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.
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.
Herself was waxing lyrical about what she called “the year of the committees” the other day. It was when she was 14 and she was on some Dublin youth committee and the school council and the school trust organising committee and various others besides. At the time, I was even more unsure of the details as she is not necessarily forthcoming in relation to her various activities. The other day she ran assembly in school and the only reason we found out was her brothers told us (they have the kinds of loose lips that sink ships in her view).
She said to me recently, “You say I never tell you anything so I just wanted to let you know that I am facilitating an improv workshop for a group of Irish medium schools next week in one of our national cultural institutions as part of a cultural schools event. I’ve tested the material with a range of students in my school and I think it should work quite well. Here’s the permission form you need to sign. [Pause]. I definitely would have told you even if there hadn’t been a form.”
In the car the other night, she offered up, “I had a really nice taxi driver today.” What was she doing in a taxi you might well ask. We certainly did. Apparently she’s organising some conference and the school sent her off to the meeting in a taxi.
Yesterday morning she said she was going to see “Jesus is King”. This is not apparently a church (unlikely destination for her and her friend, I concede) but a Kanye West documentary (please insert your own joke here). It was on in the Cineworld and I said, “Oh you can use my Tesco vouchers for a free ticket.” Apparently not, this is the only showing in Ireland and her friend who invited her hovered over his computer and pounced the instant tickets became available. I feel I did not react appropriately to the limited information released to me to be honest. I’m probably better off not knowing.
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.
Daniel loves sports. Since the summer he has been playing for the A team in his age group in the local GAA club and this is a source of unalloyed joy to him.
One Friday night he arrived back from training with a bloody lip. He had gone in to get the ball and his mouth had connected with another boy’s boot. Poor Dan. It was quite a bit later in the night when he confessed that his front tooth was loose. Mostly this was because he hadn’t been wearing his gum shield and he was worried we would be cross. He was right to be worried.
I rang my mother’s friend the dentist on Saturday morning (83 but how much do teeth change?). I said it wasn’t very loose but she said that front teeth were risky and I should get it seen to and ring the dental hospital which she thought was open on Saturday. It was not open (some things do change, it transpires). I decided to leave it and visit our own dentist on Monday. He x-rayed and opined that we might have “got away with it” and scheduled another appointment in a week. Sadly over the next week or so, Dan’s tooth turned grey which even I could work out was not a good sign. When we went back to the dentist he said glumly that it looked like we hadn’t got away with it after all. He put on a support thing and said he’d have another look in a fortnight but it is looking like root canal treatment is in Daniel’s future.
In view of this it was all the more devastating when Dan’s GAA team lost the end of season match which would have put them top of their division. At least he would have given up a front tooth for victory rather than defeat. 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.