independent

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Evidence is clear: no denying middle age

Published 02/08/2014 | 00:00

The good woman returned home from a hen party on Sunday afternoon to the sounds of 'Dancing at the Crossroads' blasting from the upstairs window.

As she turned the key in the door she was met by the young lad in his Purple and Gold jersey, and the younger lad in a hand-me-down Spurs jersey that he insisted on wearing.

'Wait 'til I tell you about the slug I found in my salad,' she began, as I pointed towards the clock and patiently commented that there was twenty minutes to the throw-in at Thurles. 'Honestly,' she continued, 'my leaf of lettuce was doing a jig around the plate...' I blew an imaginary GAA whistle as I directed her to the car; the hen stories would have to wait.

This summer marked the twentieth anniversary of when my schoolfriends and I deserted the halls of the local secondary educational institution and sailed off into the sunset (I'd hardly call Wales exotic, but it was still more appealing than the Bus Eireann wagon rocking up the N11 on a Sunday night).

Between children, work and whatever other issues life delivers in the form of curveballs, a twenty-year school reunion didn't materialise – though we did have an unofficial encounter to mark 'fifteen years' that was highly enjoyable. Besides, in Ireland there is little chance you can go twenty years without bumping into someone you know on the street, even if they live at the opposite end of the country.

A member of the old school gang arrived home from Manchester last week, and a Limerick lady, married to a Wexford man, decided it would be a good idea to throw a barbecue and invite us all around to watch the match. Given what was to transpire, it proved a very well thought-through plan. Alongside a teddy draped in The Treaty colours they clapped every Munster-driven goal and point. For Wexford, there will be better days.

The moment of the afternoon had nothing to do with hurling, however, instead it was when someone suggested that we get all the kids together for a photograph.

Between the eight schoolfriends, and our partners, we have produced thirteen offspring. And it became all too obvious as the young whippersnappers high-fived, yelled, told tales on each other and rolled down a grassy hill (though that might have been one of the adults) that the youths of twenty years ago couldn't deny being middle-aged any longer.

Thoughts of times when we used to hook up and the only thing that mattered for the night was a drink, song, dance and an eventual spot on the sitting room floor to lay down an exhausted head, were recalled with fondness.

After a few ice-cold beers that slid down my throat like a snake slinks into a logpile house, the good woman drove us home, eventually getting to regale me with her hen party tales, and the slug that tagged along for the adventure. As she enlightened me, a line from a song written by 'The Storyteller' Tom T. Hall came into my mind. 'Ain't but three things in life that's worth a solitary dime,' he sang, 'that's old dogs and children and watermelon wine.'

Rejig the lyrics to find a place for family and old friends, and he gets a little bit closer to hitting the nail on the head.

Enniscorthy Guardian

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