I am spending a certain amount of time in hospitals. As you go in you have to rub disinfectant into your hands. At least once, I have taken the disinfectant and started to bless myself. Is it because hospitals are now like secular cathedrals or is it because I am losing my mind? I suppose the latter is a bit more likely though less poetic.
Archives for April 2014
RoisÃn Ingle is a journalist with the Irish Times. On Saturdays she writes a personal column.
Whenever I do something she seems to do it after and then write about it as though it were a brand new experience. On a large scale: I had twins, then she had twins. On a smaller scale: I read “The One Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed out of a Window and Disappeared” for my bookclub and she read it for her bookclub; my children had lice; her children have had lice since Christmas.
Unreasonably, I concede, I find this mildly annoying. It is particularly unreasonable in the case of that book because every bookclub in the country read it. But yet.
I remember, years ago, reading about some woman who was dreading Mary Kenny having grandchildren. Said she, “She always does things just after me and somehow she always does them that bit better.” I suppose I should be grateful that RoisÃn Ingle’s approach is self-deprecatory. But yet, I am not.
Michael: What day is my birthday on?
Me: 27 September.
Him: No, what DAY?
Me: Oh, sorry, um, it’s actually a Sunday this year.
Him: Will I have to go to mass?
Him: On my birthday?
Him: My birthday is ruined.
Stay with me here, alright?
I was talking to my sister recently about her friend who is very bright and asked, “Did she come first in your class in college?”
“No,” said my sister, “in our class it was only really a fight for second place because we had Joe Soap in our class. He was the cleverest man, I ever met. It felt like he was only going to lectures to be polite to the lecturers.”
“What did he do after?”
“He went to Oxford and did a PhD in Chemistry but then he decided Chemistry wasn’t for him. We were all a bit depressed when we heard because, honestly, if Chemistry wasn’t for Joe Soap then it really wasn’t for anyone.”
“So what’s he doing now?”
“Oh, he’s a banker in the City of London.”
And it just struck me that the rewards associated with international finance do attract super-smart people who are used to being right and being the brightest people in the room. Do you think that makes it likely that they would accept that it’s all their fault if something goes wrong or that they would respect the regulatory authorities?
Sample size 1 as a colleague says when I produce these kinds of things but still.
I think I might go back and re-read my copy of “The Best and the Brightest“.
We moved into our new house on April 5, 2013.
Almost every day since, I have thought, how very lucky I am to be living in such a lovely house. As well as that, we have so much more room which has been great for all of us. We can be at home together yet apart.
This is what it was like when we went to view it for the first time:
The boys in what is now their sister’s room. Even as I look at this, I can hear her outraged voice in my head: “People in my room!”
This shot of the garden confirms that we are no good as gardeners. The garden definitely looked much better before we got our hands on it.
This is what it was like in April 2013:
Note cardboard representing utterly futile attempt to save the varnish. Top tip, let the varnish on your floorboards dry before you move in:
Note absence of curtains:
Boxes of books to be unloaded onto already full bookshelves. An issue which remains unresolved. All bookshelves are two books deep and consequently it’s impossible to find anything.
As we got used to living in the house, we found that the views of the garden were delightful. There are three apple trees in the back garden and a large spreading plum tree in the neighbours’ front garden which we get the benefit of.
The Princess and I firmly believed that after our first Christmas in the house it would really be ours. This was proved when Michael visited our old house, which he had left with the greatest reluctance and after half an hour on the premises began to ask when he was going home.
The house was built in 1895 and has all sorts of lovely details like the brass handle on the front door:
The brass stair rods on the stairs (30 euros a riser to buy the carpet fitter told me – you are looking at our retirement fund here):
Needless to say, no brass polishing of any description has taken place. See how the brass fails to glow.
The porcelain door handles:
The pattern on the side of the stairs:
The cornice on a roll and the ceiling roses which are in the main reception rooms and the hall as well as the scary but, frankly delightful light fitting which the builders nearly threw out:
The fantastic fireplaces in the reception rooms downstairs and the master bedroom:
These appear to have been used in lots of houses. To my knowledge, there are several of them on our road. I was surprised, however, to see a picture in the paper of Garret Fitzgerald apparently sitting in front of our fireplace. Obviously, these fireplaces were in use on the other side of the city also.
The quarry tiles in the kitchen which are laid directly on earth and about which, alas, something may yet have to be done.
Obviously, there are things that need to be done (downstairs bathroom, kitchen, utility room, re-varnishing – I’m looking at you for starters) but overall, I love the house and it is delightful to live there. It has increased the sum of my happiness to be in a place which is so appealing and has loads of room for all of us. If you are hoping to move, take heart, the process is quite dreadful but the results are worth it.
You ask what would I like to change? Well, last month I got this text from my husband in relation to the gas bill: “Are you sitting down, it’s â‚¬829.05 to be paid by direct debit on 4 March.” It turns out that when the company estimates your bill for a year based on what it cost to heat an empty house or a house with a sole occupant, when they check the actual reading for the year, it can be slightly terrifying. Never mind; summer is coming.
Daniel: why is New York called the Big Apple?
Me: I don’t know.
Him: Maybe it’s called after Apple the computer company.