December 2017

Stomach ulcer!
I win a reward!
Old Vumman gets a new phone!

Hello there and welcome to my November news, which may be brief because I am PONCHOED. Like giantly knackered. It’s been a fabaliss Autumn, travelling the globe and meeting so many people but I am home now and the adrenaline kept me going while it needed to but now that urgency has passed, I have hit the deck.

Now, Canada! Well I was only in Toronto this visit but unlike any other visit I actually had time to experience the city and here are my overall impressions. It is
A)    Friendly
B)    Cold
C)    Humane

It was a huge surprise because I expect all ‘North American’ cities to be like New York – speedy, get-out-of-my-way-y, judgey about hair and clothing and weight. But no! They were kindly! One day Himself ‘took’ a stumble in a store and instead of stepping over him as they would in New York, concerned Toronto-ites helped him regain his balance.

Before I went I made delicate enquiries on Twitter about bringing presents and learnt to my astonishment that Cadbury’s and Galaxy chocolate enjoys an exalted status there and suddenly people were offering me all KINDS of things (mostly maple syrup tbh) if I’d bring them some Twirls or fruit-n-nut. Then! I mentioned Percy Pigs and soon I was being offered prime land to build on, ownership of a mid-sized downtown apartment block and other real estate. So! Himself and I packed an ENTIRE suitcase with Cadbury’s, Galaxy and Percy Pigs and prepared to buy up most of Toronto and crash the Canadian dollar upon our arrival.

It was WONDERFUL! We felt like Saudi Arabia must have felt after they’d discovered their oil. Or like Icelanders must feel when they visit any other country. (Like, Iceland is beautiful and all that but BY CHRIST the prices would BANKRUPT you.)

(I am joking of course about buying up Toronto and devaluing their currency. They are too nice. I wouldn’t do that to them. So I dispersed the chocolate contraband in the form of gifts. It caused serious upheaval in their stock market but it settled after a couple of days.)

I did just the one event in Indigo books and so many lovely people came – people I knew from Twitter and people who were new to me. There was brisk bartering of the confectionary.

While I think of it, here is a life hack for you: do not ATTEMPT to go shopping for clothes whilst in the grip of jetlag. Yes, this is a cautionary tale…

See, I’d spent most of September/October agonising about what I should wear in Canada and many MANY garments were auditioned, found to be wanting and returned. But when I left Dublin I was fairly sure I had the right things. However, by the time I landed in Toronto, I suddenly saw that I’d brought NOTHING wearable. NOTHING.

A panicky trip to a foncy place called Yorkdale ensued where I completely forgot who I was and what my look was and the end result was that I bought several garments that, now that I’m home, I keep staring at in bewilderment and asking, “But WHY? What on earth was I THINKING?” (I appeared to be reattempting grunge, but I can’t be certain.)

All the same, I had a wonderful time. Every single person I met veered from ‘warm and friendly’ to ‘absolutely lovely’ and my best bit was being on The Social where I met my hero Elaine Lui (you MUST read her site LaineyGossip if you don’t already because she is a brilliant and entertaining feminist who writes about Hollywood types in a fascinating way.)

She’s also written a BRILLIANT memoir called Listen to the Squawking Chicken, about the cultural implications of being brought up in Canada by her mother who’s from Hong Kong.

Other books I’ve read and loved this month are White Out by Ragnar Jonasson. It’s a crime yoke set in Iceland, over the Christmas period. Very atmospheric, it was just like going there only not as expensive.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan which is GAS. It’s about really rich Asians and their fabaliss lives.

Work Strife Balance by Mia Freedman, a non-fiction book by amazing Australian powerhouse of a woman, who writes about all the pressures that are brought to bear on women, everything from our struggles with our body-image to fertility to surviving as a woman in a male-dominated workplace. I found it extremely comforting.



To be honest, we are spoiled for choice! I’ve cystitis, cold sores, extreme knackeredness. But let’s circle in on ‘Gastritis, possible a stomach ulcer.’ Impressive, right? I’ve had gastritis for a long time (also a hiatus hernia) which flares up at time of strife/anxiety/worry/that sort of lark. So it being a busy time necessitating a lot of adrenaline, it has kicked off. Also the fact that I’ve been living on complete shite for the past 3 months (Diet Coke got singled out by the medic and excessively shamed and blamed) hasn’t helped. I was despatched to Canada with a prescription of uber-strength Nexium and told to drink a glass of milk whenever the pain got unbearable. The expectation is that now that I’m back and that things aren’t so lively, it’ll all quieten down in my stomach. So that’s all good then :0




As I write, last night was the Irish Book Rewards and The Break was nominated in the popular fiction category – and it won! And tanken yew so much to everyone who voted for it. It is a wonderful feeling to be acknowledged. Thank you again.

And now it is today and Old Vumman’s phone has been so crackly that we can barely hear her so I went to Woody’s (‘There’s no better place for DIY) to buy her a new un-crackly one and now I must leave for my quarterly appointment up at the nut-house where they weigh my brain, poke it with metal things and generally ‘assess’ me. However, I am feeling WELL. Seriously I’d take 20 stomach ulsters, a faceful of cold-sores and a 6 month bout of cystitis rather than a short go of ‘The Mads’. So all in all, everything is ‘tip-top.’

I hope you are well. Listen, mind yourself heading into the wretched Festive Season. The world won’t end if you don’t go to a party. Pace yourself. It’s like one of them assault courses, Tough Mudder and the like. Only for hardy types with stamina. Take Berocca. It’s GREAT.

Thank you for all your kindness and lots of love




Back in the long ago nineties, Rachel Walsh was a mess. But a spell in rehab transformed everything. Life became very good, very quickly.