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….

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…..

She’s just a little bit odd….

Happy Mother’s Day everyone. Today I am going to repay my own Mother’s unconditional love by plastering details of my disastrous love life all over the internet – i’m sure she will be very proud.

Well, before I discuss The American, I think its only fair to give you a bit of context. You see, i’m a little bit odd (not 50 shades odd, more having all your colouring pencils in height order depending on how much they have been used, odd)

When I was seven I became fixated on the idea that I was going to be kidnapped (talk about self aggrandisement) Being something of a control freak, I had even packed a bag and had a coat on a hanger all ready to go. I still remember the coat, it was a lovely red aran jacket with silver buttons which my mother had knit, I was particularly fond of it. It was this domesticity that completely terrified my poor parents (i’m something of a stranger to being tidy).

A GP appointment was hastily made and I was soon explaining to a rather bewildered medic that, ‘no strange men had offered me any confectionary – I just had a ‘feeling’ that I was going to be kidnapped’. At this point, he should have said:

a) Mummy, have you ever heard of ASD?

b) Don’t worry about the whole kidnapping thing – she’s feeling a bit insecure because her beloved auntie has just died.

However, instead he ran with, ‘Don’t worry Mummy, she’s just a little bit odd’ – and that was that. To be fair, it was Larne circa 1980 and medicine has moved on a bit. Over the years I have embraced the oddness, even celebrated it, but the accompanying social awkwardness does make dating something of a challenge.

Returning to 2018, one evening in late summer a ‘smile’ pinged into my inbox and the American adventure began. The American in question was a Boston / Belfast based doctor and soon we were chatting away and I was able to subtract six from any number (time difference between Belfast and Boston) at lightening speed.

To be fair, a lot of the conversation was rather pompous intellectual one-upmanship – I loved it!!! His favourite book was ‘The Mismeasure of Man’ an argument against the theories put forward in ‘The Bell Curve’ (not The Bell Jar, that’s a whole other shitstorm) – not a lot of laughs and chapter four on factor theory is rather dry, but it gave us plenty to talk about.

Our first meeting was delayed by the whole ‘hot water bottle’ incident. I’m not naturally a vain person, but even I could see that trying to be alluring while bits of your face are actually falling off into your dinner is probably not a goer.

Things took a slightly racy turn when I sent him a picture of my chest! Actually, not racy in the slightest, I was querying if the cross I was wearing was a ‘bit too Borgia’ for a school Mass – The American responded with a suitably arsey comment about Borgia being preferable to Opus Dei – I was in heaven.

We eventually met up in a nice restaurant in town, I was terrified, the last ‘date’ I had been on was when I was 20 and I hadn’t a clue about what you were supposed to do. After the first five minutes where we both settled ourselves by straightening the cutlery things relaxed a bit and we had a lovely time. There was one slightly ‘odd’ moment half way through when he rubbed my arm and told me I was doing very well, in the style of a benevolent uncle or ageing clergyman (this was in response to my earlier declaration of nervousness).

Anyway – time passed, more chatting, and a decision was reached – we would spend the night together. Let’s face it, neither of us were ever going to be the ‘tumble spontaneously into bed type’. I think Tim Collins had probably made less elaborate preparations for his invasion Northern Iraq that I had for that evening.

There were endless consultations with The Bolter regarding clothing and grooming. We went with JAANB (jeans and a nice blouse), to continue the ‘keen but not desperate’ narrative set by my knickers. Mr Bolter (a gifted administrator and mathematician) thoughtfully sent a post coital self evaluation pro forma – no pressure then! To say I was nervous was an understatement ( it had been exactly six years to the day since I last got up to anything like this).

At this point, if you were watching a movie of my life (I would be played by Janette Krankie, Sandi Toksvig or possibly Susan Calman), the camera would discretely cut away you would be treated to suitably unsubtle images of rockets and fountains while Souza’s Liberty Bell plays loudly. So lets just imagine that, shall we. Suffice it to say, fun was had.

