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Friday, December 8, 2023

Julie Jay: The Dingle-Killarney commute

THIS week, I finally remembered to register JJ’s birth – just in the nick of time before I ended up in jail.

I was sitting in my bath of money last week counting my €100 notes when I suddenly realised something was missing. Yes, that sweet, sweet children’s allowance was nowhere to be seen. I checked everywhere – under the soap and behind the shampoo – before remembering I had to officially announce JJ’s arrival before the megabucks came my way.

Step one in registering the child involved finding a friend with a working printer. In a scene distinctly reminiscent of when my brother would loiter around a neighbour’s sitting room in the hope of having a go on their Nintendo, I conjured up a reason to visit a friend who I knew wasn’t short on inkjets before casually dropping in my need for speed and the real cause for my call.

“You haven’t registered his birth?” she asks, aghast. “Julie, what have you been doing these last three months?”

I feel it isn’t the time to be honest and say I have been catching up on Selling Sunset. Instead, I take my printed registration of birth form and run. To be fair, she could probably guess I have been bingeing on the reality real-estate show over these last few months, given that I had just referred to a three-bed semi-detached priced at €500,000 as an ‘absolute steal’.

Nipping home I quickly fill out the birth registration form and still feel myself blushing when I write ‘comedian’ under my occupation because it still feels like notions all these years later. Bundling JJ into the car seat I leave my husband with the important task of paying an electricity bill. With that, we hit the road – JJ in the back and me driving, because that’s how the law works.

Registering JJ meant heading to Killarney, and I relished the chance to embark on a day trip to the big city. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the Dingle to Killarney commute, but it is basically the M50 with better signage. It mostly involves passing through a place called Keel, a townland that never ends and, much like the Bermuda Triangle, nobody can really prove it exists.

When we arrive at our destination, the main street of Killarney is like downtown Manhattan.

JJ and I stare up at the tall buildings, some of which are a whole three stories. Clutching my boy tight, I tell him to watch his bum bag because ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore’.

We arrive at the civil registry office, a place I haven’t been to since myself and his presumed father got hitched in 2021. I regale JJ with tales of how a pandemic and a massive storm were no doubt signs from the universe not to marry my current husband, but I chose to ignore these warnings from God and pursue the union nonetheless.

After a brief wait outside, we’re ushered in. And upon rechecking our details, I am suddenly doubting myself – is the name JJ befitting of the little guy? But there’s no time for second-guessing as he decides to shout the house down. It is Murphy’s Law that your child will remain quiet up to when you need them to be quiet.

Thankfully, much like fast food workers met with late-night customers slurring, ‘Can I get extra garlic sauce?’ the office staff are unfazed by JJ’s crying, and within minutes the cert is in my hands.

On the drive back, I realise this is the first time JJ and I have never gone anywhere, just the two of us, and I promise to conjure up another reason to escape the house very soon. Like Julian Assange, I have mostly been under house arrest these last few months, only I have done so minus the help from the Ecuadorian embassy.

When we land home, I show my husband the birth certificate. Johnny James Cooke is officially in the building.

“There’s just one mistake”, he says.

My heart sinks. “Oh no, what?”

“Well, it says here you’re – a comedian.”

His delivery is so deadpan it takes a minute for the joke to register, but when it does, we both fall around laughing at his playful jibe.

We are still laughing when I ask him if he paid the utility bill, and the answer is a sheepish ‘no’. And that is the story of how we ended up minus electricity.

As I write this by oil lamp, feathered quill in hand, and pigeon carrier at the ready, I can only hope you receive this update on my parental status. On the plus side, our lack of power means, for the first time, that I have a legitimate reason not to be getting back to emails, though not being able to watch Selling Sunset is still a big price for a bedraggled mammy to pay.

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