1/3/98 – I sat in Bewley’s for quite a long time, drinking coffee, and overheard a sad conversation – a father and his son, whose other son/brother is missing, were getting details of this man’s last known movements from his girlfriend … [later] While Susanna was in the bath this morning she said to Pauline ‘I think I’ll write a film’. Pauline said ‘What will you call it?’, and Susanna replied ‘Dirty Water’.
7/3/98 – Took Sean to his football – without Cormac, Albion never had much of a chance, and they lost 5–0 to Villa.
8/3/98 – I took Sean and Susanna to Andy’s party … They had done their own cards. Sean’s showed his surreal sense of humour. A man eating at a table says ‘I love cabbage – but there’s two fish in the room.’ One lifts a flap to reveal two large kissing fish.
9/3/98 – I collected Sean from school – all the way home he related the story of St Patrick to me, Mr Neary having told it in great detail. ‘Did you know that he was chased down the road by pirates?’, etc.
10/3/98 – Pauline rang the ISPCA, who will be coming to collect the cat – before the kids get home, we hope … This came to pass – a man came and put the cat, which we’d allowed into the house, into a cat basket and took it away. He said it was the largest female he’d seen. We concocted a story for Sean about the owner coming to collect it, having seen our poster in the supermarket … I collected Sean, and explained about the cat – he was quite sad, though he accepted that our account of what had happened was the best thing. Later, in bed, he cried about it – he was very attached to the cat.
11/3/98 – Pauline and the kids had a ‘picnic’ in the afternoon and watched Lightning – The White Stallion.
17/3/98 – Sean and Peter had ‘invented’ and constructed a sturdy buggy-type thing, quite large and battery-powered, of which Sean was very proud. He and I stuck stickers in his Premier League album, and Pauline put them to bed.
18/3/98 – Sean and I watched the Champions League match between Man Utd and Monaco – a 1–1 draw; Monaco won on away goals. Sean was allowed to stay up late for it, and was disappointed that United went out. I wasn’t, but pretended to be.
21/3/98 – I watched the Ireland–Wales rugby match with Sean. Frustrating – Ireland should have won, but lost 21–30 … Pauline, Sean and Susanna were at Sean’s football – Albion won 1–0.
22/3/98 – We got ready, and left for Virginia around 11.45. We had a pleasant journey, although the ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’ tape got mangled in the machine, to Susanna’s dismay … [met Pauline’s parents and went to our site] … Sean in particular had a great time playing – he’d brought his ‘robot’, ‘Genesis’, which was much admired.
28/3/98 – Pauline found out that the cat has found a good home – it and another cat were adopted, and now live in an apartment.
31/3/98 – Billy was here with Sean, and their classmate Michael was here for a while … I took Billy and Sean to the end of the road to play football.
1/4/98 – Sean and I watched the whole of Juventus v. Monaco; Sean, being very much a Monaco fan, was disappointed with the 4–1 result.
8/4/98 – A sad day, though a successful one – my last visit to the old house [where I grew up]; I said goodbye to each of the rooms.
10/4/98 – The weather was bitterly cold, and it snowed for a while (‘It’s a miracle!’, Sean said).
12/4/98 – Pauline took the kids to see Flubber in Stillorgan.
14/4/98 – Sean and I watched a football match – Lazio v. Atletico Madrid.
15/4/98 – Sean and I watched football again – I was pleased to see Real Madrid overcome Borussia Dortmund to get to the Champions League final.
18/4/98 – Pauline took the kids to Stillorgan; Sean was going to a birthday party in the Quasar place … [later] Pauline took Billy and Sean to the playing fields near Nutgrove but the football was cancelled – I took them to the end of the road for a while.
19/4/98 – The four of us left for the Premier League swap shop at the Point, where we did a lot of swapping and sticking of stickers.
22/4/98 – Sean walked home from school by himself for the first time.
23/4/98 – Sean and Susanna both had a visit to the dentist at the Health Centre in the afternoon (their first) – both were given clean bills of dental health.
27/4/98 – Sean’s school is off to the National Concert Hall … Sean had a good time at the concert hall – he particularly likes the brass instruments, and would like to learn how to play the trumpet. Susanna wants to learn the drums.
28/4/98 – Susanna and I walked to Sean’s school and collected him.
29/4/98 – I walked to Dundrum and back – bought The Twits for Sean and some cat stickers for Susanna. Later helped Susanna to construct her own sticker book.
2/5/98 – Pauline took Sean to his football (Albion lost on a penalty shoot-out).
4/5/98 – Pauline took the kids for a picnic to Knocksink – they were meeting up with June and the kids.
5/5/98 – Pauline went through the How Your Body Works book with Sean, and explained about sexual intercourse, which appeared not to faze him at all. He asked Pauline if she had known about it before she read the book. When she and he went to get Susanna he seemed very shy, wanting to avoid kids in the playground and so on, which is a bit strange. Sean can be a conundrum … [later] Sean and I did some football practice at the end of the road until it started to rain.
