The former guesthouse operated by Mrs Fallon.

Sure, we’re not old at all!


The photograph makes me sad. I took it last Sunday.

When I was young this building was a lovely big guest-house, owned by Mrs Fallon. The extension at the back hadn’t been added on then. We could look over a low wall, into their back garden.

Right beside the busy guest-house was St. Peter’s Boarding School, run by the Mercy Nuns. This girls’ school was down past The Dean Crowe Theatre, in Excise Street, near the river. The lock gates are just behind it.

Recently, I met a woman who was a boarder in that school and she told me the following story.

The teenage boarders were very aware of Mrs. Fallon’s guest-house, over the wall from their school. This was because many young guards, lodged there.

Boarders were not allowed to speak during breakfast. If they spoke, the punishment was that they must stand up on their chairs. Very quickly, the girls realised that whilst standing at this height, they had a perfect view, over the wall, of the handsome young guards leaving the guesthouse.

And they spotted the girls too. The young men waved and winked at the teenage boarders, who were thrilled beyond words with the excitement of this, in their dull monotonous lives.

In no time, all the girls eating their breakfast, spoke out loud so as the old nun (reading her prayer book in the corner) would hear them and point to their chair.

Can you imagine 30 girls standing up on their chairs, in a refectory? Can you see each one with a bowl of porridge in her hand gazing out the window, into the yard next door? Can you picture the animated lustful look in all their eyes?

Every time I think of it, I smile!

The woman, the ex-boarder, who told me this story is 84. She is in fine form, mentally and physically. I love to meet people like her, people full of life in their 80s and even 90s. They make me feel young.

Remember that the president of America is 81 and the pope is 87.

I was flicking through the channels on television the other night. I saw wonderful David Attenborough, who is now 98. I saw Mary Berry cooking and she is 89. I saw William Roache (Ken Barlow) on Coronation Street and he is 92. Being only in my early 70s, sure I’m not old at all!

A man I greatly admire is Christy Moore. He is still packing venues, aged 78. What I find extraordinary about him is that I have nephews in their mid-twenties who all go to his concerts. Other nephews, in their mid-forties go, too. These young folk sit amongst people our age. Christy Moore appeals to all ages, which is most unusual for a performer.

David Attenborough was born the same year as my mother, in 1926, and he is still going strong, too. We love his wonderful programmes.

What always takes my fancy is that, with most creatures, it is the male of the species who does all the prancing and dancing in order to attract a mate.

Picture the peacock as an example. What a spectacular display he puts on for the females!

Most male animals, birds and fish attempt to impress a mate with much razzle-dazzle.

As the male display his colours and prowess, the female stands nearby, almost pretending not to notice him at all. She is usually plain and colourless. Often, she just walks away, unimpressed with his spectacular display.

Compare this with us humans. How do we go about attracting a mate? It is the female of our species who put on the ‘spectacular display,’ without a doubt.

I’m thinking of my one and only time in Roseland Ballroom, Moate. Standing in the ‘Ladies,’ I was fascinated watching the women there. They had cycled in and arrived wearing dark long coats, headscarves and heavy shoes. Shedding their outer clothes, these girls then applied much make-up. Much back-combing took place too.

Like the peacock, they entered the dance hall transformed into beautiful creatures all set to dazzle the men.

Their gorgeous brightly coloured dresses, high heels and big hair could definitely be called a ‘spectacular display,’ all to attract a mate.

The ‘mates’ present probably (after a quick wash) had put on a clean white shirt (ironed by Mammy) under their dark suits. A blob of Brylcreem combed into their hair completed their ‘spectacular display.’ God help us!

Two nuns, aged 81 and 82, regularly attend table quizzes with two friends of mine. My friends are retired teachers and worked with these nuns for many years.

They are always impressed with the modern style the two nuns wear. And they enjoy a few glasses of wine, each night, also!

On the subject of table-quizzes, the following made me laugh. A friend (I’ll call her Mary) was on holidays abroad.

The owner of the apartment block arranged nightly events for those on holidays there. One evening there was a table quiz at eight o’clock. Three (slightly drunk) English women insisted that my friend be on their team. They knew she was a teacher and said that she would be a great asset to them.

Half the questions were about soap operas and the other half were about the intimate lifestyles of influencers that Mary had never heard of. She was unable to answer a single question.

At the end, one of the women (now well drunk) said to Mary, “You were useless. I’m so glad you are not teaching my children!