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May 15th, 2018

The Dutch Mama gave us tulips from Schipol airport when she came to stay with us a couple of months ago. I planted them which, frankly, is where I often fall down in reaping the rewards of botanical presents. They blossomed for a couple of weeks in April/May and I sat on the front steps almost every evening looking at them. And they should be back next year. Hurrah for middle age. This picture goes a little way towards conveying the delightfulness of my tulip crop.


This is the Maiden

May 14th, 2018

Me – Looking into the distance thinking about nothing in particular.
Michael: Are you sad, Mama?
Me (snapping out of it): No not at all, why?
Him: It’s just your neutral face looks forlorn. [Yes, forlorn, that is the exact word he used].

Me – Celebrating summer by wearing new shorts.
Daniel (definitely most fashion conscious child): Mum, what are you wearing?
Me (nervously): Just new shorts, do you like them?
Him (kindly): It’s just that I’m not used to seeing your knees.


May 13th, 2018

Michael is reading “The Prince”. He says that he isn’t really learning anything he doesn’t know already but it’s nice to have it set out so succinctly.

His sister sang solo in a Dublin archdiocesan choral extravaganza (very proud) and we all went along to hear her perform. Michael appears not to have been entirely spellbound, I saw he brought Machiavelli for company. Why would he be listening to choral music when he could be learning how to run a renaissance kingdom? He’s already given me some very good advice on mercenaries (bad) and allies (should be smaller and weaker so that they have to be really organised to gang up and defeat you).

You know, his teacher in third class said to me, “Michael will do amazing things.” “Amazingly good or amazingly bad?” I asked. “That remains to be seen,” said the teacher.



May 1st, 2018

Michael is doing woodwork at school. I didn’t think that he would like it but he does. They made a wooden plane and it is very impressive. He says it would be better if he hadn’t had to use wood glue and the pieces fitted perfectly but it looks pretty good to me.


Everything’s A Competition

April 30th, 2018

Former colleague: Can you get out for drinks on Friday night?
Me: No, sorry, I’m going to French karaoke at the Alliance with Mr. Waffle and the kids.
Him: You win being middle-class.

It was quite good actually. We sang a song (La Mer– it sounded exactly like it does in the video at the link) and if herself hadn’t been ill with a cold and Michael hadn’t spent the evening with his fingers in his ears and his head on the table, I think we could have ranked it among our successes.


April 29th, 2018

The weekends are killing me at the moment. Last weekend, I went to Cork on Friday night, ran around like mad (sadly not getting to the new Nano Nagle centre cafe for lunch as closed for some Presentation Sisters bash – the bitterness, even the gift shop was closed – no comfort at all to hear that they are never normally closed), came back Saturday night, on Sunday morning I was on baptism duty in the church (completely untraumatic unlike the previous time when some people turned up who had not come to the preparatory meeting the previous Wednesday and I had to run them through the whole thing at speed; it took a lot out of me but our parish priest was unphased). On Sunday afternoon, I went to a friend’s mother’s removal, then went for a quick drink with all of my bookclub (who were also at the removal) then briefly went up to visit my parents-in-law who lived nearby and then decided to visit an old friend of my mother’s of whom I am very fond who also lives nearby. It was nearly 8 by the time I got home from my extended tour of the far side of the city.

This weekend, my sister called to visit Friday evening, on Saturday morning from 10-12 I took Michael and herself to bag packing in Tesco for a school charity. In the afternoon, Daniel had a GAA match (GAA matches all the time at the moment as they try to make up for time lost during the snow) herself went in to town to see an exhibition with her friends (in fairness, not an activity that called for parental support) and Michael and I cycled in to his drama class. On Sunday we cycled down to mass at 10 so that Daniel could get to his GAA match afterwards at 12.15. In the intervening time Mr. Waffle participated in the local community spring clean while herself and myself considered the dubious charms of an animal festival in the city (special cinema screening for dogs at 12.15 – really! A lot of big dogs on view and also various farmyard animals. Hilarious to watch untrained dogs undertaking Crufts like course set up by the DSPCA). Herself then went to a friend’s party in the afternoon and the rest of us went across the city to visit Mr. Waffle’s parents once he and Daniel returned from the match. We had a walk on the pier which was sunny but chilly.



Then it was after 7 and we decided to stop off in town and have pizza for dinner for which exciting activity herself joined us though pointing out that she had already enjoyed pizza that afternoon at the party. Alas.

Every single weekend seems to be exhaustingly full of activity. I feel we may need some re-organising of our lives.

The Telephone is not a Toy

April 23rd, 2018

My father often says, “The telephone is not a toy”. This is what they used to say when he was growing up, apparently. The passage of time has certainly worked to make him wrong on that one. When I was in primary school, my parents had a complex arrangement for dropping fish to my grandmother on Fridays. It often failed and my father would say to me, as we drove to school, “What did we forget, Anne?” “We forgot the fish, Daddy.” My grandmother would then telephone my mother and say these words only, “Helen, you forgot the fish.” She was not one for unnecessary chatting on the telephone and, in this regard, my father is very much her son.

My father is amazingly old. He was 93 on March 25. What is really quite extraordinary is that he is the same as he has always been. In all the time I have known him, he has been himself in, it seems to me, exactly the same way.

I have a picture of him with my aunt and grandparents as a very small boy. I am fascinated by this. It was taken when they lived in America, and I can’t help feeling that this is a very South Pasadena picture rather than an equivalent from Cork in 1929 (exciting times in America though). They all look so informal and relaxed.

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Due to my brother’s (frankly insane) labours in clearing out the attic, I have this one of him and my aunt after his return to Cork.

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There he is with a beautiful baby in 1969.


There he is with the beautiful baby in what was at the time a frightfully modern carrying device (could it have been called a papoose? Really?). My parents had taken me to a meeting of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society. It is hard to know what benefit I derived from that particular meeting but at least I know from whence comes my propensity to bring my children to historical sites in which they have no interest.*

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There we are in the front garden, while I was still the favourite child when neither of my sibling usurpers were born or thought of.**


My father used to enjoy sailing and mountaineering before his children were born and given that these were different times, he continued to do so happily after our arrival, leaving us in the care of our saintly mother for up to a month every summer while he was off in the Pyrenees or sailing off to French ports. He has beautiful albums of black and white pictures he developed himself showing French ports in the 50s and 60s.


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We used to sometimes visit him at work and he would give us frogs from the vegetable tray in the fridge to play with.** I feel bad about the poor old frogs now.


I am so grateful that my father is the same man he always was – frail, yes, it’s been a while since he’s been up a mountain or even on a bike (although he happily cycled into his 80s), but in essence absolutely the same – well read, knowledgeable, funny, infuriating, conservative, stubborn and entertaining. As my mother’s dementia gets worse and worse, I miss her very much and I appreciate all the more how lucky I am to have my father so mentally well. I do wish, though, that he would, occasionally, be willing to chat on the telephone. I suppose he is unlikely to change the habits of a lifetime at this point.

*Please admire the verbal gymnastics which stopped this sentence from ending in a preposition while, admittedly, making it somewhat more difficult to understand.
**You can’t have everything.

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