The M Word


Not the Menopause (but trust me, it will come up.) No today's M Word is brought to you courtesy of Kevin Myers a well-known Misogynist.


Oh but Kevin Myers is last week's news I hear you cry.  True, in the fast moving news cycle Mr Myers has wrapped many a chip (google it young 'uns) since his firing from The Sunday Times for penning an antisemitic column.


The laugh, (a bitter one), is that the antisemitic sentiments were only a tiny part of the offensive column which was, like so much of Mr Myers work, dedicated to slagging off women.


The reason why I'm writing about him today was that I came across his notorious 'Bastard' column from 2005 which is still available on The Irish Times website.  I tried to read it but it was too sickening to finish.  In this fine work of modern Irish journalism Mr Myers frequently refers to unmarried mothers as 'mothers of bastards' and then enquires what else would you call these offspring.  Oh, I don't know, here's a wild idea, let's call them children!  That would work right?


Mr Myers also perpetuates the myth that many women get into the whole pregnancy and baby business because we are nothing more than 'Gold Diggers'.  Wow, who knew that having a child could turn a profit?  Not me.  As a Single Parent my net worth has plummeted.  Am I doing it wrong?  How come I had a baby and can no longer afford to spend my hard won earnings on fancy shoes and having my breakfast delivered?  I wish Mr Myers had provided a text on just how to make money out of motherhood.


But then it's not just me.  Every Single Parent I know - unmarried, divorced or widowed spends a great deal of their time worrying about money and the lack of it.  Even those women who are in relationships when they have children notice that their earnings generally suffer as a result of becoming a parent. 


The fact that it took British Jews to strike a blow against the hate speech of this aging angry man speaks volumes about modern Ireland.  The message sent out by his firing from the Sunday Times (which is not connected to the Irish Times) is that antisemitism is very bad (you'll get no argument here) but hating on women - ah sure, that's grand. 


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People were talking: Stealing the (dog and pony) show



The Sunday Independent 27/12/2015



It’s been quite the year for Caitlyn Jenner the 66-year-old former patriarch of the Jenner-Kardashian clan.  When former Olympian Bruce transitioned from male to female the great and good were tripping over themselves to offer congratulations and endorsements.  Even President Obama publically lauded Jenner’s “courage”. 


Jenner rapidly became the poster child for the transgender movement and the cover girl of Vanity Fair magazine.  The mantelpiece in Jenner’s home became crowded with awards and accolades including the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, one of the most prestigious awards in sport and a Glamour Woman of the Year award.  God forbid that anyone should say that Caitlyn was as much a crusader for the disempowered and disadvantaged as Donald Trump because to do so would mean you were ‘transphobic’. 


The emperor’s new clothes were wearing well.  For a while. 


In the past few months Caitlyn has fallen afoul of the trans community with one activist saying “she rode the white male privilege train to the last stop.”  It has been repeatedly pointed out that being a rich white transgender in a community that is largely accepting of ‘difference’ (Hollywood) isn’t really all that brave or ground-breaking.  Many celebrities (mostly ones born with ovaries) have come out to denounce Caitlyn, especially after she said “the hardest part of being a woman is figuring out what to wear,” during her Glamour Awards acceptance speech. 


And, for plenty of ordinary women, who have lived with, inequality, ‘lady pains’, childbirth and #everydaysexism Caitlyn’s dog and pony show is just really getting out our tits (which sadly aren't as nice as hers).           

People are talking:


A Good Swift Kick Up The Arse


The Sunday Independent 20/12/2015



Nazi Barbie.  Don’t worry, it isn’t the latest ‘must have’ toy for Christmas 2015.  It’s a phrase conjured up by cultural commentator Camille Paglia whose shtick has always been that of an upmarket, intellectual (& intelligent), feminist version of Katie Hopkins. (Although veteran feminist Gloria Steinham said that Paglia “calling herself a feminist is sort of like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic.”) 


Writing about Taylor Swift in The Hollywood Reporter Paglia said the singer “should retire that obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props.”  Because when you see a bunch of young, good-looking women on stage at the end of a pop concert – it’s obviously going to put you in mind of Hitler and the boys, right? 


As well as Swift apparently re-enacting Nuremburg on a nightly basis, she’s not a proper feminist says Paglia. But let’s give the old-timer a break as writing about Swift was “a horrific ordeal” for the 68-year-old, “because her twinkly persona is such a scary flashback to the fascist blonds who ruled the social scene during my youth.” 


So let’s be clear here – leaving aside all the extreme right-wing imagery, Paglia had damned Taylor Swift because she felt left out by the cool kids when she was young.  Never, ever, have the words “Get over yourself” had so much meaning.

People are talking:  Boris Trumps Donald

The Sunday Independent 13/12/2015


Donald Trump has funny hair.  During his Presidential bid many of us have sniggered at his outrageousness safe in the knowledge that he has as much chance of ending up in the Oval Office as Louis Walsh. 


The joke is on us as Trumps is being taken seriously by his growing  supporters.  His declaration that there should be a blanket ban on all Muslims from entering the US has rightly provoked a firestorm.  Some British MPs have labelled Trump  a ‘hate preacher’ while a petition to ban him from the UK has immense popular support.  (All a bit #awks diplomatically.)


The Donald is almost impossible to upstage but master of ‘Personality Politics’  Boris Johnston schooled him.  Trump said that some areas of London were no-go for police due to ‘radicalisation’.  Boris said there were certain areas of New York he would avoid because of the “real risk of meeting Donald Trump.” 


That’s probably the last hoot we’ll get out of Trump.  His hair is still funny but so was Hitler’s moustache. 

Its time to stop laughing.

People are talking:

Zayn and Gigi's New Reality 



Poor Zayn Malik.  The young man is utterly determined to cast aside his structured boy band roots and prove his rock star bona fides. 


And what do hardass rock stars do?  They date models of course.  Unfortunately for Zayn you may well be able to take the boy out of reality television but apparently you can’t take reality TV out of the boy.  In a world full of gorgeous young women with dangerously low BMIs Zayn has apparently hooked up with model du jour 20-year-old Gigi Hadid.  


Gigi is no stranger to reality TV – her mother Yolanda, a model, is one of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills a show on which her father Mohammed and her stepfather David Foster make frequent appearances.  He also appears on Asia’s Got Talent as a judge.  Yolanda and Foster have just announced they are divorcing (maybe that will be a TV show too.) 


The alleged union of Gigi and Zayn wasn’t met with universal approval.  Gigi tweeted followers against being “judgmental” and said she didn’t live her life “under a microscope.” 


No darling, just in front of cameras.  Lots of cameras.    

The Anne Diamond Show

BBC Radio Berkshire


Discussing "Imposter Syndrome" with Anne Diamond on Monday 23rd November 2015.  Starts at approx. 2:08 minutes.

People are talking:


Harry’s Got Moves Like Jagger


The Sunday Independent 08/11/2015


Even though One Direction have played their final gig, the band are still insisting that the split is only a temporary hiatus to let the individual members pursue their solo projects. 


Right. We hate to break this to diehard Directioners, but don't put those black armbands into storage just yet.


What's most likely to happen with the proposed solo careers is this. Louis, already showing signs of being 'troubled', will, in a few years, if he's very lucky, be offered a chance to appear in Celebrity Big Brother. (If his luck doesn't hold it will be The Jump.)


Niall, after a few singles that do well in Ireland, will start investing his money wisely and living off the interest. The 'other one' (every boy band has an 'other one') will most likely continue in the music industry, beavering away anonymously just as he already does.


Which brings us to Harry. At this point there is little Harry could do to derail the stellar career ahead of him as he was born to be a pop star. Even when he wears those dodgy hairbands that should make him an object of derision, he still oozes raw sex - which is the basic qualification for music superstardom.


Harry has the look and swagger of a young Mick Jagger and no doubt his life will follow a similar path. There may even be a point in his future when one of his exes starts dating a media billionaire. Hopefully by that point Harry will be sensible enough to know that he's no longer Studio 54 and coke but News at Ten and cocoa, because even hairband-defying sexiness is going to fade away.


Anne Marie Scanlon

Sunday Indo Living


People are talking:            Age cannot wither Bey



The Sunday Independent 25/10/2015 



A thankless child may be sharper than a serpent’s tooth and hell, it has been said, has no fury like a woman scorned but they are as nothing to the Dissed Dad. 


Matthew Knowles, once the power behind his daughter’s career, was given his P45 by Beyonce in 2011. Since then, the poor man has had to make his way in the world as ‘Beyonce’s Dad’.


Which makes us wonder if he was having a Senior slip-up or simply stirring it when he claimed Bey is the same age as Pink, 36, and not 34 as she claims. Bizarre rumours about Beyoncé’s ‘real’ age have been floating around for years.  Some claim that she’s actually in her 40s.  (There’s also some hilarious Queen Bee Conspiracy Theorists who claim that she’s so old that her sister Solange is actually her daughter!).


So what if she is two years older than she says she is — once you’re over 21 you’re legally  old enough to drink, drive, get  married and call your child a preposterous name, so where’s  the crime?  Come on,  Mrs Jay-Z works in a business where shaving a few years off is practically mandatory.


If the story is true then the biggest shock is that Bey only deducted a mere two years. 


Anne Marie Scanlon

"I'd rather be addicted than sleep deprived."


Me on The Last Word with Matt Cooper on Today FM on Thursday 3rd September

from 20:00 to 27:00 approximately

People are talking: Does VMA mean Vital Miley Attire?



Anne Marie Scanlon

The Sunday Independent 07/09/2015




Oh sweet Yeezus. Another VMAs (MTV Music Video Awards) another Kanye moment, another Taylor Swift moment and a whole series of Miley moments. 


Six years after Kanye used the event to diss Swift she, very sweetly, gave him the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for his body of work to date.Kanye apologised to Taylor, sort of, said 'bro' a lot and announced he intended to run for President of the United States in 2020.


Despite this West was still upstaged by host Miley Cyrus who made sure to wow the audience with her … erm, costumes. (Saying they were 'barely there' would actually be an exaggeration.) A spool of thread obviously goes a long way in the Cyrus house.


Nicki Minaj followed Kanye's lead and put an end to her 'feud' with Taylor Swift but her forgiving mood didn't include Miss Miley. As she collected the award for Best Hip Hop Video (Anaconda) Minaj said, "and now back to this b***h that had a lot to say about me in the press. Miley, what's good?”


Seriously, what are they going to do next year to top this? Will Nicki and Miley marry live on air? Will Beyoncé give birth? Will Kanye announce his intention to be the next Pope (or will he reveal that he IS the Pope)? Most importantly, how few sequins will Miley distribute around her body and call a costume?

People are talking: End of 1D is just the start


You can't help but feel sorry for the poor One Direction(less) young fans.  We, the elders of the tribe, have seen it all before and know how it will  play out.   We know that 1D breaking up isn't the end, it's just part of the endless circle of pop life.


Kids, listen well, as this is how it will be. The band break up and they each pursue a solo career. After the failure of solo ventures one or two of the boys will disappear from public life and open a key-cutting kiosk or a micro-brewery, another will pitch up on Strictly Come Dancing, I'm a Celebrity or Celebrity Big Brother depending on the size of their tax bill and their level of desperation for public adulation. Another will prop up panels on talent shows.


There will be marriages, divorces, scandals, revelations, allegations, books, bankruptcies, public spats and somewhere in the midst of it all the lads will grow up. In or around 2040 someone will put the band back together - the band of four, as Zayn will swear he will never set foot on stage with 1D again. 


There will be a sold out tour which will end on a high note when Zayn surprises fans by appearing on stage with his old chums fuelling rumours that the entire band is getting back together, which they will. And then the whole cycle will start over again. Tis the circle of boyband life. Hakuna Matata.


Anne Marie Scanlon

People are talking...      Rebel Zayn ain't no Robbie


The Sunday Independent 24/08/2015 


Like many a teen idol before him, Zayn Malik is determined to ditch the sweet-boy-next-door image cultivated during his One Direction years in order to be taken seriously as a musician.  To do this the 22-year-old seems to be following the Robbie Williams playbook for post-boyband credibility. 


First you ditch the band and then the missus if you have one; engage in some public fallings-out with your former 'besties' and 'brothers'; adopt a 'fierce' new look that will appal Grannies and then create as many controversies as you can. Poor Robbie had to work hard but Zayn has Twitter. Instead of using social media to do something genuinely shocking Zayn instead retweeted a post comparing Taylor Swift's stance on wanting to get paid for her work with the Miley Cyrus statement that she has made her money and she's happy to give her work away. (Insert your own joke here people).


Taylor's boyfriend Calvin Harris defended his girl and also the many musicians who need the money. Zayn got on his high horse about writing his own music and told Harris to "calm your knickers before them dentures fall out". Gosh, if this is an example of his writing then he's a long way from being as credible as Robbie.


Anne Marie Scanlon

People are talking... Really bad week for uncouplings



The Sunday Independent 10/08/2015



What a week it's been for conscious uncouplings in the music industry? There was much joy from some One Direction fans when it emerged that Zayn Malik had ended his three-year relationship with Little Mix singer Perrie Edwards.



Quite a few Directioners blamed Perrie for Zayn's decision to quit the band last March and took to calling her Yoko.

