A few years go (not that many, maybe 3 or 4) my mother said to me “do you know who I met down the town? Dara O Briain’s mother. Apparently this comedy thing is working out really well for him”
This after Mock the Week.
Hmmm, really? “Mam, Dara O Briain is really famous now. If you turn on your TV any time of day or night and flick through the channels, eventually you’ll find him.”
When I go home to visit my parents, my mother likes to tell me all the latest about people I went to school with, or knew when I was a teenager or a child. She will crack open the Bray People and show me pictures of people I once knew, getting married, or winning a prize of some kind. It’s a little ritual we have.
In the 90s, I was in college with Dara O Briain. We used to occasionally get the 84 home to Bray from UCD together. My Ma knows his Ma, so for years when I would head home I would hear what he was up to among the many others.
But it’s not just Dara O Briain that I know more about than my ma these days. I’ve recently become facebook friends with some of my old school friends from Bray. I know how many children they have, whether they are married, and to whom.
One of her roles was in maintaining that low-level intimacy that keeps you loosely connected to social groups you’ve mostly moved on from. But now facebook does it better than she can, with less real human interaction.
Now if she hears a rumour about someone in the extended family, she rings me up demanding to know whether I got any messages on facebook.
I could encourage her to just join. But I don’t. There’s a part of me that will always be 16.