Take Offs and Landings. Or Guy Garvey helped me through two break ups

In 2014, an almost 8 year relationship ended for me. I was 24. He dumped my stuff unceremoniously on the doorstep the next weekend, when he knew I was not going to be at home. I think my Mammy cried. He had a subscription to Q Magazine (which I had bought for him). The latest issue had ended up among my things and Elbow featured on the front. I really like Elbow. I read the article by Dorian Lynskey. It was gold dust.

Q is a music magazine, and Elbow (of London Olympics song One Day Like This fame) had just released a new album The Take-off and Landing of Everything. Front man wise, lyrical ‘funny bastard’ Guy Garvey had also recently had an 8 year relationship end. With a novelist, no less. (Emma Jane Unsworth)

His thoughts and attitude towards the break up were so valuable to me, I still have the magazine, and recently photocopied the article to pass on to a friend who is going through a tough split. (I sound a bit crazy, don’t I?)

At the minute I can’t stop listening to this album, the lyrics are so wise and kind and helpful. I have since recently went through another break up. Garvey says, ‘I wear my heart on my sleeve. Always have. I think it’s a form of defence mechanism to tell everybody everything.’ OMG me too, Guy.

In the song ‘Honey Sun’ he sings, ‘I cannot stay where all the broken plans were made’ and Garvey admits ‘My knee-jerk reaction was: get me the fuck out of here, run away as far as possible. But you can’t outrun things like that.’  In my experience that’s the exact male reaction to any break-up!

My favourite part of the interview is Garvey saying, ‘I don’t regret a single second of my relationship and she feels the same way and we’re friends because of that. I grew as a person in her company. She’s the most excellent of people. It’s important to acknowledge that it wasn’t a waste of time because it came to an end. It was the best use of time.’

The article by Dorian Lynskey appeared in April 2014 issue of Q Magazine and has been rifled through by me numerous times since.

I think the reason I like this article so much is that I would want someone who has been in a relationship with me to think of me/the relationship in these terms. I possibly want Guy Garvey to break up with me. The next paragraph addresses the title track of the album:

‘There’s such a relief when something’s run its course and you put it to bed. Not, “Thank God I’m not doing that any more” but “Thank God I haven’t done too much damage to someone I care about deeply.” I wanted the song to be a celebration, not just of the throes of a great relationship but of the timely end of things. The landings are as important as the take-offs.”

I LOVE that. Some actual lyrics from the title song are

A prayer to the take-off and landing of everything

Leaving your lips as we took to the sky

And a prayer to the take-off and landing of everything

I’ll say for you and I will for all time.

Nothing is ever wasted. I really believe that, and as my mammy says, at the moment you are looking at the back of the tapestry. All rough and muddled and untied threads. Someday you will see it from the other side and everything will fall into place, and you will see the beauty in it. Everything you went through, or shared with someone has meaning and purpose in your life and theirs.

So thanks Dorian Lynskey and thank you Guy Garvey! Friends, let me know if anyone else wants me to copy this article for them. Ha.


Leaving a Paper Trail (of Letters)

It’s #sendsomehappy time again, a fun blog collaboration with my good fellow letter loving friend ZoeProse celebrating all things snail mail. Promoting picking up your pen and making someone’s day.

‘You can keep this, and when I’m a famous writer…’ I’m only half joking. But letters are such a physical, personal thing. I love the thought of actual examples of my writing, thoughts and sentiments -aged but treasured- turning up in a loved one’s attic or something years in the future. Yes, I know.

I’m obsessive about dating cards and letters. Something I think I have learned from my Godmother! I like to keep track of when things were sent and written. And have been known to pencil the date on to cards the younger siblings give me or letters I received with no date included.

I keep all my incoming correspondence in smallish boxes. Currently I’m running out of space in a gold perfume gift box. Usually my letters only come from the same four or five people. I should probably organise them better.

When you run out of space… Photo from here:)

Weirdly, I like to think of my friends and loved ones I have written to for years lovingly keeping bundles of my letters, to be saved until further notice. It’s reassuring to have evidence of your life out there, you know? Even to be morbid enough to say that after death, there will be personal words to remember me by, now that people barely print photographs any more! I’d rather my words than my face be remembered anyway. Deep.

