FIONA LOONEY

KITCHEN SINK DRAMA

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

The Youngest and I are stand­ing in the queue out­side Madame Tus­saud’s, play­ing a game of Guess Who The Only Two Ir­ish Peo­ple In Here Are. It’s fair to say that she’s not do­ing well. One of them, I tell her, is the most re­cent ad­di­tion to the wax­works, and is prob­a­bly cur­rently the most fa­mous Ir­ish per­son on the planet. Ber­tie Ah­ern, she says. I ex­plain that in the UK, in Lon­don and es­pe­cially in Madame Tus­saud’s, re­cent Ir­ish pol­i­tics doesn’t fea­ture very high on their list of in­ter­ests, and be­sides, I prompt her, the Most Fa­mous Ir­ish Per­son In The Planet is in a band. Bono, she says. It’s a fair guess, but it’s wrong, and I tell her as much. U2, she of­fers. No, I say, re­fer­ring her to the above re­ply. Bono, she tries again. Louis Walsh.

There are a mil­lion and one things I love about my youngest child, but one of them is the fact that al­though she is an 11-year-old girl, One Di­rec­tion don’t even fig­ure on her radar. Wait­ing in an un­fea­si­bly long line out­side the mu­seum, I talked up the whole ex­pe­ri­ence with a prom­ise that the most fa­mous peo­ple in the world were wait­ing within. ‘Matthew Brod­er­ick?’ she asked, her eyes widen­ing. You gotta love that girl.

We are here, just the two of us, be­cause the older two chil­dren fin­ish up in school in a fort­night and she will have a whole fur­ther month of hard labour in uni­form. The Boy, on the cusp of his first sec­ondary school sum­mer hol­i­day, has al­ready ad­ver­tised his in­ten­tion to make his younger sis­ter’s life hell for that month, and so this trip is a sort of pre-emp­tive strike; a way of stor­ing up happy mem­o­ries in ad­vance of the in­evitable tur­moil ahead. So in the hall of sports stars, we find one of The Boy’s heroes, Usain Bolt, and we send him a photo of a gloat­ing Youngest pulling the char­ac­ter­is­tic light­ning-bolt pose along­side the run­ner.

Happily, though, the rest of the trip’s itin­er­ary is not de­signed around wind­ing up The Boy. He couldn’t give two hoots about Matilda The Mu­si­cal, for ex­am­ple, yet if it were down to me, it would be the sin­gle as­pect of the trip that I would talk about for­ever. Hon­estly, it is one of the best things I’ve ever seen on a stage

Sev­eral peo­ple idling by the Os­car Wilde wax­work won­dered aloud whether he was Jonathan Ross

and we spend the whole next day singing snatches of songs we’d never heard be­fore and re­peat­ing sparkling dia­logue to each other, while try­ing to fig­ure out who the Other Most Fa­mous Ir­ish Per­son In The World might be.

As it hap­pens, it’s a very unloved Os­car Wilde. Ev­ery­thing about his po­si­tion­ing in Madame Tus­saud’s sug­gests he is head­ing for stor­age, and sev­eral peo­ple, idling past, won­dered aloud if he was Jonathan Ross. I sus­pect that very soon he may well be — and on that ba­sis I had my photo taken with him. ‘Is that Jonathan Ross?’ The Hus­band asked, when we got back. I’d like to think that Wilde would have had some­thing pithy to say about that, to say noth­ing of Jonathan Ross.

If Matilda is my high­light, then one of The Youngest’s is un­doubt­edly the mo­ment when I steer her through those elec­tronic gates in Ter­mi­nal One in Dublin Air­port — the ones that shout at you to turn back be­cause you can’t ever get out of there again — en route to the wrong gate. You know what hap­pens next: we even­tu­ally pitch up at a de­serted gate in a part of the air­port that is ap­par­ently dis­used and then have to go through the mo­tions of ar­rivals — in­clud­ing pass­port con­trol — just to be al­lowed to start from scratch again. It is an as­ton­ish­ingly stress­ful 20 min­utes and re­minds me again of Dou­glas Adams’ bril­liant ob­ser­va­tions about air travel, which be­gin with the im­mor­tal line: ‘It can hardly be a co­in­ci­dence that no lan­guage on Earth has ever pro­duced the phrase “as pretty as an air­port”.’

For The Youngest, though, it’s an ex­cit­ing seat- of-the-pants diver­sion, and, as she tells her fa­ther on the phone later, ‘it was great to see Mom screw up in pub­lic’. Clearly, she doesn’t spend enough time with me — though since we then spend ev­ery sec­ond of the next two days alone to­gether, I’d like to think we ad­dressed that just a lit­tle bit. And you know what? It turned out it wasn’t about The Boy at all. It was about me and my girl and Matilda and Matthew Brod­er­ick. Oh, and you know which was her favourite wax­work? Ein­stein. Like I say, you gotta love that girl.

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