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Greek Crisis: Analysis from our Local Team in Dublin

July 5th, 2015

Herself: I’d like to go to Japan [inspired by her aunt’s recent trip].
Me: I bet it’s really dear at the moment; the euro is so weak.
Her: Why is the euro weak?
Me: Well, I suppose, now, it’s the Greek economy.
Her: What’s wrong with Greece?
Me: Well, it’s part of the eurozone and it’s doing very badly for a variety of reasons, so that creates problems for the currency as a whole.
Her: Well, then why don’t the other EU countries help Greece out?

Looks like another voice in favour of debt relief there.

Insightful

July 4th, 2015

A colleague had an American friend and her family to visit. She had lived here for a number of years in the past; they were visiting for the first time. “How friendly the Irish are!” they exclaimed. She thought for a moment and replied, “Irish people are charming but they are not particularly friendly.”

Holidays

July 3rd, 2015

Herself finished school last Friday. The boys and I soldiered on for Monday and Tuesday of this week. On Wednesday morning we were all on holidays (oh hurrah!) except poor Mr. Waffle who had to go in to the office.

On Wednesday, the Princess and I cycled into town at lunch time to see the Anu Productions, 1916 offering. It still needs work and they described it as a work in progress, to be fair. We might go back next year and see how it looks; we weren’t completely entranced. It is set during and just before the Easter Rising and the action takes place in the back lanes around O’Connell St which, I imagine, are, in some ways, very little changed since the Rising. The meeting place is the Dublin Tourist office. There were a couple of tourists in our group and they seemed to react much better than the Irish members of the audience to the participatory element which is a part of all of this company’s work. Still, I wonder how much they knew about 1916 and whether they were a bit baffled.

In the afternoon we had friends of the children’s around. Due to extraordinarily fine weather we were able to barbecue. The excitement. This lured everyone outdoors and all of the children played in the garden.

The next day, Thursday, it was up and out to the park,

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then on to library and, after a refreshing tea with Mr. Waffle, on for our annual trip to see the mummies in St. Michan’s. I love the way the graveyard is so quiet and peaceful right in the centre of the city.

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Alas, there was a rough looking bunch of people drinking at the end of the graveyard. One of the disadvantages of urban, edgy, city centre living is that your children are only too familiar with this kind of group. Mr. Waffle took them home on the tram the other day and there was an arrest where they got on and a bloody altercation with ambulance summoned where they got off. I digress.

In the afternoon, it was back on the bikes to go to the dentist – all was well, we now have plaque disclosing tablets which are a source of enormous delight.

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Mr. Waffle had spent the afternoon fetching the car back from the distant suburb where it was being repaired and we greeted its return with boundless enthusiasm. We are all sick of travelling everywhere by bike (unworthy but there it it).

A man is coming next week to sand and varnish the floors. So that he can sand under the bookcases, the children and I emptied the one bookcase this morning and transported its contents (A-H) to the utility room.

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He is going to do the rest himself. I can only applaud his work ethic.

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Then into town to get sandals and shorts. I then made the children go to the Little Museum of Dublin. I think it’s lovely and, also, Mr. Waffle got me a season ticket for my birthday. They found it moderately entertaining. The Princess has been a couple of times already and likes it. The boys were a bit grumpy going in but seemed to quite enjoy it in the end. I saw a one armed bandit and recognised every one of the images from when I was quite small and spent my evening in pubs in West Cork in the summer (not as bad as it sounds). Looking at the fruit pieces every detail was familiar to me. I realised that one I had been a bit unsure of at age 6/7 was, in fact, a watermelon, the knowledge fitting into my brain with a satisfying mental click. I had utterly forgotten my time on the machine (2p a go, I see, good value for the grown-ups) until the moment I stood in front of it today but all of the images came back to me with startling clarity. The inside of my head is a mystery to me.

Michael with Podge and Rodge whom he would adore if I would let him watch them:
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Irish Times Editor’s Desk:
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Herself and Alfie Byrne contemplate St. Stephen’s Green
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Ross O’Carroll-Kelly (she likes him, she reads the column faithfully ever Saturday, for Honor; Michael does not care for him):
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Daniel blowing a trumpet with a model of Nelson’s Pillar in the background:
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The remainder of the day was spent packing. Tomorrow we drive to Kerry. The children are filled with excitement. The weather forecast is shocking.

