One of our most trusted suppliers, Fragrances of Ireland, is responsible for the creation and distribution of the famous brand “Inis Energy of the Sea”.
For over thirty years, they have been creating perfumes and toiletries in Ireland, inspired by the magic, beauty and nature of Ireland. Independent and passionate, they operate from a converted farmhouse in County Wicklow.
Their signature scent – Inis the Energy of the Sea – was inspired by Roundstone Beach on the western coast of Ireland. Inis is the Irish word for ‘island’. A truly unique, discovery fragrance – people say the scent of Inis makes them feel close to the sea, no matter where they are.
However they do not put all their eggs in one basket. They supply several other hugely popular Irish fragrances. From “Patrick for Men” to the legendary “Connemara” and “Innisfree” there is something for everyone. And this year they released “Irish Rose”. All of these wonderful fragrances are available on our website.
We are delighted to introduce Irish Rose, a re-branded collection of the beloved Inis Arose. With the same fresh fragrance that captures the carefree floral abundance of summertime in Ireland, Irish Rose layers five varieties of roses with lily of the valley, patchouli, palest pink geraniums and apple blossom to create a light, joyful blossom fresh scent.
Inspired by WB Yeats’ poem The Lake Isle of Innisfree, which speaks of the beauty of nature and the romance of Ireland. Innisfree is an eau de parfum of rich florals including lily of the valley, lavender, jasmine, rose and iris.
This perfume is based almost exclusively on florals; rose, jasmine, ylang ylang and lily of the valley. Connemara is inspired by the beauty and majesty of the Connemara countryside on Ireland’s west coast.
A classic men’s cologne – fresh, green and warmed with woody base notes of oakmoss and patchouli. Named in honour of Ireland’s patron saint, Patrick is inspired by his travels throughout Ireland.
Thompson’s Teas has experienced record-breaking success at this years’ Great Taste Awards.
Thompson’s Family Teas has experienced record-breaking success at this years’ Great Taste Awards. Their Punjana brand, Northern Ireland’s favorite tea, has stretched its award-winning run to an unprecedented 10 years, a feat achieved by no other blended tea in this all-important category.
The news comes as the Guild of Fine Food, acknowledged as the benchmark for fine food and drink in the UK, has released its Great Taste Award Winners 2017.
Thompson’s Family Teas, which are today still blended by cousins Ross and David Thompson at their state of the art tea blending facility in Belfast, have picked up over 100 Great Taste Awards in the last 12 years. Each blend is Taste-Tested by a Thompson to ensure that it meets the exacting standards set by the Thompson family which have been passionately adhered to for over 120 years.
Ross Thompson, said: ‘To win a Great Taste Award is very exciting, but for Punjana to be recognised by the Guild of Fine Foods every year for the past decade is something really special, and is an acknowledgement of our dedication to importing and blending the worlds’ finest teas. Only the best leaves, which are highly prized and command a greater price, find their way into our awarding-winning blends’.
‘It takes a certain amount of courage to choose what is best over what is most profitable’, Ross continues, ‘and we stay focused on sourcing leaves with superior taste and flavor, and simply can’t be persuaded to do it any other way’.
The Thompson family’s love of tea was born in Belfast in 1896 when founder Robert S Thompson trained in the art of tea tasting and soon became known for his uncompromising devotion to quality.
In the first few years of the business, tea brands didn’t exist and indeed only began to emerge during the post-war years. In 1900, there were perhaps 25 tea companies in Belfast, selling their wares in beautiful tea chests around the numerous independent grocery shops up and down the country.
Today, Thompson’s Family Teas is the only mainstream tea company that remains.
However, it was in 1955 that the Thompson’s hero brand, Punjana, was born. Launched on television on UTV’s first night of transmission with the now iconic “Pick Punjana Tea” jingle.
