My colleague whose father died last month has, naturally, been inundated by mass cards. He tells me he received one from some friends saying, “Sorry about the death of your ‘father'”. “I have to ask them what they were implying,” he said. This inverted comma for emphasis business must end.
I am 49 today. Herself arrived home from school yesterday to announce, “Seán in my class thinks you’re a drama queen.” “Why?” I asked. “Because he asked what I was doing for the weekend and I said that we all had to stay at home on Saturday because it’s your birthday. He asked if it was an important one and I said no but I told him that we’re all dreading when you turn 50.”
So, yes, I like to celebrate my birthday, is that bad? Herself spent the afternoon slaving over my favourite brownies. I expect to enjoy them after my birthday dinner. Mr. Waffle got me flowers, a candle (always welcome to me) and a framed print of a picture which I once failed to identify on University Challenge (I pronounced it appealing and he took careful note).
More generally, I had a slightly unsatisfactory day. The boys and I cycled into their drama class. Some evil person punctured Michael’s tyre while they were in there which meant it was flat as a pancake when they emerged and we had to walk home pushing our bikes (“I’m tired” “When will I be able to stop and eat my bun?” “I want to go to the toilet.”). It took a lot out of all of us.
Mild highlight of the day so far was herself walking up to the bike repair shop with me after I got home.
Be not afraid though, because Mr. Waffle and I took a day off work during the week to celebrate my birthday. We went for a walk in Glendalough and had a nice lunch in Powerscourt. Was there snow in the mountains? Yes, there was:
We had to scoot back to Dublin a bit earlier than we would have liked because there were parent-teacher meetings for the boys, but that was satisfactory as well because they seem to be getting on very well which is always a relief to hear.
Furthermore, tomorrow is mother’s day. I am not delighted about it coming hot on the heels of my birthday as I think 48 hours of indulgence is a lot to ask from my family, however, it has put me in a good position to force everyone to go for a walk in the mountains tomorrow. Rejoice.
So I am hoping that 49 will be a good year. My sister is recovering from cancer – she’s gone back to work which is great. I am starting a new job in April – you may congratulate me – and so far I have all of the delight of anticipation and none of the horror of the new job. And surely, I have done enough funerals in the past year that there can’t be too many more to go through this year.
Now, you will have to excuse me because I just heard from the kitchen the magic words, “Someone put the kettle on!” and I think that my birthday cake is approaching.
I met a colleague for lunch recently in a slightly fancy restaurant.
Colleague poking at his plate: What’s that, coleslaw?
Me: Well on the menu, they said is was celeriac remoulade.
Her (lying on the sofa): That picture over there is crooked.
Me (sitting down on the other side of the room): Well, get up and straighten it.
Her: I’m afraid you’ll have to do that, you see, I’m policy and you’re operations.
On Friday night there was no hockey training for Michael as it was cancelled due to cold weather. This is not the kind of attitude adopted by the hardy GAA players/coaches to cold weather; it was very welcome though. I had my office Christmas party so although it was my Friday half day, I went back in about 5 having spent the afternoon picking up my daughter’s bike from school (she was on the DART to friend in Wicklow) and watching a film in front of the fire with my loving sons. I was reluctant to go back to work but did and it was grand but I felt dutiful and virtuous rather than having fun and letting my hair down; possibly for the best. I bailed out about 7 to pick up herself from the DART. She was going to a friend’s Christmas carol concert in Trinity. I was a bit dubious – I have been stung before by youth choirs. We met her other friend J in front of Trinity and then went into the chapel where the concert was to be and to my surprise and delight it was quite warm. And then the concert itself was absolutely superb. The singers were amazing; they were unaccompanied but sounded utterly beautiful. The performance included the only good version of “Away in a Manger” that I have ever heard (sorry everyone). My favourite song was probably “Gaudete” but they were really all excellent. Afterwards herself and myself went to supper and that was lovely too although she was exhausted by the time we got home.
On Saturday afternoon, Daniel had his final GAA session of the year (7 a side tournament – which his team won – followed by pizza). You will note that the GAA were not put off by inclement weather like the hockey people. Michael meanwhile had his drama showcase (v good if a bit confusing). Herself and myself attended and we picked up glitter Christmas glasses.
Afterwards we went to look at the Christmas window in Arnott’s (for me, for me, children only v mildly interested) and got on the new extended Luas line home (verdict from children – “it’s a tram”).
On Saturday night we all trooped off to see the Princess win an award. My poor parents and parents-in-law are not really well enough to attend this kind of event any more and my brother and sister are a bit too busy and far away so herself had to make do with enthusiastic support from her parents and some lacklustre support from her brothers who were, you know, supportive but a little bored.
This morning we had mass (herself mentioned from the pulpit for her award but they got her name wrong so, um, swings and roundabouts) and choir rehearsal. Had a great chat with one of the other parents while waiting for rehearsal to end. Like my mother, he is from Limerick and v interested in horses. I was asking how his daughter was getting on in secondary school and he said that he had spent last night explaining sets to her. “It is,” said he, “very useful for working things out if you want to put a combination on the tote.” He spent some time trying to explain this to me but, unlike his 13 year old, I seem to be a slow learner, I am glad, however, that somebody has found a practical example for the use of sets.
At lunch time we took ourselves off to see a special screening of “A Muppet Christmas Carol” in the cinema. Singing along was encouraged but it did feel like Michael and I were the only ones who knew all the words; so we were, I thought, a little conspicuous. We had hoped to go and look at the snow in the mountains but it was too cold and wet (I mean, I know snow is wet but you want blue skies to enjoy it not leaden sleeting ones) and we realised, belatedly, that herself has grown out of her hiking boots and would have to climb the mountain in Converse runners so instead, we went to the parents-in-law for a visit and now we are home, I have lit the fire and nobody is going anywhere for the remainder of the evening.
How was your own weekend?
I was away overnight for work. Usually I take the train to meetings if at all possible but due to a combination of difficult times and location, I drove on this occasion. I rang Mr. Waffle from the hotel this morning to see how things had gone in my absence. “Fine,” he said, “but I felt a bit bad sending the kids out on their bikes in the lashing rain.” “Not that bad,” I thought to myself, “or he could have given them a lift.” When I got home this evening, Michael was a little ball of bitterness about his damp school commute. “You should have asked your father for a lift,” I said. “And where, mother, was the car?” “Oh right, yeah, Kilkenny, sorry about that.”
*I have spent more time trying to decide how to capitalise this title than writing the blog post; advice welcome my lovely readers.