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St Patrick’s Day Round Up

16 April, 2018 at 10:03 pm by belgianwaffle

Look, better late than never. We’ve been away for Patrick’s Day for the last number of years. This has been a source of considerable ire to Michael who hates going away in any event and also, was keen to see the Dublin parade.

So, this year, we stayed at home. We went to mass and had all the good Patrick’s Day numbers including “Dóchas Linn Naomh Pádraig” and “Hail Glorious St Patrick”. Herself got to encourage the congregation to join in and make up a little Irish spiel on the spot which she did quite competently. I was very proud. Michael and I then got the bus in to town to see the parade. His siblings had no interest whatsoever. It was bitterly cold. Michael and I found ourselves in the middle of a huddle of French people. “Where,” they asked, “are all the Irish people?” I could not say but I could confirm that they were not at the parade anyhow. I actually found it quite enjoyable but Michael was completely frozen and we didn’t stay until the end. The poor children in bands and floats were absolutely perished. One little boy was weeping from the cold in his lightweight band uniform and the other band members were trying to cheer him up/warm him up with no real success. Honestly, March just isn’t the month for this. On the plus side, one of the young French people standing near me was able to show me how to get autocorrect to work in French on my apple phone (it’s all in the keyboard function, I mean, who would have guessed that?). This may represent peak middle age for me: asking some random young person to fix my phone.

I took myself off to Cork that afternoon to see my aging father, he was moderately pleased to see me but quite, quite deaf. As I listened to the booming tones of the world service coming through the walls from his bedroom to mine at 2 in the morning, I was pardonably bitter, the more so because it was a programme which I had already heard and had not enjoyed particularly the first time. You will be pleased to hear that his hearing has been more or less restored in the interim and I look forward to a slightly less noisy trip to Cork this weekend coming.

I think next year we might go away for Patrick’s weekend again. Don’t tell Michael.

15

14 April, 2018 at 6:35 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself was 15 last Thursday.

She continues to become ever more independent. She is completely on top of all Dublin public transport options. Her leap card (automatically topped up via her father’s account) is her most treasured possession. She is a city girl and knows the city centre inside out.

She dyed her hair blue last summer but it mostly disappeared when we cut it short in the autumn but you can still see the occasional green streak.

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She still reads a great deal. Lots of poetry these days. She seems to be doing fine with her school work although, as she approaches the year end examinations, she seems to be studying rather less than she did, say, last year. My message that examinations don’t matter may have landed a little too well. We will see.

She is doing a fair amount of singing as well. She’s doing a solo at a concert at the start of May and she has some role in doing something pre-recorded for the world meeting of families (the Pope is coming in the summer – we will be on holidays, Pope or no Pope).

She and her brothers are getting on a bit better, though there is still some bitter rivalry with her brother Daniel. Herself and Michael run on parallel grooves so it seems to be less of an issue.

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Her spoken French continues to be pretty good and she quite likes French. She’s a much sharper (in the sense of making more pointed remarks) and somewhat more sophisticated person when she speaks French rather than English. Why should this be? Does French lend itself to this? Is it merely my own perception?

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I knew, if I persisted, she would grow to love Irish. I was not wrong. Despite herself, she does like Irish and she has got very, very good at it.

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Her room is less of a fastness than it used to be and I am reasonably regularly allowed in, it’s not as exciting as it was when I used to be barred from it, of course.

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She is on every committee going. She knows about event organising, agendas, ice breakers, digital marketing, policy papers, consultations, campaigns, you name it. She is always agitating to go on protest marches about an extensive range of issues. I mentioned that something at work was discussed under “AOB” and she knew exactly what that meant, whether that’s a good thing for a 15 year old to know or not is a moot point. She is an excellent public speaker (these facts may not be unrelated). By way of example on her birthday, in the morning she was sent off as a school rep to a disability rights conference (where a disability rights activist sang happy birthday to her from the podium and she got to take home lots of balloons) and in the afternoon she was part of a group giving young people’s input into a “Creative Ireland” festival. There’s a lot of this kind of thing.

She seems to have lots of friends and is in regular contact with everyone via her phone. I sometimes think that the “always on” nature of this is a bit demanding and she could do with a bit of a break.

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I was pleased (and surprised) when she and some friends, of their own volition, went to the Gallery when they were in town. I am not sure that this is a regular occurrence but, you know, it is warm, dry and free so, definitely not to be sniffed at.

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I find her considerate and obliging, although it is a little unnerving that she can very often read my mind. This makes her extremely sensitive to my tea needs which I like but also inclined to say, “I know you are judging.” The teenagers are all into gender fluidity now and it’s far from gender fluidity I was reared so I am inclined to say the wrong thing when I meet her friends who are they/them. But I am trying and they acknowledge this although herself has considerably higher standards for me than they/them. Standards which, sadly, I am failing to meet but only because she can read my mind and she knows that I am thinking they/them can’t be used in the singular. I am trying to change because she has made me understand belatedly that people are more important than grammar.

