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Archive for January, 2019

The Problems of Another Age

23 January, 2019 at 3:46 pm by belgianwaffle

My aunt was telling me that, many years ago, my Granny got a new fur coat with which she was very pleased and she brought it home. Instead of hanging it up in the wardrobe she put it on a hook under a high shelf the better to admire it.

No sooner had she paused in her admiration than a stray bird flew in through the window and perched on the high shelf above her fancy new coat. It was the work of a moment for the cat, also in the room, to climb up the fur coat and secure the bird. I understand that the coat was never the same after. I suppose the bird wasn’t either.

Art Not Imitating Life, Apparently

17 January, 2019 at 6:06 pm by belgianwaffle

Me: Do you ever read my blog?

Her: Yeah. I’m never more than about 3 weeks behind.

Me: I suppose you know what’s in it – you live it.

Her: Yes, but that’s very different from reading it.

Small Victories

16 January, 2019 at 3:20 pm by belgianwaffle

Herself said to me the other day, “I am so glad that you sent me to my school, I would have hated to have gone to an English language school”. I think that the effect of 10 years of education through the medium of Irish has finally had its effect.

I can only hope that her brothers eventually feel the same but thus far they remain resolutely unconvinced. Alas.

The Biter Bit

15 January, 2019 at 3:41 pm by belgianwaffle

Michael: Why did people let Draco do what he did?

Mr. Waffle: Draco Malfoy or, do you mean Lucius Malfoy?

Michael: No, I mean Draco the tyrant.

Mr. Waffle (beginning description): Well, I suppose he was a little bit draconian.

Daniel: Dad, he was Draco, he was literally draconian.

Failing to Keep Up with the Joneses

14 January, 2019 at 8:35 pm by belgianwaffle

When we went to Cork for a week our next door neighbours minded our cat, then when they were in France last week we fed their chickens. They came back at the weekend and we exchanged token gifts in return for neighbourly services.

Our token gift: a packet of artisan marshmallow picked up at a food fair in Cork

Their token gift: two large bars of chocolate, a jar of foie gras, a jar of onion confit, an enormous amount of Tomme and some other mountainy cheese.

I feel bad but I had some of the foie gras this evening and, God knows, we need some cheering in the midst of illness and renovations, and I was cheered. Also, Mr. Waffle tells me that he put out their bins and took them in again so there’s that. As against that, we got four eggs from the hens during our period of responsibility.

Changing Mores or an Unexpected Caller

14 January, 2019 at 3:31 pm by belgianwaffle

Over Christmas Mr. Waffle and I went for a walk along the South Bull Wall which is a wall with a lighthouse at the end of it that sticks out into Dublin bay. Half of Dublin was there (including a child from the boys’ class whose parents had forced him out while we left ours plugged in to the mainframe). The guilt.

They missed the great views out to Wicklow across the bay but they were unmoved when we told them.


Anyhow, this is all by the by. The story I am wending my way gradually towards concerns a couple who were walking towards us. The woman was speaking with great vehemence, “I mean, she’s a monster, unbearable, who even does that?” I listened with interest to hear what the sin was and, apparently, the monster dropped in on them without notice. That was it, that was her sin. Sadly, only my friends M & R do that to us but I love an unexpected drop in. Is it now gone the way of the dodo? My sister tells me that a woman who was in her class in school has a sign up in her driveway saying, “Please respect our privacy and do not call to the door.” This just strikes me as rude. Am I out of touch? What do the young people do?


12 January, 2019 at 6:55 pm by belgianwaffle

Saturday, January 5

So we drove back from Cork last Saturday morning. We got into Dublin just before lunch and all was well. I dropped herself into town to meet some friends. Would she wear a coat? She would not. “I’ll be inside the whole time,” she said. My riposte – “You are meeting your friends in St. Stephen’s Green, that is a park. Outside,” – was met with withering disdain.

I went home to start clearing out the kitchen for the builders who were due to start on Monday but Mr. Waffle said, “We’re all tired after the drive, will we do it tomorrow?” This was most unlike him but very welcome at the time. Subsequently, of course, it proved to be a big mistake. I’m sure there’s a moral there somewhere.

