Some diary entries … September to November 1999

1 September 1999

1/9/99 – The kids went back to school – we all got up a bit earlier than usual; I made their lunch. Sean is going into third class, and Susanna into senior infants … They got on fine, although Sean wasn’t too pleased to get some homework on his first day – he thinks his teacher is a bit silly. Susanna loves school. She gave an amusing account of how one junior infant had run out the door and attempted to run away.

3/9/99 – We all had a walk up the fields in the evening.

6/9/99 – Sean, Susanna and I watched a programme about African elephants. Sean was genuinely outraged at the poaching of them, and advocated stiff penalties for the poachers. He decided that he wants to be a zoologist rather than an inventor.

7/9/99 – After dinner all four of us went to Oldcastle, and the auction at Mullins’. There were two items Sean was interested in – a set of daggers and a First World War shell case – and he burst into tears each time they went beyond our budget.

9/9/99 – Pauline and I drank a glass of wine and watched a programme about India. Sean came in repeatedly and got very upset because he had ‘too much energy’ and couldn’t get to sleep – he was still awake when we were going to bed.

13/9/99 – We got the kids out to school – Sean brought in his fossils to show the class … Susanna, Tiger and I had a walk up the fields.

17/9/99 – When we were going to bed we realized that Tiger hadn’t been seen since he’d been up the fields with the kids and me. We went out with a torch, and Pauline waded across the stream to get him – he’d been afraid to cross, the stepping stones being submerged.

23/9/99 – We got the kids out to school – Sean had first entertained us by spelling tseanbhean to the accompaniment of a haka.

26/9/99 – We watched the All-Ireland Gaelic football final between Meath and Cork – Sean had to write a report on it as part of his homework. Meath, with the support of our entire family, won … Susanna lost a tooth for the first time, with a little help from me.

27/9/99 – We got the kids out to school. The tooth fairy had come and left £1 under Susanna’s pillow.

28/9/99 – A tooth of Sean had fallen out yesterday, but had been found on the floor this morning so the tooth fairy hadn’t come.

2/10/99 – Tiger hadn’t come home, so we were a bit concerned about him. I had a look up the fields … [later] Pauline, Sean and I went out to look for Tiger, and got pretty wet in the process. No luck … Pauline and Sean have gone to Oldcastle to see the staff in the auction rooms … Pauline and I had another fruitless search for Tiger.

3/10/99 – Still no sign of Tiger. Pauline went out for a paper, then the four of us went out to look for Tiger, getting soaked in the process. We went up through Pat and Maureen’s fields, which was interesting as I’d never been there before. Sean and I went to the top of the wooded hill, from which there’s a great view. Eight swans flew over our heads.

4/10/99 – We got Susanna out to school – Sean’s teacher was at a training course today, so we let him stay home although he could have sat doing worksheets at school. We gave him a timetable of things to do. After a while, he and Pauline took a walk up the road to look for Tiger, and found Tiger’s dead body by the side of the road – a sad discovery. It’s hard to believe that he’s dead – he was a lovely, lovable cat.

10/10/99 – Pauline and the kids got home around 8. They were excited to hear that they can be on RTE’s Disney Club (Billy and Michael have tickets). Sean is apparently well able to blow Grandad’s bugle, and wants to learn to play the trumpet. Susanna wants to learn the tin whistle.

15/10/99 – We got the kids out to school – unfortunately, we all got very cross with each other first, starting with a fight between Sean and Susanna when he doctored Pauline’s note to Nuala to read ‘Kick Susanna from the farthest classroom’ … [later] I rang home from Dublin to say sorry to Sean for shouting at him this morning.

16/10/99 – I bought four tin whistles in Walton’s. I bought an Ireland rugby jersey for Sean in O’Connell Street, and a book for Susanna in Hodges Figgis.

18/10/99 – Pauline and the kids baked a cake later, and we all practised on our tin whistles.

19/10/99 – Pauline took Sean to Virginia after school to get a haircut – he so charmed Frances and another woman with his chat that Frances gave him £1.

20/10/99 – Pauline and the kids got up at 6.40 – Sean and Susanna were excited about their trip to Dublin to appear on The Disney Club … [later] Pauline and the kids arrived home – the kids had had a great time at The Disney Club, and told me all about it. It was the episode to be broadcast at Hallowe’en, so they had their faces painted ghoulishly … Sean and I watched Ireland play Argentina in the Rugby World Cup – Ireland lost and are out of the competition.

21/10/99 – Sean and Susanna drew very good pictures for a Den 2 competition – a puffin and a tiger, respectively.

22/10/99 – Pauline asked the man beside the school for some ostrich eggs, and went into the field with the ostrich and the horse to get three of them. (A nurse in Craigavon Hospital told Peter that she does Fabergé eggs, and would love to get some ostrich eggs.)

