Marie Louise McConville: Feeling unprepared for 'Return to Office'

Returning to the office post-Covid will take some getting used to
Returning to the office post-Covid will take some getting used to

It had to happen sooner or later.

After two-and-a-half years, the dreaded `Return to Office' email arrived in my inbox a couple of weeks ago and I'm not going to lie, I pulled a face.

In March 2020 when we all exited the Irish News newsroom in Donegall Street with laptops in hand, never did I dream we would not return for such a long time.

And initially, the new work format did take a bit of getting used to.

I will admit, at the beginning I did miss the buzz of the newsroom and being able to have a dander up to Primark at lunchtime but these were far outweighed by the benefits.

Apart from all the extra time with the kids, I didn't have to get up so early for work - and no make-up or heels were needed.

During the summer when the kids were off school, I could roll out of bed a mere 30 minutes before my shift, throw on some sportswear, tie up my hair and log on - easy.

No make-up, no straighteners, no wrestling with the contents of the wardrobe and no debates over footwear.

This week, all that changed.

With a request for us to return to the office one day this week, on Tuesday a military operation in the McConville household swung into action.

Up at the crack of dawn to take on the mammoth task of hair and make-up and manage any last minute wardrobe changes - weather dependent - it took every effort to get out the door in time for the commute.

Before I left I also had to pack the kids' lunches and school bags and get things ready for Mini Ninja after school.

Of course, what I hadn't planned for was for Abbie to have an emotional breakdown on the doorstep.

Both she and James have become used to me working from home and being able to take them to school and pick them up.

This week, things were very different for her on Tuesday as I left her in daddy's very capable hands - with her hair already done - but as the tears flowed down her little cheeks, my return to the office got off to a difficult start.

Of course, it wasn't all awful as work had laid on free tea and coffee and free lunches - a beautiful soup and sandwich made by the lovely Margaret in the canteen.

When I turned on my laptop at my desk, I did feel unsettled.

I missed the comfort of my kitchen table - and at lunchtime, I missed Classic EastEnders on TV.

That said, I got to see some of my colleagues and even had a walk around CastleCourt at lunchtime.

There's no doubt I will have to ease myself in gently.

There's only one thing now left for me to sort - does anyone know who Peggy sold the Queen Vic to?


A live-action adaptation of Disney classic Pinocchio has arrived on Disney+.

Tom Hanks voices the role of Geppetto in the new film, which is based on the Carlo Collodi 1883 book The Adventures of Pinocchio, while Benjamin Evan Ainsworth voices Pinocchio.

Robert Zemeckis directed and co-wrote the highly-anticipated adaptation, which debuted on Disney+ this week.

The movie also stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiminy Cricket and Luke Evans as the Coachman.

In a trailer for the movie, viewers see the Blue Fairy, played by Cynthia Erivo, using her magical wand to turn Pinocchio from a wooden doll to a 'real' boy.


Can life get any better right now?

Not only are the kids back at school but my two favourite actors in the world have once again reunited for a new flick and I can't wait to get my feet up at the cinema and have a good swoon.

The beautiful Julia Roberts and the very handsome, George Clooney have joined forces to star in Ticket to Paradise.

In the movie, the pair play divorced parents who travel to Bali after learning their daughter, Lily, is planning to marry a local called Gede, whom she has just met.

However, dismayed by their daughter's decision, Roberts and Clooney decide to work together to sabotage the wedding to prevent Lily from making the same mistake they made 25 years ago.

The film marks the fifth collaboration between Roberts and Clooney. The pair have previously worked together on the films Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Ocean's Twelve, Ocean's Eleven and Money Monster.

Filmed in Queensland in Australia, I can't wait to see Ticket to Paradise as there hasn't been a good romantic comedy in ages.

Ticket To Paradise is due out on Friday.


The winners of The Legacy of Eve competition are Mary Brolly, from Dungiven, Ann Marie McGarry, from Crumlin, and Mary McCullagh, from Feeny