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The Book: Amy goes on the blind date from hell with slimy salesman Richie Tubritt

In honour of Valentine’s Day,  this excerpt from Chapter 30 details the blind date Amy was forced to go on by her Nan (because she’s only mad to get her up the aisle). Amy flatly refuses, until Nan tells her that the man in question’s granny (her mate Nelly) has a bockety heart, and if she doesn’t go, the poor unfortunate will probably die.

Yep, that woman is a skilled manipulator!

Not wanting blood on her hands, Amy concedes defeat, and agrees to meet with slimy salesman Richie Tubritt – who turns out to be a nightmare. Well if your blind date was trying to get a contract to supply the pub’s condom machine in the jacks (and ordered a bowl of chips to share  and two tap waters) you’d think it was hellish too…

AMY’S BLIND DATE WITH CONDOM-AND-JACKS ROLL-PUSHER RICHIE TUBRITT

According to Nan, Richie Tubritt was an “eligible bachelor” with a “good income” looking to settle down with a “fine lass”. All the buzz phrases to make any interfering biddy worth her salt lose her life with excitement. The way she painted him, he was a cross between Bill Gates (business acumen), Ryan Gosling (looks) and a young Richard Gere (charm).

Which sounded great, but I was experienced enough to take the opinion of an auld wan who was dying for a day out with a pinch of salt. I knew for a fact that if I told her a sweeping brush looked attractive she’d be sizing it up for a top hat and tails, just so she could get plastered on sherry with her biddy cronies and have a dance to “Crocodile Shoes”.

So, despite the honeyed promises of my dream man, I informed her that although I cared for her deeply, she wasn’t a credible source, so there was no way in hell I was going to go on a blind date with Richie Tubritt. Thanks but no thanks Nan, I told her firmly. If you want to wear a hat you can do it on your own dime and your own time.

But as usual it was like talking to a brick wall. Oh no angel features, she informed me sweetly, this was “non-negotiable” (a buzz phrase she had picked up from CSI: Miami) because it had all been arranged and Richie couldn’t wait to meet me and if I didn’t go I would be offending Richie’s granny who was already quite weak and old. A gammy heart, apparently, that I would probably shag up once and for all if I didn’t give her beloved Richie a chance.

“And don’t forget,” she whispered, inspecting her nails innocently, “there’s only so much time left before Nelly shuffles off her mortal coil. That dicky heart has only a few more goes around the wheelhouse before it packs up.” More innocent nail inspection. “Oh, and did I tell you Nelly was a woman of property? Howth. Not too far from Gay Byrne. And with Richie her only grandchild. She can’t take it with her…”

In the end I agreed to go, not because I was hoping to move into poor old Nelly’s Howth semi when her bed was barely cold, but because if I didn’t, I’d never hear the bloody end of it. So off I trotted the following Sunday to a non-descript gastro bar on South William Street at lunchtime, in defiance wearing scruffy jeans, a white shirt and barely any makeup.

When I arrived there was a man shivering outside in a shiny suit and a briefcase. Instinctively I knew it was Richie. It was December, and quite cold, so I couldn’t understand for the life of me why he wasn’t wearing a coat. He was thin and pale, with greasy wheat-coloured hair and a brave strip of downy fluff across his upper lip that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a Transition Year student.

I decided to go for it. “Hi are you Richie Tubritt?” I asked, striding up to him confidently. Now that I knew there wasn’t a snowball’s chance I was going to fancy him, I felt an almost tender pity for him.

“The man himself,” he replied with a booming, cocksure voice totally at odds with his mousey appearance.

“I’m Amy Reid.” I smiled conspiratorially, as if to say, the things our crazy grannies make us do.

“The woman herself,” he boomed back at me, blowing on his hands theatrically and rubbing them together. “So, will we do this?”

Yes, I told him. We will. Although I knew immediately there was absolutely no point. I was never going to fancy him. Sure, love can grow. But sexual attraction can’t. It’s either there or it isn’t. My system was pretty simple: if the thought of a potential suitor grunting away on top of you at some point in the future made you want to puke, there was no point taking it further. Done, easy. But despite knowing I would never touch Richie’s penis, I couldn’t very well leg it off. There was Nelly’s heart to consider, and besides, I was starving.

We walked in and took a table near the window.

“The menu looks nice, doesn’t it?” I started, once we had settled in and I had divested myself of my coat.

