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Hurrah

27 November, 2018 at 9:06 pm by belgianwaffle

When I was growing up my mother used to say that people are mostly honest and I have found this to be basically true. Here it is illustrated yet again (sample size, one, as a former colleague used to say).

As I was running for the tram this evening, I realised that my wallet was not in my bag. I retraced my steps to work and after checking back in the office and not finding it – sigh – I began to compile a doleful mental inventory of all the things that would have to be cancelled and replaced. I thought that perhaps I had left it in the cafe where I had lunch. And happily it was still open at 6.30 and even more happily someone had handed in my wallet and they handed it back to me with the contents entirely intact. Oh frabjous day!

I’d met a friend there for lunch and he had insisted on buying lunch so I had taken my wallet out to pay and then forgot to put it away (genius). In the course of lunch I said to him that I was going to be 50 next year and instead of expressing the surprise and shock which is always the right response when someone tells you this, by the way, he said, “That is fecking ancient.” Which is true but also unwelcome. And looking around the cafe he added, “This is the kind of place you’d expect to be full of 50 year old women too”. I’ll say this much for my tribe, we are very good at handing in lost wallets.

Weekend Round-Up

25 November, 2018 at 7:54 pm by belgianwaffle

On Friday, Daniel was still feeling a bit sick so he missed French class. Michael and I went in together. While he was not enthused, he is now resigned to French class which, I suppose, is progress. While he was doing French verbs, I went to the new look Bewley’s and had a cup of tea and a cherry bun. I was pleased with my experience: the tea was good, the bun was good and, as I was in no rush, the fact that service was spectacularly slow was not a problem. A fire is nice at this time of year and although I was seated miles from the fire, it definitely improved the overall atmosphere. I will be back.

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Yesterday morning, Mr. Waffle and I cycled off for breakfast together to a new venue recommended in the Irish Times, we were a bit underwhelmed but breakfast is a low stakes investment and we got to go to the architectural salvage yard across the road afterwards so, a win really.

The afternoon was heavy on logistics. My brother was in Dublin again. I collected him from the station and then dropped him and Dan to collect Michael from drama and the three of them went for pizza. Then Michael came home and Mr. Waffle dropped my brother and Dan to the Dart (like a metro only not as useful) and they went to the Ireland v US rugby match. The outcome was pretty much never in doubt and Daniel was pleased. He does not bear losses by his team with anything approaching equanimity.

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Then I collected Dan from town leaving my brother to go out with his friends.

This morning, Daniel was called upon to read at mass at short notice. He rose magnificently to the occasion and I felt like a minor celebrity as people rushed up afterwards to congratulate him on his performance. Michael was at hockey with Mr. Waffle and my brother was still in bed. A neighbour called round to ask the boys to distribute leaflets for the Christmas fair next weekend and had loads of interesting news about the neighbours (deaths, births, marriages, house sales). Why do I never hear anything?

After lunch, I dropped Daniel round to a friend’s house and my brother to the train. I felt curiously at a loose end. I went into town with Mr. Waffle who wanted to look at the soldier sculpture before it was moved on tomorrow. Stephen’s Green was full of people who, last minute also, were peering at the statue.

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Building on previous success, we went to Bewley’s but there was a huge queue – town was heaving – so we went elsewhere which was mildly unsatisfactory. Mr. Waffle went home and I went around the shops in a desultory fashion and made my way home in the rain. When I got back, Michael was curled up on the sofa in front of the fire resplendent in his dressing gown and slippers. He opined that he had made better use of his afternoon and it was hard to argue.

Herself was in Paris today with her friend, their planned trip for yesterday having been stymied by the gilets jaunes. I was slightly anxious all day because that is my job but I have just received a text confirming that she is safely back.

25 November was my Nana’s birthday which was unfortunate as she always hated the dank miserableness of November. I wonder what she would think of town full of Christmas shoppers and all the lights up. You know what? She might like it.

Unfunny

23 November, 2018 at 8:51 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle and I went to a fund raising thing for the school in town last night. It was in a comedy club and the school had some tickets to sell and there were regular punters as well. I felt at least 20 years older than everyone else there, even the other parents.

