May 14 2009
I wasn’t going out of my way to listen in. I was happily scribbling down things into my notepad, waiting for Lottie to get on at the next stop. The woman just happened to be quite loud, but once I heard her, the situation had my full attention.
The first thing I heard from this woman who was reading a newspaper article to a young boy, was something about a murder and rape trial. She was reading the details to him and he was asking questions about it. I’m useless at working out people’s ages but I would guess he was about 6 or 7, certainly no older than 8. She my have been in her mid to late 40’s. Maybe I’m behind the times but it didn’t seem right that she would be talking about these things to him with such vigour.
She read other articles, but none that stood out. He was very interested and inquisitive about everything, so continued asking questions as she read. Once the paper was put away, they just chatted. Lottie said later that the woman seemed to speak to the young boy the same way she would speak to someone her own age. That’s probably about right.
“When are you going to get away from the farm and go on holidays somewhere warm“, she asked him.
“Never,” he answered resolutely, with a smile. He was cheeky but harmless.
“You’re getting as bad as your father“, she replied, which would be a negative enough thing to say to a young boy, except she actually went far further than that…
“Do you know the furthest your father’s ever been? The last time he was outside the county border was for his honeymoon in Wexford.“
I think she cackled then, but that may have been my imagination adding that. The relationship was becoming clear. She wasn’t the mother – she was likely an aunt.
The boy said, “No – he goes away to get the feed. That’s miles away.” Such innocence in his voice and it seemed all she wanted to do was crush it.
She laughed loudly (more than one person on the train turned to see what was going on at this point).
“Every year I go to Kerry,” she said, “and that’s further“.
The boy stopped asking questions and became very quiet for a while. One of the last things I heard from the duo as they departed from the train was her saying – “you’re spending too much time with your father and his brother – they’re both useless too.“