Life Lesson

We had elocution class once a week when I was in secondary school and I don’t remember anything about it except the very final class we had.

The teacher seemed middle-aged which probably means she was in her early 40s and I had always liked her. On that last day she stepped back from how to speak correctly to deeper issues about moving on in life. She said that she had one bit of advice to give us – ours was an all girls school – and we were all agog.

Her words of wisdom were that if we ever got married to make sure that we had at least one hobby/interest separate from our husband. She felt that this was crucial for a number of reasons: firstly, because it would ensure that we had our own separate space that we would always have a clear sense of our own identities; and secondly, that if, for some reason, the marriage ended that we would have time that was not associated with our husbands and, in the event of being widowed, for example, that we would have activities and friends who were not all tied up with our husbands.

Her words never left me all the years and I have arguably taken them overly to heart in that hubby and I have a vast array of different interests and don’t live in each other’s pockets. It was clear from when we met that that would never suit either of us.

I often think of the teacher and wonder how much thought she put into this advice and how wise she was to alert us to matters which, although quite a bit down the road, are of key importance in life.

I know that some couples like to be together all the time, share the same friends and pursue the same hobbies and that’s fine but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and it may well be something they have fallen into rather than given any prior thought to.

There is lots to be said for teachers who are prepared to veer off topic and introduce ideas which get you thinking and keep you thinking years and years after they have planted the seed.

First Moment People

Rosa 'Remember Me.'
Rosa ‘Remember Me.’

Some of the most precious memories I have relate to first meetings with people who have been incredibly significant in my life. It always seems like an added bonus to have vivid recall of the very first moment of meeting the eyes of such a person, seeing their smile or feeling their touch.

How can we ever know that a person will go on to play a key role in our lives? I don’t have any scientific answers for this but I’ve certainly had some first meetings that have pierced my soul and have seemed determined to carve themselves on my memory.

Because of my fascination with first moments, I’ve long loved this poem:

I Wish I Could Remember that First Day

Christina Rossetti

I wish I could remember that first day,
    First hour, first moment of your meeting me,
    If bright or dim the season, it might be
Summer or Winter for aught I can say;
So unrecorded did it slip away,
    So blind was I to see and to foresee,
    So dull to mark the budding of my tree
That would not blossom yet for many a May.
If only I could recollect it, such
    A day of days! I let it come and go
    As traceless as a thaw of bygone snow;
It seemed to mean so little, meant so much;
If only now I could recall that touch,
    First touch of hand in hand – Did one but know!

Are you a ‘First Moment’ Person?


The Dating Game


I’ve long been intrigued with the terminology that surrounds ‘dating.’

Here in Ireland, the main terms that I’ve known and loved include:

Stepping Out with …

Doing a line with …

Going with …

Doing a strong line with …



So, I’d love if you’d tell me what terms are used in your country/locality/experience/memory for ‘stepping out’ in the dating sense?


Crazy Mixed-Up Kid

Take bread away from me, if you wish,
take air away, but
do not take from me your laughter.

(Pablo Neruda  July 12, 1904-September 23, 1973)


I’m in one of those ‘all over the place’ moods and I make no apology for it!

It’s been a good week so far BUT it was all a bit strange because my camera was banjaxed for most of it and I came to realise how much I think Oh, I just have to take a pic of that!  Mercifully, I had it sorted in time to catch this one of the Astilibes in Mount Congreve yesterday:

Mount Congreve Garden, Co, Waterford
Mount Congreve Garden, Co, Waterford

I’m the youngest ‘child’ of the three in our family and Tuesday brought the opportunity to spend the day with ‘big bro’ who has been pretty much everything to me ~ hero; giver of my fringe when I was still in my cot; practice and mixed doubles partner in tennis since I was three and he six; chaperone;  advisor on men ~ beware the intentions of all men from age 14 to 114; grammatical/spelling corrector ~ he’s an English teacher and writer and not so long ago noted that it would be a help if I knew how to spell grammar correctly ~ I was absolutely certain there was an towards the end; the person who has always known how to make to laugh ’til I get a pain in my cheeks; reminder of Mother and Dad ….. as we parted at the South End of the Quay in Waterford I watched him walk away with Mother’s knowing look and Father’s words: It’s a mile from one end of the Quay in Waterford to the other ….. 

'Big Bro' and Me
‘Big Bro’ and Me             Photo: Frank Tubridy

Yesterday, I met a friend and she talked of all the rowing that had occurred between her and her sibs when they were young. I only ever had one row with ‘big bro’ and that was when he (accidently) broke one of my precious records ~ I can’t remember now which one it was ~ but it was the era of Quick Joey Small which was HIS and which was No. I in the Irish Charts in January 1969.

The reason I remember this row so well was because my screaming and roaring were so loud that Father, who was with a customer downstairs,  came thundering up the stairs of the bank house where we were living to find out if the place was on fire or something. By that time, I had got my revenge by cutting  tiny snips in ‘big bro’s’ favourite ties.

I don’t know about you, but I think that one’s place in the family order matters hugely. I don’t think I’ll ever see myself as anything other than the youngest. Nor do I think I’ll ever be completely at home being  a grown-up when my sibs are around.

The Three of Us
The Three of Us           Photo: Frank Tubridy









Sunday Senses ~ Reading People

The extent to which people can read each other is a source of constant interest and fascination to me.

I think the time I was most dumbstruck by someone’s ability to read me was this day five years ago when I visited my 88 year-old mother in the Emergency Room in hospital where she had been on a trolley for several hours.

I put on my brightest smile and she beamed back at me. Before I had time to utter, she asked me how I was. Fine, I said, but what about you?  

She certainly wasn’t going to move on to my question without letting me know that she knew damn well I wasn’t ‘fine.’ Have you looked at yourself in the mirror today, she asked very calmly. Why? I asked.  You look exhaustedyour eyes can’t cod me, she replied very calmly.  She was right, of course!

My Giveaway Eyes Photo: Frank Tubridy
My Giveaway Eyes
Photo: Frank Tubridy

I wonder if everyone has giveaways that those closest to them can read as if they were booming headlines. I can think of a few giveaways alright: an almost inaudible sniff;  a gentle little clearing of the throat; a lightening flick of the head; a gaze held for a trillionth of a second longer than usual …..

Thing is, I reckon my late mother could have read my eyes even if I was wearing big, dark sunglasses!

What are the giveaways that tell you everything?