It was actually Peggy who spotted the poster below in the library window, during her weekly knitting circle morning. Mavis, our local librarian is only brilliant at organising all sorts of activities for every age group in our local branch. We’ve had rap bands, writers’ talks, talks on how to grow your own yams, some sort of yoga from Pakistan, Indian meditation, Far Eastern meditation, Zen mindfulness and oh, God only knows what else. We’ve had everything in that library, bar Sliabh Luachra set dancing, psychic readings and seances. Although Peggy claims that one morning when she was doing a row of purl, the table moved. I wouldn’t set much store on that bit of information though as the whole village knows that building was thrown up in about six weeks during the Celtic Tiger years by Baldy Biggane, the Fianna Fáil TD, who’s in the construction business. Whenever anyone mentions Baldy and construction in the same sentence, Peggy nearly gets apoplectic, rolling her eyes to heaven in the most grotesque fashion and ranting on about destruction, brown envelopes, corruption and the planning system. And of course, this being Peggy, we have to have a spiel about the brave men and women of 1916 and how the heroes above in the GPO, must be only turning in their graves, at the shoneens and the gobshites running the country now. She says all this without pausing for breath even. Jesus!
To be honest, part from swallowing mikado biscuits like she’s been on hunger strike for a week and upsetting the spirits enough for them to start messing around with the tables, I’m not quite sure what Peggy actually does down at the library every Wednesday morning. I mean, I haven’t seen anything like a finished product and she’s been part of the knitting group now for at least eighteen months. Wouldn’t any normal person have half a dozen blankets knitted in that amount of time, for Christ’s sake? As far as I can make out, it’s a pure gossip shop and the needles and all their talk about fancy stitches are only for show. Peggy and Lourda came near to putting each other’s eyes out only the other week with the needles, in a row over Brexit, and only for Mavis coming between them, God only knows what would have happened. That poor woman must be a walking saint to put up with Peggy and that Lourda Kennefick in the same room.
But to get back to the point I wanted to make. Ah, the point about the poster Peggy saw below in the library window, shure what other point is there? You see, Dolores’s only daughter Imelda, is getting married next year to some doctor working above in Beaumont, and Peggy, Bridie, Marilyn and myself are all shoe-ins for an invite to the wedding. Well, Peggy says that many’s the time she wiped that girl’s arse when she was in nappies and it would be a right slap in the face if she, Peggy, didn’t get an invitation. She got right aggressive, saying that whatever about anyone else, (meaning me, Bridie and Marilyn, of course)she had certainly earned her right to be there, and if she wasn’t invited, neither Dolores nor Imelda nor the fancy Beaumont doctor she’s marrying, would ever put a foot inside her door in the future, blah, blah, blah. Jesus, I wouldn’t mind, but the wedding is not till next summer, for feck’s sake. Anyway, Dolores put Peggy out of our misery by saying the whole lot of us were going to be asked. It’s going to be a right posh do, according to Dolores, the whole thing is taking place in Dromoland Castle. Well, that got our attention alright, I can tell you. We were all in great form, sitting outside on my patio, drinking wine and toasting Imelda and Harold(the fiancé, the fiancé, shure, who did you think Harold was?) in fact, we toasted everyone in both families. I think the evening ended with us toasting the Minister for Health, but my memory is none too clear on this point….
It was the following morning, in the cold light of day, that the reality hit us! I was barely up when Peggy arrives in with a face on her that would stop a clock and the kettle was only just boiled when the other three appeared, looking as tragic as Theresa May on the steps of Downing Street, when she was trying to persuade the whole world that she’d won the election. It was Bridie who summed up our dilemma most clearly. ‘Jesus,’ says she and she waving the mug of scalding coffee dangerously close to my head ‘ we’re going to be a holy show below in Dromoland Castle, in front of all the doctors from Beaumont, shure the four of us are like a herd of heifers after being fattened up to be taken into the factory.’
There was a short pause and then, all of us slowly put down the the ginger snap biscuits we were about to bite into and looked at ourselves. I mean, really looked at ourselves. It was Peggy who broke the awful silence.
‘There’s a notice below in the library window,’ says she ‘for something called Fairy Tale Slimming Camp. It said something about maximum weight loss being guaranteed with minimum pain.’
To make a long story short, the whole lot of us are going down to the community centre tomorrow night, to sign up for the classes. Shure, what choice have we? We can’t be waddling into, like, Dromoland Castle, swaddled in rolls of fat and expect not to be making fools of ourselves.
I have a strong gut feeling this could be a very long year.