In saying that, I’m by no means Virginia Woolf and my letters will be doubtlessly embarrassing as I worry and whine about something or someone. However, letters can tell us something about someone’s thoughts and feelings in that snapshot of time. And that is precious.

Many a time I have wished I kept all the letters my cousin sent to me when we were 10 or 11. I have also mourned the burning of the majority of Jane Austen’s letters for confidentiality by her sister Cassandra, and Chris’s from my recent read Dear Bessie.

I have written before that one of the attractions of letters is that you can keep it to reread and comfort you, and it has physically been with your loved one, sent to you, and there is so much comfort in that! So let’s send as many letters as we can, and in turn be conscientious about hoarding-er saving them.

Challenge This time simply to create a small box where you can store letters and cards. The crafty among you could decorate with a mail theme. Let us know what you come up with!

#sendsomehappy !

All the Light…


‘Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.’

For Marie-Laure, blind since the age of six, the world is full of mazes. The miniature of a Paris neighbourhood, made by her father to teach her they way home. The microscopic layers within the invaluable diamond that her father guards in the Museum of Natural History. The walled city by the sea, where father and daughter take refuge when the Nazis invade Paris. And a future which draws her ever closer to Werner, a German orphan, destined to labour in the mines until a broken radio fills his life with possibility and brings him to the notice of the Hitler Youth.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is the most beautiful book. It’s been on my list for ages, and is the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner. I was so passionate about it, telling everyone about it and recommending it. I had forgotten that it is a WWII book, I find the subject so interesting, and because of the angle of French Revolution, really from the viewpoint of a child/16-year-old it is very unique.

I found the character of Marie-Laure a wonderful creation. Her relationship with her father is the most loving, magical thing. ‘The despair doesn’t last. Marie-Laure is too young and her father is too patient.’ The wooden replica of the city, the little wooden puzzle boxes that her father fashions with a bon bon or truffle inside for her birthday, are so precious and intricate. Marie-Laure and her father are forced to flee to Saint-Malo and a ‘76% crazy’ great-uncle when the Germans arrive.

At the beginning I found Werner’s story boring, and I just wanted to get back to France and Marie-Laure, but Werner’s interest in science and technology and Etienne-the-great-uncle’s attic secret interconnect and I began to hope for/dread the connecting of the two characters. Werner is eventually posted in France…

Here are some tweets on the matter. Follow me on Twitter for such stuff!


The writing is absolutely beautiful. There are so many devastating moments made beautiful by the sentences. The observations, the relationships, the trust. I pretty much loved it and I think you should read it.

‘Do you think, Madame, that in heaven we will really get to see God face-to-face’

‘We might.’

‘What if you’re blind?’

‘I’d expect that of God wants us to see something, we’ll see it.’

The war intensifies and Werner is forced to do more and more things that haunt him, bringing him closer and closer to Marie-Laure who is doing her bit with her nervous great-uncle for France. The story flashes forwards and backwards and it flows. It’s full of suspense and is utterly captivating.

I can’t wait to read more by Mr Doerr, and this story will remain with me.

The Beauty Blog Tag

I have been nominated by the beautiful, talented old Journalism colleague RedHead Beauty Blogs in The Beauty Tag. I do not claim to know anything about beauty, so I will give it my best shot. I’m going to cheat a bit, if you want to take part go ahead! I quite enjoyed it. Thank you Natalie! Please visit Natalie’s lovely beauty blog and subscribe to her YouTube channel. She has the cutest Coleraine accent! Tee hee. And she’s very talented with a make-up brush. I miss that girl. We need a reunion so badly!

Rules for this tag:

  • Tag the blogger that nominated you
  • Answer the questions you were given
  • Nominate 10 or so Bloggers whose blog is about beauty fashion or lifestyle
  • Name 10 questions for your nominees to answer
  • Inform the bloggers you nominated


  1. What is your favourite beauty product and why?

At the moment I am really liking my first wee brow kit I bought online. It’s ‘Brow Fix Brow Kit’ by Milani. It contains 2 brow powders, 1hi-lite powder, 1 mini tweezer, 1 mini bow brush and 1 mini sponge applicator. I actually probably badly need my eyebrows shaped but I just pluck them myself and do my eyebrows when I feel like it. It makes me feel better at work sometimes and if I’m going out.

