My ideal . . . weekend away


I was in my bedroom the other day, practising being asleep in adorable ways. I stayed all curled up with my eyes closed and my two hands tucked under my face for a long time. Then I worked on cute ways of waking up. Balling up my little fists and rubbing my eyes like a wind-up doll was particularly enchanting. For some reason, I began to feel empty.

So, I decided instead to imagine the ideal weekend away. I know what you’re thinking, you naughty dog! You’re thinking romance. You’re thinking a BB in Athy with a gas heater and glossy black sheets. You’re thinking of those amazing rashers that don’t shrink, with buttery toast. Oh, I know exactly what’s on your mind, but don’t start feeling guilty or weird. It’s perfectly natural to want to spend private time with your lover, getting all hectic underneath your Martin McGuinness masks. Just your Martin McGuinness masks.

Sometimes, people who work together are sent on weekends away. For those of you too young to remember, working is where you do “a job” for a while each day and get paid for it. There are no more jobs. Pity, because they generally stop you from feeling pointless and worried all the time.

In my old job, we had an annual weekend of team building. Once, the weekend involved me stealing something from each of my colleagues and them trying to get it back. Robbing Barbara’s glasses was easy – I simply distracted her with birdsong and cut the little chain. Nabbing Andrew’s pacemaker was trickier, that old man sure is a light sleeper. At the time, the tears, scalpels and recriminations really did bring us closer together.

Before a couple marries, they trip away with their friends of the same gender for 48 hours of forced fun. Stags (magnificent, timeless, wild) and hens (beady-eyed, noisy, kickable) are popular, but some modern couples combine the genders. Men and women head merrily to Carlow together, on what’s known as a “hag weekend”. All is fair and balanced on a hag weekend. Both the bride and groom wear L-plates and identical expressions: dead eyes and thin smiles. These expressions are brought on by the rising cost of their impending union or worse, a seeping feeling that they’re about to make a huge mistake. The hags sip cocktails in a field outside Tullow while bashing into each other in ancient stock cars. Then they get back on the party bus, a hermaphrodite does a striptease and everyone goes home, wondering.

My dream weekend away happens in Cobh, a long time ago. My family home, pre-conservatory – it’s raining and the fire is lighting. My sisters and I are jammed into a tiny sittingroom, eating carbohydrates without even thinking about it, roasting. Everyone we love is alive. We are watching Blind Date in our pyjamas and choosing the right one every time. The best thing is, we don’t even know we’re in goddam paradise.

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