Home > Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family (Walsh Family #6)(3)

Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family (Walsh Family #6)(3)
Marian Keyes

We went to an electrical shop and bought a microwave and a fine, big, upright freezer, the biggest they had, which I filled to bursting with convenience food. So now, any time any of them come into the kitchen, whinging, all pathetic like, ‘I’m huuuungry,’ I take them by the hand and open the freezer door with a flourish, demonstrating all the lovely frozen dinners that are in there. ‘Take your pick,’ I say. Then I lead them to the microwave and say, ‘All hail the microwave, the handy little television-like gadget that will defrost that yoke in your paw. Befriend both of those machines, they will prove invaluable in your fight against hunger in this house.’

Yes, I felt guilty, of course I felt guilty. That’s my job as a mother. What’s that thing they say …? Oh yes, ‘A woman’s place is in the wrong!’ But there was no point me carrying on with the cooking, no point whatsoever; we’d all have ended up with scurvy.

The freezer and microwave were the very last gadgets I bought for the kitchen. Claire, who fancies herself as a bit of a ‘foodie’, calls it ‘The Kitchen That Time Forgot’. Now and again I hear people going on about kitchen aids and microplaners and I ‘tune out’. I couldn’t be more bored if you paid me to be. The worst present Mr Walsh could give me would be a blender. But I suppose that goes for most women (as in ‘Blender? I’ll give you blender … while you’re asleep … and you haven’t got your paw over your nethers like you usually do …’).

C is also for Confectionery. On account of not having any proper food in the house, we have plenty of biscuits, cakes, buns and ice cream, to compensate. I mean, we have to eat something. C is, of course, for Cornettos. We keep up with all the new ones. Most summers they ‘tweak’ Cornettos, adding new flavours and ‘limited editions’, but I must say Cornettos have really stood the test of time and are far handier to eat while driving, than a cone from a machine.

Magnums – late-comers to the party compared to the years of trusty service the Cornettos have given – are also big favourites in the Walsh household. As doubtless you know, Magnums ‘play around’ with the basic concept a lot, which can be fun. But the summer they launched the Seven Deadly Sins range, I could not rest easy until I had tracked down and eaten all seven of them and it took me for ever to find Lust. I finally located it in late August in a Texaco station in Westport five minutes before they closed. Mr Walsh says I shouldn’t regard those ad campaigns as an order. And I don’t. I see them as more of a challenge.

C is also for Cleanliness. My house is very clean and Mr Walsh does hoover under the beds, no matter what Helen might tell you. But I will admit that when I go on missing person cases with Helen and we have to break into houses to look for clues, I find it’s amazing how dirty people’s houses are when they aren’t expecting visitors. (Also I find it ‘comforting’. So shoot me, as they say.)

D is for Depression. Except there is no such thing. I heard a great saying: ‘Turn that frown upside down’ and I produce it whenever people start ‘going on’ about depression. I have never been depressed. When Rachel went into the treatment centre, I had to attend a Family Day and they accused me of having a breakdown after my father died. The colossal cheek of them! A breakdown, I ask you! I had four children under the age of nine – when would I have found time for a breakdown? Besides breakdowns weren’t even invented back then! It’s just a new thing, like erectile dysfunction and Attention Deficit Disorder. Erectile dysfunction, my eye – he just doesn’t ‘fancy’ you any more! And Attention Deficit Disorder, my other eye! Being bored, that’s all it is. Yes, if I’m misfortunate enough to have to go to the circus, I also want to hop out of my seat and run amok and kick the clowns, but I sit still with a smile plastered across my face because I’ve had good behaviour bet into me.

There’s no such thing as depression and if I was ever to feel a bit ‘down’ – although I never do – I have a great cure: I put on some lipstick and go to the pictures.

(Another thing I say, if people start going on about depression and being hospitalized and trying to get their meds stabilized is, ‘If life throws you lemons, make lemonade.’ Although I’m not as keen on that saying because I don’t really understand it – why would I make lemonade when I can just buy it? Did you know that if you make your own lemonade, it’s not even fizzy?)

Then Helen – of all people – the most robust person on God’s good earth, gets diagnosed as having depression. Now, all credit to her, even though she was seeing giant bats when they were only seagulls and she wanted to be killed in a car crash, she was insistent that she had a brain tumour. Adamant, she was. She went down and saw Dr Waterbury and told him she was ready to start the chemo any time he liked. But he asked her questions and she gave all the wrong answers – she didn’t have headaches and she wasn’t seeing flashing lights and she wasn’t having dizzy spells and she was having a lot of the symptoms of depression.

I’m going to whisper a little something in your ear: I was … well … I was disappointed in Helen. I’d expected better than that from her. She says I’m afraid, that if the likes of her can get depression then anyone can. But she can hump off – I’m not afraid! I’m afraid of nothing. Except of my good name being sullied. And I have to admit I’m not gone on snakes. And I wouldn’t like to be given sea urchin to eat at a dinner party with everyone looking at me. And I don’t like the thought of being accidentally buried alive – when I’m dead I want them to make sure good and proper; you hear these awful stories of people in China coming back to life six days later … And I never want to sit another exam again. Sometimes I dream I’m about to do my Leaving Cert. physics paper, even though I never studied physics because girls weren’t allowed to study those kinds of things – you know, maths, chemistry – in case we took a notion that we might get a good job, thereby stealing one from a more deserving man.

E is for Elephantitis. I live in mortal dread of getting it. I believe your feet swell up and you can’t get your shoes on. You might have to buy bigger shoes and, between yourself and myself and the gatepost, I already wear a fairly large size. If I got Elephantitis I might have to get shoes specially made for me and I believe that costs a small fortune. Large feet are unladylike.

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