Making it up as i go alo.., p.1

Making It Up as I Go Along, page 1


Making It Up as I Go Along

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Making It Up as I Go Along

  Marian Keyes

  * * *




  Cast of Characters



  Where It All Began

  Eyelash Extensions

  Fake Tan



  My Chanel Nail Varnish Museum

  Hairy Legs






  Learning to Cook

  How to Break Up with Your Hairdresser

  How to Deal with Hostile Hairdressers

  Personal Shoppers


  Shite for Goms

  Bono Boots


  Driving Home for Christmas

  Christmas at Marian’s

  What Would Scrooge Do?

  What’s Right with Christmas


  Maison des Rêves


  Walking in France

  Ulster Says NO!!!



  The Auvergne




  New York



  Bulgaria and Amsterdam


  Antarctica Diary


  Tom Dunne

  Robert Plant

  Aung San Suu Kyi


  Writers I Love


  Various Family Things

  France en Famille

  Sickest Family in the Whole of Ireland

  Catríona and Seán’s Wedding

  Various Family Events

  Himself’s Health Improves







  My Perfect Life

  Beachhouse Banjo

  Guilty Pleasures





  First Aid




  Saying Goodbye


  Negative Thinking

  No Regrets

  Turning Fifty














  Follow Penguin

  For Jonathan


  Hello, and welcome to Making It Up As I Go Along (tales from an eejit who was off buying shoes the day Life’s Rulebook was given out).

  It’s a collection of autobiographical articles that I have written over the last nine years. Some have already been published in magazines or newspapers, such as Irish Tatler and Marie Claire. I’d like to offer special thanks to the Sunday Times Style magazine, who’ve given me a regular column called ‘Mind Your Head’. Other pieces have been cherry-picked from the monthly newsletters I used to write for my website, and some have – gasp! – never been seen before!

  I have grouped the pieces into sections like ‘Friends and Family’, ‘On My Travels’, ‘A Year in the Life’ and that sort of thing. They’re not always in chronological order; I’ve arranged them so that you can dip in and out and read them any way you like. You could even start reading from the back, if that’s the kind of daredivil you are. Feel free to break the rules. Either way, I very much hope you enjoy the articles.

  My publisher Louise Moore and my editors Maxine Hitchcock and Celine Kelly worked very hard with me, sifting through TONS of raw material to come up with this collection, and I’m very grateful to them.

  I’d also like to thank Himself, who is always my first reader, the voice of reason, a stalwart support and the best colleague in the whole world.

  And now, off we go!

  Cast of Characters

  I thought it would be a good idea to compile a cast list, because I mention many, many people in this book and you won’t have a rasher’s who half of them are. Many people I’ve described in terms of their relationship to someone else (for example, ‘X: Y’s husband’.) This is not to imply that X is not a viable person in their own right. I am only trying to keep things simple and easy to refer to. But of course, I am afeerd of offending people, because that is the way of life, is it not? Despite our best intentions, someone is always bound to be offended.

  Anyway! Here’s the list, which I hope will be helpful. I should mention that I come from a family of five children (shamefully small by Irish standards) and I’m the eldest and as a result I feel responsible for everyone’s happiness and that’s a scourge of a burden and I’d have much preferred to be the youngest, but what can you do?

  Anne Marie Scanlon: very old friend. Also mother of Jack Scanlon.

  Bruce: husband of Laura, who is a long-time, beloved friend. (So when you come to Laura, you can refer back to Bruce and then you’ll know who she is. Do you see? This is how it works.)

  Bubs: Tadhg and Susan’s youngest dog. (They have two.)

  Caitríona: my sister. (I’ve two.) She’s four and a half years younger than me and is the funniest person alive. She lives in Brooklyn and is married to Seán, who is a tremenjuss musician and a tremenjuss cook.

  Caron: my sister-in-law and a hugely talented writer (Caron Freeborn is her full name). Partner of Himself’s brother Chris and mother of Jude and Gabe.

  Cathy Kelly: my soul sister. A wonderful writer (yes, she’s that Cathy Kelly), a warm, wise friend and a great souce of comfort.

  Chris: Himself’s brother, partner of Caron and father of Jude and Gabe.

  Claudia Winkleman: ah, lookit, you must know who she is.

  Dad: my father. He used to be a ‘Traditional Irish Father’, by which I mean he was a right cranky-arse who would come home from work and say, ‘Right! Which one of you am I to shout at first?’ But in recent years, he has mellowed. Is it okay to say he has dementia? But mercifully he has a nice version where he is very loved up and often asks Mam to marry him.

  Davina McCall: I refer you to Claudia Winkleman.

  Dermot O’Leary: I refer you to Davina McCall.

  Dylan: eldest son of Rita-Anne and Jimmy. Also known as Redzer the Elder. As I write, he’s seven, but you might be reading it
further down the line’, so my apologies for any confusion.