MBF-03 Brow Fix Kit_Dark 3244A-01

2. What are your pet peeves?

Rude customers, who that patronise and talk down to me at work. Or who insist on remaining in the shop after closing time and after they have been asked to take their purchases to the till. Male customers who ‘corner’ female members of staff and say inappropriate things, touch,  and really push it because they can, the woman can’t tell them where to go. See also public transport!

3. Favourite fashion trend ATM?

I’m so out of touch, I have no idea. Have been sporadically going to yoga so I have bought some new sports gear. I like the sports leggings in black, but also my yoga teacher has some really jazzy ones. I have a bright pink vest and black leggings and I feel really good when I wear them. I have noticed cool people wearing sporty leggings as normal day wear and I approve of this trend.

4.What made you start blogging and why?

I think, being a writer at heart, the advent of the internet was so exciting as there was new access to writers and more connections. I became obsessed with certain blogs like dooce.com and the blogs of Keris Stainton and Fluttering Butterflies etc. I got so much pleasure from reading other writers’ words from their everyday life, book blogs and getting my comments answered. It just suddenly dawned on me that maybe I could be part of this too. I kept my blog secret for months and only when I had published a backlog of posts did I make it live.

5.Dinner with one person dead or alive…who would it be?

This is a difficult one. I really do feel that the people I am surrounded by are the important ones. Everyone knows, obviously Josh Ritter. Ha. But I am thinking I would love a chance to talk to J.K Rowling. I admire that woman so much. I actually wouldn’t even talk I would just absorb anything that she had to say.

6. If you had to choose one brand whether it’s beauty or fashion what would it be?

Ahh. Perhaps No.7 because I use their foundation and concealer everyday. But I am not a real girl in that I am just not into brands or beauty or fashion that much!

7.Do you have a favourite movie?

My favourite movie, or film as we say in Norn Ireland, was always Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. But I also ADORE ‘About Time’ as well. It’s the only film that makes me sob in a frightening manner any time that I watch it. And Dohmnall Gleeson and Bill Nighy are amazing.


8. Do you have a quote that keeps you motivated?

I really like quotes. It changes. The one my Mum stuck on the bathroom mirror this week was from John’s Gospel, ‘At the moment you do not know what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ Jn 13.7 I got comfort from this. She does try to aim them at whoever is struggling that week. I think this one was for me!

9.If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?

I would really like to live in Edinburgh! I have never really lived away from home and I have visited Edinburgh several times, and I really like the thought of living there.

10. What are your current TV shows?

I really enjoyed ‘Thirteen’ on BBC iPlayer. I’m watching ‘The Night Manager’ but I’m not 100% convinced. I do love Olivia Colman though. I recently started watching Call the Midwife on Netflix and Aisling is right, I do cry at every episode. It’s so good. And I’m getting braver with watching childbirth!

Thank you for tagging me Natalie! I’m not going to tag 10 people as I don’t follow many beauty blogs. I will tag Time to Talk Beauty, as this is how we kind of met many years ago, if you want to do it you can answer the same questions Natalie asked me.

Jonathan Unleashed – Meg Rosoff

I almost met Meg Rosoff once. I was volunteering for the first time at the Humdinger Children’s Book Festival and she was actually taking the only adult event of the festival about novel-writing I think. I had to creep into the room to retrieve my purse so that I could buy lunch. I wish I could have taken part in that class! I think I was going through a big break up then, and I kind of am again and I loved this book, because poor Johnathan reminds me so much of me.

Jonathan is a twenty something who has just moved to New York, got himself a decent apartment with somewhat dodgy conditions, is a creative soul stuck in an advertising job that he hates (he isn’t allowed to write tag lines more interesting than ‘Gel Pens! 20% off!’ He has a pretty, efficient go-getter girlfriend Julie who he is somewhat amazed that he blagged, but we can gradually see is completely wrong for him.

