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Bitter Bitter Bitter

28 October, 2018 at 7:45 pm by belgianwaffle

Me (buying the Saturday newspaper requirements for Cork – The Daily Telegraph (yes, I know) and The Examiner for my father, The Guardian for my Aunt and the Irish Times for me – truly a back breaking load): Can I tap to pay?
Young woman in the shop: No, I’m afraid you’ll have to put in your PIN.
Me: Why don’t you have the tap facility? Is there a cost?
Her: The boss doesn’t want it. It’s a no go, if it makes our lives easier.

Cultural Exchange

23 October, 2018 at 7:31 pm by belgianwaffle

In the school in France, they have a language assistant for English class. Herself is obliged to attend English class which she does not love. The language assistant is from Ballymena in Northern Ireland. She told the class about the Northern Irish counties and said that a good way to remember them was the acronym “FAT LAD”. “Fat Lad,” thought herself, “no Fat Dad surely.” There was more to come. “Here,” she said, holding up a Union Jack, “is our flag.” “Does anyone know, who is our Queen?” “Well,” I said when this was recounted to me, “if you ask who is the Head of State of Northern Ireland, the answer is the Queen of England.” Herself harumphed, “She didn’t ask ‘Who is the Head of State of Northern Ireland?” she said, ‘Who is our Queen?'” As I explained to her, there’s a whole world for her to explore out there.

Car Related Woes

22 October, 2018 at 7:20 pm by belgianwaffle

Poor Mr. Waffle has been on the road a lot visiting his parents who, sadly, are not at all well and live on the opposite side of Dublin. He heard a funny noise from the car but ignored it. A mistake, it transpired.

In his extensive car time, he noticed that one of the front light bulbs had gone so he wrestled with replacing it and while he was doing so, our neighbour who does haulage and van hire, saw him and hoved up to help (our neighbour has a pretty accurate understanding of our technical abilities).

Later that day as Mr. Waffle was, yet again, enjoying the delights of the Dublin ring road (the unlovely M50), the funny noise reached a crescendo and it turned out a tyre had gone. He pulled in and called our insurance (he discovered that the jack would go just high enough to remove the old tyre but not high enough to put on the spare – a truly terrific spot to discover this). A young woman from Northern Ireland dispatched a tow truck and he sat forlornly on the verge (he felt sitting in the car might put unwarranted pressure on the jack) as cars whizzed past. Very quickly a tow truck came up – not from the insurers but from the M50 authorities who have their own people prowling the ring road on the alert for anything which might cause a delay. They fixed the tyre in about 2 minutes and Mr. Waffle was able to step down the Northern Ireland tow truck. On one level, how impressive. On another, still doesn’t work as the M50 doubles as Ireland’s largest car park most of the time.

Anyhow, he limped home, a bit put out. As he parked the car outside the house, the neighbour from across the road turned up and said, “Hasn’t been a great day for you and the car has it?” It transpired that he had passed Mr. Waffle sitting on the grass verge on the M50. “I couldn’t stop, as I was transporting whiskey,” he explained. Who even knew there were special rules for transporting spirits? Anyhow I suppose Mr. Waffle was amply supported by others. On the other hand, our neighbour’s already poor perception of our technical abilities has fallen even further with the story of the jack. Alas.

Also the wretched car failed its NCT last week. Apparently, irony, it has the wrong kind of tyres.

Weekends Rounded Up

21 October, 2018 at 7:04 pm by belgianwaffle

What have we been doing, you ask yourself. Well, wait no longer.

In the category of what herself refers to as “culture as middle class performance*”, I outdid myself by taking them all to see Ruth Negga as Hamlet in the Gate. I wasn’t as prepared as I might have been for full frontal nudity with my teenage sons, their father and myself sitting in Row A. However, overall, it was pretty positive. It was very long. At the interval (90 minutes in), I half expected that the boys would have had enough but they were actually really enjoying it and their father’s hope that he might have to fall upon his sword and take them home early was dashed. In fact, Michael was very excited and started quoting all the Shakespeare he knew as well as sprinkling his conversation with doth, verily and forsooth. He and Mr. Waffle went to the Centra at the top of O’Connell street during the interval as the queue at the bar was massive and he only wanted a soft drink. Mr. Waffle tells me, and I am sure that he is correct, that the Centra at the top of O’Connell Street at 9.30 on a Friday night is not the optimal environment for a 13 year old using Shakespearean language and trying to speak in iambic pentameter.

