Tonight is the night that we brace ourselves. Instead of heading to our usual local haunt we are going to take a deep breath and jump on a 46A into Town. Something’s been niggling at us both lately. A call to expand ourselves beyond the suburban circle. To re-experience the colour and thrum of a Saturday night in Town. The last time we attempted this sort of spontaneity we were cruelly let down. Back in the boom. We hauled what we thought then were our ageing bodies from bar to pumping seatless bar. We couldn’t hear ourselves speak. All we wanted was a quiet corner somewhere to catch up with one another. There wasn’t a quiet corner to be had in Town. We ended up flagging a taxi back out to the burbs. But not before witnessing a brawl on George’s Street. Sirens, the lot. Stunned silence all the way home. We’re too old for this lark, a conspiratorial telepathic squeeze of the hands said. Never again.

Near on a decade later and we’ve summoned up the courage. We’re nervous and excited all at once. Like the good old days going out when you wouldn’t know what to expect. Not like the bad old days of parental exhaustion and knowing full well what to expect. But first, discussions of what to wear? Where to go? Bring the pepper spray or not?
Mid discussion marque 4 interrupts.
‘Mum, we should get the new Dyson V6 Hoover, it can suck up much more when you’re going over a surface and…’
‘What if you Hoover up the hamster?’ Marque 3 interjects.
‘With our Hoover she’d just be sucked into the bag. With the Dyson she’d be sucked into the drum and spun around and around. She’d be dead, sliced into little tiny pieces, whereas with our Hoover…’
Ahhhh. Let me out of here. They argue on. Prices. How we won’t be able to afford heating oil if we buy the Dyson. We’d be freezing cold with a dead hamster. Where do they get their acute sense of drama from?

We discuss trying to catch a show. An utter impossibility. They all begin at 7.30. Seven bloody thirty. How uncivilised is that? We’d have to leave the house at 6.00. How can parents of lots of kids be expected to leave their house at 6.00? The theatre world is missing out on a whole segment of society, which is their loss.

What does a vintage woman wear into town on a Saturday night I ask out loud, not expecting an answer.
‘A dress’ he says.
‘A dress? How do you know?’ I ask, a slight accusatory tone slipping out. Oh well.
‘Because I work in town and go to things after work’.
Oh, do you now?
A frock it is. A frock with black tights and boots he suggests. How very specific. He really seems to know his stuff.

At some stage before we leave he e-mails me a story of his. A story to be critiqued. Critiqued for discussion in a jam packed bar in town. I’m beginning to get cold feet. What if I don’t like the story? What if I’m standing, being squished to death, holding a bottle of Heineken over my head, shouting at him that there’s no climax to it, not really, no little epiphanies, or too many of them, that he’ll need to work on the whole damn thing, just my opinion, and he disappears, wounded into the night, leaving me alone in my frock, boots and tights? Ok ok, that’s where they get it from. What hope have they, after all, of being steady undramatic creatures with the parents they’ve been landed?

The bus seems to be going backwards. Half an hour on it and we’re still in the suburbs. His phone rings with my mother’s name on the screen. Great, I think. Something’s gone wrong at home already. We’ll have to turn around. But it’s only marque 3 looking for an iPad. Phew. The appetite for the escapist night out takes a jolt forwards. The bus stops at UCD for a minute. Something spectral bubbles in us as we look into the dark campus, the place where we met and married. It still feels like our special place even if hundreds of thousands of others have passed through its walls since. It holds the ghosts of our young, purist selves, with our hopes and our dreams.

He passes a tip on. Exactly when to stand up and go down the stairs. The bus must be stationary. We no longer have the bones and joints, apparently, to leap up at our leisure and descend while the bus rounds a corner. We must be mindful of our knees and things. It was a moment of sadness when he came to realise this loss of youth, he tells me cheerfully, when he had to start timing his descent. Being very exact about it. Now he’s shared it with me. As if wearing my biker’s jacket holds no protective sway in such matters. I’m pretty sure it does. I’m going to rebel, I tell myself. I’m going to refuse to time my descent.

The woman standing in front of me is wearing my exact outfit. Biker’s jacket, dress, tights, ankle boots, the lot. The fact that she’s twenty and a half doesn’t disturb me at all. Not one little bit. Especially after learning about my fast approaching decline. We get off the bus onto a thrumming Dawson street. Music seeps out of bars. Very beautifully dressed men and women spill out of doors onto the street. Smokers perfume the chilly night air. I inhale deeply. We’re in Town, together. At last.

