Children’s Hospital

I know it requires a stretch of the imagination – but here goes.  Charlie was sitting on the floor last night and he burrowed his feet into the arms of his dressing gown.  Next he tried to get up and somehow managed to twist his ankle inside the sleeve.

He sat last night with frozen peas on it, and it seemed to improve, but this morning he can’t walk again so I think it needs strapped up.  So me and my wee man are off to Crumlin Childrens hospital.

It has cartoon characters on the wall and all the staff become the kids new best friend.  We have been there a few times and when they need to go back again there is no issue, no fear.

Compare that to the Eye and Ear Hospital  – those four words set hearts racing in our house – I suppose its the ‘eye’ not the staff nor the hospital, but they tremble at the thought of it.

Hopefully Charlie’s ankle can be strapped so he can stop the pain – poor wee man.

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An New Era

Okay so it took 2 bottles of red wine to think of 5 things positive about being redundant.  So I will be either in rehab or the closest park bench by the time we get to 200!  200 happy positive days – so lets see where we are by October, when according to my rough calculations is when the 200 days of positivity end!

Not sure how much positivity I can take to be honest – might end up speaking like an American?  Or maybe I will re-discover Jesus.  Anyway its an experience, and I am going through it.

Any ideas to help me on the way  will be gratefully accepted.   I Will endeavour to be as humourous as I can – wine always helps as does my neighbour who thinks I’m hilarious.  I am keeping in close contact with her!

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The Ex-employees Social Club

My friend and I had worked together in the ‘biggest client’ and although I commiserated with her when the end came too soon, I never really thought it would happen to me.

But for every cloud……..we can now sit, dink wine and pour vitriol on the poor unfortunate who had the short-sightedness to lose one good employee, but the absolute blindness to lose two……fill up the glass!!!

Here’s to friendship!!

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On the dole again, I can’t wait to get on the dole again!

Okay its not technically true, I am still self-employed, however my largest client did drop me like an unwanted hot potato in late January. So after I have had enough time to think it through and gather my thoughts – its not too bad!

I was doing business development for the juicy client and the money was great (for freelancers that is!) but my heart wasnt it in. I should have been applying for other writing gigs, but I was just focusing on that one guy. So after the ‘It’s not you, it’s me conversation’ and a week or so of moaning … to say I am applying for mew freelance roles and things will pick up again.

I am back to focusing on writing, being a writer and becoming a better writer…onwards!!

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Back of book blurb… book!!!!

Bryan Segar is 74 and missing a leg. He has parachuted into enemy territory, pushed Arab guerrillas out of a helicopter at 1,000 feet and wrongly shot one of his own men.  He has been in The Royal Navy and went AWOL in Hong Kong, got married for $4 and was transferred between ships in the Indian Ocean. In the days before computer checks, he subsequently joined The Welsh Guards and carved out a career for himself in the Special Air Service. 

He left the army and became a steeple-jack in 60’s London where he was catapulted into a world of sex, escort agencies and racketeering.  He had tea with Mandy Rice Davis, worked with the first sex-change man and talked with the Queen Mum.  He saw a guy being fitted with concrete shoes, organised bank heists and worked in The House of Commons in the Jubilee year. 

Bryan is a character who at 74 is still embracing life.  This is a warts and all account of life in the services and in the 1960’s London.



Seven of us were on an operation, we were under a series of small arms fire, but we managed to capture three guerrillas.  We gagged them and tied their hands behind their backs, half an hour later we were picked up by a Wessex helicopter.   Lieutenant Clark was with us and as he spoke fluent Arabic he began interrogated the prisoners.  The flight was 20 minutes back to Khormaksur we flew at 1,000 feet approximately.  We had a gut feeling that one of the three guerrillas was our man, but the two other prisoners looked similar with their head-dress and long beards and sun tanned faces.  Sitting down in the back of the helicopter they looked pathetic but I also could sense intense danger from them.  Lieutenant Clark interrogated  them one at a time, they were very aggressive, he started with the one on the left of the group and asked if he was Benali (our main enemy target)  and when he wouldn’t cooperate, Clarke motioned to me and my mate to get rid of him.  The two of us picked up the Arab took him to the exit door of the chopper and pushed him out. 

Clarke then began to interrogate the second man who was shouting in Arabic ‘don’t kill me, don’t kill me, I am not him’.  We were getting increasingly impatient with him and so we lifted him and threw him out of the fucking chopper too.  We were then left with what we believed was Ali Benali, he was in a real state, crying, shaking and pissing all over the floor.  I said to Patterson ‘We should stick a grenade up his fucking arse’, Clarke wasn’t very happy with the circumstances inside the chopper.  When we got to Knormaksur we handed our chief suspect over to the head of the local police for further interrogation. 

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Britain got any talent?

BGT Jackie & Judges

I was asked to write this for a national paper in Ireland, but thanks to Simon Cowells legal team the paper were too scared of litigation.  Its here on my blog where I can publish what I choose.