A couple of things about Zayn and Perrie's relationship, engagement to be married and subsequent uncoupling has surprised us older Non-Directioners.

How do the generally extremely young fans of 1D even know who Yoko Ono is, never mind that she was blamed by some Beatles fans for breaking up the band more than 40 years ago? (Do they have Ono studies in schools now?)


Even more surprising to those of us no longer in the first flush of youth was the fact that two young people, aged only 22, wanted to be engaged at all. I mean if you were 22 and gorgeous, would you want to be tied down? If you were not just gorgeous but a millionaire and a pop star? Have the 'daoine og' really become so sensible? (And boring?)


When Zayn quit 1D he said he wanted to be a 'normal 22- year-old'. Well, getting rid of the missus is certainly a start.


At the far end of the musical spectrum fans were genuinely shocked to see that Gwen Stefani had filed for divorce from her husband of 13 years Gavin Rossdale, calling time on a 20-year relationship. The pair have three children together and have long been regarded as one of the coolest couples in rock.


But, the most shocking uncoupling of all came from Gwyneth Paltrow who has 'consciously uncoupled' from the phrase 'consciously uncoupled' which she introduced to the world via her website, when she and Chris Martin decided to separate last year.


Gwynnie revealed that the Goop editor had come up with the much derided phrase. Gwynnie what were you thinking? Forget those films you made, V-Steaming and even your children - Conscious Uncoupling was your true legacy.

People are talking: Gwynnie Makes a Bags of Rap


The Sunday Independent  03/08/2015 


Time to recycle those V-Steamers ladies because Gwyneth Paltrow has something else for us to aspire to.  Clutch bags! But not just any old designer clutch bags that cost a fortune - no, Gwynnie's latest Goop offerings are hardcore Rap and Hip Hop clutch bags. (Do you ever get the impression that Gwynnie is trying mightily hard to cast aside her goodie-goodie, wellness guru, probiotic, v-steaming image?)


Collaborating with designer Edie Parker, Goop, Gwyneth's often mocked lifestyle website, is now selling two clutch bags which pay homage to Rap and Hip Hop stars of past and present.


To be fair to Ms. Paltrow, she's staying true to the whole “Get Rich or Die Tryin'" ethos of Rap as each bag costs a blingtastic $1,695. But that's pretty much where the bling ends, as these are no jewel-encrusted evening accessories. Nope, instead of gold and diamonds you get the nicknames of two rappers, one on either side.


One bag bears the legend 'Hov' on one side and on the other 'Shady' which those in the know will recognise as Jay-Z (Uncle Jay, as Paltrow's son Moses calls him, apparently) and Eminem respectively.


The other bag is a little bit more controversial. Still no jewel encrustations but instead the names 'Pac' (Tupac Shakur) and 'Biggie' (Biggie Smalls) which those in the know are sniggering up their sleeves at.  Tupac and Biggie were rivals who were killed during the East Coast/West Coast Rap feud of the 1990s. It's doubtful that the ghost of either would rest easy knowing that they're eternally linked on a clutch bag. Or, for that matter, eternally linked to Goop.


People are talking…the camera does lie


The Sunday Independent 26/07/2015


Whoever first said "the camera never lies" was a big fat liar.  Even before the advent of Photoshop when a picture "spoke a thousand words" there was no guarantee that any of them were the truth.


And so to the shock footage of the Queen, the bally Queen by Jove, doing a Nazi salute in the garden at Balmoral. Never mind that the Queen was not the monarch at the time but a small girl whose uncle was going to be King. Never mind that it was 1933, six years before the outbreak of World War II and 12 years before the end of that war when the extent of Nazi atrocities would become known. 


No, instead the British Press responded with hysterical coverage that reminds People Are Talking of the 'Father Ted is not a Nazi' episode of Father Ted. The Palace quickly released pictures of Prince George and basically said, "Stop looking at that ancient black and white film, look at this lovely colour photo of the royal baba, he's gorgeous and most definitely not a Nazi.”


Another black and white picture emerged last week of three Victorian women looking as miserable as sin which collector Seamus Molloy claims are the Brontes, based partly on the fact that there's three of them and they look miserable as sin. Experts and historians dispute this claim. The Queen is not a Nazi, those lassies are probably not the Brontes and the camera rarely stops lying.


Anne Marie Scanlon

People are talking:

Kim Kardashian's

Killer Kover


The Sunday Independent 12/7/2015


She's the woman who famously "broke the internet", and now, it's official,  Kim Kardashian has broken our hearts.  No, seriously Kim, our hearts are sore scalded and our collective heads melted because you are everywhere.  Ubiquitous doesn't even cover it … in fact, the word 'Kardashian' should enter the dictionary as an adjective meaning 'beyond ubiquity and super-saturation'. 


Some of us, thicks that we are, thought that the Kardashian wave had finally crested when Caitlyn made the cover of the upmarket and respected Vanity Fair magazine. But no, the wave is a tsunami that just won't stop and now Mrs. Kanye West, a woman who is not a musician, or actor, or artist, or model, or even a lowly RTE telly presenter, a woman who has a big bum basically, has managed to land the slot that has been the absolute holiest of holies for generations of rock musicians - the coveted cover of Rolling Stone magazine.


Sinead O'Connor isn't best pleased and probably speaks for every musician over the age of 30 saying that "music has officially died". But Sinead isn't just speaking for the musos, Kim. No, Ms. O'Connor is speaking for all of us. This is a step too far and now it's official - we've had enough of you, your husband, your Momager, your step-Caitlyn and your whole extended-blended family.


In fact, Kim, at this point we've pretty much taken agin anyone who has a name beginning with the letter 'K'. Sinead wants people to boycott Rolling Stone, but that just isn't enough. It's time to boycott the Kardashians, the Jenners and everyone who uses the letter 'K' in place of a ‘C'.


Anne Marie Scanlon

People are talking: Celebrity splits in Vogue


The Sunday Independent 12/7/2015


Tis the season for Sleb Splits.  First Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced the end of their 10-year marriage.  This news really didn't shock anybody, unlike the Twitter bombshell dropped by former Westlife singer Brian McFadden and his bride of almost three years, Vogue Williams.  


Vogue initially tweeted a statement that was later also put on the social network by Brian. "It is with sadness that Brian and I have made the tough decision to go our separate ways," the model and DJ wrote.


Talk about blindsiding an unsuspecting public! Did anyone foresee this turn of events? It's less than a month since the then loved-up couple got a new house in Howth and it was only in April that 35-year-old Brian was so head over heels with his missus that he sounded like an adolescent, telling the Belfast Telegraph that Vogue was his "Soulmate" and he had fallen in love with her "at first sight.”


This sudden and unexpected shift from the celebrity pair reminds People Are Talking of the now somewhat dormant but once infamous 'Curse of Hello'. Back in the 1990s there were a slew of celebrities who gave interviews to the mag (usually in their 'sumptuous' homes) boasting of their happiness with each other only for them to split as soon as the issue hit the stands. Sometimes before.


Could the 'Curse of the Belfast Telegraph' be the next scourge of the sleb world? As Brian and Vogue shared their sad news, sections of the British press alleged that the former Mrs McFadden, Kerry Katona, had split with her third husband.


Whether Kerry ever gave an interview to the Belfast Telegraph remains unconfirmed.


Anne Marie Scanlon


People are talking: Well ... if it's good enough for the queen?


The Sunday Independent 28/6/15


Just as British prime minister David Cameron has vowed to cut back on benefits the royal family may have cause to worry.  New figures show that for the second year running the Windsors have cost the British tax-payer £37.5m - which is, by anybody's standards, quite a lot of state handouts. 


If that wasn't bad enough, it turns out that Buckingham Palace needs an overhaul costing approximately £150m.

Betty will have to move out while the builders are in but she'd be wise not to go too far. With London rapidly becoming a ghost town as foreign oligarchs drive up property prices, Mr Cameron might well be tempted to sell off Buck House for a tidy profit.


Perhaps Ireland could offset some of its debt by doing the same - surely TDs could relocate to a parish hall somewhere as no doubt Leinster House is still worth a bob or two.



People are talking: White is the new black


The Sunday Independent 21/6/15


Despite stepping down as President of the Spokane Washington chapter of the NAACP (The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People) Rachel Dolezal, who was outed by her parents as being basically white, says:"I identify as black". 


While many have stated that Dolezal (right) cannot simply choose her ethnic identity some have argued that if Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce) can identify as a woman then why can't Rachel be black if she wants to be.

In fact, why should any of us be stuck with our birth status, after all we didn't choose our parents, culture or country. Maybe we should have a referendum to decide, especially as, after the marriage equality vote, to the rest of the world, (including a respected US newspaper) seems hard pressed to accept our identity as a forward thinking, diversity-embracing nation. Many prefer the comfortable stereotype of us as drunken, priest-licking, mass-going, shillelagh-wielding, backward bogtrotters.


So let's have a referendum to ditch the identifier of 'Irish' and choose a more respected nationality. (I vote for something Scandinavian - they've got the best interiors, television shows and jumpers.) While we are at the booths we can also vote to have our status as a 'First World' country downgraded because white is now the new black. And the choice is, apparently, ours.


Sunday Indo Living

People are talking: Trans America poster girl Caitlyn



And lo, the venerable publication Vanity Fair did unveil its July cover.  And there was much wailing amongst the glamourati for on the cover, was an aged woman!  Not just aged but greatly aged, for she was a woman of sixty-years and five.  And verily they said, "Repent! Repent!   An old woman on the cover of VF is a portent of the apocalypse."

But before they took to rending their designer garments it was explained that the elderly cover girl was not just any ould wan but she used to be an old dude called Bruce.

Yes, Bruce Jenner of Keeping Up With The Kardashians has officially transitioned to Caitlyn. Within four hours Caitlyn had amassed over a million followers on Twitter and broken a record.

The great and the good were quick to applaud her "brave" move. Amongst the usual suspects - Miley Cyrus, Lena Durham et al even President Obama took time out of running the free world to tweet to Caitlyn "It takes courage to share your story."

True, no matter who you are, it does take courage to go through gender realignment and then go public. Caitlyn's bold VF cover has been hailed as a triumph for the Trans community, for the marginalised and the disenfranchised.

Really? A rich white American man (hence powerful) who became a rich white American woman (still pretty powerful) is representative of the powerless? This is no triumph for Trans people, this is a triumph for money, power, and, pardon the phrase, the 'old boy' network. This is no victory for the disenfranchised but one for those who can afford the best PR and better cosmetic surgeons.

Anne Marie Scanlon


Sunday Indo Living

People are talking: Charlotte offers to trade slaps with Katie




Anne Marie Scanlon

The Sunday Independent




All hail the second coming of Charlotte Church. The former child star who was once, along with then boyfriend Gavin Henson, never out of the tabloids (of the type that Katie Hopkins now 'writes' for) has been keeping a low profile these past few years. However, thanks to professional loudmouth Hopkins, Church is back and she's come out swinging, much to the delight of all her fans. And lots of others who never gave her a second thought in the past. To take on Hopkins is to know mass adulation.



After taking part in an anti-austerity rally in Cardiff while holding a placard saying "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" the Welsh singer was targeted by full-time troll, and self-appointed arbitar of Britishness, Hopkins.

"Wind your neck in," Hopkins tweeted directly to Church and added "Your (sic) Welsh AND you lost." Mother of two Church replied that she had no intention of engaging with Hopkins, but pointed out to the self-proclaimed 'journalist' that she couldn't spell.

After another Twitter user jokingly suggested a charity boxing match, Church lay down a challenge to the reality TV veteran. "Fancy a charity boxing match?"

Of course, Hopkins took this not as an invitation to actual physical combat, which it was, but an excuse to take a pop at Church's weight.

(Katie love, please stop going on about weight, it's beyond tedious. You're (note spelling) worse than Brian May with his badgers.) Now BoxNation have not only offered to organise a bout between the pair but also a 'purse' of £100,000 to go to a charity of the winner's choosing. The MD of BoxNation Jim McMunn said, "Boxing is the ultimate one on one. Twitter and social media becomes a cowardly nonsense." Will Katie put her mouth where the money is? Or is she afraid that Charlotte will take her to church?

People are talking... Decoding the dress: Beyonce says back off


Anne Marie Scanlon

The Sunday Independent


 At the Met Gala in New York a year ago, Beyoncé Knowles wore demure(ish)black dress. The reason we all remember her outfit so well is because of what happened that night in the lift when sister Solange came out swinging.


Well, Miss Bey is obviously determined to put that business out of everyone's mind for good. What else could explain the 'creation' that she wore on Monday evening? You couldn't really call it a dress - it was a bit of gauze with some 'modesty' jewel and embroidery embellishments.

To be fair to Beyoncé the wisp o' gaudy gauze with a few tactically placed sequins was also the choice of JLo and Kim Kardashian. Perhaps after last year's rumours of predatory females sniffing around her husband, Beyoncé was out to show them exactly what was what.

