Donald  Trump:  appointed Steve Bannon; a man accused of being a white supremacist, an anti-Semite and a sexist. Photograph: M Phillips/ Getty Images

In the wake of the American election I feel like I’m waiting for a horror show to start

‘I remember women flocking to the store to be shod, like bristling ponies. Ivana lookalikes, power dressers, hair the colour of rape fields, shoulder pads wider than elevators, smiles that could crack glass’

With the clack of wealth on bruise-coloured marble nothing seemed real, just like now

Actress Sharon Stone who, at 58, has her own ideas about ageing gracefully. Photograph: Michael Kovac/Getty Images

Hilary Fannin: There is a world of possibility beyond the creaking gate

“No wonder it doesn’t take much more than candlelight to illuminate Danish winter nights”

The cosy concept has a natural fit with Danes but shiny premature Christmas is more us

Former president Mary McAleese with Community Award and Overall Traveller Pride Award Winner Rosaleen McDonagh from Dublin at the 2010 2nd annual Traveller Pride Awards.  Photograph: Alan Betson

‘Mainstream’ includes actors who have at various times been ignored and marginalised because of disability and ethnicity

“Totter into any wedding fair and witness the proliferation of ‘fairytale’ reception suggestions, replete with candy carts full of childhood treats and photo booths where guests can snap themselves in jolly false moustaches.”

‘Re-virginising’, all the rage, makes as much sense as carrying a dog in a handbag

Walking the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela: “The journey was edifying and intimate and occasionally exhausting.” Photograph:  Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images

My pilgrimage was entirely secular, but no less meaningful for that

What is our “deal-breaker” when it comes to finding or choosing a partner, I wondered that night, while my knees atrophied on the sodden tiles. Photograph: iStock

The water pipe spurted merrily as my present husband googled ‘how to stem a flood’

We imprint ourselves on our offspring, the good and the bad, bringing our best and our most lousy selves to the table.  Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

We weren’t parented; just given an occasional boiled egg and left to the wolves

Hair care is the biggest growth category, closely followed by shaving. Photograph: iStock

How to be a Man: The male grooming industry is expanding at a rate of knots

Photograph: iStock

My enthusiasm for the gym fell apart when I realised I could go for a walk for free

‘Nobody gave a second thought to the ethics of some girl being sent home by her employer because she wasn’t looking too hot or chirpy.’ Photograph: iStock

Times may change, but ‘cosmetically unfit’ birds will never be allowed to fly

Apparently Cheryl’s insistence that Liam Payne sign a gagging clause is too witheringly cynical for the young chap to swallow. Photograph: Gisela Schober/Getty Images for Chopard

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini’s stance on the gagging clause with her young lover is to be lauded

Cold Feet cast members (from left) Robert Bathurst, Fay Ripley, John Thomson, Hermione Norris and James Nesbitt. The  comedy ran for five series between 1997 and 2003 and is now is back on TV

13 years on, it’s hard to see the new Cold Feet defining fiftysomethings the way the original series did for thirtysomethings

According to a survey, younger people are actually having less sex than we imagine. Photograph: iStock

Apparently there is a whole generation out there too exhausted to gird their loins for some loin-girding

Rachel Corrie, an American peace activist who was crushed to death while undertaking nonviolent direct action in Palestine. Photograph: Abid Katib/ Getty Images

It’s easier to focus one’s frustrations on stain removal than to admit to impotent rage at the world

North Carolina Rose Maigan Kennedy onstage in the Festival Dome for the Rose of Tralee. She also gleefully recounted her first, and apparently “cool”, trip to Mass. Photograph:  Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Hilary Fannin: ‘A sense of how moving it might be for emigré families to see young women breathe new life into their ancestry’ (...)

Germany Rose Kari Foss onstage in the Festival Dome during TV Rose of Tralee Selection on Monday night. “This is not, as the Germany Rose said, ‘a beauty pageant’ – an attorney who also produced a vaguely unintelligible rap for her ‘party piece’.”  Photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Hilary Fannin: We just don’t seem to be able to get enough of this ‘celebration of Irish women and their achievements’

Photograph: iStock

Hilary Fannin: Recently I read with a frisson of fear and recognition about the number of Irish women dying from alcohol-related i(...)

The former industrial school at Letterfrack, Co Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

In one row, four brothers are buried side by side, their deaths occurring at two-year intervals

Winston and Clementine Churchill: rarely talked before 1pm

The Churchills' domestic arrangements sprang to mind when I was looking at a list of American bestsellers for 2016, which included(...)

