2014: Many memorable times and some sad farewells too
BLOATED, jaded and feeling my age, it has been a long week but now as I sit down to write my final column of the year thankfully I can report that Christmas in the Looby household passed without too many glitches.
Santa arrived and the Whirlwind Princess was delighted with her new kitchen and doll and the Little Fella, (who is now standing for over a minute and on the verge of walking), is enjoying his blue toy car and little football game.
Even at 37, a child-like sense of excitement still consumes me on Christmas morning. These days it’s a more vicarious enjoyment upon seeing my children’s joy, but still the unwrapping of the presents is always something I look forward to.
This year as The Good Woman produced a big bag of gifts from behind the sofa, I was starting to get into the gift receiving mood. Having hinted at some of the items I needed, (slippers and a gift voucher), I opened the first present to find a toaster tongs. Yes, a toaster tongs for removing toast from the toaster. Not to worry there were more treats in store. The next tiny present was a pink egg timer. I kid you not - pink.
Undaunted I plucked up the courage for present number three and at last it was the much coveted new slippers to replace my tatty old ones with the cracked in half soles. Squeezing on the new slippers I discovered to my horror that they didn’t fit. Undeterred I opened the next gift, a pair of lounging pants. As lounging is something I’m quite good at I was thrilled; even moreso because the waist wasn’t too tight. Sadly the legs were too long and it was decided they were for the to-be-returned pile. The hiking socks fitted perfectly and as ambition presents go I could see what track The Good Woman was on by presenting them to me. Hiking was once a fairweather hobby of mine but like all hobbies it fell by the wayside when the children arrived. The fancy pen was another nice touch and I’ll be keeping it for non work functions.
The Christmas dinner was the biggest challenge of 2013 but this year it had all the ceremony of cooking a chicken. The only triumph was the sausage and cranberry stuffing which was a revelation, so much so it kept revealing itself on plates both at our home and in the in-laws in Camolin over the forthcoming days.
The following days were a blur of afternoon Quality Street binging and Christmas pudding overdosing (and I’m not even a fan). The beltless excess was indulged and all surfeit pleasure enjoyed, but it was all too much and it was nice to get back home to some form of normality on Sunday, having enjoyed a relaxing stay with the in-laws and cousins.
ALL too often I cannabalise my personal life in these column inches but it is only fitting that today, with only a few days left before we pass into 2015, that I look beyond the narrow confines of my life and remember some of the great Wexford people who passed away in 2014, namely George Bridges and artist and sculptor Peter Hodnett.
Although I only met Peter once at his workshop in his Ferrycarrig home where he created fantastic pieces of functional art and amazing sculptures, he made an impression on me. The detail in his works astonished me and he went on to create two Wexford monuments which will be with us for decades if not centuries to come, the fantastic ‘Eternal Flame’ in New Ross or ‘Men of Iron’ in Wexford.
Neither of these well-known pieces display any reference to the man who created them and that is no doubt how such a humble artist as Peter would have wanted it.
George Bridges is someone I knew for over a decade and what struck me about him from that first encounter right through to a phone conversation with him in 2013 was his enduring passion for Wexford and for local causes from the trees in Trimmer’s Lane close to where he lived to the scouts which he was a member of for over 75 years. Such devotion to the community was laudable but to most people George was Wexford’s toy shop owner, who often delivered toys right up until the early hours of Christmas day, to bring smiles and joy to children. Like a latter day Santa Claus, George had an infectious smile and a warm face with alert eyes. He did not have Santa’s belly though and he kept himself incredibly well as evinced by his razor sharp mind. His passing aged 94, following a tragic accident, has left a huge void in the life of his hometown and in the lives of all who knew him, but his passionate personality and gentle and charming nature will remain undimmed for all who had the pleasure to know him.
MOurNErs At GEOrGE BrIDGEs’ FuNErAL PrOCEssION.