So, the best thing about the book are Dante and Sissy, Jonathan’s brother’s Collie and Spaniel that he has entrusted to Jonathan for six months or so while he finishes a contract in Dubai. He feels they are wise, they are watching and judging him, and he worries that they are unhappy, and not reaching their potential. He takes him to Dr Clare the vet, who asks are they whining or tail-chasing or acting aggressive?

I know they’re dogs,’ he said, struggling to explain. ‘But I get the feeling they’re dissatisfied. Dante should be herding sheep, at the very least. He’s so intelligent. And Sissy…she doesn’t complain, but I often get a sense that she’s missing something. Grouse? I don’t know. They both just seem a bit-off.’

‘I have other concerns. What if Dante’s boredom reaches a peak and then one day, suddenly and for no reason, he takes a dislike to some small child and lunges, ripping its face off? And someone films it on their phone and it goes viral and there’s a massive lawsuit and it makes the cover of New York Magazine. I’d probably end up in jail and they’d make an example of Dante. You couldn’t really blame him and he’d probably have to be put down.’

This particular exchange and many others made me laugh out loud. Jonathan is highly strung, anxious, not where he thinks he should be and I just recognise this worrying SO much.

Julie, the girlfriend who is driven and pretty, gets promoted at her job with Brides 360 blog. She is asked to take part as a real bride for a photograph series for their next issue. Jonathan doesn’t realise what she’s suggesting for an uncomfortably long time.

‘But just at that instant and impulse took him. A crazy impulse to do whatever crazy thing arose because maybe if you said yes to things that terrified you, your life would change direction, open up, get exciting….Wouldn’t it be nice to come home to a person you knew (and maybe even loved) every night for the rest of your life? no more worrying about meeting the right person, no more doubts about the future. He liked the idea of embracing adulthood at a concept and not worrying too much about the fine print.’

No, no, no I want to scream! Only recently have I realised just how common and dangerous this kind of compromise can be and I wrote a little about my experience.

Jonathan is always falling in love with people, like the beautiful French lady in the bakery that welcomes dogs, and he confides in the wonderful Greeley, no one knows what gender, the boss’ PA. He/she gives wonderful spiritual advice.

Jonathan’s relationship with the dogs is wonderful and hilarious, his work escapades increasingly crazy and hyper, I loved his relationship with Max, the best friend who told him Julie wasn’t right for him from the start despite being a complete lad. His thoughts about the wedding, burying of real feelings, referring to it accidentally as a funeral, no one speaking about it, although funny, is very stressful and Jonathan gets actual physiological symptoms which affect his whole life.

You’ll have to read it to find out what happens, but this wonderful witty and intelligent story about growing up in your twenties is a real triumph for Meg Rosoff, who has mostly written YA titles before this.

James Walton in a review for The Telegraph wrote ‘In Meg Rosoff’s last book, Picture Me Gone, the main character was a 12-year-old girl peering nervously towards adulthood, not at all sure that she liked the idea of it. Now, the hugely entertaining Jonathan Unleashed features a man in his twenties doing the same.’

As you can tell, I adored this book, my 14th of the year, and looking forward to reading more by the wonderful Meg Rosoff. I’m going to miss Dante and Sissy, I think I might be becoming a dog person.


A kind of therapy: Signed, sealed, delivered

So after a bit of a gap, zoeprose and I have decided to get back into the swing of #sendsomehappy – our collaboration praising, discussing and cherishing the art of writing letters. Of sending a smile through the post. Being old fashioned because we love it and think it’s important to keep this wonderful tradition alive.  Join us by using the hashtag. (Can I just say here how impressed I continually am with Zoe, who has three wonderful children (is younger than me!) and always finds the time to craft, write, collaborate on blog posts (!) and generally be a good force in the world! Make sure to have a look at her beautiful website and shop of handmade lovely things.)

I think that half the time, or more than half, I get more pleasure and satisfaction from writing a letter than receiving one. Maybe that has something to do with the anxious person in my heart worrying about what is going to be in  a letter that is unexpected, or you always hope that a bill or something boring or official you don’t recognise you hope is an exciting letter, but no.