The look (what fashionistas call a 'statement piece') - the 'gown', a blonde 'Girls World' ponytail, and an expression that took no prisoners, clearly said BOB (Back Off Bitches). Nobody but nobody was going to come at her man, whether they were flirting or trying to whack him upside the head with their handbag. Solange too, obviously remembered last year's fracas, and was taking no chances as her outfit impeded free arm movements. Luckily this year no heads were broken but given Rihanna's giant omelette dress it looks like a lot of eggs were.



People are talking: Right to be a woman?

Anne Marie Scanlon

The Sunday Independent 03/05/2015

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman.  Ask Bruce Jenner. Or actress Alice Eve, who after Bruce, Kim K's stepfather, announced that he has begun gender reassignment and "for all intents and purposes" is a woman, answered him on Instagram.

"If you were a woman, no one would have heard of you because women can't compete in the decathlon." Before Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Bruce won a Gold medal for the decathlon at the 1976 Olympics. (Who knew? Apart from Alice Eve?) Eve went on to say, "Until women are paid the same as men then playing at being a 'woman' while retaining the benefits of being a man is unfair. Do you have a vagina? Are you paid less than men? Then, my friend, you are a woman."

Alice's unfortunate use of language led to accusations of transphobia and bigotry, while her argument, that women still don't have equality, was ignored. A mea culpa quickly ensued, with Eve wishing for "equal rights and equal dignity for all". Alice could have added being sexually harassed by builders to her list for being a woman, as Poppy Smart, the UK woman who reported builders to the police after a month of alleged sexual harassment could vouch for. Walk a mile in high heels to know how it feels to be a woman? Jog on.


People are talking: No joke as Kimye get carpet bombed

Anne Marie Scanlon

The Sunday Independent 27/04/2015

There are some very unkind people in this world - for example, those who, when they talk about Kim Kardashian's massive arse, are not referring to her bottom. Kim's beloved husband Kanye West has a bit of a rep for being a monomaniac comparing himself to Jesus, front-line soldiers and bigging up the fact that he doesn't read books as 'childlike purity'.

But it's grand really, because Kanye is more than capable of laughing at himself. Except he doesn't. (Can he even laugh, we wonder?) God knows he and his wife had ample opportunity to show they can take a joke when Amy Schumer pranked them at the Time 100 gala in New York. The comedian faked a trip on the red carpet and threw herself at their feet.

As Time has named them two of the most influential people in the world, you'd think Kimye (as the pair are sometimes called) would expect people grovelling at their designer shoes. While Schumer lay prone the duo remained somewhat stony-faced with not the ghost of a smile between them, or, perhaps more importantly, not even the merest glimmer of concern. The pair refused to see the body on the carpet and progressed along like medieval royalty.

Then again, Kanye has form - he likes people to stand, and once halted a concert in Sydney refusing to sing until the entire audience were on their feet. (He allegedly sent his bodyguard to check that a person in a wheelchair wasn't faking disability). Of course, it must have been a shock for Kanye, as he's usually the one storming stages and usurping the spotlight.

Perhaps the pair were embarrassed about their wardrobes - thrifty Kim apparently upcycled an old pair of curtains and Kanye appeared to be wearing PJs. Velvet ones. Pure class.



discussing television, DNA, vinyl and a quick mention of Poldark.

There's money in offensive generalisations

The Sunday Independent 12/04/2015

Remember when Mammies used to warn their children "If you can't say anything nice then say nothing at all."  In our brave new 24/7 social media world it's a foolish parent that exhorts their kid to be 'nice' because there's money in  them there offensive stereotypes and disgusting generalisations.

Just look at that woman who went from The Apprentice to being photographed having sex with a married man in a field to wearing a washed-out onesie in Celebrity Big Brother. You know who. Of course you do, because every day she says something staggeringly horrible about someone or some group. And, here's the best bit, a newspaper pays her for her bile and now, apparently, there's a TV Channel trying to develop a chat show with her. (If it comes to pass it won't be a chat show, it will be the host shrilly shouting her opinions and drowning out everyone else, she doesn't do 'chat'.)

Of course, the rest of us are also contributing to this woman's coffers because when she makes one of her outrageous statements we react (how could we not) and talk about her. And to paraphrase Oscar Wilde for some, the only worse thing than being talked about is not being talked about. So, instead of feeding her ego, and purse, let's just call her That Awful Woman, (TAW). TAW's latest headline-grabbing antic was to attack those stricken with dementia, calling them 'bed blockers' and saying they should be euthanised to free up hospital space.

She probably didn't bargain on former Wales International Robbie Savage, (the 'dirtiest' player in the Premier League, 2008), standing up to her, (her targets are usually weak and powerless).

Savage, now a football pundit and an ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society, who lost his own 63-year-old father to dementia showed remarkable restraint when he said he was "mortified" by TAW's remarks. Then again, Savage now works in the media and probably realises that least said the sooner she will go away.

Anne Marie Scanlon

Aiden's amazing Poldark appeal

The Sunday Independent 05/04/2015

Fifteen minutes of fame?

Even Andy Warhol couldn't have anticipated the phenomenon of Aiden Turner - or as fans call him, the "gift that keeps on giving". The revamped Poldark starring the handsome young Dubliner in the titular role has been on screens a month and the fevered interest in the actor has yet to wane.

In fact, with each passing week it gets more fevered - Turner is a hit with women of all ages, gay men and straight men.

There is no demographic that the handsome actor doesn't appeal to and there is no end to the public's fascination with Turner's amazing smile, his toned physique, his abundant curls and his Tricorn hat.

Author Marian Keyes produced a tongue-in-cheek Poldark Bingo card (spotting the clichés that are repeated weekly, such as 'Ross gallops across a cliff' 'Ross takes his shirt off') for her Twitter feed and it was promptly reproduced by a British weekly magazine.

We should now prepare for a deluge of Poldark merchandise as canny businessmen are no doubt planning production of Poldark toothpaste and a range of 'Head & Smoulders' haircare products.

Even Cheryl F-D, Queen of home haircare, would no doubt agree that our Aiden is "worth it".

As the campaign for the UK general election kicks off the major party leaders (who, let's face it, are all pretty interchangeable) and would give anything for a fraction of Turner's popularity, are probably assembling focus groups and spin doctors to try to access the 'Poldark Effect'.

Mark our words, we could yet see at least one of them wearing breeches and a Tricorn hat.


On the Anne Diamond Radio Show

Wednesday 1 April, 2015

Discussing Mumpreneurs, Mummylancers

Things I Wish I’d Known

from 2.03 to 2.25 approximately


Angelina, health heroine


The Sunday Independent 30/03/2015

That vial of blood is long forgotten and the campaign for canonisation continues as Mrs Jolie-Pitt reveals she's had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, so her kids can never say that their mother died from ovarian cancer.

It would be churlish to poke fun at Angelina for taking a highly sensible course of action as she carries the BRCA1 gene and has already had a double mastectomy for health reasons. In contrast, the hysteria that's surrounded her announcement is both sick-making and laugh-making in equal measure. Despite the fact that Angelina did not rescue a crowd of orphans from a burning building, or single-handedly take down an IS gunman she's been widely called a hero and her actions brave.

Can we stall the ball for a second, lads? Angelina is a rich, privileged woman who can afford the best medical science has to offer and has wisely taken advantage of her good fortune to prevent succumbing to the disease that killed her mother. This is sensible and self-preservatory, not brave.

Mrs Jolie-Pitt has a husband, six children and is hitting middle-age (at 39, the menopause was in the post, Ange). If Angelina was a young single woman with no children then she might deserve to be called heroic. The other worrying thing about glorifying Angelina is that other celebs might think that once they've finished nipping and tucking their exteriors that the interiors are fair game.


Anne Marie Scanlon

Elton John's fashion Fatwa

The Sunday Independent 23/03/2015|

In "those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it" news this week Italian designers and darlings of the fashion industry, Dolce & Gabbana managed an own goal the likes of which haven't been seen since 1991 when Gerald Ratner publically called the jewellery his chain store sold 'total crap'.

In an interview with an Italian magazine, the pair, who were a couple for over 20 years, came out against gay adoption, and Domenico Dolce took a pop at IVF saying children conceived this way were "chemical children" and "synthetic babies".

Elton John, father of two IVF babies responded with a tirade on his Instagram page. "Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce + Gabbana ever again." And then he called for a boycott of the brand.

The backlash against D+G isn't surprising, they managed to insult parents and children, gay and straight, worldwide, but the call for a boycott seems small beef compared to the some of the things being said about Elton.

So far he's been called a bully, a fascist, a 'Gay Taliban' and compared to the extremists who murdered staff at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris - because he asked people to boycott a fancy fashion label. Are they serious? Is it just possible that the anti-Elton brigade are getting things just a teeny bit out of proportion? Is a Fashion Fatwa the same as gunning people down at their desks? Elton has been branded a Diva in the past but hasn't he every right to speak his mind, just like Dolce & Gabbana do?

Extract from review of Things I Wish I'd Known

Sunday Independent 15 March 2015



New parents are inundated with didactic 'How To' guides. Parenting manuals fall into two categories. There are the gurus - Gina Ford, Tracy 'Baby Whisperer' Hogg et al. These are to be avoided at all costs. If your baby conforms to their strict rules and schedules, you didn't need them in the first place, because you probably have what Hogg so annoyingly terms an angel baby (she has an actual 'circle a b or c' type personality test to categorise babies). If they don't, this will merely serve to compound the feelings of failure and helplessness that as a new parent you will feel at some stage or another.


If you have the energy for reading at all in those early years, the only kind of parenting book you should go near is the kind that tells the stories of women at the coalface of rearing children. Things I Wish I'd Known is a collection of essays on motherhood by female authors, columnists and television stars, including Anne Marie Scanlon, Bryony Gordon, Cathy Kelly, Emma Freud and Daisy Garnett. Editor Victoria Young defines it as not a how to book. The reality of being a mother - that it can be shockingly difficult - is kept from pregnant women, who then feel like they are failing when they find it hard. With this book, she aims to expose this pact of secrecy.


The genre is ostensibly one for the sisterhood in tone, but it also offers a welcome dose of schadenfreude, an underlying 'phew, well at least I'm not doing that badly'. I went straight to the chapters on sleep and was delighted to be able to congratulate myself that so far anyhow, I have yet to fall asleep in a pool of vomit, afraid to move in case I wake my sleeping child.


The book charts the various challenges mothers deal with - unsolicited advice, identity crises, self neglect, sustaining your marriage, tantrums, breastfeeding difficulties, surviving twins, working mothers guilt, isolation, being a single mother, obsessing over your child's eating habits, and of course, how to survive a child who simply doesn't sleep.


If you're a mother you'll probably find yourself reflected here somewhere and it will be comforting.

Liadan Hynes


People Are Talking:

Katie's Got Talent?

Anne Marie Scanlon

The Sunday Independent 23/02/2015 |

Rumours of Simon Cowell's replacement on Britain's Got Talent by rent-a-gob Katie Hopkins were widely reported this week. As soon as Simon said he would quit 'at some point' an 'insider' revealed that Katie Hopkins could replace him as a judge.

Katie, never one to let an opportunity for self-publicising pass her by, was quoted as saying "There is a role for a Miss Nasty on any panel. We don't have any good Miss Nasties … because everyone wants to be sweet like Cheryl Cole. They want to be loved."

OK, before there's a riot, this is only a rumour and not a very believable one at that. Simon Cowell has long played the Panto Villain but he's never bitten the hand that feeds him. Katie, who is famous for being on a reality show, having sex with a married man in a field and vociferously hating pretty much anyone who isn't Katie Hopkins, has in her time slagged off just about everyone in BGT's audience including fat people, the unemployed, stay-at-home mothers, Scots, Americans, Palestinians, 'Gingers', children called Tyler, and the poor. Some venerate her for 'telling it like it is' but the fact is she doesn't - her one trick is attacking the weak and vulnerable. Cowell is no eejit, doubtless he'd have more sense than to make a talentless (lack of empathy is not a talent) media hound a judge of others' gifts. Especially if he saw her recent turn on the Late Late.

Sunday Independent

People Are Talking:

Grammy deja vu all over again

Anne Marie Scanlon

You wouldn't need a psychic to predict the Grammys.  Here comes Madonna once again attired in a skimpy 'sexy' outfit.  (It was supposed to be Matador-themed but looked more like a collision between Wolf Hall and New York's Chrysler Building).

Inevitably Madge bared her arse. Again. Yawn. There goes Kanye storming the stage. Again. And in another Grammy deja vu he was, once again, championing the cause of Beyonce just like last time he invaded the stage in 2009.

Mrs Kanye, Kim Kardashian, the owner of the world's most powerful arse, looked delighted with her hubby's antics. We wonder if she's not just a little bit put out by her fella so publicly campaigning for Bey all of the time.

After all, Ms. Knowles is also in possession of a well-known, much admired arse herself. She and Jay Z used the occasion for yet another public outing for their child, and where Jay and Bey go everyone else is sure to follow, so Baby Blue wasn't on her own.

Rihanna led the lassies in the hideous but headline grabbing gowns, in a massive pink toilet roll cover that even the brides in My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding would be hard pressed to find worthy of an outing.

Joy Villa got her 15 minutes by wearing a dress constructed of orange fencing material usually found on building sites. OK, so nobody had predicted building-site chic. It may catch on, Madonna for one would be only too pleased to sport a 'builder's bum'.