I found it depressing and, worse, deeply unfunny. It was sexist, racist, homophobic, vulgar and often mean. I sat there glaring with my arms folded throughout. Everyone else was roaring with laughter. Was it me? Am I miserable and middle-aged? Is this what the young people like? Is it unhelpful that I am not a drinker? Is it somehow funnier and less offensive, if you’re drunk? I have been to lots of comedy things over the years, I am not incapable of finding comedy funny (she said defensively). But, I suppose I would never have chosen to go to this kind of show in this kind of venue. I hadn’t realised that there was still so much of that kind of thing out there.

Alas. Definite highlight of the evening was discovering that one of the Princess’s friends was cast in an ad and he is now on telly all the time (in a kind of blink and you’ll miss it way, but still).

#Notallcyclists

14 November, 2018 at 8:06 pm by belgianwaffle

Regular readers will be aware that I commute to work by bicycle and I am, basically, the much-maligned cyclist’s friend. However, I have to say, my affection was severely tested one lunchtime when a cyclist came flying around the corner on the pavement at speed. Myself and another man who were walking along jumped smartly out of his way. The other pedestrian shouted at him, aggressively, I grant but the cyclist had nearly run us both over. The cyclist then yelled right back at this man, who was black and called out a nasty racial slur. I have to say, I was really shaken. I’m sure there is plenty of racism in Ireland but I have never been so up close and personal with it and it was horrible. I wish I’d said something but I just scurried away out of trouble. I want to do better next time while hoping there will never be a next time at all.

100 Years

11 November, 2018 at 7:09 pm by belgianwaffle

So, I have never celebrated Armistice Day in my life. I have wandered gloomily around Belgium in the rain on the day – it’s a public holiday there – desperately trying to find something for small children to do when everything is closed but I wouldn’t exactly say I was reflecting on the war.

Armistice is funny in Ireland. Obviously during the first world war, from 1914-1918, Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom though many people including three of my four grandparents, were putting in significant efforts to change that situation. Post-independence, there seems to have been a feeling that to celebrate the Armistice was in some way, anti-Irish and against this State. I grew up in the 70s and 80s and I certainly never thought about the Armistice or celebrated it in any way. In fact, I think my first real awareness of it was after the Enniskillen bombing on Armistice Day 1987.

But Ireland has been making its way through what we’re calling “the decade of centenaries” remembering the turbulent times between 1912 and 1922 (the worst is yet to come – dealing with the civil war legacy) and in relation to this, there has been a great deal of talk of World War I and all those forgotten Irish men who went to the front and died. When I was in Cork at the Protestant Cathedral last weekend, I noticed lots of Armistice Day wreaths and memorials and I found myself thinking that it was odd that we never see that in Catholic churches when the overwhelming majority of those killed must have been Catholics.

However, today there was, to my great surprise, a big crowd at mass and the priest made it clear that it was a memorial mass for all the parishioners who had died in what he called “The Great War” – definitely sounded very odd from the pulpit. But they read the names of the parishioners who died in the war and the choir sang and we remembered the dead of the last year (November is the month of the dead for Catholics anyway so it was in keeping) and processed down the church with our candles. It was still surprising to see a woman in the congregation wearing a poppy. I suppose it’s a strand of Irish history that we haven’t really acknowledged very much. That seems changed for good now. It’s taken a while.

The Christmas Kitchen

8 November, 2018 at 8:22 pm by belgianwaffle

So about January this year, we thought that we would do some work on the kitchen and the utility room. We got drawings, we got costings, we scaled back our ambition a bit. We went backwards and forwards for months. Work was due to start in September, it did not. Nor did it start in October. It was definitely to start this Friday. The builder promised it would be finished for Christmas. Is it starting this Friday? It is not. Will it be finished for Christmas? I don’t think so, woe and alas.