In late September last year Jackie Corrigan sat in my living room and applied online for Britain’s Got Talent.  She said ‘It’s just for the experience, it’s no big deal, just a bit of fun.’  A few weeks later she got an email to say she was successful and had an audition in Belfast.  There were hundreds at The Hilton that Sunday and as she waited in line to get in front of a producer she felt ill, so when she got a call a few days later to say she was through to the live auditions in Cardiff she was over the moon.

Jackie lives in Dublin and did Drama at University, she has written and performed in her own plays, she also has acted in a host of plays – most recently in The Vagina Monologues.  She is confident and self-assured and a little bohemian.  She even had a naked performance in one show, so let me be clear Jackie is no wall flower.  So with BGT she was up for whatever the talent show could through at her.

She gave a lot of thought to what exactly her act would be and she choose Lady Pennington–Smyth who is a tweed-suited, pearl wearing forty something with a plummy voice.  Jackie had used Lady P-S before and was completely at ease when she donned her twin-set. The thing about her posh upper class character is that when she starts to sing it’s to a repertoire of heavy metal.

‘It’s really all about the judges and in particular Simon Cowell and David Walliams, the women are superfluous’ Jackie told me.  With regards the Judges its ego, ego, and ego -the two male judges joked back and forth with each other.  ‘Some people had great acts, but if Simon or David didn’t get your brand of humour that was it’  She went on to say there was little scope for originality or trying something wide of the mark – everything that was successful, was mainstream.

Ant and Dec were lovely and are exactly how you see them on TV – friendly, upbeat and personable.

As Jackie is a talker she struck up quite a few conversations with staff in her long day there, they told her they started out last season doing registration and hoped by next year to progress to runners and hopefully producers.  Jackie said she wasn’t sure how much contact they had with the Judges, as they were whisked in at the last minute and left immediately the last act performed.   The ordinary crew members were lovely, chatty and patient.

“As I stood backstage and listened to the judges’ comments re other acts, I thought it was like a bear pit!  It’s pretty brutal stuff hearing the buzzer go off, and 2,000 people boo! But I thought, well they’re not my ‘perfect’ judges anyway, my “fantasy panel” it would be Alan Bennett, Stephen Fry, Steve Coogan and Madonna! How scary can this gang be?? “Jackie told me.

One thing that quickly became clear as she waited and waited was BGT is nothing about talent. Jackie saw amazing opera singers perform, only to be axed, but a guy singing ‘Viva Lasagne’ to the tune of Viva Espana got through to the next level!  One woman Jackie met from North Wales was a wonderful Burlesque dancer, who gigged every weekend yet  her performance was criticised by Simon who said ‘You didn’t get your kit off quick enough’ – surely the whole point of Burlesque is the tease?   Unperturbed the Burlesque lady said if she made it into the shows ‘out-takes’ she would be delighted as her bookings would soar.  She planned to go home, work harder and be back next year.  She was 38.

Jackie spoke to lots of contestants who’d been scouted and invited to perform only to be buzzed off within seconds, she understood why they were frustrated.  She witnessed one 23 year aerialist who had studied circus skills walk out without being filmed as David Walliams got up on stage and used her equipment much to the laughs and cheers of the audience, he said “anyone can do it”.  Jackie felt that was a cheap laugh, and she had been asked to come on the show only to be mocked, Jackie said ‘I felt like cheering when she stood her ground and didn’t conform but flouncing out in style’.

Jackie stayed in character behind the scenes for the whole day and Stephen Mulhern kept trying to compartmentalise her – asking her is she liked gardening and crocheting.  When he interviewed Lady P-S he said ‘Even at 42 it’s not all over’, she replied she never thought it was over as she is a writer and an actress. It was as if you can’t be a certain age and do what you want, they wanted stereotypes and they didn’t like strong individuals.

Kelly Fox is 72 and is an opening comedian for acts like The Chippendales and has worked for years in all the best clubs in the North of England – Simon and crew were so surprised that at 72 a person could be funny they put her through to the next round.

As part of the behind the scenes filming Jackie was asked to interview some of her fellow contestants, and she soon noticed there were loads of professional performers. They made a living out of their act, they are professionals who make a living, pay their bills, looking after kids and family, yet they feel that is not enough. They want to perform for Simon Cowell in front of millions and wait on his every word, craving validation from him.

The question that came out my conversation with Jackie is does a performer have to be validated in front of millions?  Surely the audience up and down the length of Britain who experience the performers locally can validate a performer too?  Is it fame or success they want? Fame is what happens to a handful of people every year through talent shows.  But success happens to people who perform because they love it and because they can’t imagine doing anything else.  Success is providing a home for your family while indulging your passion.  Jackie at 42, is a playwright, an actress and just about to be a third time mum- we both agreed that is success.

The following Wednesday Jackie met with her writing partner to finalise their two woman play, they have a director lined up and have a venue in mind.  It may not be the O2 in London but her success in this upcoming play will be defined by her and not by Simon Cowell.

