1 When I was younger I wanted to be an artist. My dad always laughs at this because, at the time, I had said I wanted to be ‘a’ artist. I guess it is quite ironic that I didn’t become a artist, but went to study English instead.
2. I don’t get bored. I once wrote that answer in one of those ‘Things you didn’t know about me’ quizzes, and John was quite taken aback. Because it was only then that he realized that it was true, I don’t ever get bored. I don’t believe in boredom. There are so many things to do if you have free time – think, read a short story, write a short story, learn to play the piano, learn to speak Italian, or French, have a singing lesson, sleep, go for a run in your new gutties, join an am-dram society, go to a car-boot sale, try out a new ‘Flat Belly’ diet, write a blog, bake a cheesecake with disastrous effects, plan a birthday surprise, learn to juggle, tidy the house, do some hand washing, have a glass of wine, play the guitar, phone a friend. Of course you can also have a baby and you’ll never ever be bored again.
3. One of the greatest pleasures in my life is Tea. There is sometimes nothing more comforting in the world than a good cup of tea. It makes me smile and often makes my toes curl.
4. I have Raynaud’s disease. It sounds serious, but it’s not, it’s just a disease that affects the blood flow to my fingers when it is cold and makes them go bright white as if they are dead. I often worried that it is a sign that I will develop arthritis in my hands when I am older, because then I couldn’t play the piano or write my best seller. But apparently the two things aren’t linked, which is good. It is more likely to cause gangrene.
5. My life changed when my niece Molly was born. Honestly, I realised then that I had so much love to give little people and I have adored and been inspired by her and her sisters ever since. It also prepared me in the best possible way for having a little bean of my own. All of a sudden bringing a child into the world was not as overwhelming as it perhaps once felt. As the Beatles profoundly said, All you Need is Love.
6. I would like to have four children, mostly because I am from a family of four and I couldn’t bear to think of my life without my siblings. My best friends in the world are my siblings, without doubt. Years ago I said that my four children would be called Maggie, Jack, Katie and Frank, and now I have my real life Maggie who is, without doubt, the love of my life. She makes me laugh every day and already I can see the fun, energetic, mischievous little bean that she will become.
7. The thing that makes me sadder than ever is cruelty to children. And I don’t necessarily mean abuse and neglect which is the worst possible thing, but even just unkindness and uncaring. I see it all the time – on the bus, on the street – and it makes my heart bleed. If I could, I would adopt every child who is in need of a hug, a kind word, a bit of attention. Alternatively, I do think of retraining one day and becoming a teacher. I’d love to become the Miss Honey to all those Matildas in need.
8. We thought it would be pretty easy to have Maggie, but in the end we waited for her for three years. I tried to stay relaxed about the whole thing, but towards the end I got really fecked off. My sister’s friend lent me a blessed medal of St Gerard Majella and I do believe he came through for me in the end. That along with the vigils and candles that were lit for me by my darling aunties and my dear dear Granny Campbell who sadly passed away three weeks before Maggie was born. Already I can see that Maggie has inherited Granny’s mischievous smile and sense of humour. Only time will tell if she is as good at storytelling.
9. I have a thing about pillows. If I had to bring 3 luxury items into the jungle they would be a good pillow, earplugs and a supply of teabags. I have been lucky enough to stay in some of the most amazing hotels in London but often the nights are ruined by a fat, hard pillow, or a really soft one. Goldilocks knew what she was talking about – it has to be just right.
10. At work I am ‘commendable’ but not ‘outstanding’. I can cope with that. When I was 10 days overdue with Maggie they told me I had an ‘unfavourable’ cervix. I didn’t cope too well with that.
11. I do a lot of talking in my head. That includes arguments too. I can have the most productive argument with John, put across all my points, listen to his, rationalize with him and come to a merry conclusion, all in my head. It is really quite satisfactory because it means we rarely argue. But it frustrates the life out of John, as he is a talker.
12. I love being part of my am-dram societies; it is as close as I will get to being a real actor, and half the time it is pretty close particularly when I get to perform in great theatres. Some people don’t get the am-dram thing, but it’s not that bizarre really. You just have to be a real show-off or very shy and I’m not very shy. I guess I’d love to be on the West End stage some day. My secret ambition is to make my début at 60 playing Mrs Schumacher or Aunt Eller. Or perhaps I will just live my ambition vicariously through Fra.
13. One of the favourite stories I like to tell is how I once stabbed my ear while picking mushrooms. Not only is it a great story, but it’s the ‘what if’ element of it that intrigues. What if the midge had flown into my eye, would I have stabbed it? Probably.