About 6 I got a call for herself wondering whether there was any chance of a lift as she was freezing. “Aha,” said I, “the absence of coat a mistake?” “Yes,” she conceded, “I also regret the sandals.” As I had been toting a hot water bottle around with me for the past hour as I was inexplicably cold, I hopped into the car with it and brought it to her. She was suitably grateful.

Sunday, January 6 – Epiphany

I slept badly and woke up feeling terrible. I couldn’t even go to mass, for Epiphany. But you know what I had to do? Clear the kitchen for the builders, that’s what. We all helped and it wasn’t quite as awful as you might imagine but I had a raging temperature and was unutterably miserable.

About 4 I was able to limp back to bed. Mr. Waffle made dinner and I came downstairs to make an attempt at eating it but my heart wasn’t in it and I definitively took to my bed at 8 that evening.

Meanwhile, Herself began to display symptoms, shivering away.

Monday, January 7

I don’t know when I was last so sick. I had a horribly disturbed and slightly hallucinatory night. My torso was too hot and my feet were freezing. Regular doses of paracetamol seemed to make no difference though I suppose they did.

About 20 years ago when living in Brussels, I had the flu and I thought to myself this is it again. I got out of bed once to go to the bathroom and that was pretty much it.

The builders turned up at 8 in the morning and started doing building things. The noise. The misery. I can so see why flu can be lethal to babies and old people. I am rarely sick and I feel my system is wearing itself out. Prediction is, nevertheless, that I am likely to live.

Mr. Waffle tended to the builders (lots of questions), me and the Princess. When the boys got home from school, Daniel didn’t fancy eating and felt tired so he went to bed. Was this a good sign, gentle reader?

Tuesday, January 8

Yet another disturbed night and really pretty miserable. Mr. Waffle dropped me into the GP where I waited to be seen for about an hour in a room full of miserable people. The GP confirmed the flu and said cheerfully, “Watch out for pneumonia though, that’s what we worry about.” Apparently it’s all related to the colour of your phlegm. God. I pointed out that I didn’t have a runny nose, something I felt, somehow that I ought to be congratulated on, and she said, quite pleased, “Yes that’s typical for flu.”

Home and crawled back into bed with the builders doing their thing in the kitchen and Mr. Waffle tending to two children and me. So miserable.

Michael came up to me when he came home from school. He was burning hot. “I felt really dizzy and hot today and I had a headache cycling home,” said he collapsing into the bed beside me.

I’m a bit confused about what happened next but about 8 in the evening, Michael said, “I need water.” Mr. Waffle’s voice came from the floor at the end of the bed saying, “You’ll have to get it yourself and can you go to your own bed”? Apparently, Mr. Waffle started to feel sick too and decided to construct a camp bed rather than move Michael. Everyone was getting a bit confused. There was no dinner and everyone was in bed by 6 we think.

Wednesday, January 9

I woke to the sound of the cat whining at the bedroom door. I went downstairs to feed her. While I rejoiced in my ability to walk downstairs with only the occasional pause to cough up phlegm ( not green – good news on phlegm watch), I was not super delighted to be besieged by builders asking hard questions about windows, flues and other matters.

With Mr. Waffle out of commission, I dragged myself around to the children’s rooms doling out paracetemol and the limited stock of sympathy I had available to me once I had used up most of it on myself and then took myself back to bed where Mr. Waffle was hacking up a lung while wearing a fetching damp face cloth on his forehead.

It feels like I have been sick forever. 3 full days in bed is a really long time for a grown-up to be sick.

Thursday, January 10

Herself was going to a concert with her friends – tickets part of her Christmas present and had to cancel due to ill-health.

I showered in the morning and began to feel a bit more human. Was this the beginning of the end?

The main builder who is an older gent waslooking a bit under the weather. I didn’t sleep last night he tells me between coughs. This could carry him off. And, as the GP said cheerfully, “In a closed environment like a house, it is very likely to spread.”

