If there’s one person who can take us out of the Covid funk and remind us, in full colour, what Irish life used to be like, it’s Aisling. That’s Aisling of Oh My God What a Complete Aisling fame, as imagined and written about by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen. Here’s an extract from their third, and latest, ‘Aisling’ book.
I’ve decided to simply call the WhatsApp group Majella’s Hens and I have it fired up less than 24 hours after Maj has agreed to Tenerife.[restrict]
I tried to think of something funny or a pun for the name, but there was nothing happening. Sister Anne was right – I don’t have a creative bone in my body, but I am very good with numbers. I did get Noel the kitchen porter to make me up a group icon that says ‘We Can’t Keep Calm It’s Majella’s Hen Weekend!’ though, so the girls will know this is no ordinary trip.
I’ve managed to source everyone’s numbers, including Aunt Shirley and the Tenerife gang’s. Shirley was very suspicious – she likes to do all her communicating exclusively through Facebook, usually via passive-aggressive Minions memes, which she tags people in. And Pablo had tears in his eyes when I asked for his sister’s number. He’s very in touch with his emotions, to the point where I don’t know how Maj puts up with it.
I bumped into him in the corridor when I was leaving James’s apartment the other morning, and he was actually bawling because the sky looked a bit pink and he said it reminded him of home. I had to tell him to catch a hold of himself. With the initial guest list, plus six more cousins and three aunts that Majella added this morning after a guilt trip from her mam, we’re now at thirty-four hens, but I’m trying not to think about it.
I’ll just keep going with the organising and hope stress isn’t as dangerous long term as the media claims. ‘Well, girls, the time has come!’ I type into WhatsApp. ‘Our Maj is finally settling down with Fab Pab, but we need to give her a proper send-off!’ I throw in some champagne, heart and bride emojis. ‘We’re going to Tenerife from 29 March–1 April.’ Sun emoji, beach emoji, palm tree emoji. ‘The price is a bargainous €220pp, including flights, shared rooms and transfers. Let me know if you can make it! I’ll share my bank account details tomorrow and if you can transfer a €50 deposit, and post your name as it appears on your passport, I’ll get booking before the flights go up.’
I finish with a rake more emojis and press send. My phone immediately beeps. ‘Who is this and how did you get my number? This is a data protection breach.’ Fionnuala – I should have known. God forgive me, but she’s some dry shite. ‘Fionnuala, it’s Aisling,’ I fire back. ‘Got ur number from Maj. Hope you can come on the 29th!’ ‘Wouldn’t miss it, hun!’ Sharon is straight in there, and thank God for that. We’re off!
‘Hi Aisling, sounds good! Can I get my own room? Will pay extra.’ That’s Karen, a cousin. I did up a quick room plan this morning and had pencilled her in to share with Danielle, considering they’re sisters. But I suppose I can contact the Paradise Aqua and price a single room. I take a spiral notepad out of my desk drawer, write Hen To-Do List with my Good Pen and underline it twice. Nothing like a list to make you feel in control. ‘I’m sure that’ll be grand, Karen,’ I type. ‘Jesus, Karen, you’re some pain in the hole. Thanks, Aisling, I’m on for it.’ Danielle is in too.
‘Me and Ruby are THERE, Ais.’ That’s Elaine. ‘Can you make sure we get a double room, though?’ ‘No probs, Elaine!’ I write ‘Remember double room for Elaine and Ruby’ on the list. ‘Wild horses couldn’t keep me away!’ Sadhbh is on board too. ‘I’ll fly from New York to Dublin and meet you all in the airport. Will you book me an extra bag?’ I stick ‘Sadhbh extra bag’ on the list. ‘Looking forward to it! Can I get an aisle seat, Aisling?’ Shirley, wouldn’t you know. I suddenly start to feel very warm.
‘I’ll do my best, Shirley,’ I type, while fanning my armpits. Then I add ‘Shirley aisle seat’ to the list. ‘Lovely, Aisling.’ It’s Liz, Majella’s mam. ‘How many bags can we bring and do I need to weigh them? Can I have the aisle seat across from Shirley?’ I bring up the Ryanair website and try and make sense of the current cabin-bag situation, which seems to change weekly. You’d want to have your wits about you. It looks like you can only bring a small carry-on bag, unless you book this Plus thing, which is an extra €20. Honestly, I don’t know how Michael O’Leary sleeps at night. What an absolute chancer.
‘Ladies, you can bring one small carry-on bag each! Otherwise you can pay another €20 to check a bag up to 20kg!’ I type. ‘Is that each way, Aisling?’ Mairead, who’s been known to reuse tea-bags, doesn’t miss a trick. I go back to the hellish Ryanair website. It is. It’s €20 each way. ‘That’s €20 each way,’ I clarify. ‘So it’s actually €260 if I want to check a bag?’ Mairead replies, adding a money-flying-away emoji, which I feel is a bit unnecessary. ‘A small price to pay when you’re practically in Africa!’ I fire off. ‘Plus you get priority boarding.’ Then I throw out a smiley-face emoji to keep the tone light.
‘Sounds deadly, thanks for organising, Ais!’ That’s Dee Ruane. ‘Maeve is here with me. She’s looking forward to it too!’ Excellent. They’ll share a room. ‘Hello, Aisling, Liz’s sister Selina here. Will it be very hot there that weekend? I don’t do well in the heat.’ I take another deep breath and Google ‘Tenerife climate’. It looks like the temperature will be 14–22 degrees at the end of March. ‘It’ll probably be around 18 degrees, Selina. Lovely!’ I reply. ‘Selina has left the group.’ Oh right. ‘Hola, Aisling, this is Paola, Pablo’s sister. Thank you for organising the party. My mother would also like to come her mother, her six sisters and eight nieces. Is this bueno?’
I take a deep breath. Make that forty-eight hens.
This is an extract from Once, Twice, Three Times an Aisling: It’s her party and she’ll cry if she wants to by Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen, Gill Books. Available to order online now from Easons.com. The Kindle edition is available from Amazon.co.uk.