The ‘Punjana’ name was inspired by 2nd generation James Thompson who, whilst on a shopping trip to Comber, spied an inscription on the Gillespie monument which read, ‘Punjab’. Conscious of India’s reputation for producing some of the world’s finest tea and thinking that this could be the basis for a great brand name, he consulted with his wife, Lillias, and together they arrived at the name “Punjana”. Agreement was then sought from his brother, Tony, and the rest as they say, is history!
Today, the business continues under the leadership of 3rd generation Thompsons, who share in its founder’s passion for selecting only the best quality and select teas from the very finest gardens in Assam, Kenya and beyond.
Recently, Punjana was also officially crowned Northern Ireland’s favourite product in The People’s Choice Award 2017 as voted for by the public at this year’s prestigious Northern Ireland Food & Drink Awards.
Thompson’s range of exotic loose leaf teas have been chosen to be served in some of Northern Ireland’s most iconic locations including the Titanic Ballroom, National Trust properties and Hastings luxury hotels.
Irish Rose Eau de Parfum is a soft and lovely floral fragrance that takes the freshness of a sea breeze and delicately adds the fragrance of rose and spring blossoms. The scent blends five varieties of roses: Lily of the Valley, patchouli, palest pink geranium, and apple blossom to create a floral fragrance that has the energy of the sea and the freshness and vitality of a garden in full bloom. Another wonderful addition to our Fragrances of Ireland collection.
Over the past few years we have added several new Irish perfumes that women would appreciate, and I think we really hit a home run with this one. I recently stopped a woman in the store as we passed each other several times and asked her what she was wearing. Well, this is one of those scents. It is a scent that leaves a positive impression.
Perfume Product Care:
Did you know that perfume should always be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight or heat. A dresser drawer is a good choice. Do not keep fragrances in the bathroom, where fluctuating temperatures and high humidity can lead to their deterioration. Keep perfume bottles tightly closed, to prevent evaporation, which can change the balance of a scent’s composition. This is one item you will use daily and always feel confident and fresh wearing it.
Simple instructions on how to measure your head and select the corrrect hat size.
Use a tape measure. If you do not have a tape measure, use a piece of string. Then using a ruler calculate the length of the string. Measure several times to be accurate and sure of the correctly measured head size. See the graphic below for further instructions.
Aran Woolen Mills, Ireland’s leading knitwear brand, is celebrating 55 years of crafting beautifully designed garments in Ireland.
The company was set up in 1965 by Padraig and Maura Hughes with three intentions:
A. To keep the local crafts alive.
B. To provide employment for the local community.
C. To provide their own Hughes children with something useful to do during the long summer holidays.
Aran Woolen Mills remains a family business and has grown and evolved over the years to become an icon of the Irish knitwear industry, treasured by its loyal clients all over the world.
Today, in addition to its perennially popular Aran knitwear, they also make extensive range of contemporary Irish knitwear for women and traditional Irish Sweaters for men. By partnering with top Irish retailers like ourselves at CelticClothing.com, they have successfully brought the brand to customers across the globe.
It is not just the product offering that has expanded. Huge innovations in design and production have enabled Aran Woolen Mills to offer a diverse range of styles and colors in its garments – the current collection spans the spectrum from strong earthy tones to the latest fashion shades. Aran Woolen Mills now focuses on merino wool, which is noted for its tactile qualities and is now complemented by the addition of an even finer yarn, super soft merino, which is so soft that customers will love wearing it next to their skin.
With so much exciting change, it’s little wonder that Aran Woolen Mills has had to expand its manufacturing facility in Westport, Co Mayo, in order to ensure that supply can keep pace with demand. It now ranks as Ireland’s largest knitwear manufacturing plant and receives a steady stream of visitors throughout the year, all of whom are welcome to see and learn about AranWoolen Mills’ authentic Irish manufacturing process and to meet their wonderful staff – the driving force behind the company’s success.