Unfortunately, there was soon to be trouble in paradise. Now, i’d always known that his politics were conservative, and that some of his views were a bit tricky (but it had been SIX YEARS). However, what happened next, I was not expecting……

Late one evening, I observed breathlessly, ‘Gosh, wasn’t that lovely!’ (told you, odd) and then in a jokey fashion, ‘Thank God you’re not a Trump voter.’

What followed was THE WORLD’S MOST AWKWARD SILENCE. Dear Reader, what was a girl to do?

There was no other option, I put my knickers on and went home !

My excursion into Irish / American co-operation had reached an abrupt end.

Next week – how I nearly met up with a Scottish psychiatrist on Boxing Day.

ps: Still waiting to hear from the Lovely Levison – if some of you could get on to that, i’d really appreciate it.

And then there were sausage rolls…..

It’s been a lovely week – spring has definitely sprung! During the week MC passed an interview which takes her a big step closer to his chosen career and I was away on a fieldtrip. It was great, I got to spend two days fannying about in the Mournes measuring ‘stuff’ in rivers and the sea. It was made even better by the fact that the students we had with us were fabulous.

My romantic history was summarised very succinctly a few years ago by EC, ‘ Face it Mummy, first there was Conall (first boyfriend age 17 -20), then there was Daddy (age 20 -39) and then there were sausage rolls (age 39 to present)’

I had thought by now that I would have been married to Dick Strawbridge or Levison Wood ( I definitely have a type). However, in the interim Dick got married putting him out of contention. The last I heard (i.e. Googled) the Lovely Lev is still on the market – so if anyone has his number, do pass on my details. I think we would be perfect for each other.

Given that my social life revolves around knitting, Mass and solitary walks with Judgmental Yorkie chances for romance are thin on the ground.

JY looking wistful on the Holywood coastal path yesterday.

In addition my limited efforts in flirting in person were not hugely successful either. I did meet a lovely author one night at an event with Mother (see, out with my Mother – the glamour!) who I fancied the knickers off. However too much gin nervous gin drinking led me to discussing ‘times past’ and that put paid to that. I did order his books off Amazon and mooned over his tiny picture like I used to with ‘The Edge’ in the Jackie in the 1980’s – but eventually I wised up.

Having bored all my friends with my lamenting and keening I accepted their pleading to ‘get online’. Several had them had tried this and had a great combination of horror stories and happy endings. The one common thread was that within seconds of logging on I would be ‘inundated’ with smiles / winks and offers.

I did my research, checked my bank balance (true love doesn’t come cheap) and elected to definitely NOT pick anything which would involve a swipe!

The next stage of this epic was filling in the questionnaire. Holy God, getting my degree was less stressful.

I decided honesty was the best policy. As a result I launched myself into cyberspace as:

a) ‘Malcom Tucker meets Jean Brodie’

b) Radio 4 fan

c) Witty & Intelligent

d) Requires well read man who understands nuance and looks good in Gortex.

Now how hard should that have been? I also added hillwalking – everybody says hillwalking but in my case it is actually true. Mind you, given the number of people who write it, the hills should be littered with eligible men. The two days I spent in the Mournes this week should have been like shooting desirable, attractive fish in a barrel. Alas this was not the case and there was a definite scarcity of opportunities.


I added my picture and sat back and waited for the offers to roll in, and waited and waited and waited…..

Cue stock pictures of tumbleweed, calendar pages ripping off and swirling newspapers with appropriate seasonal references.

It seems that Radio 4 listeners who enjoy hillwalking, fibre arts and intellectual snobbery are not as readily available as the saucy tales of my friends would have suggested.

However, one day in late summer a ‘smile’ landed in my in box and my American adventure began……

A whisper of silk….

A very Happy St Patrick’s Day one and all. How was your week? I’ve has a lovely week – the work ‘thing’ went well – I led with a red lip and red nails (I have absolutely no idea what that means, but my daughter’s said it was a good idea and it seemed to work). EC passed his driving test and is now facing the grim reality of the cost of getting a keeping a car on the road, but he’s all delighted, and so am I.

