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Archive for May, 2013

Thanks, I’ll Take my Chances with the Flood

31 May, 2013 at 8:11 pm by belgianwaffle

The Ark is a “Cultural Centre for Children”. My children hate it. I’ve brought them there loads of times and it is always deathly dull except for one time when there was a great fiddle player. The mere mention of the Ark is enough to bring them all out in hives.

Michael arrived home in tears from school recently because the class were going to visit the Ark. “Please,” he begged me, “don’t sign the permission form.” Daniel was stoically resigned to his fate but Michael kept begging us not to let him go. We pointed out that it would be a trip out of school. “I’ll miss break” he cried, “I’d rather have homework than go to the Ark.”

Nevertheless, we were adamant that this was culture and he would go. He cried lustily all the way to school on the morning of the trip. That evening I came home full of trepidation. The particular event at the Ark had been an Irish story telling session. Daniel was filled with enthusiasm; it was so funny, it had been brilliant. I looked at Michael, “Did you like it?” “A bit,” he conceded reluctantly and proceeded to fill me in in great detail about the session which he had, despite himself, really enjoyed. He still never wants to go back though.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer.

Yes

30 May, 2013 at 11:29 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself: So then I said to J that I thought my solo went well and then I felt so bad because, of course, she couldn’t do her solo because she wasn’t at school for practice because she was sick and she probably thought I was getting at her.
Mr. Waffle: Being a girl is really complicated, isn’t it?

Rainforest

29 May, 2013 at 9:59 pm by belgianwaffle

It’s been rainy and it’s been hot (by Irish standards). This was the view out the back window earlier this evening.

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Higher Level Worrying

28 May, 2013 at 11:01 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself: Where will I go to secondary school?
Me: We’ll see.
Her: When will you decide?
Mr. Waffle: Well there are lots of things to consider.
Me: For example, you might want to look at additional activities offered in school like music or sport or debating.
Her: What’s debating, I don’t know anything about debating, how will I be able to debate?
Mr. Waffle: Don’t worry, you’re a natural.

An App to Determine Personality Type

27 May, 2013 at 11:14 pm by belgianwaffle

When I go to Cork and I pick up the iPad there are always about 24 updates waiting to be installed. I install them promptly. I hate having them sitting waiting. Indeed when I see one during the day on my own phone, I get all tense that I won’t be able to update it until I get home to my wifi. When I asked my brother why he never updates the apps on the iPad, he says that he hates to be pressured to do stuff by apple so as a gesture of defiance won’t do it. I think that this may sum up the difference between my brother and me. Are we extremes of a spectrum? Does anyone else even care? Let me know where you stand on this great debate.

O Res Mirabilis

26 May, 2013 at 8:46 pm by belgianwaffle

Last Wednesday, as I was driving the children home from school, the Princess said that the school choir was going to sing “Panis Angelicus” for the First Communion the following Saturday. And she had to learn the words and music rapidly. I started going through the Latin with her translating it roughly into English. When I came to “o res mirabilis/ manducat dominum”, I said “oh miraculous thing/to eat God”. Not a great translation but I was driving and I haven’t studied Latin in almost 30 years. I was unprepared for Michael’s reaction. “What,” he exclaimed, “eat God?? What are you talking about?” “Michael,” I said despairingly, “you are making your first holy communion on Saturday, do you really not know the first thing about the Eucharist?” At this point Daniel chimed in,”You know, Michael, ‘this is my body, do this in memory of me'”. Michael lost interest, “Whatevs,” said he. Whatevs, indeed.

Anyhow, “Panis Angelicus” was dropped because there just wasn’t time to learn it properly. However, the Princess did get to sing a verse of one of the songs solo and made a great job of it. She was most pleased.