“Yeah, I see they’ve used a nice, thick paper. The lamination job is a bit sloppy though. Few air bubbles there around the edges. I wouldn’t have signed off on it.”

“What? Oh, no I meant the food.”

“Oh right. Between meself and yourself Amy love, I’m a businessman. Stationery. Fastest growing business in Ireland. Here’s my card. So as I’m sure you would understand, I don’t get the time to stop and smell the waffles like the ordinary layman, if you catch my drift.” I didn’t, but instead of saying so I replied, “Oh right,” and went back to studying the menu. Thanks Nan, I told myself bitterly, thanks a bloody bunch.

By now all tender feelings were gone. He was clearly an irritating shite. Who now that I got a good look at him up close, was a dead ringer for Gareth from The Office.

“Chap, chap!” Richie shouted over to the waiter, clicking his fingers. Chap? His voice boomed with false bonhomie and I began to wilt with embarrassment that people in the pub would think we were actually together.

‘Chap’ sidled over, a nonplussed look on his face. “Hi man, what can I get you?”

“Information lad, information. Tell me, who does your toilet paper?”

“Sorry?”

“Kimberly Clark is it? Wipes and Swipes? You tell me your toilet costs and I guarantee I can slash them by fifty per cent. Four ply on the bog roll so the punters’ hands stay nice and clean if you get my drift ha ha. Throw in six packs of Cadbury’s Fingers to sweeten the deal if you act fast.”

“Oh I don’t know. Ahm…”

“Lad, who makes these exec decisions? Your operations manager is it? Tell him I can do him an annual deal on till roll that’ll put a few extra bob in his pocket to the treat the wife, if you get my drift? Wink wink, nudge nudge. Oh and hey, on that subject, who does your johnnie machine in the jacks?”

“I’m not sure. I… eh… I can find out for you?”

“You do that squire. And we’ll take two tap waters and a bowl of chips to share. Good lad.”

The good lad in question was tall and burly, while Richie looked about fourteen years of age. Squirming in my seat I covered my red face with the air-bubbled menu, not for the first time resolving to strangle Jean Elphadora Reid.

“I’m a businessman Amy, no point wasting money on a meal if this isn’t going to work. Investment, checks and balances, risk, the bottom line, if you get my drift? Let’s give it half an hour and if it all goes well we can take the next step in this relationship, and order a panini.”

The Book: Amy Meets Darren the Trackie-Wearing Lothario

This excerpt is a flashback piece where Amy recounts her first meeting with boyfriend Darren. I think she’s slightly embarrassed by the circumstances—they met at the circus; he was on a stag, she was trying to recapture a bit of childhood magic with her best friend Claire.

Although he’s very good looking Darren isn’t really Amy’s type. He’s big and sporty and the kind of chap who would say something like: “I only ever cried twice, once when me baby was born and once when Cavan won the All-Ireland”. However, because he is so attractive, when he asks her out her insecurity compels her to say yes, even though she doesn’t fancy him. She’s like: ‘Oh my God, someone as good looking as him likes ME. Must. Say. Yes.’ Maybe it’s harking back to when she was in school, desperately trying to get the attention of the sporty, popular lads.

Here, her friend Claire has run out with the candyfloss in a huff after one of Darren’s loutish friends insulted her. Amy is left to the less than tender mercies of the serving girl who wants her “Three eura plee-ase”. Enter stage right is Darren, who sees his chance…

AMY MEETS DARREN

Suddenly my panicked fumbling was interrupted by a deep voice.

“What do you need? Here, hold up, I’ve got change.”

It was the gorgeous guy. It was Darren.

Now I never normally accepted money from strangers—well actually, hold on, I hadn’t tested that theory before, strangers didn’t generally go around offering me cash. It was drinks I never normally accepted. I was too afraid it would be seen as an unspoken contract for a hand-job in the jacks or the like.

But I was so desperate to get the hell out of there that to my shame I nearly bit the hand off him for the three euro. “Thanks so much,” I said gratefully, grabbing the money. I gestured to the exit helplessly. “She just ran out and I’ve only got my card and when I tried to pay she said it wasn’t Harvey Nichols, it’s a van. Which I understand but I bought a 99 with my Visa card from the Popeye van last week and I just assumed it would be fine. I thought we had moved with times, I mean these days who doesn’t deal in electronic funds? Sorry, sorry I’m babbling like a lunatic.”

