You could still get pregnant ….even at your age

Hello everyone, did you have a nice Easter? I’ve had a great week footering about and not doing very much in particular. I had planned to write about my walking adventures this – but as I didn’t actually walk the length of myself in the last seven days, that would be a tiny bit hypocritical – maybe next week.

I did manage to finally complete a cross stitch for MC. She has been asking for months – i’m moving on next to a montage of the family’s favourite curse words – it should be ready by the time YC graduates!

I did however get a few jobs done, one of which was booking my next sneer (smear) test. There was a slightly awkward moment three years ago at the last sneer. I was on the couch all stirruped up – the nurse was focused down the business end with her canary and davy lamp (a line I have nicked from the Bolter) when she asks, ‘so what type of contraception are you using?’ ‘None – I replied’ ‘Oh????????? – are you trying for a baby?’ at this point her rather bewildered face appeared from between my knees.

‘No, not trying for a baby’ – clearly at this point the poor nurse thought she was dealing with some sort of half wit. She abandoned her prodding and came and sat beside me, rubbing my arm in a reassuring way speaking in her slowest most pastoral (patronising ) voice she explained that even when you are as old as me (43) you can still get pregnant if you have unprotected sex – not to mention catching something that might require an ungent and an antibiotic.’ Now, you have to imagine that the next sentence I uttered began low and by the end could be heard throughout all of Ireland’s 32 counties and possibly beyond.

‘ Nurse, it’s not a problem, because I haven’t actually had sex with anyone since the 2nd November 2012!!!!!!’ (This was 2016) The rest of the test was conducted in a shocked silence and I was soon on my way. It would have been ok had the door to the nurse’s office not led directly to the waiting room – I sympathetic glances (and appraising looks!) as I walked out were awful. I even heard someone mutter, ‘God love her, November 2012 is a while ago.

‘Having said all that, it’s an important thing to do – so next week – I think I will just lie and tell her that I’ve had to take out shares in a rubber plantation i’m doing that much shagging. I wonder will she believe me?

Have a lovely week…….talk soon….

Dum de de dum dum, dum dum dum dum duuuuummmmm

Happy Easter everyone – I hope you are all having a lovely day – we are. In the best regulated families you will be sitting down following a beautiful meal and a bracing walk – a parlour game might even be in play. Or you may be like the rest of us, the children are full of chocolate and climbing the walls, Uncle Dick is drunk in the corner and Auntie Dora has just said something political……

It seems like the perfect time to share a little more of my childhood story. We left off with my desire for Mother to be a bit more ‘like the other Mummies’ – thankfully she didn’t oblige and I actually feel rather guilty now about asking her to conform.

She once came to my recorder recital (recorder recital!! – I was also in the Chess Club – is it a wonder I’m single?), wearing a full length scarlet wool cape, a Cossack hat and a sealskin muff. This was Larne in he 1980’s – people looked – it was scundering.

My Mother is a gifted shopper – I mean really gifted. There is no task too small or no purchase too obscure. Even before the internet she could find anything – anywhere. When I NEEDED (according to Mother) gold sugared almonds for my wedding favours – gold almonds were found (flown in from Harrods – they were minging).

She does however have one peccadillo – she is VERY particular about how her shopping is packed. Not in a ‘giving the charity bagpacker £2 and then do it yourself’ sort of a way. Oh no, I mean scrutinising the placement and ‘companion’ bagging of every single item.

Once, once, over 35 years ago one hapless assistant in M & S put a pair of shoes in with a silk scarf and it got plucked. Bear in mind, that at this time shop workers in Belfast wore a Pac a Mac clipped to their belts because they spent so much time standing in front of the city hall during bomb scares. The poor girl was probably too worried about getting blasted to kingdom come to consider the structural integrity of a bloody silk scarf. Ever since that fateful day Mother has been the scourge of retail assistants everywhere. Before a bagging transgression has even taken place her shoulders tense and there is an intake of breath. Sometimes, if an acceptable packing configuration follows a drama can be avoided. If an opportunity for substandard ‘bagging’ occurs, there is a little cough, this is followed by (in a faint, wobbly and high pitched voice), ‘ emmmmm, would it be ok if I had another bag ……..it’s just once I had a silk scarf plucked by a pair of shoes’. I think they must have pictures of Mother in all retail staff rooms with,’ For the love of God, give her two bags.’ printed below it in large letters.

TVA ‘silk scarf’ for reference – naturally the original silk scarf is much too plucked to be seen in public

Having said all that she’s great craic with a wicked sense of humour. We often go to social events together, and I get to some great outings as ‘Anne Guest’. One particular night comes to mind. mother was filming a TV series, and it was about half way through with all the prerecords completed (making a facial injury something of an issue). We arrived home very late to my house, possibly having spent slightly too long worshipping at the shrine of Bacchus. I went into the kitchen to pour a glass of water (Mother always needs a glass of water going to bed {for her pills}). All of a sudden there was a yelp, followed by staggering footsteps – this was accompanied by cries of ‘ NOT THE FACE, NOT THE FACE’. Then there was a thud, and silence. I sprinted into the hall to find her face planted at the top of the stairs.