So, as you may have guessed, yesterday was the boys’ first communion. I despise people who take time off work to prepare for their children’s first communions [I am a very judgemental person and it often fills me with guilt; both of which I enjoy – the judgemental bit and the wallowing in guilt; being a Catholic, it’s all good]. There was a certain inevitability then that I found myself looking at my obligations for Friday afternoon and deciding that I would have to take a half day. Things I achieved in my pre-communion half day: 1. left work after 2 having sworn I would run out the door at 12.30 2. Ate lunch. 3. Spent half an hour on the phone to airtricity [our romance is over] 4. Collected my aunt from the train station [late] 5. Made stew that remained uneaten. Did I need to take a half day to achieve this? Conclusion: probably not. Among the many things I did not achieve: buying the boys some kind of religiously appropriate gift. I had to make do with two card games [one pirates, one Gods of Olympus – there is no need to tell me how inappropriate these are – the Princess got a nice cross and chain] purchased in a local gift shop while my poor aunt waited patiently in the car outside.

Anyhow, you will be delighted to hear that the Communion day was a day of miracles, as well as everything else the sun shone for the first time this year. The boys looked saintly and lovely in their white jumpers with their little rosettes although I haven’t a single decent photo because invariably when I tried to take them, one was holding up bunny ears behind the other’s head.

The ceremony itself went very well and the children all remembered the many, many lines that they had practised. For my taste, there was too much of the offering up of random things at the offertory [a basket ball, a tin whistle] and odd features [giving the teacher flowers on the altar – Don’t get me wrong, I love the boys’ teacher who is absolutely brilliant and I pray nightly that their sister will get her next year – the boys already having had the maximum of two years of her ministrations – but I just don’t go for giving her flowers on the altar. I’d be perfectly happy to giver her flowers at school on Monday] but overall it was a nice, if long, ceremony.

I felt for my sister-in-law’s new husband who very gamely came over from London with her for the ceremony. Firstly, although neither of them are particularly religious, his family are Jewish so first communions are somewhat outside his field of expertise; secondly, the whole thing was in Irish which means that it was also entirely incomprehensible to him. He said later that it reminded him of a Bar Mitzvah he had attended. I did point out that, to be fair, at least the Irish alphabet was roman so that increased his chances of being able to get some value from the missalette. This is not particularly relevant but a friend of mine once told me that Hebrew is horribly difficult and he had to do a Hebrew exam in college and he sat there staring at the paper in despair. The lecturer was marching up and down the aisles looking to see that the students were alright and, as he passed my friend, he put his hand down and turned the paper the other way around.

So, back to the communion – after the ceremony we went back to the new house where we had prepared mountains of food [stew was only the beginning]; much of which is now in the freezer and will carry us through the winter. The weather was so fine that we were able to sit in the garden all afternoon which was lovely. The children had Domino’s pizza on the grass. The height of sophistication.

All in all, I was very pleased. I was a bit sad that my parents weren’t well enough to travel and that my brother had to stay in Cork to help mind the fort but my sister and my aunt came and all of Mr. Waffle’s family so we were well stocked with relations. The first communicants themselves enjoyed their day although there was a wobbly moment at the start when Michael discovered that he wasn’t going to get Minecraft for his first communion [I can only imagine how well that religiously appropriate present would have gone over].

Funnily enough, I found it much more moving when today at mass the boys went for communion in our own parish church than I did yesterday at the first communion. I didn’t expect to find it particularly moving and I have no recollection of the Princess’s second communion being anything out of the ordinary but there was something special about this morning for some reason; maybe because the boys themselves were so solemn about it.

For a variety of reasons, much of the rest of today [the second sunny day of the year] was spent driving around in the car and snapping at each other and now Michael has come down with a nasty cold so all holiness, if any, has well and truly dissipated.

Laying the Ghost of Carlingford

24 May, 2013 at 10:55 pm by belgianwaffle

Very attentive readers will remember that I took the family to Carlingford some time ago and the memory of the hideousness of that trip has stayed with the children, in particular.

