The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE - Don’t miss Fiona Looney’s bril­liant col­umn, with her unique take on mod­ern Ire­land, only in the Ir­ish Daily Mail ev­ery Wed­nes­day.

We’ve a Con­fir­ma­tion this week, so ob­vi­ously, I am ren­o­vat­ing the en­tire house and gar­den. And I swore I wouldn’t do it this time. Af­ter the Com­mu­nion, two years ago, when I got the whole house re­painted and ended up in a sort of frenzy down at the flower shop, pan­icbuy­ing planters along with half the Sec­ond Class moth­ers of Tem­pleogue (that’s a ref­er­ence to the school, in­ci­den­tally, not a re­flec­tion on our par­ent­ing skills — though, come to think of it…), I vowed that next time, I would sim­ply tidy up. So I started tidy­ing up. And be­fore I knew it, the floor san­ders were on their way and there was a skip out­side the house.

I sup­pose I could blame Kate. Kate, who’s not re­ally called Kate, is my highly in­tel­li­gent friend who, for 365 days of most years and 364 of the oth­ers, is a per­fectly sane and well- ad­justed mother of some lovely, sane and well-ad­justed chil­dren. But when Com­mu­nion time comes around, Kate is ca­pa­ble of leav­ing the rest of us in the start­ing blocks in terms of the whole house and gar­den thing.

I’ve told this story be­fore — so for­give me if you’re over the shock — but on the day be­fore her first child’s Holy Com­mu­nion, when I com­pli­mented Kate on the pris­tine planters in her front gar­den, she told me that she was plan­ning on putting one of them, which hadn’t come on quite as well as the oth­ers, in the at­tic for the big day.

Any­way, Kate, who will kill me if she reads this even though she’s not re­ally called Kate, has just had an­other Com­mu­nion. On the night be­fore it, a rain shower brought down quite a lot of cherry blos­som petals into her back gar­den. So she sent her hus­band out to pick them up. See, to many, that would con­sti­tute bor­der­line in­san­ity, but to Kate, it’s sim­ple com­mon sense. And to me, it’s called rais­ing the bar.

And it’s not as if I don’t un­der­stand that there will be no­body here af­ter The Boy’s Con­fir­ma­tion who hasn’t been here a dozen times be­fore. In other words, there won’t be a sin­gle per­son in our sparkling house or gar­den that evening who hasn’t al­ready wit­nessed a sub­stan­tial body of ev­i­dence that sug­gests that we live like slobs.

In fact, most of them have ob­served — as I my­self have — the cu­ri­ous wilder­ness that our

‘I started tidy­ing... and be­fore I knew it the floor san­ders were on their way and there was a skip out­side the house’

gar­den was qui­etly turn­ing into af­ter we lost our young stu­dent gar­dener at the end of last au­tumn. When they see it, pruned and planted to per­fec­tion on Wed­nes­day, they will know that I’ve gone through a mad burst of crazi­ness and that I will now not pull an­other weed un­til, well, prob­a­bly the next Con­fir­ma­tion.

Even the chil­dren who will be in­vited into our chil­dren’s bed­rooms can tes­tify that, usu­ally, they have to fight their way through sev­eral lay­ers of rub­bish just to make it be­yond the be­d­room door. Ac­tu­ally, in def­er­ence to my daugh­ters, that last bit is only re­ally true of The Boy. For fear that there might be health and safety is­sues in­volved, his was the only room that I in­sisted he tidy him­self be­fore I went in to spring- clean it dur­ing the week. It still took me more than twice as long as the girls’ rooms.

Es­sen­tially, the big­gest prob­lem in The Boy’s room is that he has an el­e­vated bed, clev­erly de­signed so that he can put all his boy’s stuff un­der­neath it. Un­for­tu­nately, most of his boy’s stuff tends to con­sist of sweet wrap­pers, empty cans of Lynx, dirty socks and gui­tars with no strings on them.

This mag­i­cal space and its con­tents also tend to gather a huge amount of dust, to which I am quite spec­tac­u­larly al­ler­gic. Nor­mally, as my face swells up and my sore eyes dis­ap­pear into a sort of elephant-man-type ar­range­ment, I take short breaks to breathe in nor­mal air and give my chang­ing ap­pear­ance a lit­tle respite.

But the day I cleaned the Boy’s room was the same day the floor san­ders did their thing, and it turned out that the fumes from the var­nish down­stairs were ev­ery bit as pun­ish­ing on my poor fac­ul­ties as the dust above.

I am writ­ing this two day later and you’d still be afraid to prick me with a fork. I just hope that by Wed­nes­day, my face will have re­turned to reg­u­la­tion size.

And that it doesn’t rain on Tues­day night. Be­cause if it does, and it brings the blos­som down, then arthritic knees or no arthritic knees, the hus­band’s go­ing out there.

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