Hello there, hello and sorry as always for the long delay since the last newsletter. The thing is, I’m in thrall to twitter and tend to post all my news on it as it’s quick and immediate and I’m a slave to the instant gratification. So please forgive me. And maybe come and join the twitters , as it’s great fun and a right laugh.
So what can I tell you? Well, I’ve been scribing hard on a new book, it’s called The Woman Who Stole my Life and it’s out on November 6 in English and the translations will be along as quickly as possible. It’s a love story and it’s about this very ordinary woman called Stella Sweeney who accidentally (and briefly) becomes the most influential woman in the world. It’s far less dark than The Mystery of Mercy Close, there’s a lightness to it which amazes me because I was feeling far from light myself while I was writing it. Also it’s more ‘grown-up’ – Stella is in her 40s. But don’t be alarmed, it’s still funny, please rest assured of that!
My pals who have read it say it’s a bit different to anything I’ve already written but from the writing style, you’d still know it was one of mine. Also it’s very sexy – Stella has been married for about 20 years and has 2 teenage childer but she undergoes a kind of sexual reawakening. You know how hard it is for me to say positive things about myself, but I - *whispers* - think it might be the book I’m most proud of writing.
And you can read the opening chapters: HERE!!!
So you know the way I do hold the occasional GLITTERIN’ raffles on the twitters? Yes? Okay. Well, I am holding a GLITTERIN’ raffle to give away a proof copy of The Woman Who Stole My Life (a proof copy means it’ll still have the spelling mistakes and whatnot in it, but it’ll give you the general idea.)
But there’s more - oh yes! MUCH more! The Kenmare Park Hotel, which is a TOP-NOTCH, 5 star hotel in Kenmare, Kerry, has offered us a 2 night stay – that’s 2 nights, a fabliss dinner and a 3 hour Sisley Spa ritual! We are in the big-league now, amigos! The idea is that the winner will read the book while luxuriating in the beautiful hotel. Details here, it is so lovely. Also, it is run by Irish national treasure Francis Brennan and his brother – also a national treasure, but in a more low-key way – John Brennan. They’re on an Irish telly-box programme called At Your Service, which everyone loves.
However, I’m afeerd there’s a caveat – travel expenses are not included and the prize can’t be auctioned on Ebay or exchanged for cash. So if you live in say, Borneo or Easter Island, and you won, but couldn’t come to Kerry, would you consider regifting your – FRANKLY FABLISS! – prize to someone else? I’m terribly sorry to sound so ‘Full of Rules’ but this is an unprecedented situation for me. And I suppose I’ll have to say that no members of my family can enter the raffle (sorry Mammy).
But there is a second prize – another proof copy of The Woman Who Stole My Life and also some other lovely books given to us by some of my twittery pals – some from Summersdale Publishing and a lovely bakery book called Like Mam Used to Bake by Rosanne Hewitt-Cromwell.
To enter, simply twitter me @mariankeyes with the hashtag ‘Marians new book’ so that it looks like this - #MariansNewBook. See? . Ferry simple, yes? Yes! And would it be okay if we could have just one entry per person, so that everyone has the same chance? And this GLITTERIN’ raffle is open to everyone in the whole world, regardless of which land you hail from.
Those of you familiar with previous GLITTERIN’ raffles will know that the entries are cut up by hand into little paper strips and each strip is placed in the Salad Spinner of Happiness, which is spun by a niece or nephew of mine, who then select the winners. However, because I am SHOCKEN busy this week, both with the run-up to the publication of the book (I am scribing many, many articles and suchlike) and because I am having several small but necessary medical procedures and because Ema and Luka are back at school and I can’t come to them, cap-in-hand and plead for them to do the cutting-up for me, would you mind if we selected the winners another way? Just this once, on account of the appalling busyness. I promise you that the Salad Spinner of Happiness has not been pensioned off, simply put on hold. So what I’m proposing is that on this coming Friday evening (that’s Friday 19th of September), the Redzers will sit at Himself’s computer and hit random keys until they have highlit two entries who will then be declared the winners. Because the Redzers are very young and very innocent, I can promise you they will be completely impartial.
Meanwhile, I have a new hobby! Yes! I did a course in Annie Sloan chalk paints and basically I am painting everything in sight. It’s great because the whole point of them is that your furniture looks ‘shabby chic’ which means you can make mistakes and miss bits and it’s all part of the total look, which is PERFECT for me as I am made for the instant gratification and can’t be arsed doing things meticulously and carefully. I went to Christy Birds in Portobello and bought a little press for 30 yoyos and painted it blue and ‘distressed’ it so it looked like it belonged to the ‘Banjoed Beachhouse’ (my invention) school of interior decoration and I am SO PROUD of that little blue press and I put a new knob on it and all and I was over at the mammy’s and showing her pictures of it and she made admiring noises but I could tell she was AGHAST that I would ‘ruin’ the ‘good’ press by covering the lovely brown wood with blue paint and then sandpapering it, so it looked like it had been sitting in the sun for a decade. She was going out so I said, “Mam, while you’re out, I’ll paint your mahogany hall table pink,” and she all but shrieked, “No! NO! Do not lay a finger on any of my furniture with your horrible paints.” So now I know the truth. (If you are interested in the chalk paints, as well as Annie Sloan, there’s a brand called Autentico which do AMAZING colours. Check out the Heliotrope)
However, we have struck a deal: she has a nest of tables that would take the night’s sleep offa you with their horribleness. So she says I can have them if I buy her a nice new set. So I will! The funny thing is that although the furniture is costing me nothing, I’ve spent approximately 9 million pounds on the chalk paints and the special brushes and the finishing waxes and lacquers. I’ve had THREE – 3 – trips to Woodies and I usually abhor hardware shops but there I am, buying dust sheets and white spirits and sandpaper and sundry other items. So all in all, I’ve spent close to ten million yoyos on my new hobby and yet I still feel thrifty and ‘make do and mend.’
