Wednesday, 19 June 2013


I did and I feel great! 

Absolutely fantastic actually.

Did what?

Lost a stone?  Gave up the Bud?   Walked the Camino?  Nah…none of these.

I completed an hour’s housework without getting distracted!

I’m not sure I’ve EVER managed this before.

It all started having coffee with my friend Bernadette this morning. 

Yeah I know…a treat in advance of the new me.

I said to Bernadette that I wished I could work in my own home like a professional cleaner would…whizzing around for close to three hours creating a lovely clean house with an unmistakable fresh smell in the air.

Bernadette set me a challenge.

‘Pretend you’re a cleaner coming in to your house once a week and work for three hours uninterrupted.  Hoover and wash the floors, clean the bathrooms and do some dusting (dusting!) or wipe a few windows…but this is a bonus… you stop after three hours and you don’t do it again for a week.’

STOP after three hours and don’t do it again for a week… sounded brilliant!

I decided that today I’d start with one hour.   Now this wasn’t actually cheating.  I had pottered and faffed around for lots of hours yesterday and even did an hour’s pottering and faffing this morning before Bernadette called at ten…so one hour today would be a good start.

I closed my lap top. 

I put my phone on silent and as I noticed two missed ‘events’ I avoided the temptation to phone Pauline and text Jean... this could be my treat after my hour’s housework.

Of course I wanted to check Facebook and Twitter.…but I didn’t succumb…not even a sneaky glance.

Firstly I had to ignore the clean wet clothes in the machine.  I love hanging washing on the line so this would have been cheating.  Even on a gorgeous sunny day with ‘lots of drying out’ I had to resist.

I also had to resist folding and sorting the two baskets of dry clothes sitting on the kitchen floor.  You see I love doing this job too.  I find it therapeutic and inevitably slip into a daydream thinking that maybe Barbara Scully or Eithne Reynolds have written a new blog that I must read...urgently.  I’m also quite likely to be distracted by The Sunday Business Post folded on the couch beside me as I spot another article I missed the previous week.     

So temptation avoided, I got to work. 

The bathrooms were scrubbed. 

The kitchen floor was mopped and as for the hall…well this had been driving me mad since my son’s 18th birthday party…ahem on 31st May…but now it looks great and even smells of pine! 

Halfway through my daughter asked me for a lift to her friend’s house.  Normally I wouldn’t hesitate…conversations with teenagers happen in cars…but this time I told her she’d have to wait half an hour. 

No problem there…she was amused and delighted by my new found domesticity.

As 55 minutes approached I quickly changed my duvet cover.

Usually I end up groaning in horror as I’m about to go to bed at midnight and realize I’ve either forgotten (or avoided) the fact that I stripped the bed that morning.

Now the laptop is open…and I feel great.

In a few minutes I’ll phone Pauline and text Jean.

Then I’ll hang the clothes on the line.

Then I can fold the other ones.

And maybe then I can read for a little while.

I think I’m actually looking forward to my three hours cleaning next week.

Saturday, 25 May 2013


I’m not long home from the John McGahern seminar in Co. Leitrim, and I’m buzzing.

I found the academic papers presented yesterday afternoon kind of heavy going…but my much brainier friends Gemma and Edel thoroughly enjoyed them.   

All three of us agreed that we loved, loved, loved, the chat from authors Pat McCabe and Michael Harding.

They spoke about their writing, read from their work and explained the influence McGahern had had on each of them. 

As McCabe read from his novel The Stray Sod Country he adopted the various accents of his characters.  A natural mimic his delivery was hilarious.   

He told us a great story about his eighty six year old father-in-law who was sitting in the audience.

‘Having spent sixty years in education…The Master, as we call him…said  

“Pat, what’s this book where you can say anything you like about anything at all?”

…it’s called Facebook I replied.’

Michael Harding had the audience enthralled in Aughawillan Community Hall this morning. 