Reading

June 29th, 2015

“An Utterly impartial history of Great Britain” by John O’Farrell

Funny. Accurate, I am sure. I have now almost entirely forgotten all the details. So it was good that I enjoyed it as I read it because the improvement in my historical knowledge is nil.

“The Moonstone” by Wilkie Collins

Um, very famous and an early example of the detective novel but, if you ask me, only alright and not half as good as the “Woman in White”. Apparently its fame is in part due to the fact that it features opium addiction and was written by an opium addict. Those Victorians.

I enjoyed this quote on page 488 of the edition I read, plus ├ža change and all that.

“In our modern system of civilisation, celebrity (no matter of what kind) is the lever that will move anything. The fame of the great Cuff had even reached the ears of the small Gooseberry. The boys’ ill-fixed eyes rolled, when I mentioned the illustrious name, till I thought they really must have dropped on the carpet.”

“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day” by Winifred Watson

Heartwarming, entertaining republication by Persephone Press. Life has been cruel to Miss Pettigrew. It perks up when she falls into (what her clergyman father would almost certainly have considered) a depraved circle.

“Consequences” by EM Delafield

If you have read and reread “The Diary of a Provincial Lady” and all of its sequels and you love it, approach this book by the same author with EXTREME caution. It is a very good book. It gives a very clear account of the misery of depression. But wryly humourous? Frankly, no. Set your expectations to extreme, relentless misery.

“Sense and Sensibility” by Joanna Trollope

I quite enjoyed this. It updates the Jane Austen classic and uses the same plot and the same characters. I went back and re-read the original afterwards and I was very impressed by how very closely the Trollope version stuck to the Austen novel. What was intriguing was how this was entirely a Joanna Trollope novel; her voice, the characters, the situations, everything.

“The Buried Giant” by Kazuo Ishiguru

I quite enjoyed this in a mild way. It has divided reviewers. It’s about two Britons going on a quest in a magical post-Arthurian Britain. Harmless. Not as good at all as “Never Let Me Go” though.

“The Secret Place”
by Tana French

I think Tana French is a wonderful writer. This is another detective story set in Dublin. This one revolves around a murder in a girls’ boarding school. I am not normally a great fan of the detective novel but I plan to read everything this author has written.

“A brief History of the Smile” by Angus Trumble

I was a bit disappointed by this. It does what it says on the tin. There is an original angle on history, there is lots about art but yet, I found it a bit dull. Also the black and white illustrations in my edition were not great for looking at the reproductions of art through the ages.

“Us” by David Nicholls

I know lots of people were enchanted and delighted by this novel but I was not. I found each of the three main characters very annoying and tedious in their own particular ways. It follows a family on a Grand Tour of Europe, father, mother and son about to leave for college. I did not like the characters and the plot left me cold. It’s very readable, I suppose. For my money, his best novel continues to be “Starter for Ten” which combines excruciating embarrassment and hilarity.

“Solace” by Belinda McKeon

I didn’t really expect to like this book, but I did. It’s a bit overwritten (you know the kind of thing, nobody ever hops up and opens the door but walks through the treacly sunlight filled with dancing dustmotes to answer the insistent tolling of the doorbell). The author patronises her main characters a bit. But, that said, it moves snappily enough. Though there are some strands that could usefully have been got rid of (what was that philosophy lecturer doing?) I was engaged and interested. I was genuinely quite shocked by the twist in the middle and that was really well handled as was the aftermath. I would definitely try another.

Demands

June 28th, 2015

The Princess is staying at a friend’s house tonight. I found the following in the notes on my phone. Something to mull over:

Hello! Some of your priorities SHOULD be
1 talk to [Mr. Waffle] about extending [Princess]’s bedtime
2 talk to [Mr. Waffle]about extending [Princess]’s pocket money
3 Resolve to value [Princess]’s privacy as she becomes a young adult and talk to other family members about this
4 Praise [Princess]more for eating everything on her plate
5 Do not be swayed by Michael’s “cuteness”

I think, internet, we can agree that I am doing well on number 3.

Some Highlights from the Week so Far – Or the Dawn of a New Era

June 27th, 2015

Monday – Scouts for Michael. Daniel skipped GAA. Felt very rebellious. This is the last week of training of the year, we’re exhausted.

