Monday, April 19, 2021
I put away my winter clothes and took out my summer clothes. I was not super-skinny last summer so it was with some dismay that I discovered that a pair of trousers which were loose last year will no longer close. Alas. I blame take-away night.
The principal of the school sent an email to all parents outlining how children should behave to ensure that they are safe walking, cycling and getting the bus to school. At no point did he mention that cars create a lot of the danger, in fact, he made it look like the only safe way to get to school was by car. I was annoyed. I sent an email to the school pointing out that we are supposed to be a healthy school which is fighting climate change and this is hardly a helpful message. Everyone else in the family laughed at me. Have I tipped over the edge into blinkered single-issue pressure group type person? I would prefer not to know, I think.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
We all very much enjoyed the European Super League story which, Daniel, as our sports expert in chief explained to us in detail over dinner.
An old friend of my father’s (they first met in 1943 when he was 16 and my father was 18) rang to say that he had written a short memoir of my father and would I like it? I did like it, very much. It was a very kind thing to have done. I am happy to report that the author is a very sprightly 94 year old. While I knew many of the stories he told of my father, it was so interesting to see some things I had never heard at all and to hear the familiar stories from one of his contemporaries rather than as told to his family. The children really liked it as well.
I think about my father every day. I feel the world is a poorer place for not having him in it. There’s a Cork guy who does these funny videos about the Cork upper middle classes (a complex and intricate group – Cork is the place that gave us the merchant princes and the lines: No snob like a Cork snob and the haves and the have yachts). He often begins by addressing people as “old stock”. My father used that expression a lot – it seems to have fallen out of favour now but it was common when I was younger. Every time his videos start “Hello, old stock” I feel a little bit sad. Also, the man who makes the videos was a couple of years ahead of me in College. He was a popular debater, a lanky red head and I was appalled by how old he’s got in the 32 years or so since I last saw him. I digress. I haven’t been to Cork since my father’s funeral in December and I’m finding that pretty hard.
Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Thursday, April 22, 2021
The boys had a treasure hunt on bikes in the park. Now that they’re back in school and things are relaxing a bit, their Transition Year experience is belatedly getting going. They had a good time.
We turned off the Aga.
The principal called me and said I was absolutely right about his email on travelling to school and he would bear my comments in mind for future communications. Vindicated! Or perhaps he’s just scared of my single-minded lunacy?
Friday, April 23, 2021
My friend asked whether Mr. Waffle and I would like to do a reading of Hamlet over zoom with half a dozen of his friends. It’s more fun than it sounds, said he. I hope so because we agreed to do it.
Saturday, April 24, 2021
It was an absolutely beautiful day. I persuaded Mr. Waffle to cycle out to Dun Laoghaire with me. This has been a long-held ambition of mine as I want to test the cycle infrastructure which has been much discussed in the letters pages of the Irish Times (which purports to be a national newspaper, snort). Imagine my horror when, arriving in Sandymount to test the segregated cycle lane which has been written about in the letters page for the last year, I discovered that it has not yet been built. I can only imagine the post bag it will generate if they ever actually go ahead and build it.
In fairness, from Booterstown onwards, provision was pretty good but that was near the end of our trek.
We had an ice cream on the pier when we got there. I wanted two flakes in my 99 (judge away) and the man in the booth said, “I’m going to have to charge you for the second flake.” Unsurprising but he explained that he was on his last box and all of the ice cream shops were running out. “The flakes were on the boat that got stuck in the Suez canal and there’s a shortage everywhere.” How’s that for an interconnected world for you?
We got the DART back to town with our bikes. It’s probably the first time I’ve been on public transport in about a year but it was grand.
My friend in Brussels tells me that she will be getting her jab on Tuesday. It is so thrilling to be nearing the end of the road on this one.
Sunday April 25, 2021
Encouraged by the excitement of our Saturday trip to Dun Laoghaire, I persuaded herself to cycle out to Howth which is a seaside town about 15kms north of our house.
The cycling infrastructure was really terrific. We were off road beside the sea for most of the journey. The tide was in and the views were beautiful but there was a strong headwind which made the trip hard work. It took us about an hour and a half.