There’s a flatulence problem in the Dawson Lounge – the smallest pub in Dublin. We descend the red narrow stair case down into the tiny space. The novelty of its minuteness cannot compensate for the fact that someone around here has eaten too much curry. I have not come all the way into Town to have a drink in a fart infused cylinder of a room. IMG_7645We meander on around to Neary’s, sensible creatures that we are, and sink comfortably onto a couch. Drinks arrive without fuss or fanfare. The down to earth bar man delivers them to the table. No lounge staff required. We remember ourselves. I tell him of the time fifteen and a half years ago that I sat in this very seat with my family for my birthday lunch. How I had really felt that I was pregnant. We had decided a month before that it was time to get that particular show on the road. So I did a test, right there in the loo. I wanted to know if I could have a birthday drink or not. The test said that I wasn’t. Who the hell would get pregnant on their first try, anyway? I enjoyed two lovely bottles of Bulmer’s cider and a hot roast chicken sandwich. A few days later I did another test. Marque 1 joined our world within eight months.

We meander around to the Steps of Rome. An old Saturday afternoon haunt of ours. Rectangular individual slices of deliciously authentic pizza. Strong Italian coffee. We’ve never been in at night. We choose our favourite from all the years ago – melanzane – and order only to discover that the slices are a day time treat. The night menu is different. Circular whole pizzas instead. They do not disappoint and half a carafe of house red eases the transition for us while writing and reading and Rome are discussed. A vast picture of the Steps, where he once took a group of students, hangs on the wall. He tells me how the teachers told the students if they ran up and down the steps three times, it would bring good luck. They had lovely exercised serene students from there on in.

We choose Keogh’s for the last bit of the night, another perfectly atmospheric pub, pumping. This is a pub that seems to be Christmasy all year round. We get a seat in a corner – a rare treat at this time of the evening – and toast with our Christmas style drinks. To the invigoration of Town and to a safe descent. Cheers.




It’s not your average Wednesday. I have a carrot at my disposal. A carrot dangling in front of them. If they get their homework done, double quick, they can come to Power City with me. Our television burnt itself out a couple of days ago. It fizzed and buzzed and spoke quietly without any picture. It’s had enough. I fizz and buzz and speak quietly at times too, indicating a little burn out, only nobody seems to notice. Oh well. We’ve been making do with a borrowed tiny joke of a yoke. It’s time now to get a new one. The paltry savings have been attacked and further slashed. In my pocket there’s enough to get us a replacement. Maybe a little bigger than the last one. They all want to come but there’s only one proving it so far. Marque 5 works eagerly with his eye on the carrot. The others are faffing around saying they’ll start any second now, they promise, and this is my only problem, the logistics of homework. Until.

There’s a bellow and a yelp. We live in a house full of bellows and yelps. But there’s something different about this one. It isn’t any louder. But I know before I see. There’s something very real and immediate about this one. I take tentative steps out of the sitting room. Perhaps if I tiptoe whatever it is will simply go away. I give it a stealthy whirl only to be greeted by a scene straight out of a gore movie. Marque 4 holds the underside of his wrist up to me. A large shard of glass protrudes from it. It looks like a dagger. Blood drips down and splashes onto the floorboards. He looks at me, imploringly. He thinks I’ll know exactly what to do. Any mother worth her salt will know exactly what to do. This mother does what she always does when confronted with one of her kids badly hurt. She is not proud of it. She is unable to stop it. She puts her hands on her head and lets out a scream. Perhaps it’s piercing. Perhaps it’s blood curdling. I don’t know. I am elsewhere. You’d have to ask the kids. Scream first, to calm everyone down and reassure the injured child, and then act. It works a treat. I tell him ‘it’s ok, it’s ok, I’m just going to pull the glass out’ and he trusts me, which is miraculous, considering. I ease it out and the blood gushes faster now and I’m thinking about arteries and looking for something to stem the flow. Toilet paper. I stand there unravelling toilet paper until there’s a train of it, blood soaked, spinning down the hall.
‘What are you doing?’ Someone is saying.
‘Mum, MUM, what are you doing?’
What does it look like, I’m mopping up blood, what do you mean what am I doing?
‘Mum, mum, you’ve got to get him seen’.
Seen. Ah yes. Seen. My eyes are drawn to what’s on display from the gaping wound.
‘Is that his muscle?’ one of them asks. I look at whoever but I do not answer. I don’t know what it is, but we shouldn’t be able to see it.
‘Mum’ marque 1’s pleas are getting louder. ‘Mum, you’ve got to get him to swiftcare. NOW’.
‘Just calm down everyone’ I say, which is rich, considering.
‘Don’t we have a first aid kit?’ I ask marque 1. The toilet paper is losing the battle.
‘I think I’m going to faint’ marque 4 pipes up. He really needs some reassurance. Anyone?
‘You won’t faint, just sit down for a minute, we’ll get you bandaged up and take you to Swiftcare’. At last. Somebody is puppeteering me into making some sense. Marque 1 finds the first aid kit and in it a roll of bandage that is perfect for the occasion. He applies it. The blood magically doesn’t seep straight through.

