Change is the only constant, and how we respond to it makes all the difference
We all have many different people inside us. Sometimes it takes a stark turn of events for them to come out and make themselves known.
We all have many different people inside us. Sometimes it takes a stark turn of events for them to come out and make themselves known.
On Friday, I interviewed the highly entertaining author Julie Peakman about her latest book, Peg Plunkett - Memoir of a Whore. It's the fascinating story of a courtesan and brothel-keeper in 18th-century Dublin. On Saturday, I attended a rally in Belfast in support of legalising same-sex marriage. Yesterday, I cut the grass and weeded my vegetable patch.
If you heard that a local council had received a planing application to build a factory farm to house 30,000 dogs, which would be kept indoors and then slaughtered for food, for China, what would your reaction be? I imagine there'd be huge demonstrations and protests and petitions and outrage being expressed via every media outlet possible.
God bless Facebook. It's the one place where you can consistently find stories that lift the heart. If the mainstream media was our only view onto the world, we'd be convinced we're living in the nastiest, most corrupt, frightening epoch since fish walked out of water and onto land (or since God created everything just the way it is 6,000 years ago, depending on whether you use your brain for rational thought or just as a device to store nonsense).
Overheard on the bus last Friday:
It'd be fascinating if everyone's voting choice was displayed above their heads in lights. Then, when people complain about cuts, or taxes, or the health service, you could look up and check out whether or not they actually voted for the politicians who are making the choices they object to.
After a weekend of weeping and gnashing of teeth, it's now time to look forward to the Stormont elections next year. As Naomi Long said, quoting another famous redhead, "Tomorrow is another day". Gavin Robinson's win in East Belfast doesn't mean that respect and decency aren't still worth standing up for.
If you have legs, I recommend that this week, before you go and vote, please take a walk outside, go and find a tree or some grass or some flowers or some water and just stand and look at the beauty of what nature gives us for free. Then go home and go into your kitchen.
Do you remember doing maths at school? Remember when you got to draw in your exercise book when you were learning about sets? There was a rectangle - that was the Universal Set, ie, everything. It was denoted by the letter U in the top corner.
Due to lots of re-decorating in the house, my writing position has been shifted around a fair bit in the last few weeks. So instead of sitting up in bed to write on the laptop, or sitting at a desk in the back room upstairs looking out over trees and playing fields, I'm this week sitting at a desk in the front room upstairs looking out at people and cars and vans coming and going on the street below. It's a different perspective altogether.
As I write this, the weather forecast on the computer says it's going to turn cold and there may even be snow. The forecast on my phone says there may be a brief shower, but then it'll be back to full suns and glorious temperatures. I'm gonna put my trust in the phone version.
In Northern Ireland there is collective pain. It needs a collective solution. It seems as if we think forgiveness means saying that what you did was okay. You killed my loved one. How can I say that was alright? How can I forgive you? That feels like I'm betraying the person you killed. And I don't want to give up my pain sometimes, because it's the only connection I have to that person.
Don'tcha just get sick of those whingeing black people going on and on about rights and respect? If they want it so much, why don't they get up off their lazy backsides and work hard and maybe then they'll earn their rights and respect instead of sitting back complaining and expecting the world to give them everything? I'm a white and I didn't get where I am today by sitting whinging."
A French electrician has been accused of stealing art by Picasso.
The good people of Newry and Mourne District Council area were offended last week by an advertisement encouraging people not to let their dogs defecate in public without cleaning up after them. Loads took to the council website to protest the video of a man squatting and appearing to poop on the street. The strapline saying, "STOP! You wouldn't crap in the street, so why let your dog crap on Newry and Mourne?", was deemed too extreme by many rate-payers.
I love the word "balance". It even sounds like what it is. I picture walking up a see-saw on the "bal", reaching the middle, the fulcrum, then walking down the other side on the "lance". Or standing at the midpoint, one foot on either side, perfectly still. To be like water, which is always balanced, that is a goal. To find equilibrium, no matter what the circumstances.