People are talking:

The Sunday Independent 02/02/2015

Language Lesson for Ben

By Anne Marie Scanlon

There's always been something old-fashioned about Benedict Cumberbatch - from his name itself to his plummy tones to his utter thespy luvviness.  Even the recent announcement of his engagement was distinctly traditional - being announced via The Times rather than Twitter. 

And the character he is most famous for playing - Sherlock - is old school. So far the whole throwback thing has worked incredibly well for Cumberbatch but it all came to an abrupt screeching halt on The Tavis Smiley Show. Bumbling old-fashioned Ben smashed head-on into modern, electronic, perpetually offended society. Discussing the lack of good roles for non-white* people in the movie industry Cumberbatch said, "I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK"

Yes, 'coloured' is an offensive term and although he appears to be an old fogey, at 38 Cumberbatch is too young to remember when the expression was in general usage. Given that Cumberbatch was being interviewed by a non-white* host and arguing for more non-white* faces, it's fairly reasonable to surmise that Benedict isn't a racist but that didn't stop the firestorm. Cumberbatch has made a profuse and sincere apology, so now maybe people will focus on what he was trying to say about diversity.

*Non-white is used as I was recently informed by Twitter that the 'B' word is racist.

Sunday Indo Living


People are talking:

The Sunday Independent 26/01/2015

Ta Ra, Deirdre Love

Cynics have mocked the massive public outpouring of grief at the unexpected death of the actress Anne Kirkbride. 

It's true we didn't know Anne, but we knew and loved her legendary Coronation Street character Deirdre Barlow. For most people under 50, Deirdre, with her succession of dodgy eyewear, hairstyles, fellas and belts (oh, those belts) has been a fixed point in our lives and even those who have never watched a soap are familiar with her name.

Over her 43 years on the cobbles, Deirdre had more than her fair share of drama - four marriages (twice to Ken), affairs, family crises (God help her, her late mother Blanche was a force of nature and her daughter Tracey is quite possibly the anti-Christ), being fitted up for fraud by her conman boyfriend and jailed as a result.

When Deirdre went down, a whole country rose up campaigning to 'Free the Weatherfield One' leading to then Prime Minister Tony Blair promising an enquiry. We had our own dramas, births, deaths, marriages, divorces, illness and while we endured them Deirdre was always there, a strong woman, a funny woman, a woman who no matter what life (or the scriptwriters) threw at her got through it - usually with a glass of red, a fag and a stuffed marrow.

No, we might not have ever known Anne personally but her going is sad. Aged 60 it was too early for her and far too early for the indomitable Deirdre. Ta ra, chuck.

Anne Marie Scanlon


People are talking... Among the Golden Glitterati, but Amal is 'Je Suis Fatiguee'

The Sunday Independent 19/01/2015

Amal Clooney (nee Alamuddin) had the absolute cheek to look bored at the Golden Globe Awards, which has astonished, outraged and offended a lot of people.  The cry of 'just who does she think she is'  went out among commentators and Twitterati.

The general consensus was that Mrs. Clooney should be thrilled to be mingling in Tinseltown. Are these people for real? Hollywood is basically a factory town, beneath the glitter and glitz it's crammed with self-obsessed and vacuous people. (Want proof, have a quick gander at the current series of Celebrity Big Brother.) Small wonder that Amal, an intelligent woman, has stuck with the day job of human rights lawyer.

Similarly, the Clooneys have chosen to make their home in the quaint English Midsomer Murders-style town of Sonning because, in all fairness, who ever equated LA with intellectual stimulation? It's one thing going to bed with Gorgeous George but quite another having to endure the company of movie folk at their preening worst. At the Globes, Amal had a 'Je Suis Charlie' badge on her clutch bag, but you can bet that many of the other guests thought she was sporting a new design by Karl Lagerfeld.

Instead of dissing Amal we should probably be congratulating her for getting through the night without lapsing into a boredom-induced coma.

Anne Marie Scanlon

Sunday Indo Living

People are Talking:

The Sunday Independent 05/01/2015


Royal baby watch for spring

Having produced the heir in a timely fashion, William and Kate swiftly moved on to baby number two who is due at the end of April.  The weeks, and indeed months, leading up to the arrival of the 'spare' will be filled with ceaseless and ultimately pointless speculation about the new arrival. 

"Experts" who have never actually met Kate Middleton, let alone examined her royal person, will confidently predict, from photographs, that she is carrying a girl. Other "experts" will equally assuredly state the fourth in line to the throne is without a shadow of a doubt a boy!

A host of Royal Specialists who may once have seen K-Middy at Ascot will announce that if the new arrival is a girl she will most certainly be called Diana, while another swarm of Regal Authorities will tell us she most certainly won't. Legions of therapists on morning television sofas, complete with toddlers approximately the same age as Prince George, will discuss the impact the new arrival will have on George, and suggest ways he can cope with sibling rivalry.

At some point, inevitably, someone is going to publish a freaky face made by merging William and Kate's heads and say this is what the baby will look like. Once Kate goes to hospital, the 24-hour news channels will devote themselves to round the clock news coverage of the outside of the hospital - featuring all the other 24-hour news channels patiently waiting there. Reporters with nothing to report on will report on each other. Finally Kate will appear with William and the baby for a photo call, her post-birth body will be praised and condemned and whatever she and the baby are wearing will be sold out in seconds.

Anne Marie Scanlon

Solange gave us all a big lift

Anne Marie Scanlon

The Sunday Independent 29/12/2014 

And the best short silent film of 2014 is … The Rapper, His Wife, Her Sister and That Elevator. The elevator where Solange Knowles got physical with her brother-in-law Jay Z as sister Beyoncé looked on.The ruck occurred on May 5, but it wasn't until a week later that the CCTV footage was leaked showing Solange lashing out every which way - arms, legs, and even giving the rapper a handbag upside the head. The only thing that made the scene different from those routinely acted out on The Jerry Springer Show was the finery the participants were wearing and the absence of a crowd chanting "Jerrrry, Jerrrry".When the now infamous footage became public, Queen B and Jay Z issued a joint statement saying the incident was a "private family matter" and had been resolved. That didn't stop the endless speculation about what had caused the family bust-up or that the power-coupling of music's most famous pair was all over bar the shouting.In August the sisters' father Matthew Knowles (who was sacked as Beyoncé's manager in 2011) claimed the whole incident was a publicity stunt. If so, it spectacularly backfired as the lift has been stuck on 'down' ever since with rumours of the couple's imminent uncoupling dogging them despite their numerous displays of public unity and bring their baby to the VMAs.

Big Apple Crumbles for Kate

The Sunday Independent 14th December 2014

Those who claim monarchy is an outdated institution and not long for this world would do well to study events in the USA over the past week. When William and Kate arrived in New York for a three-day visit, the Big Apple crumbled with a severe dose of Cambridgemania. Everywhere they went, the royal couple were swamped by hoards wanting to pay homage.

George Washington is no doubt spinning in his grave as almost everybody in the 'land of the free' that he established by overthrowing British rule nearly 240 years ago, was going gaga for the Queen's grandson and his missus. Fair enough that the likes of Jay Z and Beyonce (who are often referred to as American royalty) would want to hang out with Wills & K-Middy. But even politicians and professional athletes couldn't keep away.

Poor basketball player LeBron James obviously wasn't given a primer about protocol as he not only touched Kate (a no-no) but according to some horrified British media embraced her in a "sweaty hug". Worse again, he asked the future King his shoe size! Mind you, who at that point, was going to step forward and chastise a 6' 8" athlete?

If democracy was suffering a blow from the allure of their Graces Stateside, it wasn't doing too well back in the UK either. As Thrifty Kate recycled a dress for the third time to go to a gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a peer in the Mother of Parliaments had to eat her words and apologise having accused the poor of using food banks not out of need, but because they can't cook! Monarchy 2, Democracy Nil. 




Madonna's topless boob

Ms Ciccone has never been shy about exposing her bits, and she's not going to let the fact that she's four years short of 60 put a halt to her gallop. The photos of Madonna in Interview magazine have caused a barrage of controversy (which is no doubt exactly what the Material Madam wanted). There's been the usual chorus of disapproval along the lines that a woman of her years should know better and button up her cardie. On the other hand, her defenders say the topless shots are no mere marketing ploy to sell her latest album. No, this is a feminist and empowering act.

Madonna's courage will doubtlessly empower women worldwide. The sight of her nips may get Boko Haram to rethink their ideas about educating girls, close the global pay gap and give Page 3 the feminist credit it so obviously deserves.

Even if stripping was empowering, Madonna doesn't need to expose herself to boost her self-esteem.

Madge empowered herself decades ago by making enough money to do whatever she wants. Her latest wheeze is, as Annie Lennox suggested, simply showing off.

And what she's showing off is that if you have enough money you can be empowered by personal trainers, private chefs and the best damn doctors money can buy.


Kate under the lens - again 

The Sunday Independent  27/10/2014

She's back! And the British press barely paused for a quick sigh of relief before setting on her like flies on, er, flypaper. Yes, Princess Kate has emerged from her sick room and throughout the land there was great rejoicing - mainly by 'royal correspondents' and the paparazzi.

After some weeks out of the public eye due to Hyperemesis, Kate returned to the day job attending not one, but two public engagements on the same day. First she met with the President of Singapore, Tony Tan Keng Yam, and later attended the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. As usual Kate's body, hair, face and clothing were intensely scrutinised.


Both outfits - the McQueen coat and the "daring" Jenny Packham dress were considered triumphs; her hair was perfect and her choice of Monica Vinader jewellery for the Photography Awards came in for special praise.

As for her royal person - there was dissent, she was "glowing" whilst being "peaky". She was too skinny yet her face was "puffy". She had a "cute little bump" whilst having no visible bump at all. (The baby isn't due till April so Bump Watch is slightly premature at this point.)


Amazingly, almost all of those on professional Kate Watch referred to her illness, Hyperemesis, as 'severe morning sickness' which is like calling a typhoon a few drops of rain.

Poor Kate, her every move is documented, she is universally 'loved' and yet few were bothered finding out what is actually wrong with her.

People are talking....Will Amal lose her Marbles?

The Sunday Independent 20/10/2014


With Princess Kate off sick for the foreseeable future, you'd think the British paps would take a well-earned rest; but instead they've found themselves another tall, gorgeous, shiny-haired brunette to fill the void. And, like Kate, she's all for tradition.


Amal Alamuddin shocked many when she claimed the hand of famous marriage-denier George Clooney, but even more surprisingly, given she has worked hard to establish herself as a human rights barrister, she's taken his name.

There are rumours that George has his eye on the White House at some point in the future. This could well explain Amal's conservative name change - even Hilary had to drop the Rodham and become plain old Mrs Clinton. George and Amal are now being compared to JFK and Jackie - mainly because Amal gives good dress, but in these image-obsessed days, having a do-gooding, photogenic, stunning, style-icon wife is a pretty good way to start any presidential campaign.


The newly minted Mrs Clooney returned to work in her London chambers and Greece with the paps in tow. There hasn't been a peep from her husband (who, in the past, has been consistently outspoken about sleb-stalking fotogs) or indeed Mrs Clooney's boss.

Currently trying to liberate the Elgin Marbles from the clutches of Britain and return them to Greece, Mrs Clooney's every move, every ultra-chic outfit and every swish of her long shiny hair is being documented. While Britannia may still have the Marbles, the British press have lost theirs.

Sunday, 28 September 2014


You know Emma Watson right? That lovely young woman who played the part of that nice young girl Hermione in those delightful Harry Potter films? That's the one. Could you imagine any reason at all to threaten Emma Watson? Us either. Still though, Emma's blamelessness, niceness and apparent decency haven't proved enough to stop her becoming the target of those pesky online celeb-baiters.

So what on earth has lovely Emma Watson done to incite EmmaYouAreNext - a website with a countdown threatening to release nude pictures of the young actress? Did she kidnap Twink's dog? No, according to subsequently deleted messages on 4Chan (the website that brought us all those hacked naked celebrities a few weeks ago), "she makes stupid feminist speeches at the UN and now her nudes will be online". How scandalous, Emma is such a nice girl - she's not one of those flesh-baring celebs who actually deserves having their privacy violated.

Oh deary me, no.

However, it turns out that EmmaYouAreNext was a deliberate hoax and Emma's modesty will remain intact. Horray! Better yet Emma's campaign #HimForHer to promote gender equality has spawned a deluge of male celebs tweeting #HimForHer. Huzzah! Let's all breathe a huge sigh of relief - Emma's OK, all women are OK. Let's ignore the fact that while many media outlets reported Emma's speech at the UN, far more chose to comment on what she was wearing and how subtle her make-up was. Huzzah indeed.

Anne Marie Scanlon Sunday Independent - See more at:


BBC Radio Oxford


The Phil Gayle Show 


Speaking on The Phil Gayle Show on Tuesday, 9th September 2014, about Hyper-emesis which is just about the one thing Kate Middleton and I have in common.


From approx. 2:52:30 to 2:57:20

Sunday, 07 September 2014

Kim K West  - woman of the year?

At their annual GQ 'Men of the Year' awards ceremony last week, the style bible handed out some fairly dubious gongs - but none more so than that for the Woman of the Year. 