6/5/98 – Sean had to learn a poem off by heart for the first time – I now know it off by heart myself – ‘Rufty and Tufty were two little elves/Who lived in a hollow oak tree.’ Susanna caused amusement by rendering ‘He could make a fine cake without weighing amounts’ as ‘without weighing a mouse’.
9/5/98 – Sean’s last, eagerly awaited football match was at 6. Albion played a 0–0 draw with Rovers and Sean played well, recent practice having paid off. He nearly scored a goal. Then there was a penalty shoot-out, which Albion won 5–3 although Sean’s penalty was saved. Pauline and I were disappointed, as he would have been so thrilled to score. Winners and losers got medals, so he was thrilled with that and slept with it under his pillow.
11/5/98 – Sean walked home by himself, and wants to do it every day.
13/5/98 – Sarah and Louise called to the door and said that Sean had been knocked down by a car at the end of the road. I said that it must be some other little boy; Sean was in the house. I saw a man carrying a little boy in his arms, thought that it did look a bit like Sean, and sat back down to dinner. Then Pauline realized that Sean wasn’t in the house after all, and the man arrived at the gate carrying him, with several other people accompanying them. Sean’s hand was bleeding, but he said he was all right and it was immediately obvious that there wasn’t very much wrong with him. His bike was pretty wrecked – he’d been crossing the road on it, something he’s only been allowed to do since Sunday. The young woman who’d been driving the car was very upset and gave us her name and phone number. She said something about panicking and pressing the wrong pedal. We put Sean in the bath – he had a small but deep cut on his hip and other scratches and potential bruises – and Pauline rang the woman to say that Sean was all right. It sounds like it wasn’t his fault – he says he was very careful and was mounting the kerb when the car hit him. He was amazed at having survived being knocked down, and later told us how he had laughed as he was flying through the air. He and I watched the Chelsea–Stuttgart ECWC final, which Chelsea won 1–0.
14/5/98 – Sean had said just after the accident that he didn’t want to school today, and so it was – he was bruised and sore, and we let him stay at home … Pauline did some writing with Sean.
15/5/98 – Sean went to school, to find himself a cause célèbre, which pleased him … [later] I took Sean to the playing fields and we played football.
16/5/98 – A beautiful white dove landed on our roof and has been there for hours – Pauline and I take this as an omen … I did some work on the ISS book, and made friends with the dove – I fed it muesli and it even came into the house. Now as I sit in the office it sits at my window and looks in.
18/5/98 – Sean generally walks as far as Matthew’s house with Matthew and then home on his own with his heavy schoolbag – I walked part of the way with him today … The woman who had knocked Sean down called to see how he was.
19/5/98 – I took Sean to the end of the road to play football; we met a boy he knows from St Attracta’s who played too.
20/5/98 – Sean and I watched Real Madrid beat Juventus 1–0 in the European Cup final.
21/5/98 – Went out to meet Sean round the corner on his way home from school, as is now my habit. We all walked to Marley Park later and ran around a bit – it was a lovely evening.
30/5/98 – Pauline drove to Blackrock Market, dropping off the kids and me at Marley Park. We walked to the playground and they played for the best part of an hour, then they had a go on the model railway and we walked home.
31/5/98 – Watched some TV, including a rather scary documentary on alien abductions. Went to bed expecting to be abducted by aliens.
20 responses to “Some diary entries … March to May 1998”
Andy’s party … “They had done their own cards. Sean’s showed his surreal sense of humour. A man eating at a table says ‘I love cabbage – but there’s two fish in the room.’ One lifts a flap to reveal two large kissing fish.”
Yes Brendano, I guess the above illustration shows the wide expanse of Sean’s imagination, harlequinesque and colourful. And very funny – the kind of thing I would have expected Rene Magritte to have done as a small boy, and the sort of thing I would like to aspire to do!
Sean’s observation that “It’s a miracle” on that cold snow snap, is lovely and reminds me of Cymbeline’s thoughts on seeing the hailstones lash down on the pavement outside the restaurant. Yes, beautiful.
I could picture the scene, a small boy being carried and you sitting back to enjoy dinner. Now that IS surreal, and spooky. Thank God Sean was not seriously hurt. I think you have been very generous to the driver of the car who admitted possibly that she had panicked and pressed the wrong pedal, but in so doing we might never know whether that action made worse or lessened the impact. I think it is Sean all over that it is said he was laughing as he was flying through the air!
