Liv (15) is up earlier than usual. “What are you doing up so early?” I ask. “You’re giving me a haircut,” she says, “and I have a Taekwon Do class at midday, so we need to get on.” Soon she is sitting in front of the mirror, her hair is straightened and tied in two little bunches. Chop! SCREAM! One is gone. Chop! SCREAM! There goes the other. “I want to see the amputee!” she says, and looks at the 27cm-long sheaf of beautiful hair that will no longer make her too hot.We take out the two ponytails in her hair and inspect the results. It’s beautiful, but shorter than I had planned. Liv has beautiful bone structure and she can carry it off. I am very relieved, but I will not be taking up hairdressing any time soon. Yes, I cut Paddy’s (18) a few days ago, and now I’ve cut Liv’s, but that’s only because they were desperate, and had decided to have dramatic haircuts safe in the knowledge they wouldn’t be seeing anyone soon.
It is very sunny outside. There isn’t a cloud in the sky. Liv makes herself comfy on my sun lounger and has a chat with her friend Naima over House Party. Each has their cross-stitching out, and they are as close to being in the same room as I can imagine. There is plenty of bird song coming from Liv’s phone. “Lots of birds around you, Naima,” I say. “That’s us,” says Liv. “No it’s not, it’s Naima,” I say. “Right,” says Liv, “I’ll mute me and see.” Well, that’s not gonna work, is it Liv? She mutes Naima and the birdsong disappears. It is extremely charming to see the ease with which the two friends share their space and their stitching other over their phones. They only live a few miles apart, so the weather is the same for both girls, increasing the feeling of being together.
They designed their cross-stitch pattern themselves: they found a picture they liked, sent it off to a certain company who put it through some kind of programme that tells you what thread colours you’ll need, then they ordered their embroidery threads and off they went. Naima is doing some lovely cows. Liv is doing the fancy girl in sunglasses you can see in the sketch.
Liv has her Taekwon-Do session on the lawn. She has her teacher set up on a chair, in laptop form. I watch her Korean moves from the sun lounger, chatting with my brother Mal on the phone, my face turning pink in the sun.
I sketch the nursery of the birdies who live around us. My husband Marcel made the bird-box with our eldest many years ago and we love to see teensy birds flying in and out of the little hole in the front. It’s heartwarming to think that a little clutch of beautiful eggs full of baby songbirds is happening because of something you made.
Honor (20) has her boyfriend over for dinner. This kicks off an anxiety attack in me and one or two others in the family. We haven’t seen anyone outside our immediate circle in a month, and we don’t feel ready to now, even though there have been no new infections in Galway the last couple of days, the boyfriend in question has already had, and recovered from, the covid nearly a month ago, and Honor has been seeing him almost daily anyway. But we have to balance our deeply visceral (and in this case, irrational) fear of disease entering our home against the fact that it would be offensive and hurtful to banish the boyfriend at this late stage. He has brought a lovely bottle of wine. We start dinner – Marcel’s night to cook, and he has made his Austrian mother’s wiener schnitzel and potato salad – and Honor’s boyfriend’s good-humoured presence has lent a festive air to the dinner table. It’s lovely to have him there. It teaches me a lesson (I’m getting lots these days): I am grateful, and to welcome him, albeit not entirely graciously at first, is a baby step on the way to re-entering the outside world.