Out of all the women in the world, the GQ awards committee decided to go with Kim Kardashian (or rather "Kim Kardashian West" as she snapped at GQ editor Dylan Jones when picking up her accolade).


Maybe Dylan can tell us what exactly it is that Kim KW has done to make her the GQ Woman of the Year? Is it her licious booty or her rapper hubbie that swung it? Surely it's not because she posed naked for the mag?

God knows she can't have been chosen for her sense of style. Even by KKW's standards her awards outfit was a horror.

A few commentators fell victim to Emperor's New Clothes syndrome and fawned over her ensemble but most of us just wondered: "Why? In God's name, why?"

Kim appeared to be wearing a PVC boob-displaying swimsuit and a pair of spangly butt-flashing curtains.


Mind you, she wasn't the only one who went in for copious displays of flesh. Model Cara Delevingne wore a black lace curtain-like number over a pair of big knickers and ended up sprawled on the floor.

Lindsay Lohan was the night's real winner - staying upright and looking rather sedate compared to most of the other lassies - there was more celeb female flesh on display at the bash than probably in all of those pictures hacked from the cloud.


Anne Marie Scanlon


- See more at:

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Whispering sweet nothings


Forget leaves starting to fall from trees, or the nights slowly starting to creep in, there is no surer sign that summer is giving way to autumn than 'The First X Factor Controversy of the Season', now as much a part of our annual calendar as Halloween and Christmas.

The current X Factor scandal (just the first of the many we'll be force fed between now and Christmas) has been dubbed 'Whispergate'. At the Boot Camp stage at Wembley last week, Louis did the unthinkable and apparently chose an act with alleged musical talent.


Then, it is claimed, after being approached by a show producer who had a whispered conversation with him, Louis changed his mind and switched the alleged 'talent' for a novelty act."It's a fix," fans reportedly said before some of them staged a walk-out from the Wembley Arena, and the remainder took to booing.


The newly minted Madame Fernandez-Versini, (the artist formerly known as Cheryl Cole) was also booed for a similar switcheroo. Did this adversity unite the formerly feuding pair? It sure did not. Madame Cheryl apparently snapped at Louis telling him he had " 50 faces".Producers stated that they do not interfere in the judges' decisions and the whispers were about something else entirely.


Regardless, there is no doubt loyal fans will still tune in when the Factor returns to the telly. No doubt the Louis/Cheryl feud will feature week after week. No doubt Simon will say something mean. Oh and there may also be some singing.

See more at:


Diaz: over-40s poster girl


All hail Cameron Diaz, the new poster girl for women over 40. Not only is she on the cover of Esquire magazine but she's also baring it all in the film Sex Tape.  "It's a first for me," Cameron told the magazine. "You see everything."  There was a time when any actress over 30 was considered too old, so a  woman in her 40s being allowed to get her kit off is progress, right?

Cameron is joyfully middle-aged. "I like being 41. You stop being afraid. You don't worry what men think." So thanks to Candid Cam the world now knows there's much more to middle-aged women than menopause and misery. A win for sisters all round then? Unfortunately not.


When asked about her lack of children, Cameron refused to conform to the 'poor sad long-suffering spinster' role routinely assigned to unmarried women (see pretty much everything written about Jennifer Aniston over the past decade). Cam cheerfully admitted that life was easier without kids and she had never wanted any.

Male actors are allowed to be happy-go-lucky bachelors as long as the Viagra will let them. but a woman in her forties unmarried, childless and yet … happy? Few things could have shocked America more.

Mick gathers no grief




The Sunday Independent 15 June 2014


Mick Jagger has allegedly moved on in love just eleven weeks after the tragic suicide of his long-term girlfriend L’Wren Scott. Critics and fans alike were shocked when pictures emerged of the famous frontman canoodling with a mystery brunette on the balcony of a Zurich hotel. Mick was heavily criticised for cavorting and hence betraying L’Wren’s memory. The mystery brunette on the balcony wasn’t even the first gal pal His Satanic Majesty had taken up with since L’Wren’s untimely death; model Noa Tishby posted a picture of herself and Mick in Tel Aviv thanking him for “an amazing few days”.


Sure, eleven weeks seems no time at all to grieve for a long-term love but isn’t it time we gave poor Mick a bit of a break? For all we know Jumpin’ Jack Flash and the lovely Noa could have been visiting garden centres during those “amazing few days”. But even if he is romantically pursuing much younger women is that really a surprise? Despite singing to the contrary Jagger has had a lifetime of getting what he wants - especially money and women.


At 71 next month, time is no longer on his side. If he wants to get any sort of satisfaction he’s going to have to move quick. Well about as quickly as a man in his eighth decade can move.


Ta-ra Teeneh


After months (which felt like years) of knowing she was going to be murdered we finally got to say ta-ra to Tina (or Teeneh as they pronounce it down Weatherfield way) McIntyre when the bright orange tanfastic character was pushed head first onto t’cobbles from some handy scaffolding. 


The angel of death was a complete surprise.  It wasn’t Peeteh doing her in with his whiskey fumed breath and second hand smoke.  It wasn’t Sexy Carleh using her harsh hole-drilling voice as a weapon.  It wasn’t Trayceh Love, who’s got form and already has one murder under her belt.  It wasn’t even a bored fan desperately trying to get the plot moving forward.  It wasn’t even murder, until Teeneh rose, Rasputin-like from t’cobbles, the Ready Brek glow of fake tan having absorbed the impact, leaving the hapless murderer to do her in again. 



30 April 2014


Link to me on Mike Reade's show yesterday.  I'm on from 38.14 to 1.12 along with the Rev Ken on Speakers Corner.  We discuss our bedroom habits, books, prisons and the Queen.

A Royal in touch with reality?

The Sunday Independent –25 May 2014


POOR Prince Charles. At 65 he's spent his life in the wings – outshone by his mother, his first wife, his son, his second wife, his daughter-in-law and now his baby grandson. And for what? A job he can't have until his mammy dies and, let's face it, despite being 88, she's showing no signs of passing on the orb and sceptre any time soon.

As heir to the throne, Charlo is expected to keep his views to himself – royals are not supposed to have opinions, let alone express them. So far, Chas has managed to find a balance between Mummy, and her extraordinary ability to keep schtum, and Pater, Phil the Greek, who opens his mouth only to change feet.


Until now. Comparing Vlad Putin to Hitler is a gaffe so enormous that it probably rendered his dear old Da utterly speechless (which would be a first). The remark is alleged to have happened during a private conversation with Mrs Marienne Ferguson, a Jewish volunteer at the Immigration Museum in Halifax Nova Scotia, who the Nazis caused to flee her native Poland in 1939.


Mummy is no doubt furious, but we'll never know, as she doesn't do opinions. Both British politicians and media have laid into the ageing Prince about causing an 'international incident'. Cool your jets lads, it's not as if he annexed part of the Crimea is it? They'll soon change their respective tunes as Charles's popularity grows with the British public. They despised the wishy-washy Wales, but this Charlie and his opinions, they like.


This could be the start of something big.


Conscious coupling for actor Clooney, and a royal uncoupling

The Sunday Independent – 04 May 2014


THERE was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when it emerged that George Clooney is now engaged. To be married! Clooney, self-proclaimed King of the Commitment-phobes, is famous for his love of the bachelor life and his vow, having tried matrimony once, never to go there again. 

Clooney's betrothed is Amal Alamuddin, a British human rights lawyer who has advised the UN on Syria and represented Julian Assange. Nick and Nina Clooney have been lavish with their praise for their daughter-in-law-to-be. "She's a lawyer, she is brilliant, she is a very bright woman and at the very top of her career," Nina Clooney said.

Amal is stunningly beautiful and obviously very smart, but what is her secret? Not only is she engaged to the former 'most eligible bachelor in the world' but she has her future mother-in-law fawning over her. Either would have been spectacular, but both?


Nature abhors a vacuum and no sooner had George removed himself from the market, he was replaced with Britain's fourth in line to the throne, Prince Harry. Hot on the heels of speculation about Harry proposing to girlfriend of two years, Cressida Bonas, they've instead "amicably" uncoupled. Whether Harry and Cressida recouple or not, the smart money is still on him making it up the aisle long before George. Apparently Harry's next unofficial engagement is at a wedding in the US. Remember what happened in Vegas, Harry - don't do anything you wouldn't want Cressy, or the entire world, to see. At least not near a camera phone.


Rupert Everett offends all of womankind


The Sunday Independent 27 April 2014


Women are well used to gay men telling us how our bodies should look. They're usually fashion designers but now actor-turned-professional scather Rupert Everett, has given us his tuppence worth.


"I grew up with the ideal of beauty being delicate with long, slim legs," Rupert told Event magazine. Rupe, famous for straight-talking and celebrity-dissing, didn't stop at mere generalisations. "It's terribly 'in' (now) for women to have these huge great legs with massive thighs," Rupert continued, citing Beyonce, Rihanna and Kim Kardashian as prime examples of this heinous body crime.


Mrs Carter was also singled out for her "elephant ankles" and "gigantic arse". We're finding it difficult to believe that Rupert was actually being serious in insulting, not just this trio, but every woman who doesn't have a bony backside. Leaving aside for a moment that, in reality, all three slebs are tiny, there's Rupert's own background. He, as his name implies, is rather posh. Posh Brits tend to be quite horsey types and not the willowy gazelles of Rupert's ideal. All that hunting and riding breeds extra padding in the thighs and backside – they don't call it a good seat for nothing. Further proof that Rupert surely can't be entirely serious is when, in the same article, he stated "if there's one thing I admire it's good manners." Even those of us who didn't go to public school know that making remarks about a person's looks is jolly bad form, so he must have been joking, right? On a more positive note the 54-year-old actor does like Harry Styles. Of course he does, Harry has slender legs, a neat arse, and a pretty face – a willowy gazelle in other words.




Golden couple's crown slips


The Sunday Independent, 16 March 2014


Off with their heads! Just who do Wills and Kate Middleton, right, think they are? The golden couple have finally fallen foul of the British public. Both mainstream and social media lit up as Kate and William departed for a week in the Maldives, described as a 'second honeymoon' and left seven-month-old Prince George at home.

The backlash generated by the royal couple having a second luxury holiday in as many months is understandable in a country where public spending has been cut to the bone. Far less explicable is the outcry over the 'abandonment' of baby George. You'd swear the pair had legged it leaving poor wee Georgie with some dry cereal and a pair of hungry Alsatians for company.


Instead, the third in line to the throne is ensconced in luxury with granny and grandad Middleton, a security detail and his new nanny. Of course, the fact that Kate has appointed a full-time nanny has also blotted her copy book with the Mumgelicals. Worse again, the said nanny, the one rearing the future king, isn't even British! Dear God, it's an outrage. Someone should call social services and have the poor mite put into care. But then he'd be a burden on the hard-pressed taxpayer.

The Sunday Independent, 09 March 2014


So, Paddy Power's "joke" advert, superimposing the head of Oscar 'Blade Runner' Pistorius on the gold statuette given out at the Academy Awards, and offering money back "If he walks" backfired.


He's on trial for murdering girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp and he wears prosthetics to help him walk. Hilarious, no? But did the campaign really backfire? Yes, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in Britain ordered the offending, and many would say offensive, advert pulled just days after it appeared, following over 5,200 complaints and an online petition with more than 122, 000 signatures. But by then the ad had appeared in news stories worldwide, reproduced in full Technicolor, taking up large swathes of newspaper space that Mr Power didn't have to pay for. Job done, we'd say.


Critics said the famous online betting firm was making a mockery of murder, of violence against women and disability; some hat- trick if you can manage it. But, isn't the furore over what is admittedly tacky and in poor taste missing the real point? For the past two decades, ever since OJ's famous car chase was screened live, high-profile murder cases have been treated by many as just another type of reality TV. Long before the advent of TV cameras in the court room, there were people willing to bet on the outcome and bookies (not renowned for their delicacy of feeling) willing to take those bets. A young woman is dead and we're all glued to our screens waiting to see what happens. Paddy Power didn't kill her, didn't make the gun that killed her and its certainly not making us watch. What are the odds that we're going to stop watching anytime soon? You don't need to ask a bookie.

People are talking:  Poor Kate, let down by the in-laws again


The Sunday Independent, 23 February 2014


Poor Kate Middleton – she works hard for her in-laws, the former Saxe-Coburg Gothas, she was the perfect Princess bride, produced a male heir in suitably quick fashion, and never puts a foot out of place.  And those feet – they’re often seen in the same pair of shoes!  Thrifty Kate recycles her outfits – unheard of in British Princessy circles before she came along, likes to mix up her haute couture with high street fashion and wears her Granny-in-law’s jewels rather than splashing out on her own.  Thus the pretty prudent Princess has proved that you don’t have to be a toffee-nosed toff to be a Royal.


Shame that such a hard-working girl married into a family that's so determined to shoot itself in the foot. But that's the problem, the Windsors like shooting, even young enlightened Harry and William enjoy pointing firearms at running animals. And yet, there they were, along with Daddy Charles at the world's largest conference about the illegal wildlife trade, only days after blasting a few boars in Spain.


