Irish, to be sure

I write to you healthier, happier, a bit madder, and a lot fatter. Yes, Christmas has been and gone. I’ve eaten four turkey dinners in three days, drunk a very merry helping of wine, worn a fabulous Christmas jumper and binged on Bing Crosby and Wham.

Pretty normal, right?

I’ve also been to two church services within 24 hours, witnessed a sick woman be ‘cured’ by Guinness and seen my 75-year-old great aunt mime Boney M songs in a wig.

Why?

Because I celebrated Christmas in Ireland.

Ah, Ireland. The home of rolling green fields, stone fences, and men in funny little hats. The home of potatoes, Michael Flatley and alcoholism. The home of Marian Keyes. And the home of my wonderful, slightly mental, extended family.

Now technically, I’m half-Irish. My mother was born in Dublin. I am the grateful holder of an Irish passport, which was key to this whole crazy adventure. But apart from my unnaturally pale skin and bizarre obsession with potatoes, I’m about as Irish as Vegemite. I’ve never lived in Ireland. I know nothing about its history. I don’t like beer. Or tea. Or Riverdance.

But I tell you what: I long to be Irish with every fibre of my being. To me the Irish are the loveliest, friendliest, merriest people in the world. So it’s probably no surprise that within two hours of my arrival, I started to talk like an Irishman.

I was suddenly telling stories that went,

“Ah, your man, God bless him, he was down at the pub, and I tell you what, he had a grand time. A GRAND time. He was GAS!”

A couple of hours later, I was no longer bothered with pronouncing the ‘h’ in ‘thirty’. Later still, my stories were littered with a liberal use of the word, ‘feck’. I suddenly became prone to blessing myself for emphasis. And every offer of a wine refill was welcomed with another exclamation of, “GRAND!”

By the time my great aunt donned her wig and started lip-syncing to ‘Rivers of Babylon’, I was ready to dance by her side (without moving my arms, of course).

So Ireland, God bless you. I leave with a belly full of potato and sore cheeks from all the laughter. You’re grand, I tell you. GRAND.

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Bridget burnout

So, last week I re-read Bridget Jones’s Diary. And then proceeded to have the stupidest weekend of my life.

I felt a sudden urge to diet, and immediately cut breakfast and dinner from my daily meal plan. I didn’t alter my wine intake to suit. I got horrendously, terrifyingly drunk. I got lost in central London at one-thirty in the morning. I got in a fight with a taxi driver. Yep, another one. I went on a mini-break where I packed three pairs of tights and a tube of toothpaste, but no toothbrush, deodorant or spare knickers. I went to a party as someone’s fake date. I tried to awkwardly flirt with a man who wasn’t said fake date. I offended both guys and then had to act like I didn’t mind dancing both parts of ‘Summer Nights’ on my own. And I ended the weekend alone, in my track pants, eating a whole block of fudge and weakly singing along to Christmas songs on the telly.

When Bridget does it, it’s funny.

But you know what I figured out this weekend?

BRIDGET JONES ISN’T REAL.

Bridget Jones is awesome. And hilarious. And very possibly my spirit animal. But she’s also fictional. She doesn’t really have to deal with the hunger, or the hangovers. She doesn’t have to deal with the shame, the confusion, or the embarrassment.

And I do.

So, Bridget. You and I are having some time apart. You are no longer going to be my inspiration. The New Year is coming. And I am going to be a brand new, healthier, happier person. I am going to be responsible. I am going to drink less. I am going to flirt with appropriate men. And not fall for any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobics, people with girlfriends or wives, misogynists, megalomaniacs, chauvinists, emotional fuckwits or freeloaders, perverts…

Ah crap.

The naked truth

I’m going to make a confession. Yep, another one.

Sometimes I exaggerate things on this blog.

Shocking, right? Look, it’s not something I’m proud of. But in my defence, exaggeration is in my nature. Every story I’ve told in the last 29 years has been a little… embellished. Numbers get bigger. Shoes get higher. Insults get ruder. Food gets tastier. I figure if you’ve got someone’s attention, you might as well make the most of it. Be entertaining. And perhaps, just a little bit creative.

But there’s one thing I can solemnly swear I have never blown out of proportion. My bedroom really IS the smallest thing in the world.

Getting in to my room requires the sort of acrobatic contortions last demonstrated by the Russians in their group hoop routine at the London Olympics. First, you have to breathe in, bend your body just the right way, and squeeze around the door (it only opens halfway before hitting the base of the bed). Once you’re through, you have to make a weird, awkward leap OVER the bed, to land on the room’s sole patch of clear carpet. Now, this leap’s a tricky thing. Your landing zone is less than a metre square, and boxed in by a wardrobe, a chest of drawers, a mirror, and the other side of the bed.

Still not impressed? Now imagine you’re doing this in a towel.

AND EVERYONE CAN SEE YOU.

One of the many quirks of our little brown brick house is my window. No, not my window. My PORTHOLE. Who wants a regular, rectangular, curtain-friendly window, when you can have a nautical, quirky porthole? Sometimes I feel like I’m the victim of some joke the whole of England is playing on the wayward Australian – as if it’s shouting, “welcome back, convict!”

