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Pre-Christmas Round-Up

22 December, 2018 at 12:03 am by belgianwaffle

It has been a long time since I updated you on my doings. Fear not, a fascinating update is on the way.

First and foremost, herself came home. It is truly wonderful to have her back and it is only now that she is home that I realise how much I missed her in the first place. She appears to be on top of French language and teenage culture so, overall, objectives achieved.

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I discovered that all of my children fell into the common error of assuming that the feast of the Immaculate Conception (which falls on December 8) refers to the conception of Jesus. No, no, that falls on the feast of the annunciation on March 25 exactly nine months before Jesus was born on December 25. They are now clear that it refers to the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This reminds me that my copy of “Eminent Victorians” has gone missing. Strachey covers Papal infallibility and, I think, Immaculate Conception, when writing about Cardinal Manning. If you haven’t read “Eminent Victorians”, I truly recommend it. It’s a lot more entertaining than its title might have you suppose.

My brother went to Tenerife on a week’s cycling holiday (who knew?) and he met a second cousin and her elderly parents (the father’s my mother’s first cousin, try to keep up) on the plane on the way over. One day of his holiday was spent with them at their resort covering north Cork news. While he was in Tenerife, I went to Cork which was looking very Christmassy.

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Herself was no sooner home than she went off babysitting her little cousin. She described the experience as lucrative and satisfactory. The parents have just moved to Dublin from London. Sadly this one time may be the last time as when we were at Christmas drinks in their house last Sunday, she heard them say how excellent it was that there was a teenager in the estate who would babysit. Alas for her. However, it was hardly an ideal location for her chauffeurs so on balance, I’m inclined to regard it as a positive.

Despite the fact that we left Belgium more than 10 YEARS AGO, Saint Nicolas continues to turn up and leave sweets in our children’s shoes on December 6. What an after sales service.

Daniel had his GAA Christmas party and Michael had his drama showcase both of which were, in their own way, satisfactory. Sadly due to a miscommunication, Daniel ended up waiting for an hour outside the club house in the dark and cold after the party had ended. He started walking home and was half way there when he saw me sailing past in the car. He ran all the way back to the club house where I was sitting in the car waiting patiently for him to emerge from the party. Unsatisfactory.

Daniel and I decorated the Christmas tree with, frankly, minimal help from the others.

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My sister came to Dublin for the weekend to deliver presents to the children. We’re not going down to Cork until January 1 and she felt it was too long for them to wait. I did not think this and, to be fair, neither did they but my sister has higher standards than all of us. We went to IKEA at 8 in the evening because my sister made us. It was not at all as hideous as I expected. Closing time is clearly the moment to arrive. Mind you, I went against my will and ALL I needed to get was an extension lead but yet I spent €104. World’s most expensive extension lead.

A large parcel came to the house which I thought was full of bubble wrap as Mr. Waffle is preparing to move everything out of our kitchen for renovations starting in January (let us not speak of it). However it turned out to be delightful Spode ware; I was extremely pleased. Though it always makes me think of Wodehouse fascists.

Last Friday, my friend S booked us tickets for a Trinity Festive Research gig. I was considerably more enthusiastic about this when it was originally mooted than when the day rolled round. However, in I went and it did feel very worthy. There was a lecture on why stars twinkle (exoplanets); early film; how Christmas trees will do under global warming (very well, fir trees will rule the earth just like they did under the dinosaurs); ghost stories; and midwifery research. It was pretty enjoyable in retrospect actually and gave us loads to talk about, criticise and dissect over dinner afterwards. My friend gave me a great Christmas present. Pleasing.

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I also bought myself a book of M.R. James ghost stories after the lecture on ghosts; I haven’t tried them since I was very young and quite terrified. I’ve read one so far and I am holding up. I suppose it’s only a question of time before I am filled with terror.

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Michael and I went ice skating. We liked it. Mr Waffle and I went to an artsy Christmas extravaganza on Henrietta Street. I was really keen to see inside another of the dilapidated but very beautiful Georgian Houses on what is, I think, Dublin’s most beautiful street. It was a beautiful house but chilly.

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And the show was for those with a sense of fun in their hearts which I seem to be, sadly, lacking as I found it to be a bit tedious. The food was fine but exiguous and vegetarian, so I was still quite hungry after I’d finished. The saving grace, however, was our neighbours. We were seated at trestle tables beside random strangers (by design) and we spent the evening chatting to a really delightful couple. He lectures in design and she runs a vintage clothes shop (my sister cross-questioned me on this and, apparently, it’s quite a well known one that she has read about in the papers). Regardless of the success of vintage clothes, it seems to be a business with tight margins. Our neighbour blithely described how her French interns were put off that cold winter when the water in the toilet froze. In fairness, wouldn’t that apply to most people? However they were endlessly entertaining. They’ve bought a 1950s school building in Monaghan and they’re planning to live in it (they’re from Monaghan). I have to say, it’s not a county I have ever visited but they made me curious.

The children have all been sick this month. For the last three weeks we have had at least one child home from school. Michael has been sick all this week. Today I told him he was better but his cough refuses to believe me.

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I took a day off work on Monday and spent it Christmas shopping. This goes against my stated views which include deploring the commercialism of Christmas and the triumph of capitalism. But I got everything and I was absolutely delighted with myself. I am slightly conflicted.

Herself had a Junior Cert award ceremony at the school yesterday. I skipped my office Christmas lunch to be there. It started at 2.30 and as we parked in the school car park at 2.34, I blithely reassured Mr. Waffle that these things never start on time. “Why then,” he asked, “can I see her through the glass door on the stage in the hall shaking hands with her year head?” We slunk in but, she noticed we were late. “I don’t blame you,” she said to her father as we had tea afterwards. In all the circumstances, that was probably fair.

The rest of the school had the Christmas awards ceremony today and Daniel got student of the year for second year. I think they’re trying to keep them keen because this is only for three months worth of effort. He was pleased all the same.

I had my annual hair cut today. I looked at the before picture and asked Michael whether I always have those vertical lines on my forehead. Yes, apparently. I’m sure they are from squinting – it’s probably too late now but I took delivery of my new glasses on Wednesday and when I wear them everything is weirdly small and clear. My hairdresser intimated, very tactfully, that the very short haircut I prefer may not suit me as well as it once did. He gave me a 1970s number instead. I’m not sure. I took the after picture in the mirror by candlelight which is much more flattering than the before picture (“she may very well pass for 45/ in the dusk with the light behind her”).

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This afternoon, I met my oldest friend who is home for Christmas and it was delightful and she had a big bag of presents for me – thrilling. Of course I had nothing for her except a chance to admire my new haircut – possibly less thrilling for her.

Daniel sang in the carol service in the church this evening. It was a bit long and chilly. The choir director has different tastes from mine. I could have done with more traditional numbers and fewer experimental ones. However, she is amazing with the children and at Christmas she has the adult and children’s choir sing together and the traditional ones they do are lovely. There is a semi-professional soprano in the adult choir and she does a beautiful “O Holy Night”.

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Today is the winter solistice and on the way home this evening in the drizzle, I came across a parade with a fire, Christmas lights and drums accompanied by a middle aged and sceptical Guard. It appears that we may be about to lose the run of ourselves again. Mr. Waffle is out to a work dinner and I am updating my blog and have performed my duties in the matter of putting out the bins. I believe you are up to date with my doings.

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.


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