Identity crisis

Himself: So are you gonna watch the game with me tomorrow?

Herself: Huh?

Him: The Ireland game

Her: What Ireland game?

Him: The football! Silly billy

She: We don’t live in Ireland. We live in…in.. the North Pole

He throws me a look. It wasn’t me. Accurate though it may be.

 

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Moving pictures

prerun

Pre-race nerves

lineup

An individual with her own unique stripes, but part of a big herd

away they go

And they’re off (roaring parents: not pictured)

the home straight

Thata girl, giving the Old Man a run for his money

to the finish line

Towards the finish line. (Being hauled in for an EPO test: not pictured)

the spoils

The goodie bag. “Is that it?”

 medal ceremony

“Now then” Oh  wait,we can’t say that anymore

our winner

“I’m not sure if these runners match my tracksuit”

superhero

Tinfoil Man attempts to escape his fans

On the bench

Even the restaurant staff seemed to be in on it. No sooner had the pair of waiters strutted off in their confirmation trousers when our eyeballs collided over a bowl of home-made onion rings. One of his brows risen in sympathy with the near certainty they’d forgotten my order; the other furrowed in mild panic he might have to share them with me.

So I did what any considerate martyr partner would do in the circumstances: robbed our little one’s goujons and chips when she wasn’t looking, and pretended to be nonchalant about the mishap until we collared a passing waiter. Quick on the heels of a fulsome apology came the insistence I accept a few fancy beers on the house. In time honoured tradition of poker-faced comparison of orders, we both conceded I had won. A rare victory for the persona non grata on this maiden voyage.

Relegation took effect on the plane where I was condemned to three rows behind. I spent the flight straining to hear what the conspiratorial chuckling was about as they downed a bag of Haribos between them. Not so much as the offer of a fried egg insincerely made over their shoulder.

On landing, my stroller-rolling skills were deemed inferior by its passenger, so a quick pit-stop in arrivals elevated her Da to the driving seat. I shuffled behind, struggling to keep pace along with the bag, the coats, and the just-in-case blankets. And the two books and twice as many papers in case we had to huff about something, or sit through relentless teletexting for the latest sports results. If the hotel had teletext. Always a tense moment. “That remote is for the radio”. Ah, his mystified look; one of my personal favourites.

So much for the extravagantly sized bed and the neighbouring mattress that passed her battery of bouncing tests. By 2am, she was the horizontal to my vertical, until I was displaced by irredentist toes and exiled to her bed while their snores chittered on enthusiastically.

In Hamley’s, their giggles pervaded the shop like a sonar signalling their whereabouts. Fearful she had located the Barbie aisle, I was relieved to find them talking to a plastic fish doing endless laps of an over-sized bowl, momentarily pausing the rhythm of their laughter to explain the joke in a manner that implied I really needed to have been there.

They really needed to have been there to fully appreciate the spectacle of me getting stuck in the turnstile with my bag as we entered the grounds the following day. Having skipped on through the roar of the crowd in the opening minutes of the game, they missed out on the ignominy of me having to be rescued by a security official. Purposeful skipping that had no time for time-wasters unaccustomed to the ways of the modern day gladiatorial pit.

Who could blame him? He’d been planning this day since before she was born when he snuck in a new-born babygro from the official merchandise. It was official. In exchange for sparing her conscription to Catholicism, he’d recruited her to a more militant faith with its own band of over-zealous followers scarf-deep in suspicion over referee decisions and whether that ball was really off-side.

Beside them I sat, watching a grown man being reduced to a toddler barely older than the one he held aloft as the first goal went in. The one he danced with as the second sailed past them towards the back of the net. The one he plonked in between himself and the goal-scorer as he beamed down the lens of the camera I was ordered to point at them. The one who has been talking non-stop all week about their return visit.

“Maybe you could go to the cinema instead”.

Yeah, maybe. park

Match of the day

Rock me Daddy-O

It’s two years to the month since I harassed your Dad for song ideas for your naming ceremony. It was far from naming ceremonies we were reared. Or olives. Every generation has the responsibility of trying to make the best of what they’re about. For my folks it was original sin and prawn cocktail. More power to them. Or less, as was the case.

In truth, it was like the wedding ceremony I never had. Your Granny’s house was treated to the same epic spruce-up it received during the last bachelor days of all her boys. I volunteered your Auntie’s fine singing voice. Every tome and tune were pored over. Noses were turned up at the mention of a sausage roll. And I sighed heavily every time I looked at the family portrait above the TV in which I am channelling some groovy fairway fashion with my classic diamond v-neck golfer’s jumper replete with polo-neck.

Your Dad shrugged off his own suggestion at the speed his ears could hear it. “Ah, she won’t know it, and it probably wouldn’t fit. Nevermind.”

You don’t know this about your Dad yet, but that’d be typical of the man. Never one to strenuously impose his will or wishes on others, except when demanding someone pass him the hammer so he can drive the nails in when hanging himself on the Cross. Sorry, did you think I was using you to make passive aggressive comments? I actually find his martyring quite endearing. In a I’ll-see-your-persecution-complex-and-raise-it type way. Why did you think I married him? To let him win.

A few other things you don’t know yet:

When leaving the hospital to take you home, he pressed play on the car stereo and Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely ricocheted off our hearts. The fucker.

Every payday he squirrels away savings into a Credit Union account he opened for you later that week. It’s a low point for responsibility when your own toddler has more savings than you. Any chance of a….etc.

That funny voice that cracks you up is his impeccable Godfather impersonation, complete with downward mouth and thick bottom lip. He does a brilliant Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris, too, but those had to be shelved. Sometimes he forgets until he remembers and there’s a pause before we both move on without saying anything.

Every few weeks he scurries over to the shopping centre at lunch for a quick flick through the children’s clothing rails. Sorry you were made wear those psychedelic jeans.

That microscopic white patch on the back of his head is a souvenir from his exam days when he would unwittingly soothe his anxiety by rubbing the one little patch of hair.

He still does this sometimes when he’s nervous, or watching his team in a tense game of football. They’re without a manager at the moment and he fell out of bed last night exuberantly cheering a penalty they saved in his dream. The same team he held a season ticket for before surrendering it to buy you weird psychedelic jeans and other stuff.

Failing his first driving test at 18 was the last time he cried until accompanying you to get a general anaesthetic last year. When I say cry, I mean welled up, which is outright bawling to the rest of us.

He disappeared minutes before the ceremony was due to start, (leaving his sisters, your Aunties, to piss themselves at the family portrait) returning with a used envelope, the back of which housed his big-hearted words of love and gratitude he quietly expressed to all.

Your Granddads lit candles with ginormous granddad-sized matches. Your Grannies spoke words of wisdom handed down from minds more poetic than ours. Your Auntie rocked the (good) living room. Your Fairy Godmothers pledged love and loyalty, and we all serenaded you with a spectacularly out-of-tune Catch a Falling Star. Not a door slammed, not a grudge resurrected. The power you have.

Your Dad was right about the song. It belongs to you and him alone. On your Sunday drives together over the border for cheap diesel when he can add harmonies at top tonsil and belt out the drums on the steering wheel. Here it is.

You have no idea how lucky you are.

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