Now being round, this porthole doesn’t have a curtain. Or a blind. Or any sort of light-blocking, modesty-protecting contraption. And with my room being so small, it means there is actually NOWHERE I can stand in my bedroom without being visible from the street. I live on a street full of children, you guys. And I’m really worried for them. They do NOT NEED to see me naked.

Once upon a time, getting dressed was an enjoyable experience. I took my time. I tried on multiple outfits. I lazed around in my underwear. Now, it’s tense. I’m constantly scanning the street for innocent children. I actually crouch on the floor to put my underwear on (TRY THAT in less than a metre square of floor space, folks! It is HARD). The first outfit I try on, stays on. And the whole dressing process is done in a panicked, worried rush.

And the truth is, if a girl can’t enjoy dressing up, what hope is there? There’s no need to exaggerate – this is probably the most serious problem I’ll EVER FACE.

Chick Tick Two: Rolling with the oldies

Remember when I dyed my hair red? Turns out I should have dyed it grey.

Because I’m starting to think I might actually be an old lady.

I’m slowly working my way through my Chick List. For those who need a recap, my list of challenges included:

  1. Dye my hair red
  2. Try a new (and preferably strange) type of exercise. Tai Chi, capoeira, handball, something like that
  3. Take a photography course (and put some pictures on the blog)
  4. Buy some Doc Martens. And wear them
  5. Go speed dating
  6. Buy something expensive and selfish
  7. Take a trip on my own
  8. Make pastry
  9. Try tuna
  10. Break the law

Well, my hair is definitely red. And this week, instead of starting an exercise regime (because, frankly, that doesn’t sound that fun) I skipped ahead to number seven. I went on a holiday. ON MY OWN.

And where did I go on this brave, exciting trip? Somewhere exotic? Somewhere warm? Somewhere packed with young, hot, eligible bachelors?

No. I went to Bath.

Bath is a beautiful, clean, English city. It has rolling green fields and beautiful architecture. It’s freezing cold. And IT’S FULL OF OLD PEOPLE.

And I fit right in.

The oldies and I had a fabulous time rejuvenating in the thermal waters of the Bath Spa. We all rushed the Jane Austen Centre, for a lecture on the town’s most famous resident. We discussed the merits of afternoon tea, as we indulged in Bath’s renowned Sally Lunn bun (I went for lemon butter topping, while the old gent next to me chose scrambled egg). And we all made sure we were tucked up in our hotel beds by 7pm, after a sneaky Bailey’s in the lobby.

I swear, I didn’t see anyone under the age of 50 the entire time I was there.

And you know what? I bloody loved it.

The famous Sally Lunn bun: afternoon tea choice of oldies (and awesome 29-year-olds) everywhere.

The famous Sally Lunn bun: afternoon tea choice of oldies (and awesome 29-year-olds) everywhere.

It’s not the first time this has happened. A few weeks ago I decided to take myself out for the day. And like most normal, cool 20-somethings, I chose to see the West End musical ‘Top Hat’. It’s a staged version of the old Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movie, and features a lot of tuxedos, tap dancing, and Irving Berlin standards. It was me and a bunch of pensioners in the audience. And we ALL smiled, sighed and sang along as each new classic began. I mean, who DOESN’T love ‘Cheek to Cheek’? It’s a wonderful song!

So, what’s going on? Am I an old lady in a 29-year-old’s body? Am I two steps away from playing Mahjong and wearing socks with sandals? And am I ever going to find a pastime that puts me in the path of age-appropriate, single men?

Oops, got to go. It’s time for bingo!

Almost famous

This week was a big one for my little blog.

I got ‘Freshly Pressed’.

It sounds kinda sexy, and indeed, it is. My post on my unsociable fear of pets was featured on the WordPress website, and brought hundreds of new readers over to My Chick Lit Life to have a look. And apart from the slightly depressing fact that it’s made all my other stats look puny and pathetic, it’s by far the best thing that’s happened for the blog.

The feedback has been hilarious. A lot of people have given me serious advice on how to correctly approach cats (apparently scratching under the chin is the secret to getting a cat purring. I will not be doing that). I’ve been confidently told my life will not be complete without a dog. I’ve been assured that ‘cat rabies’ are not a big problem in the UK. Guys, I didn’t even know cat rabies was a real thing. I thought I’d made it up! But now, I am legitimately afraid of cat rabies. THANKS A LOT.

In all seriousness though, it’s been really exciting. I’m thrilled that so many people have read at least one chapter of my chick lit adventure. I hope a few stick around.

And in a classic chick lit twist, all this online attention and excitement has come during a week when THE INTERNET HAS STOPPED WORKING. I’ve had to bask in my online glory over a 3G connection, huddled over my phone screen. Honestly, it’s like it’s 1993 in our little brown-brick house at the moment. We haven’t had a connection in more than a week. And we’re all starting to go a little mental.

I, for one, don’t know how much longer I can last. Right now I’m pretending to be the world’s oldest university student, just so I can use a lab computer at a friend’s workplace. And just being in here, I’m starting to feel like I have an assignment due and a pimple growing. It’s tense stuff.

Apparently, it’s getting fixed tomorrow. Cross your fingers for me and my internet connection, dear readers! And, in the meantime, THANK YOU for reading My Chick Lit Life.