The year got off to a good start for curmudgeons in this part of the world, with snow and sub-zero temperatures keeping people housebound for weeks after Christmas. Today, despite a slight thaw, the omnipresent slush is ensuring that we still have plenty to grumble about.
Now for the Top Five bizarre sights of Ireland’s recent bad weather (in no particular order):
1. People shuffling along ice-bound footpaths wearing thick socks over their shoes. This shows a suspicious level of practicality and good sense by the Irish public. Sure enough, it emerged that this “snow tip” was communicated to Irish national radio by a German (who, along with the rest of his compatriots, is probably tickled pink by the chaos caused in this country by a few inches of snow).
2. People out on the footpaths at all. Ireland is a nation of car-lovers, which, coupled with disastrous public transport, makes driving something of a national pastime. Now that the ice on the roads has forced many to re-think the two-minute drive to the newsagent’s, we are seeing more of that rare breed: pedestrians!
3. Snow. The last time that Irish children were able to make snowmen and have proper snowball fights was a generation ago.
4. Dali-esque snow figures. Today’s thaw has seen snowmen and -women shed various limbs, or heads. Some of the less robust ones have imploded altogether, creating disturbing post-apocalyptic images in front gardens and public parks.
5. Drivers, obviously rendered giddy by the slight rise in temperatures, reverting to their normal driving habits – overtaking, speeding, not watching the road – despite repeated warnings in the media that slush is more hazardous than snow.
Hot, Dot, Bot and I were out this evening for the first time in ages. Frugality is very much in vogue here at the moment, so dinner in our local Irish-Italian eatery had the air of a novelty. Hot and I had braced ourselves for an hour and a half of snatched bites of dinner in between crowd control measures, ranging from verbal warnings to physical restraint, depending on the amount of Coke Dot managed to sneak past us and into herself.
Dot caught us completely off guard by being a total angel. Dinner was ordered in a Shirley Temple voice with manners to match. Please and thank you were said. Requests for drinking straws, small spoons, colouring books and extra cheese were made at our table, sitting down. Even Dot’s recession-coping mechanisms were successfully tested – the news that the restaurant no longer does Babychinos (now there was an example of the Celtic Tiger gone completely doolally) was received with stoicism.
Bot tried to balance things out by pulling a button off my new boyfriend cardigan, but I barely noticed, so giddy was I with delight at Dot’s model behaviour.
Now I am spending the rest of the evening fighting off evil musings about what it is she wants. Bad Mommy!
Feeling very curmudgeonly since hearing about the breastfeeding mother in Beaumont House pub in Dublin last week who was asked by the owner to move “out of consideration for other customers”.
Apart from all the issues around discrimination, people thinking breastfeeding is the same as indecent exposure, the sheer ignorance of people who would complain about someone breastfeeding in public, etc., this incident also makes me think about children’s rights. Why should a child having his/her lunch in a pub be asked to move? If children were recognised in law as equal citizens, there would be no question that they could eat where and when they need to, like anyone else.
Three cheers for the mother who raised the issue publicly and spoke so well on Joe Duffy yesterday, and for her father-in-law who also came on to defend her. I actually felt a bit sorry for the pub owner on the show – he contradicted and implicated himself several times, not to mention making it obvious that he had been totally unaware of the legislation that protects against discrimination on any grounds, including breastfeeding, in public houses.
Guess he feels like a bit of a boob now…:-)