Daisy And Me People I meet when on my walks with Daisy

16Jan/120

Haircuts, hairshirts and bribery

Evening in Ballyseede on the third Monday in January. Apparently this is blue Monday, the worst one of the year when all the bills come in, visa cards are due and pay day is another week away. This year’s colour was changed to black because the gloom of recession is hanging over us again. Where have these people been living for the last few years? Monday was always a blue one for most and the Sunday night gloom, the dread of Monday has been hanging over me since I started school back in Norwood forty years ago, the same for most people no doubt.
Well this Monday night sees the family back to the usual routine now that Christmas has been consigned to last year. Freddie is under a duvet watching the Jungle Book, laughing his newly hair-cutted head off at the funny bits, not quite getting his tongue around the song lyrics. Ruby is upstairs looking at herself in the mirror and her mother is bedside me reading her kindle. A big change from my childhood. At this stage my father would have settled in for the night watching whatever was on the one channel TV available. At Freddie’s age I would have been readying myself for bed and by the time I reached Ruby’s age I would have been upstairs in my room, doing ‘homework’. In other words the front room was my father’s kingdom, his place of rest after a day at the office and we weren’t to disturb him. It wasn’t said but that was the way it was, the way he orchestrated it, either you were in bed or studying. No doubt it wasn’t planned but the age gap between the three children meant a seamless transition from early bedtime to study time as we grew up and by eight each night he had the front room to himself. Dad never went out after my mother died, dedicating his time to the family, doing no doubt what he thought was right. Never went to the pub, cinema or visited friends and even going to his beloved rugby matches he brought me along. Unfortunately this had knock-on effects for him, not getting a break from either family or work, isolating him as an adult. It can’t be good for an adult to isolate themselves in such a way no matter what the good intentions. Of course it was great for me as a child knowing he was always there, which I’m sure was his intent, but in my teens we could have done with a break from each other. Fortunately though that he did take me to rugby matches as I’m one of the few who actually was in Thomond Park on Tuesday 31st October 1978. Now that he’s gone the tickets with his script on the back giving the historic score are all I have to prove it.
 Hopefully our front room here is more of a family one; teenage tantrums and children fighting aside. One day recently Freddie called me in to say: “Ruby told me to shut the fuck up.” All I could do was turn and leave before breaking into tears of laughter.
Now that the evenings have begun to stretch, a tiny bit maybe, but they are brighter nonetheless, the drive home is improving. Ruby has begun to bring earphones so she listens to her music and me to my radio. Have to admit that as soon as she came in the door this evening I shut shop and we headed off. The luxury of going home at four was only gorgeous but a bad habit to slip into….This is her second week back and my third. The first week without her in the car was a lonely one and didn’t feel like a proper time at work or at least not a normal one. Even though we go long stretches of the road without talking, especially now that she has the earphones, we chat at intervals and her presence fills the car. We tend to stop for shopping either in Dingle or Tralee and she always manages to wrangle something out of me. Today’s list includes two pairs of tights, a bag of mixed sweets, twiglets and frozen pizza for dinner. Looks bad when I write it out like that.
Today we came home to Freddie with a haircut, his first in ages and it makes him look quite the young man. He’d refused it for ages claiming that he hated the cut hair down the back of his neck. So there he was being praised for eventually doing the deed and being complimented on how nice he looked, sitting in his throne soaking it all up. Then he went behind the curtain and brought out his new toy, gotten today after the haircut…..His mother had bribed him.
Now its 8.30 and he’s sitting up with it in his hands…oh how things have changed.
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Posted by John Verling

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