Alongside such change however, the crucial elements of their success have remained constant: an unerring focus on design, quality, service, value for money and a commitment to creating unique designs inspired by Westport’s breathtaking scenery and the wild Atlantic coast.It is this attention to detail that has provided the foundation for Aran Woolen Mills success over the past half-century and hopefully will keep it in good stead for the next 50 years and beyond.
Padraig and Maura Hughes, the company founders, would be both proud and humbled to see how the small craft industry they established many years ago has grown and blossomed into the market leader it is today.
Knocknashee ‘Hill of the Fairies’ is one of Ireland’s largest Bronze Age fortified hilltop forts stretching 700×320 meters across this table-top mountain plateau. Being one of Ireland’s seven most sacred hills ‘Knocknashee’ is a sacred site for Fairies & for those of us who worship or believe in them. Its name comes from the Irish words “knock” (cnoc) meaning “hill” and “shee” (Sidhe) meaning “fairy”. If there is anywhere in Ireland to possibly sight fairies, then this is your best location to explore.
It consists of 2 large stone cairns (tombs) which date back 5000 years & the remains of up to 60 circular stone houses dating back 3000 years old (zoom into this photo to see all these circular house remains) There is also a large stone wall surrounding the entire enclosure. It is rumoured that some people lived on top of this hill until relatively lately. The last of their houses were demolished on the ‘Night of the Big Wind’ of 1839, when a storm with wind speeds of around 115 mph ruined most of Ireland & literally blew those modern dwellings clean off this plateau top
Can you just imagine how it was possibly living inside one of these small stone huts on top of this mountain next to these tombs thousands of years ago! My brain wanders just trying to even understand it all? Some folk may easily laugh at the idea of Fairies & Spirits etc but one thing for sure….. Our ancestors were no fools & were very intelligent people. You can clearly see this by the stunning monuments they left behind that still have us gazing in awe today. They certainly didn’t go through this type of effort in construction, worship & ritual for thousands of years ‘simply on a whim’. There are more to these sacred areas that meets the eye & I hope that someday soon the answers will be revealed.
I wanted to research what the Province of Ulster was like just before the Plantation. This would give me an insight into the population density, economic activity and politics of the region the Scots-Irish were about to enter. I came across this wonderful article published around 8 years ago in History Ireland Magazine.
One of Ireland’s most important parliaments was held in Dublin in 1541. This declared Henry VIII to be ‘king of Ireland’ and made all Irishmen, whatever their origin, Gaelic or Norman, his subjects with equal rights under common law. It enacted the ‘surrender and regrant’ legislation and, while English was the official language, much of the proceedings was translated into Irish for the benefit of the many attendees who knew no English. Among them was the lord of Clandeboye, whose name we do not know. It is not unreasonable, however, to assume that this was Brian Faghartach, eldest son of Niall Óg (d. 1537), and he may also have participated in ‘surrender and regrant’ agreements in the early 1540s. Whether he did or not, in 1548 he was assassinated by Shane O’Neill, then a twenty-year-old about to make a name for himself in Ulster.
