I’ve been away for a few days. You might have noticed. You might not have. Mostly, I’ve been getting abuse from my family and their respective spouses and friends. Sadly, I’ve quite enjoyed that abuse.
It was Mossy’s birthday. Mossy can mostly be described as: offensive, smelly, unsociable, rude, abusive, windy and silly. He was 40. I don’t know how that happened. He’s kind of a bit like Keith Richards. Nothing can kill him now. According to him, he’s a suave lady-killer who spends his days saving lives and saving the planet. He doesn’t. He takes ‘samples’ and mows lawns. He’d decided we had to go to Galway. Lucky for him, my sister organised it, or else he might have ended up very far away from the destination like the men did when Mossy arranged my bother-in-law’s stag do in Barcelona. Apparently, the airport was in France and they spent more getting to the hotel than they did on the hotel. Not only that, but it transpires that one of the stag party not only had to go solo across Barcelona in an Elvis costume, but he also decided to urinate in said costume rather than remove it, because it was hard to get out of. I don’t know how men would handle jumpsuits or playsuits. Just as an aside, I don’t like ‘playsuits’. What’s the point in them? They look like rubbish pyjamas in the kind of fabric your nan bought off the market for a tenner for 20 yards.
The day started in fine spirits with a pint and a breakfast at Manchester Airport (oh, Manchester, so much to answer for…) and the English getting pasted by the French at rugby. I did the decent thing and ordered coffee and an English breakfast. I don’t get much by way of English breakfasts these days. Pete, the bother-in-law, convinced me he was having porridge and a banana. What’s worse is that I believed him. He had a pint in his hand as he told me. I don’t know why I believed him. I did wonder why he’d not ordered something non-alcoholic if his arteries are in trouble. I even believed my sister when she said she was having granola. I’m so gullible.
The plane was one of those tiny 30-seater things. I’ve never been on such a small plane. It was cute. There were only us and a few stragglers on it. Galway airport made Limoges airport look like an international transport hub. There was someone behind a little desk in a shed asking for passports. Having said that, they had a better shop than Limoges airport, and there were plenty of vending machines.
We checked in to our accommodation – some student apartments – apparently Galway is a student hub and many of the hotels and apartments were full. And then it was time for the real drinking to commence.
Abi and I tramped round looking for somewhere to change money. Luckily I was prepared for not being able to find an exchange and for the banks being shut, being a French resident and all. The others all went to find a pub. They didn’t get far. The pub was precisely 10 metres from where we left them. Nothing like being picky.
Mostly, the rest of the weekend was spent in pubs or taxis or the apartments. It was absolutely pissing it down for most of it. That damp rain that soaks you through. I was used to it. I’m from Manchester. One question remains. Why, when Abi and I spent the exact same time in the wet, did she look fine and I looked like a drowned rat? How does that happen?
Plus, I realised the downside of wearing my glasses. I’ve gone back to glasses for a month or so. Apparently, this is to give my eyes a break. I don’t know how that works. My eyes hurt more, I feel dizzy and I spend all my time trying blindly to find them because I’ve put them somewhere. I need big Deirdre-style glasses so my vision isn’t restricted. Stupid glasses. Not only that, but my brother has the same pair, virtually. I tried his on. It transpires he doesn’t really need them – no difference whatsoever and I think he’d been ripped off by his optician since they made no difference. Either that or he was trying to make himself look more intelligent. It didn’t work.
Most of the weekend was spent insulting people (the men) or being nice (the girls) Pete gives out most of the abuse, mainly in Mossy’s direction. To be fair, he deserves it. Mossy is deeply offensive. Every time I spoke, he gestured at me and said ‘IIIINNNNNGGG LIIISH!’ as if I had accidentally slipped into speaking French. I gave him a gallic shrug. He renamed it a garlic shrug. Pickles got some abuse, mainly for being a skinflint and a cradle-snatcher (he isn’t – well, he is a skinflint – but his girlfriend is twenty-seven – twelve year age gap) and most of the insults revolved around him buying meals for Emma from the children’s menu, or having to get her teacher’s permission to take her away on holiday. I’m sure Pete keeps people round as foils for a bit of his comic relief.
Galway was lovely. It’s precisely what I wanted Ireland to be when I went to Dublin and I was sadly disappointed. Plus, I’d stopped expecting people to look like Westlife and remembered that Dolores O’Riordan, Sinead O’Conner and Shane McGowan are Irish. In the aquarium (well, in the building, not in the actual aquarium… he wasn’t a fish), there was a man with auburn shoulder-length curly hair who looked all celtic and Irish with his pixie boots and piratey belt and beard. He’s an extreme example, but there were lots of quirky looking celtic people. I loved all the pubs with their wooden snugs and alcoves and open fires. I loved the Guinness. I loved the music and despite the smell, the company wasn’t bad either. I love my sister and brother. They’re lovely. I’m a lucky girl. And Peter, Pickles and Mossy just gave me time to sharpen my wits on them. A little verbal swordplay never did anyone’s wits any harm, although to paraphrase Beatrice in Much Ado, the last time we had a battle of wits, most of their wits went limping off the battlefield and now they’re all left with only a tiny bit of sense left to govern them.