At this the woman at the counter rolled her eyes again. “Three eura plee-ase,” she said holding her hand out a tad aggressively.

I handed her the money with relief.

“Thanks again, thanks so much, I really appreciate it,” I said to my benefactor. “Erm… I’ll see you so, I must go out to my friend.” I pointed to the exit again. “Er… bye now.”

He looked at me for a second, nonplussed. “Oh, right so, see ya.”

I began to walk briskly towards the exit, afraid I had signed some bartering contract without knowing it. What was the going exchange for candyfloss? A toe-suck? A four-minute tongue sandwich. Doing a hem on his best pair of trousers?

Feck sake, I swore, if after all this hassle there was none of that candyfloss left I was going to choke Claire.

“Sorry, sorry, wait up!”

Shite, I thought, it’s Shylock, demanding his pound of flesh. I dithered dumbly for a few seconds before turning around and looking at him guardedly.

“Hi. I… eh… I just want to apologise for me friend there again. It’s no way to treat ladies like yourselves.”

“Ah no, that’s okay,” I said, relieved he hadn’t asked me to help whitewash his parents villa in the Algarve or something. “He was just drunk. Don’t worry about it. Besides you more than made up for it paying for the candyfloss. Thanks again. I thought she was going to deck me.”

We smiled at each other conspiratorially.

“Jesus yeah, she was a bit of a mad yoke. She’d ate ya without salt as me Granny would say.”

“My Nan says that too!”

He laughed broadly. “Auld wans, eh… they’re all mad.” He stuck out his hand. “I’m Darren by the way.”

Immensely grateful he didn’t finish by saying: “… but my friends call me Daz” I took his hand and shook it.

“Amy.”

We smiled at each other and suddenly I felt extremely awkward. Hastily, I pulled my hand away and turned to go.

“No wait! Wait sorry!” he said again, walking closer to me.  “Listen I really came after ya because I was wondering would ya… ahm… I was wondering would ya give me your number?” The last bit came out in a tumble.

I blushed madly. I wasn’t used to men asking me out in the cold light of day. This wasn’t Paris. This wasn’t New York. This wasn’t… Seville. All right, I supposed we’d moved on from calling sex ‘relations’ and having said relations with the lights off wearing rolled-up-to-the-waist winceyette nightgowns, but this was still Ireland, a country where people only got together past eight o’clock—ten in the summer just so it’s nice and dark—and with drink taken.

“Here, I’m not a weirdo I swear, I just think you’re a stunnin’ lookin’ girl… and I’ve had a jar or two,” he said, winking.

“I… er… ”

I should have ran. God knows I should have ran. I knew him for all of five minutes and had already flagged ten reasons it was a bad idea.

Let’s recap shall we?

  1. He used the phrase ‘ a stunnin’ lookin’ girl’
  2. He used the word ‘jar’
  3. He was wearing a pair of baggy Kappa ‘gone out with the floods’ tracksuit bottoms
  4. He was at the circus
  5. He was on a stag
  6. He was on a stag at the circus.
  7. His friends were idiots
  8. He winked at me
  9. Someone had shouted “Nice diddies!” at the trapeze artist and for all I know it could have been him
  10. He looked sporty, and I hate sports so much I can’t even watch sport films unless you count The Mighty Ducks and The Mighty Ducks D2

All the signs were there for me to leg it. God above himself couldn’t have given me any more signs had I got down on my knees and cried to the heavens.

So why didn’t I? Why didn’t I say thanks but no thanks and run out to Claire so we could laugh our heads off about it? Why did I look dumbly at him, this tall, handsome, terribly dressed Lothario, and find myself squeaking doubtfully, my face burning with embarrassment: “Okay so?”

So that was that. I got picked up at the circus at twenty-seven years of age by a drunk lad at a stag in a pair of shiny tracksuit pants. Not exactly Pride and Prejudice but there you go.

An Important Guide of Knicker-sy Words so You Never Ever Have to Say Panties

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Panties. At a mere mention women cling to one another in fear, crows ominously scatter, those religiously inclined make a sign of the cross.

But God can’t help them now.

Panties. Terrifying images are conjured up: a dusty three-pack of snow white ‘briefs’ hanging in a bargain basement looking like they need to call The Samaritans, a Christian Bale-as-Batman creepy grunt replete with lisp: “Paaantiethss“, a baggy pair on a Nineties bum like Sigourney Weaver in Alien.

