Birthday passes ‘peacefully.’
Ola, amigos and I hope you had a wonderful September. It was very nice for me, September is my favourite month because a) it’s my birthday and b) all the new boots are in the shops, although in fairness, in recent years, the new boots have started appearing in June, but TRADITIONALLY September was the month of new boots so I always get a warm glow because of that.
So lets see. Yes, birthday on September 10 – thank you for all your good wishes. The day itself didn’t make me depressed. For some reason, getting older doesn’t make me miserable, bizarrely I actually feel SAFER the older I get, like people will expect less from me and and I can become more and more invisible, yet more and more eccentric. Does anyone else feel like that or am I the only one? To be quite honest, I feel my ideal age will be 53. I’m a good few years off it yet, but I’m looking forward to it, I feel that by then all the shackles of societies’ expectations will have fallen away from me and I will wear EXACTLY what I want and not comb my hair and I’ll talk to whoever I like the look of and not engage with those I don’t and give out cellophane-wrapped sweets to everyone on the bus and if someone offends me or annoys me or keeps me waiting or ignores me or puts me on hold and then cuts me off or serves someone else instead of me even though I was there first, I won’t swallow back my rage and give myself an ulcer, but I will front them up. Yes! Not necessarily in an aggressive way, but I will have taken to carrying a full-sized umbrella and I may gesticulate with that, as I state my truth. Assertive, yes, assertive, that’s what I’ll be. And after I have remonstrated with them (what a lovely word, remonstrate), I won’t suddenly jack-knife over because of a sucker punch of guilt to my stomach. I will swan off smiling, adjust the angle of my purple felt hat to an even more jaunty pose and give away more sweets.
I tell you, I can’t WAIT.
Espa shower gel (from Himself)
A little girl from Vietnam (from Himself.) (I should state that she’s not here in Dun Laoghaire in person, but still living in Vietnam but I’m her sponsor. Her name is Say and she’s 5 and she’s already sent me a drawing and honestly, amigos, it feels lovely. Himself did it through Actionaid and there’s another charity that advertises a lot on Newstalk that does much the same thing, but when Himself investigated it, it transpired that they’re a bit God-bothery, but the Actionaid people are NOT a bunch of holy rollers and I’m a lot happier with that.)
A Jo Malone candle (from Suzanne.) It was hilarious. My birthday is on the 10th and Suzanne’s is on the 11th and we met up to give each other our presents and we both showed up with our Jo Malone bags. I got her the travel candles because she has to travel a lot for her job and go to Finland and get attacked by the cold and her face (she says) looks like Alex Ferguson’s in Star Stories (all red and flaky and falling-off.)
A purple and green-spotty scarf (from Cathy Kelly. Fyi, HER birthday is on the 12th. September is the month, I’m telling you.)
A donation to SmileTrain (from Rita-Anne, Jimmy and Dylan. And would you believe Jimmy’s birthday is on the 13th!)
A pink watch. (From Tadhg, Susie and Katie. Katie is their boxer dog.)
Another donation to SmileTrain (Mam and Dad.)
A sheep wallet (with pictures of sheep, not actually made of sheep) and an adorable brooch of a little girl. (From Niall, Ljiljana, Ema and Luka.)
A beautiful bunch of purple flowers, 8 different kinds. (From John and Shirley, my parents-in-law.)
A DVD and a gorgeous notebook (from Chris, Caron, Jude and Gabe.)
So I did very well out of it. It’s was worth having a birthday when you get that sort of booty.
I didn’t do anything on the actual day because it was a Thursday but on the Friday (ie the day after) Himself and myself went to County Cavan to Neven Maguire’s restaurant. I think it’s called Macnean House or The Black Lion or it might just be in Blacklion, but do you know Neven? All Irish people will, but for those who don’t, he’s the most lovely man, and very good to charities, including the charity I’m patron of, To Russia With Love and he has his own television series and he’s just lovely but he has this restaurant and mother of Christ! The food was so so so amazing, even now I feel like fainting, just thinking of it. We went with our friends Paul and Aoife and Paul’s birthday is on September 9th! Gas, no?!
The following day, Himself and myself went to Leitrim – I don’t know if I’ve ever been before. (Leitrim is a county in Ireland, it’s sort of northwest, below Donegal and near Sligo, Cavan, Fermanagh and several other counties.) You see, you remember I told you I’d tentatively started playing around with a new book. Well, for some reason and I don’t know why in my head, but I know in my gut, that it’s set in Leitrim. I’d heard so much great stuff about Leitrim – least populated county in Ireland, mountains, forests and – my current favourite – riddled, yes RIDDLED with spooky lakes. And it was indescribably beautiful. It was true about the lakes, they’re EVERYWHERE and we drove around so I could get a feel for the place
and I found a house that I feel is where the book is set so I’m excited.
