It’s all so long ago now. First Dublin, grandparents were dutifully wonderful and, as far as I can remember, it was all about abandoning the Princess with her unfortunate grandparents while skipping off to town or to dinner or to shop. Princess had a fabulous time as did we. She became very interested in the picture in our bedroom (which is the pub exec’s room when she comes home) which was “The Fall of Icarus”. This enabled Mr. Waffle to do some work on his “Greek myths for the under twos” project. “Icarus flies like a birdie, cheep, cheep. Icarus is too close to the sun. Hot. Hot. All fall down. Into the water, splish, splash.”
Cork involved two trips to the beach. On both occasions the Princess threw up due to what Mr. Waffle refers to as my exciting driving style. It also poured rain. While the rain and the vomit significantly dampened our enthusiasm, they in no way impeded the Princess’s enjoyment of events. So keen is she on her bucket and spade that she has been known to sit on concrete and play with imaginary sand. The sight of the real thing and sea made her a very happy girl. Other than the rain and vomit, Cork was a lot like Dublin. My loving parents minding the Princess while we ran off and disported ourselves around the real capital. Also, we met more babies. A lot of people in Cork come pre-equipped with babies. Including one old friend who was duly mortified when his three year old spent his time with us weeping and clutching his (the father’s) arm saying “I want to go home”.
So, to summarise, we met a range of people in both locations, all of whom insisted on paying for our food and drink. Since leaving Ireland we appear to have lost the knack of paying for ourselves or anyone else. We will spend the time between now and December trying to pay for other people’s meals to get in training for the rematch over the Christmas holidays.
on 03 September 2004 at 21:49
Jack, a sweetie, I’m overwhelmed. Ta.
I’ll be back to Sicily later but in the interim, must tell you about my sister who is off on a cruise from Vancouver to Alaska. She has gone alone (this is the problem with earning twice as much as your contemporaries, you want to go on holidays they can’t afford) and is almost the only single person on board. The other passengers consist almost entirely of couples on honeymoon and elderly souls spending the inheritance before their kiddies get their grubby mitts on it.
Highlights have included lots of glaciers, icebergs and a plane ride around Mt McKinley (I told you that it was an expensive holiday).
Lowlights have included the singles night when she and 7 ladies in their sixties were the only attendees. Apparently the event ended earlier than scheduled.
Paying a positively obscene amount of money for a single supplement (of course, she now understands why they discourage singles).
Seeing staff remove the two beds from an adjoining room, remove the carpet and enter with a new one – only possible explanation someone has been very violently ill (my suggestion that a wave may have come through the window was dismissed with scorn – “we don’t have windows down here”. Mother of God, for that kind of money she doesn’t even get a window.).
Hearing an elderly couple who have adopted her for the trip describe attending an event entitled the marriage game. Given the demographics of their audience, she feels that they could easily have skipped the “where is the most exciting place you ever had sex” question.
I bring you this news from Juneau, Alaska from whence she just rang me on her mobile. I find that a little weird. She tells me that for a place that is connected to nowhere by road, Juneau has a lot of traffic. So now you know.
I’m looking for a CD of someone singing Percy French songs. Not hard you might think. Surely, it should be easy to find someone singing the work of the man who wrote such classics as the following:
You may talk of Columbus’s sailing
Across the Atlantical Sea
But he never tried to go railing
From Ennis as far as Kilkee
You run for the train in the morning,
The excursion train starting at eight
You’re there when the clock gives the warnin’
And there for an hour you’ll wait
And as you’re waiting in the train,
You’ll hear the guard sing this refrain-
Are ye right there, Michael, are ye right?
Do you think that we’ll be there before the night?
Ye’ve been so long in startin’,
That ye couldn’t say for startin’
Still ye might now, Michael,
So ye might!
They find out where the engine’s been hiding,
And it drags you to Sweet Corofin;
Says the guard, Back her down on the siding
There’s the goods from Kilrush comin’ in.
Perhaps it comes in two hours,
Perhaps it breaks down on the way;
If it does, says the guard, be the powers,
We’re here for the rest of the day!
And while you sit and curse your luck
The train backs down into a truck.
Are ye right there, Michael, are ye right?
Have ye got the parcel there for Mrs. White?
Ye haven’t, oh begorra,
Say it’s comin’ down tomorra –
And well it might now, Michael,
So it might.
