Things to bear in mind when you can’t stand still.


It’s been two weeks since the launch of “Children’s Children” and I’m having a sit down, the first full day off I’ve had since the book came out. It’s the end of the year for us in work and i’ve not really got any annual leave left to take so, for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been madly juggling work, book promotion and all the other functional aspects of being a human being, (sleep, laundry, Holby watching). Let’s be honest, most writers don’t get paid enough to do anything but juggle. I’m knackered but i’ve been learning lots of important, how-to-keep-going-at-a-hundred-miles-an-hour lessons and I haven’t fallen over yet, (though I did get my shoe heel stuck between the cobbles in the Cathedral Quarter tree separate times on Tuesday alone). Here’s what I’ve learnt so far, no doubt I’ll be updating the list over the next few months.


  1. Soluble Vitamin C is your friend- While I’ve not quite managed to cure my early morning sore throat/runny nose combo I’ve been successfully keeping it at bay since the second week of February. I fully understand that the minute I go on holidays I will be struck down by a mad dose of super flu.
  2. You can’t be working in the cinema – You can’t answer emails, tweet, write articles or answer your phone in the cinema without incurring the wrath of all your fellow movie goers. Therefore the cinema is a good place to relax for a couple of hours. Therefore I have been to see an awful lot of movies in the last two weeks.
  3. Never mind what Drew Barrymore says in Donnie Darko, the phrase “can I make you dinner and you don’t even have to talk to me?” is the most beautiful sentence in the human language. I have heard this multiple times in the last few weeks. I am a lucky girl.
  4. After a week red lipstick becomes like paint stripper for tired lips.
  5. It is possible to get blisters on the tops of your toes from too much standing/walking/being in high heels- (and, related to this point), it is perfectly acceptable to wear old boots/trainers/slippers right up the very second before you get photographed and equally acceptable to don the same pair of old boots/trainers/slippers two seconds after the photograph is taken.
  6. Do not believe photographers who say, “no, of course it doesn’t look like you have five chins/strange arms/gorilla legs when posing in this super-awkwards, entirely contrived position.”
  7. It is possible to survive for up to three days on nothing but coffee and Marks and Spencer’s sandwiches – it is not advisable.
  8. The point at which your signature morphs from a semi-legible scrawl to a completely indecipherable squiggle is around 8 books in – you will, at this point stare at what you have done to your own book, and wish it was acceptable to use Tippex and start again. It is not acceptable to Tippex out your own signature. Book shops don’t like this at all.
  9. When people stop you to say, “I just wanted to let you know that I read your book” be sure to quickly reply, “thank you so much,” before they get a chance to continue, “you’re a strange one, aren’t you?” or, “it’s a bit all over the place isn’t it?” or, worst of all, “it really reminded me of David Sedaris.” In doing this you will have clawed a compliment out of a possible David Sedaris comparison and you’ll be much more likely to be able to move swiftly on to safer conversation topics such as the weather and Colm Toibin’s novel, Brooklyn.
  10. Remember that you cannot teleport between appointments – leaving a meeting in a flagship arts venue on one side of the city with only one minute before another appointment begins in a flagship arts venue on the other side of the city is not feasible, (even if you do have the use of a Belfast bike).


  • (Something tells me this won’t be the year I get round to reading Infinite Jest).

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