The boys’ parent teacher meetings were that evening so I left the house of illness and went to spread my germs around the school and, on the way home, Tesco. Feedback on the boys was all grand. Apparently Michael is a born presenter and now that 10% of his State exam marks are for a class-room based presentation, all the teachers seem to have noticed. The history teacher loves Daniel. One of their teachers is super scary and even I find him a bit scary so I didn’t find a way to work into the discussion this slightly amusing factlet which the Princess shared with me: “if we watch documentaries in English, he sits in the back of the class translating them into Irish, like we can’t understand them in English.” Ah yes, “TosnaĆ­onn an lae in san Serengeti..” I did, inadvertently, mention something about messing in class and he looked puzzled and said, “No, there is never any messing in my class.” I bet there isn’t. Meanwhile, when I asked the art teacher whether Michael was well-behaved in class she said, “Oh yes, in fact, if it gets too noisy, he asks everyone to be quiet and they are because they know if he says something, it must be really loud.” On application to Michael, he confirmed that this is true “But,” he added, “they don’t stay quiet for as long as I would like.” What on earth is that teacher thinking? And why is it that in one teacher’s class discipline is absolute and in another’s it’s like a zoo?

In a landmark moment on our road to recovery, we all sat around the table for dinner and everyone ate something.

Friday, January 11

The builders didn’t come. The main man has the flu.

I went back to work for the morning. Couldn’t face the bike so spread my germs around public transport (should no longer be infectious, really). It was alright but I felt pretty seedy still to be honest. All the others I left coughing at home. The fact that the kitchen is basically a dust bowl and a fine layer of dust now covers almost everything in the house probably isn’t helping our recovery.


My sister rang to say that my father has the flu despite getting the jab. I rang to see how he was and he was alright. Not as whiny as me actually.

When I got home from work, it was to discover that my lovely sister-in-law had sent us a hamper of goodies to speed our recovery. It was the highlight of an otherwise miserable week.

We’ve had to feed the neighbours’ hens for the week so this has added a slightly farcical element to proceedings as poor Mr. Waffle regularly dragged himself next door to check the level of the feed bin and pick up the odd egg.

Saturday, January 12

Mr. Waffle, Daniel, Michael and I are still a bit under the weather but more or less alright. We all left the house today for non-essential purposes. Herself, however, is still miserable. “Maybe,” she said to me, “I’m getting pneumonia.” Dear God in heaven.

This is the worst start to the new year we have had in years. I suppose the only way is up?

Next year we are all getting the flu jab even if not 100% effective, it’s much better than nothing. If you haven’t already, I recommend it as flu is vile. I have learnt my lesson.

Long Car Journeys Bring Out the Best in All of Us or Mothers are Always Wrong

8 January, 2019 at 3:45 pm by belgianwaffle

One from the Christmas holidays.

Herself (from the back seat in mock horror): This is so outrageous.

Mr. Waffle: Stop squawking back there.

Her: Do you want to reconsider your choice of language or do you want to keep using the oppressive, misogynistic language of the patriarchy?

Me: Silence.

Her (to me): Well, Mum, what do you think of Dad’s choice of language?

Me: I’m just so glad that it’s not me in the firing line.

Her: To be silent is to be complicit.

Cork Round-Up

5 January, 2019 at 5:20 pm by belgianwaffle

We drove down to Cork on January 1. We had to pick herself up from Kildare where she stayed overnight at a friend’s house following a New Year’s Eve party. Personally, I was tucked up in my bed at midnight and it was fantastic. I don’t know why I didn’t start doing this years ago. Did I mention that I turn 50 this year?

It was only when we stopped in Cashel for lunch that herself noticed that her carefully packed bag had been left behind in Dublin by her mother who faithfully promised to put it in the car and then completely forgot. “You have your overnight bag,” I pointed out, not entirely hopefully. That remark was treated with the contempt that it deserved.

