This Man's Life
Twenty years ago, if I had woken up in a hotel room with a teepee in it, I'd have assumed I'd had too much of a good night on the town. And that this was simply the result of whatever madness was cooked up during the night on the tear. I'd probably be too terrified to look into the teepee - The Fear would be upon me - anxious at what, or whom, I'd find inside.
Twenty years on, I woke up in a hotel room with a teepee last Saturday morning and had never been happier. Indeed I went to bed on the Friday night fully aware there was a teepee in the room.
This was a different madness to the kind that would have manifested itself 20 years ago, but you could still classify it as madness.
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My two young kids were running excitedly in and out of the teepee in their pyjamas. The four-and-a-half-year-old was pretending to be an Indian while I was a cowboy. She was having so much fun there was no pretence that she might go to bed any time soon (even in a teepee).
We had gone camping at Kaleidoscope Festival a few weeks ago on the grounds of Russborough House, Blessington, and got the camping bug.
But this time we were camping indoors because The Marker Hotel on Grand Canal Square had this fabulous idea of bringing outdoor fun to the indoors by putting handmade Irish teepees into certain family rooms of their fine establishment.
On the Friday night my kids eventually went asleep in a tent with fluffy pillows, blankets and a torch; my daughter was particularly taken with the torch.
When it grew dark, sadly not until after 10pm, she was beaming light from the teepee out into the bedroom as mummy and daddy were trying to keep their sanity, albeit in an exceptionally luxurious bed.
Our 24-hour adventure started earlier that evening when we went for a swim. I find swimming with the kids - along with driving a car with them in their seats - one of most relaxing activities, primarily because it is difficult for them to run off when they are in their arm-bands and splashing about a swimming pool.
Once we had them showered and dressed, we took them for a treat of tea at The Marker's Rooftop Bar, overlooking the docklands and the whole of Dublin.
Everything was going to plan. Until it wasn't.
Halfway through the meal my daughter said she had "a great idea". Which is frightening in itself. This great idea involved taking her dessert back to the room and finishing it in sitting in her teepee.
Arguing with a four-year-old is a futile exercise. So five minutes later, we have swapped the panoramic view of Dublin for one inside a little tent with my daughter and her brother eating ice cream and chocolate brownies. Mercifully, we were going to see Annie literally a hop, skip and a jump away at the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, which meant we had to leave the teepee at some point, not least because I would have lost my mind, probably irreparably, if I had stayed in the teepee any longer.
Bringing young children to Annie - and this was our second time since it opened - is an exhausting experience both physically and psychologically, especially since we spent the first half trying to keep them in their seats, before spending the intermission trying to keep them away from too many sweets and sugary drinks.
Fatefully, in the second half of Annie the kids settled down and enjoyed a wonderfully entertaining stage version of my daughter's favourite movie (directed by John Huston, with Albert Finney playing "Daddy" Warbucks and Miss Hannigan played by Carol Burnett; I have watched it possibly 30 times at home, not always out of choice), in a theatre that has to be one of the most beautiful modern spaces in the land.
Intriguingly, the first time we went to Annie, the week before last, I was at a loose end waiting on the arrival of my wife and family, so I ended up going for a pint with Harry Crosbie, who effectively dreamed-up the Bord Gais Energy Theatre, the 3 Arena and the entire docklands as we know it today. Sitting in his wife Rita's Cafe H over beers (I bought my own), I thought that they should put up a statue to Harry.
But back to seeing the stage production of Annie at Bord Gais for the second time: we had a great evening (and would probably have gone for a third time had the run not finished yesterday). Having left the theatre, singing and dancing the words to It's A Hard Knock Life, we came through the doors of The Marker Hotel, and up the lift to our bed, and the kids' famous teepee, singing:
'Don't it feel like the wind is always howlin?
Don't it seem like there's never any light?
Once a day, don't you wanna throw the towel in?
It's easier than puttin' up a fight
Empty belly life!
Rotten smelly life!
Full of sorrow life!
No tomorrow life!'
The following morning, the kids awoke in their teepee in a far from rotten five-star hotel.
We then went downstairs and filled our empty bellies for breakfast before heading home.
That night, when the kids realised that they had to sleep in beds that weren't teepees, it was a full-of- sorrow life.