Scribbled on one page of A4 are 12 items - my list for today.
I’m not going to go through the rigours of intellectual and emotional decision making. I’m not going to sift them into important and urgent, important & not-urgent, urgent and not-important…
I’m avoiding thinking about the consequences of addressing and the consequences of not-addressing each one…
In other words, I’m going for the full Monty.
(1) Should I hold the spoon during Grace’s breakfast?
What is the best balance between order and chaos? Between neat and tidy feeding with all its satified smiles and continually having to pick the spoon up from the kitchen floor? To clean or not to clean the spoon every time? By what age has a child developed immunity from kitchen floor germs? Is there any difference between boy babies and girl babies in this respect? Can I afford to take yet another risk with her upbringing, given that her mother is much more risk averse than me? Isn’t it about time she started to take responsibility for feeding at least part of herself and moved on from simply holding the bottle?
(2) How do I celebrate her crawling?
It’s happened. At last she has moved forward. Propelled herself, vectorlike, with momentum. She moves through the fairly strewn cornucopia of carpet and laminated flooring that used to constitute impassible jungle. She’s made the leap, the transformation of quantity into quality, and metamorphosed into an auto. As soon as she figured out how to lower her centre of gravity, and to purchase leverage around her hip joint, she did it. By Jove she did it… (Shades of Shaw - knocking off one of the topics which didn’t get on to my list.) All that training which the wiffe gave her on how to crawl finally paid off. I know they say that the trouble begins now. I know that I’m meant to look back on the immobile phase with fond nostalgia. But, fuck it… I’m thrilled. I’m mad about the funny way she plonks a palm down and waddles forward after it. I am all for the child moving under her own steam. I’ll service her with more water whenever that’s needed. Because it won’t be long until she’s leaving home and looking after her own grandchildren. And I was there to see it. I wasn’t an absent father off working, off making a career in the foreign office. I wasn’t off on the golf course with the lads. I was on the carpet, in the kitchen, by the stairs. There is nothing so satisfying as being present. Amen.
(3) Should I publish my sister’s painting without her permission?
Do I have the right to put a photo of her exhibition up on my blog? Does the fact that I drove from Cork to Galway, stopping off in Limerick to pick up one brother, one other sister and one nephew, give me the right to show some of the photos I took in Galway Fisheries Tower on the mouth of the river Corrib. The artist is gone to WOMAD. She can’t be consulted. Anyway I’m beginning to feel delinquent. I’m too old to be totally responsible. At my age I see too many angles. I see that I should seek permission to photograph the paintings and photographs because otherwise I am taking the images that cost her so much effort, frustration and creativity as if they were mine to acquire. I see that I should seek permission before mentioning them: how do I know that she won’t mind this publicity? “Viscaux” - that’s the name she gave to an exhibition of images of slime (”excessive growth of algae and the detritus found in the rivers and lakelands of the west of Ireland” - her words). Anything I say will do violence to her conception and wish for perception. My intervention changes everything - like the butterfly that flaps its wings … But I am beginning to feel like doing exactly what I want to do and I am beginning to be willing to take the consequences. I have no employer who could fire me. I have some skill and experience of apologising. So let me tell you simply that if you go to Galway now, you will find the Galway Arts Festival in progress. Visual Art 2006 is a fine display of sculpture, painting, multi-media, photography, prints, installations and live performance art. I also saw a great piece by Frank Morzuck, a sculptural installation, a construction of thousands of strips of stick hung together as a cube on to which light displays and calls forth whatever emotions you have willing to well up and surprise you.
This is taking me a lot longer to write than I intended…
(4) What 200 words shall I write about my mother?
The family is producing a book. It is to be a book for the mother, on the mother. She is to be given it soon, during another party for her 80th. The artistic sister has volunteered to turn words into print and have the lot bound. I was hoping no one would do anything and that would let me off the hook. But the faraway cousins in Canada and Australasia have spoiled that. They have written in and now there has to be a book. Which means that I must write. I can easily write that she has been the best mother I’ve ever had, the number one as far as I’m concerned. In all my previous lives, I’ve never had one so challenging and supportive. But the stuff I find hard to write is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of her. The childhood wish that she would get sick and stay in bed for weeks, so that she would not be able to police her “Rules of the House”. I never wanted her to suffer. Simply to be silenced. To be immobilised, so that I could run round more freely and with less embarrassment at her involvement in the games of my friends. I wanted us to be able to play without the interference of her “Rules”. And I’ve never forgotten that I wished her bed-ridden. This is a woman about whom I also say: she has got better and better as a mother, as a person. The longer she has lived the more I’ve appreciated her. The more I am in awe of how she coped with five children under six, and a husband who spent time in intensive care, almost dying, in Dublin. She ran two businesses in Limerick: one family, one commerce. Once I start its not hard to go on and on. When I put pen to paper, it’ll be hard to reach a conclusion.
(5) What do walkers and the ESB (electricity supply company) have in common?
They both want to use farmers’ land. But walkers don’t leave a permanent blot on the landscape.
(6) How should I celebrate the IRA ceasefire that’s lasted a year?
With the hope that it’ll last a thousand years.
(7) How should I drown the sorrow of Landis?
As a cyclist, I cheered his victory in the Tour de France. I marvelled at his extraordinary recovery to victory. I loved him for it. Now I hear he’s a fraud. I think every rider in the Tour should be publicly tested on the morning of the start of the race, while they are by their bikes. Landis, my Landis, we Menonites have been let down. We have another veil of tears… [this is an oblique reference to the book found in the Irish bog, another story.]
(8) McDaid is going to stand in Donegal, really?
Isn’t he the man who drove while drunk? Who got into his car while totally pissed and was caught by the police? Why do the news reports not say: McDaid, the convicted drink driver, is going to stand. Donegal, after all, has a wonderful road safety record which it wants to preserve, doesn’t it?
(9) The tunnel leaks doesn’t it?
And once again the tunnel directors fail to get their story out into the public arena in good time. Again they are on the back foot. Obviously they read my last blog on this and chose to ignore my advice.
(10) The K-Club Greenkeepers may win their struggle?
They fight on, supported by a trade union. They want more than 10 euros an hour. I still suspect management and owners of the K-Club tried to kill the story by ignoring the problem and hoping it would go under. I still think the Greenkeepers should be paid top rate this year. They should be the best paid staff in all Irish golf courses for this year. They must be expected to add superlative value for the greatest match ever played in Ireland. Pay peanuts, get moneys…
(11) Who is winning in Lebanon?
We’ll not know for ages. I wonder whether Israel’s government has a reliable way of finding out how the battle is going? Is it possible that the armed forces of the state might have an interest in disguising how the war is going? Is it possible that Hizbullah is on its last legs? I’m reminded of a wonderful book “Oh Jerusalem”, all about the 1948 war which the Jews came so close to losing.
(12) RTE Radio 1 is going to start at 0730 during August?
This is disgusting. What will I do between 0700 and 0730? Lazy sods. Off on foreign holidays and running the programmes with skeleton staff no doubt. They should start at 0630 all through the autumn and winter. Some of us have lives to live.