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Ghost writing Bryan a classic

Bryan is  Victor Meldrew of the British Army.  Today I felt dizzy and woozy and had togo home early to go to the Doctor, he called tonight to see how I was and spoke with Robert ‘When Joan said she felt woozy I thought it could be one of three things – blood pressure, ear infection or a brain haemorage’.

Always looking for the silver lining thats Bryan!!  He cracks me up.


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Scared of ghost-writing?

Three months ago I replied to an advert for an ex-miliatary man who wanted a ghost writer.  For those unfamiliar with the term, it has nothing to do with poltergeists or things that move in the attic late at night. Bryan has led an amazing life and wanted to tell his story but didnt know where to begin – so he advertised and interviewed a lot of people – and got me!

A friend of mine is also ghost-writing for a palestinian man and she told me that she knows details of Davids life that she thinks not even his closest family members know.

I now known about Bryan’s first love and his second love, and indeed his simultaneous third and fourth love and the long series of liaisons that followed after.  Thing is, I sit there and type.  THats it.  I dont talk, I dont interupt (reigning national champion 2012) and I just listen.  There is the secret I never stop to tell him about one of my many funny and witty anecdotes, I just listen.

I know every month of his 74 years, I know how he felt at each emotional point of his life, I know how it felt to shoot someone when he was in the Army or how him and his mates dealt with bullies in The Royal Navy.  I know why his marriage broke up, I know about the low points in his life that he has told me with absolute honesty.

I know what he talked to The Queen Mum about, how many times he met the Queen and how he helped Prince Philip when he missed his foot on board ship. 

Ghost writng is an independent observer in someone elses life, its a gift really, it allows me to move around 1960’s London, to be aboard ship and to climb sand hills in The Yemen.


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Want to meet an inspirational wee man with Aspergers? Meet Finn.


Aspergers is not always a BAD thing…you have strengths and they can be really an advantage in lots of ways.

Asperger’s Children are not born with great motor skills!

  • but that you can work at by getting him access to weight bearing exercise
  • we bought yoga ball, climbing frame, a trampoline – with  strong surround.
  • we paved an area at the side of the house and have nets there for football, and basketball
  • we enrolled him for 1-2-1 tennis lessons – NOT to be Rafa Nadal, but to develop hand eye co-ordination.
  • we got swimming lessons, as one of the serious problems was  Fionn’s total lack of awareness of safety and danger. He always felt he could swim, and now that he has learned he is strangely more natural and relaxed in water than on land!
  • the tennis skills developed, but during round robin competitions he had no competitive inkling,  and the…

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My friend and fellow MA student….her take on our course.


Did you see Rachel Cusk’s piece in The Guardian on 19 January about creative writing courses? I read it with a glass of wine as I was cooking that evening’s dinner, having finished my Masters coursework that afternoon. I meant to go online and post a comment, but I ended up responding on Twitter instead, so I thought that it would be worth writing about my experience of studying for a writing Masters here while it was still fresh in my mind.

I studied Professional Writing with the University of Falmouth (formerly University College Falmouth). As far as I’m aware, it’s the only Professional – as opposed to Creative – Writing Masters in the UK.

Since my only experience of studying creative writing was as an undergraduate concentrating on poetry – on the University of Oregon’s Kidd Program and at the University of East Anglia – I don’t know how…

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Finished my Masters!!!!!

I cannot really believe it, but I handed in my Thesis on friday 25th January and my Masters in Professional Writing is complete! Never will there be a more apt time to overuse exclaimation mark!!!

What started two years ago just when I got made redundant, culminated yesterday with my completed feature film script.

In that two years I was able to get features published in the nationsl papers, get interviewed about my blog on Newstalk and get a job as a journalist in Newsfour – great paper!

So if anyone is despairing of having lost their job – my unanimous advice is go back to studying. Not only does it occupy your mind and your mind, but it give you kudos with potential employers.

Study is the recessionary answer!

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Script Writing Course Jan 26/27

I am printing out my film script, getting my weekend suitcase packed, pencils sharpened and at the ready!  I can barely contain my excitement for my weekend script writing course with Colin Bateman, no not Batman, Bateman!


You know the way some novelists sit on their corderoy posteriors and bemoan writers block? Well that’s not Colin – at last count he had written published and promoted 21 books.  I first discovered him years ago with Divorcing Jack – which was a black witty alternative take on the underbelly of life in Belfast.  It was ground-breaking.

Well in the last few years he has conceived and written Murphys Law which stars Jimmy Nesbitt.  He has also been a screenwriter on a number of movies and now an Irish language series on TG4.

My screenwriting lecturer was enthusing about Colin, saying he was best in his genre in the BBC now. 

So I will focus, listen, ask, soak up and immerse myself. 


Of course there is also the opportunity to meet up with my sister and neice as well which is always a bonus without kids 🙂


So watch this space. Here comes Colin!!

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