She is a vegatarian now. As my sister said, “I am surprised that you got away with her not being a vegetarian for as long as you did.” We’re having tofu for dinner tonight. How much do I love my first-born child? Very much indeed is the answer. Favourite vegetarian dinners in the comments please. On the plus side, she does now eat vegetables which is a definite bonus.

She is champing at the bit, dying to be an adult. I wish we could persuade her to wait a little bit longer but, I suppose, that’s not the way that it works.

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Sundry Matters

12 March, 2018 at 6:17 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself has an excellent Business teacher. She really enjoys the subject and, with his encouragement, entered and won a national competition last year. I have met him: he seems able and on the ball.

All this is to give some context to this unnerving conversation.

Her: I can’t stand it any more.
Me: What?
Her: When we are doing accounts, there are always at the end “sundry creditors”.
Me: Yes, and?
Her: Well someone asked [the business teacher] why all of these companies for whom we are doing imaginary accounts seem to owe money to “Sun dry” and whether it is a particular kind of company.
Me [bad person]: Snigger.
Her: That’s not the bad part, he said, that it must just be the example company that they use in the book and now everyone in the class except me thinks that sundry is pronounced “sun dry” and it’s the name of a made up company. What should I do?

7×7

10 March, 2018 at 8:21 pm by belgianwaffle

I am 49 today. Herself arrived home from school yesterday to announce, “Seán in my class thinks you’re a drama queen.” “Why?” I asked. “Because he asked what I was doing for the weekend and I said that we all had to stay at home on Saturday because it’s your birthday. He asked if it was an important one and I said no but I told him that we’re all dreading when you turn 50.”

So, yes, I like to celebrate my birthday, is that bad? Herself spent the afternoon slaving over my favourite brownies. I expect to enjoy them after my birthday dinner. Mr. Waffle got me flowers, a candle (always welcome to me) and a framed print of a picture which I once failed to identify on University Challenge (I pronounced it appealing and he took careful note).

More generally, I had a slightly unsatisfactory day. The boys and I cycled into their drama class. Some evil person punctured Michael’s tyre while they were in there which meant it was flat as a pancake when they emerged and we had to walk home pushing our bikes (“I’m tired” “When will I be able to stop and eat my bun?” “I want to go to the toilet.”). It took a lot out of all of us.

Mild highlight of the day so far was herself walking up to the bike repair shop with me after I got home.

Be not afraid though, because Mr. Waffle and I took a day off work during the week to celebrate my birthday. We went for a walk in Glendalough and had a nice lunch in Powerscourt. Was there snow in the mountains? Yes, there was:

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We had to scoot back to Dublin a bit earlier than we would have liked because there were parent-teacher meetings for the boys, but that was satisfactory as well because they seem to be getting on very well which is always a relief to hear.

Furthermore, tomorrow is mother’s day. I am not delighted about it coming hot on the heels of my birthday as I think 48 hours of indulgence is a lot to ask from my family, however, it has put me in a good position to force everyone to go for a walk in the mountains tomorrow. Rejoice.

So I am hoping that 49 will be a good year. My sister is recovering from cancer – she’s gone back to work which is great. I am starting a new job in April – you may congratulate me – and so far I have all of the delight of anticipation and none of the horror of the new job. And surely, I have done enough funerals in the past year that there can’t be too many more to go through this year.

Now, you will have to excuse me because I just heard from the kitchen the magic words, “Someone put the kettle on!” and I think that my birthday cake is approaching.

Infrastructure Update

9 March, 2018 at 8:20 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself: Did you know that there’s broadband on the moon?
Me: Really?
Her: Yup, apparently, it’s quite good, better than rural Ireland anyhow, but then, I suppose, there isn’t the same demand on the moon.

“Time passes. Listen. Time passes.”

7 March, 2018 at 8:55 pm by belgianwaffle

When I was a child my mother would often say, “A place for everything and everything in its place” when urging us to put things away. For reasons I cannot explain I thought this was from Dylan Thomas’s “Under Milk Wood” but I have just discovered, thanks to the internet, it turns out it’s Benjamin Franklin, which seems far more likely. Anyhow like all my parents’ well used phrases, it seems to have burrowed its way into my own family life.

Recently, herself was unable to find some item despite my well honed tidying techniques, “A place for everything and nothing in its place,” she harrumphed. “That’s harsh,” I said. “This place is a finely tuned disaster zone,” she replied. Little does she know that, if experience with our parents is anything to go by, it will only get worse.

We Live in a Small Country

4 March, 2018 at 8:26 pm by belgianwaffle

When the Princess was in Neuschwanstein during her Bavarian odyssey recently, she met a woman from Cork. “I asked her where exactly in Cork she was from because I knew you would want to know,” she said. Apparently, they had a grand old chat following on this auspicious beginning.

Then during the recent snowmaggedon we were all watching the six o’clock news and they eventually went to Cork, to Carrigaline, for a vox pop on the snow. As a woman started talking about the state of the snow the Princess yelled at the telly, “That’s her, that’s the woman from Cork that I met in Neuschwanstein.” I can’t help feeling that this kind of thing is much less part of the lives of people who live in larger countries.


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