Friday, July 22, 2011

Absolutely Good

I had to nip out to the shop the other day to buy some eggs. It's about 10 doors down from our new house. Andrew offered to run down to get them for me, but I didn't want it turning into another of those things that I get him to do all the time because it makes me feel anxious. I have enough of those already. Scooping dinner scraps out of the plughole in the sink. Getting a round in at the bar.

I feel inexplicably anxious about every aspect of our move to the northside. Parking the car. Doing the shopping. Getting the bus. I research it all meticulously on the internet before leaving the house.

Stoneybatter is very authentic. I would like to be authentic too, but I feel like a pretentious, yuppie fake. You don't hear "yuppie" much any more, do you? People are always talking about hipsters, but I'm not one of those. I can't wear skinny jeans and I drive a Mitsubishi Carisma.

Andrew had gone to the shop the day before to buy some bin tags but forgot what he was looking for when he walked in and the lady behind the counter was having a smoke. It was just so unexpected. Maybe I should have a cigarette on my way there I thought so that I'll smell of smoke too and she'll be my friend. Or maybe I should just cop on and go and get the fucking eggs. "I'll go, love" I said. I shoved on some shoes and checked my purse for change and my handbag for courage and marched out the door towards the shop. I hope I don't look like I'm posh I thought.

I didn't. I don't think I could if I tried, what with all the shopping I do in Penneys.

I stepped out onto the street and straight into the path of Fireman Sam, helmet askew as he pedalled furiously on his plastic truck, shouting NEE NAW NEE NAW NEE NAW and swerving to avoid my shins. His grandad gave me a big smile and an apologetic hello. "Where's the fire?" I asked Sam, but he clammed up and hid under his yellow hat, so I walked on to the shop.

It was stacked high with boxes, bursting with biscuits and promise. I picked up some caramel digestives, a small batch loaf and some eggs. I was at the counter, about to pay, when the little fireman came bursting through the door, shouting "WHERE'S THE FIRE?!? GET ME SOME WATER!". His grandad followed him in, the plastic fire engine under his oxter. I wanted to stay and chat, to make friends with the smoking shop lady and the proud grandad and the little fella. I wanted to tell them that we've just moved in and for them to say that we're very welcome and ask who we are and where we come from. They might have. Or they might not. A lot of people move in and out on our road. But I just went a bit red and counted out my coins and said "tanks" and went home.

Later, there was a knocking at our front door. I froze in the kitchen. Stranger Danger. Andrew went for a look through the spyhole. It doesn't have any glass in it - I suppose it's just a hole. I like to freak him out by looking in it when he's coming to the door. I know he'll look out and see me staring back at him. There was nobody outside when he looked this time. He shrugged and came back in to the sitting room, then the knocking started again. This time he opened the door, to find a little fella with a plastic hammer and saw, fixing the jamb. "Hiya!" said Andrew. "Just fixin' the door" said the little fella, all business. "I'm really sorry" said his mam, who was standing beside him, wrestling with bags of shopping and the key to her front door. It turns out that Fireman Sam is Kevin (age 3) from next door on his days off, and when he's not attending to emergencies in the shop, he likes a spot of DIY. "Now" he said, looking at his imaginary handiwork with the air of a man who takes pride in a job well done "I'll just get some paint". He wobbled in home and returned a minute later with a cardboard cut-out of a can of paint and a little cardboard brush. "Just a quick coat, Kevin" said his mam, "I have something I need you to paint for me inside". She was worried we'd be too polite to close the door on him. She's right, we would.

We haven't met the neighbours on the other side yet. Our kitchen looks right into theirs, and our yards are separated by some rusting, waist-high virgin-blue railings. Neither of us has curtains up, so I spend a lot of my time in the kitchen busily not looking into theirs. They look a little like us. One of these days I'll wave, and smile, and hope that they wave and smile back. And then I'll put up some curtains.


Katherine said...

Congrats on the move! You picked a good spot ;) Handy to have a workman next door, too.

ellie said...

working in Cabra, I have the same fears about going to the local spar for lunch. I'm afraid to speak in case my accent gets me beaten up. So, unlike brave you, I get the lads in the office to get my sandwich for me.

Anonymous said...

Loved "I shoved on some shoes and checked my purse for change and my handbag for courage"
Bloody good writing. As ever with good stuff, it is not all about what it is about, if that makes sense.

Jo said...

Aw, I feel ashamed of any Northside nervousness I might have whenever I hear anything about Stoneybatter. It seems so... nice :)

Makes me wish I lived there sometimes, in a bijou little redbrick house with a nice colourdey door and lots of friends around and street parties and all.

Karen said...

Er, Stoneybatter is the city centre. You'll be grand, don't worry!

Glad you're settling in, sounds like the neighbours are nice and a shop ten doors from your house isn't too shabby!!

caitriona said...

welcome to the 'batter. we've been here about 4 years and i've only gone into that shop the odd time. you're a braver woman than i.

Rosemary said...

There are two shops with ladies who smoke behind the counter, and one is only marginally less terrifying than the other. Well done you're v brave! And it gets far less terrifying. Introduce the local kids to your cat and they'll never let anyone do you any harm.

Rosie said...

yay for the northside! i'll admit to being somewhat swayed by your "Deadly Places, Dublin 1" post, Katherine.

your accent's not as posh as your brudder's, Ellie. you should be fine.

thanks, Anon.

somewhat idealised, Jo... but anywhere with friends living close by is good.

not to shabby at all, Karen. so far so smitten with Stoneybatter. someone who shall remain nameless left the back door open when we went out on friday night and then left the car unlocked all night last night (i wonder who could it be?) but we weren't even a little bit robbed, which speaks well of the neighbourhood (or ill of our car and furnishings).

to put my anxiety in perspective, CaitrĂ­ona, i was also afraid of the shop in Portobello. i'm a bit like the cat, i jump when i see myself in the mirror.

said cat has been introduced to Kevin, Rosemary. the cat lives indoors though, and i don't plan on hosting teaparties for the neighbourhood's kids. i did introduce myself to one of their horses the other day though. "he's a gelding" they said. "so's my cat" i said, and they looked at me like i was mad. result.

Driscoldy said...

Hi Rosie, delighted to hear you've moved and made some friends! Gelding, that's a word I've been looking for cos my husband and I were having a chat about cows.. And I was wondering about this other word that had to do with male animals! Anyway, all the very best to you in the new place. Just say 'wha'?' agressively to anyone who gives you any trouble!

Rosie said...

they call de-bollocked bulls "bullocks", Driscoldy. which seems a little mean.

thanks for the well-wishes. i'll practice saying "wha'?" and sticking my chin out aggressively as i promenade about the neighbourhood.

conortje said...

Good lord do I ever love your writing. Seriously, reading this has been the highlight of this crazy day in Ghana. Its also made me a wee bit homesick. AND it makes me really want some biscuits!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post! Just found your blog via the antiroom and LOVE it. I had similar anxiety about living in Northside inner city Cork (seriously - North/South divide even worse than Dublin) but made friends with my local Pakistani shopkeeper and some of the old women on the road and it was brill! Will be keeping an eye on your posts. Great writing & humour.

Rosie said...

thanks, Conor. am still hoping you'll come live with us for a few weeks when you get back. i promise we'll get biscuits in.

and thanks too, Corkonian! (is that bad manners, calling someone a Corkonian?). oul wans are great to have onside, they know all the bowsies and will keep an eye out for you.