In answer to my concerned enquiries about her wellbeing – she turned to me, grinned and observed, ‘ Don’t worry – my tits saved me!’

Naturally, many years later I asked my talented friend JL to create an embroidery to celebrate the event. Not sure how Mother felt about that.

In addition to their love, the greatest gift my parents gave me was the ability to find wit and humour of even the darkest of days. My Confirmation was a prime example of this.

In Catholic Primary Schools, Confirmation is the highlight of your final year. My time at primary school was neither happy or productive. Despite the heroic efforts of all my teachers who were gifted educators and compassionate women, my card had been marked by the Head Nun. I was the product of a ‘Mixed Marriage’ (my father was Presbyterian and my mother wore capes – I was bound to be trouble.) This unpleasantness (she actually threw the school choices form at my mother because a ‘non Catholic’ school had be picked for my post primary education), was combined with the fact that neither by beloved Father or Grandfather would be in attendance meant no-one was really looking forward to it.

Every girl in the class wanted a job for the big event – after all THE BISHOP would be in attendance. The big parts (the readings) were given to girls who had not passed the 11+ (did they actually think we wouldn’t notice??). I had no hope of a singing part – I can’t sing so that was fair enough. All that was left was the Offertory Procession. The announcement was being made, I held my breath, I was in!! I much have caused Sr. Marcella CP some sleepless nights – could you really leave out the ‘recently orphaned child’ on the other hand……? ‘ Pragmatism won (people would have talked) – I got the water the Priest washes his hands with – not the good stuff like the Bread and Wine – but at least I had a part.

On the morning of the service I got on my ‘outfit’ – petrol blue wool suit (think Margaret Thatcher miners strike chic), a ‘Lady Diana blouse, white tights and the most uncomfortable grey leather shoes in the world. The uncomfortable shoes (with a heel to give me a bit of height) contributed some stigmata style red stains to my tights – fabulous.

While we were waiting for the Bishop, every woman in the church was discussing the latest episode of The Thorn Birds. Everyone had read it and were now entranced by the mini series – what would happen on Matlock Island??????

As he made his entrance and our innocent voices lifted in song. ‘May is the month of Mary’ was joined my the low but insistent thrum of my Aunt Melwira chanting the theme song to the Thorn Birds (you know the one, Dum, de de dum dum dum dum dum dum duuuuuummmmmm).

It was a dark day – but we were smiling.

Next week you can hear about the walking course I thought was a good idea,

Give me a child until [s]he is seven……

Hello again, this week I have to begin with an apology. Last week something went wrong with the photographs and I may have come across as something of a ‘grape hyacinth’ freak. In the interests of clarity I’m including the missing pictures below. On the left are my school friends (I’m the one with the bad perm) and on the right is JY looking cerebral in a turtleneck.

So, as we know, all good stories have an origin narrative, where the personality of the storyteller is shaped. These are often set on a distant planet, mine was shaped in Larne! (Don’t worry Mother, this won’t be ‘Mommie Dearest’)

Picture the scene….

It’s sometime in the mid 1960’s and two people fall in love. So far so good. However, the ‘girl’ (mother) was a 4ft 11″ Catholic in her 20’s and the ‘boy’ (the irony) was a 6ft Presbyterian in his late 40’s. Way to go parents – no controversy there!

They did get married, and after a respectable pause, I came along. Their union would have been referred to in the 1970’s (and beyond), as a ‘mixed marriage’, because neither of them ‘turned’, this has to be said with the sort of sneer you would adopt when prescribing an ointment for a particularly embarrassing pustule.

So who were these romantic pioneers (it was pure Kevin and Sadie, love across the barricades)? They were a very glamorous couple and once went to a fancy dress party as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Mummy was all eyes and hair (not her own, well the eyes were, but not the hair) Daddy looked elegant in a safari suit and a brown silk polo. He was very fond of that safari suit.

They went to another fancy dress party as Maurice Chevalier and Gigi (which gave off a rather different vibe). Strangely – no pictures exist of that particular outing!

Daddy was a gifted raconteur. One of his specialities was sharing the fun fact that his wife ‘was the only woman he knew who could take her knickers off standing up in a Mini’. The fact that they were Mini owners at the time lent a certain veracity to this tale. I never did find out if this was true and since Mother has done in her hip she is no longer limber enough to try. He would mesmerise a room with tales of his time in the States, New York in particular. It was reminiscent of a County Antrim Jack Kerouac. This was especially entertaining to watch as he had never set foot on the continent of America. He was very bold.

Daddy was a very devoted parent, and much more involved that other men of his generation. The day the Marie Rose was being raised he wanted me to stay off school to watch it. He was persuaded that we would definitely be allowed to watch it in school – we weren’t, and he never quite forgave the Headmistress.