Of course, there is a huge difference between hunting endangered species and plugging the odd stag or boar. The problem for the hunting classes is that most tax-paying plebs aren't part of the elite who can distinguish between a 'bad' hunter and a jolly good sport.


In an effort to help save elephants from being poached for their tusks, William apparently told primatologist Jane Goodall that he would like to see all of the ivory owned by Buck House, a priceless collection, destroyed. And this would help elephants how? Allegedly, it would send out a message. Yes, Wills, it would, the message that you have more money than sense.


- Anne Marie Scanlon

People are talking: Having a laugh, a la Francaise


 The Sunday Independent – 16 February 2014




ONLY a few weeks ago, the French media were sniffily denying any interest in what their President got up to in his chambre à coucher.


The French, they condescended to tell us, were too sophisticated to care about le sex, and it was only all of us gauche galoots west of Calais who concerned ourselves with the smutty details.


Is this the same French who earlier last week could hardly contain their excitement when a rumour emerged that US President Obama (pictured) was crazy in love with Beyonce? After Pascal Rostain, the paparazzo who took the shots of Hollande visiting his non-official girlfriend, made these claims on radio, the French papers could hardly wait to inform their sophisticated readers. The following day, Monsieur Rostain announced he had been joking. Ah oui, très droll, no doubt Michelle O is killing herself laughing.


Linking world leaders with much younger, well-known women seems to be quite the thing at the moment. Former President Bill Clinton was alleged to have had an affair with Liz Hurley, a rumour that went viral before its source, Tom Sizemore, dismissed the whole thing as the "ramblings" of a drug addict (himself). But, luckily for fans of scandal – real or rumoured, the mill was soon churning again with claims that Wendi Deng (the ex Mrs Rupert Murdoch) had a crush on former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. So who's next? Will we hear that Enda has been dallying with a Dublin Wife? Or Michael D close dancing with Dana? In cyberspace, anything is possible, and so what if it's not true, you can just say you were having a laugh – French style.


- Anne Marie Scanlon



‘Good friends are very rare’ – Marian Keyes & Anne Marie Scanlon’s 30-year friendship

By Marian Keyes and Anne Marie Scanlon on May 27, 2013



Marian Keyes’ has said her latest novel would not have been written were it not for her best friend Anne Marie Scanlon.

Best friends, they each reflect on a bond that has now spanned nearly 30 years.

‘With Anne-Marie, I can tell her everything’

By Marian Keyes

ANNE MARIE SCANLON is my friend. My true friend. She is a rare and wonderful person and I feel so grateful to know her and that we’re so close. She and her son Jack are family to myself and my husband, Tony.

Sitting down to write this piece has made me focus on what I value in her most and I suppose the first thing is her loyalty. She’s on my side, I know it in my gut. And her loyalty is to me the person, not me the writer. She stands up for me and she never judges me.

Even though we live in different countries, we’re in constant contact – email, Twitter and phone calls – and we’re a great support to each other. She understands my dodgy mental health and I know that when I’m in a dark place she will never take the position, “What has she to be depressed about?”

She listens to me, gives me compassion and it’s such a relief for me to be able to blurt out everything I’m feeling. I never feel I have to self-censor or only tell her part of the story – with Anne-Marie, I can tell her everything.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Far from it. She’s great company and always full of recommendations for interesting books and television shows. She’s a uniquely gifted raconteur and probably the funniest person I’ve ever met. No-one makes me laugh like she does. Even when we’re talking about the darkest of subjects, we end up having a scream.

I suppose our senses of humour are perfectly aligned, we find the same things funny and if some sort of news story breaks, all she has to do is text me three words that might seem entirely random to anyone else but has me in convulsions.

Here’s an example – ‘Leo Sayer’s jocks.’ That’s meaningless to anyone other than myself and Anne Marie and to explain why it’s funny would be impossible because it’s a long story that goes back years.

That’s another thing about Anne Marie and myself – we’ve known each a long, long time, probably 30 years. She’s younger than me, she was originally a friend of my sister’s but during my years of living in London, Anne Marie and I became close.

As a result, we share countless memories. To have that sense of rootedness and continuity with her is something I really value. I’ve known her for more than half of my life, she didn’t just parachute into my life when I was a successful author, she knew me when I was a broke accounts clerk.

I wish we lived in the same country, I really do. But when she comes to Ireland, she and Jack stay with myself and Tony and we all get on great. We’re extremely relaxed around each other. She goes off and does her own stuff during the day and I’m always impatient for her to get back to me because she’s such a brilliant story-teller that she turns the most mundane events into a performance.

Regarding my work, I trust her implicitly. I always show her my work-in-progress and she will comment honestly – she won’t flimflam me.

If she feels something is unconvincing or confusing, she’ll give it to me straight.

But she’s always kind and always constructive. In fact, I have Anne Marie to thank for the inspiration for The Mystery of Mercy Close because for years she’s been saying that “poor Wayne Diffney” deserved his own book. When I went through a long spell of being unable to write, she insisted that I get working on Wayne, and it kick-started me again.

With her journalism, she’ll often ask me to take a look at her work before she submits it. She’s a brilliant writer, an insightful and gifted interviewer. But I wish she was on telly. I’d love if she had a spot, reporting on Corrie and other TV dramas. She’s so articulate and clever, such an astonishingly gifted and forthright communicator that she’d bring so much pleasure to so many people (especially me).

There was one year when Tony and I were away during Celebrity Big Brother (actually it might have been the year of Leo Sayer’s jocks) and Anne Marie sent us daily email dispatches on the show, and I swear to God, I’ve never read anything so brilliant. In a stream-of-consciousness style, she conjured up the whole series, second-by-second. It was better than watching it.

Anne Marie is full of thoughtful gestures. When I go to stay with her she has all my favourite foods in and lovely pretty bed-linen on the bed and she waits on me hand-and-foot.  She goes to an awful lot of trouble for me. There was one time in Marks and Spencer’s and I was trying to buy a scarf but the assistant couldn’t find a tag on it, so it couldn’t be sold. But a few days later, Anne Marie produced the scarf for me – she’d gone to another Marks and Spencer’s and got it.

What I also value about Anne Marie is the way she includes my husband Tony in everything – we really are family.

Good friends are very rare and I love Anne Marie Scanlon with all my heart

The Mystery of Mercy Close is published by Penguin Books

Marian Keyes’ has said her latest novel would not have been written were it not for her best friend Anne Marie Scanlon.

Friends for nearly 30 years, they each reflect on a bond that has now spanned nearly 30 years.

‘We are our own worst enemies and each other’s biggest fans’ 

By Anne Marie Scanlon

WHEN I first met Marian she was the glamorous, sophisticated and thoroughly unapproachable older sister of my friend Caitriona.

The gap in age between us isn’t that big but back then I was a gauche schoolgirl and she was a stylish university student.

She had great clothes. Sometimes Caitriona would open the wardrobe door and we would stare in awe at Marian’s fantastic array of fashion.

Looking was all we could do, we were most definitely not allowed touch any of the threads.

It’s funny, 30 years down the line (I cannot believe it is actually that long), that I was once scared of a woman who is the very embodiment of kindness, generosity and approachability, and who I love better than the sister I never had.

These days Marian still has a fabulous wardrobe but now I’m afraid to admire anything because she has a habit giving me things I say I like (with the exception of her husband Tony).

Most friendships, no matter how strong, become diluted with age, as priorities change, responsibilities increase – people marry and have children. Perhaps it’s partly because Marian and I only managed the whole package between us (she got married, I had a child) that we have grown closer over the years despite the fact that we’ve lived in different countries for the past two decades.

Marian’s readers are right in thinking that they know her – she is “warm & witty” as a thousand reviewers have said, but in real life she is even more so.

Marian is not just kind and generous but ferociously intelligent and is one of the funniest people ever born. Seriously funny – she could be a successful stand-up if she wanted.

In fact she is so smart and so funny she really could do anything that she wanted to do. I get very cross when I hear people slagging her books off, dismissing them as mere “Chick Lit” and not really proper writing (proper writing being of course earnest, po-faced and above all dull).

I know I am biased but I think Marian’s books are in a class  all of their own and she should be loudly applauded  for her ability to tackle difficult subjects without leaving her readers wanting to top themselves.

Many assume writing is an easy job and Marian spends her days reclining on a chaise lounge, eating chocolate and reciting her novels into a Dictaphone.  Maybe some writers work that way but Marian is not one of them – I have witnessed at first hand just how much effort she puts into every book and how hard she works herself trying to make every sentence perfect.

In the course of our relationship Marian and I have both been through some very dark times and she is the person I will usually turn to in a crisis.

We have a very honest relationship and we’re not afraid to tell each other the truth.

I always know Marian will be frank with me and tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear, and because Marian is so willing to risk my ire (which can be fearsome) for my own good I am more willing to listen. She’s usually right as well.

The birth of my son Jack in 2007 highlighted just what good friends Marian and Tony are.

At the risk of sounding self-aggrandising, I’m a pretty good house guest. I clean up after myself and don’t expect to be entertained – although I do have a bad history of accidentally setting off burglar alarms.

Having a baby or a small child in your house is no picnic (even when you are the child’s parent) but Tony and Marian have always been so welcoming towards my son and have never appeared put out – even when he locked us both in the bedroom on Caitrona’s wedding day and dropped the key through the floorboards – necessitating Tony to start hunting for spare keys a few minutes before he was due to drive the bride to church; or when Jack vomited all over their lovely beige sofa or the endless times he stank up Tony’s fancy car when he was a baby.

Since he was three, my son insists that Tony and Marian are part of our family. He’s right, we may not be related by blood but they are much more to us than just friends.

I love spending time with Marian because we amuse each other greatly, she is not just a great entertainer but she’s also a wonderful audience.

One of my favourite things in the whole world is to watch Come Dine With Me with Marian – we shout at the telly and kill ourselves laughing. Our relationship is symbiotic, we are both inclined toward self-doubt and harsh self-criticism, we are own worst enemies and each other’s biggest fans.


I won’t mention words like ‘Ying’ and ‘Yang’ as she’d call me a feathery-stroker and probably never speak to me again – which would be a pure disaster.

People: Meet a businesswoman who has the complete package


From selling fresh eggs at the tender age of eight to delivering delicious food to the A-listers, Jennifer Irvine personifies the word entrepreneur



The Sunday Independent – 26 January 2014


Entrepreneur is a much devalued word, bandied around by contestants on The Apprentice, reality TV stars and other eejits to the point where it is more as a badge of shame rather than a mark of pride. If anyone can reclaim the word and return it to its original meaning, Jennifer Irvine can. Jennifer, who has just published her second recipe book, The Balance Diet, grew up on a farm in Eyeries in Beara, west Cork. One of four children, Jennifer's interest in food started young and her earliest memory is of churning butter when she was three.


Despite her roots in farming, neither of Jennifer's parents comes from an agricultural background. Jennifer's mother, Veronica, is originally from Dublin and studied at UCD where she met her future husband Norman Steele, who is from Worthing in Sussex. Norman was a lecturer in Philosophy at Trinity but was in UCD to deliver a guest lecture. After they married the couple moved to west Cork to pursue a life of self-sufficiency. "Self-sufficiency sounds very romantic," Irvine says, "but it's very, very hard work. It does teach you a lot, how to milk a cow, churn butter, make yogurt and cheese. I learnt how to make a sausage before I learnt how to drive."


The Steeles are well-known among foodies for making Milleens cheese – a tradition now carried on by their only son, Quinlan.


Jennifer's entrepreneurial career began at the age of eight when she started her first business. "It was a business," she says, "I did proper accounts and everything." Her parents had such a surplus of eggs on the farm that there was a constant worry they'd eat a bad egg by mistake. Jennifer remedied this by getting on her bike and selling fresh eggs to local restaurants. Jennifer never let an opportunity to turn food into money pass her by. After going to Newtown Senior School in Waterford as a boarder Jennifer would sell biscuits for 5p each to her dorm-mates at night. "That's some profit margin," she laughs. In no time Jennifer was running the school tuck shop.


Not content with her various food-based enterprises, Jennifer purchased a street traders licence and hitched from town to town selling "whatever I could". This was prior to the Celtic Tiger and there were no jobs "and you had to be very innovative to raise the extra money needed to go to the pub". she says. "I used to collect flowers from hedgerows, press them, buy three frames for a £1 from the Pound Shop, frame the flowers with their Latin name inscribed beneath them and sell them for £5 at markets."


After studying food marketing and economics at Reading University, Jennifer began working for Neal's Yard Dairy in London. While working full time she started her own business, The Pure Package, in 2003 while still in her early twenties. Pure Package is a food delivery service providing clients with three meals and two snacks on a daily basis, what Jennifer calls "convenience with a conscience". It began with one employee, Jennifer herself, doing everything – cooking, delivering and answering the phone. "I'd answer, pretending I was a receptionist and say 'Hold on, I'll just transfer you' and then I'd switch the receiver to my other ear and say 'Hello'." It is now a multi-million pound, award-winning business with a roster of A-List clients including Julien Macdonald, Anya Hindmarch, Erin O'Connor and Hugh Jackman.


