Episode 7 – Everything’s fine with the Ravenhill Hooker

Eggheads. I guess I’m a bit of an Egghead. Full of useless information. Pointless, a bit like the quiz show which precedes Eggheads. These shows always remind of the 2009 meltdown. I’m beginning to think I’m on a five year plan – breakdown mentally and emotionally every five years: I’m trying to remember 2004. That was the year before I got married. Yep, the pattern continues. 1999: the year I got knocked up, enough said. 1995: the year my dear old granddad died, that hit us all hard. During the most recent nutjob period I spent most of my days at home with the family in this house where they love shows in which pals in matching tee shirts do a supermarket sweep-like reconnaissance mission for old things to sell on for a two pound twenty five profit. After this excitement, five very boring people tell stories about their train spotting travels in India while answering questions and deflating the quizzical hopes of a team of University Challenge rejects. Wow, is it any wonder I’m back here five years later? I need to get a life.

Strictly: It Takes Two has just started. They all look lovely, and tanned, and happy. I’m in my comfies. These oversized sweats are making a few too many appearances. I made myself up today and dressed nicely – god, I was so uncomfortable. I couldn’t wait to get them off. Now I can’t wait to wash my face. It’s weird, I met a neighbour earlier before I had any muck on my face and I couldn’t face her. That’s a lot of faces. Everyone at our own place had been concerned because our alarm had been going off while we weren’t there and there was no sign of us, and not a dog to be heard gnawing on books – yes, they actually did that, that was almost a dog pound moment: a whole shelf worth of my education gone in a day of wagging tails and puppy breath and sharp little incisors. I could’ve killed them. Another of my infamous overreactions.

Even with my make up on I’ve felt fraudulent and exhausted by the effort of pretence all day. Pretence is probably a bit strong a word. Sir David is here and he’s great but I feel guilty for not being a better hostess. He’s stuck watching Ulster Rugby with me on a rainy Friday night in Ireland when he could be out in Manchester, which by the way is a beautiful old city with architecture to rival Edinburgh’s New Town and a cathedral as vaultingly ambitious as Christ Church. Sir David took me Cheetham’s Library a couple of years ago – that was one of the most perfect weekends. Cheetham’s was like walking through a heavy arched door into an era I think I would have suited better. I wonder does everyone feel they were born for a different time or is it just my old soul pining for a role in a Phillippa Gregory novel? I’d be a great Elizabeth Woodville, especially if my King Edward IV really looked Max Irons.

I’m tired and I’m looking forward to my bed. And the darkness. I did, however, get my phone sorted today (no thanks to Miss Headset, who never called back, but to the other seven phone company employees from and to whom I was transferred like a ball in a multi-departmental game of corporate “hold”) and I took ElsaDaughter to school, and back. I got to spend a whole four hours unsupervised in our Dublin flat. And I got a few things done in between avoiding neighbours. The place felt odd. It felt like the walls were angry that we’d left it for so long. The doors were anxious to be slammed. The floors were lonesome for our tread. The flat was in a snot with me.

I’ve been irritable today. Maybe it’s the weather. I got soaked earlier after I dropped ElsaDaughter to school and it was dark when we got up at stupid o’clock to leave. But I still got up, got dressed and drove her which is everyday stuff but everyday stuff that I couldn’t have done this time last week. And it wasn’t easy, which sounds ridiculous but it drained me and by the time ElsaDaughter was in the car and we were on the way home I could barely form sentences which for an English teacher is pretty fundamental stuff. Actually forming sentences is pretty fundamental when you’re three too and you don’t see many three old English teachers around. Although many Science teachers would argue that English teachers are like three year olds. Good old academic hierarchies – I think academia is the worst for hierarchies, especially when it comes to subject specialisms and that is simply because an educator whose training lies in the liberal arts (comme moi) finds it next to impossible to grasp the logical world inhabited by Maths and Science teachers. How can they live on something so tangible as a circumference when I rely on ephemeral imagery to escape a world of physical restraints imposed on me by well, physics? And they think the English Department is living up in Wordsworth’s clouds looking for daffodils to write poems about: poems that will haunt the Leaving Cert nightmares of Irish adults for decades to come.

I have a heavy knot in my stomach or in my chest, I can’t locate it exactly, it could be in both. A knot of decisions that have to be made with resolve that I don’t have and bills that have to be paid with money that doesn’t exist. I need to run this off but it’s as pitch dark out there as my head was last week and the chances of being let go for a run now are slim. And I couldn’t be arsed anyway. Not really. There are chip butties in any case.

BOD’s just been on the telly signing the Away Legends wall at Ravenhill. Nordieland produces some legends alright. Legendary weirdoes. But enough of my jilted girlfriend sectarianism. Let’s just say Rory Best makes me go weak at the knees, just not in the traditional way.

Today has set me back a bit. I thought I was fine. My old GP used to get on to me when I said I was “fine”, she wanted the real story, not the knee jerk response. “You know what “fine” really means?”, she used to ask me. By the end of my many appointments with her (for which she never billed me) I knew the truth behind the platitude: F. I. N. E. = Fucked up – Insecure – Neurotic – Emotional. Tick, tick, tick and yep, tick. Make up or no make up, I’m fine,

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