I have had a busy week. I was in Kildare Village during the week. I find this very difficult. It’s an out of town shopping centre in thrall to the car. A completely privatised space with the shopping area unrelated to Ireland and more American architecturally than anything else. It reminds me most of Disneyland Paris. You could be anywhere really. However, it is spotless and it has a Villeroy and Boch shop. And it is handy. I bought new luggage. And while I sneered, I also loved the pristine streets – there was a woman walking around with a dustpan and brush even though smoking is prohibited so less of a problem with the ubiquitous cigarette butts than on the public street – and the “public” toilets were spotless. I bought a jacket. Made in North Macedonia. Surprising.
I was amused by their choice of poetry in the flowerbeds. It just seemed an odd choice for somewhere so privatised and controlled. Kind of the opposite of woodland paths.
The play area had signs in a combination of languages I have not previously seen together.
Mr. Waffle was away during the week so the children and I had to struggle on alone. On seeing the table laid for dinner for three, Daniel commented, “It’s fewer all the time, someday it will just be for one, huh?”. Thank you Daniel. The fact that this thought had already occurred to me did not make his remarks any more welcome.
On Wednesday afternoon every socket in the house went. I consulted the internet, I rang Mr. Waffle abroad, I put a pathetic message out on the neighbourhood whatsapp group and I called three electricians to no avail. The fridge was gone, the heating was gone, the internet was gone. I was slightly despairing. Then I rang my sister who is handy. She suggested a number of solutions and we tried them all. Ultimately, we were able to get the downstairs sockets and the heating working. I have never been so grateful to her in my life. Then an electrician rang back and agreed to come the next day.
When the electrician arrived he discovered that the problem was the immersion. I didn’t even know the immersion switch existed (we have a boiler and I have poked at its control panel but I didn’t really know we had an immersion). “How long has this been on for?” the electrician asked sternly. I had to confess that since I had never known of its existence, possibly since we moved into the house 10 years ago. “Have you never heard of turning off the immersion?” he asked sternly. I have, of course I have, I just didn’t understand we had one. The immersion has a totemic importance in Irish lives and if you have no idea what I am talking about, I suggest that you watch this comedy routine through to the end to see what I mean. Now reflect on the fact that our immersion has been on for 10 years.
The electrician doesn’t even reckon we need it with the boiler. He left with the sockets restored, â‚¬140 and my conviction that he inadvertently took my phone charger as well (he denies same but where is it otherwise?). The savings we will make on our electricity bill, particularly in the current climate, will more than pay for a new charger, I suppose.
I have learnt all Duolingo has to teach me in Ukrainian, so I had a first lesson. Much work to be done.
I heard a funny story that tells you a bit about Ireland. Because of the way entry to our higher education system works, in the past, certainly, and possibly still today, many high achievers put both medicine and law on their application forms. The logic was that you didn’t want to let your “points” for university entrance go to waste. Medicine was always – and remains – the hardest course to get into and law was the next hardest (though I think this is now less true than it used to be). Although these are very different disciplines, I suppose they do have in common that they are the gateways to the traditional professions. Anyway, this story is about a woman who was managing partner in a big law firm and went home to the west of Ireland for a funeral. One of the elderly mourners met her and trying to place her asked, “Are you the girl who didnâ€™t get into medicine?” She was.
Herself is in Sofia. I am still scarred by my last time in Sofia but she was not deterred. She has confirmed that she is alive and it is snowing.
At mass this morning, the parish priest in his sermon said that after escaping from slavery in Ireland and before coming back to convert us all, St. Patrick went to Tours. Surprising. Apparently he was a first cousin of St Martin of Tours on his mother’s side (this is what the priest said). Can this be true? Having been to both Tours (you will recall herself spent some time there a number of years ago) and the St. Patrick museum in Downpatrick, I cannot say that I am familiar with this story. We live and learn.
My sister and her partner are coming to visit us this afternoon. I was beyond appalled to get this message from her.
Herself had expressed an interest in a small, uncomfortable (though not unattractive) sofa which used to belong to my parents. I thought confidently that it could stay in my sister’s house until herself was ready to take it into her own home (ten years? never? who knows?). I reckoned without my sister. It is on its way. I suppose it can go into the Princess’s bedroom which is already host to two armchairs and a gossip chair and is rapidly turning into a lumber room. Sigh.
In any event, a very happy St. Patrick’s Day to you.