used to be

I used to be a teacher, a rower, a daughter. I used to be employed, and healthy. I used to be a blogger.

Now, I’m not quite sure.

I’m busy and motivated and exhausted. I’m a volunteer and a dance mom and an occasional blog reader. I still have ME, I juggle all the things, and I sleep.

It used to be that I’d go for a walk and tell you about it; taking pictures in the museum and sharing my random thoughts on creativity or elephants or the chap who sounds just like Sir Humphrey.

You’d see my new purple nail varnish, or a tidy room, or the silly thing that made me laugh while my family rolled their eyes in despair.

Then I shared less music and more ranting. I’ve bored myself with the ranting.

Brexit leading to threats of war, Trump, NI politics, the Irish police– all of these are beyond parody. Unbelievable behaviour from those who simply don’t care about the rest of us. We appear to be beyond all norms of acceptable behaviour and nobody is being held to account. I don’t know what happened or what to do about it. (Social media is probably not the solution.)

I’ve felt defeated, and pictures of pretty things haven’t helped. I’ve been missing my wee mate Jake- always one to distract me from too much introspection when we were home alone. I’ve taken on extra responsibility with our charity, but nobody wants to read that sort of detail.

Alternatively, I’ve had loads of new experiences, I’ve joined a political party (in an attempt to divert the ranting into something constructive), I’ve got access to spontaneity via a new to me car, and it’s spring. The world is coming back to life, maybe I should, too.



I used to be in a bit of a rut. Bear with me as I work my way out.


It was ever thus

Today is my birthday. Forty nine years living in a small place. A small, beautiful, bigoted, sectarian place.

giants causeway

What has that done to me? Who would I be if I’d moved long ago and far away?

The last two weeks have been instructive. A new political party, determinedly -if belatedly-neither ‘unionist’ nor ‘nationalist’, imploded very publicly even before the polls had closed. Dozens of candidates, new to politics, now have to consider if the harsh realities of politics are really for them, and if they can trust the men who brought them forward in the first place. I spent the days around the election glued to twitter, occasionally lifting my head to tell Spurs Fan the latest. The potential for good was great, but it all turned farcical. The one candidate who got elected is bright, enthusiastic, personable. I hope he sticks with it. A telling feature of our society was that there was no ramp for him, a wheelchair user, to get to the podium to make his acceptance speech.

Bad enough, but things have got worse.

wishing arch

Not for the first time in Northern Ireland, a so called Christian pastor preached intolerance and hatred. He harked back to days of Enoch Powell’s rivers of blood speech, praising Powell for his vision.Our First Minister, and several of his political party, have come out in support of that preacher. Peter Robinson,  our head of government, said he wouldn’t trust Muslims. Apart from going to the shop for him and bringing back the right change.

Let us remember that this is a senior politician in the UK, in 2014.

Some of our other politicians have condemned this approach, and taken abuse because of that. One of our MLAs has spoken of how the rise in racist attacks has made her, a Chinese woman, fearful of her safety. Social media is full of people telling her to ‘go home’. Those of us promoting #IstandwithAnna will have no impact on the closed minds of our countryfolk.

silent valley

I rage and rant. I grew up part of a demonised minority. I naively thought we were becoming a more equal society. I did not imagine our society would find new minorities to hate. I underestimated the need for ‘other’.

I’m discomfited. Just because it’s familiar doesn’t mean it’s right. There are more peace rallies to attend (still?) more ways of trying to get on with life. More time to focus on cake, and books and lovely things. (I even have a fab new purple handbag to show you…)

More time to wonder if I should stand up, shut up, or get out.

it’s all about us, or them

A market researcher was here yesterday, asking all sorts of random questions, for a range of different companies. One of her questions was “Have you heard of the G8 coming to NI?” We both fell about the place laughing.

A bit like London before the Olympics, the G8 is the only story in town. The protests. the thousands of extra police, the imported water cannon, the temporary holding cells and judges working overtime. Then there’s the empty shop fronts covered with decals to look like thriving businesses, the gallons of extra beer, and Girl1 hoping that her school bus won’t make it on Monday morning.

The G8 is not being held in Belfast. It’s going to Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh- home to the McSpec family for 20 years. World leaders in Enniskillen. I wonder will the internet and phone signals be improved as a result?

Of course, Enniskillen has been in the news before. After the First World War, a younger Churchill spoke of the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone still causing problems, despite all the changes in the world order. Some of you will have seen the devastation caused by the bomb on Remembrance Sunday 1987. Queen Elizabeth called in last year, and crossed between some of those steeples.

I have mixed feelings about it all.

from @belmorecourt
from @belmorecourt

Enniskillen is beautiful, and any possible boost to the economy and infrastructure is a good thing. But Dave didn’t choose Enniskillen because of the pretty, or to boost local business, or to improve the roads.

The venue is remote, last outpost of Empire stuff. More easily managed security (one road in and out, surrounded by a huge lake). Despite politics and geography, Dave thinks that the UK is one country, and that he owns all of it.

I can’t escape the feeling that part of the agenda for choosing Enniskillen is less “promote this area, change the world’s perceptions of NI” than “Didn’t we do well? Look how wonderfully we have managed NI.”

Yup, that could be the source of my unease- I’m feeling more than a little patronised.

Of course, it could just be that Dave annoys me every time he opens his mouth…

you made me do it


Yes, I’m blaming you lot. You were very encouraging when I mentioned that I was taking the first steps of thinking of myself as a writer (after blogging for 2 years; I’m not the sharpest tool in the box).

Yesterday I saw a few posts referring to the Health Activist Writers Month ChallengeYvonne and Marie are always worth a read and, as ever, they got me thinking.

When I’m not sleeping, doing family things or blogging, I might just be a health activist. I spend hours every week with carers and people living with rare disease. I try to work with the health services, academics and charities to improve quality of life for families. I lobby and lecture. I ramble, rant and write.

I have no medical or scientific training. I never expected to end up here. Just by getting on with the vagaries of life, I ended up learning about rare diseases, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and depression. I have time and an urge to communicate. I want to make a difference.


I’ve signed up to #HAWMC. I may or may not write 30 health related posts in April. By the end of the month you may all have deserted me. You could all be shouting at your screens “Stop woman!! Tell us about cushions, make up and Jake”.

This could well be one of those things I get wildly enthusiastic about for 3 minutes and then stop caring- but I’ll explain that away as a symptom of the depression, so it’ll still count. (I can do creative, sometimes.)

Bear with me Bloggy Buddies as I explore, investigate and try new things.

Of course, I may just sleep a lot.