Over the next nineteen years Shane established himself as a supremo in Ulster and controlled Clandeboye as one of his urriaght (subsidiary) territories. This was not simple, as he had to cope with the Scots, incursions into his territory by forces from Dublin and the English garrison at Carrickfergus, which appears to have been completely re-Anglicised by the mid-1560s when controlled by William Piers. Piers established relationships with Owen McHugh in south Clandeboye and Brian McPhelim in north Clandeboye, both getting large sums for cooperation. It is likely that both became inter alia ‘intelligence agents’ on Piers’s behalf and perhaps had a role in the ultimate destruction of Shane O’Neill, both at Farsetmore (see HI 19.3, May/June 2011, pp 16–21), where Shane’s defeat cost him some 2,000 men, and ultimately at the hands of the McDonnells, who hacked him to death in 1567. Shane had become a major liability to the governments in both London and Dublin and Sir Henry Sidney, the lord deputy, took all necessary measures to get rid of him. During the fifteen-month period up to September 1567 Piers was paid £3,589 and Owen McHugh and Brian McPhelim £626, huge sums disbursed by the Dublin treasury. Brian McPhelim O’Neill was knighted, presumably for his role in helping to get rid of Shane, but a further consequence of the campaign was the destruction of the agricultural economy around Carrickfergus. According to Rowland White of Lecale, Co. Down, an Old English correspondent with the government, writing in 1569, before the English garrisoning of Carrickfergus (in the 1560s) there were 500 or 600 ploughlands under grain within ten miles of the town, but afterwards only five or six. This destruction was wrought by the soldiers of Carrickfergus. The results of the war against Shane were confirmed by the Dublin parliament of 1570, where he was attainted, his lands confiscated to the Crown and east Ulster divided into the shires of Antrim and Down. While Sir Brian McPhelim was still regarded as chief of Clandeboye, neither he nor any other Clandeboye got a title to their lands. This parliament also marked the de facto end of the medieval earldom of Ulster.
Failed colonisation schemes
While east Ulster was now pacified, the English in London attempted to benefit from it. Queen Elizabeth therefore approved colonisation plans for both north Down and the Ards on the one hand and all south Antrim on the other. Sir Thomas Smith, her former secretary of state, was awarded north Down and the Ards, while the earl of Essex was awarded the whole of County Antrim except for the Route and the Glynns (Glens), i.e the southern half of County Antrim. From the queen’s point of view, the most salient feature of both of these plans was that they were to be completely financed by the promoters and were ultimately to yield her an income for no investment on her part. These grants were made over the head of the lord deputy, Sidney. Both colonisation attempts failed through incompetence of different sorts. Sir Thomas Smith, underestimating what was involved, advertised in London for colonists to participate in his venture. When Sir Brian McPhelim O’Neill of Clandeboye heard of this, that—despite his fulsome cooperation in the war against Shane—his land was now to be taken from him and given to Smith, he immediately set about destroying any infrastructure that might be used by Smith to garrison troops. He therefore destroyed all the monastic buildings in north Down and the Ards, including those at Newtown (Ards), Bangor, Movilla, Comber and Grey Abbey. It is not clear whether this involved displacement of tenantry. These churls (labourers) were thought by the English to be cooperative, hard-working and productive if only they could rid themselves of their over-exploitative Gaelic landlords. The main promoter of the colony on the ground was Sir Thomas Smith’s son. The venture came to an end in 1573 when he was killed by one of his Irish servants, his body boiled and fed to dogs.
In the case of Essex, the earl appears to have been inveigled into the venture by those at court who wanted rid of him. He invested a large fortune, mortgaging thirteen of his English manors and getting a loan of £10,000 at 10% interest from the queen. His was a very bloody venture. During his time in Ireland many Scots were killed, the notorious massacre at Rathlin Island was perpetrated by Norris and Drake, and he destroyed much of north Clandeboye. According to himself, in a letter to the queen in July 1575, he ‘left all the county desolate and without people’. Neil McBrian’s ‘people [he had succeeded Sir Brian McPhelim] were few, his cattle less [and] his husbandmen were starved, dead or run out of the country’. Perhaps Essex’s worst atrocity occurred at the Christmas feast at Belfast in 1574 given by Sir Brian McPhelim, when Essex—according to himself, suspecting treachery—had all 200 participants, of whatever age or sex, killed. The Four Masters claim that this massacre was gratuitous murder without cause. Sir Brian himself, his wife and his brother Rory Óg were arrested, brought to Dublin and executed. Essex achieved nothing by his exploits in Antrim. In 1576 he fell ill of dysentery in Dublin, where he died. Sidney visited Ulster later that year. He claimed that Carrickfergus was much decayed and impoverished, the inhabitants fled, not about six householders of any countenance remaining, and Clandeboye was ‘utterly disinhabited’. Such were the results of the first attempts to colonise the new counties of Antrim and Down. The main English participants incurred great loss of money and some loss of life.
