“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” So said Mark Twain. My father is a charitable, kind-hearted, Irish, reactionary, pro-European Daily Telegraph reader. I am a wishy-washy, left leaning, hand wringing Observer reader. I have always tended to snort at my father’s views but the older I get the more I find myself in charity with them. The anti-smoking people are a curse (tick, though I like the smoke free pubs it’s the sanctimoniousness of it gets to me – you can’t smoke in the workplace so no, if you work outside cleaning the streets and have smoked all your life, you can’t have a cigarette on the job, really, we’re only thinking about you). French intellectuals are responsible for many of the worst atrocities of the 20th century (tick, Pol Pot). I was once friendly with a very strait laced lawyer who had grown up around the Haight-Ashbury and whose mother was an aging lesbian hippy. I can’t help wondering whether Dina is now into beads.
I’m getting to my point, bear with me. My sister is leaving her job. Today is, in fact, her last day after nine and a half years of faithful service. Yes, that’s right precisely a week and a half before we pitch up on her doorstep to get a feel for where she lives. She’s going to move back to Ireland in the autumn; she’s decided that she’s been away long enough. I was astounded when she told me; this is a girl who was able to pay the deposit on her first flat with the profits on her wisely invested first communion money. “With no job lined up?” “With no job lined up” she confirmed. Having grown up in Ireland in the 1980s and left before the boom got going in the 1990s, I cannot really view this prospect with anything other than horror despite the fact that it means that she will be much closer to us and I will see much more of her which will, of course, be wonderful. I was one of the first people she told. I rang her back a week later to see what everyone else thought. “They were all really pleased, they feel it’s a great move”. “Even Mummy and Daddy?” “Especially Mummy and Daddy!” I think I have become more conservative than my parents.
You’ll be pleased to hear, though, that she’ll still be in Chicago when we arrive and, obviously, there’ll be no escape to the office for her. She’ll be begging them to take her back.
Off to Ireland tomorrow before flying on to Chicago next week (we like to travel so much that we always make complex arrangements like this), wish us luck.