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Diary

Anne Enright: Bombings in Baghdad, 10 June 1999

... The night they bombed Baghdad – the first time – I was out at the TV station where I was working. I saw it in hospitality, on the big screen. The room was full of people drinking; people from the show, and also, because they were bombing Baghdad, other people from around the building. They just drifted in. There were no rules to hospitality, but on a normal night these people would not have come in for a beer at the end of the day ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Listen to Heloïse, 10 May 2007

... Last year, when she was five, my daughter announced that she was going to become a Muslim. ‘It’s an awful lot of washing,’ I said. ‘Don’t worry, I am able to reach the sink with my feet.’ She went up to her room and stuck six sheets of paper together to make a prayer mat. It was time, I decided, to send her to Catholic Instruction. This is an after-school class that, besides fulfilling her tribal spiritual needs, provides a solid half-hour of free childcare, every Monday ...

At Turner Contemporary

Anne Enright: Dorothy Cross, Connemara , 19 December 2013

... When the queen came to Ireland in May 2011 a number of the great, good and merely deserving were locked in the 1937 reading room of Trinity College Dublin for two hours without their mobile phones, before being allowed into the beautiful Long Room of the Old Library to await her arrival. The ratio of men to women was about the same as you find at the front of the plane – five to one perhaps, of suit to skirt – and the conversation veered towards the kind of disaster that happens when Wives Are Not Invited ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Boys’ Aliens and Girls’ Aliens, 21 September 1995

... In Ireland we don’t need aliens; we already have a race of higher beings with strange powers who gaze deep into our eyes and force us to have babies against our will. We call them priests. A loopy Protestant, on the other hand, has to make it up as she goes along. And no one makes it up better than your American Protestant, driven mad by all that sky ...

Green Hearts

Anne Enright, 3 August 1995

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch: The Politics of Irish Beef 
by Fintan O’Toole.
Vintage, 292 pp., £6.99, January 1995, 0 09 951451 6
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... I bumped into my brother in the street and we talked about Fintan O’Toole’s book on the beef tribunal. I told him to read it immediately. I myself had stopped both reading about the beef tribunal and eating beef in 1991, after a two-line thing in the Irish Times about cirrhotic calves’ livers being packed by someone, somewhere in Ireland. My brother is a civil servant ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Looking at the Wallpaper, 2 January 1997

... Sitting in France writing about death and wallpaper, it is no surprise to find my walls orange: ‘that most morbid and irritating of colours’, as Huysmans described it, ‘with its acid glow and unnatural splendour’. The word ‘orange’ was a late addition to the language, before it we just had gold or ochre, and, like the colour, it throws up questions about the precious and the fake, the difference between what is natural and what is recent ...

Diary

Anne Enright: My Milk, 5 October 2000

... The milk surprises me. It does not disgust me as much as I thought it would, unless it is not fresh. It is disturbing that a piece of you should go off so quickly. I don’t think Freud ever discussed lactation, but the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bodily products here is very fine. Women leak so much. Perhaps this is why we clean – which is to say that a man who cleans is always ‘anal’, a woman who cleans is just a woman ...

Sinking by Inches

Anne Enright: Ireland’s Recession, 7 January 2010

... Last year, the Society of St Vincent de Paul spent €6.1 million giving people in Ireland food. This year, it says that requests for food are up 50 per cent, that calls in general are up 35 per cent and in Dublin 50 per cent, and that 25 per cent of callers are new clients, many of whom were contributors to the charity at the church gates last year ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Disliking the McCanns, 4 October 2007

... It is very difficult to kill a child by giving it sedatives, even if killing it is what you might want to do. I asked a doctor about this, one who is also a mother. It was a casual, not a professional conversation, but like every other parent in the Western world, she had thought the whole business through. She said that most of the sedatives used on children are over-the-counter antihistamines, like the travel sickness pills that knocked me and my daughter out on an overnight ferry to France recently ...

Diary

Anne Enright: A Writer’s Life, 28 May 2009

... In 2008 I spent, on a rough count, 64 nights away from my family. Seven of those nights were spent on airplanes, the rest were spent in 30 or so different hotels. I know my fluffy towels from my scratchy, I have learned that much. In fact, I have learned little else. And this perhaps needs to be said: the amazing thing about hotels is that nothing happens in them ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Mrs Robinson Repents, 28 January 2010

... Iris Robinson is, at the time of writing, under acute psychiatric care in a Belfast hospital, after a BBC Northern Ireland documentary revealed that she had, at the age of 59, solicited £50,000 from two property developers to help fund a business run by her 19-year-old lover, Kirk McCambley. She has some experience of the mental health profession. In June 2008, days before she embarked on the affair, she said on the radio: ‘I have a very lovely psychiatrist who works with me in my offices and his Christian background is that he tries to help homosexuals – trying to turn them away from what they are engaged in ...

Diary

Anne Enright: Lessons from Angela Carter, 17 February 2011

... I met Angela Carter in the spring of 1987 when I was a student and she a tutor on the MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. My work had over the course of the previous winter gone from bad to worse. I was 24, I had no idea how to live in the world, let alone write about it; and the self who was supposed to produce some kind of narrative by the end of the year seemed increasingly fugitive and fragmented ...

Diary

Anne Enright: The Monsters of #MeToo, 24 October 2019

... Last year​ , I spoke to a young female doctor who has on occasion been sexually assaulted or insulted by men under her care. What are they thinking? One answer is that they think she is a nurse and that they are, by long-standing comic tradition, entitled to molest nurses. Another is that they can’t bear to be so vulnerable: it is more important to them to make a woman uneasy than it is to get better ...

Antigone in Galway

Anne Enright, 17 December 2015

... Creon’s edict and bury the corpse. And so she does. When asked to deny the crime, she says, in Anne Carson’s 2012 translation of Sophocles: ‘I did the deed I do not deny it.’ She does not seek to justify her actions within the terms of Creon’s law: she negates the law by handing it back to him, intact – ‘If you call that law.’ Antigone later ...

What’s left of Henrietta Lacks?

Anne Enright: HeLa, 13 April 2000

... I don’t know where I heard of her first: a woman whose cells are bred in culture dishes in labs all over the world; a woman whose cells were so prolific that there is more of her now, in terms of biomass, then there ever was when she was alive. It seems to me that she is one of the saints who multiplied in reliquaries after their death, to produce, as Ian Paisley’s website reminds us (in an essay called ‘The Errors of Rome’), the many prepuces of the infant Jesus, and the variously coloured hair of His madly trichogenous mother ...

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