When we got there we queued for an hour and a half for chips from Beshoff’s. Honestly, if I had known how long it would take when we started I would never have gone there. To my horror, there was a further queue for collection after you reached the top of the queue for ordering. Disastrous. We were ravenous by the time we got our chips and frozen after queuing in the shadows. However, we perked up after eating and were able to walk the length of the town admiring the sea views. A kind guard took a break from trying mildly to break up large groups to direct us to the public toilets. They had both soap and toilet paper: a real win.
We got the Dart home. More public transport excitement.
My sister-in-law in England got an appointment for her vaccine. V. thrilling.
Monday April 26, 2021
Mr. Waffle cycled to his mother’s nursing home in Monkstown in 45 minutes so half an hour less than it took him to cycle there at the weekend with me. On the other hand, he’d never have cycled at all if I hadn’t shown him how quickly it could be done. So, a win for me.
My neighbour, born on the street and residents’ committee stalwart, died. She was fine until February but then she had a stroke and when she went into hospital, they found she had cancer and she went into a nursing home. Pretty miserable couple of months, I imagine but she was very well up to then and I’d say she was in her 80s.
Someone I know through blogging told me that someone else I sort of knew, someone about my own age – with children of an age with mine – has got cancer and gone into palliative care. Even though I didn’t know this person, it felt like I did a bit and it seems so very sad.
A colleague told me that her husband (who is a bit older) has been vaccinated. The delight.
I had lunch in the park with a former colleague and it felt normal sitting there in the sunshine exchanging gossip. A harbinger of things to come, I hope.
The extremely expensive new bin didn’t close when I went to put something into it and I spent half an hour before bed embracing it trying to persuade it to close with the same smooth action as earlier. A romantic end to the day.
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
A colleague texted me in the morning asking could I cover a meeting for him as he had been summoned to the nursing home where his father had slipped into a coma. I think our age brings a lot of dying parents. Grim and Covid makes it all grimmer.
Michael sent us a pdf of the book that his year wrote with the creative writing centre. He was delighted with himself. He had two short stories in it and there will be a hard copy in due course (reasonably limited print run). The forward was written by Sheila O’Flanagan where she dutifully name checks all of the young authors and their work. “I didn’t realise Sheila O’Flanagan was involved,” said I. “Yeah,” said Michael, “and there were a couple of other authors too but I can’t remember their names. None of them was as much fun as Roddy Doyle.” The little ingrate. I’m really grateful to all these authors who gave their time to this for, as far as I can tell, no reward (we certainly didn’t pay anything, perhaps they get a grant from the arts council – I hope so).
Hallelujah, the GAA is back and Daniel went out to training. He really missed it. Also, I call on you to admire how many of the under-16s are cycling to training. Very gratifying.
Dan had his last day of his outside school TY course. The whole thing was online and it was a bit grim. Herself did the same course when she was in Transition Year and once a week trekked out to the university campus where it was held and made loads of like minded friends. It was just a much less good experience for poor Dan. What about Michael you may ask. Well, I suggested that he might do the exam to get in but he said, “What, an exam to do more school work, are you mad?” So that was that.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
Our neighbour’s funeral is on Friday and the hearse is going to drive up the road and all the neighbours are going to stand outside their houses which is nice. Another neighbour sent details of when the funeral home was open for viewing the body explaining that the funeral home couldn’t advertise this due to Coronavirus restrictions. Some issues there, I feel.
At work, myself and a colleague discovered that we had learnt all the same poetry by heart for the Leaving Cert and to the bemusement of younger colleagues began to quote it. Apparently, they learnt no poetry off by heart although one of them was able to quote by heart some of the notes on the poems which they had been forced to learn. Hardly a satisfactory development. My progress towards crazy old lady is proceeding apace you will observe.
Thursday, April 29, 2021
Another new road map has been published. I will be able to register for vaccination next week. To register to get vaccinated and not to actually get vaccinated but it’s definitely a cheering prospect.
