‘It was a pretty astonishing sight, this long line of middle-aged women lying across the tram tracks’
T he old man rang me at eleven o’clock last Monday morning and – get this – asked me where I was.
“I’m in bed,” I went. “Have you seen the time? What am I, a fisherman?”
“Ross,” he went, “it’s your mother,” and that’s when I copped the tone in his voice. It was serious. It kind of reminded me of the time she grabbed Miriam O’Callaghan in a headlock on Morehampton Road when she failed to get a People of the Year Award nomination and a fire crew had to break three of her fingers to get her to release her death grip.
I was there, “What’s she done now, the mad old crone?”
And he told me. Except I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t, like, driven into town and witnessed it with my own eyes.
The old dear, plus a group of maybe 200 women just like her, had decided to protest the planned link-up of the two Luas lines by lying down on the tracks, bringing the entire service between Harcourt Street and Stephen’s Green to a literally halt? It was a pretty astonishing sight, I had to admit, this long line of well-preserved, middle-aged women, lying widthwise across the tram tracks for the guts of a kilometre, smelling of Chanel and Estée Lauder and singing Something Inside So Strong, the anthem of the old dear’s previous campaigns to have the Fair City set moved to Kilbarrack and get a Donnybrook Fair for Foxrock Village.
I walked from Little Caesar’s into town, studying this horizontal identity parade of south Dublin women with perfect hair and expensive orthodontics, trying to pick out my old dear. Eventually, I found her, lying on the section of track opposite Dandelion, her eyes closed as she murdered every note of the song.
“They could drive one of those trams over your face,” I went, just by way of a greeting, “and still not crack the first layer of foundation.”
There’s something about my mother that brings out the best in me.
She opened her eyes to find me staring down at her. “I don’t have time for any of your unpleasantness,” she went. “I’m engaged in a campaign of civil
disobedience . . .”
I was like, “You’re engaged in a campaign to make a focking show of yourself. And me. And the old man.”
“Your embarrassment,” she went, “does not figure anywhere on my list of
priorities. What they’re proposing to do, Ross, is inhuman.”
“What, connecting the red line to the green line?”
“Connecting Ranelagh to Drimnagh. Milltown to Tallaght. Leopardstown to Fetter-bloody-cairn. And Fortunestown! There’s a place out there called Fortunestown! Oh, it’s like something from a cowboy movie.”
“What do you care anyway? The last time you used public transport, there was a focking horse pulling the thing.”
“Our world and their world, Ross, shouldn’t even be on nodding terms with each other. I mean, that’s why our economy is in the state it’s in.”