In her own words
By Julie Dickerson
“As someone who fell off a chair not long ago trying to hear what they were saying at the next table in a restaurant, I suppose I am obsessively interested in what
some might consider the trivia of other people’s lives.” — Maeve Binchy

A book featuring Maeve Binchy’s “best” columns from the Irish Times has been my choice of reading this past week.
Inside, it reads: Maeve was an accidental journalist, and her writings reflected the warmth, wit, and keen human interest that readers would come to love. “In her own words” she offers wonderful insight into a changing Ireland over five decades.
Her stories began in 1960 and I am only into the 1990’s. The book ends with columns from 2000. She writes openly about common, ordinary happenings to people. In the 1960’s, she wrote about a school outing, a plane ride, a Turkish bath, life as a waitress, underwear and etiquette.
In the 1970’s, she wrote about the world’s greatest lies about women, three women she considered fools, the pageantry and splendor at Westminster for the royal wedding of Charles and Diana, how to speak properly, a holiday romance, St. Patrick’s Day, a sex book possibility, abortion, hypochondria, and honesty.
In the 1980’s, she wrote about the right to die in your own home, conversation about contraceptives, bargains, Margaret Thatcher, a man who set up an office in the ladies restroom, and who is paying?
In the 1990’s, she wrote about presidents and elected officials keep getting younger, falling off the wagon, getting it right at the end, a walk on the wild side, panic attack, fighting February, Mrs. Perfect…and more.
I’m looking forward to reading about sweet dreams, senior moments, movies, 10 things you must never say to anyone with arthritis, film crew, and of course, the Royals.
She gave me many ideas to use as column fodder, but would they be appropriate for Boone County?
I could write about a school outing–taking art students to Lincoln. The high school students wouldn’t venture too far away from their teacher or me, their sponsor.
I could write about a plane ride with a husband and three children in tow. That particular plane ride happened the day after the plane crash in Sioux City. I tried in vain
to keep the news from our children in case it would scare them.
I won’t be writing about a Turkish bath–water, being naked, and sweating—not for me!
I could write about underwear, but our mother’s advice about always wearing clean underwear in case we have an accident pretty much covers anything else I need
to add.
Maeve wrote about the royal wedding–which happened on my birthday so I was indeed interested. She later wrote about the couple’s problems, infidelity, anorexia, divorce. It always seemed she took Princess Diana’s side. She liked the idea of a commoner becoming royalty.
St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is boring, she said. You have to go to America to really celebrate it.
She wrote about a group of friends who decided, after a few drinks, to write a sex book. Each one was designated a certain topic and Maeve’s topic was the “hotel scene.” She researched and finished her part, only to discover her other friends thought it was all a big joke.
Topics she wrote about included abortion, contraceptives, alcoholism, and panic attacks. I don’t think they will be column ideas for me.
I did get a chuckle out of the man who set up his office in a ladies restroom and sat there waiting for his fellow appointment to show. The man didn’t come all
day. Maeve kindly explained that he was in the ladies restroom and he promptly loaded up his stuff and moved to the bar area — only to be reprimanded by his appointee
that he was LATE.
I also enjoyed the one about Mrs. Perfect who always had everything ready for the holidays months in advance, and everything was done perfect. She just didn’t understand what was wrong with everybody else.
It’s been a good read, and Maeve was so good at writing interesting stories about ordinary people — you and me!