It’s real chuck up your dinner stuff.

Might I suggest a few alternatives, because anything, anything is better than panties.

Jockey shorts

“Oh God, these jockey shorts have seen their day. But my goodness, which bin do they go in? Is it the black or the brown?”

Unmentionables

“Derek pass me my… my… my… things! My… God do I have to say it? Can a woman not retain a bit of mystique? Okay, this is as far as I’ll go…  my… unmentionables!”

Delicates

“Darling, can you  bring me in the Emerald and Ivory Flower Lenor. I need to wash my delicates. No, no, that’s the Topaz and Magnolia one. Oh God, move, I’ll do it myself. Easily known you never do an ounce of cleaning around the house.”

Drawers

“Horseriding is murder on one’s drawers. These are threadbare, threadbare I tell you!”

Bloomers

“Will you feck away from my bloomers Thomas you randy old goat! It’s my time of the month so don’t even think about taking liberties.”

Undercrackers

“Will you stop picking your undercrackers out of your bum? It’s unseemly.”

Knickers

“Are these knickers cutting my arse into four?”

So there you go. Print this off and tuck it into your purse for a quick and easy reference guide to cater for all possible scenarios.

Oh, and I think gammy undies go in the black bin, just in case you were wondering.

A Detailed and Personal Breakdown of Every Famous Person I Have Ever Met

We all have one. A list of famous people we’ve spotted on the street or noticed feeling up the avocados in our local Tesco Metro. But shouldn’t they… I don’t know… have a designated feeler for that sort of thing?

It’s a question I often curiously ask people: Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met?

I might as well tell you, my own list isn’t going to win any prizes. It’s a bit on the lean side and none too heavy on the old ‘international superstars’. If you’re looking to find the likes of Hugh Jackman or Dustin Hoffman on this list I’m sorry but you’re going to come away very disappointed.

Pierce Brosnan
Pierce is probably my most impressive spot. I know he’s Irish, which should elicit an: “Ah now, who hasn’t seen him knocking about the place? I’d be more impressed if you said you never saw him,” but Pierce was James Bond so my hands are tied.

I saw Pierce in Dun Laoghaire and he was really getting the star treatment as befits his status as Hollywood icon and national treasure. A man in an apron (a grocer?) was seeing Pierce and a mature lady (an esteemed relative?) across the street. Pierce looked slick, well dressed and a man at ease with himself. He had a very definite aura that said: I’m like you, only a bit more ‘glowy’ and famous.

Glen Hansard
Glen was my most recent spot. I was with friends outside a cafe, eating a goats cheese salad and feeling a frisson in the air that anything could happen. I wasn’t wrong. Glen walked past and my friend said matter-of-factly: “Oh look, there’s Glen. Isn’t he a bit of a ride?”
“Yes,” I said, “he’s got something about him alright. And he’s meant to be very nice in ‘real life’. He’s a man who looks happy with himself and his achievements. Not smug though. I like that.”

“No,” said another, more discerning friend, “no, he wouldn’t do it for me I’m afraid.”

So I concocted a story, hoping to change her mind: She’s heartbroken, so she goes to the Aran Islands to her grandfather’s cottage to heal. In a windswept landscape she writes poetry, wears woolly jumpers and looks fragile and beautiful. She sits on quite a lot of rocks, feeling like she will never love again. But wait, one stormy day she’s sitting on one of her rocks (her favourite one, it’s flat and there’s space for a coffee and her Sudoku book) and she sees a man fixing a boat on the beach, strong and ginger. It’s Glen. His beautiful hands are adroit and roughened, yet carefully trimmed nails reveal a fastidious, prideful man. He looks into her eyes acrosseth sand and shale with a passion that startles her. Instantly she knows she has found her soulmate. They make passionate love on the cold beach, rain whipping down as they cry out in a frenzy.

“No,” she says,” no, he still doesn’t do it for me.”

Johnny Vegas
I walked passed him on Baggot Street Lower. He was wearing a white t-shirt and was deep in conversation with a duo of consorts. I left him to it.

Jimmy Doyle from Fair City
This one is brilliant in its randomness. It’s a small auld world and no mistake. I saw Jimmy (real name David Mitchell) in Maryland’s Baltimore airport.