28/10/99 – All four of us sang ‘Ticket to Ride’ numerous times, with dances from Susanna and Sean … in the post Sean had received a pass for four to a special Den 2 screening of The Rugrats Movie in Dublin on Saturday – he had entered a phone-in competition.

30/10/99 – Pauline and the kids headed to the Liffey Valley Centre for The Rugrats Movie.

31/10/99 – I set the clock for 8.45, and we got up to watch The Disney Club … We saw quite a lot of Sean and Susanna on screen, and there was an amusing interview of Sean by Mary Kingston, in which Sean, to her consternation, refused to admit that the Hallowe’en ‘blood’ on his face was only make-up.

6/11/99 – I typed up the latest instalment of Sean’s ‘Long John Silver’ story (I had typed up the previous instalment, and a ‘boogie man’ story by Susanna, last night).

9/11/99 – Sean, having had a keyboard lesson today, did some practice; we all played the tin whistles.

10/11/99 – We watched some TV – Sean saw a programme on black mamba snakes that he described as ‘perfect’. He was relieved that they have no school tomorrow – he says he hates school. What he hates about it is the lack of freedom.

13/11/99 – Pauric rang in the morning and arranged to take Sean with Mark and Shane to a football tournament in Cavan … [later] Pauric dropped Sean home. He’d had a great afternoon – watching football in Cavan, eating chips in the Lakeside Manor, and playing at Mark’s. He told us a funny story about mixing Coke and 7-up and pretending to have whiskey in his glass, to the horror of a woman. Sean is a trickster.

26/11/99 – We went to routine meetings with Sean and Susanna’s teachers at the school. Susanna is doing well in every respect; Sean inclined to talk in class and a bit sloppy with his writing and spelling, otherwise fine.

28/11/99 – One of Susanna’s top front teeth came out, much to her excitement.

20/11/99 – Sean hurt his neck while wrestling with Pauline, and had been complaining of twinges in it since a playground incident ages ago, so Pauline was a bit worried about him. I played chess with Sean and Susanna – I’ve been playing with Sean a lot lately.

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11 Comments

Filed under Ireland, Memories

11 responses to “Some diary entries … September to November 1999

  1. Metin YILMAZ

    Hello Brendan, perfect diary, my very very best wishes to you and your family, I hope you and yours are well..All the Best,

  2. Cymbeline

    Hello Brendano. I have read this diary extract several times. As ever, there are all sorts of themes running like fast water beneath the simple words. Here I see an animal leitmotif : African elephants, eight flying swans, black mamba snakes, ostriches, a horse, and Tiger the cat. It is like flicking fast through a children’s animal album. Life and loss lie behind the talk of the animals; huge ostrich eggs and the sad loss of Tiger. There are fields, fossils, fairies and lost teeth too. These themes fly above us like the swans, and they are imprinted in the entrails of the ground upon which we walk. There are stepping stones too.

    And there is the music behind it all. Always the music. There is always music in what you write; tin whistles, song, stories, dance and keyboards, and the music of a beautiful boy who once complained that he could not sleep for he had too much energy.

    • Hello Cymbeline … thanks for this. It’s a lovely commentary on the diary entries, and you see things that I don’t till you point them out.

      We just got back from Dublin, having spent last night there. Had a great time … stayed in a hotel in the centre and strolled about in the glorious sunshine today; met Susanna and had a good lunch and a long walk on a pier.

      Went to see Christy Moore and Declan Sinnott in concert last night … two musicians whom I first saw in the 1970s. We had great seats, purely by luck, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

      One of the comments you just left was the 5000th on my blog (not counting spam and other garbage).

      • Cymbeline

        I’m glad you had a great time in Dublin and that the weather was good. I must visit Dublin when it is warm and sunny. I told you about my freezing day trip from Holyhead. I’m a tough old bird, but the icy cold and my skimpy clothing really did spoil the day for me. Never been so cold in all my life.

        I was thinking about Tiger the cat. I had never heard of a cat going for a country walk with people before. Quite extraordinary. None of the cats I have known have ever done that.

        5000th comment? I should get a lounge suite and cuddly toy for that.

        • Will try to source a suitable cuddly toy. ‘The Road to God Knows Where’ is too mean to buy a lounge suite.

          Tiger and our other cat, Itsy, used to go up the fields with us regularly (I’ll get to Itsy as I go back through the months). The cattle hated them, and chased them. Hence they would sometimes run up a tree and stay there till it was dark.

          Fluffy and (another) Tiger sometimes used to walk down the road with us after we moved into this house.

        • Cymbeline

          Shades of Dick Whittington.

        • Indeed.

          We’ve been recording ‘Come Back and See Me’ with some friends … good fun. Will put it on YouTube soon.

      • Cymbeline

        ‘Come back and see me’ affected me greatly. The two voices.

        I listened to it at work, and I never allow my private life into my professional life as a rule.

  3. Cymbeline

    The music is a dragonfly.

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