September 2017

Baby Hannah arrives!
Himself goes away and I go feral!

Hello and welcome to my very very very favourite day of the year which is the 1st of September! September the first is the gateway to all good Autumnal things – the cessation of wretched Summer, the arrival of chillier evenings, the smell of woodsmoke, walking through leaves in my new boots, and last but VERY MUCH not least, Strictly.

But first! Baby Hannah Keyes arrived into the world on August 24th (a Leo, not that I believe any of that codswallop) and you cannot believe the joy she has brought with her. We are particularly delighted that she’s a girl because frankly we’re sick of boys – the last four – FOUR! – Keyesez have been boys, it’s been seventeen long years since we got a girl (that was the magnificent Ema) and a new one is gratefully received. (Disclaimer, I am only joking about being sick of boys, you know how I love Luka and them there Redzers and Baby Teddy, who is no longer ‘Baby’ Teddy as that title has now been given to Hannah.)

And she’s a yummer, Hannah is. If Irish people said ‘bonnie’, which we don’t because we’re not Scottish, ‘bonnie’ is how I’d describe her. She’s plump-cheeked and has the most beautiful mouth and little nose and it’s all very very exciting.
I’ve had a very very very very very very busy month, ‘prepping’ for publication. (I only said ‘prepping’ there for the craic, I would never say it for reals.) Doing interviews and recording radio ads and doing filming for The Pool – do you know The Pool? Oh, you must go on it! It’s an online magazine is how best to describe it, it’s daily and they have everything – clothes and make-up and news and opinions and lifestyle and books and food and telly – and it’s all really kindly. No-one gets shamed for wearing a ridiculous dress to a fillum premeer or for getting too much lip filler or any of that other mane stuff. It’s my friend, when I feel a lot of women’s magazines aren’t.

So yes, there I was, working like the clappers, except there was a week in the middle of the month when Himself was going away for 8 days, to climb cliffs in Switzerland. And being honest with you, although I’m happy he’s his own man with his own life and all that stuff, I much prefer it when we’re both here in Dun Laoghaire, watching telly. (If there is a heaven being prepared for me, it would be me and him, lying on our couch, eating Percy Pigs, watching Strictly interspersed with Swedish/Danish/Norwegian crime yokes, for all eternity.)

He goes away on these climbing yokes twice a year and sometimes I go away too, like I went to Istanbul with Caitriona and Sean and Suzanne two years ago. But this time I took a notion that I would go away on my own! Yes, I would go away on my own to a remote spot and write and contemplate my life and go for walks on my own and I was DELIGHTED with this picture of myself. I felt mature and interesting and admirable. So I booked the remote spot (it was in Scotland) and boasted widely of my plans and people seemed insultingly surprised but I styled it out and said, “Oh yaze, well, I’m very good with my own company, yaze.”

…and then, 4 days before the off, I got the COLOSSAL fear. I am NOT very good with my own company, I admitted to myself, I am very very bad with it. I would be in a remote spot. Alone. Possibly with no Wifis! Or means of transport!

So please don’t judge me, I didn’t go. (I had to ate the cost of the flight but mercifully not the cost of the accommodation.)

I stayed in Dun Laoghaire but the thing was that many of my usual cohorts were away, it being August when the entire fecken world is on holiday, so I ended up over-pestering Old Vumman. And poor Old Vumman quickly tired of my presence and would only address me in poetry.

Example: “Mam,” I said, “Tell me something nice.”

Quick as a flash, she launched into what she calls a ‘recitation.’ “There’s a one-eyed yellow idol to the North of Kathmandu! There’s a little marble cross below the town.” She made her voice all hushed for the next bit, “Where a broken-hearted woman tends the grave of Mad Carew.” And now ominous, “And the yellow god forever gazes down.”

She was having a great oul’ time, acting out her ‘recitation’ but when I complained that she only knew sad stuff and did she know anything happy, she (angrily) changed horses mid-sentence to, “When fairies have a picnic, they always tidy up! THEY CONSIDER IT A SHAMEFUL THING TO LAYVE A BROKEN CUP, WILL THAT DO YOU?”