At Lahinch the sea shines like a jewel,
With joy you are ready to shout,
When the stoker cries out, There’s no fuel,
And the fire’s taytotally out.
But hand up that bit of log there –
I’ll soon have ye out of the fix;
There’s fine clamp of turf in the bog there.
And the rest go a-gatherin’ sticks.
And while you’re breakin’ bits of tree,
You hear some wise remarks like these –
Are ye right there, Michael? Are ye right?
Do ye think that you can get the fire to light?
Oh an hour you’ll require,
For the turf it might be drier –
Well it might now, Michael,
So it might.
Well, devil a bit as my mother would say. The ignorant young people in the record shops in Dublin asked whether he was a solo artist or in a band. When I explained that he was a long dead lyricist (but very famous, truly), they looked at me blankly. I had discovered from my internet searches that he was also an inspector of drains but I didn’t go into this. I even went into the Irish music shop on Nassau street and the girl there had never heard of him but she summoned a more experienced man from the back of the shop. He was familiar with the great man’s works (we are not talking obscure here, everyone in Ireland must know the tunes, even the people who had never heard of him) but said that I would find it impossible to get them on CD. He was right. Even Amazon have failed me. OK a couple of websites do seem to offer PF CDs but only in exchange for your firstborn child and all your bank details. I hesitate.
To celebrate the arrival of our new fridge, Mr. Waffle has taken the Princess to the supermarket to buy lots of frozen food, leaving me here all alone. Most thrilling. So let me use this time productively to tell you about our Sicilian odyssey.
Let me group my observations:
Do not for a second assume that by handwashing clothes you can clean them to the same kind of standard as a machine does. After ten days of handwashing, our clothes were filthy and revolting. My father-in-law, the captain of industry, also resorted to handwashing but, somehow, he never looked quite as grubby as us. On the plus side our clothes never blew away (held down by weight of accumulated grime). However, my mother-in-law determined that the capt’s clothes would never dry in the shower and put them on the balcony, from whence “a garment” drifted down into the private area of the guesthouse. A couple of days later I was witness to the exquisitely embarrassing moment when the lady of the house asked my poor mortified father-in-law whether the garment she was holding between outstretched finger and thumb belonged to him.
She had the time of her life. There was not a moment when she was not surrounded by adoring admirers. One of our guidebooks said that the Sicilians worship children. They’re not kidding. And then there were all the relatives. Dutiful grandparents who babysat and obeyed the imperial will. Publishing exec who was perhaps less instantly obedient to the royal will but still did her bidding on most requests. She was strangely reluctant to fetch the Princess’s ball from wherever it was thrown. She explained, as she tried to catch the ball and missed, that she was never one of those hockey girls. Well no, I can see that, if she thought that you needed to catch the ball, that shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the game.
I regret to say, however, that the Princess was not in her best looks. On the first night she was eaten alive by mosquitos and she has, even now, not entirely recovered her looks. Then she looked like a small pox victim. In fact, someone at the beach asked whether she had chicken pox. This was not great for wedding pics. Oh well, she didn’t care.
And she loved the beach unconditionally. She loved swimming in the sea and playing with sand on the edge of the water. It was wonderful to see her little face light up when she saw the water. Due to her parents’ diligence she was not sun burnt once (smug face). On our last day an Italian lady came up to worship at her shrine and asked, looking at our milky white bodies, whether it was the first day of our holidays. No, I said, the tenth. She called her friends to come and look at us. It is difficult to maintain smugness in these circumstances.
Inexpressably fabulous. Best part was the wonderful Villa Raino where the food was the best we had in Sicily (and that’s saying something) and the people were fantastic. We may have been assisted by the fact that the bride’s father is a mate of the owner, but really, they were marvellous. The ten year old daughter of the house entertained and looked after the Princess, the mother ironed my going out dress for me. The father whipped up delicious meals at odd times and short notice. And they had a pool. When we go back, and we will be going back, we will spend all our time there.
Sicilians also do ice cream in a brioche bun which I thought was great, others were not so keen. My saintly father-in-law bought me some and then he watched me eat it through gritted teeth (his, not mine, you understand).
My new sister-in-law is a very good looking girl and tall and thin and she dresses beautifully. I try not to hold this against her as she is also a really lovely person but you can imagine what a trial it is to me. For her wedding she surpassed herself, she looked unbelievably beautiful. And the church was gorgeous. And the Italians played with the Princess at the back of the church while Mr. Waffle carried out his best man duties at the front. And the publishing exec sang and her cousin played. It was all lovely.