The boys had a driving instructor come to the school and they drove around the school yard and learnt how to change a tyre, add coolant and top up windscreen cleaning fluid. They also found out how much insurance costs and how to get a quote for it (the boys in the class were outraged by how much cheaper it is for girls); how much motor tax is; and how to pass the driving test including sitting a mock theory test. They had a great time. What a shame they couldn’t have been doing this kind of thing all year. In fairness, their Transition Year co-ordinator seems to be packing in as much as he possibly can into the last weeks of the year.
Friday, April 30, 2021
The start of the May bank holiday weekend, hurrah! When I got home from work, Michael was in the kitchen. He was unpacking the shopping unaided as everyone else was out. He was in great form. They’ve been making a film in school and he plays a guard. The Gardaí came in from the local station to talk to them about investigative techniques and to allow them to use the Garda car as a prop for one of their scenes. Taking community policing to the next level.
I went into the study to fetch a pen and there was Mr. Waffle in a conference call, when I checked Daniel and herself were both upstairs. Michael was surprised but indifferent. He thought they were out. In fact, shortly after, herself hurtled out the door to meet a friend in the park. She had a great time but her friend is an inveterate walker and walked the legs off her. Good for her as I helpfully pointed out. This is what mothers are for.
My lilac has come out in the garden and I am delighted. Herself said, “I can see you having a beautiful garden when you retire and have more time to spend there.” I was quite flattered but also vaguely insulted as, you know, I don’t think of retirement as exactly imminent.
Mr. Waffle tells me that the cat came into the kitchen at lunch time with another mouse in her jaws. I like to think that she is catching them outside the house but I fear that I’m only fooling myself. Anyway Mr. Waffle picked her up by her midriff and tossed her (mouse and all) out the front door and when she came back the mouse was gone. Frankly, I doubt that this ended well for the mouse.
As the economy is beginning to re-open and my waistline expansion has to end, we had our last Friday night take-away. We were all pretty cheerful about it as it feels like it heralds a return to normality.
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Herself went off for a long cycle with a friend and came back in great form. Daniel had training and also came back in a very good mood. I was so glad for them. They have had a long hard lock down. Michael has quite enjoyed it really.
While the others were out, Michael volunteered to top up the reserve for cleaning the windscreen in the car applying his lessons from earlier in the week. I hovered while he tipped in a small amount from the tiny bottle. “That seems like hardly any,” I said. “No, you’re only supposed to put in a quarter of the bottle,” he insisted. “Nonsense,” said I, I can see there’s a massive reservoir down there.” I tipped the lot in. “For someone who didn’t know how to to do this, you seem to have very strong views,” said Michael crossly. He had the last laugh anyway – it’s concentrated and the small bottle needed five litres of water which definitely did not fit in the container under the bonnet. Look, how bad is a soapy windscreen for a while? It’s always raining here anyway.
We had our first night of Hamlet over zoom. God, I love my friends but it was tough going. I am not cut out for Shakespeare over zoom. Or possibly for Shakespeare at all. My friend M who has a lovely voice sang “We’ll keep the red flag flying” at the end given the day that was in it and that was possibly a highlight.
Sunday, May 2, 2021
Building on the success of last weekend, Mr. Waffle, Daniel and I cycled to Howth. Daniel had agreed to do this in a moment of weakness and was resigned to his fate. It was extremely successful. Firstly, the wind was behind us and it took us only about an hour to get out which compares pretty well with driving to be honest. When we got there, we did not go to Beshoff’s. We went to Wright’s which was pricier but had no queue. They gave us a little buzzer and we were able to walk the pier and look at the seals while we were waiting for our food. V satisfactory.
We got the Dart home again. Delighted with myself. We have put off the cleaning rota to tomorrow as it is, apparently, going to rain and there will be nothing else to do. I feel that this is unwise but I can’t face it this evening. I am looking forward to when we can have our cleaner back.
We have the second part of Hamlet this evening at 7.30. Alas alack.
I trust that you too are getting closer to vaccination or, better yet, are vaccinated already. Give me your vaccine good news stories.