We are all WoW

While it’s still fresh in my mind, I would like to write some words on what a wonderful day I had at the third Women of the World festival to be held  at The Playhouse in my home town of Derry/Londonderry.

I booked the weekend off especially and got the bus into town early, heart a bit heavy with Paris and distracted by many things.

Here’s a wee word from WoW founder, Jude Kelly. The big original Southbank Centre London one – which has now spread to 15 cities in 5 continents.

WOW attempts to raise and explore all of our concerns whilst also celebrating the huge potential of girls and women to make a different and more successful society for everyone. At WOW we encourage fun, activism, openness to new subject matter and an opportunity to add your voice to the wealth of stories that girls and women of all ages, backgrounds and experiences are sharing. WOW Derry-Londonderry has become a place where people come to meet, celebrate and take action, celebrating the women and girls of the North West and the rest of the world – and taking a frank look at what still stops them from achieving their potential.

The first event I went to was a Welcome to WOW – here the three big names Sandi Toksvig, Kathy Lette and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC were introducing the festival and, being three besties, discussing the importance of female friendship. This was just something I decided to go to, and I was almost moved to tears and laughing out loud. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t heard of Kathy Lette, novelist and Baroness Helena Kennedy top amazing lawyer, but hearing their wisdom and wit on a Saturday morning was special and moving, and so heartening. They kept reiterating that female friendship is not a soft, fluffy thing. It is vital to a woman’s life, and relationships may come and go but your friends remain constant and provide such a support throughout life. Sandi, being a major fountain of knowledge told us about female friendships in history that we may not know about. Such as this, which I was so impressed by. Ella Fitzgerald, jazz singer, could not get a gig in New York because of the colour of her skin.


Baroness Helena Kennedy, Sandi Toksvig and Kathy Lette.


She knew that of she could play the Mocambo Night Club in the 50’s, her career would be made. The owners refused, saying they did not know what could happen if they allowed her to sing there. Marilyn Monroe called up the owner and said she would take a front table every night that Ella Fitzgerald played if he booked her. And the press would know. He agreed, and Marilyn was there every night.

I was impressed by the wise words, advice and hilarity. I came away deeply appreciating my friends. And hoping I haven’t abandoned them too much. Cause I know I need them!!

I was then delighted that my friend Claire could join me to attend ‘Tools for a Stress Free Life.’ (How me is that?!) and we had a go at affirmations and being money magnets and everything. (Load of happy women had just vacated the room after a Menopause Matters talk!)

We then used the Community Room for a little sit down and a cup of complementary tea and a catch up. The community room was a great new touch for people to continue the conversation. It is really cute and quirky with sofas and mismatched mugs and dress up clothes in the corner.


We then heard three local women’s personal stories of overcoming huge health, mental health issues and powerful life affirming stories they were. WOW Bites was really inspiring and touching, I loved author Sinead Cox’s story and Grainne McAnee was amazing in her story of overcoming depression. I was really happy to spot more Women of the World that I knew at this event!

Local heroine of mine, Journo and eight times author Claire Allan held a rather apt session in the Green Room, surrounded my light bulb mirrors, about how the media affects women and girl’s self-esteem. I love discussing this rather scary topic, and although I was shy, my friend Caoimhe did a great job discussing the topic with Claire and Divya, a dietetics student. There was one man at this event and much swooning was done when he spoke passionately about how important the whole issue was and how he would make sure his male friends came to WOW in future etc.

This kind of made me realise that in some ways we were preaching to the converted, I know I’d like my man to be introduced to many of the ideas, and have his eyes opened to some of the issues. There really was nothing exclusive or blaming about any of the events. Just truthful and looking for ways forward for everyone! Anyway, men, I think you should come next year for definite!


In the foyer of The Playhouse there were stalls selling t-shirts and cakes, doing hair, selling Lush Products. Jenni was there with her Little Acorns book stall, selling all the relevant books and SHIFT fanzine,vol.3 in which I have the most cringey poem. I really appreciated Jenni, she was so selfless missing all the events, and so helpful telling us who would be signing what and which were the best books to buy! You should definitely visit her lovely shop in The Yellow Yard.

The two main events were still to go, and I was utterly charmed by Kathy Lette, who is SO glamorous and so funny, and who’s book ‘Courting Trouble’ pokes fun at the shocking way the judicial system has treated rape cases in the past. Her friend and interviewer Helena had read through the book carefully to advise and guide on all the courtroom scenes and we were queuing up to buy the book afterwards. And meet Kathy of course. Kathy opened up about having a son with Autism and she described the hardships, the laughter and the extraordinary thing it is. I love all the by-the-by conversations and side notes and fascinating things that can be discovered when women talk.

We also had tickets for ‘Sandi Toksvig Tells a Yarn’ – with a warning that the show contains live knitting. Basically Sandi went through history to see how women fared. She’s so intelligent it’s a little unnerving. I was afraid she would think us Derry ones not smart. But it was great, and she and the other guests gave of their time voluntarily and that is so admirable.