The coveted ‘R’ plates

As the kids all head off into town to celebrate the national saint with green beer, i’m reminded of an earlier St. Patrick’s day. When the children were small I would regularly plan outdorsey, creative ‘saggy titted tree hugging’ stuff. Even now when I make a suggestion for an outing there is a great deal of retina detaching eye rolling and mutters of ‘Oh Christ, Mummy’s gone all National Trust again’. So.… for EC’s first St Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be rather jolly to turn his milk green and make buns with green icing. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME – the nappy produced by this concoction is not to be recommended.

Having had time to reflect on my single status, I decided to try and move things along at bit.

So, as Benjamin Franklin (and every facilitator at any shite management conference you have ever attended) observed, ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail’. The quest for pulling pants began.

My relationship with underwear can be best described as functional. I appreciate that this is unusual – for example – when the Bolter, bolted one of the key items she brought with her was her bag of good pants. I would be hard pressed to fill an envelope with good pants never mind a bag. I am also very scared of the women who work in knicker shops – they are really intimidating. This wasn’t helped by a woman in House of Fraser actually snorting when I went in and asked to be fitted for a sports bra. Actually snorted!

In order to avoid a repeat of this humiliation I turned to online shopping. One such purchase a number of years ago promised ‘a whisper of silk’ hmmmmmmm – that’s not quite what it was like. The garments themselves were perfectly fine, it was the wearer that had the issues. Picture Mr Pickwick with his rotund belly or Harry Seacombe in his later years. Well that’s what I looked like in a pair of red French knickers.

The current knicker hunting odyssey had three key stages.

Stage 1: Ann Summers ‘It’s very tasteful, so everybody said’. ‘Let’s give it a go’, said one of my knitting pals and one Wednesday we found ourselves slinking into the Belfast store. We entered commando style (as in tuck and roll rather than not wearing any pants) for fear that any of the students I teach spotted me on this particular excursion. We wandered around for a while deeply out of our comfort zone, and it is true, much of the lingerie was very tasteful, we didn’t venture ‘downstairs’. I was at the point of making a purchase when we spotted a man lurking furtively round ‘things in cans’ and I ran away. I’m ashamed to say – I ran out of that shop like a five year old, as did my mate.

Stage 2: MC and I went to Dublin for the day to see the giraffes in the zoo.

We’re very fond of an aul giraffe

We decided that having travelled all that way we might as well take a wee trip into Victoria’s Secret. Holy God. It was like walking into a night club, i’m more of a chess club kind of gal. There were low lights and thumping music and gorgeous people and very tiny knickers as far as the eye could see. It was a whole new language – who knew there were so many words to describe tiny pants. After several circuits I was beginning to despair, there was no chance of buying a bra, most of them seemed to have bits missing, but I did actually buy pants.

Actual footage of my pants!

Third time lucky – I eventually decided that if I was going to have any success buying grown up underwear, I was going to have to go myself. The next Wednesday on my way to knitting (i’m so bad ass) I called into Boux Avenue. I must have looked very out of place because very soon a lovely shop assistant took pity on me and came over. She gently took the bra I was holding out of my had and shook her head. ‘Is it for a special occasion?’ How do you answer that?? Then she asked the most bizarre question I have ever encountered. ‘What do you want your bust to communicate?’ What do you say to that? Eventually I came up with ‘keen but not desperate’ This seem to make sense and soon I was in a changing room with a whole range of lovely things to try on. While the assistant was demonstrating the ‘swoop and scoop’ a strange contortion where you literally heave your boobs into the cup from underneath in order to achieve a good fit – who knew? It was during this operation that my phone rang – it was my mother. Known for her tenacity, when I didn’t answer the first three times she kept on ringing. So on the fourth attempt, I answered with ‘Mummy i’m standing in a tiny room with a strange lady who has her hands on my chesticles’. She rang off. I did call later and explain.

Within a relatively short time I was leaving the store with several lovely boxes filled with tissue paper ‘good pants’.

Now the only this left to do was to find someone to mesmerise with my feminine wiles………