“Sooner or later, we all need decent arch support,” my friend retorted. Photograph: iStock

Friends occasionally hit on small mantras, dropped clues in the forest of our shared decade, which they polish and hew to get them(...)

Kells Bay: a place to start daydreaming about in May

We would disembark from the train at Killarney, my mother and I, around the same time every year, for our annual summer visit to (...)

The atmosphere around Pembroke Cricket Club was friendly, informal, mellow, unhurried. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

I had thought cricket grounds would feel exclusive, tight. I was wrong

 Hilary Fannin at the launch of Hopscotch: The process of writing a memoir, of blowing away the chalk dust from those formative years, of opening the suburban doll’s house and breathing life into the characters with whom I shared my life, has been a tremendously positive one. Photograph: Fergal Phillips

As her memoir, Hopscotch, comes out in paperback, the Irish Times columnist recalls having to overcome an aversion to the word ‘I(...)

Photograph: iStock

My neighbour, who had always wanted a child, was told that she had about six months to conceive

“I found myself grinding my way through a superfood salad, trying to convince myself I could eat my way out of exhaustion.” Photograph: iStock

I'm envious of our youth. Envious and scared

“The first-floor window looked out over Government Buildings. I watched a TV crew slowly assemble.” Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

I am suspicious of assumptions of like-mindedness, but I thought I’d give the menopause meeting a go

“Is there anything more adorable than a dog in a tux?” Photograph: iStock

If you really want your wedding to be on-trend, you should factor in a canine ring-bearer or a doggy usher. Apparently

Census enumerator Ciaran Lynam in Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Well of course I have ‘a long-lasting psychological or emotional condition’. Doesn’t everyone?

Kinnegad in 1998. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

I loved Kinnegad, despite the disparaging rhyme my father taught me about it 100 years ago as we spluttered home along the road to(...)

Gwyneth Paltrow. Photograph: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

Why am I drawn to the sun-kissed, horrendously expensive and nauseatingly exclusive lifestyle advice on Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop?

Not a wart in sight: the stars of Baldoyle Musical Society’s production of The Witches of Eastwick

The atmosphere at Baldoyle Musical Society is simultaneously familiar and deeply unfamiliar; old-fashioned maybe, gently arcane

Photograph: Thinkstock

Two beach-ready girls sat on the floor of the blue corridor; restless young men with chalk-white faces loomed around the plastic s(...)

Nuremberg, 2006: Cheryl Tweedy and Victoria Beckham in the golden age of Wags. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

This handy guide will lead you to the premium seats and your very own shoebox full of studded Miu Mius ... and beyond

Photograph: Thinkstock

How walking can help destigmatise an illness that used to be shoved to the back of the cupboard

Photograph: Thinkstock

It wasn’t the first time I had had a call-back for further investigation after a mammogram

The Giant Goose Way

The sweet Spanish woman I met on the flight home was looking forward to seeing the Giant Goose Way

Illustration: Thinkstock

We needed puberty in the 1970s. Good God, we needed any help we could get, crawling over the line to our sexual selves

Photograph: Thinkstock

We are about as cheery and Zen as a brace of lightly spiced battery-fed chickens in the run-up to barbecue season

Photograph: Thinkstock

‘There were women, friends, who genuinely didn’t know each other were gay,’ says my friend Janice as she prepares to get married (...)

Grafton Street in the 1960s

I recently had a reunion with a Dutch friend who had immigrated here when change was in the air

Photograph: Thinkstock

The friendship of the four of them, their gang, their cabal, spanned the decades

Photograph: Thinkstock

Great news: ‘Moderate consumption of Champagne has the potential to influence cognitive functioning, such as memory’

Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

I bet Jerry Hall never goes out with her underwear stuck to her raincoat

Photograph: Thinkstock

I’ve almost convinced myself that with a little effort, a little less vino, this year just might unravel more energetically and gr(...)

Photograph: Thinkstock

I can’t stand the Christmas-fatty-New-Year-skinny tripe that we swallow down like a laxative every year

Photograph: Thinkstock

The rapacious old tart of a tree was the thing that drew me to this house, and now the chainsaws were out for her

Illustration: Thinkstock

Any pearl of wisdom compact enough to fit on a fridge magnet or the side of a coffee mug should be utterly rejected on the grounds(...)

Photograph: Thinkstock

Where’s the point in beating yourself to a stiff brandy-cream peak wondering why your Christmas is teetering on the brink of medio(...)

Hilary Fannin, right, at the  Irish Book Awards. Photograph: Patrick Bolger

The dress I bought for an awards ceremony was tailored for a woman from many years ago, almost definitely before the advent of tak(...)

