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'I'm surprised people weren't grabbing my cheeks, pinching me and making goo-goo sounds at me'

FRANK the dentist did oral surgery on me today. It was all going fine until he asked me if I'd like a look. Naturally, I had to be all manly about it, and I had a look -- bad idea.

The thing about the dentist these days is that, now that the pain is largely gone out of it, it's mainly about indignity. I hate the indignity. My trick for dealing with it is to remember I'm only at the dentist for half an hour once every few years. The actual dentist is at the dentist's all the time. The actual dentist spends his whole life looking into other people's rancid mouths. You tell me, who's the undignified one there?

I always knew a day would come when the child would give something back to me. So I came home feeling sorry for myself and she was all smiles and cuddles. I even held the little mite's face up to my sore jaw and let the healing power of baby love get to work. In fairness to Frank, he had warned me about all kinds of pain and swelling and black eyes and everything, but there is little pain and no swelling. I feel smug.


I WAKE up to feel something pressing slightly against my eye. It seems I may have been a bit premature about the swelling. But it's not discoloured, and it's not too big. I convince myself you'd barely notice it. We celebrate with a family outing to the BT sale and lunch in Carluccio's. The critics have been mixed about Carluccio's, and I'm always kind of suspicious about chains. We love it. And the gnocchi is practically babyfood for a man in my position vis-à-vis jaw/mouth etc. You could pick all kinds of holes in Carluccio's, but I'm not going to. It's fab. Everyone we meet says the child looks like me. Poor thing.

I get home and realise why people think I look like the child, or she like me. You've heard of the expression chubby cheeks? I'm surprised people weren't grabbing me by the cheek, pinching me and making goo goo sounds at me. I check the internet, which has made doctors and dentists of us all, and confirm that indeed, the swelling only starts the day after and then intensifies in days two and three and then maybe starts to subside. Great.


YET again, the internet is spot on. Just call me chipmunk.


THE Impac Dublin Literary Award people have come up with a great new ruse. The winner this year -- De Niro's Game -- is actually a real page turner and you'd read it in three nights. It fairly rocks along for a book that won a prize.

You know the way you feel guilty about not reading award-winning books? The Impac crowd have solved all that. So now I will no longer avoid coverage of the Impac Award for fear it will make me feel guilty about another great literary novel I won't be reading.

Next year, I'll be talking about the Impac Award for months in advance. "So who do you think will win it this year? What do I mean by 'it'? Obviously I mean the Impac Dublin Literary Award. Aren't you up with it? The winner is being announced in three months. Did you not read last year's winner? Terrific novel. Unputdownable." And they can have that if they want to add it as a sticker on the cover. One sticker can say "Impac Dublin Literary Award winner" and then, just so that doesn't put people off, they can have another sticker next to it saying "Unputdownable -- The Sunday Independent."

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WE have been looking at baby farms for the child, or creches as I believe they are called in these politically correct times. It's a complex process. Certainly, you're looking for basic stuff like smell, and the children not being drugged all day. But being modern parents we have all kinds of other neuroses. We mainly try to gauge the Montessori-level kids, or the Monties as they seem to call them.

We check to see if they seem confident, but not too confident, cheeky but yet mannerly, not too posh or too unposh. I want her to hang around with the right kind of people, but only to a point. And I don't want them to break her spirit, but only to a point.

For some reason, I have decided it is vital that all the kids be musical. The child seems to like music and I would like it forced on her as it was forced on me. We worry about whether the food is freshly made and preservative free and whatnot. God we're cliches.


A WEDDING today, a brilliant wedding. Made all the more brilliant by the fact that the priest doesn't, as they say, stand on ceremony. This guy should work in one of those Elvis chapels in Vegas. He'd have them in and out quicker than they could sober up and change their minds. He knows what we're there for, and he knows it's not primarily religion. On wedding days, most of us are really only after the few pints. He had a few good jokes as well. And not your cloying, needy, modern young-priest jokes, old-fashioned vaudeville stuff. I don't want trendy alternative comedy at mass. When it comes to mass, give me Tommy Cooper over Tommy Tiernan. I'm surprised this guy didn't have an altar boy on the drums to do Kaboom -- Chi.


I AM not allowed to drive back to Dublin, so I sit in the back with the other child. She appears to be suffering some sort of hangover/comedown from the wedding too.


OK. I actually can't take any more depression. It used to be that at this time of the year we just had the weather to whinge about, but now it's all moaning. I had written a light-hearted piece for the paper today in which I mentioned that a lot of media people seemed to be actually enjoying recession nostalgia and thinking that this latest recession is a good thing, and I open the Sunday Times and, honest to God, two of their main columnists are actually saying that this recession is a good thing.

I am considering a media embargo in our house. From the second you turn on the radio in the morning until you turn off the evening news programmes and go to bed we are being bombarded with depression. And my worry, to put it in economic terms, is that all this macro-depression is having a microeconomic effect on me. Genuinely, I think it's actually making me clinically depressed. Even my pastime of dreaming up ridiculous get-rich-quick schemes that I'm never going to do anything about is gone, given that all the schemes are strangled at birth by the economic climate before I can even develop them in my head. I can't leave the country right now -- I actually would if I could. I swear. I'd go and live somewhere else to get away from this depression -- so instead I have decided to start forcing myself to be relentlessly positive in my day-to-day life. I am avoiding toxic negative people who just want to talk about how bad everything is and I'm going to become one of those annoying bastards who sees the bright side of everything.


I'M on the tea again. The Pu'erh miracle weight-loss tea. I saw some of the stuff from Slender lying around under my desk and I thought I'd go for it. Brunker was the face of Slender and not only does she seem to be popping up everywhere looking fabulous, I see she's also managed to write a novel on it. I'm not surprised. There's a fair old buzz off the Pu'erh. I can barely keep up with myself typing here. Even if I was talking you this log I still wouldn't be able to keep up with how fast the thoughts are coming. I wish I could just transmit the whole jumble to you telepathically.

Do not take this as any kind of an endorsement but I think the tea actually works. I lost weight the last time I did it for a week. One qualification to that is that I think I lost most of the weight through the cleansing effect of the tea, if you know what I mean. You could say what it lax in taste it makes up for in other areas. I'm sweating a bit too, but that could just be down to the moodswings.

People who don't know me keep telling me I've lost weight. In fact, I haven't lost any weight in the last two years. And then they express surprise at how tall I am. I then patiently point out to them that while TV adds 10 pounds to most people it adds about 10 stone to me and makes me ugly. Then I explain that the tallness thing could be down to the fact that I was sitting down the last time they saw me. On the TV. Anyway, the truth is I've put on a bit of weight recently. I've been comfort eating like a pig to cope with all the depression. It does the trick too. Have you tried three full Caramel bars after your dinner recently? Sort you right out. And you have to see the bright side of that. Don't you? Don't you?

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