I love the Angel from the North. She is Irish. It’s been over ten years now since we fell in love. It happened at Ford Credit. We were collections agents. If we got certain percentages of people to promise to pay their overdue car payments then we would get paid more. I was excellent at it. The Angel wasn’t, so I would buy her sweets from the Seven Eleven. Redskins mainly, and Big Boss Cigars. I had worked there longer than her.
I was in my short-fur phase and I’d just returned from India. I wore broken sandals and a long skirt to work. Mum tried to buy me Nice Clothes but I wanted to be closer to the earth. And the Ford Credit Collection Department let you wear whatever you wanted. The workers were travelers mainly: backpackers and wanderers. A whole heap of them were Irish and lived in a big old run-down house down the road in Prahran.
The Angel arrived last.
I saw her over the partition – new hair – black. And then her face. I loved the face immediately. It was one of those faces that makes you say to yourself ‘Now I want to look at that Face a Lot’. I knew deep down that we would be friends forever, from just looking at her. Not just because she was insanely pretty – all pale skin and huge blue eyes fronded with black and lovely long dark hair – she just Had something. Something Wondrous.
She said things like:
“Have you not, Rabbit?”
“Oh Rabbit. Yer the craic.”
Which made me laugh. And she laughed at my idiotic jokes and sufferings. And my accent sounded like an ear-raping when I spoke around her and her gorgeous treacly voice, especially when I said Fish and Chips. And she would mimic my accent perfectly and when I tried to mimic hers she would say
“Oh Jaysus Rabbit. Ye sound loike Nicole Kidman in Far and Away.”
And I would try to mimic her saying that and fail at that too.
So we worked at Ford Credit and she lived in my house on the floor and we lay around in parks dreaming of being actors and then she went back to Ireland and became one – a very famous one – and also a famous playwright, director, creator. I became one too, but not very famous. And we wrote letters and then I moved to Paris and she came and visited me and I went to her family house for Christmas in Dublin.
It was magical.
Her Mother was a true Angel in every sense – I’d never met one like her, and her Sister and her Niece were ones too and funny, and her Big Brother took me hiking up the Galtees and protected me from the wind and defended my chocolate and her Little Brother took me drinking and to see comedy and her Lovely Old Dad begged me to sit in the living room with him and watch Father Ted though I was deep in conversation with the sister.
“Sorry, I might just stay here and talk,” I said.
And he said, “Ok,” and closed the door.
And then five minutes later he came back in and said,
“Rabbit, I really think you should come in here and watch Father Ted.”
I said No. But I wish I didn’t.
And I sat around the kitchen table with the Mother Angel and the Sister Angel and we ate soda bread toast with marmite on it and drank Barry’s Tea. That would become a later addiction.
Later, after Father Ted was over, the Lovely Old Dad came in to get some Barry’s Tea and Toast and told me an insanely long story about The Pea-Soup Fog of 1947. He was standing at a bus stop in London when the Pea-Soup Fog descended. A lot of people died. It was a very, very, very long story and the Sister and the Mother had gone from the room and were mortified when they heard he had told it to me.
But I liked it.
After the Toast, the Dad led the family in some Caillie dancing around the kitchen table, which was fantastic. Then they all had a sing-song, singing songs like Willy McBride and other Irish songs with great, stormy gusto and playing little tin whistles and guitars and drinking beer.
The patriotism was overwhelming.
I wondered what it must feel like to have songs of old to sing about your country. To be able to band together and share in your history like that.
I tried to think of an Australian moment like that, but I couldn’t.
I prayed for it to snow on Christmas Day with all my might and it did, and though the whole family thought it was hysterical that I was crying over a thin layer of white over the cars and some speckles on the lawn, they acted like they thought it was magical too and span in circles in the backyard with me and then took me up a little hill so I could see more. We ate a roast and The Mother Angel drove for miles and miles in secret to find basil so that I could make my baked tomatoes.
It was the loveliest Christmas ever.
And ever since, The Angel and I went back and forth between Ireland and Paris visiting each other, eating Soda Bread Toast and Croissants and seeing each others’ plays and consoling each others’ anguishes and reading each others’ writing – see her wonderful Blog. The Angel was there with me in Paris this year when I had to sit in front of the mean man and tell the story of the Accident. She rubbed my back. We drank champagne.
And now, today I get to see her again. I hope she will be able to sleep here ok on the Wu-Zen floor.
The Love and I have a competition to see who can get her to say ‘Have you not?’ in a sentence first.
She's the pure Craic.
She's the pure Craic.