Michael and I were late for his drama class last weekend. He was very grumpy as we sprinted across town and, on questioning revealed that all he had eaten all day was a bowl of cereal. No wonder he was grumpy as it was then four in the afternoon. I stopped off in a vile take-away pizza place and bought him a slice. Although normally I do not approve of eating on the street, these were desperate times and I said to him, “You can eat it as we jog along through town.” He was about half way through his slice and about to take a bite when it was pulled out of his hand by a daring seagull who flew off with it grasped triumphantly in his jaws. What can I say? Tough town. The moral is, of course, that one shouldn’t eat on the street.
Michael wanted to read “1984”. Could I find it on our bookshelves? I could not. Not to worry, I took myself off to the library online to reserve a copy. The only one to hand in Dublin was a large print edition. I ordered it. It arrived. Do you think the people who designed the cover had ever read the book? I’m not sure whether it’s the comic sans font or the hot pink cover but probably not, I would say.
Unusually for someone who is as fond of eating as I am, I am not a very keen cook but, having invested my retirement fund in our new Aga (make your own jokes about going up in smoke here), I am doing my best to use it. When the Aga was delivered it came with a free (for a certain value of free) cookery book. I used a recipe from the book the other day. It involved using both hot plates and all three ovens. It was very elaborate and I also made a vegetarian version with tofu for herself (she once told me that tofu could substitute for chicken) further complicating matters.
I served it up, quite late but triumphant. The boys had a look at the creamy sauce and instantly said that they didn’t fancy it. “Surely, you’ll have some chicken,” I pleaded. Mr. Waffle obliging dipped in the ladle to extract some chicken. “Um,” he said, “are you sure that there is chicken in here?” Alas, I had left the chicken in the warming oven after quickly frying it and it was sitting there on the raw side still instead of having spent a happy twenty minutes in the roasting oven. I microwaved it. Michael pronounced it rubbery but nobody died. Herself said, “I’m sorry I led you astray but tofu cannot substitute for chicken on all occasions.” Really, is it any wonder that I dislike cooking?
“I suppose,” said Mr. Waffle, “that poultry is that which is lost in translation.” Daniel went for “Fowl play is suspected” and herself offered that it was just a run of bad cluck. Alas.
The weekend before last, I drove to Cork with the boys. On the motorway outside Cashel (2 hours from Dublin, an hour from Cork, not handy for either), the car died. We pulled over to the hard shoulder and contemplated our options. The AA will let you join from the side of the road (important information) and they were very helpful but the woman said I was probably better off getting a tow truck and she gave me the number of a local. I called him and he came promptly enough. The boys and I were delighted to get off the hard shoulder.
The tow truck man suggested we go to a local motorway service station but I thought we might be better off going into Cashel and getting dinner while we waited for my saintly sister to drive up from Cork to collect us. It was a bit out of the way for the tow truck man but he was very obliging and we had a grand old chat on the way. He knew the (deceased) father of a former colleague of mine and it’s always nice to have an acquaintance in common so we discussed the extended family at length.
We got to Cashel and took out our bags. I also had four litres of milk as the boys get through a lot of milk and the shopping (14 litres) had just arrived the previous day and I thought it would be as handy to take some of the milk to Cork. This was a decision I regretted as we wandered around the town with our luggage and four litres of milk. We went to a restaurant where we have often been before (home of the bacon salad) and settled down to dinner in front of the fire while my poor sister drove up from Cork to collect us.
The problem with the car was failure of the fuel injectors and, on Monday, the tow truck man took it to the Peugeot dealer in Clonmel (still very far from Dublin) who gave us new fuel injectors, probably for less than we would have paid in Dublin but, you know, €1,600 is still €1,600. It took a while. We were carless for ten days which I thought would be fine as I maintain we never use the car during the week. It turns out we do use the car during the week. One morning it was lashing rain. Could we drive the children in? We could not, they got sodden on their bikes. I was on the baptism roster on Wednesday night but I forgot as did my partner. Could I get a lift to the church? I could not. Were 10 people including a week old baby and the parish priest (who was filling in on an emergency basis) waiting anxiously for my arrival? They were, but they were very kind about having to hang around for my arrival (except for the baby who slept throughout which I suppose was her own way of being kind). I really miss the days when there were armies of knowledgeable people with no day jobs to do this kind of thing and they didn’t have to rely on the likes of me.
Mr. Waffle signed us up to the Dublin car sharing scheme (no joining fee!) and it is quite handy but it’s €11 an hour which means that it probably would have been cheaper to have got a taxi to take Daniel to training but we felt it was a bit ludicrous. We also had a family weekend away (more of which anon) and we had to hire a car for that so all in all it ended up being a pricy adventure.
Mr. Waffle being noble said he would collect the car. He had to get the bus to Clonmel (a good two hours) and then walk a mile and a half to the Peugeot dealership. But he got it and he’s still alive.
My bike meanwhile had two punctures in rapid succession. The first, I got near home and Mr. Waffle fixed (what a man, I hear you say), the second was right beside the office. It was flat as a pancake and there was no way I was going to wheel it to the distant bike shop so I left it in the office all week until the car returned to us and I could shove it in the boot and take it to the bike shop.
I think I will be less smug about my urban car free life in future.
Mr. Waffle and I took ourselves to an auction room to look for an oval kitchen table. We were not successful in finding that but we had a great time poking around and saw six very nice chairs. “Will we bid for them?” he asked. I decided not, we needed time to get used to the brave new world of auction furniture purchasing (I haven’t been to an auction since I was a small girl and went with my mother and sat perfectly still as she assured me that if I moved, I might buy something accidentally). Though I did discover on discussing with my bookclub members that many, many of them are keen auction goers. Who knew?
Anyhow, Mr. Waffle was fired up and registered himself to watch the auction online and looked at what all the items made (close to the lower end of the reserve, excitingly) and also, inadvertently, bought the six chairs; he was really only experimenting with the interface. But happily they were great value (€200 for six mahogany chairs, where would you be going etc.) and I am delighted with them though still a bit surprised to be plus six chairs which is actually quite a lot of chairs.
Unrelated to the above but very much one of the perils of middle age, I have been made treasurer of the parents’ council having refused to do chair and secretary, my back was against the wall. I am in the horrors. Mr. Waffle points out that at one stage I managed quite a large budget at work but I was forced to point out that an accountant managed the budget while I made lofty strategic decisions which at no point required me to actually do any accounting. I doubt whether that will wash with the parents’ council.
Between her very demanding social life and the number of essays a cruel and unyielding school system makes her produce every weekend these days, herself hasn’t been on very many weekend outings with us of late. I think she regards this as the silver lining to the essay cloud.
A couple of Sundays ago, the boys, Mr. Waffle and I climbed the Sugar Loaf (the boys were up and down in about 45 minutes and I panted up and down gracelessly in about an hour and a half, alas – you may insert your own ‘unfit parent’ quip here). Herself was at home. We enjoyed the view and then headed back to the car to get the obligatory cup of tea.
On our way back in to Enniskerry, I noticed I still had the Princess’s spotify app on my phone (briefly installed in a moment of crisis). “Let’s put on the family playlist,” I said gleefully. No sooner did I have it on than my phone started ringing but due to the mountains, reception was poor. It was some time before herself got through to convey this somewhat irate message, “Spotify plays on all devices simultaneously and I am going to take that app off your phone when you get home!” Apparently she was blamelessly doing her essays when a variety of family favourites started blaring out from her phone. Not delighted.