A couple of weeks ago, I was cycling back to my, very traditional, workplace after lunch wearing my, very traditional, work suit when I had to stop to walk past the Extinction Rebellion installation. As I looked in, who did I see, with her face painted with leaves, only one of the Princess’s friends from primary school. I called out to her and she trotted across to me with a big smile. We had a friendly chat across the barricades and she explained that despite her very best efforts, she had not been arrested. The Guards said that she was too young to be arrested. “Where is [herself]?” she asked. “At school,” I said offering up silent thanks and asked, “Why aren’t you at school?” She paused and then offered, “My parents are hippies?” Fair enough, I suppose.
Herself and her friends were walking along the road when they saw a car hit a parked car and take off the side of it. The driver of the offending car, got out, had a look and hopped back into her car leaving no note or any indication that she had caused the damage.
The Princess and her friends leapt into action, ringing doorbells along the street but to no avail. Her friend N had taken the licence plate of the offending hit and runner and they were anxious to pass on the details. But no one answered the doors and they were about to give up when they spotted an older woman in a dressing gown emerging from a house on the road. Herself leapt up on her bicycle and caught the lady with the others sprinting along behind (possibly a slightly alarming sight for the frail elderly woman but let us hope not).
It turned out that the older woman was the owner of the damaged car and she had just come out of hospital. She was very grateful to the young detectives and gave them all a hug. They passed on the information they had and gave their contact details. That evening N got a call from the guards asking about the incident and it looks like they are going to pursue it.
Aren’t teenagers sometimes lovely all the same?
The other morning I was cycling in to work and I saw a schoolgirl cycling in front of me. I was delighted as you so rarely see schoolgirls cycling. The Princess’s friend E from primary school is one of the only girls, aside from herself, I know who cycles to school. I peered more closely at the child ahead of me and when I arrived at the lights, I confirmed that it was indeed E on the bike. She’s in her last year of secondary school now and while waiting for the lights to change we covered a variety of topics including how her parents and sisters were; what subjects she was studying for the Leaving Certificate and what she was hoping to study in college. I felt it was poor form of me to put off one of the few girls who cycle by introducing the additional danger of being interrogated by her friend’s mother to the already considerable dangers for cyclists on Dublin streets but what can I do, I am a middle aged mother of three and I live to torture teenagers with hard questions about their lives.
We went out on the town on Culture Night. It was only somewhat successful. We visited the Mansion House and the Royal Irish Academy which were both fine in their way – beautiful buildings with interesting contents – but as we’ve been to both of them before, we were resolutely underwhelmed. I dare say there are fresh things to see on every visit but we did not appreciate them as we ought.
Probably a highlight of the evening was meeting a misfortunate teacher from the children’s school who was out with her fiancé and not entirely delighted to meet students and their parents in the wild. She left after a quick hello hauling her young man behind her at speed. Who would be a teacher?
It was also the theatre festival and the Dublin fringe festival. We went to see the comedian Alison Spittle in the Fringe. I was unamused but the venue was Dublin Castle chapel royal which was nice to be inside, so there was that.
We went with my in-laws and their friends from London to one of the worst plays I have seen in years. It was called “The Bluffer’s Guide to Suburbia” and the premise was musician who fails in London moves back to Dublin suburbia. Promising I felt. It resolutely failed to live up to the promise of the billing and although I fell asleep half way through and was spared some of the worst, I was quite mortified to have brought everyone there. The English visitors were very nice about it (there was no question but that it was dreadful
The following evening we had tickets for a play called “The Alternative”. The theatre festival is a cruel mistress. We were bringing the children and I was afraid. The premise of the play was that Ireland had never split from the UK and we were now having a present day independence referendum like the one they had in Scotland a couple of years ago. It was so good. We all loved it. It was clever and funny and inventive. The best thing I have seen in years. The children noticed the new deputy principal in the audience but we not to frighten another member of staff at a cultural event and nodded from a distance rather than approaching more closely.
