A moment of tiredness when contemplating flying from Dublin to Heathrow at 0640 tomorrow; it will mean leaving the Midlands at 3.30 am in order to pick up someone in south Dublin before driving around the M50 to the airport. The moment of self-pity was broken by a memory of Ros.
Born in 1909, Ros aged in body but never mind. Calling one afternoon at the nursing home where she lived, a place more like a family-run hotel from the 1950s than a 21st Century care establishment, Ros declared herself to be tired.
‘You haven’t been out night clubbing again, Ros?’
She smiled. ‘Night clubbing! The chance would be a fine thing’.
Cars and driving were discussed on another occasion. ‘When did you learn to drive, Ros?’
‘Oh, I was quite old before I started to drive’.
‘What age were you?’
‘I must have been 25’.
‘So you were driving around Dublin in 1934?’
It was difficult to imagine a young woman with her own car, driving alone, for Ros never married, around the roads of 1930s Ireland. It doesn’t quite fit with the pictures painted by the novels and the films. While Brian Friel’s characters in Donegal were dancing at Lughnasa; Ros, a young bank clerk, was travelling around in her Bullnose Morris.
‘Ros, what were the roads like outside of Dublin?’
‘Not good’, must have been a masterpiece of understatement. There was a smile at imagining the twenty-something bumping along over the gravel and the potholes. I had wanted to ask her about things like petrol stations and getting punctures fixed, but the moment passed and the opportunity never returned.
Ros didn’t really like looking backwards. Each Sunday morning, she came to church for the 8 am communion service. Once a month, it was the 17th Century Book of Common Prayer service. After church one Sunday, Ros said, ‘Rector, can I talk to you about the Prayer Book?’
‘Of course, Ros’.
‘Rector, I don’t know that service; I can’t see to read it; and, what’s more, I don’t like it’.
The parish had switched to modern liturgy in 1972 and Ros had been its foremost supporter.
Ros would have been delighted to be flying somewhere tomorrow. ‘Do you know my first memory of an aeroplane? It was in a field outside of Cork in 1914 – I was 5.’ Ros flew on many planes in the years that followed.
Driving up the Naas dual carriageway after 4.00 tomorrow morning, I’ll think of Ros.