There is nothing like standing in your own kitchen, shattered after a birthday party with fifteen seven year olds to lower the inhibitions. To finally think “I am middle class! I am from the SOUTHSIDE of Dublin and damn proud of it!”
Think, of course, not say. I’m from Blackrock, don’t you know.
I thought it very loudly though, as I threw together a party bag for a visitor whose father was standing in my kitchen with his hands in his pockets looking uncomfortable, impatient and like he really hated my guts. (In my kitchen. As I searched for treats for his offspring who had broken a new Nerf gun five minutes previously.)
I think what irritated him particularly was for a start, that the party was in our house rather than Leisureplex, then the fact that I asked him in, subjecting him to my southsidey smiles, and finally that I delayed his stay by offering his other son a bun. He, like his Dad was taking the poker faced stance; toes in immaculate trainers pointing outwards, hands in pockets, shaking his head imperceptibly in response and making absolutely sure not to smile. But I went to Muckross Park and despite all the warnings, I simply couldn’t stop my mouth saying something warm about Darren(not his real name of course) and offering to have him over to play another time. Suffice to say there’s no date set for that as yet.
In college I used to mutter Blackrock very, very quietly when anyone asked where I was from, having learnt early on that the usual response was either “You must be loaded then?” or once “Isn’t that posh? Are you very snobby?” I don’t know why I didn’t just say “Yes! I am! Away with you and your Dunnes Stores hats and scarves and real butter sandwiches. Have you never heard of Dairy Gold?” (It was 1988.)
After Darren and his family did that bouncy walk out of the house, reeking of hair gel and animosity I decided it was time to stop apologising for my existence.
So now, when I gaily say to a mother parked next to me in the packed school car park “Can you fit by me there?” and get an answer of “Yeh” said in a in a short f**k off way, I take my time, making absolutely sure that I delay her, if only for a little while. Instead of leaving my toddler in his seat I make a meal about getting him out, putting his shoes on and then we amble in front of her car, hand in hand, taking our time, chatting and looking at stones. She sits at the steering wheel, champing at the bit to get home to her, gosh, I don’t know, Take a Break magazine and instant coffee in a Heatons mug I suppose?