For Mr. Waffle’s birthday, he and I decided to go off together for the day without the children and he suggested that we might go to Carlingford. We did and it was absolutely lovely.

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Inspired by this, I decided to take the children there again. Knowing that Carlingford was a toxic brand in our household, I advertised it as a trip to see the mountains that inspired C.S. Lewis when he was writing the Narnia stories (quite true). As we approached Carlingford, the Mourne mountains dominated and I pointed to “the twin peaks of Archenland!”. Michael said coldly, “I think I’ve been here before and I didn’t like it.” Ah, magical. The car park was beside a playground and they all ran for it. It was my turn to be cold. I turned to Mr. Waffle and said, “I didn’t drive for an hour and a half to spend the afternoon in a playground beside the car park.”

We pushed on and walked up the side of Slieve Foy for a bit and back down. Herself was heroic, inventing some elaborate game which her brothers really enjoyed during our gentle walk (about an hour – the sun shone). The boys grudgingly agreed that it was not too bad.

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And we had chips in the pub afterwards. What’s not to love?

For the Record

23 May, 2013 at 7:20 pm by belgianwaffle

Michael lost a front tooth on April 23. The second is very wobbly. He is odds on to have no top front teeth for his first communion on May 25.

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Archive

22 May, 2013 at 10:12 pm by belgianwaffle

Before she broke her hip, my mother was going through old letters. She rang me and asked whether I wanted to keep my letters to her. “Nope,” I said, “I didn’t even know you still had them, throw them out.”

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my parents’ house since then and I found the big black bag of letters in the dining room waiting to be sent for recycling. I started to leaf through them. The first thing that astonished me was that there were so many of them. I wrote a lot of letters from airports. And then from when I lived in Brussels and before that in Rome. I seemed to spend every spare minute I had writing letters [and I know that I wrote to friends as well – I was clearly a writing machine]. They had, I regret to say, no great literary merit but thematically they seemed to cover: looking for jobs; asking for money and thanking my parents for money already received. I was certainly reminded of the extent to which my loving parents had bankrolled my early years in the work place. No wonder they were so relieved when I finally managed to get properly paid employment as opposed to my time doing traineeships and internships.

I let the letters go into the bin. I suppose they stopped when email got going, sometime between 1995 and 1998. Imagine, I am from the last generation of people who routinely put pen to paper to share news. Who would have thought?

Not Topical

21 May, 2013 at 10:08 pm by belgianwaffle

A colleague was telling me the other day how she got stuck in New York with the ash cloud a couple of years ago. As she arrived into her hotel there, she asked whether they had WiFi and all the other things she might need. “Ma’am,” said the receptionist, “there’s a man running Norway from the top floor.” It appears that the Norwegian prime minister and his officials were stranded there also. That is all.

Reading

20 May, 2013 at 9:30 pm by belgianwaffle

An Infamous Army” by Georgette Heyer

I don’t know why I read this, I know when Georgette Heyer does history it’s dire. This was dire but if you want a blow by blow account of the Battle of Waterloo and a very annoying heroine, this is the book for you.

Letters to a Young Mathematician” by Ian Stewart

This was foisted on me by a colleague who loves maths and I found it very interesting although the tone is a bit patronising (but the maths examples baffling in places) – it’s written as career advice to a young mathematician so, to be fair, I’m not exactly the target audience. I was particularly pleased to have an explanation of axioms, never having been satisfied with the one my maths teacher gave me at 15: “It’s something that is so obvious it has to be true”. This is both insulting and unhelpful and I’ve been resentful ever since. Until now, anyhow, thank you, Mr. Stewart, for helping me to let go.

Isn’t It Well For Ye?: The Book of Irish Mammies” by Colm O’Regan

Somebody was bound to give me this at some point. It’s mildly funny. I can sort of identify with the Irish Mammy but at least I’ve never taken the Sunday Independent.

