My father might fairly be described as disliking change. He is entertaining, charming, brilliant etc. etc. but he does not like change. He is also prudent; my mother is going to purchase a paddling pool for our forthcoming trip to Cork and lots of salt. Why salt? My father insists that it should be added to the water so that should the children fall they will float like in the Dead Sea. That’s one big paddling pool they’re thinking about purchasing.
It’s not really that my father doesn’t like socialising or even doesn’t like his family but there are many of us and we will bring much change in our wake and much phone ringing and much car borrowing. My father does not like the phone. The Princess doesn’t like it much either, when asked to talk to her doting relatives, she says with a toss of her head “I’m like Cork Grandad, I don’t like the phone”. Further, his role as family genius is being undermined although the Princess likes to prop it up by saying whenever we are at a loss for information “We’ll ask Cork Grandad, he’ll know”. “I really don’t think he will know who gave you the purple trousers, sweetheart, that’s not the kind of everything he knows”. The other night, however, my sister called and asked me something I didn’t know. “Ring Daddy” I said (yeah, I know, he hates the phone but it’s my job to torture him, you’re always a teenager to your parents). “No” she said “ask Mr. Waffle”. “He won’t know”. “Yes, he will” she insisted “I’ve noticed he knows everything”. Changing my tune somewhat I said “What, just now?”. “Well,” she said defensively, “he doesn’t talk much”. I related this to Mr. Waffle and he muttered rebelliously “I’m not let”. Indeed. I digress.
So as we prepare to descend en masse on my poor parents in Cork, I feel a particular twinge of sympathy for my father. This email from my brother makes me feel even more nervous on his behalf. “Will be back in Cork when ye are there……..the house will be packed…..what will Daddy think of a full house with you, me, husband, 2 babies, 1 toddler [all three pox ridden, Daniel having finally succumbed today] and possibly 3 eastern European cleaners* to top it all off……..should be interesting”.
*I should perhaps explain that the result of the Celtic tiger is that my parents can no longer find local cleaners and they have 3 Latvians who come in for an hour together and go through the house like a dose of salts. Though they are forbidden to move any of the seven peaked caps and reading glasses which sit patiently at any spot where my father is likely to alight and want to read.