War amongst the Gaelic Irish
A period of relative peace followed in Clandeboye between the Irish and the English. This was not the case among the Irish themselves. In promoting Neill McBrian Ertagh, Essex ignored the claims of other contenders for the lordship. These included Sir Brian McPhelim’s son and brother as well as Con McNeill, Niall McBrian Ertagh’s uncle. A tentative division of the lordship was made in 1584 under the auspices of Lord Deputy Perrott. Con was to have south Clandeboye, while the north was to be divided between Shane, son of Sir Brian McPhelim, and Hugh Oge, son of his brother, also Hugh. This arrangement led to the killing of Hugh Oge in 1586. North Clandeboye was bitterly disputed between the sons of the brothers Sir Brian and Hugh McPhelim, causing ‘great dissension between them, and great slaughter often by both parties committed’. Eventually Shane was allotted the castle at Belfast and three parts of lower Clandeboye and followers, while Neill was allotted one quarter of the territory and followers and the castle at Edenduffcarrick on the shores of Lough Neagh. Henceforth Clandeboye would be held by the descendants of these two men. All these settlements were authorised by the English.These arrangements might have held if the English had been able to protect and defend them against the ambitions of Hugh O’Neill, earl of Tyrone. Because they couldn’t, O’Neill was able to establish his supremacy and during the Nine Years War sent his nephew, Brian MacArt, to organise and control Clandeboye military contingents to fight on his side. These were relatively small, perhaps because the Clandeboye population had not fully recovered from the devastation unleashed by Essex and Smith’s attemped plantations. No great battles were fought in Antrim and Down during this war. The war there consisted of small local engagements, none of which was decisive. To the English Clandeboye was more of a nuisance than a threat. This was to change once Sir Arthur Chichester was appointed governor of Carrickfergus. He determined to finish Clandeboye. He quickly overran north Clandeboye and got some of its Irish lords on the English side.
Famine and massacre as tactics of war
Chichester believed in famine as the main method of defeating the Gaelic Irish. Mountjoy agreed, and after the victory at Kinsale in 1601 both set about burning and killing in Ulster, destroying crops and animals as well as men, women and children without scruple. While Chichester is infamous for his trips across Lough Neagh, burning and killing, he confined most of his activities to Antrim and Down. This succeeded in destroying Clandeboye as a safe haven and a supply base for Tyrone. Apart from winning the war, Chichester had another and more personal motivation. Managing his estate and inheritances in Devon had left him virtually bankrupt and he saw the prospect of land confiscated in Ireland after the war as a means of restoring his fortunes. He coveted the lands of Clandeboye. To acquire these he took the Carrickfergus governorship with a hand-picked staff of English officers from backgrounds and circumstances similar to his own, second sons with limited if any prospects in England but who could make fortunes from land confiscated in Ulster.Chichester and his cohorts set about their task with a determined, ruthless mercilessness. Letters written by Chichester himself, confirmed by the accounts of Fynes Morrison, Mountjoy’s secretary, show what unremitting devastation was inflicted without compunction for age or sex. The standard histories of the period tell of cannibalism, corpses green-mouthed from eating grass, and dead bodies piled by the roadsides. There was so much killing of churls that even Mountjoy found the excesses distasteful. Chichester left lower Clandeboye, i.e. the southern half of modern County Antrim, utterly devastated and depopulated. North Down was not destroyed to the same extent. When its lord, Con O’Neill, saw that Tyrone’s cause was lost, he immediately surrendered to the queen and was confirmed in his lands as an encouragement to others to do likewise. He returned to Castlereagh to find most of his lands, though not all, devastated like those of Antrim but was able to save what remained of his tenantry from further burning and slaughter by Chichester’s flying columns.
