Family Life

You’ve got to take the rough with the smoothie

An inner city Romeo and his blonde-haired poppet not much older than my own daughter make me ponder

Late evening, Dublin city centre. It’s 10.19 as I arrive at my lemon yellow lollipop Dublin Bus stop. I have 11 minutes to wait. I’m tired yet buzzing after my sub-editing shift on the newspaper.


Friday night is a busy one on the sports desk, with Irish Premier Division football match reports in late and stats to hurry out to press. It’s hectic but exhilarating. Especially after you hit that sign-out button on the Mac menu.

Lower Gardiner Street late at night is an interesting place. The architecture is distinguished: original terraces of four-storey brick early 18th century Georgian townhouses over raised basements with original cast iron window boxes, sash windows and vividly painted doors with fan windows arced above them.

A lot more distinguished than the often shady folk who drift in and out of many of these once elegant portals late at night.

You take the rough with the smooth around here, trying to look like you belong as you wait, one eye on the illuminated bus timetable and the other noting any suspicious movement in your direction.

My stop is outside a B & B called The Town House, which actually occupies two adjoining townhouses, and outside the open door of the one on my left a gaggle of late teenage girls, all in pyjamas or dressing-gowns, are huddled under a thick umbrella of swirling cigarette smoke and giggling gossip.

Nine minutes to wait now.

IMG_20180419_231850.jpgDown the steps of the second of the two townhouses comes a thick set, sandy-haired young man, in jumper and saggy jeans, his eyes half closed as he barely acknowledges the ‘Howya” from one of the gaggle.

Down the steps of the second of the two townhouses comes a thick set, sandy-haired young man, in jumper and saggy jeans, his eyes half closed as he barely acknowledges the ‘Howya” from one of the gaggle.Down the steps of the second of the two townhouses comes a thick set, sandy-haired young man, in jumper and saggy jeans, his eyes half closed as he barely acknowledges the ‘Howya” from one of the gaggle.

He stands about two feet away from me, but does not acknowledge my presence as he stops and with furrowed brow, ponders his next move. I’m hoping it will not involve me.

He rubs the back of his fleshy neck before suddenly lurching over to the railings outside the premises he had just left.

Both hands on the spikes, he shouts up to an open window on the second floor:

“Rianna, throw us down a smoke, will ya? … an’ a lighter in a box … Rianna! …”

Seven minutes to my bus.

Rianna does not immediately let down her hair, or cigarette and lighter in a box, so her pavement paramour pushes himself back from the railings, squares his stance — he is now about a foot away from me — and bellows upwards:


All of Gardiner Street can hear our cigarette-struck Romeo now and his Rianna, a blonde-haired poppet who does not look much older than my own daughter K, materialises at her casement, and lets down her treasure.

The lovestruck Romeo of the Dire Straits classic may have “sang the streets of serenade”, but this one just wants his shot of nicotine.

“How about it?”

“AH THANKS RIANNA … thanks darlin’ …” the great Gardiner Street serenader acknowledges now, no longer in dire straits.

He sets off up the path, actually more of a stumbling lope, his head still turned towards the Town House, and still talking to his Rianna.

He makes that cupping of an imaginary phone to the ear thing we do as he tells her. “I’ll talk to that fella too, yeah?”

“Love you” he signs off, his eyes still not fully open, as he turns to focus on his mission.

He “Finds a convenient streetlight steps out of the shade

Says something like you and me babe how about it?

You and me babe how about it”

No, he doesn’t. He suddenly lurches to his left, out into the street.

It may be late but this is a still a busy thoroughfare, and our man with a hazy plan, sways out into it all, ignoring a car, a van and two buses — or rather they avoid him — as he pauses, legs splayed far apart for unsteady balance, in the centre of the road, to extract his cigarette and carefully light it, and with a contented shrug of his shoulders continues his crossing.

Two minutes to my bus.

He is nearly at the opposite path, and is just putting way the box Rianna had thrown down to him, when, BANG!, he walks face first into a signpost on the far pavement.

The sign-struck Romeo bounces backwards, still upright somehow, out into the road again — luckily there was no vehicle passing at that moment — steadies his jellied legs and throws both hands up to the tormenting heavens as he turns to eyeball the offending signpost and cry out:


The signpost has nothing to say. It has been here forever, unhidden and unheralded but sure of its place on these streets of serenade, and then this idiot Romeo comes by …

But our man has things to do, people to call, and, still rubbing his face angrily, he hits the pavement again, stumbles on and vanishes stage left around a brick corner.

A minute later my bus arrives and I am up and away from Lower Gardiner Street and its sighing Riannas, waiting on their balconies or in huddled street families outside for their smoking Romeos to lope by.

Cut off from from these city streets now I am gazing out on through my perspex casement, thinking more of Rianna above and those young girls smoking outside the Town House below.

Making the best of things, I suppose. But far from the more salubrious paths that life might offer.

The dice was loaded from the start.

