Sunday 12 March 2017

Ah daughters, how they grow

I was writing on International Women's Day about how time flies, especially when you have children late. One minute you're holding on to the seat of their bicycle as they wobble across the yard and >!blink!< they're pushing you about in a bath chair and trying to keep the plaid rug across your scrawny knees. On dit que I look like Jeremy Irons but it's really a superficial assessment. We both have grizzled beards now which helps to hide a common sticky out upper lip and I guess we both speak middle-class southern because we both had a very expensive education in the South of England. Irons plays GH "Taxi-cab" Hardy in the film The man Who Knew infinity, which I tribbed last year.

Irons also stars in the South American jungle in The Mission [L], which my daughters add to the list of wholly inappropriate DVDs to give to an eight-year-old for Christmas . . . along with Zorba the Greek,

Since Christmas I've been tuning into a few episode of the BBC tele-prog called Who Do You Think You Are. I do this on youtube because a) we don't have a television and b) WDYTYR is mostly harmless: no chain-saws, so car-chases and all the bonking is strictly off-camera. Of course, as the program traces the ancestors of each week's celebrity, there is a LOT of bonking off camera as the generations reel past in 50 minutes. Anyway, at the end of February, some generous pirate put up the episode covering the life of Jeremy Irons in an hour. Irons offered to lay everything bare for the great British public, partly because he's an ac-tor, but also because he cannot explain why he felt so strongly that he was coming home when he first visited West Cork. Like a lot of people, not only Americans, he was in search of his Irish ancestors. If you speak English like a native you will not have to go very far back to turn up someone who lived in Ireland. And it was so. It turns out that one of his forebears lived in Warrenpoint, County Down in the middle 19thC, a widower with his only surviving daughter Catherine/Kate. In his travels visiting his extensive cousinage, Irons gets his hands on a commonplace book shared by father and daughter and reads this poem:
A winking blinking little thing full of deep-eyed witchery
Full of artless rollicking and ever busy as a bee
Making all the house to sing, she is the very joy to me
Waking sleeping early late my heart is full of little Kate

Ah would that time would leave us so
But she’ll grow old and I’ll grow strange
Content with loves that round her grow
She seeks not yet a wider range.

But years will come and year will go
And with the changing years she’ll change
Then through the shifting scenes of fate
I’ll look in vain for little Kate.
By Henry Loftie Rutton, 
14th Feb 1857
Warrenpoint County Down
If you want to hear the great man read it, skip to minutes 40-42. Wait, there's something in my eye.

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