Anna Nolan: The best advice is to never, ever read the small print on insurance forms
There are times dotted through our life when we have to 'grow up'.
As a child, it may be stepping through the door of secondary school. As a teenager, it can happen when we have our heart broken for the first time.
As we get older and hit our 20s and 30s, the darker side of life can certainly be challenging - whether it's illness or grief that comes our way.
But I certainly wasn't expecting a 'growing up' episode last week when I met my broker to discuss mortgage protection.
I thought it was going to be a nice little chat. What I wasn't prepared for was a grim reality check. My lovely broker sat me down and told me I had two options to insure my mortgage. He said I could get the run of the mill, 'it gets paid off when I die' protection. Or the super duper, golden ticket 'it gets paid off if I get one of the above 40 illnesses' protection.
OK. I thought. Forty illnesses. How generous. That's loads of illnesses to choose from. I asked my broker for a list of the illnesses so that I could mull over them and see if this package would suit me.
So I sat down one evening with a glass of red wine and went through the list. Big mistake.
It started off, obviously, at A. A is for Alzheimer's disease. Ooh, well there's no history of dementia in my family, so I don't think that's likely.
It went on to Aorta Graft Surgery. What the hell is Aorta Graft Surgery? I took a gulp of the wine and read: "The undergoing of surgery to the aorta with excision and surgical replacement of a portion of the aorta with a graft." Yuk.
I quickly skimmed through B and C and hovered over D. Devic's Disease. Who bloody gets Devic's disease? So I googled this strange condition and found the following. "Neuromyelitis optica, also known as Devic's disease or Devic's syndrome, is a heterogeneous condition consisting of the simultaneous inflammation and demyelination of the optic nerve and the spinal cord."
I got scared and stupidly delved further into the condition. Symptoms? Blind, dodgy bladder and spasticity.
Obtaining insurance, rather than being re-assuring, was bringing to light all the horrible things that could happen to me as I got older.
I took another swig of wine and debated whether I would continue reading the most depressing document on the planet. I decided to go to M only to land on Multiple System Atrophy. I should have skimmed over that one.
Sweet mother of divine illnesses. I couldn't go on any further. I was faced with 40 options on how my life was going to play out.
None of them saw me sitting on a swinging chair overlooking the sea, with a sun hat on and a glass of chilled white wine in my hand.
Sometimes the realities of life are just a bit too tough to take on board. So I'm giving M to Z a miss while I carry on thinking I'm going to live forever!
It's raining outside? Time to build a cushion fort and stage a song contest
As I stared out the window of my apartment on Sunday, watching the rain drops trickle down, I was reminded of those times as a child when I felt my world was going to end.
Rain in the summer is hell on earth for a kid and I have sympathy for all the mammies and daddies who were locked in their houses earlier this week with the young ones going stir crazy.
At least I could head to the pub and watch the Galway-Cork hurling match. But I would say there are countless parents who are on the edge of sanity, trying to entertain their children as the grey clouds stay over Ireland.
July has ended badly weather-wise. August is looking no better. I was very lucky to have five sisters and a brother to entertain me during the miserable wet days of my own childhood when we never put a foot outside the house.
We would create castles using cushions from the sitting room. We would construct tents using the sheets and drape them over four kitchen chairs.
My poor parents would be blue in the face from all the concerts we would put on. They would have to sit on the couch as one by one we would appear from behind the mustard coloured curtains, giving yet again another over the top performance of The Sun Will Come Out. Oh the irony.
Along with the cabin fever came the fights. Full on hair-pulling, arm-thumping scraps. Rising from a small misunderstanding to a crazy melee of children running to a parent, with tears running down faces, shouting "she started it!"
Yes, I pity the parents who have their kids locked up with them over a few days of relentless rain.
Maybe on the next wash-out day we should switch off all the iPads, TVs, laptops and iPhones and let the kids make a little bit of magic in the home.
It might cause a bit of a mess but they will remember it forever.
Tough luck Tom, this girl's taken
I SAW it reported this week that my good friend Tom Cruise had a new love interest on the horizon.
Yes Tom, who I once met for approximately 17 and a half seconds, is reportedly 'obsessed' with 22-year-old Emily Thomas (inset). Well, this one would never work out. She's 31 years younger than him. She's English. She's fresh out of university and she was his assistant on the set of Mission Impossible.
What more would a multi-millionaire global superstar want? You may say a woman who is his equal in age, experience and wealth. Don't be silly. This is Tom's world and Emily seems perfect. The only snag? She has a boyfriend.
Turnout was a fine tribute to Joe
I was walking by the church in Ringsend last Saturday morning. There was a huge crowd lining the street from Shelbourne Stadium right up to the church. The men had their best suits on.
There were boys and girls from sports clubs with their gear on. This was a big funeral. It turned out it was for a man named Joe Corcoran. Joe was the main talent scout for Manchester United and brought many Irish players over to play for the Red Devils.
He must have been loved and respected, as the hundreds who showed their respect in Ringsend looked very proud to be there to bid farewell to him.