As we’re nearing the end of the AtoZ challenge. I’m glad I chose memories of places as my theme. Most of my memories are about my family and this one is my favourite. With two of my lovely sisters no longer with us, my memories are all the more precious.
As soon as the receptionist said ‘I’m sorry ladies, you’re a bit early, and your rooms aren’t quite ready yet’; I knew we were going to be late for dinner.
Giggling and laughing like a bunch of teenagers, we all piled into the bar where a blazing log fire awaited us. The stuffed pheasant in the glass case over the mantelpiece looked down with beady eyes as if to say ‘Not you lot again’. It was him who earned the Hotel the nickname ‘The Pheasant plucker’. We never called it the Woodenbridge.
The bar was empty except for an elderly man stocking up the cigarette machine while he whistled ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’.
‘I wonder if he’s the Pheasant plucker?’ Said Barbara, and we all sniggered like bold school children.
Ah – The annual Christmas do, with mammy and the eight girls.
We’d book in to the Wooden bridge Hotel for one night every year for the Christmas Cabaret and dinner.
‘Right’ said Enda, first up to the bar as usual. ‘Is anyone having a drink?’ ‘Does the pope wear a funny hat?’ asked Joan ‘I’ll have a pint of Guinness’.’I’ll have a bud’’ Vodka and 7up please’ ‘White wine’ ‘Bacardi and coke’. The orders were coming thick and fast. ‘You’d think it was going out of fashion’ said mammy ‘is it not a bit early to be drinking?’ She is funny at times, bless her. ‘So you’ll have a cup of tea then?’ I asked her. ‘Ah well go on so, I’ll have a small gin, sure I mightn’t be here next year’. We all screamed laughing. Mammy is in her eighties, and she’s been saying this for the past twenty years.
As we settled into our usual spot by the fire, a group of horsey people wearing jodhpurs and brandishing riding crops came in and sat at the next table. Summoning the lounge girl, one of them ordered (very loudly) ‘a bottle of your best bolly old girl!’ ‘Air hair lair’ says Deirdre, ‘jolly good show’….and there we were off giggling like kids again.
‘Behave yourselves’ said mammy in her best telephone voice. ‘Show a bit of decorum, and if you get chatting to them, don’t start telling them how old I am’. ‘No mammy’ we chorused, nudging each other in the ribs.
Following a raucous afternoon in the bar we eventually ventured up to our rooms to prepare for the evening’s festivities.
At seven thirty, half an hour late (I told you) we headed back down the stairs in a cloud of Chanel number five and Estee Lauder.
We were greeted in the foyer, by none other than the pheasant plucker himself, who turned out to be the new Hotel manager.
‘Ah ladies’ he beamed. ‘You must be the sisters’. ‘These are all my daughters’ said mammy, as proud as punch. ‘You’re never their mother’ he exclaimed with a twinkle in his eye, ‘Sure you’re far too young’. ‘Ah go away out of that’ she laughed, clearly delighted. ‘Do you know how old I am?’
With tears of laughter in our eyes, we made our way into dinner.