Six at the Table” by Sheila Maher

I really enjoyed this. It is an account of a girl growing up in Dublin in the 70s told through her love of food. Although each individual chapter is slight the cumulative effect is quite appealing. Herself read it also and enjoyed it. I recommended it to my book club but too many of them knew the author or her husband [welcome to Ireland, we’re a small country] and couldn’t face it. One of the chapters had been read out on Sunday Miscellany on the radio and two of our number had heard it and pronounced it dull. I argued hard that it did the book an injustice to take a chapter alone but in vain. If you grew up in Ireland in the 1970s you might like this. Go on, give it a go.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared” by Jonas Jonasson

This is Forrest Gump for Swedes. The hero experienced all the great events of the 20th century and met all the most important people. It’s all written in a rather whimsical tone. I loathed it but I am in a minority.

“Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” by Amy Chua

This is about a very ambitious mother and her very bright daughters and the contrast between the Western and Chinese ways of doing things. I found it very entertaining. As did the Princess and Mr. Waffle. Recommended all round.

Rebecca” by Daphne Du Maurier

I’m almost positive I have read this before. I don’t remember being so very annoyed by the narrator in the past though. Nor do I remember thinking that Maxim was a bit of a creep and that, all in all, Rebecca may have been the best of the bunch. Mrs. Danvers was a looper alright though. That remained consistent. Still, despite all the caveats, a great story. The best part for me are the beautiful descriptions of the house and surrounding countryside which, if I had read it before, made no impression on me then.

Life after Life” by Kate Atkinson

I have read all of Kate Atkinson’s books and I think that she is a terrific writer. That said, this got off to a slow start. It’s about getting a chance to live your life again and again and doing things differently to make it better next time. It’s a clever premise and it’s very well done. While this is still a very good book, it’s my least favourite of her books after “Not the End of the World” [short stories] and “Emotionally Weird”.

Ghosts and Gadgets” by Marcus Sedgwick

This is part of my ongoing efforts to find out what my children are reading. This is about the Otherhand Family who live in Castle Otherhand and are very odd. I found it spectacularly dull but it appeals to the children in my life. I quite liked the illustrations but that was by far the best thing about it for my money.

The Church Garden Party

19 May, 2013 at 7:22 pm by belgianwaffle

This event is likely to send me to an early grave. I was trapped into joining the organising committee and I am just not cut out for this kind of thing. It’s like a continuation of work by other means. At the lengthy meetings we usually fail to reach conclusions and all of the real work seems to be done elsewhere [how much have I enjoyed dropping in requests for funding, cakes and spot prizes to struggling local businesses?]. The parish priest keeps coming in and being anxious about insurance. We can’t have a stage, lest someone should fall. We will have to know the provenance of all cakes for insurance reasons. I can’t for the life of me see why. He says we can take names and phone numbers of the little old ladies who make cakes and if anyone gets ill we can show we made reasonable efforts. The parish priest and I had words on this point. I was tempted to say that this will make us “data controllers” but wiser counsels prevailed. He also insisted that no unaccompanied children under 18 should be allowed to attend. How we are supposed to police this is beyond me.

Worst of all though, I had to make an announcement at mass about the forthcoming excitement. This did not seem particularly challenging. Doesn’t my 10 year old daughter go on to the altar every Sunday and read a prayer of the faithful? Am I not used to making presentations at work? All I had to do was read out the printed text in front of me. I am good at reading. I bounded up on to the altar and surveyed the church. Do you know what, those Victoian gothic churches are built on massive lines. It was the largest space I had ever addressed. And although congregations are falling I thought, as I surveyed the large numbers looking up at me, they could do with falling a bit further. I started to read. I was quavery and short of breath. It was terrifying. I returned to my pew, absolutely mortified. Herself hissed at me, “You were terrible!” Worse, the little old lady beside me said, “You did fine.” After mass, I said to Mr. Waffle, “Tell me honestly, how bad was it?” “Well,” he said, “remember everyone has forgotten about it now except you.” Pause. “It was just the way you sounded like you were going to cry and that the announcement was really sad when you were talking about a party; that was a bit unfortunate.” Oh the mortification. And, of course, I have to go back and see the same people every Sunday forever. Oh horrors. I think I will cry now.