Prague: a monumental city,  giddy with architectural treasures

Three days of walking under a pale sun and red rooftops, necks craning, as instructed by the guidebook, to note the Baroque, the R(...)

Photograph: Thinkstock

‘When you’re lying face down on the bathroom floor, trying to cool the raging thermostat inside you by clutching at the cold floor(...)

Photograph: Thinkstock

What’s an unco-operative calculator compared with an unreconstructed he-man?

Gwyneth Paltrow looking good in an Aran sweater

Who knew my lumpy old sweater would end up on Goop?

One Direction fan Shannon Brown outside the SSE Arena in Belfast. Photograph: Pacemaker

Taking kids on pilgrimage to see One Direction takes its toll

Dickie Rock. Photograph: Eric Luke

‘Ah, Dickie Rock. I think he’s past his sell-by date,’ one of the women at the swimming pool said

Photograph: Thinkstock

It’s creeping back in: hibernation time appears to be over for the acquisitive middle classes

Photograph: Thinkstock

The disembodied voice emanating from the speaker would appear to have been recorded by a woman well-versed not just in elocution b(...)

Photograph: Thinkstock

Discovering an old teddy bear and well-thumbed editions of the Irish Women’s Diary and Guidebook in the attic brought it all back (...)

Image: Thinkstock

We’re hit by our very own personalised asteroids every day of the week, annihilated over and over again by grief and disappointmen(...)

Photograph: Frank Miller

A&E was awash with the fallen, the wounded, the broken, the reparable and the irreparable

Photograph: Alan Betson

I turned on the phone: missed calls, a hospital, family members

Photograph: Thinkstock

They used to come free with a convent-school education

Photograph: Thinkstock

It’s hard to tell where one bay begins and another one ends in Connemara. It’s hard to tell and unimportant to tell, because the l(...)

Tinder: swipe right for yes

Although I wasn’t labouring under the illusion that Tinder was something used to start a fire, I had assumed it was mainly for you(...)

Photograph: Thinkstock

‘Piglet?’ the woman inquired again, looking past me at a vaguely handsome man

A tap on the shoulder. Photograph: Thinkstock

This grim reaper was like one of those Dublin taxi drivers who arrives 10 minutes early and waits impatiently outside the front do(...)

Photograph: Thinkstock

They have wine, cheese and sunshine. They’re thin. And they only use cardigans for decoration

It appears that  Judy Finnigan  graces nearly as many covers as Kate Middleton’s blow-dry. Photograph: Richard Martin-Roberts/Getty Images

‘If a gossip rag’s circulation figures are wobbling like a couple of has-beens’ bat-wings, try throwing in a blearily cruel snap o(...)

My grandmother used to say that when a bird flew into the house, death soon followed

I was shredding the lettuce, about to start on the pepper, waiting for the barbecue flames to die down so I could throw on a coupl(...)

Photograph: Thinkstock

I was thinking, while the pungent chemical mucilage attempted to imitate the colour I was born with, how entirely mad it was to si(...)

‘Perfidious, perilous dehydration, which just plays havoc with your epidermis.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

I don’t know about you, but my fears tend to revolve around potentially vile and random things happening to the people I love. But(...)

‘Yoga apparently lies at the root of all evil.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

‘God very, very sad’ about the referendum, my friend told me. Which brought us to ‘satanic’ yoga

‘Hi guys,’ the apple blossom whispered to us through her feathery boa, like a girl who was really enjoying the party. Photograph: Thinkstock

It had been a strange week. In the midst of the energy and commitment that is inherent in opening a new play, my friend in London (...)

‘Sad really, that I chose to spend my afternoon turning myself into a pale and saggy imitation of Frida Kahlo, but without her talent, her cheekbones or her maverick nature’

My response to time’s arrow is to encourage each year to be more liberating, more adventurous than the last

Couples Suzanne Cahill and Tina Keane, and Cathy Murrey and Lisa Cresswell at the Yes Equality Bus in Cork. Photograph: Clare Keogh

I find the current debate around the marriage equality referendum quite emotional. We are pushing hard against a caul of restraint

‘The nuns had chilling accounts of nice devout girlies, children just like us, on their skinny knees, chatting to a weepy virgin, who believed in their devotion so much that she made herself into flesh.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

Man, I loved a bit of fervour. Hand on heart, I’d like to acknowledge the energy that the nuns put into the telling of the great, (...)

