For the first time in years, I didn’t post every day in November. I just forgot. It’s been busy back in the world of work.
Daniel’s shoulder is still causing problems. I’m not sure that he is entirely capable of managing his own medical affairs. One evening he had to call the doctor’s surgery – land line, this is relevant – about his shoulder. The surgery closes at 5.30 and at 5.27 he rang me (whatsapp free on the home wifi) to tell me he was out of credit. It was a race against time to top up his phone and inevitably when he rang at 5.31 he got the automated, “Did you expect us to pick up? You must be joking” message. Anyway he did manage to get through eventually and has been scheduled to be seen at a sports clinic where the next available appointment is July 2024. Fantastic.
Since I last wrote we have had riots in Dublin and a school stabbing so it hasn’t been the best of times for Dublin. On the night in question, I was out in Skerries in north County Dublin (subsequently revealed to be the best place to live in the world, honestly, nice and all but not entirely convinced) having dinner with a school friend. Poor old Michael texted me to check whether I was ok but, in fact, he was far closer to the action at home than I was in my North Dublin fastness. I subsequently heard that on the night of the riots various groups were trapped in their offices (my favourite, the Department of Education quiz night participants) and Trinity students had to stay overnight on campus.
We were flying to England to visit herself at the weekend and I was a bit worried about the boys and asked them not to go out in town while we were gone which felt like we were giving in to the rioters but there it was. Anyway, they were fine and there was no more rioting either. We had a good time in England except for the part of it we spent on trains. It had been suggested to us that flying to Birmingham would be a good way to travel. I cannot recommend Birmingham airport which is undergoing extensive renovations. I fell over comprehensively in a damp lift (water, I think) and lay on my back like a beetle waving its little legs in the air. All of the pre-recorded announcements had a hoover in the background. Unpleasant.
Nor can I recommend the train service which in my (admittedly limited) experience cancelled trains at short notice and had everyone squeezed on like sardines with no chance of getting to your reserved seat. However, Birmingham airport was redeemed by its lovely staff. Mr. Waffle lost his wedding ring and he just gave up. I, however, went back to security and a really kind man checked all of the security belts. He didn’t find it but gave me a form to fill in in case it turned up. Mr. Waffle had no faith in the form – to the extent that he just bought a new wedding ring – but he filled it in and they found the ring and sent it back to us. Very gratifying.
We had a nice time in England overall notwithstanding our transport trauma and it was very nice to see herself.
I have returned to tennis having finally got back in to the tennis club 18 months after I applied to rejoin. I was stiff all over after my first session. Let us hope things improve.
My sister is on the mend having been pretty unwell. I went to Cork to visit her to speed her recovery. I am not sure that it really helped but I had a pretty good time. It was nice to visit Cork at Christmas (all of December now apparently) and finally get to inspect this Marina market which I’ve been hearing so much (fine but, as my sister observed, probably not notiony enough for me). While I was in Cork, Dan’s team won the Championship. He was very pleased, notwithstanding his shoulder he’s been turning out a bit for training and matches (the physio thinks it’s ok, I hope it’s ok).
The Cork-Dublin train is Ireland’s best train line and when you travel you can shove your bike in the guard’s van. If, like an amateur, you get the Cork Dublin train that is not direct you have to stand on a chilly platform in Mallow, change trains and put up with this kind of bike storage.
Some of you have doubtless been wondering what was the source of the weird smell under the stairs which appeared around the time of my mother-in-law’s funeral. It went away but then Mr. Waffle disturbed the beast in its lair and it came back with renewed vigour but this time, Mr. Waffle managed to trace it to its source. It was a (mercifully wrapped) packet of cooked chicken pieces which had been purchased some months ago. They had lain forgotten in a rucksack in the interim waiting for their moment to shine.
A former colleague’s father died and I spent the days before the funeral humming and hawing about whether I ought to go. It was in rural Kilkenny which is just far enough out of Dublin that I would have to take a day off to attend but not so far that nobody could reasonably expect you to attend. I was definitely going, then I was definitely not going but in the end, I went. Having taken the day off work to go to the funeral, you might have thought I would arrive on time, you would be wrong. As with every funeral I have ever been to, I was glad I went afterwards; there was actually a big crowd of former colleagues there and we had a grand old chat. The burial was in the church yard which in my experience is quite unusual as most funerals seem to involve a trek to some graveyard in the back end of nowhere. And then there were sandwiches and tea (of course) in the adjacent church hall. A more elaborate lunch was being served in the town afterwards but the tea and sandwiches in the hall were great as they allowed me to sympathise in the warmth, and, you know, a cup of tea, not to be sneezed at.