In my late twenties I was on the back of a motor scooter as a passenger travelling through the New Forest. My brother was behind us on a motorbike. We were travelling at speed when we approached an unexpected corner. Cool as a cucumber my driver said “Hang on, we’re coming off” knowing there was no way he could navigate the tight bend. I remember branches brushing my face and next thing I knew we were in a ditch, very much a trench, with the scooter above us. None of us were hurt. My brother traversed the bend on his motorbike and was amazed NOT to see us in front of him, as if we had disappeared. He rode back to the bend and could hear my laughing from the woods, where I still lay in the ditch! (we were later washed and bandaged up
by a neighbour who had kindly come out of her cottage to see what was going on.
Finally I wonder what you thought the omen was on sight of the white dove on the car and I guess this was soon after Sean’s lucky escape. Just after I had moved into my present house/flat I was shocked one morning to see a white dove in the patio. Alarmed as he/she seemed so friendly, so unwilling to fly away. I too fed the bird for a day or two though after that I never saw the bird again. I presumed it may have been a pet that had escaped. But I read the bird’s presence as a sign of peace, perhaps from my parents (who had died) a sign of blessing on my new surrounds. Who knows?
Oh last but not least – Susannah. ‘He could make a fine cake without weighing a mouse.’ I love it.
Thanks for an entertaining comment, PapaG. Great story about the scooter.
At the time of the dove’s visit we were trying to sell our house and organize our move to the country, so we may have taken it as a good omen in this regard. We’ve never been reluctant to see good omens. 🙂 Interesting that you had a visit from one too.
We once knew some children who were very tearful about the fact that their cat had disappeared. Shortly afterwards, my father found their cat, dead on the side of the road. It had been run over and he quietly buried it. He thought that it would be better for the children not to see their beloved cat in that mangled state. He thought that it would be better for them to think that the cat had simply walked off to have a nice life in another place.
Some days later, he saw the children joyfully hugging their cat which had finally decided to come home.
Hello Cymbeline. So, he buried the wrong cat? The other options are that they welcomed the wrong cat or the cat rose from the dead (increasingly unlikely).
It reminds me of a story I may have told before … supposedly true, but I can’t remember where I heard it.
A man driving through the countryside accidentally hit an old woman’s dog. On finding that it was in a very bad state, he hit it on the head with a shovel to put it out of its misery.
While driving in the same area some time later, he noticed the woman out walking the dog … which had a big bandage on its head.
When I was young and pregnant with my first child, I was invited to a soirée in the countryside around Toulouse. I was too poor to own a car so I said that I would not be able to go. The man who invited me asked me if I had something against cars.I said no, that I just did not own one. He said that he would pick me up, which he did.
The dinner party took place in a beautiful countryside house, and we were fed the finest foie gras and the finest wines. Towards the end of the meal, the host began to talk of his wife. We went to sit on the chairs and sofas around a blazing log fire.
He announced that it was the anniversary of the death of his wife, and that she had died in the sofa upon which I was sitting. She had been knocked over by a car and brought in to lie on the sofa, where she breathed her last breath.
That was very dramatic. Was the dinner party to commemorate the wife?
Yes, obviously, but we the guests did not know this at the outset. We were simply invited for dinner. It was not dramatic; more like a story unfolding as the night went on.
None of the guests were family or close friends and his young daughter was sleeping at a friend’s house. He must not have wanted her to be there that night. She was about twelve I think. We all knew that he had recently been widowed though as we had all met on a language course. I taught the course. His employers had sent him on the course as he was grieving and unable to do his job properly at Airbus. Sending him on the course was a kind way of keeping him on but without putting him under pressure, and giving him time to mourn.
He was seeking comfort in semi-strangers, I think. I hope he found it.
Interesting story … it would be a good basis for a film or short story (like many of yours).
I’m sure he did find some comfort in his guests.
His way of seeking some comfort involved extraordinary generosity of spirit. His wife’s family had come from Normandy originally, with barrels of cherished Calvados. He gave us some of this special, family, hundred-year-old Calvados to taste. A great privilege and a great kindness.
100 years old … amazing. Did it taste good?
He was clearly a nice man.
I was pregnant, but I would never have made that insanely rude gesture of covering my glass with my hand – not for a glass like that. I had a little, and yes it must have been wonderful although I cannot remember the precise taste.
Yes, he was a nice man. The whole evening was to do with giving to other people, to people he hardly knew.
And 23 years later, I am talking about the kindness that man displayed in his grief. Kindness lasts.
He told us that his wife was a wonderful woman and that he loved her. She was a doctor specialized in eyes, and he showed us all her medical books.
I am sure that he would like his love for his wife to be remembered most of all. It was his love for her that created the kindness he showed to us that night.
P.S. It is impossible for people to be abducted by aliens. Love does not allow it.
I’ll be safe so.
And it’s great that you do remember, and that you’re talking about it. One of these magical encounters, like a story you told me about a journey from Bordeaux to Nantes.
I agree that small acts of kindness can have a life of their own.
Yes, things can have a life of their own.