My mother: So, Alf is coming tomorrow to give me an estimate for painting the kitchen.
My father and I in unison: “Where Alph, the sacred river, ran through caverns measureless to man down to a sunless sea.”
Alf did come in due course and it turns out that his son runs for Ireland and had just had to turn down a scholarship to a US university because he failed maths. The irony is that Alf’s nephews and nieces are extremely good at maths having competed in the maths olympics (there’s a whole world out there, people). His sister married a mathematical genius who, incidentally, is my friend the heart surgeon’s mother’s brother. Are you still with me? Did I mention that I come from a city that’s really a small town?
On Friday the Princess and I travelled to Cork with friends from Brussels. These friends have somewhat complex domestic arrangements. They are a gay couple. They come to Cork every second weekend to visit a daughter who lives with her older brother, her lesbian mother and her mother’s partner. The lesbian couple and their children used to live in London where, I’m sure, this kind of thing is not unusual at all but I have to say I felt twinges of foreboding when they moved back to Cork. Unnecessary. Not only does no one care but there is another lesbian couple with children living on the same estate as them. In many ways, the world is getting better and better. However, it turns out that the child’s paternal grandmother is from my mother’s home town in Co. Limerick and we know all about them, oh yes, including my friend’s aunt the nun. My mother is curious to know what she makes of it all but religious are very right on these days.
Do you ever wonder why I crave the anonymity of the big city?