Roof still missing!
So much to tell you, my amigos, and I’m jetlagged out of me head, so bear with me, it might be all a little stream-of-consciousness and maybe even incoherent, and my apologies for that!
So I went away with Himself to Laos (although it was reported in the papers as Lagos, with an earnest line ‘Keyes has travelled to Africa in the past for charitable reasons.’) So, no it was LAOS I went to. Laos is in Asia, it borders Vietnam, China, Burma, Cambodia and has Thailand on the other side of the Mekong. And people kept asking me before I went, “Why Laos? For the love of god, what’s wrong with the Maldives?” And I had no answer for them. Except the nasty suspicion that if I was confined to a place with nothing to do but sunbathe and get scuttered (neither of which I do) the unbearable feelings that live in my solar-plexus might get out of control all together.
Veering wildly off course here, I just wanted to mention something here – I got a letter from a lovely woman who had a total breakdown very similar to mine and I was told by my doctors that Nervy Breakers don’t exists any more, they’ve been ‘rebranded’ (slighly sarky tone on my part there) as ‘Major Depressive Episodes. But I KNEW I was having a nervous breakdown. Granted I WAS displaying lots of the symptoms of depression but it was far far worse than that. Anyway! This lovely lady said in her letter that her breakdown had been described in medical terms as ‘Personality Fragmentation’ and I was THRILLED!!! Personality Fragmentation describes EXACTLY how I felt and feel. A total loss of myself! I am v pleased to discover I’m having an oul bout of Personality Fragmentation rather than acute depression.
So off to Laos we went, with the roof of our house removed and the whole place covered with scaffolding and walkways, like it was a prison, and every single thing, every SINGLE thing, covered in dust: the knives and forks in our drawers, the cotton buds in their box, my back teeth. I must say though, they are really really nice builders. They’re really considerate, not like the old days of the Celtic Tiger where they didn’t give a shite, when they just knocked lumps out of your 100 year old mouldings with their ladders and chortled and said, “Sure, it was fecking ancient, wha’?”
RIGHT! So Laos. We’ll never get there with all the asides we’re doing. Okay, long journey, via Heathrow, Bangkok and finally Luang Prabang, the old royal capital of Laos. And it was fecking ROASTING. I’m breaking out in a sweat even thinking about it. Humid like you wouldn’t believe. Instantly my fair frizzed up like I was Krusty the Clown. Luang Prabang (furthermore known as LP) is after winning city of the year two years in a row in Himself’s Wanderlust magazine. It’s on the Mekong and very pretty and riddled with temples with buddhas and we were made to go on a tour.(My personal temple limit is 31, after that, I start becoming short-tempered, even disrespectful.) There are almost no cars but millions of motorbikes and tuktuks and many new fancy french fusion restaurants. But almost no shops, everything is sold from stalls or hut or at the market. A very innocent sort of place. Even at the crap (crafts) market, no-one would be shouting ‘Over here pretty lady! I have good plice for you!” You’d look at their stuff and they’d yawn and you’d wander on and it’s a wonder anything gets sold at all. No entrepreneurial spirit. Lord Sugar would give them a right scolding. We were there 3 nights and every night, the whole city (ah, it’s not really a city, it’s more like Dun Laoghaire) plunged into darkness as the power failed – we were enchanted by this. Himself got to wear his head torch, which he was THRILLED by.
The next day we went “up country” with a guide and a driver and it really did feel like uncharted territory. The alarmingly narrow roads were on top of mountains with sheer drops of hundreds of feet, sometimes on both sides. We stopped at a hillside H’mong village and the guide was keen that we call in and visit some poor people in their humble homes and I was equally keen that we were NOT going to call in because I’ve done that sort of stuff in the past and I come out hating myself and I’m fairly sure the visited ones hate me too. I feel voyeuristic and exploitative and embarrassed to be invading their privacy and also I hate making small talk, which is fecking obligatory. You have to ask about their goat and how often they milk it and you have to pretend to laugh when the rooster makes a huge big screechy noise at the sight of you. And they’ve no interest in me, the villagers. I tried starting a conversation with one, one time, about how my granny boiled the water in the kettle in exactly the same way as they were doing and they just stared at me with, ‘”What they fuck would we care?” eyes. I’m perfectly happy to give the money so that I DON’T have to visit the villagers.