For the Record

18 May, 2013 at 7:43 pm by belgianwaffle

Last month the Princess cooked for us all when her grandparents came to lunch to inspect the new house. She made mini pizzas to start, toad in the hole for the main course and chocolate cake for dessert. Is she not a competent little genius all the same?

Home Sweet Home

17 May, 2013 at 7:11 pm by belgianwaffle

We have been in the new house for ages now. It still seems extraordinary that it belongs to us. It is so lovely. The Princess and I went back to inspect the old house, the other day and she shed a few tears. It is hard to move and it still feels a little bit strange.

But I hope that we will all settle in well in our new house. The neighbours have been in with wine, champagne and scented candles and have children of appropriate ages who are company for our lot. The mirror has been hung up over the fireplace. The cat is settled. She has managed to lose her collar and magnetic yoke to open the cat flap. We have taped over the magnetic bits of the cat flap so that she can come in anyhow. A strange cat has taken advantage of these new arrangements and wandered up to the landing to have a look around. Michael spotted the strange cat and shouted loudly, and unhelpfully, “Cat!” Nevertheless, cat collar difficulties aside, all seems very promising.

Poor Timing

16 May, 2013 at 7:04 pm by belgianwaffle

For the Princess’s birthday, I took her and two friends to Milano’s in Temple Bar for pizza. I might digress here and say that I quite like Temple Bar, it’s always full of tourists being cheerful and it feels a bit like being on holidays as there are never any Irish people there. Mr. Waffle and most Dubliners avoid it like the plague. Mr. Waffle always refers to it as “Dublin’s cultural quarter” in sardonic tones. And though, I concede that it is a bit pub heavy for a cultural quarter, I quite like it. So, if you are ever in Temple Bar and meet a real live Irish person it will be me because I am the only one who ever ventures in there.

That was a digression. I just wanted to record my unluckiness in choosing to go there on the day when all of Europe’s finance ministers were meeting in Dublin castle (just adjacent), when an anniversary performance of Handel’s Messiah was taking place around the corner on the site of the original performance (Messiah, first performed in Dublin, you know) and concerned citizens were marching against the new property tax (protest unavailing, it seems to be here to stay). It was bedlam. Alas.

Unseasonal Investigations

15 May, 2013 at 6:59 pm by belgianwaffle

At mass, Michael announced to me in an under-voice, “Two boys from my class say that there is no Santa.” “Rubbish. Who brings the presents then?” I asked. “They’re not sure, maybe another magic person.”

Blessed are the Linguists

14 May, 2013 at 11:25 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel: Who’s Peter?
Me: You know, Peter, first pope?
Daniel: No.
Me: Thou art Peter and upon this rock I shall build my church?
Him: What?
Me: Well Peter means a rock.
Him: No it doesn’t.
Me: Look it doesn’t work so well in English, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Mr. Waffle: Tu es Pierre, et sur cette pierre je bâtirai mon Église.

Unlikely

13 May, 2013 at 11:48 pm by belgianwaffle

Daniel: Have you still got the mark from where you burnt yourself filling the hot water bottle?
Me: Yup. I might have it forever actually.
Him: You’re lucky that you didn’t get that in the late 90s.
Me: Why is that Dan?
Him: You would probably have been burnt as a witch.

Lord of Laundry, King of Cotton and Prince of Persil

12 May, 2013 at 11:42 pm by belgianwaffle

Mr. Waffle does the laundry. He says if it were up to me, we would never have a clean stitch. I vigorously deny this. I was wearing clean clothes when I met him, wasn’t I?

