This time of year I start thinking about the places that I want to go to. That’s why I always drop by the Holiday World show in the RDS Dublin which was on last weekend. It’s a great event and a chance to view new destinations. This year over 30,000 visitors attended the exhibition and there were more exhibitors than ever. The first day also coincides with the annual Travel Writer Awards which is sponsored by the Spanish Tourist board and always a great night out. With the usual fun and games at such events the singing started and one of the jovial journalists (who shall remain anonymous) gave a splendid rendition of The Sultan’s of Ping song which was also the title of my first published short story. So I thought it would be nice to chose this as my free short story for this week. It’s entitled ‘Where’s Me Jumper!’
I also have some good news about my travel chats on the Midday Show on TV3. These will be starting in the next couple of weeks and we have a name for the slot so watch this space for more details. In the meantime you can watch me chat on YouTube about my last appearance on the Midday Show and Travel to Boston with kids
I will be posting more travel ideas soon
Where’s Me Jumper
As Amy busily filled the dishwasher her mobile bleeped. It was a text message and she knew who it was without looking. In the background a song played on the radio. “Where’s me jumper!” It made her smile. Suddenly she was thrown back to another time and place less than a year ago.
She was walking along the festively decorated Grafton Street trying to catch up on some last minute Christmas shopping. Much as she hated to admit Colin was right about anything, her life had been made much easier since the Au pair’s arrival. She could go to the gym and have her hair done without rushing back to pick the kids up from school. Her life appeared idyllic to everyone on the outside yet she felt lonely. She knew when she set off to the Horseshoe Bar in the Shelbourne Hotel ten years before what she was looking for and she had found it. Found him to be more precise. Colin was her meal ticket.
Her fingers were beginning to ache with the weight of her shopping. She needed a drink. Instinctively she headed to the Westbury. That was where Colin would go. As she passed by Bruxelles she remembered a girl she used to be some twenty years before. She used to go there all the time, with Peter.
What the hell she thought. Why not go in for one for old time’s sake. She wouldn’t know anyone there now. As she sidled her way over to the bar she felt anonymous. Elbows were everywhere and seats were hard to find. The party season was well under way. A lone stool stood over in the corner underneath a poster of Thin Lizzy and she decided to make her way over to it once she had negotiated a drink.
“A glass of….” she nearly said wine, “Heineken please.”
She walked over to the corner with great relief, the stool was still free. She pretended to study the picture of Phil above her head when she heard someone whisper into her left ear. “Hello Amy.”
Startled, she jumped up, spilling half the contents of her glass over her Paul Costello two piece. When she looked up all she could do was smile. It was him. His hairline was receding and he had crow’s feet around the corner of his hazel eyes but so had she. The couple of patches of grey around his dark locks made him look distinguished.
“My god what the…I don’t…Peter.”
He leaned forward and gave her a peck on the cheek and she blushed.
“I never thought I’d see you in a joint like this. Last I heard you had sold out and moved to the south side, traitor.”
Amy was dumbstruck. It had been a very long time.
“Jesus Peter, it’s good to see you, you look well.”
“You look very well, what brings you here?”
“A bit of nostalgia I suppose and I couldn’t make it to the Westbury with the bags!”
He took her by the elbow and leaned forward again and whispered into her ear. “Let’s get out of here.” She didn’t need him to ask twice.
She grabbed her bags and the two waltzed out and into the mad crowd. As they came to the railings of Trinity College he pulled open his jacket and produced a small bottle of Jameson whiskey from the inside pocket. “I know a great place we could polish it off?”
She knew exactly where he meant. Butterflies were building up inside her stomach and she felt like she was sixteen again. “Let’s catch a cab,” she said.
As they settled into the back of a Skoda Felicia the driver asked, “Where to?”
“Dollymount Pal.” Peter said and he gave a quizzical expression to his partner in crime. “Perfect” she replied. Her parents still lived on the North side and she always liked crossing the River Liffey.
“Were you in doing a bit of Christmas shopping?” the driver asked.
“We are just catching up” Peter grinned then he turned to smile at Amy.
As the car bumped over the potholes and remains of roadworks at Fairview strand Amy couldn’t remember the last time she had enjoyed a car ride so much. “This will do thanks,” Peter said.