Is that? It’s not. Is it? Is it Jimmy? Could it be? Ah no, sure what are the odds. I’ll get a bit closer. Well jimmy me timbers, it IS Jimmy Doyle, skilled mechanic and member of the Doyle dynasty, son of patriarch Bela.

Of course I had to say something. I had to prove this happened, for myself more than anyone.
“Hi, I’m a big fan of the show. Can I get a photo?”

It’s the only time I EVER asked a celebrity for a photo.

Sure enough Jimmy (real name David Mitchell) obliged. I still have the picture. I eh, won’t post it though because it was at the end of my J1 and after discovering Philly Cheesesteaks and corndogs I had put on about two stone.

Keith Urban
If it came down to it in a court of law, by virtue of nationality and column inches, (dirty minds on ye!) Keith would probably be judged my best spot, which is a bit depressing because I have zero interest in country music and don’t find him sexually appealing in the least. He was very tanned and wore a black short sleeved shirt. Points were awarded for the sheen off his hair though. He was a sheeny little fecker.

At least my ‘spot’ area had a bit of glitz and glam to it though. I was outside The Standard Hotel in New York City, drinking a coffee and feeling brilliant. Keith was making his way to a black car, no doubt taking him to a pressing ‘Keith’ engagement.

One of the chaps from The Magic Numbers, Cathy Davey and Neil Hannon (all at once)
I once won a competition to be a reporter for Jack Daniel’s for a special gig they were putting on. The gig was a one-off performance of Vampire Weekend’s titular album so part of the prize was to come and watch one of the chaps from the Magic Numbers, Cathy Davey, Neil Hannon and Richie from Jape rehearse. They were all marvellously nice people, but after a couple of hours watching the rehearsal me and the friend I had brought with me were horribly, horribly bored (my fiance Alex has been playing in bands for years so such a thing holds no glamour for me, if anything it reminds me of wanting us to go away for the weekend but we can’t because he’s playing a gig to fifteen people in a pub in Tullamore).

We stayed as long as we could so we wouldn’t offend, (I’m sure they wouldn’t have cared a jot but even so) then finally when it all got too much tentatively butted in and said: “Thanks a million, we’re heading off now. Bye.”

I think that’s it. There might be more but I can’t think of any right now, which isn’t a great indictment on those that may have slipped my mind.

I wouldn’t say I’ve had a great run of it thus far but as they say, the night is still young.

Fashion: Festival Style Series #1: Sailor Sequins and Gazelles

In a past article, The Tragedy of Festival Fashion I detailed my crushing, yes crushing disappointment at the emergence of a ‘festival uniform’. You know the one I’m on about: floral headbands, ill-advised hats (the little black bowler ones are a particular smear on our history) and those playsuits with the sort of… Aztec-y prints?

Well I may as well walk the talk. In this Festival Style Series I will attempt to turn festival dressing on its head, offering alternative ideas and creative inspiration.

SAILOR SEQUINS AND GAZELLES

Red Chanel lippy at a festival? A dress that looks pixellated? Runners with sequins? Why the hell not says you?! Am I not the creator of my own destiny?

This look is a fresh spin on the traditional retro pin-up—the addition of trainers and a satchel backpack tones down any ‘glitziness’ and makes it cool. It’s Marylin Monroe except she’s seeing the drummer from Foals and trying to get her singer-songwriter career off the ground. Festival 1Ashish Dress: €1,806.56 Net-a-Porter (Think of like this—it’s 10 cent per sequin. No? Not having any of it? OK. Fair enough).

Small Portrait Backpack’: The Cambridge Satchel Company £135

Adidas Originals Campus 80s Japan Trainers: ASOS €91

Chanel Rouge Allure in ‘Passion’: Boots €32.50

The Book: So What Happened to Amy? Major Exclusive Gawk at the PROLOGUE

Goujon.jpg.Sixteen months ago, when I started to write this book (Mother of Christos, was it that long ago?) I did a bold thing. I started with the prologue. Armed with a simple idea, (one’s life taking a trip down the toilet) I decided one little page of writing was to be my guide, my push, the fulcrum to build a rich, funny story around—and funnily enough, despite my incessant editing and the story growing arms and legs I never could have imagined, this one chapter has more or less remained the same.