The second part wasn’t as good as the first in my view and it did drag a bit but overall, it was one of the most engaging and accessible Shakespeare plays I’ve been to see.

We went to the Cinema and saw “Johnny English”. Probably not “culture as performance” but we all found it mildly enjoyable.

Last Sunday, Mr. Waffle had to work and so I was on duty taking Michael to hockey training. The whole thing ran like a poorly oiled machine. We went to early mass as Gaeilge to facilitate this. Normally we cycle but I had left my bike at work so the boys cycled and I met them en route on a Dublin bike. Michael had to turn around and go home as he hadn’t brought his coat on the baffling grounds that I might not approve. He was freezing. Daniel took ages to arrive as his chain had come off. Eventually we set off. When I walked round to the church, having got rid of my Dublin bike, Michael was pacing up and down; he had put his bike lock in the basket of the Dublin bike. We had to walk to the Dublin bike stand as he couldn’t cycle on his own as he didn’t know where it was. By the time we arrived the sermon was just finishing up and small wonder. Alas. When we got home, Michael announced that his runners were too small and his tracksuit bottoms too big. “Don’t be cross,” he said, “I told Dad last week.” I was a bit cross all the same. We turned around and drove straight to the massive shopping centre near his training and bought runners and tracksuit that stayed up (he is tall but v skinny so this is a challenge). I discovered that he had never learnt to tie laces. It is true that if you wait until they are ready they learn quickly. He got the hang of it in about two minutes. Though as Daniel pointed out, it was possible that he was ready some time ago. Anyhow better late than never.

When poor Mr. Waffle came back from his meeting at about 4 we went for a mild walk in the Phoenix park and saw an exhibition about the RMS Leinster (it sank). I particularly enjoyed the story of the captain who had a family in Dublin and Holyhead so he could sleep in his own bed with his wife regardless of which side of the Irish Sea he was on.

Daniel got new glasses and I think they’re great. Literally, nobody else cares, even Daniel.

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Last Friday, I went to Cork and visited aged relatives and some of the younger ones as well. I thought my father had really improved since his emergence from hospital so, all to the good. I came back on the train last night and it took forever; delayed by 50 long, long minutes.

Today we went to the Obelisk on Killiney Hill. Mild walk, great views.

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And what have you been up to yourself?

*Not her own line but she likes to use it when speaking of her mother.

Any Port in a Storm

2 October, 2018 at 5:17 pm by belgianwaffle

I was in the Spar last week looking for a bottle of Sherry for a recipe. I went to the counter where the spirits are kept. The young man behind the counter was in his early 20s.

Me: Hi, do you have any sherry?
Him: What?
Me: Sherry, do you have any sherry?
Hm [Long pause]: I don’t even know what that is.
Me: Look behind you, the Harvey’s Bristol cream, that’s sherry.
Him: Oh really?

I bet his granny knew what sherry was.

Weekend Round-Up

30 September, 2018 at 6:52 pm by belgianwaffle

Saturday saw the usual drama/football dropping off with a side trip for Mr. Waffle to visit his father in hospital. My sister came over on Saturday afternoon to give the boys their birthday presents which were very well received indeed. She also advised me on my kitchen renovations (only starting in November almost certainly will not be finished by Christmas despite the builder’s blithe assurances to the contrary). She found a dead mouse on the utility room floor (the cat is in overdrive) and instead of closing the door and waiting for Mr. Waffle to return, she took it out to the garden on the dustpan to dispose of it. “Where did you put it?” I asked nervously. “The compost heap,” she said. I was outraged and made her go out and rescue the corpse with a tongs. Then she took it to the lane. I was keen that she throw it over the wall on to the building site from whence, I am convinced, it came but she was unsure that she would be able to get it over the wall and felt unable to run the risk that it might not clear the wall and would rain back down on us, so laid it in the lane underneath some foliage.

After that excitement, she went into town to see an Irish language play. Her partner’s mother was the playwright – he comes from a very literary family. They came to our house afterwards for a cup of tea. I have to say, the playwright is a lovely woman and I felt a bit guilty that we hadn’t attended ourselves but she did not seem at all offended. A low point came as I handed round the plate of biscuits and Daniel said, “No, she can’t have those, they’re the book club biscuits!” It is true that I am up to host book club on Monday and I had indeed bought the biscuits for this purpose and previously forbidden Daniel for eating them on those very grounds but this was not the moment to bring it up.

