Here’s something you may not know about me. A sort-of-secret from my past which haunts me to this day. Even now, when I think of it, I’m not sure whether it was a blessing or a curse, whether it should make me laugh or cry…

the denWhen I was a fresh faced young spring chicken, I met someone who really ruffled my feathers. It was the mid-nineties, around this time of year and I was playing the lead in a musical called ‘Buskin’ in the Tivoli theatre and the Cork opera house. Part of my duties in this role were to promote the production and, in doing so one of my ports of call happened to be a little TV show called ‘The Den’.

To say I was scarred by the experience might be a bit over the top (wounded, maybe, not scarred). Why was my trip to the set of a jovial children’s TV show loved by kids the country over so jarring? Three words, one beak: Dustin the Turkey.

For the entire time I was in the same room as that blaggard of a bird I was teased mercilessly. My hair, my earrings (hey– it was the nineties!), even my gender were called into question. I was called ‘Gavina’ and worse; John Travolta.

Though I can’t be sure why, this wasn’t the only time I visited The Den. My second appearance was to promote a song I was releasing after the Eurosong competition. True to form, Dustin was up to his old tricks, taking particular delight in slagging me for all I was worth.

I’m sorry to report that on these two occasions the bird had the last word… And it’s something I rue whenever I think of his smug smiling (can turkeys smile?) beak. But every Christmas as I tuck into my delicious turkey dinner, I can’t help but feel that really, I had the last laugh.