The Covid Diaries 3

Dublin Daffodils

Featured on Sunday Miscellany on 15th March 2020. (It wsas also already published on this blog. You can listen back here https://www.rte.ie/radio/utils/share/radio1/21734384

March is the month of the Dublin daffodils.  All over the suburbs of our capital city, in gardens, on grass verges, on roundabouts and central medians of our dual carriageways, there are great swathes of brave daffodils who seem to smile at us, regardless of the battering they may be getting from the wind and the rain.  They do their level best to remain standing, nodding their heads and bringing a splash of sunny yellow to our increasingly grey urban environment.

My father and my brother both died in March – different Marchs and many years ago.  My brother died very suddenly and in the immediate aftermath of his death, my world went very dark.  I found myself marooned behind a black wall of grief and shock.  Everything had seemingly changed and I felt as if nothing would ever be the same again.  Then one morning, about a week after he died on St Patrick’s Day 1996, I looked out my window and for the first time I noticed a large clump of daffodils, standing together in their bright yellow clothes that seemed almost irreverent to me, in my deep mourning.  What right had they to be so cheerful?  

But as I stared at them, willing them to show me some respect, something inside me changed.  Because it was those daffodils, on a piece of parkland outside my house, that made me realise how important it was for me to hold onto hope; the hope that although all may ultimately be changed, all will be well, in time. 

March is often the month when winter feels at its longest.  We are regularly becalmed in the cold, the rain, the storms and sometimes even the snow when we are longing to move forward into the sunnier, warmer, gentler longer days of spring and summer.  Sometimes we can almost smell those days which we know should waiting somewhere in the wings but which tantalisingly remain beyond our grasp.  But the daffodils know better.  They are fearless about breaking through the hard, frosty ground in order to deliver their message, year after year after year.

Last Thursday as I drove along the N11, listening to the radio and trying to come to terms with the new reality in which we all find ourselves right now, the bouncing daffodils once again caught my eye and made me think.   

They made me think that this too will pass.  These days of uncertainty, when many of us are fearful of what the immediate future might hold, will pass.  The Dublin daffodils, stand together in groups to give each other mutual support.  They dare to wear their bright finery while we are still in the grip of cold winds.  Their whisper remains as it ever was.  They say that even when everything goes dark, when nothing looks as it was, when we are unsure as to how to carry on, we must hold onto hope. We must stand together and encourage each other.  And we must never lose the belief that better days are ahead.

So, when it seems like we are all paralysed by the current crisis, when it seems that our world has stopped and our lives have been forced into some kind of weird holding pattern, we need to see and to listen to the daffodils. They tell us that all is not as we might think.  Beyond our awareness, this planet we call home is still turning, so that day still follows night and in time it will also deliver our summer.  And so, while we support each other through these uncharted waters and do what we need to do to stay safe and well, we need to remember that this time will pass.  And all will be well.  The daffodils tell us so.   

Dublin Daffodils

This is the text of a my piece which was broadcast on RTE Radio One’s Sunday Miscellany on 15th March last. You can also listen back here

March is the month of the Dublin daffodils.  All over the suburbs of our capital city, in gardens, on grass verges, on roundabouts and central medians of our dual carriageways, there are great swathes of brave daffodils who seem to smile at us, regardless of the battering they may be getting from the wind and the rain.  They do their level best to remain standing, nodding their heads and bringing a splash of sunny yellow to our increasingly grey urban environment.

My father and my brother both died in March – different Marchs and many years ago.  My brother died very suddenly and in the immediate aftermath of his death, my world went very dark.  I found myself marooned behind a black wall of grief and shock.  Everything had seemingly changed and I felt as if nothing would ever be the same again.  Then one morning, about a week after he died on St Patrick’s Day 1996, I looked out my window and for the first time I noticed a large clump of daffodils, standing together in their bright yellow clothes that seemed almost irreverent to me, in my deep mourning.  What right had they to be so cheerful?  

But as I stared at them, willing them to show me some respect, something inside me changed.  Because it was those daffodils, on a piece of parkland outside my house, that made me realise how important it was for me to hold onto hope; the hope that although all may ultimately be changed, all will be well, in time. 