It’s a very nice hobby because it’s a bit like when I was mad for making cakes and decorating them but at least with the furniture I can’t eat it.
Speaking of hobbies, my fondness for telly continues unabated. Current obsessions – Ray Donovan. Do you watch it? It’s the best ruddy show on telly! Except maybe for Nashville – Christ alive, that Deacon Claybourne! What a complete and utter ride! And Scandal is back, which is nice. And the Great British Bakeoff – hurray! And soon Strictly will begin for real and – oh God – I cannot wait. Even though loads of our beloved dancers have gone and been replaced by new ones and I always take agin the new ones at the beginning and it takes a while for them to ‘bed in’ in my affections.
So what else? Well, Himself, who prior to recently was the healthiest man in all of Ireland, has had a shocking run of ill-health. Firstly, he had to have an operation on his gums, which sounds harmless enough, right? Well! Sweet mother of the divine! It was 4 weeks before he could eat properly. THEN! Because he was planning to climb Mont Blanc (I know!) in July, he was up and down hills, running in all weathers, building up his endurance and didn’t he take a tumble on Lugnaquilla and break a bone in his finger and it turned out to be a bad break and he had to have an operation, involving a general anaesthetic, where they put a steel plate in his hand and his finger still isn’t bending properly. And then! He got the most ferocious throat infection. And now it transpires he has an eye problem. The thing is, that he’s been hanging around with the Keyesez for too long. As I have often told you, we are the sickest family in the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown area. Possibly in the whole of Leinster.
However, last week, despite all these ailments, he successfully scaled Mont Blanc and I’m incredibly proud of him and have given him permission to post a photo of it.
I’m racking my brains for more stuff to tell you. Oh yes! I knew there was something lovely! I’m starting a monthly beauty column in Irish Tatler. The first column will be in the November issue and I’m so so excited. I ADORE writing about the cosmetics.
And I did a kettle bells class. Sweet baba jay! I went to the local gym in Bluepool, it mightn’t be called that any more but that’s what it was called when I was a teenager and these things tend to stick and I rang in advance and the lovely lady said the class lasted 40 minutes and wasn’t too hard, so along I went and the lightest kettle bell was 8kg, which scared the daylights out of me. Then! The instructor – a very nice young man with tattoos and fancy facial hair – said we’d be doing the class outside! Outdoors! Where my shame was visible to all the people sitting on the top deck of the number 4 bus. And we had to do a warm-up first and my experience of warm-ups is doing grapevines and other sappy easy things, but the nice man made us run around an all-weather pitch, doing sideways running. You know when you see football teams training on the telly and they’re doing the sideways running and then they do that strange running where they bring their knees up to their chests and then they bring their heels up to their bums? Yes? Well, that’s what we were doing. And it was AWFUL and I thought I was going to die from unfitness but I felt I couldn’t lose face, not with the people on the number 4 bus watching me with interest (the number 4 terminus directly overlooks the all-weather pitch) and then we had to start flinging the kettle bells around and I could hardly lift my 8kg one, never mind swing it and it was a mercy that I didn’t clatter myself in the head and knock myself out, although I DID actually consider doing that, just to get out of doing the rest of the class, in the same way that World War 1 soldiers would shoot themselves in the foot and say that the gun had accidentally fired while they were cleaning it, so that they wouldn’t be sent back to the front. But I kept going, even though the class went on for AN HOUR AND TWENTY MINUTES. But all the same, there was a great sense of camaraderie and I liked the teacher and the other people and it was only 6 yoyos and there was a kind of honesty about the whole thing I liked. And I fashioned great plans to return but I haven’t as yet, because with one thing and another. But I will! Yes! Almost certainly! Perhaps!
Look, I’ll try and make this newsletter a more regular thing. I’m awful sorry that I’m so remiss. But anyway, all is well this weather. Busy but well. Read the new Tana French novel, it’s out some time this month and it’s magnificent. Also read Liberty Silk by my beloved pal, Posh Kate, although I think she is published under the name Kate Beaufoy – it’s a 3 generational epic, very glamorous, set in the French Riviera and Hollywood and war zones, it’s this year’s Beautiful Ruins.
I hope things are well with you. I will be back soon. I promise.
Thank you for your patience and all your kindnesses
Big kisses to you all and lots of love