Hello, hello, hello, did you have a lovely August? I didn’t. I’m not complaining, really I’m not, all part of life’s rich tapesty. Let me explain. Well, as you know at the end of last month I had a run of minor incidents – a throat infection, a broken bridge in my teeth, then my temporary bridge going yellow because of ingesting turmeric-laced food less than 24 hours after the procedure. But, at the time – and I believe I may have remarked on it to you my amigos – I said, Well at least I don’t have swine flu. Yes? You remember?
WELL!!!! 5 days after I started on the antibiotics for the throat infection, I expected to be restored to health. Imagine my surprise, as they say, when I took a turn for the very exhausted and had to go home (I was over in my parents playing with little Dylan) and go to bed at 7.30. I’m fond of my sleep and I make no apologies for it, but this was a bit much, even for me. So I go to sleep and wake up the next morning and still felt very very very very very tired but I thought, No, I’ll go to yoga, (oh, yes, still a yoga person.) It’ll make me feel better, sez I to meself. Then I got out of bed and my legs felt surprisingly wobbly and I thought, What the hell is wrong with me? Maybe I better NOT go to yoga. I don’t want to make a show of myself, not being able to keep up and trembling when I’m holding my warrior pose and possibly having to go into child’s pose when everyone else is doing headstands. (Even though of course yoga is entirely non-competitive…)
Anyway, by Monday I was in flitters! Hardly able to breath and my throat infection was back even though I’d finished the antibiotics and I was roasting hot and achy and as weak as a kitten. So the doctor came and concluded that I ‘probably’ had swine flu. However, he didn’t swab me, because apparently they had so many cases at this stage (early August) that they weren’t swabbing any more, so I never got a cast-iron, official diagnosis, so I’m left confused and feeling a bit like a fraud. I mean, did I have it or didn’t I? Obviously it causes a great frisson if you say you did have it, but have I the right to say it? I was bad enough to be prescribed Tamiflu, which – and I’m happy about this because he’s a pleasure to deal with – caused no end of excitement for Ronan, the lovely pharmacist from Donegal. Himself hotfooted it over to Ronan with the Tamiflu prescription in his hand and when he gave it to Ronan, Ronan exclaimed, “Ah, you’re joking!” And – and forgive me for ascribing a secret life to Ronan – but I had this vision of Ronan having Friday night drinks with a load of other pharmacists and him being able to swagger around boastfully and say, “Well, actually, I had my first swine flu person this week…” And all the other pharmacists being green with envy.
Of course it’s no joke and I was sick, sick, sick, amigos. (Far worse after I started the Tamiflu for what it’s worth, it made me wildly pukey.) I was – LITERALLY – in bed for 2 full weeks and after a week I got a chest infection and had to get a second go of antibiotics. In the meantime, Ema (9), Luka (8) and Ljiljana (37) arrived from Prague for their Summer holidays (Ema and Luka are my brother Niall’s kids, Lilers in his missus) and I had to be hoisted by a winch from my sickbed for the trip to Alton Towers for Luka’s 8th birthday. Which was really really really lovely, in fairness. Niall flew over from Prague for Luka’s actual birthday and if I’d been in the fullness of my health and able to breathe without gasping and wheezing, it would have been fabulous altogether. Himself and myself went on Nemesis because it’s our ‘thing.’
We went to Alton Towers 15 years ago when we were young and in love and because I’d recently given up the sauce and was looking for other ways to get my kicks, I fell in love with rollercoasters, the most terrifying the better. So, yes, we took a little wander down memory lane.
Then we came home, then I went to New York for work – flew out on the Monday, left on the Thursday, I was PSYCHOTIC, amigos. I’m no good at this jet-setting business. I decided to try to stay on Irish time and get up at 3am New York time and go to bed at 6pm, because I felt that as soon as I’d adjusted to local conditions, I’d have to go home. It’s hard to know whether it was a good thing or not because I was still wobbly and shaky and tearful and cranky from my ‘swine’ flu.
THEN I went to County Clare for a few days to see Ema, Luka and Lily but because I’d missed so much work while I’d been sick I had TONS to catch up on. Oh God, amies, I’m so sorry, I’ve just realised this is one long whine-fest. Right, I’m stopping now - because it was lovely in Clare, the Atlantic always has an uplifting effect on me.
THEN we came back to Dublin and AnneMarie and Jack Scanlon were here, visiting from Henley. (Jack is 2 years and 8 months and divine.)
THEN it was the Festival of World Cultures in Dun Laoghaire, and I had great plans to go to the Bollywood disco with Ema, but when it came to it, I had to go to bed instead. So I’ve just spent the weekend in bed and actually feel a lot better for it.
