It’s funny what people are ashamed of. I’m a Northern Irish Catholic, educated by the Presentation Sisters and the Sisters of Mercy during the 1970s and 80s. I was a teenager during the SPUC anti-abortion craze, and I wore my badge of tiny foetal feet on my jumper every day. I was a teenager during the first horrific decade of the AIDS epidemic and sex was a dirty word. There were so many “sins” when I was a child, and yet now as an adult there is really only one “sin” that I try to avoid in daily life, which is food waste. Most of the rest I have come to think of as merely instructions intended to control the working classes. I don’t think about sin or shame very often in my busy life, unless I’m throwing out a bag of salad, so far over its eat by date that even I can’t stomach it, or soup it. Then, and only then, do I feel a pang of shame.
So when Alan Brereton and his team from Irish Television came to interview me last week for the Kildare County Matters programme, about my Eludia Prize winning collection The Accidental Wife I was surprised to find myself scouring the kitchen, hiding the detritus of family life and giving the glass surfaces a surreptitious wipe. Did this feel a bit like shame? Why yes it did, how odd, and how utterly unlike me.
But that was nothing compared to my reaction when the cameraman focussed in on my typing, which is largely one-handed, extremely uncoordinated and incredibly inefficient. “Don’t put that in,” I ordered, “and for the love of God, don’t show the gibberish on the screen!” I was duly reassured.
The swine! Not one but two close-ups of my fingers, dancing like spiders on ketamine around my long suffering keyboard!
More shame. How utterly, utterly bizarre. What an insane thing to worry about, in what was otherwise a very enjoyable interview. While moaning about it, another writer online pointed something out to me: “Many people are able to type well, but very few of them write a book!” I could have hugged her.
I don’t know the lady in question, we’ve never met. What a shame.
You can watch the interview here .I start at about 12 and a half minutes in, though the whole episode of Kildare county happenings is worth watching.
You can order The Accidental Wife here.