After about 8 hours we arrived in Phonsovan a town really close to the Vietnam border. It was a brisk busy place and they didn’t bat an eyelid at Himself and myself because I suspect they’ve never seen tourists before. They just wanted to get on with selling their live bats (I swear to God, I’m still not right after seeing them) and galvanised buckets and nylon knickers. And then! Something incredible happened! I saw a box selling BB cream. ASIAN cream ie the best, the most authentic BB cream. Up to now, I’ve been riding the BB cream bangwagon with my Estee Lauder version which I find HIGHLY satisfactory and looks lovely on my skin, but on d twitters, everyone’s been saying, ‘the best BB creams are the Asian ones’ and there I was, looking at one! I flung myself on it, extracting it from between the bats and the buckets and this shrewd stallholder looked me up and down and eventually decided I could afford £2.50. Clearly she though she was robbing me blind, whereas I was overjoyed and my guide was beyond baffled. BAFFLED. “What does it do?” he asked (as everyone does) and I said, “I don’t really know, but you have to have it if you care about beauty products, the BB stands for Blemish Balm and every self-respecting make-up bag has one and… look! I don’t really know! But it’s a good thing and I need it!” Then it dawned on me that there would be other people who’d be interested in owning an authentic Asian BB cream, so I set myself a little project that every town I visited, I would trawl the stalls looking for them. (See, they don’t have chemists, like in the ‘developed world’. Their stalls are more like jumble sales, where Lux soap is next to a bowl of crickets and beside a huge big pile of valium, which you can buy like pick’n’mix – much as I wanted to, I desisted. I’m bad enough.)
That night we stayed in a hotel that was jam-packed with all these shouty ‘Toor of Dooty’ men, who looked like they were still fighting the Vietnam war. Buzz-cuts and camouflage and other pieces of tomfoolery. Finally it dawned on us that they were Landmine disposal people – Laos is the most bombed country in the world. During the Vietnam war, more bombs were dropped by the US forces on LAOS (even though they weren’t at war with them) than were dropped on all of Europe during the second world war. Often the bombs were dropped because the US planes hadn’t been able to get to their targets in Hanoi and they didn’t feel like flying back to their base in Thailand with all their goodies, so they just fecked them over Laos, like Laos was a big rubbish bin. To this day, vast parts of arable land in Laos are unusable because they’ve got bombs buried in it, so these kindly Toor-of-Dooty lads were off to do some bomb-clearance. See Mines Advisory Group for more information. After an extremely strange tay in which many of the things on the menu were ‘Not’, we retired to our room where the electricty promptly failed. Out with Himself’s headtorch! Twice in two nights! OOOhhh!
The next day we went to The Plain Of Jars, which again, like the BB creams, I’m at a loss as how to explain. It’s a massive area, covered with …well….jars. Big stone jars. Up to three metres high. Some say they might have been burial urns, other say they were for storing…well…Jar. But nobody knows. Nevertheless, it’s very atmospheric, especially if you go to site 2 and 3, where we saw no-one. That’s the thing about Laos, it really does seem to be untouched and uncorrupted. It’s a very innocent place and the people seem very innocent.
Now lookit, at this stage, I’m going to stop because I don’t want to overwhelm you with details and I’m feeling a bit ‘quare’ meself. As soon as I can I will give you another instalment. I just wanted to let you know something. In the end I managed to ‘secure’ 11 Asian BB creams and I’ll be holding a raffle for them as soon as I get myself organised. If you’d like to be in, just join me on the twitters
and let me know your name. I’ve been planning a glittering gala event with all the names cut up by Luka my nephew and put into my salad bowl and Ema my beautiful 12 year old niece, who will wear blue eyeshadow and select the names. My sister Rita-Anne (a qualified actuary) will independently verify the result and my mammy will write the people’s names down in a notebook. I even have/had plans to film this glittering occasion but Himself is sick! Yes! Since we got home! Grand for 2 weeks in bat-land and the minute we arrive back to ‘civilisation’ he gets sick. Also the house is in such rag-order than I don’t know when or where we can find a small area that isn’t filthy for our glittering event. Filth tends to put a dampner on glitter. Also I have a substantial number of people to herd into one place at one time. But we will manage it! We just don’t know when!
Finally, I am OBSESSED WITH Clinique’s chubby sticks and lid smoothies. I’ve been out of the beauty loop for too long but when my sister Caitriona was home from NY a few weeks back, she gave me a lid smoothie in Born Freesia (a pale lilac) and now I am in love. There are lots of colours (maybe 14) and they’re fresh and spring-like and long-last and gorgeous. I am LOVING cute-cumber (a pale green) and Cashew-later (a gorgeous pale brown.) Also the Chubby Sticks! They’re sort of a lipstick, a moisturising balm and a gloss all in one and the colours and texture are SENSATIONAL. My favourite is Chunky Cherry but there are 8 – EIGHT – I tell you!! 8!!! New colours coming on June 1st. I feel as excited about them as I did when Lancomes Juicy Tubes first appeared – yes, that’s how good!