I went to the Kildare Village outlet shopping centre on the way home. I despise it and all it stands for (the fake American vibe, the car dependency, the absence of the diversity you get in an actual city etc) but I also really like it. A difficult time for me. I see they have bike parking. A luxurious Sheffield stand it is not, but it is something, in fairness.
In one of the shops I attempted to buy something for €20. The shop assistant refused to take my money and said that I had to buy two things. Did I leave in a huff? I did not. I, somewhat reluctantly, picked up something else. What a wheeze.
We had Saint Nicolas in Dublin. He sent chocolate to herself in England. His feeling for weights and measures is not what it might be. Herself was, on the whole, pleased to get a kilo of chocolate delivered.
I had my Ukrainian lesson on December 6 and we talked about St. Nicolas in Ukraine. They have him, he comes on December 6 and he brings satsumas. On December 6, when my teacher was growing up (she’s about the same age as me so this would have been in the 70s), the classrooms all smelled of oranges as people illicitly peeled their satsumas under the desks. When I was growing up in Cork in the 70s we used to get a tray of satsumas for Christmas. The excitement in seeing them come into the house, the joy in eating satsumas whenever you wanted. In retrospect, I am very puzzled by this. It’s not like satsumas were not available all year round and I can’t imagine that my mother (very much officer in charge of food in our house) would have objected to us eating as many as we wanted at any time of year, unlike other Christmas treats which were rationed for obvious reasons. I have verified this with people my own age; the big tray of satsumas for Christmas seems to have been a treat for everyone in Ireland in the 70s. Baffling.
I’ve been Christmas lunching with work to beat the band. Exhausting but not unpleasant. I have had not one but two book club Christmas events (two bookclubs). One in my friend’s beautiful house in the suburbs where she had a magnificently decorated 12 foot tree in her drawing room (replacing the grand piano which normally sits there – question to self, where on earth did she put the grand piano?). Her son took a picture of us all in front of the tree and everyone looked amazing except me and I’m right in the middle. Sigh. Even my children felt the need to reassure me that I don’t really look like that. Eyes closed, mouth half open. My other bookclub met in the Westbury hotel for afternoon tea yesterday. Lovely and Christmassy and I kept my mouth closed for all the photos. Sadly, I looked a bit like Rudolf as I was dying with a cold and probably shouldn’t have gone and definitely should not have cycled home in the rain. I was so miserable last night, awake all night that I stayed home from work today. My new boss is lovely and, as I said to Mr. Waffle, “Since I started only about six weeks ago, I have taken every kind of leave, bereavement leave, holiday leave, leave to go to a funeral and now sick leave. He’ll think I’m incapable of putting in a full week.” I have looked at my work email over the course of the day but only in the most desultory way. All I need now is to tell him I’m applying for adoptive leave. I am not applying for adoptive leave.
I have had my hair cut – finally – first time in about 18 months, honestly, well overdue. I am delighted but I was truly unnerved to see how like my brother I looked in the hairdresser’s mirror with my hair cut short. Herself wants to know why I look so glum in all the selfies. Look, I feel foolish photographing myself, there was a time when this was not unusual, right?
Here I am looking slightly cheerier with herself.
Crocheted Christmas tree – an idea whose time has come?
My sister-in-law sent me this very pleasing picture of Hodge, Samuel Johnson’s cat in London.
We have got the best Christmas tree ever this year. I am delighted. I held off until this weekend just gone in the face of some opposition. We had to go to a new place because our regular vendor was out of trees in the size we wanted. What a blessing in disguise; a definitely superior tree was found after some tense moments that I would prefer not to speak about.
Everyone was there to decorate it (herself back from staying in a foundation in Munich where her friend is studying and which appears to be the most amazing place the Princess has ever stayed, I have rarely seen her so enthusiastic about anything and she’s polishing up her German again on foot of the visit so pleasing). And we had Christmas music playing in the background. I was beside myself with joy. Except for dying from my cold. It doesn’t really photograph well but you will have to take my word for it that the tree is magnifico.
More news as we get it.