Over the past year or so I’ve shared book excerpts on Facebook and sometimes chunks of chapters with family or friends, but never a whole chapter! Oh no! Like a primary school child aggressively covering her notebook in case Martha Ryan copies her top notch work on Ancient Egypt, I’ve been holding on to them for dear life. It stops now! It’s time to give away a bit more…

Behold… the Prologue! In Amy’s own words.

PROLOGUE

They say bad things come in threes.

Hanson.

Blind mice.

Unplanned triplets when the cost of creches has gone through the roof and you’re only after getting your figure back after little Isaiah.

Stuff like that.

Well on the day I got fired from my job and then dumped by my boyfriend all I was waiting on was losing an eye or getting a whack off a bus or finding a grey hair.

Fate, Karma, or whoever you are that has it in for me, I cried silently, (Derek? Attracta? Eros?) I’ll be over here, leaning against this wall and panting while you decide how best to finish the job.

I know in films you see dramatic life-altering stuff happening all the time in the space of twenty-four hours. For example you might meet the love of your life on the train (real soulmate-meeting hotbeds, trains, if Hollywood is anything to go by) or you could find out you’re the queen of a small but proud principality off the coast of Aruba renowned for honey-roasted ham, you know, those sort of things:  random and irrevocably life-changing.

That’s in films though. Not real life.

In real life, when you both reach for the last box of chicken goujons on special offer in the supermarket you don’t fall into the kind of mad passionate love where you’re so busy staring into each others eyes you don’t notice your blackened frostbitten fingers have fallen in with the peas. The only frisson of passion you feel is deep despair that there’s a good chance you won’t be having goujons and chips for dinner. In fact the man you brush fingertips with doesn’t even know what a frisson isbut if you were to put him under pressure and ask him he’d take a wild guess at “a poncey way to cook a chop”.

And so, having a fairly serviceable grasp of the distinction between film and reality I could never have imagined that in the space of a day my life could go from normal and perfectly acceptable to one resembling the stuff that comes out when you unblock the drain.

But just like the Irish weather, or goitre, you can’t plan for these things, because that’s exactly what did happen.

And to tell you the truth I hadn’t the foggiest idea what the upshot of it all would be past the initial feelings of failure and eating my weight in crisps and then eating the extra weight I gained from all the initial crisps in even more crisps.

In fact this story may very well have ended prematurely in a Kettle Chip bloated tragedy followed by a straight-to-telly true life movie shown on a Monday night at four o’clock in the morning.

But seriously, all joking aside though (well, sort of joking; let’s not get too hasty and underestimate the power of crisps here) what I was fairly certain about was that I couldn’t trundle along anymore and hope for the best.

Because for some reason after it all happened I realised I was going to have to finally face my fears and do all those horribly terrifying things they tell you to do in those mad books like ‘reassess where I’m going’ and ‘look inside myself’ and ‘figure out who I am’ and maybe, just maybe, as the great Heather Smalls of M People would say in such a predicament ‘search for the hero inside myself’.

Heather, I said at the time, I don’t know if I can.

Fashion: Tangle Twister Makeup and Moschino Togs for a Zinging Beach Look

Fashion is a bit of craic right? And there’s nowhere you can get away with wearing outfits more fun, more daring than you normally would than on holiday. The likes of Miguel from Granada or that family from Newcastle sunbathing beside you—the lot that wouldn’t shut up when you were trying to read Peter Schmeichel’s autobiography—they don’t know you, you’ll probably never see them again,  (“Oh my God! Where am I? Who did I wake up next to? Is that… is that Miguel? From the beach? Ah feck!”) so it’s the perfect opportunity to bust out something a bit wilder than usual.

An orange lippy like Mac’s Morange might seem scary, but it actually goes gorgeously with sun-kissed skin—honest, there isn’t an eye colour made yet that it doesn’t bring out nicely. Add bit of My Gecko Does Tricks from OPI’s appropriately named Hawaii collection on the old nails and whomp! there you are, a human Tangle Twister.