Imagine, imagine, imagine. There's something very attractive about that word, don'tcha think? So imagine my delight to discover there's a whole week of events happening in Belfast from today called Imagine!2015. It's a festival of and for ideas. For sparks of imagination.
It's a tricky one this week - I want to talk about how we know things without thinking, or talking, or using words, but it's hard to do that without using words, when it's for a newspaper. So words it has to be. A friend told me last week about an experience he had last year. He was attacked by another man who was much bigger and stronger than he was. The other man strangled my friend.
Last Thursday, I had a revelation in the park. (I don't mean someone flashed at me). I was walking a friend's dog - let's call him Ringo. Now Ringo, if he were a pig, and half-chewed ancient, filthy old tennis balls were truffles, would be in big demand in France.
Didn't see the actual programme where Stephen Nolan revealed his erectile dysfunction problems (the biggest no-show in the country?), but what I heard about it, with graphic descriptions, was enough.
The Pope could do with buttoning it occasionally. His latest declaration - that choosing not to have children is selfish - is simply hogwash. Why is so much credence given to the opinions of one elderly man? He's entitled to say what he thinks, but what puzzles me is why so many people set so much store by what he says.
When is closing the roads to allow some "Prod" to take over and play music, preventing ordinary decent people from going about their business as usual, not a problem worthy of the Nolan Show and the Parades Commission? When the "Prod" is Van Morrison and the disruption is to facilitate his 70th birthday concert in Cyprus Avenue. Context is everything, eh?
Every career has its pros and cons. If you do an unchallenging office job, you benefit from the security, but you probably don't enjoy the humdrum nature of the work. If you labour outside, you get to be in the sunshine and fresh air when it's nice, but you gotta thole the wind and rain when it's not. Swings and roundabouts.
Just saw Sinn Fein's election leaflet for North Belfast, featuring Gerry Kelly and Nigel Dodds. Wow. It's like something out of the Number 2s, only without the laughs. (Oh, hold on a minute ... no, leave that, Nuala, that's a whole other topic.)
Might I make a modest proposal, in this time of economic austerity and swingeing (not swinging, swingeing, it's a totally different ball game) budget cuts to public services? Since "cost-effective" is the latest target/guideline/over-used phrase in the public sector, I think this proposal stands a good chance of being well received by the uberbelt-tightenfuhrers, sorry, bosses in charge of the purse strings, up on the hill and in all the over-warm offices of middle-tier officialdom across the province/statelet/occupied six counties.
Archaeologists in Nevada have found a 132-year-old Winchester rifle propped up against a tree in the desert. They reckon it was left there over a century ago by a cowboy and probably not noticed for years because the stock had weathered so much it blended with the tree trunk.
In our everyday lives, we're rarely called upon to be brave in a dramatic way. Not many of us have ever faced the dilemma of whether to dive into a river to rescue another person, or not.
Well, here we go again. Another year begins. Sometimes I envy my cat. She gets up, goes out, has a sniff around, looks at some birds up in the bare tree branches as if she's never seen birds before, settles into her favourite bush for a wee while then comes in to eat, sleep on the couch and enjoy some quality stroking from me. I'm beginning to think that far from being dumb, perhaps animals are more evolved than us.
January of course is named after the two-faced Roman god Janus. One face looked back and the other looked forward. Which is something we all tend to do rather a lot of at this time of the year.
The latest news from the inter-party talks suggests that if a deal is done we will end up with nine new organisations or bodies, dealing with our issues here. At least three will be tasked with looking at flags/identity/parades/protests/events. And that's before we even start delving into the past.
Dear Santa Claus, I've been a moderately good person this year and so I'd like you to bring me some gifts. That's how this works, isn't it? We have an unwritten agreement (I think it might have been started somewhere in the bowels of Toys R Us and Hamleys) that I behave and you are obliged to bring me goods and services of my choosing.
Surprised to hear Nigel Farage saying women ought to cover up when breast-feeding in public places. He doesn't seem to mind making a right t*t of himself in public, not sure what he's objecting to.