And then off to the reception. Italian wedding dinners tend to have many courses. The bride’s da wanted 12. She wanted 4. They seem to have settled on 8. My God, what a lot of food. We sat down about 8.30 (having first had some antipasti outside to take the edge off our hunger) and ate solidly until 1.15 in the morning.
Then for the speeches. This took the Italian relatives a bit by surprise as, given the length of dinner, they don’t go in much for speeches. All the speakers spoke in English and Italian. No surprises that the bride and her father spoke Italian, but I think everyone was amazed by Mr. Waffle’s fluency and his father’s. The groom had studied Italian, so less amazement there. In fact, Mr. Waffle is a con artist, he can speak a bit of Italian, but his vocabulary is minimal (he got an Italian colleague to help him with his speech). However, he has a brilliant Italian accent. So even though I speak far better Italian than he does, people always turn to him expectantly given his fabulous pronounciation. Life is full of injustice. Though all the speeches were very good, the big surprise was the groom. Like his brother, when asked to name an emotion, he will usually say something like “hunger, does hunger count?” In fact, more often than not, he will deflect questioners by saying “ah, you know yourself”. This is surprisingly effective. So, it was all the more touching to hear him speak affectionately about his bride in public and enumerate some of her many fabulous qualities. The publishing exec who, like her papa, is “made of reinforced marshmallow” wept copiously and a number of us shed furtive tears.
So then at 2 there was dancing. The brother-in-law used to play in a band and he imported them for the event. The lead singer described how he (b-i-l) had asked would they play at his wedding and they said – of course where is it, Dalkey, Killiney, Dun Laoghaire? No, Sicily. But they were committed by then. And they were a great band. Wedding bands are usually pretty awful. After they finished I told the lead singer that they were the best wedding band I had ever heard. He smiled politely. Mr Waffle hissed in a furious undervoice that they weren’t a wedding band, they were just doing this wedding. Oh well. Thrillingly, the groom joined them on keyboards for a while and we got to see him in action.
At 4.00 the disco started, but secure in the knowledge that the Princess would rise at 7 we reluctantly went to bed. This is officially the latest night we have had since she was born. And, we would have loved to stay later. Fantastic.
on 06 September 2004 at 09:38
Hmm. Pero, non credo che sia giusto…
Liked your post about your cv by the by.
on 06 September 2004 at 10:42
Triste, ma allineare…. 😉
We had dreadful trouble with luggage this holiday.Â Especially the buggy.Â Considering that every time we took it to the steps of the plane every time, it was impressive that it was lost returning from Ireland to Brussels and then once recovered, lost again on the way from Rome to Palermo.Â I must say, this cast a pall over the first couple of days in Sicily.Â Lugging around a 10 kilo baby will tire you out.Â Also, due to my superior Italian skills, I spent a lot of time on to lost luggage in Palermo airport.Â This also cast a damper. After 3 days there was great news, the buggy had been found.Â Mr. Waffle and his papa drove into Palermo (an hour and a half from our guesthouse) and tried to pick it up.Â In this they were somewhat hampered by Italian bureaucracy. As they kicked their heels in the baggage hall waiting for someone to come and deal with them, Mr. Waffle senior saw a familiar purple and pink elephant.Â Yes, it was Dumbo, attached to the buggy, you understand. Showing the kind of enterprise which has made him a captain of industry, he tucked it under his arm and walked out, dragging his son behind him.Â The whole rescue was achieved without filling in a single piece of paper.Â This was perhaps why Mr. Waffle was nervous when we checked back in for Palermo Rome and they said suspiciously “Hmm, I seem to recognise your name, did you lose some luggage?”. I’d say that the amount of paperwork associated with the buggy heist has made our name mud around the greater Palermo area.
