Some diary entries … September to November 1997

1/9/97 – Sean went back to school. Last night in bed he had been worried that he wouldn’t be able to read and write well enough, and he practised a bit of reading this morning. He’s going into first class … [later] Sean’s day at school went well – he needn’t have worried, he said … [later] in what is to be a nightly occurrence, the four of us sat down at the table for 10 or 15 minutes and the kids did some drawing, writing and (in Sean’s case) reading.

2/9/97 – Pauline left Sean to school – he’s got all his old enthusiasm for going.

3/9/97 – Sean had another good day at school.

4/9/97 – Pauline picked Sean up from school around 12, and drove the kids to Malva’s place for the afternoon, which is in the middle of the countryside near where Kildare, Wicklow and Carlow meet … [they] had a great day – the countryside was lovely; they saw a lot of animals; held a kitten, met a pig walking down the road and had to shoo it into a field, etc.

5/9/97 – The kids were up quite late – Sean did a lot of drawing.

6/9/97 – Pauline took Sean to his swimming lesson.

9/9/97 – Did our family time, incorporating Sean’s homework. His reading is improving a lot, and his writing is coming on too.

11/9/97 – I took Sean’s coat to his school – he and Matthew are being allowed to walk to Matthew’s house on their own, and Sean dismissed both me and the coat.

12/9/97 – Pauline and the kids ‘splatter painted’ the kids’ shelving unit.

13/9/97 – I read the paper and then took Sean and Susanna to town on the bus. We got off at Westland Row and walked across the road, then got a DART to Sandymount, where Sean had his swimming lesson and Susanna and I watched.

15/9/97 – Pauline collected Sean from school at 2.30 (typically, he loves having to stay the extra hour). She also brought Billy here, and the two boys played with the black-and-white cat in the front garden.

20/9/97 – We got up pretty early and got ready to go house-viewing in Meath. Our first appointment was at 10.30 in Wilkinstown. We weren’t too impressed with the house, and Sean and Susanna weren’t too impressed with the big dog, which had to be tied up.

22/9/97 – As soon as the kids woke up they were playing in the hammock that Pauline had put up between their beds.

1/10/97 – We did ‘homework’ as usual – Sean has a reading test tomorrow and is very keen to do well in it.

7/10/97 – Sean had got 58/80 in his word test the other day, and apparently had had difficulty with a lot of the words he got right, so Pauline had a word with Mr Neary. Mr Neary said that it’s not yet time to consider remedial teaching for Sean – this upset Pauline, who has always felt that Sean might be better off a year further back at school – many of those in his class are more than a year older than him.

10/10/97 – Sean did very well in a spelling test, with 17 out of 18 correct.

11/10/97 – We watched Beethoven’s 2nd, which Sean enjoyed.

19/10/97 – Pauline took the kids to see Hercules in the afternoon: all three of them enjoyed it, especially Sean.

20/10/97 – Pauline got Sean from school early, and they all went to the Nutgrove, where the kids bought their ‘virtual pets’. Sean got very into his, but Susie was too young and too miserable [sick] to do much with hers.

23/10/97 – I got Sean ready for school – Susanna was still unfit. He didn’t have to wear his uniform, because they were going to Marley Park to plant trees. I walked him to school … I also collected Sean from school – he had enjoyed the tree-planting.

29/10/97 – Pauline took the kids to Dundrum. In the afternoon she made their Halloween costumes – Sean is to be a devil, Susanna a ghost.

30/10/97 – The kids were up at 7, and as they played a loud game it was difficult for Pauline and me to sleep after that.

2/11/97 – Sean got his first Irish reader today.

5/11/97 – We did Sean’s homework with him and drew pictures with Susanna.

6/11/97 – We did the kids’ homework – Susanna can now write and then read a number of words, with some guidance, and is very pleased with herself. Sean is impressed too.

8/11/97 – Pauline drove us to Three Rock Rovers for Sean to do football. Pauline and Susanna went home, and I watched Sean play his first ‘proper’ football match. He ran around enthusiastically, but didn’t get too many chances to kick the ball on the all-weather hockey surface. He enjoyed it, though. He and I walked home.

13/11/97 – Sean walked with Matthew to Matthew’s house after school, and played there … Pauline worked on a Finn McCool outfit for Sean.

14/11/97 – Pauline was up early, putting the finishing touches to Sean’s costume. He looked really good as Finn McCool, and was disappointed later that he didn’t win a prize (Matthew, as Mr Twit, won one).

