Thursday 18 July 2019

Frank Coughlan: 'Sitting tight as nostalgia takes its toll'

Notebook

'The kids bounced on that couch, takeaways were eaten on it, movies watched on it, problems solved on it, life lived, though not actually conceived, on it' Stock image
'The kids bounced on that couch, takeaways were eaten on it, movies watched on it, problems solved on it, life lived, though not actually conceived, on it' Stock image
Frank Coughlan

Frank Coughlan

I'm not a sentimentalist normally and I keep nostalgia for special occasions.

Those wed to either tend to be people who aren't either comfortable in the present or confident about the future.

But this rule, like most others, has honourable exceptions and so it came to pass this week when I had to make a decision that left me with a tremble in my throat.

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We're doing a bit of decorating and refurbishment which has, as one of its consequences, forced us to call time on some of the things, big and small, that have been part of our lives for a generation.

Most of this I'm not all bothered about: a bookshelf with shelves that are too shallow, a few framed prints bleached by too many years of sunlight, and more besides.

What I can't give away, I'll happily chuck in a skip. No odds.

Except for one thing: a three-piece suite that we've had since we were married in the early 80s. A present from my parents.

We no longer really use it. The couch is in an alcove of the kitchen and the dog likes to patrol it because it gives her the perfect perch for sniffing out garden intruders.

The twin armchairs, lonely in separate bedrooms, are primarily employed as squats for discarded clothes. But still.

I remember my parents buying this G Plan suite in Caseys, which was real swank in Cork, a city that likes nothing better than a bit of show.

My folks could afford it but not so casually that it didn't mean a great deal to them and, by extension, us.

I loved it. Still do. After all, we raised a family on it.

The kids bounced on that couch, takeaways were eaten on it, movies watched on it, problems solved on it, life lived, though not actually conceived, on it.

It moved house with us and as years turned into decades it was semi-retired and replaced by a succession of chic pretenders that never passed the comfy test.

I never had the heart to let it go. Now, seemingly, it is time.

I put it up on DoneDeal with a modest price on its head.

Not because I thought it would fetch much, but because I felt it deserved that level of respect.

I had to be discouraged from adding 'looking for a good home'. Debs reminded me it was jaded, old upholstery, not a rescue puppy.

There wasn't a stampede, of course, but when I changed its status to 'Free To Take Away', messages began to form a polite queue. So a man with a van from the midlands is coming any time now.

Sitting on the old couch, perhaps for the last time, I've decided that if I don't like the cut of him he's not getting to drive it away.

And, in a way, I hope I don't.

Replaying historic day leaves me over the moon

It's 1969 and I'm back there.

After a sunny July Saturday on Youghal strand (we didn't do beaches back then) we took a heaving train home to Cork.

I can still taste salt water on my burnt skin.

But what I most vividly recall is the sense of excitement.

In the early hours of the following morning a man would walk on the moon for the first time and I would be allowed to stay up and watch.

Life doesn't give you goosebumps like that very often when you become a grown-up.

Today I'm going to see 'Apollo 11', a cinema documentary about that historic achievement from 50 years ago that comes trailing five-star reviews.

I can't wait to be 12 again.

Irish Independent

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