The Wild Geese – A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Poet

This page has been blinking blankly at me for far too long.

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Guilty Pleasures.

A while ago I posted a list of life’s simple pleasures. The little things that put a smile on your face. Since then I’ve been contemplating life’s more guilty pleasures… Bless me father for I have sinned…

  1. The Script – pop rock at its most indulgent. They are perhaps the only band that I would willingly accompany my little sister and twelve of her teenybopper friends to go and see live, in the same way I have used her to go and watch kids films in the cinema without looking like a weirdo. I love The Script. There I said it. But surely everyone finds themselves singing along with ‘For the First Time’ and drooling gracelessly at the sight of Danny O’Donoghue in a knee length coat… no? Just me?
  2. Matt Cardle – I know, I know, I should hang up my gig-reviewing hat immediately and go write for Smash Hits (does Smash Hits still exist? Am I that out of touch?) But I should point out I’m not particularly familiar with his music, I just like looking at him, a lot. There is just something about the X Factor winner… I’m entirely convinced that he should be my husband. He plays guitar and writes god’s honest pop songs, and wears a hat, he’s wholesome. You could bring him home to meet your mother.
  3. Grey’s Anatomy – to be honest I hold little guilt in this pleasure. I love Grey’s Anatomy unhealthily so. Thursday nights are like Christmas Eve on a weekly basis. I know I am an intellectual, educated young woman, a feminist no less, I should be spending my Friday mornings with affairs much more highbrow and self-developing, but instead I prance around my room excitedly as the latest episode downloads, and spend the next 45 minutes brain turned off, jaw-dropped, often on the verge of tears. I’m not kidding, during the infamous Shooting episode I spent an hour and half with one hand over my open mouth, the other clutching on occasions the duvet, my teddy, and my very pissed off ex-boyfriend who was trying to sleep next to me. And don’t even get me started on 007…
  4. Downton Abbey – on a similar vein, ITV’s hit period drama is a guiltless pleasure which I know I shouldn’t be quite as in love with as I am. It’s a programme I have conflicting emotions about, it’s entirely ridiculous, the plot is often absurd and historically questionable but if my mother, a history teacher, can roll with it, so can I. So again, often on the verge of tears, I tune in every Sunday night, turn the better half of my brain off and giggle inconsolably at the Dowager Countess’ fantastic one liners (she has obviously inherited the scriptwriter who put Coronation Street’s Blanche in our hearts). Also, I have been in love with Allan Leech since Man About Dog, so seeing him as a heartbroken Irish Revolutionary upsetting the landed gentry is practically porn for me.
  5. And finally, perhaps the most guilt-ridden of all… Popworld – Unlike the aforementioned guilty pleasures which I indulge on a daily basis, this little gratification only ever rears its ugly, disco ball head after at least three pints, and usually at someone else’s suggestion. I can’t resist the dated dance floors and  sugary pop music, I need to put my face in the Spice Girls cut out and drink toxic orange alcopops that double as nuclear weapons, I just need to dance to Cotton Eyed Joe once in a while, is that so wrong?? Is it?? …yes, I know it is. I’m seeking help. I promise.

A Day in the Life…

As part of the Guardian’s ‘Write a Book in Thirty Days’ drive I have been reading authors’ ‘A Day in the life…’ with the reassurance that everyone finds it difficult to squeeze some writing into their day to day life. Duly inspired I decided to write my own ‘Day in the life’ but it somehow became a ‘Morning in the life’. This much productivity and mental thought before Philip and Holly have taken to the ITV stage of a morning is very unusual and not a typical day whatsoever.

I wake uncharacteristically early, before my flatmate has left to catch his 7.30am train to his real job. I’m rested, but it feels like another night of tossing and turning, partly caffeine induced, partly because I still haven’t gotten round to putting up curtains in my room. Achy shoulders. Must get a mattress topper. Vague images of the night’s dreams – my mother sitting by a sickbed, bringing her tea, then later, images of Batman and Robin fleeing a building as the police turn up – wait, were they on the rob? Surely not…

Wide awake by 8am I lift my phone, a few unimportant emails, an unexpected Facebook message from a very old, once very dear friend, I will have to mull that one over. On to the news. I am still romantically fond of the physical, awkward to fold on the bus, print-stained fingers, actual newspaper, but a combination of laziness and living in cheap, cold digs mean that I am easily converted to anything that allows me to begin my day without actually getting out from under the covers.

