March 28th, 2005

naughty little sister, me!

pop up baby jesus

It was a nice funeral. The priest actually knew Patsington's grandmother, and so the little homily he gave actually felt like it meant something. And it was an amazingly beautiful sunny day, more like May than the end of March, which somehow made everything more serene. Until you glanced at the faces of Patsington's mother and her siblings. Most of the time, they were all fine, looking after everything and talking to relatives and family friends. And then every so often, when they thought no one was watching or when they remembered, with a horrible shock, what exactly had happened, a look of pure, raw grief would flash across their faces and break your heart.

But, if it's not disrespectful to say this, in some ways it was a fun weekend. After the removal there were "Good Friday Refreshments" (read: no drink and lots of veggie sandwiches) in a nearby hotel which used to be a hunting lodge and which was full of weird little corners and bizarrely huge carved fireplaces, where P and I hung out with his cousins and talked first of all about his granny and then about pretty much everything. And then Patsington told us about the Baby Jesus Pop-Up Book Statue. During the removal ceremony, he had noticed a statue of a saint holding a book on which was standing an infant figure, and it struck him that it looked as if the saint had just opened a pop up book and this baby had popped out of it. Which is of course, extremely funny.

So the next morning, there we were at the church for the actual funeral service, and it was, obviously, all very sad and solemn. And then I glanced over and saw the aforementioned statue. And it looked exactly - and I mean exactly - like a statue of someone holding a very, very odd pop up book. The saint - in monkish garb - had the book held open in one hand, while his other hand was raised in a gesture of surprise. And the Baby Jesus (for it was he) was perched in the middle of the book, where he had adopted what can only be described as a.....prancing stance, on one foot, while both his hands were held aloft in a sort of debonair, "hee hee, you weren't expecting this, were you, Saint X?" way. Basically, this statue was absolutely hilarious, and every time it caught my eye during the service I wanted to laugh, which would have been dreadful.

Afterwards we went to another hotel and got fed, and then Patsington, his siblings, his 20-something cousins and I all sat out in the hotel's beer garden in the gorgeous summery heat and drank wine and laughed a lot. And then there were the babies (well, the baby and the toddler). Two of Patsington's cousins have small kids, who came along and were extremely well-behaved - the baby, seven-month old Ben, started to grizzle a bit in the church, but then his dad gave him a toy and he became absorbed in it. In fact, Ben, despite periodically breaking into a delightful gummy beam, was a very serious baby. He was fascinated by everyone who came near him, and liked to gently pull people's hair and gently touch their faces. He prodded and pulled at us with an air of incredible solemnity, like an infant archaeologist excavating old ruins – which I suppose we were, to him. His fat little hands were like velvet starfish, and the casual perfection of his small round face took my breath away. In a word, he was enchanting.

His three year old cousin Josh was less awe-inspiring and more fun. He had an extremely bold little face, but it was a very funny and charming one. He fell in love with Patsington and insisted on being chased by him around the hotel. "Patsington! Chase me again! Run! Run!" Then he kindly invited me to join in, so we chased him about for a bit (very funny, because he just finds being chased hilarious and laughs all the time) , before he took P and me by the hand and led us off to a tree, where he announced he was "playing shop". Which went something like this.

Patsington: Can I have a bottle of coke?
Josh: Yes! [picks leaves off tree and gives them to Patsington]
Me: Can I get a carton of milk?
Josh: Yes! [presents me with leaves].

After all this excitement, I decided to introduce Josh to the charms of “one, two, three –wheeeeee!”, a game which my parents used to play with us. It involves two adults walking along with the small person in the middle. You each hold a small hand and place your other hand under the small person's arm, and then you step along and go "one - two - three - wheeeeeeeee!" And on "wheeee!" you lift the small person into the air and carry them aloft for a few seconds. I have yet to meet a child who doesn't love this game, and Josh was no exception. Afterwards he made me "walk-chase" him, and whenever I caught him I'd ask, "do you want to go back to Mummy or to Patsington?" And he'd cry "Patsington! Patsington!" It was all very funny, not least because Josh looks exactly like P at the same age (some of you are familiar with the highly amusing/extremely scary photo of the youthful Patsington wearing an army beret and holding a huge - and real - shotgun. Well, Josh looks like that. Without the beret or gun). Playing with Josh made Patsington and I remember how much we like kids, but it also, with some horror considering we're only 29 and 30, made us realise that we may be too unfit to actually deal with them. We were totally exhausted after just one afternoon of running around with a three year old. This does not bode well for our suitability as parents. Maybe we could get some sort of baby wrangler to exercise our future progeny?

We left the hotel in the early afternoon and went back to...the hotel where we were staying (so many hotels). By evening and drinks in the hotel bar, we were all exhausted, but Patsington's brother was determined to go out on the town in Cork - and their cousin was DJing that night in one of Cork's oldest gay bars, which was a good excuse to go out. Much as I would have enjoyed such an outing (the cousin in question is great, and a perfect out-on-the-town companion), I was just too tired, but P, his brother, and his sister's boyfriend were all feeling lively, and so madly went out till four in the morning. Which is why both of them are still so tired a day and a bit later that one is still in bed and the other (Patsington) is just up and feebly sipping coffee. I, of course, am sitting here working away, clad in my fantastic Drumcondra hoodie which arrived in my absence, and feeling rather Springlike.
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