Monday, 30 May 2011

Eat, Drink, Bounce

My daughter is almost six, a birthday party is expected.
We’ll pull it together but last week she gave us a list of 41 children that she wishes to attend, not counting herself and her little brother.
This causes it’s own set of problems, logistical and whatnot, our house is not big and with those numbers one of those indoor play places that do it all for you is ruled out completely.
We did that last year, 13 RSVP’d and 17 showed up.  The Party/Events Organiser was not a happy camper. 
Neither was I, as I hadn’t expected to spend most of my daughters 5th birthday in the loos with the little ones whose parents had employed the drop and run tactic.  Smart people, very smart people.
Nor had I anticipated the pretty little Klingon attached to my right thigh for the entire event which meant I couldn’t use the toilet as I have issues in that department.  It’s nothing serious; I just can’t perform with an audience.
A couple of years ago for my daughters fourth birthday we hired a bouncy castle for the day.  It was a great success, until most of the older kids where we live decided to join in and frightened the living daylights out of the little ones.
This year we’re going down that route again, but I’ve employed a few tactics to help things run better.
Firstly, the side gate will be locked and any big kid who attempts to jump it will be met by me and the sweeping brush.  I’ll train the toddler in too, for back up, he’s pretty grumpy at the moment and permission to thump someone would be most appreciated.
Secondly, we’re holding the party on a Wednesday.  This works on a number of levels, the best being that it’s her actual birthday day, but also the simple awkwardness of it being midweek means a few won’t be able to make it, thereby culling the numbers.
Thirdly, if we do go ahead and hire the bouncy castle it’s 20% cheaper midweek than on the weekend which makes me happy because if there’s one thing I can’t bear, it’s paying full price.
We’ve got three weeks to the big day, so I’ll be using the whole “well if you don’t behave I won’t order a bouncy castle” line until the last moment.  Yes, I plan to milk that sucker dry.
She’s been to a number of birthday parties lately.  Some of them have been very impressive.  Some have basically been booze ups for the adults.  Some of them have been proper old fashioned parties with games like pass the parcel.
We’re keeping it simple, fill them with sandwiches, crisps, juice, chocolate & sweets and then let them bounce until they collapse at which point we’ll hand them all back to their parents with a party bag full of yet more sugar based products. 
Oh Joy!
On the Brightside, my toilet issues don’t apply at home, we’ve got locks on the doors.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Moving On

Last week, I saw someone I never thought I would see, well not in my country at least.
It was the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, she drove past our house in her big black range rover with an impressive cavalcade.  Not to mention helicopters, army & GardaĆ­ (the Irish police force) present all along the route.
She smiled brightly, her car slowed and she looked warmly at our children.
It was quiet, which was a relief as we had watched television reports of anti-royalist republicans and dissidents rioting in Dublin city over the previous two days.  I was born in 1971, so my memory of “The Troubles” is very clear and I have no doubt of what havoc could have been wreaked had certain people decided on it.  Thankfully, they chose the high road.
I was born in the Republic, I was born a free person, so were my parents, but my grandparents were not.  They were born subjects of a royal family who reigned over a nation that invaded our country, so the history of what happened here is still fresh.
This complicated history has confused me my whole life.  It’s anything but black and white.  There are so many elements and events of the 800 year occupation of my country that keeping up has always been difficult.
Ireland has struggled to establish itself since being declared a Republic.  The industrial revolution passed us by, we were declared neutral but thousands of our men fought in both world wars as part of the English army, we’ve had a few recessions which led to thousands upon thousands of our youngest and brightest emigrating, often to England.  I have a huge number of cousins who were born and raised in England, their partners and children are English but still they have a root or two in Ireland via one or both of their parents.
I don’t know how English people interpreted their Queens visit to our island, but I hope they realised the importance of it to a nation which spent a long time fighting for liberation.
The leaders of both Ireland and England stood shoulder to shoulder, paying their respects to lives lost, acknowledging mistakes in our shared and confusing pasts but more importantly looking forward to our futures.
The Anglo Irish agreement almost 26 years ago started a process that made peace possible for today’s Ireland, which made the passing of the esteemed Dr. Garret Fitzgerald last week all the more poignant.
It’s true that we all need to learn from our pasts, but we also need to move on from them.  The past is the past and there is nothing anyone can do about it.  All we truly have is today and the hope of a better tomorrow.
As for today, Barack and Michelle Obama were here for the day.
It’s been a good week to be Irish.
Is Feidir Linn.