Some diary entries … December 1997 to February 1998

2/12/97 – Sean and I played Hover – I regained the high score then he got an even higher one. I think he’s clever to be able to play it so well, and it’s good for his spatial skills and hand–eye coordination. He’s playing the harmonica a lot, and wants to take lessons. He says it makes him feel good, as if he’s cuddling us, because we gave it to him. Pauline told him about people playing harmonicas in gaols etc., which impressed him … [later] She read children’s stories about Brahms and Tchaikovsky as boys to the kids’ Sean again was most impressed and wants to hear music by Brahms.

5/12/97 – Eleanor and Alan were here in the afternoon and Sean had a good time playing with Alan.

6/12/97 – Pauline took the kids to speech & drama … she took Sean to his swimming lesson. Sean and Susanna went to Olivia’s party in the afternoon … we all went to Sean’s football match. His team, Albion, beat Inter 2–1, which was nice for him after two defeats.

7/12/97 – Sean was a bit of a wreck. The pace of his activities and the excitement of Christmas seem to have got to him. So he is excitable and headstrong, and tearful when we reprimand him. He was talking to Pauline again about being worried in case he crashes into someone in the playground at school.

11/12/97 – We went to Sean’s Christmas show at his school, which was very good. Sean’s class did Sleeping Beauty, and Sean had one line – ‘kiss chasing’! It went on late, and in the end Susanna, very tired, cried inconsolably because we won nothing in the raffle.

12/12/97 – Sean gave us a note he’d written: ‘To Mummy and Daddy. I love you. You are my only hope to live. I would die without you.’

13/12/97 – In the afternoon Sean and I went to the green at the end of the road for football practice. Pauline drove us to Three Rock Rovers for his football match at 6 … Albion lost 2–0 to City, but Sean played much better than previously – he’s determined, and a good little tackler. At one point he caught the ball full in the face, which was sore, but didn’t make too much fuss about it.

14/12/97 – We all went out to get a Christmas tree from in front of Superquinn, and got a nice one. Sean and Susanna then decorated it once we’d put it up.

15/12/97 – Sean and Susanna were bold and made a mess with tinsel in the front room.

16/12/97 – Sean again claimed he was too ill to go to school – maybe he just needs a break.

18/12/97 – Pauline went to bed early with Sean, who had had a bad dream.

20/12/97 – [At my dad’s house] The kids played the piano and played chasing with Pauline in the garden, and I showed them round the house … We had a pleasant journey back to Dublin [on the train], playing ‘hangman’ and a game invented by Pauline where we took it in turns to add something to an originally blank face – eventually the page was full of all kinds of weird and wonderful things.

21/12/97 – Sean played with Michael all afternoon; they befriended a dog and played with it for ages.

22/12/97 – Sean shattered the Hover high score record.

23/12/97 – The kids are more excited than ever about Christmas, naturally.

24/12/97 – Sean and I walked to the veg shop and the shopping centre.

25/12/97 – The kids woke a few times during the night, and finally around 8. They were delighted with their presents, especially Sean with his Scalextric.

27/12/97 – [In Warrenpoint] I played football in the back garden with Sean and some of the McAloones – Sean had got a new football for Christmas.

4/1/98 – The kids (!) cooked spaghetti bolognaise, with quorn, for dinner.

5/1/98 – The kids, with Pauline’s help, cooked dinner again – they had steak, potatoes and broccoli; we had fish.

8/1/98 – Pauline is reading and working from Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain again, and drew the kids earlier as a ‘before’ exercise. Sean was very impressed, of course.

10/1/98 – In the afternoon we all went to Marley Park – it was a lovely day – and spent a few hours playing football and flying the kite.

11/1/98 – We all went to Stillorgan to see The Borrowers … The film was good – over Susanna’s head somewhat. Sean enjoyed it, I think. He and Susanna devised traps for putative borrowers later.

12/1/98 – Sean is awake late every night and hence is always tired.

14/1/98 – Sean is now allowed to read in our bed for half an hour, unknown to Susanna, but he was still awake till 10.

17/1/98 – Took Sean to his football (Albion were beaten 4–2 by Spurs).

18/1/98 – In the afternoon we all went into town and went to the Natural History Museum and McDonald’s.

22/1/98 – Mr Neary thinks Sean may have a problem with his visual recall; he’s to have a test to assess this.

23/1/98 – I did Sean’s spelling with him before he left, and he got all 22 right – he has the weekly test today. [Later] Sean got 17 out of 18 in his spelling test, so we were very pleased with that. He just needs to apply himself more consistently, but he’s only 6, after all.

24/1/98 … Pauline drove Sean and me to the football match. Albion lost 2–0 to City, but again he did quite well.

27/1/98 – When Pauline was putting Sean to bed he got very upset about having to change school – he loves St Attracta’s – and was crying for a couple of hours. Finally he said ‘In future you and Daddy make the decisions, and just tell me – I don’t want to have to decide anything.’

