Book: Black Swan Green
Author: David Mitchell
Music: Come on Eileen
Composer/Artist: Dexy’s Midnight Runners
My mother’s name is Eileen. In 1982 when Kevin Rowland’s raggle taggle gypsies too-rye-ay-ed their way to the top of the charts in Ireland with ‘Come on Eileen,’ ‘my’ Eileen was admitted to hospital in Dublin for a kidney operation. It was the first time she’d been out of the house for any period of time since she and my father had gone to England for a cousin’s wedding in 1976. That was the second and final time my father had left the country, the first being their honeymoon to the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea, two decades earlier.
It was also the first time she was away from the house since he died in 1978. Mortality was real. She wasn’t going to die but she could. We’d go to visit her in Jervis Street Hospital – long since turned into a shopping centre – getting lifts with various relatives. One particular uncle marauded around Dublin in his Ford Fiesta endangering everyone who came into his orbit. He was colour blind. That didn’t help matters. Dublin was probably the only place he’d ever driven that had traffic lights. I have one recollection of him barelling around Trinity College at College Green, slicing across lanes of traffic and not giving a shit. My memory of that day includes blaring horns (though not quite squealing brakes and screeching tyres) but I’m not sure if that ever happened.
In any case, when the song came on I would think about my mother and urge her towards full health. I still do.