March is often the month when winter feels at its longest.  We are regularly becalmed in the cold, the rain, the storms and sometimes even the snow when we are longing to move forward into the sunnier, warmer, gentler longer days of spring and summer.  Sometimes we can almost smell those days which we know should waiting somewhere in the wings but which tantalisingly remain beyond our grasp.  But the daffodils know better.  They are fearless about breaking through the hard, frosty ground in order to deliver their message, year after year after year.

Last Thursday as I drove along the N11, listening to the radio and trying to come to terms with the new reality in which we all find ourselves right now, the bouncing daffodils once again caught my eye and made me think.   

They made me think that this too will pass.  These days of uncertainty, when many of us are fearful of what the immediate future might hold, will pass.  The Dublin daffodils, stand together in groups to give each other mutual support.  They dare to wear their bright finery while we are still in the grip of cold winds.  Their whisper remains as it ever was.  They say that even when everything goes dark, when nothing looks as it was, when we are unsure as to how to carry on, we must hold onto hope. We must stand together and encourage each other.  And we must never lose the belief that better days are ahead.

So, when it seems like we are all paralysed by the current crisis, when it seems that our world has stopped and our lives have been forced into some kind of weird holding pattern, we need to see and to listen to the daffodils. They tell us that all is not as we might think.  Beyond our awareness, this planet we call home is still turning, so that day still follows night and in time it will also deliver our summer.  And so, while we support each other through these uncharted waters and do what we need to do to stay safe and well, we need to remember that this time will pass.  And all will be well.  The daffodils tell us so.   

SNOW LESSONS

In the suburbs, leafy and otherwise, the only remaining evidence of The Beast from the East, Storm Emma and the little brother of the Beast are mounds of dirty, icy snow languishing in dark corners of footpaths and gardens.  Looking back, I can now reflect on the things I learned during this ‘time out’.  Little personal lessons perhaps, but ones that may come in handy if we continue to thrash our planet and so leave ourselves open to these extreme weather events in the future.

The first thing I learned is that heavy snowfall makes your garden glow at night.  I could see right to the hedge at the end of my garden in the darkness.  This light bounce coupled with the silence that a blanket of snow brings, made me feel safe.

The second thing I learned is that teenagers can watch ‘Friends’ literally all day, every day.  The theme tune to the series along with the canned laughter is a unique form of aural torture.  Joey, Rachel and the rest of them are now banned when I am at home.

Our inner child is only a heavy snowfall away.  My daughters, ages 19 and 17 were making snow angels and having snowball fights with neighbours (the oldest of whom is my age) at midnight one night.  Well, until another neighbour got a bit sassy about it.  So I guess we don’t all regress… but most of us do.

There is a wonderfully smug feeling remarking on which of your neighbours have bad insulation judging by how quickly the snow melts from their roof.  Of course, I was viewing from inside my own house and therefore had no idea how my roof was faring.  Although on Day Three of the ‘big snow’ our central heating sat down.  The fan gave up the ghost.  And so, to the uninformed, it must have looked like we had the best insulation on the road, when in reality the house was descending into the freezer.  So, there’s another lesson right there – get your boiler serviced every summer people.

If you are of a certain age, having no heating when it’s very cold outside is very nostalgic.  I regaled my teenagers (when they weren’t watching ‘Friends’) with tales growing up in a house where there was ice on the INSIDE of windows and where you see your breath when you woke up in the morning when it was cold.  The reality for us however, was that with open fires and the kindness of neighbours who supplied electric heaters, we didn’t suffer too much. One major positive of no heating when you live in a house of women (himself was away skiing during the Big Snow – oh yes, the jokes write themselves in my house) was that times spent in the shower were cut to a minimum.  A cold bathroom is a special kind of agony.  But than there were no rows about the almost always vacant bathroom either.

When I wasn’t staring out the front windows at the neighbours rooves, I was at the back windows, staring into the garden which suddenly was alive with wildlife.  Hungry wildlife.  Usually nocturnal, foxes visited during the day.  And the birds were desperate for a bite. First thing in the morning I donned my snow patrol (boom boom) outfit and crunched through the virgin snow to feed stray cats (there were two), foxes and birds.  We ran out of bird seed so the birds had a rather sophisticated diet of apple and diced cheddar cheese with some stale buns or cake. (A minor lesson is that I bake like a crazy woman when it’s snows).

I also attempted to keep some water unfrozen for my feathered friends by pouring hot water into the bird bath and then standing guard till it cooled, in case a little birdie accidently boiled itself to death. It was a serious job, looking after them all.  I felt like a proper farmer.

