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Fidelma Cook


HERE we go, I’ll say it again – what an extraordin­ary lot you are. I’m, as usual, overwhelme­d by you. This time by your generosity. For someone who has been so fiercely independen­t as I have, and still try to be, it’s strange and disturbing.

Hell, apart from two pieces, I bought my own jewellery so as not to be in thrall to anybody. I’d go happily into debt with the banks and credit cards rather than accept loans or take an offering from a multi-millionair­e friend to whom it was peanuts.

I’d cavalierly pick up the tab for meals in ridiculous­ly priced restaurant­s as wealthy men and women sat confidentl­y expecting the wealthiest to pay. Shameless. But no-one would ever say I didn’t pay my way or was a freeloader. No-one.

Now I’m being offered Mac laptops, iPads, iPhones, charging devices. A friend wants me to have a London flat he owns, rent-free, for as long as I need it. Others I don’t know, who live in France, are offering to come to my home to look after me! The list goes on.

Actually, I’m finding it hard to deal with – apart from the fact I don’t deserve it. I do not accept gifts graciously, I’ve decided. They embarrass me – I’d rather give.

I think it’s actually a failing for it seems as if I’m throwing these marvellous gestures back in your faces. I’m not. I just can’t do it.

I haven’t bought a new Mac or arranged new phones; not because I couldn’t come up with the money but, until all hope is finally lost of recovering my data, I can’t accept starting again.

I know in my heart all hope is lost but you know me – ever optimistic – I’m hoping for miracles. One Mac is now with the experts in London, finally, with all the taxes added thanks to Brexit.

But if I have to have something and there’s the slightest possibilit­y then I will “pay for it” – and worry about it later. I need that info – my memory/ mind is in there. I can have a latest iPhone on my monthly Orange bill, but you can’t just plug it in and go. It has to be synched up to your … Mac. Aaargh.

So I thank you all most humbly, but I just need my Macs repaired without being wiped. Sorry, you got all my comms problems again to explain why I can’t accept your amazing offers.

Maybe this way anyway, I might get my handwritin­g back. It’s atrocious, spiralling over the pages, often unreadable two minutes later.

When you’re taught by nuns, great pride is taken in practising beautiful italic script always in night-black ink. The joy of a new writing pad or thick writing paper was profound.

Put my mother’s and grandmothe­r’s writing against mine and we are almost identical in our script, use of paper and ink.

In France they still take pride in the schools in teaching cursive script and it’s a pleasure to see an exercise book of a young scholar. But all that is changing too for the ease of computers. We’ve lost so much with technology even as we’ve gained so much.

I still see Mother Mary Angela in front of the blackboard – her exquisite writing set up for us to copy. A wrinkled Munchkin of a woman under her wimple, she even worked the chalk beautifull­y as we, black ink blobbed fingers, struggled with thick and thin nibs, carefully dipped into ink wells. The picture conjures up a classroom a century ago but in fact it’s not that long. We’ve just come so far in our technology that to today’s child my schooling is lost in the mists of Avalon.

No pride is taken in many things – speed to all, instant access. No need for the perverse joy in looking up facts in thick books, usually at least two. Ask me a question, says the internet, and I will provide instantly.

Now I look down at this scrawl from fingers that no longer form letters with any beauty or fluidity, and I visualise Mother Mary Angela at my shoulder, sadly berating me gently. “But, Mother,” I’d say: “It’s not me, it’s my illness.”

She’d sigh and say: “No excuses, Fidelma, no excuses.” There were no excuses in my school as our badge said actions, not words. Ha! Turned that one upside down.

Now it seems, says crotchety auld woman, life is all excuses. Or a raft of psychobabb­le as to why one behaved in such a way. No responsibi­lity for one’s own actions. I do it myself.

Seek someone or something to blame for my misfortune­s. But shoot me if I ever describe a petted, loved child or adolescent with a temper problem as from a “damaged family”. Accept that you decide who you are and change, but give me a break from blaming your poor parents or your teachers and accept who you are.

Well, we’ve come a long way in our rambling thoughts.

Mother Mary Angela would have cut me short long ago. Your point, Fidelma? Oh, just that you had beautiful handwritin­g and taught me pride in my work and never seek to blame others and ask them to pay my way. Thank you, dear, long dead nun.

You’re in my prayers.

 ?? Twitter: @fidelmacoo­k ??
Twitter: @fidelmacoo­k

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