“Out of my Depth in Pools of Culture at National Gallery”

Liffey Swim JB Yeats


We’re in the National Art Gallery, in an effort on my part to “culture up” my daughter. She’s barely heard of Rembrandt, thinks the Van Gogh is dull, and yawns at the Vermeer, so I vow that her iPad is being confiscated until she knows a little more about – ahem – The Arts.
He of the PhD has accompanied us last minute, still stiff from the journey. Tall and gangly as a giraffe, he’s been bent double in my tiny galloping maggot for an hour, muttering vague insults to himself about “womens’ cars.” At least I think that’s what he was muttering, it was hard to hear; his knees were in his mouth for the entire trip.
“That guy was Ireland’s first Olympic medallist” he points out to Scallywag in front of a Jack B Yeats painting.
“For what?” she asks.
“Horse racing, wasn’t it?” I chime in.
I’m way out of my depth here, didn’t know that Jack B Yeats won any medals for anything.
The over-educated basketball post hoots wildly and he’s getting uncomfortably loud.
“Painting!” he splutters. “He won a medal for painting!”
“Yeah, painting a picture while doing the half-mile spit, was it?” I ask sarcastically, drawing myself up to the whole height of my ignorance.
“Don’t mind him, pet. He’s having us on.”
“Check your phone – go on, google it!” he demands, but thankfully there is no phone coverage. I now know he’s right, though. Hate that.
We decide to check out the National History Museum round the corner, as my daughter has been spectacularly uninspired by the Great Masters, although she liked the Picasso. No accounting for taste, kids…
She is thrilled with the stuffed animals. She asks what the huge skeleton is, spanning the whole the length of the museum, suspended high from the ceiling.
“It’s a dinosaur” I tell her.
The PhD is away again, howling like a hyena, and I ‘m overcome with a sudden ambition to be a taxidermist. I want to stuff him and shove him in the glass box with the gorillas. Because I’m wrong once more, it seems.
“But didn’t dinosaurs have legs?” she asks.
“Yup – but they found a skeleton without legs in this case” I am determined.
“It’s a whale, you ninny!” he manages to gasp between gulps for air and a lot of stifled, high-pitched squawks.
“It’s a dinosaur! My father took us here when we were small, he told us it’s a dinosaur!” I almost shout at him.
“Go ask that man what it is” he steers my daughter over to a uniformed attendant. .
She returns from her brief Q & A discussion and declares “It’s only a bloody whale, Mam!”
“Don’t swear, it’s unladylike” I retort.
“Huh? But you swear all the time –“
“Do what I say, not what I do” I snap, realizing very late in life that my father had been pulling our legs – all six of us, it’s a lot of legs – on a visit here many years ago. That’s just so typical of my Dad.
We see meerkats and marmosets, lions and tigers and zebras and bisons and bears and birds and fossils, and Scallywag is enthralled, although the PhD is still trying to recover, having been rendered helpless with mirth at my numerous faux-pas’s.
Later we’re in McDonalds in Grafton Street, and another argument erupts with the Expert On Everything about which McDonalds opened first in Dublin.
“Now, now children. Settle down” Scallywag scolds like a smug school principal. “Eat your cheeseburgers.” she grins widely. “Quietly, please.”
The drive home is very quiet indeed. My role as educator for the day has been hopelessly undermined, much to Scallywag’s amusement. The PhD is still grinning triumphantly, or trying to; it’s difficult to grin with a mouthful of knee, and I’m so glad my car is tiny. Next time we hit Dublin, we’ll just bombard the shops, us gals. And we won’t tell the professor.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s