I am glad these kinds of conversations are happening, that women are getting together to discuss important issues. I was happy that the events allowed myself and my friend to carry on the conversation, and I had to laugh at Claire and me’s avoidance of the same events if we felt it conflicted with our beliefs too much etc.

I have to commend the North West Women’s Collective, Tara Gleeson and everyone involved in bringing the Women of the World festival to the Playhouse so successfully this year. I really adored it, and I know many seeds have been planted and great strength and goodness is spreading.


Book Thoughts: the Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

I love Harry Potter and I love J.K Rowling. How am I only reading this now? Truth be told I wasn’t very impressed by The Casual Vacancy. It was a little over my head and I couldn’t connect with the characters.

Anyway I was loaned this about a year or more ago and it has sat on my shelf until about 3 weeks ago, when the third book Career of Evil landed into work and I thought it looked really good.


The book manager who I really get along with in work can’t get passed the protagonist’s name: Private Detective Cormoran Strike. However he is the illegitimate son of a rockstar and I know how J.K Rowling loved to collect and create unusual names for Harry Potter. I found this character genuine and instantly likeable.

Gary kept saying things like, ‘but he has one leg and pube hair and sleeps in his office.’ But I love an underdog!

I’d never really read crime, but this wasn’t something too gruesome. The model falling to her death seemed clichéd- what did it remind me of – An Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld? The blurbs are very alike. But Lula Landry’s life was interesting and complicated and it was definitely entertaining trying to spot the murderer, if in fact it wasn’t suicide.

I liked the character of Robin, drafted in as Strike’s temp receptionist, but harbouring dreams of working as a Detective herself. It was very interesting to see Robert Galbraith writing this male main character who was often checking out women almost inherently, Robin’s boobs were always being figure hugged and sexy Polish cleaners bums being appraised. It was just odd. I was saying J.K rowling is this awesome wise feminist, she can do no wrong by my account so I expect all her protagonists to be asexual and morally perfect, haha. So this was definitely a talking point, I think.

Strike’s personal life kind of falls apart and he tries to keep it to himself in order not to be judged. I didn’t think less of him. I was rooting for him no many how many McDonalds he ate or how much he threw up in the bathroom of his office.

There are some really colourful characters, well painted as always by Galbraith! Guy Somé the camp fashion designer who claimed Lula was his muse and dubbed her Cuckoo. Rochelle Onifade the poor ‘tag-along’ friend of Lula’s. Freddie Bestigui the creepy film producer who lived in the apartment below.

It’s a really easy to read interesting and engaging story. I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read the next two. Can’t believe I ever doubted J.K Rowling, or Robert Galbraith.

Weekend Coffee Share

First of all, this post directly inspired by the Monster in your Closet. A blog I have followed for years.

If we were having coffee today, I would most likely over share because that’s how I am! I would tell you how I have been feeling stressed and worried and questioning what sort of person I am, and my relationships and everything. I cried on a driving lesson and cried a lot and felt like I was stuck.

I haven’t really been writing. Blogging has slipped again. BUT the last thing I wrote was an attempt at a Shakespearean Sonnet which I wrote for SHIFT magazine and they said they would print it. I’m delighted but half dreading it because it is so simple. Their theme was women though and recent events have made me even more fiercely feminist so I had to!

I had a fun day at work dressed as a Gryffindor student on Halloween. And then although no one had a clue, I loved channelling Virginia Woolf at a Gothic Ball we went to that night.


Thanks GC Photographics !


Who’s afraid of Fi?

I can’t stop listening to my old favourite Josh Ritter’s new album ‘Sermon on the Rocks.’ It took me a few weeks to buy it – I thought it was a bit close to the bone for a wee struggling Catholic like myself.

However, it’s a masterpiece as usual. Ritter’s songs always seem to provide the best backdrop to my life, and although he definitely pushes it a bit with the religious imagery, there are many grains of wisdom and truth in there. Also gorgeous lyrics, as per. Loved this review from Rolling Stone.

Men  in my life always assume I fancy Josh haha, but I just have this soul connection to the music, and I always have. Since 2006 anyway age 16.


Do yourself a favour and buy this album!

I’ve written four or five letters in the last few weeks. And adored one from an old Uni friend R, who has moved to Liverpool and sent me this excited letter about meeting/kissing/starting a relationship with ‘the most beautiful man I have ever seen in my entire life.’ Don’t you just love love?

I’m really enjoying Robert Galbraith’s The Cuckoo’s Calling. Not being a fan of crime I didn’t pick it up until now but it’s J.K Rowling for goodness sake of course I will love it. We got the third instalment, A Career of Evil in work and I thought it seemed great but I better start at the start.

Oh, had a lovely date at an Indian/Italian place that we like to go to last night. I like remembering the first time we went like five days after the first kiss and how nervous I was! When we came home we watched Song for Marion on BBC2 – I really recommend you watch it. Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave were phenomenal in it and it will make you cry. BBC iPlayer right now :) Gary said he loves when old people are in love. Don’t we all? What hope! It’s the most beautiful, devastating but ultimately hopeful film dealing with love, family and cancer. And singing.

Well that was cathartic and although there was no rhyme or reason to the post I feel a bit better for having written something. Hope you all have a lovely Sunday.