Like McCabe, he used various voices to capture the nuances of different characters from different parts of Ireland.  These characters weren’t fictitious.  They were real people from real life that Harding had met along the way.

He treated us to a scene capturing the brevity of speech he identifies with people from Leitrim compared to the verbosity of speech of those who hail from Cavan as epitomized by his late mother Nellie. 

Harding’s delivery is subtle and comic.  I wish I could capture how funny it was.

As I type this I can hear his voice (or voices!) in my head along with the laughter that echoed through the packed hall. 

Of course for anyone who has read Harding’s memoir Staring at Lakes (I’m half way through) or his regular Irish Times column they’ll know he has lots of serious suggestions on how to engage better with ourselves and the wider world …but he’s never preachy and often funny.

Harding believes ‘we spend more time in the remembrance than the experience of a story.’  As we retell it ‘we enter more deeply into the experience and the telling enriches it.’ 

Yeah I think he was saying we exaggerate the event, alter facts, focus on different aspects each time, but ‘the remembrance becomes more deeply rich’ for this.

I’d a brilliant twenty four hours and have two more signed books to add to my collection.

My kids laughed when I asked who’d like to be left them in my Will!

As for the photograph…I couldn’t resist it.  


Sunday, 28 April 2013


I was really impressed with Brian O’Connell’s tenacity and bargaining skill as I listened to his recent interview with Pat Kenny explaining how much he’d saved buying a car in Scotland.  

Brian played a clip of the deal being done and brought me back to when I bought my little black Golf in January 2006.

I’ll go back a bit first. 

In June 2005 we began renovations on our home and moved out for six months.

On the day we moved back in…29th December 2005…my 1994 Honda Civic was stolen from outside the house. 

I did that thing of looking up and down the road wondering where it was.  Had I left it at the rented house?  Had my husband gone off to the shops in it?  But no, he was inside unpacking yet another box.

It took me about twenty minutes to realise it had been stolen!

By the time I phoned Malahide Garda Station it had already been reported crashed in Belcamp Lane.

I had exams coming up a week later and being a nerdy mature student this was my priority.

A car could wait.

With the exams finally behind me I’d a few days off college to unpack more boxes and buy a ‘new’ car.

We’d money built into our refurbishment loan to cover this (!) was a chance to fulfill my dream and get a black Golf.

Having checked out the web we drove to a garage in Kildare.

The Golf at the entrance to the courtyard looked sad and dirty…but it was black. 

It had a pock marked bonnet from long journeys on bad roads, 72,000 kilometres on the clock despite being only three years old, wind down windows and no remote locking …but it was black. 

There was no price displayed on the car, but we took it for a drive.

Colm suggested we didn’t need to buy the first (black) Golf we saw…but I wasn’t really listening.  I told him when we got back to the garage I’d ‘do the talking.’

We drove into the courtyard and I asked “how much?”

The guy quoted a price 500euro over our budget… I forgot to ‘do the talking’… “great,” I said.

(Well of course I got him to knock the 500 off).

I can still remember the delight on his face…and the bemusement on Colm’s! 

It never dawned on me that the silver Golf, with a much higher spec, parked right beside mine had an initial price tag of 1,000euro less than I’d just offered.

We paid a deposit.

I slept on it.  Well actually I didn’t really sleep to be honest.  I phoned the guy first thing the next morning and said I was having second thoughts.  He was really nice and said “no problem.”  But this WAS a problem.  Because he was so nice I went ahead.

I had my black Golf but felt kind of stupid.

The sun roof leaked just as our three month warranty ran out. 

The carpets got so wet they had to be replaced…costing close to 500euro and the wind- down windows are an awful pain.  If somebody stops at the passenger side to chat to me, I’ve to put the handbrake on, take my seat belt off and lean over to roll down the window.

Yet seven years on, I love my black Golf like an errand child.

My sons are learning to drive in it and while they initially complained about its many quirks … they’ve grown to love it too.

Mind you when the time comes to change it I might just give Brian O’Connell a shout!