Saturday, 5 December 2015

… and the rain fell all over Ireland …


 … in Longford it fell but Maeve could not see it fall. As she moved through cloud that kissed the ground, she tucked her chin into her chest and gave thanks that it was not windy. 

Every day of her life she headed up to see her baby girl and her granddaughter, and every day the hill felt just that bit steeper, but Maeve was not one for slowing down. She wasn’t ready to give up on her legs, so each day they ached a little more.

Letting herself into the dark house she strode towards the kitchen, turning on lights as she went. Kettle filled and on, teabag in mug, she went to the back door and picked up the wicker washing basket. Then over to the washing machine, emptied the load and draped the clothes on top of the radiators around the house. 

Her daughter told her to just throw them in the tumble dryer, but Maeve could not do that; not when the heating was running and the radiators were steaming.

Why would you use so much electricity when you didn’t need to? God, it’s great to have it at all. When I was their age we’d hardly ever even seen it, let alone have it in the house.  I don’t think they’d like that, not at all. Not without their precious iPads and X-Boxes and all that. So no, I’ll not waste good electricity when there’s heat in the radiators.

Maeve found comfort in laying the clothes out on the radiators, as each day she’d assess the size of a new pair of socks, the stretch on her granddaughter’s t-shirt that had become too small.

So her daughter would chide her that the house wasn’t heated because she’d put all the wet laundry on the radiators and Maeve would say that as it happened the air in a house does become very dry with the central heating so the wetness of the clothes would make for better air to breathe and her daughter would look at her and wonder which programme she heard that on, but she’d say nothing, because she was grateful to come home to a lit house, a boiled kettle and a hug from her mam…

… and the rain fell all over Ireland … fell in great pulsing waves on the runways of Shannon airport, smashing the windows of the terminal building with exploding shotgun sheets. A couple from Racine, Wisconsin, celebrating 59 years of marriage, are heading home for Thanksgiving, to 36 grandchildren from 9 children of their own. 

They’ve toured Ireland and the UK, even though he has chest pains and she is on crutches, and now they’ve taken the evening flight from Heathrow so that they can take the early flight to JFK in the morning.

Holding each others’ hands they walk long corridors, go up 2 flights of escalators, arrive nowhere and then go down 2 flights of escalators to find themselves a few yards from where they started. Through passport control, their spirits weary, they see that their luggage is due on Carousel 5.

The other 4 carousels are silent and lit. Carousel 5 is in darkness, but still they wait, along with everyone else.

Tinsel doesn’t glow in darkness, she thinks to herself. It just looks sad.

Suddenly the lights come on and the belt moves and three suitcases emerge. Then the belt stops.
She looks around, amazed at the stoic silent acceptance of the Irish.

"What the heck’s going on?"
"Don’t worry sweetheart. We’ve got all night."

The tannoy man announces that the luggage from the Heathrow flight is now arriving at Carousel 4, so as one they pick up their hand luggage and push their trollies to watch the conveyor belt of Carousel 4 move for a few minutes and then stop.

The tannoy man explains: “Through no fault of our own, your luggage will now be arriving at Carousel 5.”

This time it’s himself that becomes grumpy. Squeezing her hand tightly as they walk back to Carousel 5, he hisses from between his teeth

“Well if it’s not their fault, who the heck’s fault is it?"

Later in the airport hotel bar, as he sits and says grace before eating his spaghetti and meatballs (she went for the Irish stew) he silently apologises to God for being so short-tempered. 

Others might call them Christian Fundamentalists, but they don’t see it like that. They’re just people of faith who happen to think President Obama’s a muslim terrorist.

… and the rain fell all over Ireland …

… and Paul fiddled with the delay on his windscreen wipers as he sat waiting for the lights to change. These roadworks had made his journey in and out of Moycullen a nightmare since March. They were due to be finished by the end on November.

Right. Not going to happen. The way the council poured the last of its budget into roadworks at the end of every year drove him bananas. 

What about those long light summer evenings, when neither a flouro jacket nor JCB was to be found working at this site? There were now 3 Stop-Go roadworks on his commute home from Galway and more were appearing every day, like scabs on a pockmarked face

If he was late home Joan might already have hoovered the house. Cornflake, their Golden Retriever, was shedding for the winter and the carpet looked like it had been snowing inside.

As soon as Paul climbed out of his car Cornflake would run over and smother him in soaking wet dog hair and face licks. Then, delighted to be inside at last, the dog would lie in front of the fire and steam stinky wet dog smells around the living room.

The thought of it made Paul smile. The light went green, so he switched his wipers on and drove off…

… and the rain fell all over Ireland …

©Charlie Adley

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