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A Mountain to Climb

April 23rd, 2015

Herself: What are you watching?
Me: Hilary Clinton’s video launching her campaign for the US Presidency.
Her: Oh my God, is she still alive?

A Misapprehension

April 22nd, 2015

Michael: What do the Jews believe?
Me: Well much the same as us but no New Testament, just the stuff in the Old Testament.
Him: So, no Jesus.
Me: Yes, broadly.
Him: No Jesus! Their mass must be so much shorter!

Easter Holidays – Part 2

April 20th, 2015

We drove back from Cork late afternoon on Holy Saturday and arrived back at about 7 with everybody tired, cranky and hungry. It was in this joyous mood that we made our way up to the Easter vigil in the Church at 9 that evening.

The vigil mass is a really beautiful service but spectacularly lengthy. The church was in darkness and we all went outside to light candles from a brazier. As we filed in to the dark, neo-gothic church with only our candles lit, it was really spectacular. Mr. Waffle, clearly feeling the weight of his role as chair of the residents’ committee, hissed to me, “Who’s taking in the brazier? Some of the locals could do real damage with that.” In the other ear, Michael sighed, “Mass isn’t even started yet, is it?” I was forced to confess, it was not. The music was really beautiful but it was hard to enjoy the service until Mr. Waffle peeled off with the two boys about 10. The Princess and I stayed until it ended at 11 but all in all probably not an experience I would repeat for a while.

On Easter Sunday we had my parents-in-law around for lunch and it all passed off relatively well although my father-in-law had left his lights on and there was some fun with jump leads before they could leave.

Easter Monday was a beautiful day and we decided to go into town to look at the various activities associated with commemorating the 99th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Town was heaving and O’Connell Street boasted a number of attractions which would have been all fine and dandy if there hadn’t been huge queues and a constant fear of losing a child.

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In the afternoon, we decided to take a drive to somewhere quieter and went to walk up the Hill of Slane. We discovered that there is no walk up to the Hill of Slane. The car park is about 200 metres from the site but it was tranquil and relatively empty after the chaos of the morning.

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We went into the town looking for a cup of tea and ended up having dinner in the Conyngham Arms which was lovely. We sat outside in the walled garden in the sunshine feeling very pleased with ourselves. On the wall, the hotel is described as having the best service in Leinster and I’m not surprised. Our waitress was a heroine meeting our endless ketchup demands with extraordinary cheerfulness.

More soon. Maybe.

Easter Holiday Round-Up – Part 1

April 19th, 2015

Mr. Waffle is a shadow of his former self. As the self-employed parent, he tends to do a lot of the childminding during the holidays. As it happened, these holidays he was very busy and it was all a bit tense. Not for the children, but for him.

At the start of the holidays, I took the children down to Cork for a couple of days. Having been to Kinsale so recently, the children avoided a trip to Charles Fort. Other improving activities included a trip to the ever popular Blackrock Observatory and a visit to the Cork City Gaol Museum which was moderately successful.

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Undoubtedly, a highlight of the trip was a walk on the Marina. This was the subject of much unhappiness. A deal was brokered whereby we would walk 10 minutes from the car and 10 minutes back. In those 20 minutes, the children spotted that there was a funfair and begged to be let go.

I yielded. I felt mildly bad that on Good Friday while their 90 year old grandfather was up in the church doing the stations, they were flying through the air on a variety of dangerous machines. I also bought the obligatory fairground goodies.

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It being Good Friday, I did not have anything to eat myself which, frankly, did not improve my enjoyment of the whole experience. When I got back to my parents’ house, I was ravenous for my dinner. My brother who regards my eating regime with a sardonic eye (he believes firmly that people and women, in particular, should watch what they eat, I do not watch what I eat, we have had spirited exchanges of views on this point in the past) commented, “It’s harder for your mother as she is so unused to deprivation.” Quite.

I can’t quite recall what else we did. I do remember a trip to the park and overhearing my daughter and my brother having the following conversation:
Him: How did your day go?
Her: Terrible, don’t ask her or she’ll kill us all.

So, you know, only good in parts. Michael dropped my father’s iPad and I attempted to repair it by banging it on my knee as advised by the internet. This did not work and I managed to break the screen. The repair of our combined depredations cost a fortune.

Maybe more tomorrow.

Palm Sunday

March 29th, 2015

Today is Palm Sunday. A fact I had forgotten until I entered the church this morning and Michael began loudly complaining when he saw the size of the missalette. “It’s three times longer than normal,” he hissed. “That means mass will last three hours.”

While it didn’t last three hours, it certainly was grand and long. The priest read the first gospel (which I think is not compulsory), he read the longer version of the long gospel (you know the one, it’s the miniature passion play) and then, crowning indignity, he gave a sermon which is normally unheard of on Passion Sunday. The elderly lady in the pew in front fainted. A group of older mentally handicapped people who were behind us made noise throughout the mass much of it mournful. One could hardly blame them. At communion, one of them ran up to the altar scattering pensioners in her wake; it was a difficult Sunday for the pensioners.

As our neighbour’s teenage daughter came down from communion, Mr. Waffle asked whether I thought her top was entirely appropriate for mass. She was wearing a pink hoodie and it was only when she passed me that I saw that the legend on the back was: “Hockey is my religion.”

It was that kind of Sunday. How was your own weekend?

All Mod Cons

March 27th, 2015

Yesterday the eircom man came and restored our broadband and television. I cannot tell you how delighted we all are after our long fallow period. Things we have done in the evening in the absence of internet and television: played cards, played table soccer, read books and learnt off poetry by heart from books. I think the consensus is that well and good as those things may be, a full life cannot be lived without internet and television. There it is. Philistinism will out. Personally, I was bereft without the television. If you had asked me, I would have said that I hardly watched any television. I was wrong. To celebrate the return of the television, I stayed up watching the Miliband v. Cameron debate; clearly, very worthwhile.

On the plus side, everyone now knows Up the Airy Mountain. And much of Lepanto which is no joke, I can tell you. Parts of it are a bit obscure to the modern reader and I said to herself, “We need a glossary.” And she replied, “The internet is our glossary.” Welcome back, glossary, we missed you.

The Glory that was Greece, the Grandeur that was Rome

March 23rd, 2015

The other day, I was wondering aloud how the Romans did all the maths they needed for their engineering achievements in those very cumbersome Roman numerals. Mr. Waffle tells me that they did the difficult bits in Greek numbers and then translated them back into Roman numerals at the end.

Did you know that already? I am rather surprised about the numbers of my friends who did Greek in school, it turns out it’s useful for odd conversations in your 40s. A friend’s wife said something quite innocent about some word possibly coming from the Greek for horse and she was instantly corrected by her husband and mine who said, “No, hippos is a horse*.” Reporting, this rather disapprovingly, to some other friends, it turned out that they had studied Greek also and one of them said wistfully, “Greek was my favourite subject.” She is not the kind of person I would have thought of as a lover of ancient Greek but it just goes to show how little we know of our friends. I suppose at this stage you could count on the fingers of one hand the numbers of children anywhere studying ancient Greek except maybe in Greece.

Bonus prize for you, if you know how the Greeks did their numbers. I can stop any time.

*This is very unlike both of them and I can only attribute it to the lasting power of Greek teaching in the Irish school system.


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