On Friday, Mr. Waffle and I went for a walk in Glendalough. All very pleasant.
We arrived home and whisked the children off to a freebie cinema showing of “The Red Balloon” which won some prize in Cannes in 1956. It was mildly endearing but the children didn’t think much of it. What was startling was how dirty and run down Paris looked in 1956. For a while I thought it was Brussels but then I saw the Eiffel Tower looming through the smog. Further culture night activities included a visit to a quite spectacularly disgusting take away in Temple Bar and an obligatory visit to “The Ark” a slightly worthy cultural centre for children. The best bit was being out with the children at night: looking at the moon; the river lit up; and all the grown-up slightly drunk people. Weird for everyone.
On Saturday we went to the GAA, dropped the Princess to a birthday party, took delivery of a bouncy castle and went to IKEA.
This morning we realised that we had left the camera in Glendalough so, to ensure that our comprehensive catalogue of our children’s birthday parties remained complete, Mr. Waffle drove off and fetched it. In the interim, the children and I were at mass. Some woman in West Cork had asked that people boycott mass to support the ordination of women. While, unsurprisingly, I am in favour of the ordination of women, I’m not convinced that boycotting mass is the answer. Firstly, I think there’s no evidence that anyone would notice. The archbishop appeared at mass – mass therefore ran forever. He gave an erudite sermon managing to bring in references to Dante and the depiction of Lazarus and Dives in medieval art. He didn’t touch on the ordination of women though.
There was a very eclectic selection of music varying from some African number (really beautiful) to a local soprano (medium) and the regular choir of pre-teens accompanied by a guitar (achingly dreadful). While all this was going on, the children had been off in some room behind the altar at the children’s liturgy where they were free to colour and speak loudly. Daniel and Michael arrived back with two pictures. “What’s this?” I asked. “That’s Lazarus outside the gate,” Michael explained. “And what’s this?” I asked. “That’s the remote for the electronic gate and that’s the surveillance camera.”
In conversation with herself:
Me: What did you do today while you were with the ladies behind the altar?
Her: About Lazarus and Dives. Dives is mean and won’t give any food to Lazarus and in the end when they die, Lazarus is in Heaven and Dives is in the other place.
Me: Hell, you mean.
Her: You can’t say Hell, especially not in a church.
Ah, the post Vatican II world.
And finally, as we were about to leave, I asked her “Would you like to shake hands with the archbishop?” “Will he have lollipops?” she asked. I said that I thought not and we left it.
This afternoon was the boys’ party and in many ways it was a huge success.
Unfortunately, the strain of the week began to show and the Princess was fiendishly awful. In any event, the boys had a terrific time and, unlike their mother, were indifferent to their sister’s behaviour. So all was broadly well. Their uncle and grandparents kindly came around to assist with crowd control. They got mountains of presents, the clear winner being (and I am sorry if you are a donor and this causes you pain) the hilarious Kung Zhu Battle Hamsters. These are fighting hamsters and were clearly inspired by someone who had an alarming experience with hamsters at an impressionable age. In fact, when my sister-in-law was 8 she woke up one morning to find one of her hamsters dead and the other, blood spattered, devouring the corpse; so, I suppose, experience of battle hamsters may be more extensive than I imagine. Aaanyhow, it all passed off peacefully. Very touchingly, a woman who lives around the corner called round as we were prodding the troops up the stairs to bed with cakes for the boys. I had met her on the street earlier in the day and mentioned it was the boys’ birthday tomorrow and she had decided that they should have more cake. How delightful.
And now it is over for 12 months. Tomorrow is their actual birthday and then I will have two five year olds.
congratulations on surviving. Re ‘the other place’ – as a good Oxford graduate that is, of course, Cambridge although I think in the house of Lords it’s the commons. We all make our own hells…
Happy birthday, boys! They were gerbils actually – Snuffles and Snuggles – but yes, it was very traumatic indeed.
a) How beautiful Glendalough looks, and how much I would like to go there without the children and have a proper walk, and how unlikely that is to happen in the foreseeable future;
b) that’s very funny about the archbishop and the lollipops but Michael drawing the remote and the CCTV camera for the pearly gates is priceless;
c) what a fabulous birthday cake. Poor Frank never quite got a proper birthday cake as we first postponed and then cancelled his party (on account of snot). Hugh and I ended up making a cake yesterday with some Odlum’s cake mix that Ken bought for extra party supplies. It is surprisingly nice, but not very artistic. I am going to have to up my game.
Oh, and happy birthday to Michael and Daniel!
TM, I suppose “other people” is the classic.
QoP, thank you, thank you and thanks for generous present which arrived safely – more traditional thanks to follow.
Dot, if it’s any comfort, the photos were carefully posed to make it look like we were there alone and, as you know, that never happens. The woods look beautiful and silent but in fact they were full of roaring teenagers who left sweet wrappers behind them which we picked up tutting the while. Must confess it was the Princess and her father who planned and executed the cake.