If I am annoyed or upset about something big, let’s say a break up, and it’s many pains and confusions, and I want to share the burden a bit, a letter is a great way to do that. In a selfish way it allows you to say everything you want without interruptions, it lets you see how you really feel, spill your thoughts on the page and organise them.


I had to message a couple of good friends and apologise in advance for the huge rambling letter that was winging it’s way towards them via Royal Mail. Of course, you shouldn’t apologise for how you feel. That’s just me worrying, it wouldn’t be like me. Hem hem.  It’s definitely cathartic and you get rid of negative feelings and worries to some extent by writing them down, by confessing. It’s quite psychological.

True, your friend may get to the eye rolling stage after she/he has PTO’d five times and squinted through the salty splashes but in the end isn’t it another connection, a deepening of friendship and a rope cast out in the hope that someone catches it? Your friend will be glad you chose them, that they understand how you feel a little better and you will move on together because of it.

In a smaller way, writing a letter, and sealing, stamping and sending is a small intact achievement. You have a sense of having completed a task. It feels good to walk to the postbox and drop it in. A creative writing tutor/ well known novelist Carlo Gébler taught a Script Writing module that I completed badly in my final year of university. He made us post our work to him, because in his view, something saved on your computer or sent as an email attachment is never finished. It can be constantly edited. Only something physical, printed and sealed in an envelope is ‘done’ and you can do nothing but stand by it. Both my good friend A and me LOVED him for this advice. It will always stick with me.

Anyway, my point is: writing letters in good for your mental health especially if you’ve been through a rough patch recently. My challenge to you is to pick up your pen and carve out fifteen minutes or so to write a note to a friend. Who knows what hurts may get healed in the process.

What I Read: February

My first time doing a post like this, I was reading a similar one on my timeline the other day and I thought it was a neat way of rounding up reads.. My friend Claire noted that I was on book 12 of the year and suggested I blog, so I hope this will do in the mean time! I do like when people mention LLL ‘in real life’, I’m always surprised people are actually reading!

My Dear Bessie by Simon Garfield

I have written a blog post about this one already, it was beautiful in its own way, and being a massive snail mail fan I loved this war-time love letter story. It’s like Chris and Bessie almost became celebrities to each other as they wrote, they so longed to meet, and they waited such a long time. The letters are so intimate it was definitely wrong to read them, but it’s just so amazing and beautiful, their love was forged so strongly through words posted overseas in terrible times. I wish more of Bessie’s letters had survived, and I thought it was so interesting that their son had never heard of the letters until after his father died.

The Beautiful Indifference by Sarah Hall

I ordered this book of short stories because I loved The Electric Michelangelo so much. This is a rather eerie collection, with stories all written around the human body. The writing is very effective, and some of the endings especially will stay with me. I do like the form of the short story, it’s nice for a change. It was very different to the other book of hers that I read and could quote from forever, but I would be interested to read more from this author.

The Silkworm – Robert Galbraith

Again, I have already documented my love for this. I never was a Crime fan before Robert Galbraith. This one is about a missing writer, and an awful poison pen manuscript, dishing the dirt on plenty of famous writers that he knows. I love the characters of the detective protagonist Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott. So much so that I need them to get together at some stage and I stalk fan art on the internet.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

In truth I only read about half of this in February, it took me a few weeks to read it, it’s over 700 pages long.  I confessed to my colleague and the Book Manager at work that I feared that I wasn’t intelligent enough to fully appreciate it. Yes, it’s expansive and the gradual traumatic flashbacks are well executed. It’s interesting how we get a background on all four of the friends but it’s Jude’s story that takes centre stage. I think Willem was my favourite character. I knew Jude’s secrets were going to be distressing and there are descriptions of his self harm that I will never be able to erase from my mind. He suffered unspeakable abuse as a child and is damaged in every way a person can be. It’s truly heartbreaking in places, and yet sometimes you want to shake him. It is a book with reading and I would be really interested to hear other people’s take on it.

I have read a few more since, so I will hopefully get a March post organised in due time. Hope everyone has a nice St. Patrick’s Day!