The wonderfully thoughtful and intellectual Mulier Fortis has very kindly nominated me for a Sunshine Award. Now, I will delight in leaping through the following hoops…
CAUTION TO READERS: You need a sense of humour to read parts of the next section. At least have a tank of oxygen and a defibrillator at hand.
1. I am an emotional Benjamin Button. If Mr Button was born old and became younger, then I was deadly serious as a child, and have become more light-hearted with age. From sulks to smiles. From seriousness to high spirits. In my first year at school, the teacher was trying to take a photo and I turned my mouth into a sullen frown. “Smile Mary, go on, smile. All the other girls are smiling,” said the teacher. “I don’t like the other girls, and I won’t smile like them,” was my retort. The teacher took a sharp intake of breath and let the matter rest.
I found a childhood photo that demonstrates that glum mood.
Then at 18, a smile threatened to break forth…
And now as a 20-something, smiles abound….
|Well, who wouldn't smile after getting roses?|
2. In the same vein, when I was younger I used to only read books of a depressing nature, and have grown into happier books. As a teenager I used to enjoy reading turgid tragedies and painfully gritty realism. The thought of reading the same books now literally turns my stomach.
3. Not a book that I enjoyed, but the one that had the strongest influence on me was undoubtedly Bernard Nathanson’s The Hand of God. I’m struggling to put into words the impact that Nathanson’s biography had on me. It was like reading the book changed my genetic code and rewired my brain. I knew that I was a new person for having read it. It instilled in me a compulsion to stop abortions. Reading his descriptions of how his own girlfriend had an abortion in 1945 when he was 19, and then how 20 years later Nathanson performed an abortion on his own child were some of the hardest descriptions that my eyes have been subjected to.
When I lived in New York, I was determined to get to know Bernard Nathanson, and after pestering him with calls, he invited me to his home in Manhattan. When we were finished talking he said, “thank you so much for visiting me. I’m so glad you took the time. Your visit has meant a lot to me. I will pray for you.”
The photos that I took of Nathanson and me were burned in a house fire. But I did save the book that he signed from that fire.
As you can see, the fire licked the cover, but not his dedication.
4. There is one reason why I have not dated more. Most people presume it’s because I can’t find men who are prayerful. But that’s not the real reason. It’s because I have a highly sensitive sense of smell. No kidding. I have the olfactory powers of a bloodhound on speed. MI5 should hire me for special sniffing assignemnts. I will pick up on the most remote off-putting smells released from a male, and it dampens the attraction that I might otherwise feel.
5. OK, stop badgering me! I am ready to divulge. I admit it: I have a HUGE CRUSH on a London-based actor. A friend of mine keeps joking that she will pick up a copy of The Daily Mail and see photos of me and him having a clandestine stroll around Kensington. #Ishouldbesolucky This actor chap has beautiful ears. In fact, his ears are nicer than mine, and this could lead to an imbalance; the man should not have prettier ears than the woman. But much more importantly, he smells wonderfully.
6. I’m crazy about dogs. I covet t-shirts and jumpers that have dog patterns on them. One great advantage to living in West London is that there are whole zoos of dogs on every street. Every type of exotic pooch has been brought from the most remote parts of the globe to be paraded on High Street Kensington. They say Londoners are a cold, indifferent bunch. But if you tell them that their Congolese sheep-dog has ‘a lovely coat’, as I often do, then you will see a broad smile spread across their faces. In South Kensington, you see guard dogs skulking around corners, the high-powered Rottweiler that guards the plush domains of the super-wealthy. I shy away from them.
7. If I ever leave journalism, then I will become a dog-groomer. There is a dog-grooming salon on Gloucester Road, and I asked the owners which are the requirements for their employees. They told me about a reputable 18 month dog-grooming course.
8. I LOVE writing for The Catholic Herald.
9. I published my first piece of journalism when I was 18.
10. His Hermaneuticalness will love this. A week ago, at a Christmas dinner party, a kind friend gave me a smoking lesson. I wanted to learn to be a glamorous smoker who exhales like Rita Heyworth. This involved coaching me on puffing out the smoke gracefully, but I still cough out the smoke in billows like a house on fire. The smoking lesson was to prepare me for two upcoming jobs. I am preparing to interview two smokers, and have been given a tip-off that if I smoke during the interview and offer cigarettes to the smoker-interviewees that I’ll get better answers! I’ve been warned that if I don’t smoke, that the interviewees will cut short the interview, and leave me so they can be in the company of fellow smokers. By the time of the interviews, if I still don’t smoke elegantly, then I can get the interviewees to coach me on the dark art of smoking and write an account of it.
Most of the blogs on my blog-roll have already been nominated. So, I went a’searching on Mr Linen’s blog. Richard Collins has a remarkable blog-list and has a way of finding Catholic bloggers who are very sincere and write edifying blogs.