I browse through the BBC and Guardian apps, save any stories that spark an interest or an urge to share, make some notes, vow to actually write them in the course of the day, inevitably delete the link from Evernote (another handy convenience I’ve been converted to in recent months) in a few weeks.

By the time my alarm goes off at 8.45am I am already contemplating breakfast. This is very rare, early mornings are extraordinary for me. I usually don’t finish work until after eleven. I am a night owl, which means I rarely start writing until after sundown. Inspiration never really hits until after 10pm and the real magic or clarity doesn’t kick in until around 1am. Last night after a few hours struggle, I had a breakthrough with a troubling character around midnight, something clicked, I wrote frantically for twenty minutes, getting it all down on paper before the magic dried up, and then felt immediately exhausted. I managed a few pages of the very brilliant novel I’m currently reading (My Dream of You by Nuala O’Faolain if you’re interested) and then succumbed to dreams of mum and batman (not always typical I promise).

With a recent addition to our little family home, I am now learning to incorporate cat care into my morning routine, which unfortunately today means emptying a litter tray before I’ve  put the kettle on the boil or brushed my teeth. I reassure myself that my mother has probably already done this for the five cats at home over an hour ago – but then I remember, it’s half term, she’s probably still in bed, Dad will be up, let the dog in to curl up at the foot of the bed, he’d have brought her tea and cereal, and she will be reading a bit of something before she gets up and takes on the cat litter. It’s a pleasant thought, to know for once, I am probably up and active before my mother, I reassure myself once is probably enough, I can lie in tomorrow guilt free.

Cat fed and watered, teeth brushed, Monday deemed a bad hair day (just two days till payday, then I can get it chopped…) and kettle boiled. I stack up the dishes I avoided during yesterday’s hangover, collect up any other artefacts of the weekend. By a quarter past nine I am at my desk (on the sofa) with a brew and BBC News. I make more notes. Steve, the cat, has taken up position on the windowsill watching the traffic on Great George Street. (Steve’s real name is Mimsy, but I feel it emasculates him, so I’m calling him Steve, he seems ok with it.)

More news. Teenage boy missing. Ban on Ash trees. Pasta bake for dinner today I think.

Usually by now I would be dragging myself out of bed after three alarms, and preparing for the weekly Media Team meeting at the Biennial offices – today however I am working from home, trying to sort out a faulty electricity metre which will no doubt ending up costing a fortune. Nearly payday.

My appetite slowly returns since brushing my teeth, and my mind turns to breakfast once again. And a conversation at work last week, about the benefits of both pre- and post-breakfast teeth brushing – the important issues you discuss during a quiet nine hour shift in a bar with no windows.

Nine hour days are the norm now that I am a contracted member of staff at LIPA Bar. A three day weekend, a four day working week, sometimes five. AFDs (All Fucking Days, for those outside the hospitality industry.) An odd way to work but a welcome structure to the week after a summer of discontent. Clocks went back yesterday, officially winter, chill in the air but nothing compared to the storm hitting the east cost of America this morning. Shan’t complain. Actually, weather looks promising.

American presidential campaigns. Vote early, vote often as they say at home. Afghanistan’s first female rapper – the new age revolutionary? Steve is on the move, watching me through the net curtain.

Steve overturns kitchen bin. I overturn a mug of tea over the coffee table. First moment of greatness today. Thankfully the other tablecloth is freshly cleaned and folded on the side. Kettle on (again). In a pot this time, separates us from the beasts. Mushrooms browned. Bacon sizzled. Bagel toasted. Mango chopped. Breakfast. How very cosmopolitan of you, I can hear my dad. Wonder how he’s getting on with the digital switchover. Must be like Christmas, more than six channels to shout at.

Breakfasts. There’s a FoodLink feature in there. Make a note.

Mental To Do List formulating. Steve watching me eat. No, Steve.  More news. Annual migration of farm animals through central Madrid. Endearing idea. Age old right exercised, tradition celebrated. I need a holiday. Scenes from Hurricane Sandy making itself known on the Maryland coast. I was in Maryland. Over ten years ago! Huge waves. Must be nice to watch from a safe place. Vivid memory of perching among sand dunes in Donegal watching huge waves thrash against the beach. And a late night barbeque on the beach, was that the same time? Were there fireworks? I haven’t seen a beach all year, not since Blackpool last summer, hardly counts. Didn’t even get my feet wet.

10am and not a wain washed. Must get dressed. Just finish my tea. Headlines are on now anyway. Jesus, I really am turning into my mother.