1. The Harry Potter books. Oh man. Forget the movies: they’re rubbish. (That didn’t stop me watching them all in the cinema on opening night, having endured weeks of hopeful anticipation in advance.) They are a supreme escape, full of all the thrills you desire as a child: being able to fly, magnificent food, four poster beds, living in a mystical castle, your homework being practicing magic. Adventure, romance, success, failure, pain, loss, heartache, fun, joy, celebration. Surprise twists and turns, grotesque horrors and exquisite delights. It’s magic.
2. Festival. Christmas, Easter, birthday, firsts, lasts, fine beers: I’m up for celebrating all of it. Growing up in a house devoid of traditions and scant celebrations, I’m up for a party and you’re all invited. (Except…you.) Feasting, drinking, dancing, singing, talking, laughing and being silly a must.
3. Silence. Oh how I love silence. I need a pocket of silence in every day or I go a little bit nuts. I didn’t always know that I needed that and spent more than a little time feeling aggravated and vexed because I didn’t make space for it in my life. Quiet, you!
4. Friendship. It is the most important thing that life has to offer us and it is the only context for virtue. It illuminates everything and makes the most wounding experiences livable. It is rare and it is soul-nourishing like no other thing. It is the perfect soundtrack to every experience.
5. Old fashioned desserts. Tapioca, creamy baked rice, semolina, bread and butter pudding…stodge, warmth, vanilla wonderfulness. I associate them with my grandmother, who was rather ungrandmotherly* overall, but was good at tapioca with a lump of HB ice cream in it.
*She once found a rat in her bedroom, grabbed it in a towel and broke its neck, and other stories.
6. The Counting Crows. It has never been cool to like this band, at least not in Ireland. It is probably less cool than ever now. I went to see them for the first time in the summer of, I think, 1999, with a boy I was besotted with, and his friend. No gig before or since has topped that experience and their music will for me be forever tinted with nostalgic memories of sun and wandering my city’s streets at night and feeling young and unfettered and alive.
7. Sunglasses. Every bit as universally cool as cigarettes, but without the ash-breath, yellow fingers and cancer. Slap ’em on any nerd, and they’re transformed into an adonis-like state.
8. Sleep. I don’t get that much of it, so I enjoy it when I do. Enhanced by the warm presence of the husband-unit.
9. The nineties. Like most teenagers of the nineties, I am obsessed. The terrible fashion. The unforgettable dance music. The new dawn of breakfast television. The economic boom and the sense of endless possibility. The Britpop. The Spice Girls. The movies – the legacy of Jurassic Park, Titanic, Terminator 2, Home Alone, Saving Private Ryan, The Matrix, Mrs. Doubtfire, Forrest Gump and The Sixth Sense. The inexplicable feeling that those of us who identify with the era as being able to take credit for that stuff (you’re welcome). The Alanis-Morisette-Tracy-Chapman-Tori-Amos-Bjork-Sarah-McLaughlin-Beth-Orton-fever that gripped all us young women. The hot summers, the music festivals, the piercings and the purple hair. The oversized tshirts, listening to Longwave radio Atlantic 252, My So Called Life, Dawson’s Creek and Party of Five. Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese changing the political landscape for Irish women forever. Good times.