The taxi pulled over in front of the Indian restaurant on the Clontarf Road.
“Are you warm enough?” Peter enquired gently.
“Yes, but if we are heading for the beach I could do with a jumper.” Her two piece suit seemed highly inappropriate for a winter trek down Dollymount Strand. “I’ll get you something. I’m living just around the corner now.”
The two walked towards a small terrace of town houses that were nestled up a back lane.
“This place is falling apart, a bit like me.” Peter added as he opened the stiff front door. He seemed embarrassed as they walked through the dark and dingy hallway. “I’ll just be a second.” He ran upstairs and in a flash he was back with an oatmeal ribbed chunky sweater. It was so Peter. She could smell his pheromones off it as she pulled it on. He still smelt the same.
“Just one more thing.” He ran off into the kitchen and came back with two glasses.
As they headed across the wooden bridge the two ESB towers stood like beacons in front of them. The water lapped below. The tide was high and it was a beautiful crisp, bright day for the middle of December.
“So you’re famous now, I see ads for your gigs all over the place.” she said.
“I’m very lucky I manage to scrap a living doing what I love to do. The winter months are usually very good; there are always lots of gigs. I sometimes supplement my income in the summer doing odd jobs. I’m never going to make a fortune at this stage unless a miracle happens.”
He was still so attractive but she could see a twinge of sadness in his expression. A statue of the Madonna looked down on them as they sat at the end of the walkway.
“You’re very talented,” she reassured. “I heard you do amazing copies of David Gray.”
“Nobody wants to hear Peter Kelly though; it’s always David Gray or someone else.”
He twisted open the top of the bottle of Jameson and gave her a glass. He placed the other glass between his knees and he tipped two generous measures into each.
“I feel I sold out to the Celtic tiger lifestyle. I am surrounded by people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” She sobbed. “You know what’s even more scary is the fact that I think I am becoming one of them.”
Her body leaned over dropping in front of him, as her head rested on his shoulder. He put his arm around her in support and consolation. It was as if the two were at a funeral both mourning the people they used to be. She wiped her eyes with the sleeve of the jumper. “Take a few gulps,” he said. “It helps ease the pain.”
He seemed to understand how she felt. “Sometimes I stop and I think about you. I was devastated when I heard you were married and had two kids. It never occurred to me that I wanted a family until I heard you had a child. It cut like a knife Amy. The only consolation I had was that you were happy in your big house on the other side of the city.”
She froze with his words and stared into his eyes. He looked deep into hers and their heads slowly moved together tilting to the left just before their lips met. His lips were warm and comforting and she felt his whole body move towards hers as they embraced. She hadn’t felt this needed or loved for many years. She hadn’t felt this way with anybody since Peter. Reluctantly she pulled her lips away and rested her head on his shoulders. He stroked the side of her face and brushed her black hair away from her eyes.
“It’s always been you Amy, there’s never really been anyone else.”
She didn’t know what to say or do. The moment was so intense. She wanted to tell him that he was the one she thought of everyday in her two storey mansion south of the river. But she had other people to think about now.
“I had better go,” was all she could say. It was too painful.
“I’ll walk you to the dart.” He whispered.
“Can I have your mobile number?” She blurted after a long period of silence as they walked along the seafront.
“Sure, look send me a text, that way I’ll have yours too.”
She typed in the word hello and sent it to the number he gave her. She heard a ringing from his clothing to confirm he had received her text.
“Now we can always get in touch with each other if we need to,” he said.
When they approached the station he leaned forward and gave her a kiss on the forehead as she and her baggage set off for the other side of the Liffey. Back to Colin and her family. She had already decided not to look back as she climbed the steps. A train was pulling in and she ran for it. Slightly out of breath she sat down as she felt a vibration coming from her handbag. She pressed the ok button on her phone and beside it flashed new message. It read WHERES ME JUMPER? And it brought a smile to her face. Something inside told her it wasn’t the last message that she would receive from him
And with the last of the cups piled into the dishwasher this text was only the beginning. They would always be able to connect when they were at low ebb and missing each other. Besides – she did have to return his jumper!