Soon after starting her own business, Jennifer married her Scottish husband Stephen Irvine and very quickly had three daughters, (the couple are currently expecting their fourth child). "At one point I had three under three," Jennifer says. Despite being busy with her new family, Jennifer won the Shell Livewire Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2005 and Harper's Bazaar Entrepreneur of the Year 2007. She is quick to attribute the success of her business to the fact that she genuinely loves food. "I'm obsessed by food, I love food, I wake up in the morning and wonder what I will have for my dinner. As a woman I also think about how I can eat delicious food and look good at the same time." (She is blonde, slim and pretty, so she's managing that part very well). "I never like to feel guilty about eating and thought a whole load of other people would feel the same."


Because The Pure Package is based on fresh healthy food it is only available in a limited area. In response to increasing demands for recipes, Jennifer wrote The Diet for Food Lovers in 2011 and the current book The Balance Diet, which extols Jennifer's prime food philosophy that "flavour is fulfilment". Since the publication of her first book Jennifer has been inundated with correspondence thanking her for sharing her love of good food.


"I love the fact that my philosophy of food is helping people around the world," she says sounding genuinely thrilled.


  • The Balance Diet, Jennifer Irvine, Hardback Weidenfeld & Nicolson €28.99. For more information see,


Anne Marie Scanlon


In This Week's Sunday Independent




Miley: Dancing Teddy to Homeless


Is it really only a year since Miley Cyrus made 'twerking' a common word and practice?  It feels like a lot more than just twelve months since last year's MTV VMAs (Video Music Awards) when Miley got tongues wagging with her OTT performance of 'Blurred Lines' with Robin Thicke, a large foam hand and a dancing Teddy Bear.                                                                                          


Since then the former Disney starlet has packed in more bum-baring, hip-gyrating, tongue-wiggling, wrecking-ball straddling, Sinead-dissing, marijuana-apologising, sex-move simulation and public near nudity than most people manage in a lifetime. If they manage it at all. And she's still only 21.


What happens when you've done it all by the time you are legally eligible to drink? How do you cause a fresh furore when you've already clambered nude onto an industrial machine?


Fair play to Miley, she actually managed to top her own shenanigans by bringing a homeless person to the awards ceremony. Amazingly, despite the alleged spur-of-the-moment nature of the gesture, she managed to find a hot, young, blue-eyed, blond, total eye-candy homeless guy. (But sure, it's LA, we assume even the homeless population have to conform to industry standards.)


Photogenic 22 year old Jesse Helt, accepted the Video of the Year award on Miley's behalf and that "of the 1.6m runaways and homeless youth in the United States". Miley looked on from the wings (well, the front row) like a proud Momma and wept.


Cynics suggested that the stunt was more about promoting Brand Miley than raising awareness of homelessness. Unfortunately, for both Miley and homeless people, new poster boy Jesse has an outstanding arrest warrant in his home state of Oregon. God alone knows what Ms Cyrus has planned for next year's awards - how on earth is she going to top this? Be afraid, be very afraid.




The Sunday Independent

November 25 2012

Colin Farrell has a great new movie under his belt and couldn't be more contented with a life far removed from his earlier hellraising days

NOT all actors are stars, and not all stars are actors. Rarely do the twain meet. But they do in Colin Farrell. That the 36-year-old Dubliner is a star is beyond debate, but he is also one of the most talented actors on the big screen today. When he walks into the room, the atmosphere shifts. There is little doubt that you are in the presence of a bona fide celebrity – all eyes are drawn to him despite the fact that when he walks through the door it is without pomp or fuss. When he sits down to talk to me, we have a proper chat; although he is a huge star he is ordinary, unassuming and friendly – it's like meeting some nice bloke (albeit a very good-looking one) at a cousin's wedding. In simple jeans and a T-shirt, clean-shaven and with short hair, he could be any guy, and it's this ability to appear average that sets him apart and lets him fully inhabit the characters he plays.

I met Farrell primarily to talk about his latest film, Seven Psychopaths, a comedy in which he plays Marty, a boozy screenwriter with writer's block (he's trying to write a movie called Seven Psychopaths). The movie was written and directed by Martin McDonagh and this is Farrell's second collaboration with the award-winning writer, (the first was In Bruges in 2008). Farrell says that working with McDonagh "is so much fun on so many levels ... from the language to the way he shapes voice and characters, it's very distinctly different from any other writer's work ... there is a deep emotional current that makes it more significant and more profound than just a trick of smarter better writing. There's nobody like him really."

Seven Psychopaths has an outstanding ensemble cast that includes Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken. Farrell was somewhat star-struck meeting Walken, whose films he grew up watching. "I've been at this racket (acting) for 13 or 14 years but it's not like you get on set and it's like (he adopts a dismissive tone) 'there's Christopher Walken', you know there's a kid in you that always stays there and it's f***ing mortifying to be on a set with him, but in a really lovely way. I loved working with him, he's such a f***ing cool man, really sweet, really kind and really ... " Farrell pauses for a few moments before finally saying "different" and laughing.

"He's really uncommon, all of us are kind of versions of each other in greater or lesser form and we all rub off each other in certain ways. I don't know who the f*** rubbed off him and what made him what he is, and I mean that in the most complimentary way. More than anyone, he's like nobody I've ever met."

In 2000, the relatively unknown Farrell, who had previously had some small parts on film and in television (including Ballykissangel), exploded into the public consciousness in Joel Schumacher's Tigerland. With his undoubted talent and his strikingly handsome looks, the 24-year-old became hugely famous.

Fame was quickly followed by infamy, as Farrell became notorious for partying, boozing, taking drugs, sleeping with scores of glamorous women and appearing in a sex tape. The man who sits in front of me could not be more different from the tearaway who conquered Hollywood. After making Miami Vice, Farrell checked into rehab in December 2005 and has been sober since. Healthy-living suits him – he looks far younger than his 36 years and I tell him he looks fabulous. "Thanks," he says, looking delighted, "I feel good. I'm genuinely so happy that I don't do it any more, I really am," he says smiling. "Everything in my life, every experience be it fear or joy or upset or pain or uncertainty or excitement, all the good, all the bad, it's all fully experienced and I love that. I get off on it big time."

Recalling his days of wild abandon, he says: "I stayed in that ring for too long."

These days, he has little time for partying as his schedule is filled with work and time with his two sons James, 9, and Henry, 3. "I've learned from other actors who went before me and I try to be as much part of their lives as I can so that neither of them can say at the age of 18 'ah he was good fun – when he was around'. To be around enough to be considered a pain in the arse by the boys – that would be brilliant." Farrell, the youngest of four, was born in 1976 and grew up in Castleknock, Dublin. As the baby of the family, he admits he had things easier than his older siblings who, unlike him, were "as good as gold".

"By the time I was grown up, the rules that dictated certain behaviours within the Farrell household were being cast aside," he says with a smile. After attending three different secondary schools he was "f***ed out" of the final one, Bruce College, a few months before the Leaving Certificate.

"The first two years at Castleknock College, I wouldn't say I was a perfect student, but I think I gave it a go," he explains. "Then third year, fourth year and fifth year were a f***ing disaster." When he was eventually asked to leave Bruce College for threatening a member of staff, he was relieved rather than anxious.

"I took to Sheehan's (pub) and had a couple of pints," he recalls laughing. "It was great, it was a long time coming, I thought 'At last! Thank f*** that's over with'." In retrospect, his attitude appals him.

Again, there is a contrast, for a man who was not academically inclined he is obviously highly intelligent, articulate, a voracious reader and shows a keen curiosity about a variety of subjects. During our conversation he demonstrated his wide-ranging interests by referencing subjects as diverse as Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and the pop culture reality show Celebrity Big Brother. (I don't know why, but the idea of Colin Farrell sitting at home watching Celebrity Big Brother seems utterly bizarre, though far less bizarre than the idea of him reading a literary classic.) It's easy seeing why Farrell cuts such a swathe through the opposite sex.

Not only is he ridiculously good-looking (yes, that old cliche, he is even better looking in real life), famous and rich but he's innately charismatic and charming. During the time I spent with him he was quietly solicitous, making sure to fill my glass before his own (we were both on the water) and appeared to be genuinely interested in my opinion.

At that point he hadn't seen the final cut of Seven Psychopaths and quite nervously inquired "Is it any good?" He appeared both relieved and genuinely thrilled when I said it was brilliant. (It is brilliant; I wasn't just trying to keep in with the star).

There are quite a few references to heaven and hell in the film; does Farrell believe in these concepts?

He takes a moment to consider his answer, then says: "I don't know about such things but I believe there's very little that could be experienced in another realm that can't be experienced here with enough focus, determination and patience. I'm sure there are people who are experiencing a veritable hell on the planet right now and there are those who are living in great peace and happiness and great joy that's not necessarily dictated by their economic or monetary status or even by their health."

Speaking of hell on earth, I ask him how he would feel if either of his sons followed him into 'the business'. Surprisingly, he wouldn't mind.

"Whatever they want to be," he said, "In an ideal world they'll find something that they apply themselves to because they have interest, curiosity or passion for."

When I express surprise and say that the movie industry is a very cut-throat business, he laughs. "Being a human being is a very cut-throat business – check any school yard. Trying to find your place in society, trying to find where you fit in ... "

He's not gone on Facebook or Twitter either. "It would be too easy to get lost in. I have such an addictive personality, although I would have had worse addictions in my life," he laughs, but then adds: "I think it's too easy to say things you don't mean (on the internet). It's too easy to be negative because you're not responsible or culpable. I'm over bullying. I'm over people saying mean things. I'm over cynicism. I am really f***ing tired of it, sick of it; I just want everyone to have fun. I know it sounds puerile and innocent and naive, but f*** me, I'm glad I have no time for meanness."

In Seven Psychopaths, Farrell's character Marty is a bit fond of the jar and there are several references to alcoholism being a particularly Irish disease. Farrell laughs: "If alcoholism was sole property of the Irish people the world would be a lot more of a nice place. But it's not. You can fly to any country in the world and within 20 minutes of arriving find yourself in an AA meeting if you so desire." He has no regrets about sobering up when he did.

"I literally can't believe how much freedom I have in my life now that I'm not chasing it (alcohol). I was a 'divil', I'm not boasting because I can look at it now like it's someone else. It's a very distinctive chapter that the page got turned on."

I ask him if he feels sorry for 'that guy', the old Colin, the drinker, partier, carouser – the wild man who was trapped by his addictions and compulsions. "No," he replies emphatically, "that's dangerous. I feel for that guy and I'm glad I'm not him. He was awful sad and confused and felt like a worthless piece of shit. I don't claim to be the king of anything," he says with a wide smile "even my own thoughts, but I'm OK with myself, and to be OK, truly OK with yourself, is a pretty big deal".

'Seven Psychopaths' is due to be released on December 7


EWAN's mission: possible

The Sunday Independent, December 30 2012


He's played many characters over the years but none of them has been himself, says Ewan McGregor, as he proves he can still reinvent himself in his new role as a tsunami survivor in 'The Impossible'

Ewan McGregor is relieved. Despite having been a successful film actor for nearly two decades, one renowned for the diversity of roles he's played (from a junkie in Trainspotting to the love interest in Little Voice and Brassed Off, to a Jane Austen ne'er do well in Emma, to James Joyce in Nora) all most people want to talk to him about is his part as a young Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars. His relief is due to the fact that I'm more interested in his new film, The Impossible. Besides, if I did want to chat about his back catalogue of movies, I'd be more interested in the early 'willy waving' years when McGregor regularly got his kit off on the big screen.

Or at least I thought I would. The Ewan McGregor I meet is a far cry from junkie Mark Renton, his breakout role in Danny Boyle's Trainspotting or Curt Wild, the black-eyelinered Iggy Pop-like rock star in Velvet Goldmine who can't keep his leather trousers on. This Ewan, with his neatly trimmed beard and chunky-knit sweater puts me in mind of a respectable Edwardian seafarer. If he whipped out a pipe and started smoking it, I wouldn't be at all surprised. It isn't that he's glum or dour, (far from it) but he's just exuding so much decency and sheer niceness that I would be utterly mortified to ask him about his lad.

I realise that, like lots of people, I've made the mistake of mixing up the actor with the characters he plays. With his latest role in The Impossible, McGregor plays Henry, a man that is not too dissimilar to himself – a husband and father who has a good job and a happy family life and, as a result people, are already confusing him with Henry. "It was written in production notes that I played Henry as myself and that's not the case," he explains. "I used my own voice and didn't attempt to do a different accent... but no I didn't play myself; I could never do that – unless I was making a film about me."

The Impossible, which also stars Naomi Watts and three very gifted young actors Tom Holland, Oaklee Pendergast and Samuel Joslin, is the true story of an ordinary family who were holidaying in Thailand when the 2004 tsunami hit. Where The Impossible diverges from more traditional 'disaster movies' is that it is brutally raw. When the freak wave hits the coast, the family are separated and washed away in different directions. Although lucky enough to have survived the initial impact, they are quite literally cast adrift amid ruined buildings, fallen trees and other dangerous debris in rapidly moving water. They are all plunged into absolute chaos and a fight for survival.

Prior to filming, McGregor did not get a chance to meet the real-life Henry, but the director Juan Antonio Bayona "knew him very well" and "the writer (Sergio G Sanchez) spent many weeks with the family so he was on the page and I just played the guy that I saw on the page – every beat of the script is really their true story".