28/1/98 – When I asked Sean what he wanted for breakfast he said ‘You decide.’

30/1/98 – I collected Sean and AJ and brought them here – they played contentedly for the afternoon, and I gave them sausages and chips for dinner.

10/2/98 – Pauline and I had a meeting with Mr Neary and Ms Somerville at Sean’s school. Sean had done various tests with Ms Somerville, and had scored average or above in most of them – just in one where he had to reproduce sets of symbols on cards, using other cards, he had trouble. He seems to have difficulty distinguishing left-to-right from right-to-left, as evidenced by the ‘backwards’ letters in his writing. They both think he is a lovely little boy, and unusually innocent, which is true. He is also artistic, and good at maths.

13/2/98 – I went through Sean’s spellings with him for his spelling test.

14/2/98 – Christine and Pauline went out for a drink at 4.30; Liam drove the rest of us to Sean’s football (Albion lost 1–0 to Inter).

17/2/98 – Pauline’s birthday. Sean, Susanna and I had each made a card for her … [later] Maire took Sean and Susanna, as well as AJ and Andy, to the park; they all had a great time.

18/2/98 – Sean got another pack of Premier League stickers, which he’s collecting – they’re a craze at the moment.

19/2/98 – Sean played with Simon and Karl from his class.

21/2/98 – I bought a workbook for Susanna in Eason’s – she’s been complaining lately that Sean gets Premier League stickers and she gets nothing … we all went to Sean’s football – Albion were beaten 2–0 by Spurs.

22/2/98 – Pauline and the kids have been making a rocket … I took the kids to Marley Park and we played football.

25/2/98 – We lit a fire in the front room, egged on by Sean, and sat in there for the evening.

26/2/98 – Sean came into the bedroom with pieces of melted-down metal from bits of toy cars he’d put on the fire last night – he was very impressed with this, and with everything to do with the fire.

27/2/98 – Sean, when he got home from school, was very upset that we were going to take the black cat to the DSPCA – he’s very fond of it. So Pauline and I decided we could keep it, and it was allowed in the house. We would have to take it to a vet and get it checked out, but our efforts to get it in the cat basket were in vain, and it bit me, justifiably, for trying. So the idea of keeping it was abandoned, which is perhaps just as well, because I had started to sneeze and my eyes and nose were streaming.

28/2/98 – The morning passed away with the kids playing with the cat and so on … we all went to Sean’s football. Albion beat Rovers 1–0, with a goal from Cormac, their outstanding player. Unfortunately, he’ll be missing next week. Sean did well – he’s a good tackler. He was very pleased to win the match.



Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories

8 responses to “Some diary entries … December 1997 to February 1998

  1. Brendano – the story about Sean melting toy car parts in the fire (26/2/98) reminds me of a custom in Finland which coincidentally is followed on New Year Eve, usually after fireworks are let off.

    After the fireworks, families and friends follow the tradition of telling the future from the shapes taken by melted tin. Shops sell special ladles and horseshoe-shaped tin for this event. After melting the tin in the ladle over a flame, it is rapidly poured into a bucket of cold water. The resultant ‘sculpture’ may then determine some notion of the future! I was given a set of 3 -5 horseshoes in the early 80’s and adopted the custom for a couple of years but was so disgusted by the crude shapes that emerged in the bucket of water that I dared not imagine the future! Perhaps there is a knack in tossing the melted tin into the water bucket.

    PS I have a couple of comments on the harmonica but will post separately!

  2. But i should not have let my comment pass without saying how lovely your son and daughter look in that picture! Angelic and lovely to see at the close of the year. The two of them would make a great advert for vanilla ice-cream.

    • Thanks, PapaG … I wasn’t aware of that Finnish custom.

      Yes, the two of them look rather sweet here – a larger version of this photo hangs in a frame in our hall – but were of course well capable of mischief.

      Very best wishes for 2012 to you and your family. I hope you get everything you’re aiming for.

      • papaguinea

        Hoping you had a good day today, the 1st of the new year .I have a story from HMP Brixton this morning but will relate it tomorrow, together with two accordian stories. Thanks for your best wishes. I hope you too, with Pauline and Susannah, have an exciting year ahead and I look forward to hearing more of Sean, and those affected by him. Let the bells peel the changes. .

  3. The story from HMP Brixton on 1st Jan was that at the conclusion of the service, when all the inmates had returned to their ‘rooms’, a Prison Officer approached me whilst I remained at the keyboard and asked me if I could get him the words of two of the songs we had played and sung which were Light of the World by Tim Hughes, followed by How Deep the Father’s love for us by Stuart Townend. I said no problem and asked him for his name and where he worked in the prison. We began to chat. He said that whilst I was playing the music he was overcome with emotion (music and words) and that he felt like crying and wanted to come over to me and hug me! I said to him “you can hug me now.” And we hugged. It was a bit unusual but at my growing years I’m not really embarrassed or surprised at anything. I just go with the flow! hope to see the guy again this year.

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