Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Games that are rough, that swallow you up

Lots of firsts this week, especially for the boys. Jonah went off for his first day at 'big school' yesterday. Well, the pre-school attached to 'big school', more accurately; but he went off in uniform, grey knee socks and the rest of it.

What is it about uniform that makes every child look like an evacuee? If I'd taken a picture in black and white, it would have looked straight out of the 1940s. Maybe it's something to do with the timelessness of it all, pulling us back through the wormhole.

Jonah went off without a backward glance, quite literally, but I found myself metaphorically looking through the railings and thinking of Roger McGough:

I wish I could remember my name
Mummy said it would come in useful.
Like wellies. When there's puddles.
Yellowwellies. I wish she was here.
I think my name is sewn on somewhere
Perhaps the teacher will read it for me.
Tea-cher. The one who makes the tea.

(from his glorious First Day at School. Gotta love me some Roger McGough).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Critical masses, land masses, and bringing home the ash(es)*

Last week was Week Three of living in Our New Life™. Because nothing's fun unless it comes with a bucket full of irony, Dave was back in Dublin for the first four days of the week. And because, hey, why have a bucket of irony when you can have an Irish Sea full of the damn stuff?, he ended up stranded there thanks to the unpronounceable volcano and its inexplicable stalling effect on jet engines.

Dave wasn't stuck for long, arriving home on Friday night, which is barely a blip compared with some of the stories out there. But what I found the whole thing notable for (since clearly, the ash is all about me me me) was how it highlighted that being back here feels right. It's a weird thing to articulate, maybe, but whenever we've lived overseas, I've always felt quite solitary when Dave's been away. It might have something to do with having lived on the edges of maps - Seattle's all the way up there on the furthermost part of the continental United States, and Dublin is perched right on the very curve of the coast. There's nothing like being alone in a foreign country to feel, well, alone in a foreign country. And I say this despite some of our closest friends being in those countries.

This time, we were a matter of days in a new place; no routines sorted out yet, no little mates for the boys to hang out with; not even all our things around us since some are still in storage. But rather than having that slightly panicked feeling of 'What if something happened and I needed to get back to England?', I thought, well, at least we're all in the right place (bar Dave, clearly).

It's a bit like this. Say I'm a green pin. I've been trying out the blue map, and the red map, and now I'm back on the green map. It makes no particular odds superficially, but at the very core of things, it's what makes all the difference. Ashes to ashes, and all that.

*Apologies to any cricket fans who got their hopes up there. I just liked the scansion.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Life in the pale

I've got about a million posts brewing, and now the boxes are unpacked and I've stopped waking up wondering where we're living now, there's hope of getting to them soon. But in the meantime, here's Louis MacNeice describing my relationship with Dublin better than I ever could myself:

This never was my town,
I was not born or bred
Nor schooled here and she will not
Have me alive or dead
But yet she holds my mind
With her seedy elegance,
With her gentle veils of rain
And all her ghosts that walk
And all that hide behind
Her Georgian facades -
The catcalls and the pain,
The glamour of her squalor,
The bravado of her talk.

The rest of it's here if you don't know it - beautiful.