Now about books, I actually read feck all on my holiers, I don’t really know why, I suppose it wasn’t that sort of holiday, there was never much sitting around doing nothing and then in the evenings when I was in the humour to read, the electricity often failed (but then I bought myself a torch in a market with the picture of an unknown Arsenal player on the side. He remains unidentified as yet. If I find out who he is, I’ll let you know.) But I DID read the Simon Cowell book and really I’m flummoxed. He says it’s unauthorised, but that’s clearly nonsense because there are details in there that only SC could have given Tom Bower, the writer. Such as that he took ’2 tablets’ (I’m assuming 2 sleeping tablets) the night before he sacked someone (It was probably poor Cheryl.) And that he took half a sleeping tablet going to his 50 birthday party because he wanted to feel ‘dreamy.’ So clearly it was done with SC’s cooperation, but it’s utterly bizarre, because he comes out of it so badly. For decades, he was a laughing stock in the music industry and everything he turned his hand to, failed spectacularly. The consistent thread throughout the book is his rivalry with Simon Fuller (who invented the Spice Girls) and basically EVERYTHING SF did, SC did 10 minutes later. For example SC set up a Spice girl copy called Girl Thing (yes, where are they now?) There are (literally) about 200 pages detailing legal shenanigans which is the sort of thing I usually enjoy (I love the piece they have every month in Vanity Fair, basically entitled, “When Corporate Takeovers go Bad) but I was bored SENSELESS in this book. Stock options and back-ends and front-ends and… who CARES???!!!! It was simply there to illustrate the fact that once Simon Fuller was more successful than Simon Cowell, but look who’s more successful now! (Cowell, allegedly)
However, the strangest thing of all was SC’s history with the ladies. I’m presuming that one intention of this ‘unauthorised me arse’ book was to demonstrate just what a lovair man SC is, but there was never ever a suggestion that he was in love with any of his ‘many, many’ women. (Terri Seymour badgered him incessantly to take her on holiday and he finally agreed so long as they could only talk about him!) It’s blindingly obvious that the only woman he loves is his mammy. I know it’s a strange thing to say but the whole book reeked of SC as an asexual being. Not gay, as everyone is hoping for, but definitely not straight either. The ‘affair’ with Danniiiiiiiiiiiiii? I’m so not convinced. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if SC has never had sex. Emotionally he seems stuck at the age of 10, where he wants to have the winning conker. There is frequent mention of him admitting to having had ‘A K and a C’ (A kiss and a cuddle) with various women but not actually ‘bonking’ (His word) them. ‘A K and a C’???? I ask you??? Bonking? The sort of thing a 13-year-old would say. He also talks about ‘playing with his toys’ and by toys, he means his employees and by ‘playing with them’ he means fucking with their heads and keeping them on continually shifting ground over their job security. His toys include Cheryl, Danniiiii, Paula Abdul, Amanda Holden, Nicole with the surname I won’t even attempt to spell and all the other poor creatures (usually women) who’ve had the misfortune to work for him. By his own admission, he enjoys seeing the girls on his panels fight with each other. He loves ‘a cat fight’ (a phrase that makes me feel almost physically sick. Like men don’t have rivals at work?)
And as for friends? Well, no worries there. He simply buys whatever he needs. He collects beautiful women, the way I have started collecting Chubby Sticks. Countless numbers of his ex-girlfriends have had houses bought for them. And many other of his ‘good friends’ like Sinitta, Paula Abdul and Dannniiiiiii, he controls their lives by controlling their jobs. But actually the whole point of the book of this UMA (‘unauthorised my arse’) biog was to show that he has finally beaten Simon Fuller. I can’t give you the details because my head will explode with boredness, but it’s something to do with X-Factor finally doing better than American Idol, and the only person it’s important to is Simon Cowell. Finally, the black loo paper – it was a little joke by his architect who wanted to make everything white and SC wanted everything dark. Save yourself the money on this book. It’s not ‘juicy’ or glamorous, it’s a dry-as-dust victory lap by an emotionally stunted, remorseless, boy-in-a-man’s-body. (I know this sounds like a very harsh assessment of his personality but the gas thing is, I think he’d take it as a compliment. I suspect he’d be swaggering around with pride at the thought that he’d never loved anyone. He’d see it as a sign of strength.)
And on that happy note, I’ll be back asap. It might be a while because water pours through the ceiling every time it rains (a lot at the moment) and we’re spending all our time running around with basins and towels. We’re not sure if we can stay in the house till the job is finished, so everything is very unsettled and up-in-the-air. Also Himself isn’t well and poor Himself rarely gets sick. He obviously picked up a quare bug out forrin. The quarest thing of all is that it’s not me that’s sick because I get everything going. But then again, I have personality fragmentation, so all’s good! We will also have videos for you, which Himself needs to fiddle around with and he’ll do that as soon as he’s better.
I hope you’ve all been well. Thank you, I am always so grateful to know you’re my pals
With lots and lots of love