Extended Round-Up

4 November, 2018 at 11:54 pm by belgianwaffle

The coda to our logistics last week was getting Herself back to France. She was due to fly out at 9.50 on Wednesday morning. Alas, I did not see some form online which was supposed to be filled in for under 16s [Air France didn’t need one but Aer Lingus did – I know, I know, when you’re explaining you’re losing] and she was thrown off on the steps of the plane. Mr. Waffle had to zoom back to the airport and re-book her for a later flight and then we needed to re-book her train from Charles de Gaulle to the west of France. It was all a bit stressful. She is Miss Super Competent in fairness to her. She got on the plane in Dublin and from there, unaccompanied, navigated her way to the train station in CDG and on to the express train back to her host family in the west of France.

Poor Mr. Waffle meanwhile spent the morning in the airport (unexpectedly, obviously) and then came home to find that the wretched cat had captured a blackbird and brought it into the kitchen. Mr. Waffle arrived home to a storm of feathers and the bird standing dazedly on the work surface between attempts to hurl itself out the closed window. The cat was pacing the floor frantically some dimly understood precept (or possibly her vast bulk) preventing her from hopping up on to the work surface. Mr. Waffle threw her into the utility room and ushered the bird into the garden. The cat got out the cat flap in the utility room and was waiting anxiously for them at the back door so that escape plan was not entirely successful. The bird got out eventually and we are still finding feathers in surprising places. Joy.

Meanwhile it was Halloween in Dublin and for the first time since moving in, our decorations beat next door’s. It could be that now that their children are 19 and 17 they are not trying so hard but I like to think that we really tried. The boys looked very impressive in their costumes but were too sophisticated to go door to door and just wore them for school.

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We had planned to go to Cork for a couple of days over mid-term before Mr. Waffle’s father died and I wondered whether we should cancel but after some humming and hawing we went in the end. In a new development, the boys stayed in my parents’ house and Mr. Waffle and I stayed with my sister. This was a very satisfactory development for everyone except, possibly, our host.

We drove down on Thursday night which was a bit of an epic trek but it did mean that we woke up in Cork on Friday morning ready for a day of Cork related fun. In what can only be called the high water mark of family cultural engagement, the boys said that they wanted to go to Charles Fort in Kinsale on Friday, so we did. It was a bit damp but we missed the worst of the rain. On the strength of this, I bought a new family heritage card for €90 which means that we have to go to at least six heritage sites over the next year to break even. I fear the worst. So do the children.

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We went for lunch in the Bulman and Daniel took the obligatory before and after pictures of the ketchup bottle to send to his uncle who does not love ketchup. The waitress assured me that ketchup is part vegetable but I am not entirely convinced.

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We took the traditional picture at the caution children sign.

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On Saturday, my brother and sister minded the boys for much of the day (including a trip to Milano’s for pizza, let joy be unconfined) leaving myself and Mr. Waffle to our own devices. We were a bit blinded by the unexpected freedom. We went for breakfast and, after a trip to the Crawford gallery and a mild wander around the town in the rain including a look at food fair in the City Hall, we waddled on to lunch. In slight desperation, wondering what to do next, I asked Mr. Waffle to check a list of 17 hidden exciting things to do in Cork he found on the internet. One of them was feed the ducks in the Lough. I mean, I’ve no objection to feeding the ducks but I wouldn’t exactly call it exciting. We had about an hour and a half until Mr. Waffle was meeting a friend for coffee and I almost suggested going home (to be fair, it was lashing) but then I had a mild stroke of inspiration and we went to see Elizabeth Fort and the Protestant cathedral.

Elizabeth Fort boasted mildly exciting views and an air raid shelter which I don’t remember seeing before. It was extremely damp and had a random collection of cold damp objects for viewing including this slightly alarming map.

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I quite like the cathedral although I am not generally a fan of neo-gothic. Mr. Waffle wondered about the candles and the IHS on the altar. “Maybe they are very high church?” I offered. “Not in Ireland,” he said firmly. He said it was the least Protestant looking Protestant church he had ever been in. I wonder was he misled because Ireland is basically full of 19th century neo-gothic churches that are Catholic and there are inevitable stylistic similarities. It’s a mystery.

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That evening, the boys played board games with my sister and her partner and had a fantastic time.

We drove back on Sunday morning. It was actually a really good idea to go in the end. We all had a lovely time. It turns out that despite the cynical words of my son Michael on another occasion, there is such a thing as fun for all the family.


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