Never, even at my most imaginative, would I have believed that one of things I miss the most about my life in Ireland is punctuation. I’m not talking about out having a beer with a full stop and couple of explanation marks or taking a leisurely drive to Barleycove with a comma, I’m talking about events, smells, t.v.programmes and seasons.
The working week in Qatar is Sunday to Thursday, Friday being the day of prayer and Saturday is largely being regarding a weekend day also. Having two children to haul to school every morning at 6.10, you would think that an 5.30 alarm call would be punctuation enough, but alas, not for this little routine freak.
I suppose my appreciation of punctuation started back when I was a child, being a seventies child, one of earliest memories of routine probably started with Dallas on a Saturday night. There was structure to Saturday in our house, a firm structure that lasted for years and one that left you in now doubt what was happening next. The bill was, hang around the house for the day, my mother doing household chores and my father carrying out dodgy DIY, cabbage and bacon for dinner, bath at 9 and then the piece de resistance, allowed to stay up late for Dallas. This was the highlight of the day, the highlight of the week even. A mighty sense of accomplishment could be felt whilst we all sat on the leatherette sofa in front of the fire. Work done, bath over and yes, watching Dallas. Our parents were more than aware of the significance of this, often threatening, “tidy your room, or it’ll be back to bed and no Dallas for you” a threat which was often brandished but never carried out as it was feared that to disrupt this steadfast routine would set you wrong for the week. Into the eighties and early nineties, Glenroe rose to rival Dallas in the race for punctuation, knowing that after Glenroe on a Sunday night at 9.00 it was bed, to get ready for school, the very most that could be hoped for at this stage of the weekend would be to be allowed wait up for the news, the possibility of hanging on for the news and Gerry Fleming afterwards for the weather was extremely slim.
As an adult in Ireland there are some standard markers that give me that sense of place and thus, instilled a certain feeling every time i.e. the month of January, saving money and brass tacks approach. Ian Dempsey provided the fresh start to the day feeling. A fry on Saturday and a roast on Sunday. The theme tune to Coronation Street, meaning kids in bed and relax for the evening. The first frost, the last pet day. Cork Jazz, Galway Races, Halloween and Christmas.
As I now live an expat existence I have no such punctuation. Devoid of all my familiar markers, it proves a substantial task to create new ones, but new ones I must create. Could ordering Pizza Hut on a Thursday night replace the deep sense of a week’s works done, by the intro music to the Late Late?. Could a trip to the Mall on Friday to have Dunkin’ Donuts replace the several vital trips to the local co-op on a Saturday to buy DIY materials.? Can Al Jazeera live radio replace Ray D’arcy??