Art of Living!
Dobar Den amigos (as I think they say in Bulgaria). I hope you’re well and forgive me but this is going to be a superspeedy report because it’s been all go and continues to be all go and my apologies. Right! Bulgaria! Now I know my life seems like one long holiday but I HAD to go to Bulgaria, I had to do my patriotic duty because Ireland were playing Bulgaria in the World Cup qualifiers (football, football, not rugby, myself and Himself seem to be the only people left in the world who still think that rugby is a posh gits’ game.) So off we went, with our green jerseys and our tricolour wigs to Sofia, with Tadhg and Susie. (Tadhg is pronounced Thyge, I’m sorry its so confusing.) And I had no idea, no idea AT ALL what to expect from Bulgaria. Apparently it drives them mad, their lack of coherent identity in the world. All I knew was that they had nice yoghurt. However from the small bit of dealing with them on the phone while I was trying to find out about hotels and that, they seemed warm and pleasant. And so they were! The Sofia people were astonishingly welcoming. Really really really really lovely. With very good English. Which I didn’t expect at all. Also very cheap shops. VERY cheap. Sinead, of Sinead and Barry, whom we hadn’t seen since the Israel match, got a pair of sandals for 15 Leva, which translates as an astonishing 7 Euro 50, amigos, 7.50! That’s the kind of place Sofia is. Himself has attached a short (very short) video of our time there …
…and I’m sorry I said the Irish team played badly, because the result (a draw) was a good one, but it was a very nervewracking match, very very tense and we played very defensively which is always frightening. We were there for 3 days and really, it was
great fun. There were 5 Irish pubs in Sofia but they obviously weren’t real Irish pubs because on the first night one of them (McCarthy’s I think) RAN OUT OF DRINK!!!!! For the love of God! Also one of the others, the one we went to the most, JJ Murphys, had barstaff that were in no way equipped for a stampede of Irish fans. It took up to an hour to get a drink and the staff were so overwhelmed that the fans were telling them how to pull pints and when one punter ordered 10 pints, the barman just walked away and was last seen sobbing in a corner.
THEN! We said goodbye to Tadhg and Susie in Budapest and Himself and I went to Amsterdam for promotion on the Dutch publication of This Charming Man. And amigos! The loveliness! I’d never been to the Netherlands before. Most people find this astonishing, that I’d never been to Amsterdam and I don’t know why I haven’t been. To be honest, I think it was that most of the people singing Amsterdam’s praises in my past were stoner gobshites, who kept going on about how great it was that blem was legal and the funny thing is, that even though I’m a TOTAL addict and could get addicted to just about anything, I’ve never taken to it. I hate the way it made me feel, I hated the way it slowed time down and I’d think, ‘I have to stand up now. I have to stand up and I’ll have to do it soon. Maybe in 12 seconds, maybe in 37’ and I’d be lying there incapacitated and paralysed and then a sentence would speak in my head and several hours would pass and I’d think, ‘Did I say that with my mouth or just in my head?’ HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE!!!!! So, yes, I think that must be why I never went because I was afraid I’d have to smoke loads. But it’s nothing like that. We arrived on the Sunday evening and it was raining which I found astonishing because I’ve always had this belief that it never rains ‘on the continent’ and the light was very north-European (which I love) and I knew in theory that there were canals in Amsterdam, but when you see them for real! There are loads! And it’s so very pretty and clean and intact. Hundreds and hundreds of narrow merchants houses from the 18th century and people on bicycles (yes, really), and cobbles and bridges and trams. And again, lovely people. In fairness, I was working, so didn’t have much time to see, but when I finished work on the Monday evening, I a) bought a chocolate bun (as photographed) and b) went on a boat on the canal and it was so lovely because I was wrecked from the interviews and it was so lovely to just lie back and see the beautiful city drift past me. And apparently there’s a handbag museum! Yes! Can you credit it! I didn’t have time to go to it but according to Caitríona (my sister), I’m going to Amsterdam with her and Sean and Sean’s auntie and uncle, Janice and Jerry next May, so I’ll see it then. Also, many other museums in Amsterdam, including the Van Gogh one. I love his paintings, they always make me cry. Also before we went Himself and I went on Pronunciation Guy to learn how to pronounce Vincent Van Gogh and god, it’s hard. Finchent. Fen. And this is the really hard bit – you have to cough. Finchent Fen COUGH! Try it now. Finchent Fen…COUGH!!! Yes, very good. But we didn’t have time to go to the gallery, that’ll have to wait till May too. I’ve included a photo of two lovely Dutch girls Petra and Martina who won a competition to meet me.
Also I have a confession to make. On the Sunday night, when we were staggering around, trying to get a feel for the place, I passed a shoeshop! Yes! What are the chances! And they had the most amazing shoes in the window, sort of like pieces of architecture. But the shop (Jan Jensen) was closed. So I took a note of the name and mentioned it to some of the journalists who were interviewing me and they all said, ‘He is the Netherlands’ most famous shoe designer.’ So on the Wednesday, just before I left for the airport I ran over there and thought, they’ll never have anything in my size and sure enough they didn’t but they had one size up (36) and the girl put new holes in the strap and gave me – free! – gel insole yokes and amigos, they fit! They are astonishingly beautiful and architectural. According to Himself the heel is ‘cantilevered.’
