It has been a long time since I updated you on my doings. Fear not, a fascinating update is on the way.
First and foremost, herself came home. It is truly wonderful to have her back and it is only now that she is home that I realise how much I missed her in the first place. She appears to be on top of French language and teenage culture so, overall, objectives achieved.
I discovered that all of my children fell into the common error of assuming that the feast of the Immaculate Conception (which falls on December 8) refers to the conception of Jesus. No, no, that falls on the feast of the annunciation on March 25 exactly nine months before Jesus was born on December 25. They are now clear that it refers to the Immaculate Conception of Mary. This reminds me that my copy of “Eminent Victorians” has gone missing. Strachey covers Papal infallibility and, I think, Immaculate Conception, when writing about Cardinal Manning. If you haven’t read “Eminent Victorians”, I truly recommend it. It’s a lot more entertaining than its title might have you suppose.
My brother went to Tenerife on a week’s cycling holiday (who knew?) and he met a second cousin and her elderly parents (the father’s my mother’s first cousin, try to keep up) on the plane on the way over. One day of his holiday was spent with them at their resort covering north Cork news. While he was in Tenerife, I went to Cork which was looking very Christmassy.
Herself was no sooner home than she went off babysitting her little cousin. She described the experience as lucrative and satisfactory. The parents have just moved to Dublin from London. Sadly this one time may be the last time as when we were at Christmas drinks in their house last Sunday, she heard them say how excellent it was that there was a teenager in the estate who would babysit. Alas for her. However, it was hardly an ideal location for her chauffeurs so on balance, I’m inclined to regard it as a positive.
Despite the fact that we left Belgium more than 10 YEARS AGO, Saint Nicolas continues to turn up and leave sweets in our children’s shoes on December 6. What an after sales service.
Daniel had his GAA Christmas party and Michael had his drama showcase both of which were, in their own way, satisfactory. Sadly due to a miscommunication, Daniel ended up waiting for an hour outside the club house in the dark and cold after the party had ended. He started walking home and was half way there when he saw me sailing past in the car. He ran all the way back to the club house where I was sitting in the car waiting patiently for him to emerge from the party. Unsatisfactory.
Daniel and I decorated the Christmas tree with, frankly, minimal help from the others.
My sister came to Dublin for the weekend to deliver presents to the children. We’re not going down to Cork until January 1 and she felt it was too long for them to wait. I did not think this and, to be fair, neither did they but my sister has higher standards than all of us. We went to IKEA at 8 in the evening because my sister made us. It was not at all as hideous as I expected. Closing time is clearly the moment to arrive. Mind you, I went against my will and ALL I needed to get was an extension lead but yet I spent â‚¬104. World’s most expensive extension lead.
A large parcel came to the house which I thought was full of bubble wrap as Mr. Waffle is preparing to move everything out of our kitchen for renovations starting in January (let us not speak of it). However it turned out to be delightful Spode ware; I was extremely pleased. Though it always makes me think of Wodehouse fascists.
Last Friday, my friend S booked us tickets for a Trinity Festive Research gig. I was considerably more enthusiastic about this when it was originally mooted than when the day rolled round. However, in I went and it did feel very worthy. There was a lecture on why stars twinkle (exoplanets); early film; how Christmas trees will do under global warming (very well, fir trees will rule the earth just like they did under the dinosaurs); ghost stories; and midwifery research. It was pretty enjoyable in retrospect actually and gave us loads to talk about, criticise and dissect over dinner afterwards. My friend gave me a great Christmas present. Pleasing.
I also bought myself a book of M.R. James ghost stories after the lecture on ghosts; I haven’t tried them since I was very young and quite terrified. I’ve read one so far and I am holding up. I suppose it’s only a question of time before I am filled with terror.
Michael and I went ice skating. We liked it. Mr Waffle and I went to an artsy Christmas extravaganza on Henrietta Street. I was really keen to see inside another of the dilapidated but very beautiful Georgian Houses on what is, I think, Dublin’s most beautiful street. It was a beautiful house but chilly.
And the show was for those with a sense of fun in their hearts which I seem to be, sadly, lacking as I found it to be a bit tedious. The food was fine but exiguous and vegetarian, so I was still quite hungry after I’d finished. The saving grace, however, was our neighbours. We were seated at trestle tables beside random strangers (by design) and we spent the evening chatting to a really delightful couple. He lectures in design and she runs a vintage clothes shop (my sister cross-questioned me on this and, apparently, it’s quite a well known one that she has read about in the papers). Regardless of the success of vintage clothes, it seems to be a business with tight margins. Our neighbour blithely described how her French interns were put off that cold winter when the water in the toilet froze. In fairness, wouldn’t that apply to most people? However they were endlessly entertaining. They’ve bought a 1950s school building in Monaghan and they’re planning to live in it (they’re from Monaghan). I have to say, it’s not a county I have ever visited but they made me curious.
The children have all been sick this month. For the last three weeks we have had at least one child home from school. Michael has been sick all this week. Today I told him he was better but his cough refuses to believe me.
I took a day off work on Monday and spent it Christmas shopping. This goes against my stated views which include deploring the commercialism of Christmas and the triumph of capitalism. But I got everything and I was absolutely delighted with myself. I am slightly conflicted.
Herself had a Junior Cert award ceremony at the school yesterday. I skipped my office Christmas lunch to be there. It started at 2.30 and as we parked in the school car park at 2.34, I blithely reassured Mr. Waffle that these things never start on time. “Why then,” he asked, “can I see her through the glass door on the stage in the hall shaking hands with her year head?” We slunk in but, she noticed we were late. “I don’t blame you,” she said to her father as we had tea afterwards. In all the circumstances, that was probably fair.
The rest of the school had the Christmas awards ceremony today and Daniel got student of the year for second year. I think they’re trying to keep them keen because this is only for three months worth of effort. He was pleased all the same.
I had my annual hair cut today. I looked at the before picture and asked Michael whether I always have those vertical lines on my forehead. Yes, apparently. I’m sure they are from squinting – it’s probably too late now but I took delivery of my new glasses on Wednesday and when I wear them everything is weirdly small and clear. My hairdresser intimated, very tactfully, that the very short haircut I prefer may not suit me as well as it once did. He gave me a 1970s number instead. I’m not sure. I took the after picture in the mirror by candlelight which is much more flattering than the before picture (“she may very well pass for 45/ in the dusk with the light behind her”).
This afternoon, I met my oldest friend who is home for Christmas and it was delightful and she had a big bag of presents for me – thrilling. Of course I had nothing for her except a chance to admire my new haircut – possibly less thrilling for her.
Daniel sang in the carol service in the church this evening. It was a bit long and chilly. The choir director has different tastes from mine. I could have done with more traditional numbers and fewer experimental ones. However, she is amazing with the children and at Christmas she has the adult and children’s choir sing together and the traditional ones they do are lovely. There is a semi-professional soprano in the adult choir and she does a beautiful “O Holy Night”.
Today is the winter solistice and on the way home this evening in the drizzle, I came across a parade with a fire, Christmas lights and drums accompanied by a middle aged and sceptical Guard. It appears that we may be about to lose the run of ourselves again. Mr. Waffle is out to a work dinner and I am updating my blog and have performed my duties in the matter of putting out the bins. I believe you are up to date with my doings.