After they left we went next door where they were having their annual end of summer party. Among the neighbours is a man whose father, I had heard, delivered the little old lady across the road. In fact, chatting to him about this, it turned out it was his grandfather – an awkward moment I have to concede. He is a bit older than me but, it turns out, not that much older than me. I had thought all the families were local to the area but in fact she was born in Carlow where his grandfather lived and worked and he was from Tullamore and it was complete coincidence that they turned up living across the road from each other. I also found out that Mrs. Second Next Door is a sister of Mrs. Directly Across the Road. Yes indeed, Ireland is tiny. Getting back to the man whose grandfather delivered the little old lady who lives across the road, he told me that his wife wasn’t there as she was at home minding their daughter. Ever mindful of my own daughter’s pecuniary needs, I offered her up as babysitter for a future occasion should there be a need, once she returned from France. At this he looked a little sheepish. It turned out that their daughter, who does look very young, is only 18 months younger than ours but that her parents are very protective. He pointed out that she is the only child of older parents and, there we have it, another awkward moment. The next person I spoke to was another neighbour, a lovely man, whom I had met in a slightly heated work context earlier in the month. Between one thing and another, I ended up leaving early to mind the [sleeping and entirely indifferent] boys next door with something of the mien of a coursing hare.

On Sunday we had a specially lengthy mass. I love those. There was a great quote from Frédéric Ozanam:

The question which is agitating the world today is a social one. It is a struggle between those who have nothing and those who have too much. It is a violent clash of opulence and poverty which is shaking the ground under our feet. Our duty as Christians is to throw ourselves between these two camps in order to accomplish by love, what justice alone cannot do.

I have to say that I thought that it was a contemporary source but no, it dates from the first half of the 19th century. Ozanam (I learn from this morning’s leaflet at mass) was a lawyer but a reluctant one which may explain why he was unimpressed by what justice alone could achieve.

All afternoon we had Daniel and Michael’s friends from school playing elaborate board games – like a birthday party only much less effort. We had our regular scheduled talk with herself this evening. She seems to be getting on like a house on fire in France. I hope that she’s not putting on a brave face but I think not. She got my latest letter and hasn’t read it all yet and I don’t get the sense that she’s saving it up. I think that’s a good sign though slightly disconcerting.

I face into a week of book club hosting, football training for Dan, parents’ council AGM, return of Mr. Waffle’s weekly soccer club and kitchen appliance inspection (you have to BOOK to see kitchen appliances now). I’m feeling a sense of anticipatory exhaustion.

I plan to spend the evening re-reading Terry Pratchett to fortify myself. How was your own weekend?

More Weekend

23 September, 2018 at 7:48 pm by belgianwaffle

So we went to our play last night. Despite the rather grim subject matter which was a little close to home (siblings caring for a parent with dementia) it was funny and the acting was very good. I would possibly call it my best Dublin fringe experience ever – this is quite a low bar. If you get a chance, The Cat’s Mother is recommended.

Michael was back to hockey this morning and Daniel and I went along to 11.30 mass together. He did the Prayers of the Faithful with the other children in the choir – it went chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, chirp, growl. Although he’s not the oldest, he is the oldest boy and he’s the only one whose voice has broken. He seems relaxed as does the choir mistress who says that his new baritone goes well with the other children. Both boys’ voices have broken over the summer; I don’t really notice much but apparently a number of their classmates have commented.

As a special treat for Mr. Waffle we went to the transport museum this afternoon. I had completely forgotten that we’d been before years ago but I found a reference on the blog. I would be less harsh on this occasion. Maybe it’s a better outing with older children but still not tremendous now.

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We had a cup of tea and then went for a walk on the pier in Howth which was nice in a low key kind of way.

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We got our weekly call from herself while we were walking on the pier. It was a bit unsatisfactory as reception wasn’t great. She seems to be having a good time and settling in well as far as we can tell. I do miss her. It’s probably as well we are restricted to one call a week (“It’s supposed to be immersion, Mum.”) as otherwise I would probably be on 4 times a day.


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