Monday, 16 October 2017

On best laid plans...

Best laid plans? Sometimes life gets in the way

IT ALWAYS HAPPENS. The moment I start to take things for granted, making too many plans, life trips me up.

September hurtles along at whip-lash speed. Weeks racing towards weekends that are so busy, I find myself longing for Monday morning routine.

The last weekend of the month is looking no different. Yet, by early Friday afternoon, I begin to suspect it will be. For me, at least.

The Irish Debs is an excuse for our teenagers to dress up and party

The timing is laughable. The Middle One is invited to a Debs. For anyone not familiar with the term, the Debutante Ball is something we inherited from our English neighbours. Originally, upper class young ladies were 'introduced' to society during a season of formal social engagements.

But the Irish Debs - although still a graduate ball for all school leavers - is an excuse for our teenagers to dress up and party.

I have promised to drive her to The Boy's house early that evening. From there, his parents will take them both to the Debs venue.

I blame the peculiar feeling in my tummy, on the fact that by mid afternoon, there is no sign of her and she is uncontactable. She arrives home from college with barely an hour to spare.

     'Bus didn't come and phone's out of battery,' she says, struggling in and racing upstairs to the shower. I sit, leaning my head against a cool wall, as she begins her transformation.

I pull in, open the car door and vomit all over the road

By the time we hit the road - in rush hour traffic - the peculiar feeling in my tummy has become out-and-out nausea. Unable to speak, I roll down the window and concentrate on breathing.

     'Mum, you look awful.'
I glance at her: long white dress with sparkly bodice, shiny hair, clear, worried eyes.
     'You look great.'

It's all I can manage. We check a map and find The Boy's road. It's her first time here. I pull in, open the car door and vomit all over the road. Sweaty and shaking, I point wordlessly at the glove box.

In a 1 to 10 for first impressions, I probably score a minus 3

The Middle One grabs some tissues and I wipe my mouth, then clean the spatters off the car door. It's not pretty. I find some mints, knowing that I will be OK for a while.

The Boy's mother greets us at the door, and The Middle One introduces herself.
     'Come in.' She smiles at us both. I have a sudden vision of myself throwing up over beautiful wooden floors. I apologise, say goodbye to The Middle One, thank the mother and leave. In a 1 to 10 for first impressions, I probably score a minus 3.

I make it home. Barely. Over the next day and a half, I am vaguely aware of life going on around me. By now, I have a selfish three-way relationship with my bed, a bottle of flat 7-UP and my miniscule en-suite bathroom.

I finally re-emerge, pale, tired, incredibly thirsty and a few pounds lighter. There's always an upside.

In this country, we blame everything on the weather

'It's the weather,' my mother says, when I tell her. 'We need a cold snap: it'll kill all those bugs.' This is followed by a query about everyone else - she's worried it might run through the house.

That won't happen, I think. In another life, my mother would have been a nurse, and I learned from the best. I strip the sheets from the bed and throw them in a hot wash. I sterilise the bathroom. I even remember to sterilise the car door.

In this country, we blame everything on the weather. We're obsessed with it. Everything from frizzy hair to asthma attacks can - with some truth - be pinned on our damp climate. And we had a strange September. Hot, then cold, then mild and drizzly.

Now it's October. Ahead of a storm, we've had a warm, humid weekend. Two days of t-shirts and flip-flops. Sun and dark skies: things feel out of kilter.

Today, the whole country is being hit by Storm Ophelia. Families have stocked up on food, battened down the hatches, schools and colleges all over the country are closed for the day. 

Cold and drizzle? We're Irish, lads. And we know how to manage that.

This is a whole other mess of problems.


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