Domestic animals were a bigger problem though.  Well, in fairness it was just the cats that were an issue.  ‘Nice but dim’ as my mother calls our dog (whose real name is Dylan) loved the snow and bounded out every morning to do his business even though it must have resulted in a frozen ass.  And that’s the other great thing about a snow-covered garden.  Poo freezes very quickly and is easy to both spot and remove.

But I digress… the cats.  Refused to go out.  Point blank. They were unanimously horrified by the weather and so went on strike.  Being an old hand at this cat slave malarkey, I knew I had to get them over their reluctance before they decided to use some corner of the house as their new loo.  So once every few hours they got unceremoniously dumped outside, yep in the snow.  And they got the message.  Once they realised they weren’t going to die in the white stuff in the garden, they did their business in jig time and raced back indoors.

Between the domestic and wild animals, I was a busy woman.  Which is just as well, because the next truth is that I did no work.  Being confined to barracks I thought would have resulted in hundreds of thousands of words being written.  But no.  I drank lots of tea, stared out windows, read my book and ate chocolate.  And therein lies another truth.  Snow makes me crave chocolate; something I am normally not bothered about. Then disaster, we ran out of chocolate.  While others worried about bread (and readers, I bought a couple of those packet mixes for soda bread; and that’s my top ‘Big Snow’ tip right there – you’re welcome), we missed chocolate. Until, ahem, we broke into the Easter Eggs.  No, we’re not ashamed.

And that brings me onto the next and important lesson; which is that I LOVE my newspaper.  And not just because one (this one) prints my words regularly, but because my breakfast wasn’t right when I had no actual paper to study over my cereal.  Reading online isn’t the same.  It’s like books.  Kindles are just for holidays because you can’t bate holding a real book.  Now I know you can’t bate a newspaper either.

Talking of news, that was the other special torture we endured; the non-stop coverage on broadcast media.  I love talk radio but my God, the endless reports from all around the country got very tiresome.  TV it was even more tortuous by the appearance of well-known correspondents, frozen to the bone and NOT WEARING HATS as they, well, a lot of the time they kind of waffled, about snow here and snow there. I know RTE is under financial pressure but Dee, if you are reading this, maybe kit out the lads and lassies for next winter.  Big parkas and furry hats a la Will Goodbody who was the only reporter I saw who looked reasonably cosy in the snow.

So ten days post Big Snow I can say that I am a wiser woman.  I am a fatter woman.  I read some great books.  I did no work.  I realised just how much I love animals and how much fabulous wildlife is on our doorstep in suburban Dublin.  And I know that at the first mention of red alert next winter, I will stock up on a mountain of chocolate.

 

(Check out my twitter feed (go to media) to see some video of our visiting foxes. )

A very expensive jaunt on the LUAS

I have a salutary tale to tell you and one which should be of interest to anyone who uses public transport, especially Dublin’s Luas.

I am not a regular user of public transport, as I work mainly from home and my forays into the city are usually at off peak hours and so I often take the car, mainly because it’s usually quicker.

But occasionally I have cause to be in the city for a longer period which makes car parking charges prohibitive and so I opt to hop on the bus.

On the Friday 15th of September last, I was attending a conference in the Dean Hotel on Harcourt Street and was meeting some friends for lunch afterwards so I opted to take the Luas from my local stop at Carrickmines which has a park & ride facility.  I arrived at the carpark at about ten past eight in the morning and taking note of my bay number in order to pay for my parking made my way to the platform.  However, the system had changed and one now pays for parking and Luas ticket at the same time via the one ticket machine.

Anyway, I completed the transaction which cost me in total €7.70 – €5.70 for the return Luas ticket and €2 for all day parking.  I paid in cash and got change and my ticket which I put in my purse and off I went about my day.

On the return journey later that afternoon, an inspector arrived on the Luas and I duly produced my ticket from my purse.  He looked at it and declared it to be out of date. It couldn’t be” I said “I got it this morning”.  But sure enough, when I looked at the ticket it was for the 12th of September and was only a car parking one.

The inspector then delivered a speech which I am sure entertained the full carriage about the penalty of not being able to produce a correct ticket and how this was going to cost me €45 if I paid my fine immediately but how it would go up to €100 and then go to court where I could “tell the judge the story about the machine giving you a wrong ticket.”

