Home > Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family (Walsh Family #6)(7)

Mammy Walsh's A-Z of the Walsh Family (Walsh Family #6)(7)
Marian Keyes

‘Can you manage without it?’ Mr Walsh asked. And I was trying so hard to convince myself that I could.

‘I don’t know,’ I said. ‘No, I suppose is the honest answer.’

He looked like he was going to take a weakness. ‘Have I to go back?’ he asked.

‘You do,’ I said.

‘I’m not going in,’ he says. ‘I’ll wait outside with the engine running. You just run in – is there any way you could get in without them seeing you? Where do you think you left it?’

‘In the lounge,’ I said. ‘By the couch.’

‘I’m not coming in,’ he repeats.

‘You have to,’ I hiss. ‘They’ll think you’re rude.’

‘I’m not coming in,’ he says.

‘You fecking well are,’ I said.

‘So you want me to drive back there now?’

‘I do,’ I said.

So he did.

He drove back into the Kibbles’ drive, and through their front-room window you could see their startled faces inside. They’d thought they’d got rid of us nice and handy and that they could start eating the leftover biscuits. Before I was even out of the car, Carmel had the front door open.

‘Ah, hello,’ she goes, and she’s as confused as bedamned.

‘Would you believe …’ At this point I threw my head back and gave a little tinkle of forced laughter. ‘Would you believe I’m after forgetting my handbag?’

‘Oh, your handbag,’ she says and she nearly breaks her neck with the speed that she races back into the house to find it.

She gives it to me and I say, ‘Well, goodbye again.’

‘Goodbye, indeed,’ she says. ‘Kids, kids,’ and she’s calling to the surly grandsons. ‘Come and say goodbye to Mr and Mrs Walsh!’

‘What the fuck are they doing back here?’ one of them shouts and his voice was muffled by biscuits.

‘Come and say goodbye!’ Carmel ordered.

And they both shouted, both of them with their mouths full of biscuits, ‘We already said goodbye.’

‘Bye, so,’ I said.

‘Bye,’ calls Mr Walsh, who’s half in, half out of the car.

‘Yes, bye,’ Carmel says.

Then we go on our way again. But, for some strange reason, it doesn’t feel anything like as nice as the first time we said goodbye.

That, my friends, is an example of a False Goodbye. There’s some saying by Confucius, or one of those philosopher lads, that says you can’t step in the same stream twice. Although I have no time for people telling me things unless they’re priests, I must admit your man has a point.

G is for Grandchildren. Like all my friends at bridge, my grandchildren are my pride and joy and they love their grandma (me). Kate was my first and, naturally, I was overjoyed, especially because I beat Maisie Boylan and Terrie Hand in the ‘Grandma Race’. (In the interests of full honesty and transparency I should mention I was not technically the first, as Honour Carrig’s daughter had a little boy when the daughter was sixteen and still at school and – but you’ve probably guessed this – unmarried, but she doesn’t count. Honour Carrig is the object of our pity, not our envy, especially as the daughter tripped off to Australia – of all faraway places! – leaving Honour to bring up the youngster.)

So anyway, it was a tense oul time – you could call it a ‘Granny-off’ – waiting to see which of us would be a granny first – and Claire obliged. She’s not usually one to oblige, but there you go. Then her marriage broke up and the jealous regard from Maisie and Terrie dimmed a little – you know that fake pity that people do? It’d sicken you, so it would – but I brazened it out. It’s important to keep face.

I’m happy to say that Kate has grown up to be a beautiful young woman with a strong mind of her own. (Between ourselves, she’s a nightmare, just like Helen was. She says we are ‘pitiful’ and ‘asswipes’ and sometimes ‘pitiful asswipes’. Kate was smoking at the age of twelve, and not just the usual cigarettes you buy in a box but those ones you roll yourself from a pouch of tobacco so she was always spilling strands of it on my good clean carpet that Mr Walsh had just hoovered.) If you want the God’s honest, what Kate needs is a good cliothar. A few raps of the wooden spoon wouldn’t have done her any harm at all. But you can’t say that either these days. Soon we won’t be able to say anything. We’ll have to communicate by winking, like that man in the book did.

Claire went on to have two more children, first a boy called Luka, who was the sweetest little thing but is now a teenager and is busy with ‘his own life’. They also have a girl, Francesca, who is eleven, and I must say it gladdens my heart to see a confident child. In she comes, blathering away, telling me things like I know nothing. ‘Grandma, you should recycle that Weetabix box.’ ‘Another new blouse, Grandma? How many blouses can one old woman need?’ She sees me running the tap into a colander, washing the lettuce for Mr Walsh’s salad and tells me, all scolding-like, ‘We need to conserve water.’ ‘Conserve water?’ says I. ‘In this country? Where the fields could be sold by the gallon rather than by the acre?’ Oh yes, she says, the little smart alec, and then she gives me a load of guff about the planet and the expense of water purification and suchlike and boring the swiss off me (am I allowed to say that? I hear Helen using it but I can’t see how it’s vulgar). I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, there’s no need to conserve water in Ireland, it’s ‘political correctness’ gone mad. Sometimes, when I’m with Francesca, the palm of my right hand starts to itch with the longing to hit her and I have to throw my arm round her shoulder to calm the itching down. And if that doesn’t work, I say that nature calls and I leave the room.

Margaret and Paul (or ‘Garv’ as everyone seems to call him these days) have two children, a nine-year-old-boy called JJ and a six-and-a-half-year-old girl called Holly. JJ is a lovely young soul (between ourselves, he’s as odd as bedamned). Forever watching The Sound of Music and wanting to be Liesl and twirling round the place with a tiara on his head and breaking my beautiful Belleek picture frames that I’d already had to replace after his cousin Luka destroyed the first batch by driving into them, pretending to be a tank.

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