Dividing the spoils
Once the war was over it was time to divide the spoils. Inquisitions were held in 1605 in Antrim and Down to assess exactly what was available for distribution among the victors. The Antrim inquisition found, according to Belfast antiquarian F.J. Bigger: ‘… in lower Clanaboy [sic] there were twenty-one sub-territories containing vast tracts of the finest lands in Ulster, and inhabited by a very numerous population, but Chichester left it desolate’. These lands were distributed among Chichester and his followers, although the remaining few loyal Gaelic nobles got generous estates. The story of Con O’Neill and how he lost two thirds of his estates to Hamilton and Montgomery in upper Clandeboye (north Down) is well known. These latter expelled their remaining Gaelic tenants to the Dufferin barony.Scottish immigrants began arriving at Donaghadee from May 1606 to take up new tenancies first in Down and later in Antrim. They found no resistance. There was nobody left to offer it. By now James VI of Scotland had become James I of England. Thus started the peopling of these parts with inhabitants who then and subsequently were to be described as ‘British’. HI Tom Murphy is a retired internal auditor. Article based on his MA thesis, ‘Clandeboye: its rise and decline c. 1350–1606’.
“Many parts of Ireland are surprisingly sparsely populated. Although once you arrive on this little peninsula in west Donegal, all becomes as evident as the nose on your face. It isn’t unusual to find a single cottage surrounded by 10 acres of land or more & there are more sheep on these slopes than there are inhabitants. I can’t help but envy & wish health to whoever lives in this stunning little cottage, happily & safely away from it all until this storm has passed…..
At first glimpse this photo may appear peaceful. Although if you can gauge from those nearing clouds in the distance, this was not quite the case. During the tail end of a recent storm that struck our shores, I remember fighting winds to stand in one spot long enough to capture this scene! Overhead clouds were blowing across the sky so fast allowing patches of stunning light to break through momentarily, followed by deep shadows that blanketed the entire landscape.
Cold & continually wiping rain off my lens every few seconds, I waited in hope for another opening to allow some light through to illuminate this little cottage. Not a moment too soon! The light vibrantly shone down & I pressed the shutter button one last time. Within seconds the light dwindled & heavy showers pelted down on me! I ran back to my car like a soaked squirrel with a nut! I loved every moment “
Leave your comments below. More of Gareth’s wonderful & inspiring work can be found on his website at: https://garethwray.com/
Inez McCormack (1943-2013) was a Irish trade union leader and human rights activist. Born Inez Murphy into an Ulster Protestant family in Cultra, County Down, she once recalled; “recalled: “I was a puzzled young Prod – until I was 17 I hadn’t knowingly met a Catholic. I was a young Protestant girl who didn’t understand that there were grave issues of inequality, injustice and division in our society.”
“Calls To Distant Places” is set in Belfast, Ireland. Peter Jordan is an Irish short story writer who spends his time between Belfast & Donegal. His latest collection of short stories, also titled “Calls To Distant Places” was recently published in Ireland. He has won the Bare Fiction prize, placed second in the Fish, and was shortlisted for the both the Bridport & Bath Short Fiction and Flash Fiction prizes.
Peter has kindly agreed to share another story with our American readers to help us all get through the Coronavirus lockdown. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below. Enjoy.
Calls To Distant Places
It was two in the morning. When I got out of the taxi I saw my neighbor Joe across
the street standing at his front gate. I hadn’t spoken to him in months. His wife had
cancer and my wife had just had a baby.
– Hi Joe, I said.
He motioned to me.
– What’s up? I said.
– It’s Bruno.
Bruno was Joe’s Golden Retriever.
– I came downstairs for a cigarette, it must have been his heart, he’s been on
I didn’t know what to say.
– I need to get him in the boot of the car. I don’t want Grace to see him. She’s
been through enough already.