‘Grooming is cyclical, I suppose, but this business of self-image feels more potent now.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

It’s not just young girls who are slaves to images of unattainable perfection

‘I probably should have persisted with the whole Girl Guide thing, got myself a neckerchief and woggles, learned how to tie a slip knot, resuscitate a choke victim, read a compass and make gingerbread men.’ Photograph: Alan Betson

The Girl Guides programme Free Being Me attempts to unmask society’s beauty myths. Maybe I should have stuck it out in a neckerchi(...)

‘Now that she is coming out of hospital, my mother is dependent on herself, on family and on the State system for ongoing care.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

I wish there were a transparent, equitable, easily accessible system of care available to elderly people who are struggling to mai(...)

In the middle: ‘I didn’t figure too personally in this week’s health traumas. I was just the driver.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

I have been inside so many waiting rooms in the past seven days that I could weep

Michelle Obama dances on The Ellen DeGeneres Show

The US first lady’s Gimme Five project is a dreadful title and an even worse concept

Sunrise over Montreal: You are an amateur, Montrealers told me...  You have never wintered here; you know nothing. You wouldn’t last five sub-zero minutes.

All day long , the humans were looking unsure, fretful even. Do we get excited about this? Do we unbutton, unreel, unfurl?

Crocs, for those of you who haven’t yet had the dubious pleasure, are those very round-toed, utterly flat plastic shoes that come in a variety of unappealing colours. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images

The nuns used to tell us that the contraceptive pill contained tiny serpents to eat our unborn babies alive

Photograph: Thinkstock

Decades ago, I saw a man beat his son with a stick in this park. That boy would never have envisaged the carnival of life here now(...)

‘If there was something worth voting for, I’d vote for it,’ said the non-voting Russell Brand, a sentiment I found as well-worn and unappealing as his leather trousers. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Young people seem a hell of a lot better-informed than I was at 18, as well as having better teeth and not being given to weeping (...)

Me time: a gap in the schedule when you’re not snorkelling in the laundry basket or using all your fingers and toes to calculate your word count. Photograph: Thinkstock

I can’t stand photos of smiley middle-aged enthusiasts with exclamation marks tagged on to their testimonials telling me that the (...)

Lurking under the subheading ‘Oedipus – Schmoedipus!’ was a request from a man who described himself as ‘academic (60), Jewish, genial’, who was looking for ‘a slim older woman with whom to spend agreeable times’. Photograph: Thinkstock

Maybe it was the Domestos fumes, but I found a sixtysomething’s search for love in the London Review of Books uplifting

Double date: Jason is excited that Valentine’s Day follows Friday the 13th

If you’re girding your loins against the grim confluence of Friday the 13th and another lonely ride on the Valentine’s Day roundab(...)

Wear a mask: A worker at a flower plantation in Ecuador prepares for Valentine’s Day. Photograph: Guillermo Granja/Reuters

Especially when they look like a scene from a Jennifer Aniston romcom

The Count: doesn’t know how lucky he is

‘What weight is the cat?’ the vet asks when I ask her for worm pills. ‘Five pounds’ is my random and utterly inaccurate guess

January:  an odd month. Like a lousy host, she invites you to party, but when you arrive, the lights are out and she’s gone to bed

Hilary Fannin: My friend who shouts wolf is right about 2015 so far

The goldfish won’t forget this in a hurry. Photograph: Thinkstock

Not only is anxiety a function of the times we live in, it’s also cool. Embrace it

‘In the words of Lou Reed, I’m beginning to see the light.’ Photograph: Miguel Vidal/Reuters

My default setting is beleaguered, not wise

Number one in the disappointment chart was ‘not seeing enough of the world’. Having come of age in an era when long haul meant dragging the coal bag around the back, I too feel the pain. But is it ever too late to say ‘one-way ticket, please’?

Recently some academic set about researching the top 10 things in life people most regret. Shag it, I say

‘Christmas: love it or loathe it, we pretty much know that if we have the wherewithal, it’s incumbent on us to step up to the mark and get on with it at the first tinkle of Jingle Bells.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

The sight of big, naked, depilated turkeys sitting up on the countertop like ghostly jurors makes me feel kind of crushed, but, sh(...)

‘Just when you’ve pulled yourself out of the mire, they’ll knock you back in again with a simpering, nauseating, molasses-soaked blast of White Christmas’

I know when to admit defeat. I’ve decided that the only way to survive the season is to give up curmudgeonliness

‘The same research also contends that people without children are generally happier. This surprised me.’ Photograph: Thinkstock

We start out youthful and optimistic, then slalom downhill as we age. The good news, according to research, is that life takes an (...)

Why should women have to house the untreated effluent, the crude, unreconstructed machinery of sexual aggression that flows out of(...)

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