Tuesday – Princess went to scouts, theoretically 7.30 to 9.30. Phone call at 9.15 to indicate that they were in Howth (distant Northern suburb by the sea) and wouldn’t be back until 10. As I was standing outside the den at 10, this text message arrived:

Due to unforeseen circumstances (the ice cream machine broke) we are running late hoping to hit the den for 10.20.

They were eventually disgorged from the scouting jeeps at nearly 11 full of excitement and chatter. As the Princess and I cycled home in the twilight (welcome to Ireland in summer) she told me all about it and the wonderful time they had and she was completely delighted with herself and her enthusiasm was infectious and we arrived home full of good humour and bonhomie even though it was very late and a school night.

Wednesday – Mr. Waffle had to work late. That evening Daniel and Micheal had to pack their bags for their school tour (complete change of clothes, hat, suncream, rain gear etc. – when I checked their bags later I found that they had both packed winter woolly hats rather than summer hats which I presume was what was intended). Herself announced that she planned to rollerblade to school on Friday, her current rollerblades were too small and she had sourced a pair online which I had to reserve for her to collect on the morrow. The boys informed me that the following day was the last day for the school book rental form and money to be returned. Much consternation. The Princess then said that she had to go to school the following day dressed as Annie Moore. She looked pretty good considering we started preparing at 6.45 the evening before. She was finally able to get some use from her massive coin collection. She brought in a number of coins from the 1880s and her classmates were suitably impressed.

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Thursday – The boys had a fantastic school tour. The Princess picked up her roller blades and then proceeded to bake like there was no tomorrow. She made brownies, flapjacks, lemon drizzle cake and fairy cakes. We discovered that the clutch in the car had gone.

Friday – This was the scene which met my startled gaze when I came down for breakfast at eight.

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As we filled a large bag with baked goods, she said, “What was I thinking, why did nobody stop me?”

She decided not to roller blade to school in the end. We had a ceremony at the school at lunchtime and sixth class got to say goodbye. I am, obviously, partial but I thought she did a great job in presenting her part of the show. The school is in an old Georgian building and the drawing room, where we had the event, was clearly not built with acoustics in mind and it was very difficult to hear most of the speakers.

Obligatory photo of ceiling stucco.

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She had a really great time in primary school and made friends and was happy. She liked schoolwork and was good at it. I hope, that when she starts secondary school in the autumn, it all works out for her. I know that she will really miss primary school, and I think I saw her wiping away a furtive tear in the course of the ceremony.

So then afterwards she got her shirt signed by all her friends (which is, apparently, what you do):

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I wish the shirt had been cleaner to start with as I realise that I will never be able to wash it again.

And she and her class went off to the cinema. I was going to meet her afterwards but when I rang her, she had already hopped on the bus home by herself, she hoped I didn’t mind. I didn’t but when I got home I also gave her her first set of house keys. Big girl.

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Yesterday evening we ignored the blandishments of the school parents’ social night and Mr. Waffle took Daniel to his first soccer match. The local team lost. Naturally. Apparently you can read about it in today’s paper but as Michael said, “Why would he want to, he was there.”

Today – Mr. Waffle got up at 6 to go to Cork for a funeral (non-Irish readers, no one particularly close to him, mother of a friend, Irish people specialise in funeral attendance) and will be back mid-afternoon to grace the street party with his presence in his role as chairman of the residents’ committee. It was beautiful this morning but, inevitably, it is clouding over now. We need to do more baking for the street party. Sigh. Meanwhile in the absence of a car, a kind neighbour picked Dan up for a GAA match in Malahide at 8.45. This is his last outing until September. Rejoice.

Also, this week, because it was quiet (hah), we got a couple of the windows repaired. Here is the girl of the moment sitting in front of her new window in an utterly unposed (ahem) image. She is genuinely pleased to be able to open her window and also that the crack across the top, through which the winter wind used to whistle, has been repaired.

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And how was your own week?

I Have a New Bike

June 25th, 2015

The first fancy bike I got when we moved to Dublin in 2008 was stolen. My sister gave me her old bike to replace it and it served me faithfully for a number of years but it was showing signs of wear and the back wheel was buckled by opportunistic thieves (who didn’t get it) and straightened (by a passing French tourist who took pity on me) and still wobbled. And the gears were shot. And it was designed for a flat country (it was my sister’s bike when she lived in the Netherlands). And I cycle every day around town and I felt it was time. Here is a picture of my new bike; taken partially for this blog and partially so that I can use the picture to try to retrieve it if stolen.

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