We walked together up the slope of the driveway to the house. He opened the
car boot and lifted out his fishing gear. There was a chill and I could see my own
Joe came out of the garage with black bin liners and arranged them carefully
along the bottom of the boot. When he had finished, I followed him into the house. I
hadn’t been in the house since last summer. When we walked inside, I could smell
synthetic air freshener.
In the living room, the dog was lying on a throw on the sofa.
Joe had really let the place go: on one of the seats, beside the television, was
a pile of old magazines and newspapers. There were ashes and white tissues in the
grate and on the hearth.
Joe got on his knees and cradled Bruno’s head and I tried to lift his hind legs.
He was still warm. Then Joe said: Wait. And he placed the throw over him, and we
lifted him off the sofa in that manner. We carried him carefully through each doorway
to the outside and placed him in the boot of the car. Then Joe bent down and kissed
him on the forehead before finally closing the boot. I patted Joe on the shoulder and
we both went back inside.
In the kitchen he reached up above the grill, opened a cupboard and took out
a bottle of Jameson.
Then he nodded towards the sink. Help yourself to a glass, he said.
As I walked towards the sink, I kicked a bowl of dried dog food. It was half
empty. And I cursed.
– Sorry about the mess, said Joe.
I lifted a glass and rinsed it under the hot tap, running my fingers inside and
along the rim to clean it.
I’d been drinking beer all night and I wasn’t ready for the whiskey. It tasted
earthy. It would take a bit of getting used to. I patted my pockets for my cigarettes,
stood up and offered one to Joe.
– I’m just going to check on Grace, he said. I’m not smoking in the house
I heard his weight on the stairs as I patted every pocket for my lighter. When I
found it, I stepped outside on to the patio. The intruder light came on immediately.
I remembered last summer. We had only just moved in. Joe had called at the
door to introduce himself. He had caught two sea trout: a cock and a hen. The male
fish was around four pounds, the female a pound lighter.
He brought me over a generous cut from each fish. My wife, Anna, said she
couldn’t eat them after having just seen them whole. I wrapped them in tinfoil and
cooked them in the oven with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper. They didn’t taste
like farmed fish. These fish, you could taste the river in them.
Anna said we should invite Joe and Grace over for a drink. They both came
over with wine and beer. And, when the sun moved behind our house, we all carried
our drinks across the street to Joe and Grace’s. I remembered Grace carrying her
sandals in one hand and a wine glass in the other.
They were both older than us by twenty years but there was a bond. Grace
really hit it off with Anna. I think in many ways they were very similar — they had a
lot in common.
Joe had said he would take me fly-fishing He gave me a cork-handled
beginner’s rod, showed me how to cast. I had been practicing with that rod; casting
from my patio until I could land the fly on my compost bin. The fishing season had
come and gone — I’d paid £120 for a fishing license — and I hadn’t got to fish.
Joe stepped outside. The intruder light came back on.
– She’s sleeping, he said.
I offered him a cigarette and he accepted. Stood there in a white short-
sleeved shirt he didn’t seem to notice the cold.
– How’s Anna?
– She’s good, I said. Anna’s good.
– And the baby?
– The baby’s good.
– A good sleeper?
I nodded. The truth is I was sleeping in the spare room. I felt like Anna and I
were drifting apart since the baby had come along.
– My son left before you moved in, said Joe. He’s an accountant, lives in
He drained the glass.
– I might visit when things settle down here.
He went back inside for the bottle and, when he came back outside, he asked:
Have you changed a nappy yet?
– Not yet, I said.
– I never changed a single nappy. Grace did it all.
Then he drained the glass, looked up at the sky.
– It’s my turn now, he said.
I lifted the glass, but I didn’t drink from it.
– Joe, I said. I gotta go.
I offered him my hand. He shook it.
– Tell Anna I said hello, he said, and say hi to the baby.
Then he walked me through the house. On the front porch he hugged me, and
he didn’t let go.
– I’m sorry about the fishing, he said.