Four weeks after we moved into the new house, I went to put on the washing machine and remarked, slightly shamefacedly, to herself that this was the first time I’d used it and I wasn’t quite sure how it worked. “Think of it as a small victory for feminism,” she said.

The Kindness of Strangers

11 May, 2013 at 11:37 pm by belgianwaffle

I went into town with herself and we had a look at the National Gallery and then we got back into the car and drove to the Queen of Tarts. Just as we were settling down, my work mobile started to ring. I looked at it balefully. Unknown number. I answered coldly. The caller asked my name. I told him, with increasing coldness. “It’s just that I’ve found your purse on the road and your card is in it.” The saintly finder dropped it into the local Garda station and I was able to go and pick it up (everything still there) even before I had realised it was lost. It is quite true what my mother says, “People are mostly very nice.”

Can I have that?

10 May, 2013 at 11:18 pm by belgianwaffle

My children hate throwing things out. An empty cereal box can be re-purposed. The plastic wrapping on a magazine can be used to choke a sibling. They watch me like hawks to make sure that I don’t illicitly dispose of things.

Daniel said to me the other night, “You’re not a real Irish Mammy.” As I mentioned before, I received “The Book of Irish Mammies” for my birthday and the children are measuring me against it and, regrettably, generally finding it a very good fit, so I was rather pleased when he said this but a bit surprised too. “Why not?” I asked. “Because you are always throwing things out.”

All I can say is, if I’m always throwing things out, why do we have so much stuff?

Comparisons are Odious

9 May, 2013 at 5:26 pm by belgianwaffle

When I was in college my then boyfriend’s brother [try to keep up] had a lovely girlfriend. She was a delightful person. Everybody loved her. My own mother was a good friend of lovely gf’s mother and she loved her too. My sister was in lovely gf’s sister’s class in school and she loved her. I didn’t dislike lovely gf,- how could I, she was lovely? – but I did mildly resent the way she was utterly perfect. She got her boyfriend’s parents [also my boyfriend’s parents, if you see what I mean] an orange tree for Christmas. Who buys presents for a boyfriend’s parents? Not me, alas.

As I went in and out of the hospital over the weekend visiting my poor mother, a big shiny board with names engraved in golden letters caught my eye. It was a list of interns of the year and alongside it winners of a medal for youthful brilliance. Who was on the list of interns of the year? Lovely gf, that’s who. Who was the only intern featured on the list who also won the gold medal for being brilliant at medicine and lovely [possibly not actual title]? Oh yes indeed, the lovely gf. I’m not jealous, no really, I’m not. It’s just that she’s haunting me.

Recovering

8 May, 2013 at 4:26 pm by belgianwaffle

My mother had her operation yesterday and it all seems to have gone well. I do think Irish hospitals are good at operating and treating people, it’s just the ancillaries that seem to be sadly lacking. Anyhow, her recovery will be slow enough and she won’t be discharged until next week and then probably to somewhere they can do rehabilitation but the prospects look reasonably rosy. Thanks for the good wishes.

Keep your fingers crossed for her please or pray to your gods, if appropriate.

The Peace Dividend

6 May, 2013 at 11:52 pm by belgianwaffle

Before I ended up staying in Cork for the weekend, we had planned to go to Northern Ireland for a day trip. The children were not enthused. Mostly because they, quite rightly, scented the prospect of a health giving walk. The Princess however began to plough a particularly fertile furrow. “I’m scared, we’ll be bombed,” said she. “Don’t be daft,” we said pointing to the Belfast agreement and, more practically, the people we knew from Northern Ireland and the fact that the sixth class school tour was going there; she knows that her school principal is not a man for taking unnecessary risks. It was at this point that Daniel felt inspired to intone from the back seat “Ireland unfree shall never be at peace!”