I have to tell you, we stayed one night in the Ramada hotel in Drumshanbo and forgive me for plugging it, I swear to you I’m getting nothing out of it, but it is the nicest, nicest place. It’s set on a gorgeous lake, that changes mood about a million times and day and watching the sun set on it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. And I wasn’t wild keen on the idea of a chain-hotel – and it does look like a chain hotel from the outside, but the rooms were (well, room, I only saw the one, was lovely), and amigos, the staff were without exception, the warmest, most obliging, sweetest, friendliest people I’ve met in a long time. They were astonishingly nice. Just an example: I was craving cheesecake and it wasn’t on the bar menu but I had a feeling that they were an obliging bunch so I asked the man if there was any chance and he went off to the kitchen and whatever he said to the chefs convinced them to free up a piece of cheesecake that they DID have. Do you know what I mean? Most places would tell you to piss off, right?
So, right, mice! Well, you remember last month both Himself and myself (and indeed visiting Annemarie) were convinced that we had furry visitors, and I spoke to a person close to me (I won’t tell you who he is to protect his anonymity) but he’d been overrun with the little critters last year and it was because of him that I knew that the ultra-violet thing doesn’t work to deter them because he came home from work to find several of them – yes! – DANCING on top of the ultraviolet mouse-deterrant yoke. Also, one of them mice broke into his selection box and ate much of his mars bar. So he warned me to brace myself, that every day for the foreseeable future would be The Killing Fields. So a man came to the house and he put down bait devices – not with a view to kickstarting the massacres but just to get a sense of how bad the problem was. The bait things had little holes in them so the mice could smell it and then, maddened with hunger, they’d tear open the box, so the man would know roughtly how many mice there were. So it was a bit freaky, amigos. Every time I passed one of the little bait boxes, I’d nearly be afraid to look at it, in case it had been ripped to shreds by a battalion of mice, bits of torn cardboard still floating in the air. But, nothing happened… And nothing happened… and the man came back, then he came back again, then finally he concluded that the mice must have departed. But isn’t it a bit weird? I’ve decided I was correct in my first assessment, - that we had a poltergeist, and to be honest, I’m far happier to have a poltergeist that a mouse. So, all’s well…
Now there’s a book that I would heartily recommend, I read it on my lovely mini-break in Leitrim and it’s called The Stepmother’s Support Group and it’s by Sam Baker and amigos, I enjoyed it so very much. It’s about the thorny subject of what happens when you meet a lovely man and he’s perfect except that he’s got 2 teenage daughters and they hate your guts. It’s a subject that’s going to be relevant for more and more of us, as marriages end and people start new relationships. I’m not happy that this is the way of the world, amigos, don’t think I am, I’d like everyone to be happy forever, but we must be realistic. One of the reasons I liked the book so much is the characterisation, there are 5 women and they’re very believable and real and likeable. And it’s funny, but not in a self-conscious, trying-too-hard way. More a wry grown-up way. Yes, I felt this was a very grown up book, even though the characters are in their twenties and thirties. I really really loved it.
Oh God, something hilarious I have to tell you. As I write, the M50 (the ringroad around Dublin) is blocked because – apparently this is true and not a hoax – a herd of llamas have got loose. Gardaí have corralled many of them, but of load of them escaped again and are now occupying the underpass. Isn’t that hysterical? And the words ‘occupying the underpass’. Doesn’t it make you think of student protests and banners written on sheets and people singing The Internationale? I know this sounds like something they’d have on the Tom Dunne show (and for those of you who can’t get Tom Dunne, my heart bleeds for you. He’s on Newstalk, an Irish radio station and he’s gorgeous. Well, I don’t know if he’s gorgeous-LOOKING, in fairness he could be, but he’s a gorgeous-sounding person, he’s got a lovely voice, and his show is THE MOST UPLIFTING thing in my life. At the very least I smile every time I listen to him and often I choke from laughing. He’s ADORABLE and very funny and he sounds kind and whatever the opposite of mean-spirited is, generous-spirited I suppose. Sheila O’Flanagan has been interviewed by him and I am SO JEALOUS. I think I’m in love with him but Himself doesn’t mind because Himself is in love with him too.) The Tom Dunne is the kind of show that would report on the Great Llama Escape, in fact tomorrow they’ll probably have an interview with one of the llamas.
But listen lads, I have to go now. I’m running around like a blue-arsed fly. My book, my lovely, lovely book (really, I’m so proud of it) – here’s a short video of my nephew Dylan, who inspired The Brightest Star in the Sky, reading an early copy
- is coming out in about 3 weeks and I’m up to my OXTERS doing interviews and writing articles and getting me photo taken (oh the misery, it’s the thing I like least about my job, the photos.) So I have to go, I have 5000 things to do and frankly I’d much rather be sitting here talking to you, but I really better be off.
I hope you had a great September and got new boots, if you didn’t buy them back in June. And oh yes! Strictly is back! Huzzah! The best thing about it is Claudia, don’t you think? She’s my girl crush, Tom Dunne is my boy crush. Himself in also in accord. Anyway if you’re watching it, enjoy it. Tell me who your favourite is. I like Natalie Cassidy and Zoe off Footballers Wives. Also your man off of Hollyoaks is a BEAUTIFUL dancer.
Look, I’m going, really I am. I’ll try and write at the end of Oct but forgive me amigos if I’m not able, I’ll be doing tons of publicity around the end of Oct and early Nov and I mightn’t get the time, in which case, I can only offer my humblest apologies
Thank you, thank you for everything!
Lots of love