And you know how I’m afraid you’ll think my life is one long shoe-buying holiday? Well, okay, that didn’t happen this month but another lovely thing happened – I got sent the new Michael Connolly, which isn’t out until October. How lucky am I? And it was BRILLIANT. A return to form, you might say. It’s a Harry Bosch and it’s so good and if you’re a Michael Connolly fan you’ll be thrilled. And if you’ve never read him before, don’t read this one. Go back and get the first Harry Bosch and read the series in order, it’s far better that way. I wish I’d done that with the Rebus books (Ian Rankin.) I’ve read them all and they’re all brilliant but I didn’t read them in order and it’s just so much more satisfying and enjoyable if you do.
In fact, there’s loads more great books out or coming shortly. Have you read Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen? Oh! Bloody brilliant, so it is! And there’s a new Margaret Atwood out and it’s a sort-of-sequel to Oryx and Crake, which was so great. And a new Rachel Cusk. And a new Nick Hornby.
So now it’s back to school this week and actually I don’t mind in the slightest. I know people can get miserable at the end of Summer but I’ve always loved September and I’ve always loved Autumn.
I’m sorry I haven’t written more this month but I’m up to my OXTERS in work because The Brightest Star in the Sky is coming out at the end of October and I’m writing what seems like dozens of articles for magazines and newspapers and also – and I’m quite at a loss to explain how it happened – but I seem to have started writing a new book. Only the very very early stages, so early I’m not sure what will stay and what will go of what I’ve currently got, but (at the moment anyway) it’s called Sanctuary and I’m really surprised and delighted because for a long time I was wondering if I’d be able to come up with anything new or whether I’d have to go and get a proper job.
Oh the mice! I nearly forgot! Well, about 4 days ago I was having my breakfast (porridge) and I was nearly finished and then something (I can’t remember what, the phone or something) disturbed me, so I put the bowl on my bedroom floor and left the room and when I came back, there were small lumps of porridge all over the place and bits of carpet (only small but still) in my porridge so I thought, Jack Scanlon must have been in here and accidentally stood on me porridge and sent bits of it flying. Because these are the sorts of things that happen when you have small children in the house and it’s no biggie. So I abandoned the remains of the breakfast and cleaned up the mess and thought no more about it. Then it happened again yesterday – but Jack Scanlon had left the previous day!!!! So do you know what I thought? Christ, I’m such a gobshite. Instead of thinking, A mouse, like a normal person, I thought, Hmmm, could it be a ghost? An unquiet spirit trying to alert me to something? A poltergeist, perhaps. (I read Sarah Waters’ Little Stranger a few weeks back so maybe this isn’t entirely my fault.)
THEN it happened again this morning – I go out of the room for a little while and when I come back, it’s like porridge has been thrown around in a small frenzy. Like something out of a Stephen King novel. Sinister, if you know what I mean. And then, I thought, Christ, could it be… a mouse? So I went to Himself and said, I think we might have a mouse. And he said, Actually so do I.
And I said, Why? Why? What proof have you? But he wouldn’t tell me and then I got the shudders. (I’ve since discovered that he and AnneMarie both thought they heard late night scurrying. Christ…)
THEN it occurred to me that mice are sociable creatures, that it was unlikely to be a lone maverick hermit mouse, that there was probably more than one, dancing around my bedroom floor of a morning.
So then I got the worse shudders. Although, in fairness, it’s only mice. It’s not like an infestation of boa constrictors. Or jockeys. But something will have to be done and I’d got some – wrong, as it turns out – idea that you can get some high-pitched whiny noise thing that scares away mice, that you don’t have to bother with lumps of cheese and traps any longer but Himself tells me that I’m wrong, that there’s no humane way to get rid of mice and I said, That’s all well and good, but I do yoga now, I can’t harm another living creature. So he said, Okay, I’ll do it and I said, Grand.
So there we are. My mother is blaming the weather. She says it’s so wet and miserable that the mice are being driven indoors ahead of their time and admittedly it has been a wet, windy, unseasonably cold few days and if I was a mouse – or indeed entire family of mice - I wouldn’t be too happy to be out in the elements either. I’d be inside in the warm and the dry, dancing in porridge bowls, too.
Did you have a nice August? Are you happy to be back to normal life or are you glum? If you’re glum, I extend my sympathies. It’s a bad business to be glum. But think of how nice Autumn is. Think of the new boots…
Have a lovely September and I’ll write again at the end of the month.
Lots of love