In the car marque 2 holds marque 4’s hand, upright to stop the blood loss. I look at them in the mirror. There’s something glistening on marque 2s cheek. I think now about how quiet he was in the midst of it. He internalised his scream. Marque 3 went bright red with shock when he saw it. Then he kicked into action. Got his boots on ready to go. We all have our own ways of processing traumatic events. I wish mine was a little bit more like theirs.

In the heat of it I forget to assess how it happened. It doesn’t seem relevant. It has happened and it needs to be sorted, quickly. I haven’t let their Dad know either, which seems odd now. Usually that’s the first thing I do. It must be a real emergency – I haven’t had a second to contact him. Marque 3 texts him something along the lines of ‘we’re off to Swifcare’ which prompts an immediate call back. Who? What? How? Where?

I give over our details at the desk, triumphantly. We rejoined our health insurance in March when some deadline seemed to be telling us that if we didn’t we’d be badly stung in the future. The lady click clacks the details into the computer, dead pan, and then tells me it has been cancelled. I tell her it most certainly has not, a queue forming behind me now as she tries different versions of us, puts in different names each time throwing up the same result. Their hands are tied, she tells me kindly. They can only go by what they see on the screen. We’ll be charged as if we have no cover whatsoever. The TV cash in the pocket is going to come in handy after all.

The triage nurse quizzes us, myself and marque 4. Exactly what happened and exactly how did it happen? I seem to be shrugging my shoulders.
‘I don’t know, I wasn’t there’ I say at which her nose wrinkles in disapproval. Marque 4 tells her that the glass was already cracked in the door. It happened a long time ago. That he was just trying to open the door when the glass fell out on top of him. She’s looking sterner by the second. Stern and confused. Typing her notes furiously. Typing them for the social services, no doubt.
‘So you were just trying to open the kitchen door when the glass fell out on top of you?’ she asks for clarification for the courts.
‘Yeah’ he says. Not the whole glass door I want to say, but I’ve no energy left in me to speak at all. A little square panel was cracked. That’s what he’s on about. Oh well.

They all want to come into the doctor’s room with him. They want to help him to be stitched. To offer up ridiculous black humoured jokes that marque 4 thrives on. They are not allowed. It’s just useless old me there to tell him the lies about it not hurting, not one bit.
‘Do you want an x-Ray to see if there’s any glass left in it?’ the doctor asks.
‘Ah no’ I say, adding the cost of the X-Ray onto the already massive bill. It’ll be a one inch TV by the time we’re finished here. I know, I know. Bad, bad mother.
‘Sure I pulled the glass out myself’ I say wishing I wasn’t being put in this position. Either he needs an x-Ray or he doesn’t and surely the doctor decides that?

The doctor sets about releasing the local anaesthetic into a very nervous squirming little boy. The brothers really would be good to have in here. I hold his legs and witter on about all the lovely things we’ll do tomorrow.
‘Why, what’s on tomorrow‘ the doctor enquires. It doesn’t seem to have struck him that this little person will be on a much deserved day off school, frolicking about with his dear old mother. The brothers announced this to us on the way here in the car. Rightly so.

I wake from a nightmare. In it little pieces of glass are reeking havoc under stitched skin. The next day my sister checks the wound and tells me it looks good. We’ll know soon enough if there’s a problem which she doesn’t expect there to be. We also find out that the health insurer had made a mistake and we are to be reimbursed. But you can’t reimburse for a mother’s guilt, can you? For the nerves frayed by not getting her child x-rayed when he might need it? Some fat bill that would be. However, back to reality, it does mean that a trip to Power City is back on the cards. Such fickle creatures are we.