  Eileen: aka Eilers. Old friend.

  Elizabeth: aka Beth, friend to the entire Keyes family – cleans our house and minds it when Himself and I are away, drives Mam and Dad to Mass every Sunday, and is always obliging and cheerful and a stalwart support.

  Ema: daughter of Niall and Ljiljana. My beloved niece. Currently aged fifteen. I love her with all my heart. I have plans to pitch a TV show called My Niece Is the Best, which she would DEFINITELY win.

  Fergal: great friend, and husband of Judy.

  Gabe: youngest son of Chris and Caron.

  Gwen: very good friend, partner of Ken and mother of Edward.

  Hilly: very good friend, and part of our walking club.

  Himself: the fabliss man I’m lucky enough to be married to. He is the best, kindest, funniest, most clever person ever.

  Jack Scanlon: son of my pal Anne Marie Scanlon.

  Jenny: Australian friend who lives in London and is the ‘most good’ person I’ve ever met.

  Jimmy: husband of my sister Rita-Anne.

  John: Himself’s dad, aka my father-in-law.

  Jonathan Lloyd: my literary agent. He’s been my agent for more than twenty years, he’s great fun, wholly supportive, and I owe my career to him and Louise Moore, my publisher.

  Jude: eldest son of Chris and Caron.

  Judy: very special friend. The woman I want to be when I grow up. She is married to an equally wonderful man called Fergal.

  Katie: Tadhg and Susie’s eldest dog. She’s a boxer and named in honour of Katie Taylor (the boxer).

  Laura: long-time, beloved friend. Married to Bruce.

  Ljiljana: wife of my brother Niall. From Serbia. (Note: Ljiljana is pronounced ‘Lilly-anna’.)

  Louise Moore: my publisher. She is WILDLY fabliss, has published me for twenty years, and I owe my career to her. See also Jonathan Lloyd.

  Luka: son of Niall and Ljiljana. Currently aged fourteen. Very handsome, although he goes mad when I say it, so maybe I shouldn’t …

  Mam: aka Mammy Keyes. Mother of all the Keyesez. A living legend.

  Mark: good friend, and part of the walking club.

  Milenko: Ljiljana’s dad, who very sadly died three years ago.

  Niall: my brother. (I’ve two.) He’s two and a half years younger than me, is married to Ljiljana, and is the father of Ema and Luka. Currently living in Dublin, but they used to live in Prague and are still known as the Praguers.

  Oscar: youngest son of Rita-Anne and Jimmy. Also known as Redzer the Younger. As I write, he is five.

  Posh Kate: aka Kate Beaufoy. Wife of Posh Malcolm. Beloved friend of mine and Himself’s.

  Posh Malcolm: aka Malcolm Douglas. Husband of Posh Kate. Beloved friend of mine and Himself’s.

  Praguers: see Niall.

  Rita-Anne: my youngest sister. (I’ve two.) She’s eight and a half years younger than me, and she and Tadhg are twins. She’s married to Jimmy and is Mother of the Redzers (Dylan and Oscar).

  Seán: husband of my sister Caitríona.

  Shirley: Himself’s mammy, aka my mother-in-law, and I couldn’t have wished for a better one. I love her dearly.

  Siobhán: aka Shivers. Old friend.

  Susan: wife of my brother Tadhg. Also referred to as ‘Susie’.

  Suzanne: my sister from another mister. Her mam and my mam worked together in Limerick 4,000 years ago. She was in Caitríona’s class at school, and she and I were flatmates for years and years in London. Bonded for life.

  Tadhg: my youngest brother. (I’ve two.) He’s eight and a half years younger than me, and he and Rita-Anne are twins. He’s married to Susan and they have a little boy, baby Teddy, and two dogs – Katie and Bubs. (Note: Tadhg is pronounced ‘Thigh-ge’.)

  Tania: sister of Seán, who is married to Caitríona.

  Teddy: son of Tadhg and Susan. As I write, the ‘newest’ Keyes.

  Tom Dunne: lead singer in Something Happens, radio presenter, and owner of a beautiful voice and a charming personality. We share a bin night.

  Vilma: naturopath from Lithuania and a beautiful human being.

  Zaga: mother of Ljiljana, she lives in Belgrade and if feeding people was an Olympic sport, she would take home the gold.

  Zoë Ball: I refer you to Dermot O’Leary.