14. I have a phobia about flying things which fly near me and I put it down to two events. 1. The Mushroom incident. 2. The swarm of ladybirds myself and Mairead encountered on a sandy path to the beach in France. Now, I have to cover my ears if I hear a buzzing sound.
15. I run a little clothing and accessories business called ‘Bean Boutique’ with my sister Mairead. She’s the brains behind it really – she’s always had a thing for fashion and can root out a piece of fashion gold anywhere. We source beautiful, pretty, sparkly things like dresses, hairbands and children’s shoes, and now we are venturing into proper vintage-wear, mostly because we love it ourselves! It’s such a gorgeous little hobby. It’s like dressing up for grown ups.
16. One of the most bizarre experiences of my life is definitely winning £51,500 on a national TV quiz show hosted by Robert Kilroy-Silk. I am not sure if people believe me when I say that I spent the whole time saying Hail Mary’s, praying that he wouldn’t ask me a question, and wondering when I was going to wake out of this dream where people were gambling with monopoly money. Before you ask, I gave half away and spent the last of the rest on my wedding.
17. I have always hero-worshipped my Da, but ever since I’ve had Maggie I appreciate my Mum in a whole new different light. Mummies are amazing and rule the world. Still a daddy’s girl, though.
18. I think it is a shame that people give up their dreams so easily. Like me, really. I have worked for Coca-Cola, one of the biggest multinational corporations, all my working life, despite having completed an English degree, and once having read Naomi Klein’s No Logo, and declaring that I would never fall foul of the corporate rat race. My attempts at writing, my new-found love of blogging and my am-dram keep me from really thinking that I copped out. I have so much pride for my friends who have gone after their dream – my Johnny, our Nan, Mairead, Seanie, Barry, Twiglet, Burgess & Ed and, of course, our Fra.
19. Moving to London was quite a rash decision and I had no intention of staying here as long as we have. But I don’t regret it one bit. We are having the most wonderful time in London. The only thing I hate about it is the fact that Mairead and her girls aren’t here. And now Burgess has left – again. But Fra and Nan live down the road, Sean and Barry are here, we have made such great friends in Barnes and is it only £80 away from Belfast. I am secretly glad that Sam and Rosie are moving back home and Twig and Cormac are planning it next summer, so we won’t feel so bereft when we finally move back. But I really want Maggie to go to school back home, to grow up with her cousins and her grandparents, and I am looking forward to us building our little family life in Ireland.
20. Sometimes it feels as if I live on Wisteria Lane. Today I popped next door to borrow tinfoil to cook some salmon, yesterday my neighbour’s little girl just wandered in to play, I say hello to everyone who passes and we often stand outside and watch the trains go by or chat to the folks working on the allotments opposite. It’s wonderful! I just hope we don’t find a dead body buried in the back garden someday. No, wait, that was Brookside not Desperate Housewives. Phew.
21. I have an item of clothing in every colour in my wardrobe.
22. I have married my best friend. He makes me a better person. And Fiesole, Italy 2008 with 110 of our nearest and dearest by our sides will go down in the history books as one of the best times ever.
23. I guess I am a bit of a square. I once started a one-man anti-drugs campaign, and painted posters that I wanted to hang up on the school notice-boards. They had really naff slogans like, ‘Sometimes it’s hard to decide which one is the dope’, ‘Have you ever wondered why it’s called dope?’ and ‘leave the cows to have the grass’. I have become a lot more tolerant and I hope better at copy-writing, since.
24. One of my strangest memories from my time in London will be when I was in a taxi which hit an 18-year old boy called David. As the taxi screeched to a halt, I looked behind and saw him being hit again. I instinctively ran over to him and brought him to my car, and took him home to Wimbledon. In the car I found out that he had jumped out in front of both cars as he wanted to die, but he was just really drunk, and had changed his mind by the time we got him home. He hugged me and asked if I was his guardian angel. I loved that. I sometimes wonder what ever happened to David from Wimbledon, but, sure, if I saw him again I probably wouldn’t recognize him.
25. I have a thing about smells. I think that because I have very poor eyesight, my sense of smell is over-compensating. There are some seriously minging smells in the world – bins, egg, smelly cheese, bad body odour, cigarette smoke – and I can sniff out a smell at forty paces. I once said to Sean that a cheese and wine party was my idea of hell. But I have since changed my mind, because I love wine. And I’ve got used to the smell of manure after years of living in the country, but I still couldn’t marry a farmer. Jeezus.