I was mortified and furious.  I took the penalty notice and continued my journey.  The fine notice advised me that I could go online and appeal which I did the following Monday.  I explained I don’t use the Luas regularly and that I paid my fare and parking and I have no idea how I was issued a ticket for just parking and from three days earlier.  I was sure if they checked their machine they would see that I did indeed pay.

A few days later I received a letter completely rejecting my appeal and stating that if I didn’t pay my fine I may be summonsed to Dublin District Court where I could be fined up to €1,000.  The nice Mr Paddy Devereux (Security and Compliance Manager) then adds this stinger “our success rate for prosecutions similar to your case in the district courts for 2015 was 72%”.  Cases such as mine.  In other words, I was guilty.  There was no point in appealing.

I was gobsmacked.  I got back in touch and asked to see the CCTV footage from the platform which should show clearly me at the ticket machine.  Some days later I was invited in to view the footage which clearly shows me paying into the machine and taking a ticket.

But you see, dear reader, that’s not the point.  Luas aren’t as interested in stopping fare evasion as they are catching you out if by some weird reason you managed to pick up a three day old ticket from one of their machines.  Because the bye law is that you must be in possession of a correct ticket and if you are not, well the nice people at Luas couldn’t care less.  They have you.

I paid my fine – €45 because I couldn’t take the risk of losing €1,000 by taking the case the court.  But I feel angry that I have been bullied by a company that seems to have no regard for customer relations at all.

So, I am writing this as a warning to others.  Check your ticket.  Because the fact that you paid your fare and have video that seems to back that up makes no difference.  No wonder we prefer using our cars than public transport.

Imagine if it was like this all summer!

As I write it is ten am and the temperature in Dublin is 23 degrees.  Now we all know that in Ireland temperatures of 23 degrees are unusual at the best of times, but this is about the fourth day in a row that we have reached such scorching heat.  And in Ireland when the sun shines it changes everything.

Dublin sparkles and dazzles and looks like shiny, happy place.  In the countryside, our beautiful scenery which is so often clouded in, well cloud, reveals itself in all its stunning glory.  We have a blue roof to our world and it is much higher than the more usual grey one that smothers our spirit and strips away the colour from our lives.

But the good weather doesn’t only change the landscape it also changes the Irish psyche.  We may be northern Europeans but our souls are all Mediterranean.  I actually think at some stage Ireland floated north and got anchored beside Britain as opposed to once being joined to our (very definitely Northern European) neighbours.  This explains why we go a bit mad in the good weather.  In fact, could this be the reason why our Taoiseach got a bit too giddy on the steps of 10 Downing Street yesterday?  It was all that sunshine!  But I digress.

Anyway, it’s not surprising that many things are just so much better when the mercury rises and the sun shines.  I have made a list:

Ice Creams.  And I am referring specifically the old fashioned whipped stuff, dripping over a cone and topped with a 99.  We are experts at eating these particularly fabulous treats in the rain and the wind, but when the sun shines and the ice cream runs in rivulets over your fingers.  Oh man.  Nothing like it.

Bird song.  With doors and windows thrown open and clear blue skies our native birdies sing their very best songs.  And suddenly we become aware of how beautiful it is, especially in the evening as the light fades.

White wine.  Sunshine is so rare that its appearance along with some heat gives us all a huge urge to celebrate.  And that usually means alcohol, often before midday.  So that’s a given.  But white wine, served chilled to the max, really comes into its own in the heat.

Bare feet.  When I visited Australia, I was somewhat amazed at how acceptable it is to rock along to your local supermarket in your bare feet.  But now I know why.  The freedom of not wearing shoes in the heat is so delicious.  I can almost hear my feet sigh in deep contentment.

Long evenings.  Being able to sit in the garden as the sun slowly sinks but when there is still light in the sky at midnight is one of the few advantages of Ireland’s mistaken northerly location.  In this we score higher than our Southern neighbours when the sun shines.

Reading.  You can’t watch telly in the sun, but you can read and read and read.

Dining al fresco.  And I am not talking necessarily about BBQs but just being able to take your dinner outdoors really does make it taste better.

Getting out of dodge.  Much as I love Dublin, when we get a spell of good weather (dare I say heatwave?) I am consumed by an urge to throw a few things in a bag, the dog in the boot and hit the road for Connemara or West Cork.