  Just in case you don’t speak Hiberno-English fluently – and there’s no shame in that, no shame at all! – I thought I’d do a little dictionary for you.

  agin: a derivative of ‘against’, it means ‘counter to’. For example, to ‘take agin’ a person means one has developed an antipathy towards a certain person and wishes them ill. One of my favourite words. Taking agin people can count as a hobby, to be listed on job applications along with keeping fit and cooking, except it doesn’t have to be a lie.

  banjaxed: broken. For example, ‘That fecking IKEA chest of drawers is banjaxed’ means ‘That item of furniture I purchased from a well-known Scandinavian retailer no longer functions.’

  banjoed: same as banjaxed. Unless one is talking about furniture, in which case it means ‘upcycled’.

  bayshte: beast. As in ‘I made a bayshte of meself, ayting them four Easter eggs.’ Can also refer to animals (‘bayshtes of the field’).

  be the Janeys: an expression of astonishment.

  bet-down: burdened by life. Having endured a lot of disappointment and looking every inch of it.

  bolloxed: Can mean broken or inebriated. Context is key. ‘My hairdryer is bolloxed’ means one’s hairdryer is hors de combat. But ‘Cripes, you were bolloxed last night’ means a person was extremely inebriated on the previous evening.

  bould: comes from the word ‘bold’, but does not mean ‘daring’ or ‘courageous’. Rather it means very badly behaved. ‘Bould as bras’ is as bad as it gets.

  by the hokey: an expression of astonishment, very similar to be the Janeys.

  cliothar: I’m guessing, but I think it’s related to ‘clatter’. It means a short, sharp blow. Often used in reference to a child who has just drawn all over your lovely Designers Guild wallpaper: ‘What that little fecker needs is a good hard cliothar.’ A word that Mammy Keyes seems particularly fond of.

  clob: face, as in, ‘I stuffed me clob.’ Confusingly it can also mean ‘mouth’.

  craythur: a derivative of ‘creature’. A term of compassion, as in, ‘Ah shur, the poor oul’ craythur, he was never right after he drove the combine harvester over the postman.’

  divil: a derivative of ‘devil’, but does not refer to Satan/Lucifer/the man below. It’s usually a term of compassion and often accompanied by a sigh. ‘Ah, the poor oul’ divil …’

  eejit: a foolish person. For example, ‘The fecking eejit’s after leaving his jacket on the bus. Again!’

  enjoying the day: inebriated.

  feck: the most misunderstood, falsely maligned word ever. It is NOT a swear word. Anyone, even the Pope, could say ‘feck’ and no one would look askance. It is nothing like the other ‘F’ word. Feel free to use it liberally.

  gawk: enjoys two usages. One is ‘to look at or view’. The other is ‘to vomit’. Context is key. ‘The gawks’, or worse still ‘a desperate dose of the gawks’, is when one cannot stop vomiting – often the morning after one has been enjoying the day. This is also when ‘the dry gawks’ may occur.

  gobshite: a powerfully disparaging term of abuse. Mildly sweary.

  gom: I r
efer you to eejit.

  grand: a fascinating word, which does not mean ‘swanky’, ‘excellent’ or ‘awe-inspiring’. Mostly it means ‘just okay’ or ‘barely adequate’; however, an entire (very funny) book has been written on the word by Tara Flynn. I urge you to read it.

  in top form: usually means ‘inebriated’. But – confusingly – it can sometimes mean simply ‘in top form’.

  jar: drink, alcohol, Babycham, aquavit, grappa and whatever you’re having yourself.

  JohnEamonChippyBill: the wonderful pundit-men on the panel for Ireland’s football games.

  lad: can mean ‘a teenage boy’, but when I use it I tend to be referring to a penis. For example, ‘Well, if he thinks he can arrive around here, with his lad in his hand, he can think again!’

  lads: a greeting, which can apply to both sexes, even those who are not lads or who don’t have lads. Always accompanied by an exclamation mark, for example, ‘Lads! How’s it going?’

  lock-hard: specifically ‘lock-hard men’ – famous creatures in Dublin who appear from nowhere while you’re trying to parallel-park on the street. They will stand and shout instructions, always urging you to ‘lock hard’ on the steering wheel. They will invariably make the job of parking your car far more fraught than it would otherwise have been and will expect a couple of yoyos for this.

  looderamaun: I refer you to eejit.

  lungeon: the meal you ‘take’ in the middle of the day, if you are posh. See sangwidge if you are not posh.

  now: means anything but the present time. For example, ‘I’ll do that now in a minute’ means ‘I’ll do it as soon as I feel like getting round to it. Now feck off and leave me be.’

  oul’: a derivative of the word ‘old’, but does not mean ‘aged’. It’s a fascinating word that enjoys many usages. It can be disparaging, for example: ‘He never rang me, the thick oul’ eejit.’ But it can also be compassionate: ‘Ah shur, the poor oul’ divil, and the guttering after falling down on his head.’ However, sometimes ‘oul’’ adds nothing to a sentence, except to perfect the rhythm, which matters a lot in conversational Hiberno-English. If this is the case, there is no need to ascribe meaning to it.

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