Broadcaster Áine Lawlor has no time for faux pleasantries. "I'd prefer to be at the dentist," she says, taking a seat.
She has reluctantly agreed to an interview ahead of her much-anticipated return to Morning Ireland, following a nine-year interruption.
In 2011, she stunned listeners when she announced she was taking time out to receive treatment for cancer. It has been a long road.
There were several rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. Today she seems in good humour, which is why her next admission is surprising.
"Are you constantly...," I begin, intending to ask if she worries about her cancer returning. She interjects.
"In pain? Yes."
In what way?
"You can't be poisoned and burned and cut up to the extent that I was without long-term effects."
Nerve pain, stomach pain and bone problems are the price for a second chance at life. She says: "You can't be swallowing painkillers all the time. That wouldn't work with my job anyway."
Instead she has turned to alternatives. Acupuncture, cupping, gardening and yoga.
And when the "stabbing pain" wakes her at night, radio provides an escape. "You just turn it on and try to live with it," she says.
It will continue to be her release, as she moves from the News at One slot she has occupied since 2013. "In front of the red light I never feel a thing… [not] one bit of pain," she smiles, noting how when she came into studio to record one-off segments "even with the wig on, it felt like home".
Before her illness Áine had spent 16 years at Morning Ireland, which is often the first port of call for explanations and apologies once a crisis or scandal breaks.
It has afforded her a front-row seat to the rise and fall of many political careers.
She tells me that, off-air, she has seen politicians shed "tears they didn't mean anyone to see".
On the political game itself, she says: "It's always ruthless. It's all the power - and it's a tough trade."
Áine notes the "backstabbing and in-fighting" and says that when the combatants get into power, they find "it's a lonely place".
She believes politicians are often most interesting after they have failed because "they have learned how hard it is to actually deliver".
"It takes a lot of arrogance to pull off what they have done. And the thing about politics is that - even if you're brilliant - you end up believing your own spin, because you have to.
"So failure gives them more roundness. It tends to make them better in the future."
Although known for her grillings, Áine is done with "gotcha" interviews.
"I suppose, after I was sick myself, I can't pretend to [buy into] some kind of [sense of] invulnerability. Everyone is human and everyone is vulnerable in lots of ways.
"The more you understand about politics, the more you understand about the stories behind the news - and the more you understand that, yes, it's about accountability.
"But it's also about human frailty - that's part of the story, too," she says.
As if becoming conscious that she may be in danger of sounding too soft, she hardens her stance: "On the other hand, if you haven't done your homework on an issue you should be accountable." She flashes a mischievous smile.
What of the controversy surrounding her former RTÉ colleague Sean O'Rourke, who was forced to step away from a planned new weekend show after the embarrassment caused by his attendance at the Golfgate dinner?
"Sean is one of the best journalists I have ever worked with," she says, while also stressing that the Oireachtas golf event should never have taken place.
Does O'Rourke deserve a second chance? "I always believe in second chances. You never write anybody off. But equally, with anything in the public eye at a time like this, there is going to be the issue of accountability."
She describes it as "typical of Sean" that he chose to tackle the issue head-on. On the possibility of him coming back from the public fallout, she says: "There is always a future. There is always another turn in the road. For everybody."
The mother of four is married to an RTÉ producer and the couple's middle two children are twins. What is not widely known is that their eldest and youngest were also twin conceptions. Sadly, with each birth, one baby died and one survived.
At the time she was climbing the ladder in RTÉ and trying to raise a young family so she says "there wasn't time to dwell on any of that".
She tried to work for as long as she could through the pregnancies but was "as sick as a parrot every single time".
She laughs: "I always remember there was one politician who used a very strong aftershave. I had been trying not to let anyone in work know [about her pregnancy]. I got through that interview then threw up into the bin the moment he left."
I ask about the mixed emotions of having a baby, but losing its twin.
Áine pauses and then says: "The thing about anything to do with having children is that it can break your heart.
"Whether it's at the conception stage, the pregnancy stage, the moment they are born or the stage where you think everything is fantastic and something goes and happens later on.
"If you are going to take on the job of loving someone else in any way, shape or form, it's going to hurt you at some stage - and the more you love, the more you are going to get hurt. That's just the way it is. But I have four fantastic children, so you end up with a huge amount of joy."
So what about the early mornings? Where does 16 years of getting up at 4.30am in the morning leave you?
"It leaves you knackered," she laughs. "You feel like you have run a marathon by 9am.
"You are usually sweaty and 'urrgh' because to go from the middle of the night to firing on all cylinders is such a gear change."
Before taking time out she would fall asleep at midnight and get four hours' rest, then nap after work. And they were the good days.
During the more trying times she would become overtired and "stay awake too long". On those occasions, she says: "You can end up awake for 24 or 36 hours."
Áine laughs at how her children often bemoaned her choice of vocation because "their lives were destroyed" by the early alarm calls: "I was always like: 'I need to go to bed early - you can't be having parties.'"
Now they're older, it will be easier. She also knows she will no longer have to present five mornings a week. Which leaves us with the long-term plan. At 59, she has only six years left under RTÉ's current retirement rules. Will she be another reluctant retiree?
She'll be nothing of the sort, she says. What she describes as "the cycle of attention" is "a drug for a lot of people in the media". It means their identity becomes entwined with their job. When that goes, they don't know "who they are, what they are".
That won't be her, Áine says. She can't wait for what comes next. She wants to expand the family's vegetable plot, take up bee-keeping, study in America and live in France.
"I'm very lucky to be here," she concludes. "I'm delighted to be getting old."