Moth­er­hood’s been the mak­ing of me

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - NEWS -

Pamela Flood needs a cof­fee. It is lunchtime and she had spent the best part of the morn­ing shoot­ing the cover for this fea­ture. The man­ager ap­pears with a latte. On the saucer is a small short­bread square. When she sees it, her face breaks into a smile. ‘Look!’ she says. She picks it up and pops it in her mouth. Then she smiles at me darkly over the rim of her cup. ‘I’m a su­gar ma­niac.’

It is a hot sum­mer’s day and we are sit­ting in the cool of Kelly’s Re­sort Ho­tel in Ross­lare, at a ta­ble over­look­ing the street. In the flesh, Pamela’s beauty has less of the lioness qual­ity I as­so­ciate with her pho­to­graphs and more of the cool re­fine­ment of Grace Kelly. Then she speaks and her voice is so softly pitched, I can hardly hear her. I want to ask her to speak up, but I find I can­not. Pamela, 41, might be gen­tle — but she is also stately.

For so many years a fix­ture on our tele­vi­sion screens fronting RTÉ’s flag­ship fash­ion mag­a­zine show Off The Rails, Pamela has main­tained some­thing of a lower pro­file since giv­ing birth to her son, Har­ri­son, 16 months ago. Most re­cently she’s been asked to be a spokesper­son for the nu­tri­tion sup­ple­ment Viv­iop­tal Ac­tive. ‘I fit­ted the bill for them,’ she says. ‘I am a rel­a­tively new mother, and a first-time mother, but I am still work­ing, so I am bal­anc­ing baby, home and work, and I think most moth­ers would agree that it’s a time in your life when you need a lit­tle bit of a boost. A tonic is def­i­nitely the way to go. You try to get as much sleep as you can, but it doesn’t al­ways work that way, and some­times a lit­tle ex­tra help is re­quired.’

Look­ing af­ter baby Har­ri­son, Pamela’s life has never been busier. ‘I don’t know where the time goes,’ she says. ‘I’m up at seven, and by lunchtime I feel as if I have climbed a moun­tain and I’m ready for bed.’ She is not com­plain­ing, though. ‘I waited a long time for this,’ she

6 says. ‘I waited un­til I had met the right per­son, and I had par­tied for so long, so now I never look at him and say, “I could be in Lon­don if it weren’t for you.” It’s not that I won’t do those things again, but I find when he goes to bed, I miss him. I can’t wait for him to wake up.’

The last year and a half has been a pleas­ant sur­prise to her. ‘When I first be­came preg­nant,’ she says, ‘ev­ery­one said to me, “En­joy your sleep — you’ll never have it again,” and that scared me, be­cause I like my sleep. No one told me how much fun it would be. I thought ba­bies might not be that in­ter­est­ing, but Har­ri­son is al­ways smil­ing and laugh­ing. Ev­ery­thing we do to­gether is such a joy. And the lack of sleep is man­age­able.’

Luck­ily, she is health­ier than ever. ‘ The preg­nancy sorted that out,’ she says, smil­ing. ‘All those mul­ti­ple glasses of al­co­hol went out the win­dow. Now it’s three good meals a day and lots of nights in. I can’t even say I watch TV, be­cause I never get to see the end of a pro­gramme!’

The el­dest of two, Pamela grew up in Tal­laght, in the 1970s. ‘ I have beau­ti­ful child­hood mem­o­ries,’ she says. ‘We all played to­gether as chil­dren in the moun­tains, and it was so green and safe.’ She was 19 when she won the Miss Ire­land crown. ‘I was kind of talked into it by friends,’ she says, ‘but in the end it was a pretty ex­hil­a­rat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. It wasn’t a bitchy com­pe­ti­tion. They were all lovely girls.’ She stops her­self and laughs. ‘I sound like Fa­ther Ted…’

She quit her bank job and worked as a con­ti­nu­ity an­nouncer for RTÉ for sev­eral years be­fore land­ing a se­ries of TV pre­sent­ing jobs, in­clud­ing a long stint on Off The Rails. ‘I loved ev­ery day of it,’ she re­calls. ‘It never felt like work.’ In 2008, she and her co-pre­sen­ter Caro­line Mo­ra­han were re­placed by Bren­dan Court­ney and Sonya Len­non, and Pamela moved on to fronting RTÉ shows such as Marry Me? and Who Do You Think You Are?.

She lost her mother, Paula, when she was 34. ‘I lived at home al­most all my life, and I was — and still am — very close to my fam­ily. My mother’s death was a huge shock. Death is a great lev­eller. You think in ways you would never have thought be­fore. I be­gan to ask my­self, “Why am I here? What is it all about?” I wasn’t in­ter­ested in par­ty­ing any more; I wanted to start a fam­ily. I’m sure my clock had been tick­ing away but I didn’t hear it be­cause I was hav­ing such a good time. But af­ter that, I thought, “I am here for a rea­son.”’ She left her long-term part­ner, Michael Sharpe, the man­ager of Dublin’s Spirit Night­club, and moved into the apart­ment she had bought a few years be­fore. ‘I thought I was Carrie Brad­shaw,’ she says, laugh­ing. Was sin­gle life all she thought it was go­ing to be? ‘ Well,’ she says, ‘I wasn’t sin­gle sin­gle. I had met Ronan by then.’ She means her part­ner, the restau­ra­teur Ronan Ryan, who owned Town Bar & Grill, Bridge and South dur­ing the boom. ‘We got off to a bumpy start,’ she says. ‘When we first met, four years ago in June, ev­ery­thing was great. I was mad busy, there was so much work, and Ronan was fly­ing. And then, all of a sud­den, it was like some­one flicked off a switch.’ Ronan’s restau­rants folded, and Pamela found her­self out of work.

‘We were at the stage where we were still sort­ing out our dif­fer­ences. If you are 36 or 37, you are set in your ways. I thought things should be a cer­tain way, and so did Ronan.

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