In the aftermath of the tsunami, Henry and his two younger sons are separated from his wife and eldest son, having no idea whether they are alive or dead. I was horrified at the scene where Henry sends the two little boys aged seven and five to the safety of higher ground by themselves. "I never questioned it," McGregor says. "What else would you do in a way – there was lots of talk about a second wave coming and that was, to them, then, a really serious threat, lots of survivors we talked to said that the second wave was a really big thing as they believed it was coming again."

I ask him if he would be able to do the same thing, to leave his children alone to fend for themselves in a strange place. "I don't know," he replies, "I hope to never have to be in that situation but I never questioned that he (Henry) did that. His wife and his other child were still there, he just had to find them. He did what he thought was right, he didn't question it at the time."

McGregor is lucky enough never to have had the experience of temporarily misplacing a child but does have vivid memories of when he "got lost in a theme park in Holland when I was about seven or eight. I was walking along with everyone and then I was not with anyone. I was looking around; I remember that, being there with everyone being big and around you".

If the two youngest cast members felt apprehensive surrounded by strange adults during filming it certainly doesn't show, and McGregor is full of praise for them saying Oaklee and Samuel are "amazing little actors ... I spent a lot of time with the boys – reading the scenes, working on the scenes, playing games, making it so that they were familiar with me because to begin with they didn't know me and we have to be father and sons, we have to be tactile ... but we got there really quickly – they just got used to me, and I love kids, I'm happy just being around kids and they could feel that".

As a father of four girls ranging in age from one to 16, he missed his family while filming. "Naomi had her kids there and I didn't have mine because my wife was pregnant with our youngest so she was at home and the kids were all at school. On the weekends I would just adopt all the other families and tag along– we had little weekend trips – went canoeing and things. I used to take pictures of me and my boys and send them home to my kids and say 'look here's my other family in Thailand'."

Home these days is Los Angeles, where McGregor moved with his family four years ago. He says: "It's been great for my kids, it's a nice place to have children in." Before that McGregor lived in London for 19 years. "I love London," he tells me. "I have read that it was a parking ticket on my motorbike that spurred me to leave, but I don't think that's true," he says with a laugh, "although it did annoy me at the time – that you have to pay for motorcycle parking in the street – I was like 'f**k that'."

He's also spent a fair bit of time in Ireland and it was on his first shoot here making The Serpent's Kiss in 1997 that he first met his good friend Charley Boorman (the pair have since gone on to make several documentaries on their beloved motorbikes).

"That film was the first time I've worked in Ireland. I loved it. We were in Sixmilebridge which I just adored. It was back in the day when I used to drink so it was a good place to do that in." I ask him if he's in recovery and he says: "No, I just don't drink, not for 12 years." But why, I ask, hoping for the scoop on his inner demons. "I was just a big drinker," he says matter of factly, "and it's better not to be." The neatly trimmed beard was grown for August: Osage County which he just wrapped filming on – he's shaving it off as soon as he gets the OK from post-production. I'll bet that even without the facial hair, he will remain a nice respectable man who just happens to dress up (and sometimes undress) for a living.



Not too Posh for a trip to the chipper

Sunday February 03 2013


OMG! I hear you cry, Victoria Beckham, alias VB, alias Posh, former pop star and full-time fashionista, has been spotted in a chipper! Of all places! OMG indeed. To listen to the outrage this sighting has sparked, you'd swear the sight of Posh with her oversize handbag and Louboutin boots ordering food in a chippy was one of the first signs of an imminent Apocalypse.

Cut the girl some slack, people. She's back in England after spending the past five years living in LA, a city so carb-phobic that the humble fish & chipper is considered on a par with a crack house. (Worse even, carbs make you fat, crack on the other hand ... )

Carborexia (eschewing all carbs) is not just a way of life in LA but a near-religion – any and all carbohydrates are considered evil and as detrimental to personal health and public good as cigarettes and Class A drugs.

Yes, dear readers, in Tinseltown, carbs are considered A Very Bad Thing. It's simply amazing that bread and potatoes are still legal there.

Besides, when David takes up his five-month contract at Paris St Germain, Posh will be surrounded by pains and frites, so she was quite possibly on a practice run.

What nobody saw fit to comment on was Victoria's companion on this trip to the carb side, her seven-year-old son Cruz.

There has been much speculation about what diet Posh may, or may not, be following. Whatever regime she is on (or not), it looks as though she's not inflicting it on her young son, and whatever you think of VB, that can only be A Very Good Thing.





The Sunday Independent

19 May 2013




PAUL Bettany is rather taken aback when I tell him that he made me cry. The 41-year-old Londoner is kitted out in a tweed three-piece suit and wearing glasses with round frames. He looks like the epitome of the English gent – even a tad Bertie Woosterish – and certainly nothing like a cad given to making ladies cry.


He's relieved when I explain that it was in his role as surgeon Stephen Maturin in the 2003 film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World that he got me blubbing. The film, which also stars Russell Crowe as Captain Jack Aubrey, is set during the Napoleonic Wars in 1805 and Bettany's character, an eager naturalist, has been promised several days exploration on the Galapagos Islands. At the very last moment, Captain Jack abandons the plan in order to chase an enemy vessel. The way in which Bettany managed to portray his character's utter devastation was extremely understated yet so powerful that I wept aloud (and I'm not given to sobbing in the picture house). I left the cinema that night raving about this wonderful new actor – I hadn't recognised him as the same wonderful new actor I'd raved about in A Beautiful Mind two years earlier.


Bettany, despite his leading man looks – tall, blond and very handsome (so handsome that he can get away with the Bertie Wooster get-up) – has a chameleon quality that allows him to disappear inside the characters he portrays.


In his latest film, Blood, he plays Joe Fairburn, an ordinary middle-aged policeman, in an everyday British town (although it does have the fanciest police station ever seen on film). Joe is quite a bland character; he's been married for 20 years and has been in the same job his entire adult life. He grew up in the town where he works – his brother Chrissie (Stephen Graham) is also a policeman and his father Lenny (Brian Cox) has retired from the force.


Joe's life could be described as happy but dull.


Underneath the seemingly content exterior however, Joe has plenty of mental turmoil – his overbearing father Lenny (an impressive performance from Cox) is suffering from dementia and his teenage daughter is no longer Daddy's little girl.


As Bettany sees it, the character of Joe has no way in which to process all of the upheaval and instability in his life. "Someone like Joe," Bettany explains, "has absolutely no introspection." When Joe and Chrissie are called to investigate the murder of a young girl, the stress of the case proves the tipping point and Joe's inner mayhem physically manifests itself in an act of violence that leads him to have a complete mental breakdown.


While Blood initially appears as a standard police procedural/thriller, it is really about the breakdown of both an individual and a family unit. Watching Joe go from seemingly happy family man to a hopeless wreck, although compelling viewing, is not always easy to watch. So how does Bettany as an actor tap into the psyche of someone like Joe? He tells me that his job as an actor is to see where he does and doesn't identify with the characters he's playing. When he identifies the character traits that he has himself, he "cleaves to them whilst working on the others."


He explains that with Joe, there was quite a bit of personal material to work with as he's suffered from two separate mental breakdowns when he was younger.

He's happy now and strongly advocates therapy ("it helps people make sense of their lives") as it helped him to get "rid of all the mud" that was weighing him down.

Bettany then adds that although he is very rational, and even though he was able to intellectualise and understand why he was so unhappy, after having therapy he felt as though a "monster had released me from his jaws".


This is a very powerful image of mental suffering and one that could easily be applied to poor Joe as he becomes unmoored.

Was it a very gloomy set, I wonder. Bettany says that when working with heavy material like this, he always tries to keep it light on set and goes on to praise all of his cast mates, especially Brian Cox, whom he describes as "magnificent" adding that Cox was the only logical casting choice for the man who is simultaneously fearsome and fragile.


"Nobody else could portray the father, nobody has the finesse but with that hint of menace. He's an old man but he could still lamp you one."

Although he tried to keep things light on set, he says he could not help but take the character home with him. For the past nine years, home has been New York where he lives with his wife, actress Jennifer Connelly, whom he met on A Beautiful Mind, and their three children.


For a long time he and his family lived in Brooklyn. "Jennifer is from a typical Irish-American Brooklyn family," he explains, and then adds while shaking his head and laughing, "Irish Americans – they're more Irish than Irish people." The couple, who are known for their non-celebrity lifestyle, recently moved to Tribeca (downtown Manhattan). They both like the relative anonymity of living in New York. "New Yorkers are too cool to act impressed by fame," he explains.


Although he loves his adopted home, Bettany – born in London in 1971 to thespian parents – admits that he does miss a lot about England, especially pubs, curry and the English sense of humour. But, he's quick to point out that he can't stand the whole Englishman abroad routine. He visibly cringes when he talks about LA "being stuffed full of Brits complaining that American people have no sense of irony".


"That's ironic," he laughs. He's not into the whole home away from home thing either. "I've been to those English pubs (in New York) at 7am to watch the football and there is nothing more depressing," he says. It's not just English pubs but theme bars in general.

"The very fact that you are pretending to be somewhere else, denying where you actually are, is isolating in itself," he says. Being a big fan of fish and chips, he recently braved a themed English chip shop in search of a fix. "I felt as if I'd walked into a time warp. There's Silver Jubilee bunting everywhere," he says gesticulating with his hands, "the Clash playing ... but I have to say the fish and chips were very good and I know about fish and chips because I used to make them (for a living)."


Apart from working in a chipper, Bettany was a busker for a couple of years in the early 90s. He can't quite recall just exactly how long he plied his trade on the streets and subways of London as "I was quite mad at the time." Soon after he left the busking scene ("a terrible job") he made the film Dead Babies (2000).


He's not particularly proud of the film but on set he met Charlie Condou, who Coronation Street fans will know better as Marcus Dent, who has become one of his best friends – they are godfather to each other's children and both families spend every second Christmas together.


Despite his friendship with Condou, Bettany doesn't watch Coronation Street and never did, even when he lived in the UK. He explains that this has nothing to do with being a high-falutin' thesp or soap snobbery but a deep seated fear of commitment. "Apart from my marriage, I'm a commitment phobe. I don't want to start watching something on TV if I have to keep watching it!"


Given the number of roles Bettany has played, it's doubtful that he has the time to watch TV anyway.


Blood is available on Video On Demand and Pay Per View on May 31 and on DVD and Blu ray from June 10.


The Sunday Independent – 01 December 2013

People Are Talking: Win or lose, Kian is our King of the Jungle

CommentsWas there ever a worse time to be Irish? Austerity, high prices, beaten by the All Blacks – if we had any national pride left it would be at an all-time low.


Thank God for Kian Egan who has been giving us all cause to celebrate our Irishness in this year's I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here. The show annually takes a bunch of slebs from D-list to Z-list (usually more of the latter than the former), throws them into the Australian outback with paltry portions of food and a series of ever more horrendous trials; sits back and watches as the whole thing rapidly descends into Lord of the Flies territory.


Without the benefit of hair, makeup and a decent night's sleep it isn't long before the slebs' real personalities emerge and usually it aint pretty, but this year we've been presented with a real no-nonsense hero. Who would have imagined that a former boyband member, who fits all the criteria of vacuous celebrity including a gorgeous showbizzy wife, the former Hollyoaks actress and Wonderland singer Jodi Albert, a baby with an odd name – Koa – and a side-line in judging on a talent show, would be such a genuinely decent guy?


Even in the face of the bugs he shares the camp with, Kian has remained charming, helpful, and just lovely. While Joey "Can't Blow His Own Nose or Tell the Time" Essex has been grabbing all the headlines with his "Joeyisms" (what the rest of us would call criminal stupidity), Kian along with royal dress designer, the utterly fabulous David Emanuel, have proved that you don't have to be thick, back-stabbing or whinging to be entertaining. Win or lose, Kian is our King of the Jungle.


Anne Marie Scanlon

Sunday Independent 06 October 2013


Mrs O's dig at 'dark' Dannii




It's déjà vu all over again. Sharon Osbourne appears determined to reignite her feud with former X Factor judge Dannii Minogue. In her current autobiography Unbreakable which is being serialised in a tabloid newspaper, Sharon says Dannii's affair with head judge and master of the world Simon Cowell made her "stomach churn". This from a woman who lets her many dogs do their business all over the house, not to mention sharing her bed with the self-styled Prince of Darkness Ozzie Osbourne, a man who's bitten the head off a bat!


At least Ozzie stopped at bats (and the occasional dove); his missus seems determined to take the head off just about everybody else. In her book, Sharon says the public don't see the real Dannii who is "dark, very dark" and to be fair Mrs O does know quite a bit about darkness. However, her feud with the Australian singer occurred in 2007, several millennia ago in showbiz years. As one Dannii fan said on Twitter, Sharon needs to "build a bridge and get over it".


But then again, after two previous books the 60-year-old plastic surgery fan is obviously running out of material. Just as well she had a spat with Lady Gaga last year as that manages to fill a few more pages. Shazza labelled Gaga a "publicity-seeking hypocrite and attention-seeker". There'll be no mention of pots and kettles here.