Watching aircraft.  Ok, so bear with me here.  This is a bit niche.  But clear blue skies reveal just how busy the skies over Ireland are.  As I lie in the garden I am mesmerised by the streaks of vapour, ripping the blue, as aircraft sail 33,000 above me.  I may or may not have an app on my phone which allows me to identify each aircraft, the airline, its origin and destination to further enhance my wonder.  I know, I know.  I am a bit mortified.  But just a bit.

Anyway, imagine if the weather was like this all the time in summer?  Would we get used to it?   Would we lose the run of ourselves altogether?  A chance to find out would be indeed a fine thing.

Exams, Kittens and Epic Ireland

harley 2016

I recently found myself getting broody.  Not for another baby – oh no – but for a little ball of madness that is most kittens. Around the same time the stress levels in the house were noticeably heightened due to Junior Cert and fifth year house exams.  There was a lot of moaning and sighing and such like. So I had a brain wave.  “A kitten, we will foster a kitten” I announced to himself who is never averse to such notions as long as we don’t involve him in litter tray maintenance.  “It will help ease the stress and it will make us all happy”.  I should mention that we are experienced fosterers and we also already have four cats.

It is kitten season so the DSPCA had lots of kittens needing temporary minding until they were ready for rehoming so one afternoon I took delivery of a gorgeous bundle of madness we called Harley.  That evening I was very pleased with my own cleverality as I listened to my teenagers happily talking the special kitty language you need to coax a kitten down from the curtains.  Later that evening I found my 17year old lying on the sofa with Harley curled up and snuggled into her neck.  “Finished study” I enquired.  “Mmmmm” was the reply.

Then the campaign to keep Harley started.  I repeatedly explained that we were at ‘max cat’ with four and that impending holidays made keeping a baby cat impossible.  On day four of fostering, my 17 year-old announced that I wasn’t as clever as I thought, introducing a foster kitten as a de-stressor.  “Why’s that” I wondered.  “Because I am now twice as stressed. I love Harley and don’t want to give him back and I got way less done in the last few days because I am spending time with him.”

Leaving Cert is next year – I mightn’t bother with the fostering.

Anyway we are now all done.  Junior Cert Spanish last Tuesday completed the juggernaut of 11 actual exams and I have a relieved and tired 15-year-old.  So to mark the real beginning of summer myself and the two teenage daughters took off into town to meet himself for lunch and afterwards myself and the teens went to experience Epic Ireland at the CHQ Building in Dublin’s docklands.june 2016 me and girls car

Epic Ireland is located in the vaults of the CHQ building which was originally built as a bonded warehouse for tobacco and wine back in 1820 when it was known as Stack A.  It was redeveloped some years ago as a retail and food space but has really been revived with the recent opening of Epic Ireland which is a wonderfully imaginative and exciting addition to Dublin City’s attractions.

Us Irish love looking inward – wondering about ourselves, about what it is to be Irish and about what other nationalities think about us.  We have a very needy obsession for everyone to love us – something that is currently unfolding in France as our fans pursue some non-existent award for Best Football Fans in the Universe.  Don’t get me wrong – I love the joie de vivre that hordes of over exuberant and inebriated Irishmen are bringing to the Euros but I do wonder if the fact that our soccer team are a bit underwhelming and will be most likely playing their last match tomorrow isn’t something of a relief for the other nations who may be finding us Irish a bit like being in the company of a badly trained Labrador puppy who’s over enthusiasm can be very wearing after a while.

Anyway I digress.  What is wonderfully refreshing about Epic Ireland for me, as an Irishwoman, is that it is a look outward as opposed to inward.  It is a pragmatic gaze at how the world sees us through our diaspora, those who have left, not just hundreds of years ago but right up to today.

The experience is set over a number of different galleries and begins with a stunning silver piece of art depicting all the various modes of transport Irish people have used to leave, from coffin ships to huge modern long haul jet aircraft.  It is a stunning display and thepic ireland 1e linking of all emigrants from those fleeing famine to my own eldest daughter’s journey to Perth in Western Australia I found especially poignant.

The galleries tell stories of why people felt they had to leave and then it features some of those who went on to change our world, from Antarctic explorers to American Presidents to Irish Olympians and world famous musicians.

The dark side of Ireland which drove ‘unmarried mothers’ and gay men from this island and the babies who were illegally adopted is also told.  This is no sugar coated tourist centric exhibition. This is a grown up presentation which will appeal just as much to locals as to tourists.  Technology is used to best effect with some stunning displays and a huge amount of interactivity.