And I think of my daughter K, and how shielded and removed she is from all this, and how much we and she have to be grateful for.

If only she would realise this too.

But in fairness to her, it’s been a good spell with our demanding 14-year-old princess. There have been outbursts and demands, but nothing really extreme, and longer gaps between these episodes.

And more conversations, stating of positions without rancour. Talking things through.

And that afternoon late last week I was sitting in the front room, reading a Sunday supplement, and my poppet appeared at the door, to hand me in a tall glass with a straw peeping out of it.

“Oh … what’s that?”

“It’s a strawberry smoothie, I thought you might like one”

“Ah gee thanks, sweetie …”

That’s our girl.

You just have to take the rough with the smoothie.

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56 comments on “You’ve got to take the rough with the smoothie

  1. WordPress won’t let me follow your blog.


  2. Great post! I was hooked! It was like reading a novel! 🙂 #GlobalBlogging

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A really lovely post. Admired how you juxtaposed the young girls with your own family. An interesting snapshot of gritty city life.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rhyming with Wine

    Your writing is fantastic and you paint such a vivid picture. I laughed out loud a couple of times, and I love love love that Dire Straits song! Thanks for the earworm! 😉 #globalblogging


    • One of my all-time favourite songs too … had it on YouTube as I wrote. Magic! Thanks for your lovely comment.


    • One of my all time favourites too … and I had early Dire Straits on YouTube as I wrote. Magic stuff! Thanks so much for your kind words!


  5. This was an interesting read, thanks for sharing X #bigpinklink

    Liked by 1 person

  6. As always, you’ve wrapped me up in your world and it was wonderful! Like you, I love Dire Straits and that song, and I love the way you intertwined it with the story and your own family life. Great writing, Enda 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love your style it is so engaging. I wonder what happened to Romeo? I was worried by the bang, was sure it was a car! #LGRTStumble

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Catie. Go only knows what will become of him – or Rianna!! Thanks for reading and commenting so favourably


  8. Daydreamer mum

    Brilliant . I give teen girl SUCH a hard time I think , but she knows nothing of this life . I so like your tone in this piece ,reads almost like a play #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a great post, you should write a book #triamphanttales@_karendennis

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You drew me in, again! I love the dialogue and I could picture the scene so vividly. My heart goes out to those young girls. Looking forward to the next chapter. #Tweensteensbeyond

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a fascinating story and great comparison with your own family life. I find myself worrying about Rianna ‘though. She seems very, very young. What is to become of her I wonder?

    Liked by 1 person

    • H John, thanks for commenting. God only knows what life has in store for her. What really struck me, I suppose, was how she seemed not much older than my own sheltered young teenage daughter. I thought of all the things she gives out about, and if she only knew what was out there. Not that I want her to experience it either!!


  12. Ah, nothing like a little perspective to make us realize what we have. Brilliantly written! Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. A great read – you should really consider writing a novel #dreamteam

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve stood at many a bus stop and could just imagine this happening. Brilliant post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Enda this is great, I loved reading it. Not only is it my favourite song, but the snapshot of another person’s life that you gave us is both intriguing and entertaining. Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Brilliant read. I thoroughly enjoyed this #bloggerclubuk

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Musings of a tired mummy...zzz...

    It is fascinating to think of others going about their lives and how everyone thinks their own life is ‘normal’. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging this week

    Liked by 1 person

  18. A very well written story. I think upbringing counts for more than most would care to admit. The dice is certainly, often loaded.
    Thank you for joining us at #BigPinkLink

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Enda you had me from the off. You are a great story teller but then again that is the gift of the Irish, which may be why I fell in love with my husband! These snapshots of life outside our own are mesmerising and a stark reminder of the value of what we have. Thanks for joining us. It’s lovely to have another gifted writer in the fold. #TweensTeensBeyond

    Liked by 1 person

  20. diynige

    Absolutely briilaint love this Thank you for linking to #Thatfridaylinky please come back next week

    Liked by 1 person

  21. “Sign-Struck Romeo” 🙂 🙂 Poor fella!!! Yes, our children have no idea what’s out there. Frightening really. Sometimes I wish I could keep them as naive although I know how wrong that is! Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Yup, mine too has such a sheltered lifestyle. When you see things like that, it’s definitely a kick to remember to be grateful. I was completely lost in your story for a moment, that I forgot I was reading a blog post hehe. Brilliant as always Enda. Thanks for joining us for the #DreamTeam

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Your writing just totally pulls me in! So beautifully written and a great message! Thanks for joining in with #TriumphantTales, hope to see you back again tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Alice Letters to my Daughter

    Bless her. It makes my heart ache for the girls that aren’t as fortunate as our own.

    Congrats, someone loved this post so much, they added it to the #BlogCrush linky – feel free to collect your “I’ve been featured” blog badge! (I’m a bit behind with my commenting, this was the week before last!)

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Should have been a finalist!

    Liked by 1 person

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