We were coming to a family in Cork which was a bit laid low. My father had a fall last week and although he appeared to have sustained no serious injury he had a most spectacular bruise covering all one side of his face. Meanwhile my brother had contracted flu and my sister had sprained her ankle. Not propitious. We called in to my parents’ house to distribute and receive presents and inspect the various invalids before travelling on to our friends’ house in East Cork where we were staying. They seemed alright and they improved over the course of the week.

Our friends’ M and R had just vacated their premises in Garryvoe before we arrived and it was delightfully warm (normally their fancy energy efficient Scandi heating requires a day to heat up). We unpacked. Mr. Waffle came downstairs, “Is something wrong with the toilet in the ensuite?” “Yes,” I said, “remember they told us when we met for lunch and when they texted that they were leaving. ” “They met you for lunch and texted you, but you did not pass this on,” he said with understandable bitterness. His first new year’s google search was for dealing with a used broken toilet. In view of the audible unhappiness attendant on this issue, I was not going to fall for it the next day when Daniel said to me, “I used the broken toilet.” Sadly, it was all too true. Later in the week I stumbled blearily from bed to the en suite bathroom and would have fallen into the common error but Mr. Waffle was ready for the lot of us and the toilet bowl was sealed with sellotape and there was a sticker on the lid saying “Out of Order”. Truly, he is a prince among husbands.

We made a 500 piece jigsaw and failed to make a 1,000 piece one. Valuable lesson there for us.



The Princess and I spent two hours shopping in Cork for a replacement wardrobe for her. I have to tell you that it nearly broke my spirit. I’m not able for the young people’s shops with their absence of places to sit. We bought a pair of cords for her which I quite liked. “Do I look like Frodo of the Shire?” she asked. I assured her not. Big shout out to the lovely waitress in Barry’s, Douglas who spontaneously admired them. Actually, I found the service in shops and cafes in Cork uniformly lovely. Even though they probably despise my family as non-Corkonians, they concealed it really well.

Frodo or not Frodo?

My sister took the children and me to dinner in Milano’s. Later in the week herself went for breakfast with me in the Crawford (where we had a look at the lovely Harry Clarke exhibition) lunch with her aunt and wandered around town like the Dublin sophisticate she is. Daniel and I went on the Ferris Wheel on the Grand Parade which was surprisingly pleasant.


In the absence of wifi in Garryvoe, Daniel and Michael took to doing the crossword.


In a very mild way we went for a walk on the beach and in the forest.


Herself showed a gratifying level of interest in old family photos which are all stored in three drawers under one side of the old bookcase (bought by my Nana from the Canon in Kilmallock and designed for a much larger house). On the plus side they are all together. On the minus side, they are not particularly well labeled or, really, at all. There’s one I quite like of my mother and her classmates doing calisthenics on the front lawn of their rural Limerick boarding school in the 1940s (to impress parents? who took the picture? so many questions which are now unanswerable). Herself was able to unerringly identify her Nana in the photos. Others were trickier. There’s some young man in a Free State army uniform with his Lee Enfield rifle. Who is he? My father doesn’t know and also, doesn’t care. I didn’t think that either side of the family were big fans of the Free State so I am a bit baffled. On the plus side there was a picture of my father’s grandfather which my father instantly recognised. His intervention was unnecessary as my mother had written all his details on the back. “Born 1848, died 1938” I read out. “Look,” I said, “born just after the famine, the year of the Young Irelander uprising and your Grandad sitting just over there knew him well, lived with him, talked with him, look at how close you are to the middle of the the 19th century.” Both she and her grandfather were unmoved by this but studying the picture she said irately, “He has the same bags under his eyes that you, Grandad and Aunty Pat have, and they’ve passed on to me.” She neglected to mention that they are also the bags my Granny had but, they were. Notwithstanding this unfortunate genetic inheritance, I think he looks very kindly and my father says he was lovely. Great genes as well as eye baggy ones, he lived to be 90 as I pointed out to herself.


We came back to Dublin today. The builders are supposed to be coming to start work on Monday. We have put off clearing out the kitchen and under the stairs until tomorrow. Oh dear. And I still have my assignment for my course to do (deadline end January, loads of time, right?) and it’s back to school and work on Monday. Alas, alack.

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