My girls bojune 2016 epic irelandth really enjoyed it thinking it “very cool” – even the one who hates history.

“Who was he?” I asked in front of a captioned photo of Ernest Shackleton.  “Oh he’s yer man who went to the Antarctic with Tom Crean” said the 15 year-old perfectly illustrating our penchant for navel gazing.  Although, I have to say, her answer made me proud.

A wall of Riverdance stopped them in their tracks and I realised they weren’t born when this phenomenon made Irish dancing sexy back in 1994.   “Riverdance” exclaimed the 17 year-old, “it always reminds me of Titanic”.  I am still working on the significance of that… although there probably isn’t one.

We were entertained, amused, informed and moved by Epic Ireland.  As we drove home crowds were heading to the Aviva Stadium to hear Rihanna – who is part of the diaspora too.  Her father is a descendent of the Irish slaves send to Barbados by that nice man, Mr Cromwell.

 

Epic Ireland is located in the CHQ Building in Dublin’s Docklands – just by the Financial Services Centre.  

Disclaimer : I was invited to visit Epic Ireland and so didn’t pay for our tickets.

 

‘E’ and me!

I was at a funeral recently at which I suddenly found myself embracing very old friends from a previous life in a previous century.  The weird feeling of being whizzed back to the 1980s only lasted a few minutes – just as long as it took to get over the deep laughter lines, baldness and rather mature (yes I am being kind) look we had all acquired, along with kids, partners, ex partners and mortgages.  But once old friends start talking, they morph back to their younger selves and their faces are again the ones I was so familiar with way back when we all worked together.

One of those I was most happy to see was my old partner in crime – a girlfriend with whom I had misspent many years in dark basements on Leeson Street over wildly overpriced bottles of plonk.

I first met E (not even her real initial but I have to protect her identity as she is a very successful business woman now) in the winter of 1982/3 (or it could have been 81/82) when were both working for different holiday companies in the Canary Islands.  We hit it off immediately and I can honestly say that E was the very best of craic – one of the most ‘up for it’ mad women I have ever had the pleasure of hanging out with. And I have had quite a coterie of mad women in my life thus far, let me tell you.  After that memorable winter together we both came back to Dublin where we continued to work in the travel business.

Dublin was a dull and dingy place in the mid 1980s but the few spots of colour that did exist is where we would generally be found; from pubs on Baggot Street to the Pink Elephant and the ubiquitous Leeson Street clubs out of which we eventually fell in the predawn hours to get into different taxis as we lived on opposite sides of the city.  E is the only person I know who never (and I mean never) had an uneventful journey home in the taxi.  I would share some of the stories but I am saving them for the book!  Suffice to say that the sure knowledge that the last bit of craic occurred without me meant that after a lie on in the morning after I couldn’t wait to phone her to hear what had unfolded.

As the other last century friends fell away outside the church in the weak Spring sunshine, me and E did the usual “we must catch up over lunch or maybe dinner soon” and she looked at me with something that was a cross between shame, embarrassment and fear.  “I don’t really drink anymore” she said apologetically.  “Oh my God, neither do I” I replied and expanded that I haven’t had a drink since Christmas Eve.

“I just couldn’t deal with the hangovers anymore” E said.

“Me neither.  I could lose two days to migraine like headaches that rendered me completely unable to operate”

“Right well, we still eat, right?  We can still meet up.”

And we will.

And I can’t wait. Because it wasn’t the drink that made E funny.  The funny was all hers.  It wasn’t the just fact that we were both often drunk that made world seemed like a brighter, madder place full of all kinds of possibilities for fun.  At least I don’t think it was.

It was the expectation of the madness that was the best.  The giddy anticipation of our nights out together.  Well that and the hysterical laughter that often rendered both of us incapable of speech.  I am so proud of each of the lines around my eyes and my mouth.  Sure they make me look old – especially first thing in the morning.  But they are a reminder of all the good times, all the laughs.  Of course there were some tears too but from this distance I remember more tears of laughter than sadness.  And quite a few of those lines I acquired from hanging out with E.

Soon we will sit in a café or restaurant in town, looking I am sure like two reasonably sensible middle aged women having a chat.  The only giveaway to our real selves will be the raucous laughter.  And that will be without the wine….  Well….  probably without wine… but you never know.