But wait, we ain’t done here. A bright pink Moschino togs with pretend ‘chainz’, pink neon John Lennon-style sunnies and a big mad hat finish your acid-house-beach-rave look. No wonder Miguel was all over you like a heat rash.

tropical final

Moschino swimming togs: FarFetch €285

Sunglasses: Matthew Williamson £210

OPI My Gecko Does Tricks nail polish: Beauty Bay €15.50

Hat: Catarzi @ASOS €31

Lippy: Mac Morange €16.50

Fashion: Up, Up and Away! Balloon Print Midi Skirt and Miu Miu Flats for Kooky Meets Park Avenue Princess

How cute is this whimsical hot air balloon print skirt? It’s really cute. Unbelievably cute. I would even be so bold as to say it’s up there with the likes of puppies wearing sunglasses and tiny baby trainers. And the second I saw these sparkly Miu Miu dolly flats I instantly knew I had found the skirt an equally adorable soulmate.

This look is cute but it’s grown up cute. It reminds me of a glossy-haired Park Avenue Princess attending a child’s birthday party in upstate New York on a sunny Sunday.  She’s skipping up the steps of a pretty white  colonial-style house carrying an enormous box wrapped in shiny paper and a huge bow (it’s a Skyra’s Mysterious Sky Castle Lego set).

cute

Balloon midi skirt (also available in blue): Sheinside $21

White broderie shirt: Miss Selfridge £15

Miu Miu sequin flats: Net a Porter €595

Pink pearl earrings: ASOS €8.22

The Book: The Novel, a Tragic Comedy About the Search for Meaning by a Girl Who Thinks She’s an Eejit

The book (working title “Not a Notion”) was inspired by the (scary) question: ‘If we’re defined our job, what happens when we can’t figure out what we should be doing?’ And anyway, is that even fair? Is it right? Should we be defined by the work we do? What about all the other stuff like being nice to our Nan or pulling off floral headbands with élan?

The novel is a tragic comedy about Amy, a 28 year old who is looking for some meaning in life, for her place in the world. She has spent the five years since she graduated floating, going through the motions, unsure of who she is or where the hell her life is going.  Well, that is until two events force her to take control of her life and find out what she’s made of.  DUN DUN DUN…

She needs all the support she can get but with her Mam living in Turkey with her boyfriend Hassan, her activist best friend Clare too busy designing ‘merch’ for her many causes and her ‘people’s champion’ Nan setting up a Citizen’s Advice Bureau in her sitting room, (there’s even a play area for the kids by the telly—no Lego though, not since little Terry O’ Shea nearly choked to death on a bit) she might just have to, as the great Heather Smalls of M People would say, ‘search for the hero inside herself’.

But will she be able to drag herself away from lying on the sofa and watching Jeremy Kyle and Philip Schofield (he’s very soothing) and repeats of Little House of the Prairie? Will she learn to look at herself in the mirror without thinking ‘you big fecking eejit’?  Will she find… peace? And for all that is good and holy will she ever have a wash and take off that manky dressing gown, the one that doesn’t close over her boobs?

The story is set in post-recession Dublin where Amy lives in a house she can’t afford (although on the bright side she has her own bathroom so the odds of other people’s pubes between her toes in the shower are vastly reduced) with snobby princess Carol, no nonsense Garda Nancy, vicious-tongued Rasheed and silky-haired smug git Oisin (why won’t he tell her what conditioner he uses?)

Fashion: Club Tropicana Drinks Are Free (Well In This Outfit They Will Be)

Balmy nights are one of my favourite things about being on holiday. Maybe it’s because in Ireland, no matter how warm it is during the day, come evening we’re moving the BBQ indoors or reluctantly lobbing on our jackets. “Well now my outfit’s ruined,” we say, a touch bitterly, “at this rate I might as well have only worn a coat and feckin’ shoes.”

Holidays of course, are a different kettle of fish altogther. There we are at 11pm—glowing and dewy, drinking margaritas and listening to the sound of palm tree fronds lightly blowing in the sea breeze, not a cardigan in sight.

1960s Retro Tropicana

This look was inspired by those balmy summer nights. The pink Sophia Webster platform sandals scream ‘holiday!’ while the cool simplicity of the shift dress keeps the kitschy accessories from looking cartoonish.

It conjures up images of a kohl-eyed Priscilla Presley at a Vegas pool party in the 1960s. She’s annoyed because Elvis hasn’t done the washing up (again!) so she has a face on her like she’s going to slap someone. Of course this only adds to her suntanned, backcombed fabulousness.

FASHION

Belted shift dress: Topshop £55

Sequin pineapple bag: Accessorize £35

Shell earrings: BubuRuby; Etsy €7.22

Jewelled platforms: Sophia Webster £420

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