By the time Himself had been away for 4 days, Old Vumman had taken to pretending that she wasn’t home when I called round. But I have my own key, so I’d let myself in anyway and go into the television room, where she’d be lying on the floor with the curtains drawn and I’d say, “Get up. Entertain me!”

And she’d say, “For the love of god, Marian, you’re nearly 54! Go home to your own house!”

Yes, now speaking of 54, I will be 54 on the 10th of September and I must admit, it sounds very very old. I’ve always been comfortable with getting older but all of a sudden I’m a bit, Hold on there a minute!

The thing is that I feel about 39. Clearly I’m suffering from Age Dysmorphia. I’ve never really believed that one day I’ll die and all of a sudden, I’m thinking, “Christ, you know, I just might…”

The day of my birthday falls right in the middle of the publicity madness for The Break, I’ll be just back from London and I’ll be heading off to Edinburgh the following day, so the Keyesez will come round to the house on the Sunday afternoon for cake and Prosecco. (I have already bought Himself’s present to me, it’s a Coach bag, embellished with flowers. It’s effing BEAUTIFUL.)

Now, books I have read recently!

Tangleweed and Brine by Deirdre Sullivan. A feminist reimagining of familiar fairy-stories, in a delicious little hardback that looks like a traditional storybook. It even has illustrations. Exquisite, poetic and ominous…

The Choice by Edith Eger. Oh my GOD, lads! One of the most impactful books I’ve ever read. A memoir from a woman who survived Auschwitz, it’s about the power of forgiveness. But at the risk of sounding disrespectful, it’s also a ‘great oul’ read’, the author is a brilliant storyteller.

Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane. I read this a couple of months ago but by Christ, lads, if you’re looking for something to disappear from the world, into, this is the boy. I was GRIPPED!!!!!!

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley. Described as a ‘literary thriller,’ it’s more like a series of absolutely excellent character studies. There is a ‘mystery’ but it’s not really the point of the book. Highly enjoyable. And, of course, literary. Yaze…

There have been lots more that I’ve read but I can’t remember them, on account of my Ailment of the Month, so this will have to do for now.


I was worried there that I’d have nothing for you because I’ve been enjoying unprecedented good health. But in the last week, my old friend Insomnia has come a-calling! It’s the waking-up early version which is FAR nicer than the waking-in-the-middle-of-the-night version. I’m doing all the stuff you’re meant to do to combat it: regular exercisement, taking the magnesium supplements, ‘cleansing’ the bedroom of digital stuff. But this is something I’ve learnt over the years – what works for one person doesn’t always work for another. Even though – and I swear to god, little annoys me more – they will insist that it DOES work. I’m guessing that it’s pre-publication head-upheaval and what I will do is wait it out because with many ailments that’s all you can do.

So there we are! Did I tell you that Nigella tweeted something lovely about my buke? She said that it was ‘all kinds of funny, sad and true.’ I know, right!!!! Nigella!!!!!

At the end of this here Newsletter, you can read the first chapter of The Break, if you’re interested.

Details of the readings and events that I’m doing in Ireland and UK are in the Events bit of the website and as soon as I’ve details for Australia and Canada I’ll post them.

I got invited to India to the Mumbai book festival and I nearly lost my reason with excitement. I was googling Bollywood Studio tours and houseboats in Kerala even though Kerala is about 90,000 miles from Mumbai. Then I got a talking to from the grown-ups who warned me that a) I was already booked up in December, and 2) I was getting carried away and saying yes to too much and did I want to go made-in-the-head again? Sulkily I admitted that I didn’t. So no Mumbai for me…


Tanken yew for all your kindness, I hope you have a lovely, lovely September and I will be on to you soon. The plan was that I’d do one of these ‘missives’ every 2 months but if I’m able, I’m try and do it monthly instead.

Big kisses to you all



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