In the visual arts, I forked out €15 to see the Sorolla exhibition in the National Gallery. I had never heard of him before; he’s a Spanish impressionist. I mean, fine, but I was not overly impressed, some nice interesting paintings but overall, I didn’t feel excited or delighted to have visited. In contrast the free Bauhaus exhibition in the print gallery upstairs is outstanding and well worth your time. I was also pretty impressed by the finalists in the National portrait competition which are on temporary exhibition at the moment. The Crawford in Cork is showing an exhibition about children called “Seen not Heard” around the theme of childhood and that’s pretty good. A smaller exhibition upstairs of the works that the Gibson bequest committee bought during the Emergency (known as World War II elsewhere) I found less impressive. One or two things I quite liked but overall, not the finest moment in Cork art collecting.
Herself meanwhile had been invited by a friend to hear Oscar Wilde’s grandson reading his poetry at the Abbey but had to turn down the invitation as she had too much homework. Alas.
I finished work on Friday. We are off on our Baltic adventure tomorrow. Since Friday we have been to a successful family barbecue notwithstanding apocalyptic weather warnings; admired the prowess of extended family members who ran the Dun Laoghaire 10k;
and been to Taytopark – the amusement park devoted to the crisp, you will recall.
This morning I went to the school uniform shop – not my most exciting adventure – it was heaving. “Today is child benefit day,” the shop assistant explained to me. A depressing thought made even more depressing by the costliness of my own purchases. My purchases limited, following an extensive trying on session at home, to two tracksuit bottoms and one tracksuit top came to €88 which is pricy for pure nylon with a crest in my view.
This afternoon, Mr. Waffle and I went to St. Audeon’s for a visit. I love this church. If I were a Protestant, on Sundays I would make my poor misfortunate children go to services in the range of neglected churches in the city centre. God, they would hate that. Here is a picture of George Petrie’s picture of St. Audeon’s when it was already falling down in the 19th century:
And here it is this afternoon (much preserved by the Office of Public Works, you will be glad to hear):
We went to Christ Church to see the restored heart of Laurence O’Toole. Somebody stole it from the church but they brought it back. Sadly it was locked away in a side altar and inaccessible.
When we were leaving, Mr. Waffle mentioned to the woman on the desk that it was locked. “Wait a minute,” said she and leaving other more exotic but less well informed tourists outside, she took us in to the altar. Very gratifying. I can confirm that the metal casing remains unchanged.
Now we are largely packed for an early departure tomorrow. What further excitements might await?
Posting will be light to non-existent until our return at the end of August.
I cannot speak with enough enthusiasm about the library service. I never went to the library much as a child. This quote from CS Lewis has always spoken to me:
“I am a product of long corridors, empty sunlit rooms, upstairs indoor silences, attics explored in solitude, distant noises of gurgling cisterns and pipes, and the noise of wind under the tiles. Also, of endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.”
That said, although I similarly had access to all my parents’ books suitable and unsuitable, the library would have brought some welcome additional variety to the stock of children’s books available. My sister became a youthful aficionado of the library and was always going in to the book club run by the librarian. I looked upon her with disdain. Foolish me.
Mr. Waffle as a child was a regular at the local library so when our own children came along, we got into the habit of going to the library. The scales fell from my eyes. What a truly wonderful service.
I continue to marvel at the ability to go into a library anywhere in the country and take out a book and then return it in my local branch or vice versa. When my sister-in-law and her family were in Cork recently (a triumph, of course), they went to the library in the city (it’s a good one) and borrowed some books to return in Dublin.
I have not bought a book in ages; almost anything I read, I order from the library. I am at a bit of a loss to understand how, on this basis, our house continues to be absolutely falling down with books. A mystery.
I recently went to investigate the newly renovated city centre library in Kevin Street. It’s a delight. My photo is of the children’s library in an attempt to lure my sister-in-law and little niece there but the adult reading room is quite lovely like an old study.
And the other day, when I was in the library, I noticed that they have a new digital borrowing service called Borrow Box where you can download ebooks and audio books. Just as I am setting off on my holidays. What is not to love?