15/11/97 – Pauline left the kids to speech and drama. We read the paper, then I took Susanna to town on the bus and Pauline took Sean to his swimming lesson. Susie and I walked down Grafton Street and collected her caterpillar cake from Marks & Spencer’s – she was very pleased with it, especially as it had shoes, unlike Jane’s caterpillar cake.

22/11/97 – I took Sean to football at Three Rock. He’s on a team called Albion, and will be from now on. They were beaten 5–0 by Inter, who included Billy. Sean was in goal for the last part, and let in one goal. As a footballer he has some practising to do. But he enjoyed himself immensely.

23/11/97 – Pauline blew up a postcard on the projector for her counselling project, then Sean and Susanna had a go. Sean, Susanna and I played the ‘Hover’ game on the Windows 95 CD for a while.

25/11/97 – I bought a Tchaikovsky/Dvorak CD for £2.99: Sean listens to Tchaikovsky at school and expressed an interest.

26/11/97 – Sean was awake for hours after going to bed, and complained of being worried about various things.

30/11/97 – We bought harmonicas for Sean and Susanna in Habitat.



Filed under Death, Ireland, Memories

4 responses to “Some diary entries … September to November 1997

  1. Brendano greetings. I am intrigued by your wife blowing up a postcard on the projector for her counselling project. Can you say more! And here in November 97 is a reference to Sean and Susanna’s first harmonicas. One of my most treasured and abiding memories from my last school where I worked, was Christmas 2006, when a colleague of mine,a fellow Teaching Assistant, on the last day of term, gave out harmonicas as Xmas presents to the 5 autistic boys of our class. I wouldn’t say any of them were musicians but I will never forget each of them scampering around the playground each with a harmonica in his mouth, blowing and spluttering with glee. It was a special moment, the lads were so innocent and joyous.

    And that reminds of when I first heard my own mother play harmonica! She was in her early eighties. I never never knew she could play the instrument. One evening in her house, I heard the harmonica being played as I stood outside the kitchen door but as soon as I opened the door to come in so she stopped .She would not allow herself to be seen playing. Instead, after bargaining with her she allowed me to listen whilst she played with her back to me!

    And then, after a while, I think it was the same session, she allowed me to sit opposite her. She played an assortment of carols, the light from the electric bulb flashing upon the metal instrument which in turn illuminated her face to give her a sweet saintly look. One of those lovely memories I have of my mother!

    Boom boom, Brendano, I can tell you that the school phoned me yesterday to offer me the job. I will meet the Headteacher next Tuesday after school hours and I will start on the 25th of January. So that night, Burns night, I shall make sure I shall have a wee dram. I invite you to join me in a glass, sometime that evening! Different locations but I’d appreciate the celebration being echoed in Ireland!

  2. Hello PapaG … Fantastic news about the job … I’m delighted for you, and would be happy to undertake the Irish branch of the celebrations! I’m sure you’ll do very well in the new place.

    Two great stories about harmonicas too … it’s lovely to have memories like that about your mother. Our kids, unfortunately, didn’t keep playing theirs for very long. I used to play a bit, but not enough to get competent. It’s certainly a lovely instrument, and very portable!

    Pauline had a projector from the days when we did signwriting, in the 1980s … she used to use it to change the size of lettering and graphics by projecting it onto a wall and drawing round it. So, ‘blow up’ is not as violent as it might sound!

  3. papaguinea

    Brendano, I enjoyed a Laphroaig Islay whisky on the 25th, but now I post with THREE days under my belt at the new school. The 25th was an all day induction, large chunks from the Head and Deputy. The first day proper was the 26th and what an amazing introduction to the kids. I work across 3 classes though the timetable may be shuffled this coming week. Believe this or not, in the first session I found myself in the blue room, a room with soft blue mattresses both on the floor and affixed to all four walls. the feature in this room being a drop down tank/pool of coloured polystrene balls. This is for the kids to jump in and play, even submerging themselves beneath the balls. My ‘shadow’ worker dived in, well she comes from Dublin ha ha. After a while a kid beckoned me to get in too. But after climbing in I found great difficulty manoeuvring about. I couldn’t even turn my body around! So when it came to getting out I was floundering, my feet unable to find the bottom. What I looked like, thrashing around in this sea of balls was anyone’s guess! Eventually, after much thrashing about I managed to get out without asking anyone for a pole or hook. And all this in the first half hour of my new job! What a day it was! I think I am going to like it. (Off to North London now.)

    • I’m glad you’ve got off to a good start, PapaG! What a bizarre situation to find oneself in … foundering helplessly in tank full of balls – it must have been a sinking feeling (I’ve seen tanks like that in children’s play centres and yes, they’re a bit scary!).

      Just as well you don’t take yourself too seriously. Good luck for this week!

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