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Why pal Amy can't wait to be out standing in her own field

By Eddie McIlwaine

Down on her farm, animal lover Amy Storey is running out of grass for her 100-plus pets - including Summer, her favourite foal. But here's the good news: Amy (25) has her eye on a new spread, made up of double the number of fields, where she plans to make a childhood dream come true.

"I can't talk too much yet about our move to a new place," explains Amy, from Parkgate in Co Antrim, "but when the deal is made, my plan will be to establish what I'll call a 'mobile ark' to transport my best pets around schools and social events to show them off to children and their parents, too. It's something I've always wanted to do since I was little."

Amy adds: "I'm not a farmer in the strict sense of the word - I don't grow crops, or plough the fields. But I'm into the animal world and I have been fascinated by four-legged creatures and birds since I was at school.

"My work with pets, caring for them and studying their habits on the land and in the fresh air, is my ideal way to live. Working in an office, or running a shop, or a business, simply doesn't appeal."

So, don't tell Amy that the summer just ended has been an indifferent season.

That little foal I referred to earlier was born in June to her pony, Rosie, when the sun was shining bright.

And, naturally, she was called Summer given the day that she arrived.

"Summer and Rosie made the sky blue for me," confides Amy.

Now, with the harvest in full swing, she and her boyfriend, Kyle Paterson, an auxiliary nurse, who shares her love of every kind of animal, are looking forward to moving on to pastures new.

Amy, a former pupil of Antrim Grammar School, had a rabbit called Misty as her first pet when she was tiny.

She inherited her love of pets from her mum, Helen, who, as she got older, presented her daughter with a Yorkshire terrier called Candy.

Among her charges now are Trevor the dancing turkey, Mickey the Clydesdale, Parker the llama, Bella the pony and goats, Brian and Butters.

She has no favourites, but Trevor the talented turkey comes close.

"He'll skip around to any tune, although he prefers rock 'n' roll," reveals Amy. "He's a lot of fun."

Diana practises what she preaches

Diana Vickers, a graduate of The X Factor, will be singing one of my favourite songs, The Windmills of Your Mind, at the Grand Opera House in Belfast for a week from Tuesday, November 21.

For Diana (26) will be playing the late Dusty Springfield, who turned the song into a massive hit, in the musical Son of a Preacherman, which is the story of Dusty's life and times.

Diana is a fan of Dusty, whose other big successes were If You Go Away and I Only Want To Be With You.

After reaching the semi-final of The X Factor in 2008, Diana had success in the West End with The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, in which she impersonated the likes of Shirley Bassey and Judy Garland.

And she had a No 1 in the UK with a ballad called Once and a No 1 album with Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree.

Her other singles were called The Boy Who Murdered Love and My Wicked Heart.

Interestingly, Diana had to learn to surf when she starred in a film called The Perfect Wave, which is all about the sport.

St Gladys is just the ticket for me

The patron saint of parking is Saint Gladys, but she doesn't get a mention in a book called The Lives of Improbable Saints by the Rev Richard Coles, which I've just stumbled upon.

This clergyman (formerly of Eighties' band The Communards) claims that the parking lot saint is, in fact, one Francesca Xavier Cabrini - just because she is buried next to a car-park in New York City.

I don't know why my Saint Gladys is rated as the good lady of the car-park, nor do I care, because she works for me every time - never mind Francesca.

Gladys finds a vacant lot for me without fail, either in a car-park or out in the street, so I'm sticking by her.

The Rev Coles also relates in his tome the tale of St Anastasia, who had to disguise herself as a monk to escape persecution for some reason or other, which he doesn't explain in his book, and so went on to become the patron saint of cross dressers.

Balladeer Pauline is Limavady bound

Singer Pauline Scanlon, from Dingle in Co Kerry, a big Led Zepplin fan, has been singing folk and pop and her own stuff since she was 15. She will be heading up a traditional music concert in Limavady's Cultural Centre on Friday, October 13.

Her latest album is called Gossamer and Pauline says that most of the songs come from her own life of travelling around and meeting people. I was intrigued by a track called Cold Missouri Waters, which tells the story of a group of firefighters whose job was to put out a huge wildfire at Mann Gulch on the banks of the Missouri in 1949.

Thirteen of them died when they were surrounded by the flames, while three escaped. The song tells of survivor guilt and how others saw the tragedy. Pauline will be joined on the night by the Atlantic Arc Orchestra, which brings together musicians from Ireland, Scotland and Brittany, including Donal Lunny (bouzouki), Padraig Rynne (concertina), Aidan O'Rourke (fiddle) and Jarlath Henderson (Uilleann pipes).

Who was wartime author of these verses from the front?

Here's a poem whose author is mystifying me. Come on, who wrote this poignant If I Had My Life To Live Over during the Second World War?

Apparently, he was a soldier-poet at the front who was missing his girl.

If I had my life to live over,

I'd do the same things again.

I'd still want to roam,

Near the place we call home,

Where my happiness never would end.

I'd meet you when school days were over,

And walk through the lanes that we knew,

If I had my life to live over,

I'd still fall in love with you

Answers on a postcard please.

Friend's wife's maudlin moniker was the final nail in the coffin

I know a man who has been involved in three road accidents in the past eight months and escaped with only scrapes and bruises.

He has also been treated in and out of hospital for a minor prostate problem and been pronounced fit and well.

This gent - whose name I mustn't divulge - is middle-aged and pleasant to talk to.

Oh, yes, the main reason I'm writing about him at all is the nickname his wife has saddled him with.

With loving affection, she calls him a "coffin-dodger".


I find tale about swifts bringing good luck too hard to swallow

Be careful the next time you're feeding the birds and make sure that the swifts on the perch get their fair share.

You see, they have a sacred kind of history and in some parts are believed to be the souls of the dead - especially folk who passed over without fulfilling their lifetime desires.

It does seem odd, mind you, that the swift, whose morning chirp is one of the happiest sounds you'll hear, is associated with a melancholy idea like death, but there you are.

It is also supposed to be a luck-bringing creature and there is a little rhyme out there a couple of whose lines go like this:

The swallow and the swift

Are God Almighty's gift.

I've forgotten the rest.

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