Sunday 20 October 2019

'It's amazing that my kid, who can't say a sentence, can blow her nose. Next she'll have learned the Charleston'


Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

Doing publicity for things is generally a pain in the hole. What is there to say, really? If you are a celebrity with some witty anecdotes about other celebrities then fine. But if you are just the conman who does the aftershow, not even part of the action, then really it is work for both you and your interviewers.

There are a few things I don't mind doing in general. It's always a bit of a laugh going into Ray D'Arcy for example. Underneath that warm exterior, Ray is a chippy enough character -- but in a good way. You can have the banter with him and it has that edge that good banter needs, particularly when it's with another man.

Today, doing a few chats for the finale of The Apprentice isn't the worst. TV AM is always OK. I like Mark Cagney and Sinead Desmond. Cagney is a jaded old Cork cynic underneath it all, which you can deal with, and Sinead is smarter than your average media bird.

And then on to Ray Foley on Today FM. Ray is great.

He is really relaxed and it makes you relaxed, and that's a gift in itself. He seems happy to just shoot the breeze, which is actually pleasant. I go home and report to the wife that I think I like Ray Foley and she says she knew I would. She knew this because she heard Ray Foley mention before that he buys all his socks and underwear in batches, wears them out and then buys a new batch.

I operate the batch system too. Basically it means that, at any time, all the socks and underwear you own are the same kind and the same age, so the same colour and level of wornness.

In terms of underwear this is just mild OCD, but it makes perfect sense for socks. For example, all the socks I own are black M&S lambswool bought on the same day in the same shop. All are circulated equally enough through the wash (I allow chaos theory and the law of averages to look after this), thus when you get a wash of socks out, there is no pairing to be done. You just take whatever two socks come to hand -- all are exactly the same! It has really helped with simplifying my life.

The one shortfall of the system is that it gets difficult as socks start wearing out. You can find yourself down to three pairs -- or six individual socks as they are under my system -- and on a fairly tight rotation doing a sock wash every three nights, but you know if you buy a new batch you're getting rid of three pairs that aren't quite worn out yet.

The thing is, if the system is working properly it's like a set of tyres, or lightbulbs that were all put in together -- they all wear out around the same time. A hole appears in one and it has a domino effect across the board. Anyway. Bottom line, if you'll pardon the expression, is that I like Ray Foley all the more now.

Practically the first person I see when I walk into The Apprentice wrap party is Ray Foley. I had two pints in the pub beforehand, so I greet him enthusiastically and tell him how much I enjoyed being on his show. Then I introduce my wife and bring up the socks and underwear business. He walks away backwards, clearly nervous.


The wife tells me that my greatest achievement this year was teaching the child to blow her nose. The child is really into it. Sometimes she's gesticulating furiously in some direction and trying to say something to me, and I'm looking around and seeing nothing of interest to her in that particular direction. And I'm like "What?". Then she'll mime someone blowing their nose and I suddenly notice there's a box of tissues where she's been pointing. "Oh. You want a tissue?" "Ya". And I give her one and she blows her little nose.

It's amazing to think that someone who can't form a sentence can blow their nose. Such a civilised little person. Presumably, next she'll have learned the Charleston or something -- but she still won't be able to string a sentence together.

Come to think of it she has other unusual and terrifying skills too. For example, she can't say the word iPhone but when indulging in her favourite pastime -- looking at pictures of herself -- she knows how to slide the thing to move it onto the next picture. I met someone who was buying computer games for his three-year-old the other day.

I'd prefer if she stuck to innocent skills, such as the nose blowing. In fairness, it didn't take much to teach her.

First I showed her to blow out through her nose without a tissue. At this point I didn't even know I was teaching her to blow her nose. It was just us making piggy faces at each other -- scrunching up our noses and making a short exhalation. The poor thing has her father's scrunched-up face. Let me assure you that it is more attractive on a female toddler than a grown man.

Then one day, when I was wiping her nose with a tissue, I told her to blow -- and she did the thing we used to as a game. And that was the day I realised she is a very advanced child and I am a class of genius in the area of childcare and development. I am considering writing a book. Though I would need the wife to help as, apart from nose blowing, my main other childcare skills are a) holding the subject upside down; b) tickling the subject; and c) performing both a) and b) together.

This is important work, perhaps the most important. But still, I feel this, and my revolutionary work on nose blowing, would not be enough for a book. I would need some input from the wife on the whole eating, sleeping and keeping-the-child-alive area of childcare.


Santa is coming to creche so a certain amount of trepidation. We were in Kelly's in Rosslare recently. Funny how we all end up at that point in life where we become Kelly's people. The child-friendliness extends to a special tea for the kids after which there is a miniature disco. Our little maggot was a bit clingy all weekend, bless her, which she does when she is getting yet another tooth.

And then things went to a whole new level of clingy when Santa came. And Santa came not once but twice over the weekend. The child went into wild animal mode, drawing herself up to her full miniature height and screaming as loud as she could to ward off the white-bearded predator.

Since then we have been working on the opposite of Santa-aversion therapy. We have got her to the point where she is well-disposed towards an inanimate Santa in a book or even on a tree. So we thought she might be ready for the "real" thing again. No such luck. She was having none of him.

I explain to the girls in the creche that this is a sign of a smart child. I'd be more worried if she was happy to sit on the lap of an older man, presents or no presents. I find myself secretly hoping that this is the beginning of an aversion to all men except me.

Someone else tells me how, one day, they had a clown at their creche and she still has to reassure her guy every day before he goes to creche that the man won't be there. She reckons the parents were freaked out by the clown, never mind the kids.


One of the favourite rituals of the day is the opening of a new window on the advent calendar and the eating of the small piece of chocolate inside. This strictly does not happen until after porridge. Of course, certain people see the advent calendar hanging on the wall during the day and try to make a break, but it is explained to them that they have to wait until the morning.

Don't ask me how it happened but now, when we see the advent calendar and we try to head over and start climbing up the wall to get at it, we say "Morning, morning". Morning now means chocolate, apparently.

Nice one, Dad.

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