We would cuddle up on the sofa and watch all variety of programmes. My poor teachers and my extremely right wing, ultra Catholic primary school were subjected to a daily lottery of what I might reveal in ‘Our News’. Every morning after we heard that Shelia’s Mummy had had another baby and Kathleen’s Mummy had got a new vacuum cleaner, I might observe that I had seen a lion eating an impala (Wildlife on One), or a ‘great piece of satire, where a man goes into a restaurant, wearing only a tie’ (Not the Nine o’clock News). I was something of a pompous arse even then.

‘We three’ were happy as pigs in muck when very suddenly while I was ten, he rather suddenly and thoughtlessly died of a heart attack. Hmmmmmmm – now don’t worry, I’m not going to go all Frank McCourt – I did get to keep my Communion money. Our already small community had dwindled to two. Mother and I moved in with my recently widowed grandmother (oh yes! good times). Do you know something? After a while, it was ok – mainly due to the force of character and will of the two women raising me.

Mother is an incredible woman. For many years she juggled full time work, and acting career and raising me (who we will recall from last week was a little bit odd). Having said that she isn’t particularly conventional. When you are a teenage and ‘odd’, conventional is really important.

Next week I shall share with the story of the night Mother’s tits saved her……..

In the psychiatrist’s chair….almost

Hello again,

I’ve had a lovely week. On Thursday night, Mother and I went to YC school concert. It was brilliant, and naturally, I cried. There were a wide range of performances, although I’m yet to be convinced by the ‘Irish dancing / African Drums’ fusion number. Maybe I’m just not sophisticated enough?

On Friday night I was out on the town with my school pal Gill. It was one of those wonderful evenings where conversations from, five, ten and even thirty years ago just get picked up as if it was yesterday.

Me with my school pals, Gill is the one in the light blue cable jumper, Sharon is top left and Vohn bottom right. I’m the one with the very bad perm. If you look closely you will see I’m sporting a brooch on my sweatshirt – brooches were my thing in the ’80’s!! The pony tail is being secured by a length of black lace. It was a cruel decade.

Anyway….. following ‘Trumpgate’ I swore off internet dating. I studiously ignored my phone, but when another smile ‘pinged’ I couldn’t resist a skelly. It looked promising – a Scottish psychiatrist working at a local hospital. After the usual rounds of likes / dislikes / etc we got chatting properly and it all seemed to be going swimmingly. There had been a slight wrinkle when I corrected him on a point of grammar – this did not impress.

The trouble is, I wasn’t really designed for admiring ‘baskets of kittens’ while the menfolk do the thinking. I was getting the impression that SP (Scottish Psychiatrist) was used to being the cleverest boy in the room.

On Christmas night – things took a turn. We had been chatting about inconsequential stuff (including the fact that he would only give Katherine Hepburn 97/100 – that should have been my clue), when he sent the following message,

‘So how long have you been single – or in other words – when was the last time you had any sort of relationship? Short term, long term relationship, very short / fling….’

Talk about a change of pace!!!!! It was like one of those questionnaires they give you at the beginning of a new round of counselling. On a side note, I once refused to fill in one of those ‘ have you got post natal depression?’ handouts you get after having a baby. At the time I was most definitely post natally depressed – but the form wasn’t photocopied onto the page straight! That told them all they needed to know.

In order to diffuse what was becoming a rather serious conversation – I jokingly (why will I never learn) observed that The American had been jettisoned because of his voting preferences. Well……….. clearly all the clever boys defend each other.

He was fuming. Didn’t I know all the good things Trump had done? Where was I getting my (flawed) information? For the record – BBC, CNN, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Times, National Geographic ( and to be fair – Private Eye)

PS That’s JY looking distinctly Headshrinky in her turtleneck.

This went back and forth for a while. I probably should have climbed (or fallen given my history) off my high horse, but I just couldn’t. His final message observed that he didn’t want to meet someone who was strongly opinionated and that he was blocking my number. Phew!

How was I attracting these delights?? My knitting friend ‘Lovely Sharon’ who does clever things with Apps, explained that because I had mentioned faith and religion on my profile the algorithm could be skewing the results to the right. Fair enough, I wasn’t prepared to change or deny this part of my life so I took a different tack.

I logged onto ‘Romances allied to Rome’ (or something like that) and got stuck in. The questionnaire was thorough to say the least. There are now men all over the world who know my favourite saint (St Joseph) my thoughts on contraception (that would be a yes) and my preferred form of the liturgy…….

Once again I went with honesty…. possibly a mistake.

Following my ‘revelation’ that I was the proud owner of a degree absolute, a tattoo and a gay child it turned out there weren’t too many matches. I think they may have formed a committee to resurrect Dante Alighieri in order that he can create a new ring of hell just for me.

So here I am – stuck between a rock and a hard place (or not!) – too straitlaced for mainstream sites, too radical for the Holy Joes. I am distinctly niche.

What to do?? Well, I’ve decided to try the ‘clubs and societies’ route.

I’ve signed up for Classical Greek, Philosophy and Walking with Mensans (The Bolter unkindly observed that the last one sounded like living with a chronic condition). I am genuinely interested in all of this so its not just about ‘ Mancatching’ – but you never know.

Next week – Stroke, Horse, Hot – Origins…..