I'm sure I'm not the only person who didn't actually spend a single penny on Black Friday. Not on purpose, just didn't have the chance to do any shopping, between rehearsals and other work. Did catch a glimpse on the news of people beatin' seven bells out of each other to get a cheap television set. And you just know they'll get it home, plug it in, set it up and go: "Huh, TV's rubbish, there's nothin' on!"
I'm delighted that a Belfast judge has found so-called pro-life protester, Bernie Smyth, guilty of harassing the head of the Marie Stopes Clinic in Belfast, Dawn Purvis.
Locked once again into rehearsal-purdah these past two weeks, not a lot of "real life" has penetrated my brain, given that I get home in the evening after a day learning how to tap dance (tap dance??? At 50???) and am fit only to lie on the floor of the shower in a sweaty stupor. But the odd sound from beyond the bubble of Tinseltown, the Musical, has reached my ears.
So business was a little slow in downtown Nazareth one day. JC and his friends were sitting around wondering what to do. "Flip me, I could murder something sweet to eat, y'know?", said Peter. "If only there was a cake shop nearby, I could go and buy what I like."
(Overheard on a bus).
Three weeks ago I wrote about Stand Up To Cancer night on Channel 4. Some people were upset by what I wrote, asking me how I could be so cruel and thoughtless and narrow- minded to suggest that people bring cancer on themselves. I, in turn, was upset that my piece was interpreted this way.
Looking forward to coming home. Enjoying the trip to the States. The people I've met have all been lovely, but between the Fear-bola outbreak, the overly fat-laden food and the need to have a car to get anywhere, my system's ready to get back to "normal".
Sometimes it can be challenging to live in the life you have right now. When something changes, suddenly, through a death, separation, relocation or any sort of unwanted alteration, it's a real challenge actually to be in the new circumstances. To be in the present.
Stand up to cancer! Let's kick cancer's butt! Join Davina McCall and co for a "killer" night of entertainment and information to raise millions to tell cancer we've got it on the run! Yay!!!
Have you ever seen the film The Stepford Wives? It's based on the 1972 novel by Ira Levin and it's about Joanne Eberhart, who goes to live in the quiet town of Stepford in Connecticut with her husband.
Last weekend I had the greatest of pleasurable experiences. I went back to a place on the North Antrim coast which has been special to me for quite a few years now. I've gone there at times of great sadness or confusion or positive change in my life. It's been a touchstone, if that's the right word, an anchoring certainty in the midst of flux. A rock. In fact, it IS a rock. It's a cliff.
It takes two people to create an embryo, if we're talking about unassisted conception. A male and a female. Imagine you're a 16-year-old girl. Imagine your father or your brother or your uncle or your cousin or a 'friend of the family' rapes you. Imagine your monthly cycle stops. It doesn't come. Imagine being 16 and being in that position. What would you do?
At a Zen Buddhist event the teacher finished off a session by wishing us all to, "Have an ordinary day!" It was said with a warm smile. Everyone smiled back and laughed appreciatively at the "in" joke. I laughed too, but I didn't get the joke.
The first of September. New school year starting. I can still smell it ... rubbers, pencil sharpenings, warm, sweating sandwiches in school-bag, orange squash in plastic bottle, bodies, sun through old glass panes, chalk, dust, wood polish and above all, new paper – clean exercise books and fresh texts.
What happens in Edinburgh, stays in Edinburgh, alright? On the other hand, they say confession is good for the soul, so maybe a little 'fessing up might not go amiss here.
Still in Edinburgh. And I know this festival is an international one and the crowds I'm seeing every day do not represent the actual citizens of the metropolis, but still, the idea that any country or anyone could be "independent" is rather ridiculous when you think about it.
Imagine a few years ago if someone had asked you, "Do you tweet?". You would no doubt have looked at them with your face contorted into an expression suggesting you'd just sniffed the armpit of a heavyweight boxer after 10 rounds, and replied, "Sorry?" or, if you're from the lower classes, "Wha'?"
An Irish woman, an American and a posh English bloke go into a kitchen... no, it's not the start of a joke, just a description of the flat I'm sharing here in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival month.
Film and TV