Even though they’re works of art and indeed architecture, I felt guilty about buying them (oh, why break the habits of a lifetime) because I was after getting a pair of FitFlops. Are you familiar with same? They’ve a funny shaped sole so that you exercise your legs and bum while you’re walking and I walked down to the cinema in them the first night I had them, to see the Eric Cantona film (God, I love him) and the next morning I could hardly get out of bed, my leg muscles were so exercised. Could I justify a pair of Jan Jensen sandals as well as my FitFlops? Well….. I decided that they fulfilled 2 very different roles in my life. So yes, I bought them and my apologies if it sounds like my life is one long shoe-buying holiday. Honest to God, it’s not as jammy as it sounds.
Then home we came and the following weekend (well, over 5 days) I did a course. Called The Art of Living course. See, you know the way I’m a yoga person now? Well, I have actually found it all very useful and interesting and actually last Christmas I read the Sally Brampton book Shoot the Damn Dog. Does anyone know off Sally Brampton? She does the most wonderful humane, sensible, compassionate advice column in the Sunday Times Style supplement every Sunday. I love her. I would love to meet her and for her to fix me. Anyway she wrote her book about her appalling struggle with depression. And in her very helpful book, she suggested a book called Yoga for Depression by Amy Weintraub. And Amy Weintraub recommended some of the courses run by Art of Living Foundation. But because Amy Weintraub lives in the US, I thought I’d never be able to do one of the courses, but lo and behold amigos! Lo and Behold! Wasn’t there one – the first one ever – on in Dublin starting June 18th. So I found out more and it was basically breathing techniques. Some basic yoga, to prepare you for the breathing, but it was EXACTLY for me. Because I’m aware, that like many chronically anxious people, I don’t breathe properly. I only breathe from my upper chest, short, gaspy sippy breaths, which is not good, not good at all. They suggested that we do the breathing sequence every day with follow up meetings on a Wednesday and although it’s only been a week since we finished, I have done it every day. It’s been very very nice.
Meanwhile I have finished my proof reading of the UK version on The Brightest Star in the Sky and it’ll be DHL’d tomorrow, with me trying to grab onto it and shouting, ‘Just one more change, just one, I beg you!!!’
So what else? Something lovely. I have a friend called Suzanne Power who is the best person and she moved to Wexford a few years ago and because of the perpetual busyness, we didn’t get to see each other for ages, but she invited me down to Wexford for the solstice because there was a sponsored walk on Curraghcloe beach to raise money for Hope, a charity that helps people with cancer and their families. So we went to Suzanne’s first for our dinner and it was so wonderful and I’ll tell you amigos, Jan Jensen shoes and FitFlops are all well and good, but what makes my life worth living is friendship. The love for and of other people, likeminded souls. I couldn’t get over how uplifting it was to see her. Then off we went to the beach, where I was meant to lead the walk, but due to confusions, big crowds, faraway parking spots, last minute requirement on my part to make my wees etc, I was late and the walk set off without me and I had to lead from the middle. Normally being late makes me want to flagellate myself but everything was so goodhumoured that it didn’t matter. Truly I am changing! It was a great night, even the weather was lovely. In fact, it’s been a good Summer so far, no?
THEN a few days later we had to go to the UK to see Himself’s family because Himself’s Dad has 36 – yes! – 36 first cousins and every ten years they have a party where all the cousins and descendants etc meet up, so we were told about this in January to make sure we’d be there. So we were; and the best part was spending time with Himself’s brother’s children, Jude (4) and Gabe (2). I’ll see if I can scout out pictures.
Speaking of children, Rita-Anna’s baba Dylan was 1 on June 8th and there was a big party but sadly I was en route to Amsterdam and missed it, but here’s a picture of him with a cupcake.
Is anyone watching Big Brother? I thought my BB days were gone forever because last year I watched the first night and my heart sank and I just thought, I can’t spend another summer with these stupid nasty types. But this year is a bit different. They’re not all thick, for a start and they’re not all horrible either. I’m after feelgood, not feelbad and so far, it’s not so bad. I like Siavash. And I think Karly is really funny. And I feel very sorry for Rodrigo, he’s such an anxious little type, I bet he doesn’t breathe from his belly, maybe he should do the Art of Living course. Marcus though, Christ alive, I have to turn my face sideways from the telly when he’s on, especially now that I know he doesn’t brush his teeth.
I’m sorry amigos, it’s all a bit factual and unfunny this month. I’ve discovered a new skincare brand, called Nubo, if it’s of any interest. It’s described as ‘The next generation of Hi-Tech skincare’ and I’m using Nubo Cell Dynamic Essence, which is a serum and I’m a sucker for serums and I’m LOVING this one. Lovely nonsticky texture and I’ve been using it for about a month and I’m convinced my face is tighter than it was. They do a whole range. I’ve been trying to find out more about them. I think they’re a British brand. In fact, I’m just looking the box here, and there’s a website, I should look it up (www.nubobeauty.com)
So that’s it for this month, mes amies. Will you be going to see Brüno? God, wasn’t it very sad about Michael Jackson? And the carry-on of his father! Using his son’s death to plug his own record label. It’s shameful. Anyway…
I hope you had a wonderful June, and that you have a magnificent July. I hope the weather is good wherever you are.
Thank you for reading this
Lots of love