Somebody mentioned on Facebook today that Sundays are so bitter sweet.
I love waking up on a Sunday knowing I don't have to go to work. But round about 4.30pm on a Sunday, I always get a really sad feeling.
I think most people do.
Sundays are such a strange day. They've changed so much over the years (well, if you're a lapsed Catholic living in a country where religion is not part of the DNA they have).
When I was young, Sundays meant you had to go to Mass. Then you had roast beef dinner and listened to the radio. Which meant listening to people drone on about Northern Ireland.
Then you went for a walk. Sometimes we went for a walk with the Queen Parents. Which involved a long walk in Portumna forest park, or somewhere like that (long for a kid, obviously) and then you went to the hotel for a mineral (pop) and a bag of crisps (chips).
Sundays we didn't go walking with the parents, we went to visit Paddy. That also involved a walk. A very very very long walk. And then sometimes a secret trip to the lemonade shop.
Also known as Kellys pub.
But that's a different story.
Then when we got a little older, I went to boarding school. Sundays meant you were getting a visit or not. If you were getting a visit, Sundays were FANTASTIC, until about 4.30pm, when you were sitting in the grimy hotel in Dungarven, having a mineral and a bag of crisps, and you remembered you had to go back to boarding school for another four weeks of misery before you saw your parents again.
I think that's why I get so sad on Sundays.
The brother went to boarding school for six years, and on Sundays he got to come home, bolt his roast beef down, and see his friends, before making a loaf of sandwiches and buying a bag of Pot Noodles and heading back to prison for another week. Four-thirty was round about the time of day he would start on the Queen Mum, wondering whether he could just stay home this time, and not go back to school.
I don't know who was more upset...
As for me, I got to go to secondary school at home, and Mass had been scheduled for Saturdays as well now, so Sunday was a big long teenage lie-in, followed by roast beef of course, then sitting in the playroom watching MTV USA, hosted by FAB Vinnie. Three hours of music videos and desultory conversation with Eileen or whoever else was around.
Then back to school on Monday.
When I went to college, weekends were often spent at home. Get the bus down on a Friday night. Spend Saturday doing laundry or catching up with people. Out Saturday night.
Sundays were when you had to get the bus back to Dublin. If you hadn't cadged a lift with Willie Burns on Saturday night in the pub. Or you couldn't persuade mum to drive you to the train in Tullamore.
Long, wet, boring trips through the midlands (before the motorway was built) in a smokey bus. Then trying to get a bus home to wherever you lived. Culchies roaming the streets of the capital with bags full of lasagne dinners and bags of spuds. Trying to fit into a pub stuffed with bags of clean folded laundry sent with love from Cork and Galway and Portlaoise and Donegal.
If I stayed in Dublin for the weekend, Sundays were a long, boring day of trying to stay warm in whatever hovel I was living in; writing an essay or just trying to find enough money to buy a packet of cigarettes to have something to do.
It was only when I started working that Sundays became a little more interesting. Long brunches in Odessa or somewhere trendy, with all kinds of people popping in and out and enough money to buy the paper and read it with a latte or a pint.
Now we have every second Sunday. This is a second Sunday, which means Kitty and Little 'Un were here for two days of chaos and noise and loud telly and cooking and feeding and whatever activities are on the menu. Then around 4.30pm the doors slam for the last time and the car heads off back to Truro and the dog lies abject at the gate hoping against hope that they're not gone and I pace around the house for an hour trying to find things to do to make the bitter sweet feeling go away.
But it appears on the other Sundays too.
5.33pm. Suddenly, completely dark. Shannon won't come in from the gate. I will go find some nice raw meat to bribe her with.
Even puppies find Sundays bitter sweet...
At least we don't live somewhere where you have to sit quietly and read the bible all day.