smaller but still large enough to be devastating and there is of course the worry of what any nuclear fall out may entail.

While the world has been struggling to come to terms with what has happened one so-called Christian has posted a message on internet site YouTube praising God for bringing such destruction on the world.

‘TamTamPamela’, who has sinced claimed she was only joking, posted a lengthy message in which she said she had been praying for God to punish atheists and show the world that He existed.

She said it was “amazing” how He had shook Japan to show them that He was there and that the death of thousands of people was proof of what a loving and powerful God we have over us. She was almost ecstatic with the joy of it all.

Now, I won’t proclaim to be the most religious of people. Generally I’ll leave all talk of God and His works to Father Chris in the column below, but I watched the video and I felt sick. It felt at complete odds with everything that I believe about God and His works.

Whether or not ‘TamTamPamela’ actually was joking was kind of irrelevant by the end of it because there were people who posted that they agreed with her.

There were people who were praising God for the disaster which has hit Japan. There were people who thought that those children, and parents, and grandparents who were killed - who lived their last moments in abject terror unable to save themselves - deserved it.

There were people who thought this was a wonderful way in which God could remind the world who was in charge and those people delighted in the horror we have seen on our screens.

For anyone to call themselves Christian, or indeed religious in any denomination, and to revel in the loss and death being felt by an entire nation is incredulous.

To have a complete lack of empathy or sympathy for those thrust into a hell on earth is nothing short of barbaric. It is the kind of hateful and hurtful response which turns others away from religion.

Religion should not be forced upon us out of fear of retribution if we don’t meet certain standards. Living a good life should be about trying your best and caring for others as you would have them care for you.

When I think of that child, standing, his arms raised while he is scanned for dangerous levels of radiation - radiation which may have catastrophic implications on his health as he grow - I fail to see how any loving God would see this as a good way to teach anyone a lesson.

And it dawned on me - there are scarier things than earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear catastrophies to protect my children from.

There are religious zealots who twist what should be about love, forgiveness and hope into something dark and horrid - something so hate filled that there is no trace of God to be found in their words.

That is what, perhaps, we should really be afraid of. That is what our children need protected from.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

And Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all

Dear Boots...

Dear Boots,
Thank you for your lovely email today asking me if I could believe my toddler was "around 2 already"?

No, since you asked, I can't really believe it. It's a bit mad. Seems like only three minutes since she was born. It was nice of you to remember. I mean you could have sent a card, rather than an email with a generic picture on it. Also her name is CARA... but stilll, I'll not hold it against you. I know you are very busy selling chemisty type things and filling prescriptions so I'm okay with it.

Yes, she has indeed "spent most of the last year learning how to walk and run" - but what you didn't mention is how she spent an inordinate amount of time watching Something Special and shouting "Mr Tuuuuuumble" over and over again. Or indeed that her brother has taught her to say bottom, bum and poo. She's a charmer for sure.

So, you really think "this year her thinking and memory will improve". We could be in trouble here Mr Boots because she already has a scary memory. Mention that we will get a biscuit later to distract her from something just before bed and that child will wake at three in the morning shouting "Bicket! Bicket! Bicket, mammy!"
She's quite a dainty wee thing, but like an elephant, she never forgets.

You tell me in the next year she will learn colours and how to count. Well, *polishes mammy halo* she can already do that. Except for purple. She has issues with purple. She can count to ten as well. I think, frankly, learning her colours and how to count isn't very aspirational for her next year. I'm hoping she proves herself to be a child genius and earns me a small fortune or atleast takes over the world. .

Now Mr Boots... we have to have some words. You described in your email as a "confident mum" - and then, well, you dumped me. It was in kind of a "it's not you, it's me" way but I'm put out all the same. So now that you have used me - seen me through my pregnancy, got a baby, encouraged me to buy an awful lot of your own brand nappies and bottles you think you can just feck off.
Oh but don't worry you say...if at midnight I need calpol I can call into your midnight pharmacy. Well Mr Boots this smacks of two words... Booty Call.
You can't have your cake and eat it, Mr Boots. I'm not that kind of girl. You can't just toss me aside and expect to have me come crawling to you in the wee small hours whne I'm desperate. I'll go elsewhere. I might even go to....*gasp*.... Superdrug,
By the way I do no appreciate the tone with which you signed off your email.

P.S. You might be thinking about trying for another baby soon. Don’t forget to sign up to Boots Parenting Club if you get pregnant again, for more support every step of the way.

Are you mad? Are you absolutely crazy? Do you not know me at all???????

Mr Boots... I think we have come to the end of our journey.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

In hibernation

In short, I am written out.
'The 30 Something Crisis Club' went to Dublin this week - after a frenetic fortnight of editing it to within an inch of its life.
Now I feel as if i'm spent - for the moment anyway - until my writerly juices kick up to full pelt again. I do have ideas - strong ones - so it shouldn't be too long.
But for now I'm going to do some of the things I just could not while I concentrated on getting the book away.

I am going to read - oh joy... reading, how I've missed thee! I have Little White Lies by Bernadette Strachan on the go as I was warned it might be similar to my new idea (it's not... but it's still a good book) and then I'm going to finish reading the Anna McPartlin book I had to lock away as it was just too distracting. And finally I'm going to enjoy Shirley Benton's debut 'Looking For Leon' which has just be published my Poolbeg.

I'm going to get my hair cut. I look like Chewbacca.
Which reminds me, I'm also going to book in for eyebrow tweezering.

I'm going to spring clean my house - the dust has gathered at a whole new pace when I've not been looking.

I'm going to have some quality time with my children.

I may even cook something more adventurous than toast and drink something healthier than Diet Coke and wine.

So if it goes a little quiet, or stay a little quiet it is because I'm hibernating - recharging my batteries and gearing up to start all over again.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Today I am radiating contentment

Yes. Today I will feel calm.
And not think about deadlines.
Or how my hall and landing need painted.
Or how I don't know what I'm going to write my column about.
Or how my ideas for book 6 are all a bit up in the air.
I will think about my children - when they are being nice and not grumpy/ huffy/ cheeky. I will think about the fact that Grey's Anatomy is on the TV tonight. I will think that my edits for book 5 are just about done. I will think about the early spring sunrise.
And I will be happy.
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