My father is more or less blind now. I asked him what he could see on the screen as we watched the Irish football team leak goals to the Spanish.
‘I can see white shapes. I think it’s their shorts moving about.’
He can still, nonetheless, hear very well. He monitors all communication in the house.
Mother came in from the kitchen. Jocasta had insisted on a long bedtime story and mother was very ready for a cup of tea. She was carrying a plum and apple lattice pie that we had bought earlier in the day. We had been to a Morrison’s somewhere in North Manchester. I had been very surprised to find that the sandwich included in the children’s lunchbox in the supermarket ‘restaurant’ – along with a piece of fruit and an organic fruit bar – was filled with jam. A jam sandwich this side of the 1970’s seemed very odd. I contemplated a complaint, but the boy on the till didn’t look up to it. I made a mental note to send an email.
Me: ‘Should I put it in the oven?’
Father: ‘Is the little one asleep now?’
Mother: ‘Yes, she is asleep.’
Father: ‘Put what in the oven?’
Mother: ‘Never you mind. Couldn’t we just have it cold?’
Father: ‘What do you mean: ‘Never you mind’? I still live here.’
Me: ‘It’d be nicer warmed up….’
Father: ‘What is it?’
Mother: ‘That’ll take ages. I‘ve the kettle on already.’
Mother paused at this point to put on her glasses and more closely inspect the pie and its packaging – as though that might help her make a decision.
Mother: ‘Couldn’t we microwave it?’
Father: ‘Oh, it’s a terrible thing to lose your sight!’
Me: ‘Wouldn’t be the same: pastry. Let’s just have it cold.’
Father: ‘I might as well be dead for all the attention I get. Is it still raining? Is that rain I can hear?’
Mother: ‘No it isn’t and no, that isn’t.’
Me: ‘I’ll make the tea.’
Mother: ‘It’s all they think about the Irish: death and the weather. They’re obsessed.’
My mother, herself Irish, has a charming habit of referring to the whole race from afar in the third person.
Father: ‘What are you putting in the oven?’
Me: ‘My head.’