I think we may have to look a bit more closely at his reading material. Mr. Waffle tells me that Daniel has been reading a “very green” children’s history of Ireland and Mr. Waffle feels that peace and reconciliation may not be among the themes addressed. All the more reason to take them off to see the glories of Northern Ireland where they can see swords being beaten into ploughshares with their very eyes or, more likely, have a walk followed by tea and a bun in a National Trust property.

Hello, Cruel World

5 May, 2013 at 11:11 pm by belgianwaffle

I have not blogged for a while. This is largely because I have moved house and my evenings are taken up with finding places to put everything and wondering why on earth we own so many pictures.

I have taken a break from stashing old CDs in drawers and come to Cork this weekend. This was an unplanned trip. My mother fell and broke her hip on Saturday. This is a bank holiday weekend in Ireland. My father broke his hip on St. Patrick’s weekend which was also a bank holiday weekend. He is recovering well at this stage so, I suppose, it was time for some additional bank holiday drama.

My sister went into the hospital with my mother at 3 pm. She and my brother stayed with her in rotation to midnight. At about 9 pm she got an x-ray and got moved from a seat to a trolley (triumph!). I got the train from Dublin and arrived in A&E about midnight (last train which featured engineering works at Mallow and a bus transfer from there to Cork – what’s not to love?). I spent from midnight to 4 am sitting beside my mother’s trolley in the corridor. About 6 or 7 other people were in the corridor on trolleys. Chances of sleeping were close to zero given the bright lights and people rushing around and chatting away loudly (clearly, all that money spent on health insurance was money well spent – thank you VHI).

There were no call bells in the corridor (obviously) and the staff were running around, so the chance of an older, softly spoken woman getting a glass of water or a trip to the toilet without a mouthy relative to hand were low.

About 1 am an exhausted young doctor with a large spot on one cheek (sympathy) turned up. She said in almost one breath (delivery entirely flat) “I’m the orthopaedic doctor on duty. Is this your mother? Sorry, no one should have to be on a trolley and no one should suffer with a broken hip for more than 24 hours. It will probably be Tuesday or Wednesday before she is operated on.” Then she drifted off into the night. We had had our 2 minutes of bank holiday doctor.

At 3 am the nurse on duty said to me, “It’s quieter now, do you want to go home?” I decided to give it another half hour. At 3.30 am I went to the desk to tell the nurse that I was leaving. “She’s on her break, she’ll be back in half an hour.” I decided to stay until she came back and about 4 am two people came and started moving my mother’s trolley. The excitement, a bed had become available. How does that work? Did someone die? Did someone move? Did someone new come on duty? They were, presumably, not discharging patients in the middle of the night. A mystery. After 13 hours in A&E, a bed on a ward with a call bell and curtains and the possibility of turning off the light seemed really fantastic. I wasn’t even particularly resentful as I gave the nurse the details of Mum’s drug regime for other conditions. This was the third time that evening – we had already given the information twice in A&E. The first time we gave them our printed sheet but they lost that, second time I gave it from the list on my phone. The nurse noted it but the file didn’t seem to have travelled to the ward. How does it work for patients whose families aren’t there? I saw an elderly gentleman who was clearly confused sitting on a trolley, opening and closing his mouth. I wonder how they will sort out his drug regime?

I was disappointed but not entirely surprised when the hospital called in the morning to ask us to bring in Mum’s medicines as their pharmacy wouldn’t open until Tuesday. My brother and I spent most of today in the hospital trying (largely unsuccessfully) to persuade my mother to eat the rather unappetising hospital food and supplements we brought in ourselves (to be fair, equally unpopular). She was to fast from midnight with a view to having her operation tomorrow – but I recalled the words of the tired doctor and didn’t believe that they really would operate on Monday. That didn’t make me or the patient any less disappointed when, at 10 this evening, we were told that the operation wouldn’t be tomorrow.

I have to go back to Dublin tomorrow afternoon and my sister is in Spain for work for the week so I think my brother is going to have a tough week.


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