For greater economy, we were flying point to point airlines and we had two hours in Rome to rescue our luggage from our Palermo flight and get it checked in for the Brussels flight.Â In retrospect, this was too short.Â Our Palermo flight was delayed by an hour and it took a good 35 minutes for the luggage to arrive off the plane.Â We were busy formulating emergency overnight in Rome strategies, when Mr. Waffle decided that the Princess and I should go ahead and stall the Brussels flight.Â Again, in retrospect, this was not a great idea.Â We scooted off to the international terminal, a brisk 20 minute walk just in time to see 2 besuited Virgin officials leaving their post chatting amicably.Â Frantically, I cut in front of two innocent souls at the top of the adjoining queue and panted “is the Bxls flight closed?”Â “No, madam, you can check-in here”.Â Fantastic. Now all I had to do was wait for Mr. Waffle and the luggage.Â “Madam, you need to check in immediately”. “Um, yes, just need to make a quick phone call”.Â Zoom off to sound of despairing sigh behind me.Â Arrive at phone booth to find that it will not take 2 euro coins.Â Reckon that this is the minimum I will need as Mr. Waffle has Belgian mobile. Curse at great length. Princess looks shocked. Appalled Italian lady presses 20 cents on me in the hope it will help. Go back and stand in front of check in lady. “My husband is just coming with the luggage.”. “I’m sorry madam, but we can’t wait any longer, you’ll have to check in now”.Â Princess begins to wail in sympathy. Forgetting that I am in English speaking land say “Not now darling, Mummy is very tense”.Â Mummy is not made any less tense by smirks of surrounding English speakers and reluctantly hands over passport and tickets and then – insert Chariots of Fire music – Mr. Waffle comes running around the corner, dripping sweat and carting our luggage.Â Hurrah.Â Nice check-in lady says we will have to run.Â We do and arrive in good time to queue with other punters. And miraculously, all our luggage makes it to Brussels too.
At a wedding, you often get friends of the happy couple’s parents and so it was here.Â I remarked to a nice Canadian lady, a friend of the Waffle seniors’ for many years that Mr. Waffle looked very handsome in his best man gear. Inocuous comment, you might feel.Â She considered the remark carefully and said “You know, he is, he used to be very geeky, but he’s grown out of it”. As a friend of Mr. Waffle’s said later when I related this to him “I would never have said that – I might have said that he was good at maths or excelled in classics…” Clearly, the Canadians believe in telling it like it is.
on 07 September 2004 at 20:47
On behalf of the rest of the people of Ireland who blog on 20six, I would like to apologise for what Locotes has just said. You are not, in the eyes of the vast majority of us, a baggage.
Arrangements are now being made to have his green knee-socks, russet kilt, waistcoat and green hat taken away for storage in a safe place.
on 07 September 2004 at 22:31
Hello lads. Locotes, I am touched by your comment and accept it in the spirit in which it was offered. Jack, go and stand in the corner.
on 08 September 2004 at 18:18
You’re most welcome.
*points and laughs at jack in the corner*
on 08 September 2004 at 23:26
Oh this is more of it… he gets to call you a baggage and all I get is the kind of treatment a tense mummy resorts too when the Cork Dry runs out…
on 10 September 2004 at 11:39
Now now lads, let’s put it all behind us..
The Princess and I are traumatised. I knew that there was going to be trouble when she took one look at the metre stick he was going to use to measure her and started to bawl hysterically. Her sobbing increased in intensity as he measured her head, weighed her, looked down her throat, put a stethoscope to her chest and shone a bright light in her ears. She looked at him dubiously as he paused in his labours to lay out his two shots and sobbed quietly. Her indignation increased ten fold when she discovered that he was going to give her one in the leg and then one in the arm. She only stopped sobbing as we were leaving and waved bye bye to the doctor in a feeble kind of way. She is now napping to recover from the trauma and I am having a cup of tea. Wait until I tell her that she has to go back for a booster shot in February.
on 06 September 2004 at 15:09
I remember going for a vaccination and being given a plaster for my teddy – I was so impressed that I forgot to cry.
on 06 September 2004 at 16:58
A free plaster always does that for me too Lauren.
on 06 September 2004 at 21:44
So.. why was he sobbing quietly after laying out his shots?
And can I have a plaster too, please?
on 06 September 2004 at 22:40
For this reason at least, poor Princess’s anxiety is totally understandable. (^_^)
Thank you chintzy. You are kind and good. Lauren, you were obviously a more sophisticated child than our Princess. Jack, that should be Silveretta’s line. Silver, are you feeding Jack lines? Thierry, the doctor says it’s a special paediatric non chill stethoscope but I don’t know why we should believe him, he made my baby cry.
on 08 September 2004 at 16:29
the princess and the pea …