Happy New Year.

Added on Tuesday 20 Jan 2004

My friend and neighbour, Desmond Lapsley reminded me on New Year's Eve that I hadn't updated this diary since September. I took note, and then promptly forgot until I got the gentlest of hints from the lovely Pat Byrne. Now one of my New Year's resolutions is to post an update at least once a month from now on.

As you might have read in Pat's diary, I'm a granny again. Michael Steven Shankly was born on December 4th, weighing 8lbs 11oz; a beautiful Christmas gift for Cara and Kevin, his umpteen grannies and grandpas, and aunties and uncles. After Cara's difficult pregnancy it was such a relief to see her and Kevin with their healthy son. And I must thank Joe Murray who emailed me some helpful website addresses for Cara. Oh, and by the way, Joe. Sitting Among the Eskimos wasn't a surprise to me.

By the time Christmas week came along I was out socialising again. I went with my neighbour Ruth Condra and a couple of her friends Fiona & Bev to Mancini's in Great Western Road. It was my first visit to this terrific family-run restaurant, but it certainly won't be my last; the food and the service were excellent. And on Christmas Eve, Douglas and I had arranged to meet Peter Manson in Oblomovs, but I was really chuffed when old friends Robin, Stephen and Oscar also turned up. After a fortnight during which my most erudite utterances were "Where's his Nana's golden shillin the day?" and "He's jist the bestest wee boy in the whole wide world, so he is" I was relieved that I could still hold a conversation.

Now the holidays are over, and it's back to work. This week I start teaching creative writing classes at Strathclyde University, and also Adult Literacy classes with the Worker's Educational Association. I'm writing another radio script for the BBC, but still battling with writer's block i.e. utter terror at the very thought of approaching my computer. Sadly, my publisher has cancelled my contract for a second book. I was upset at the time, but as my wonderful agent, Victoria said; now I can write the book I wanted to write in the first place, and not the one I felt I had to write. One of my favourite Self-help books is 'Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway' by Susan Sellers, and it now has pride of place on my desk.

Erica Jong wrote a book called 'Fear of Fifty' a couple of years ago, and I think I've now got over mine. It dawned on me that I'm the same age as Pierce Brosnan and Tony Blair, and I'll bet those two aren't sitting around thinking "Boo hoo, I'll never wear my hair in pigtails again".

Before I sign off, thanks to Anne Monahan who after reading about my granddaughter Aimie and her escapades at school, sent an email about her own little granddaughter Lauren, which coincidentally is Aimie's mum's name. Ah, isn't it great being a granny? However Aimie isn't particularly chuffed with her new wee cousin. She arrived at Christmas saying "Thank goodness that Michael's not here yet; he just cries and cries, and does my head in."

So, new year, new grandson, new job, and hopefully new radio script and new novel.
"The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it".

Best wishes for 2004.