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The Gathering, but not as we know it...

"I SUPPOSE you could call it 'The Alternative Gathering'," I said to Patsy as she supped loudly from a cup of tea, feet up by the fire and a plate of toast a half-metre high on her lap.

Jose was in the other chair "snoring in Spanish", as Patsy said.

There is a sonorous quality to his snoring alright, that is in sharp contrast to the snorting Patsy used to do before her sleep apnoea was diagnosed.

Taking up most of the space on the floor was Indi the dog, gnawing on a lamb bone that looked the size of a chicken wing between his massive paws


It was a scene of domestic bliss and a long way from the days when she lived life as a single woman who would have sold her granny to get her hands on a man.

"What do you mean by an Alternative Gathering?" she asked me.

"Well, whereas Enda is breaking his back trying to get the diaspora to take a plane back and spend some of their spondi- loonicks here, you seem to be going out of your way to gather together the Kildare version of the League of Nations."

What am I talking about? Well, there is one salient fact that I left out of this cosy familial tableau.

Patsy and Jose have acquired a new addition to the family and this addition was sitting on the couch wearing a smile so wide he looked like he had eaten a banana sideways.

He was also wearing Patsy's pink dressing gown and her fluffy slippers adorned his dainty feet. He looked about 12 years of age and I wondered out loud if Patsy had abducted him.


"Not at all. This is Raju and he is from Nepal. I know he looks a bit young, but he's actually 26. I've just given him a bath ... I mean ... he's just had a bath."

I felt like I had entered a parallel universe.

It turns out that Raju and Jose had become friends through work and when Raju was seeking an improvement in his accommodation, Jose brought him home to Patsy, who took an immediate shine to him (something to do with his fantastic domestic skills) grasped him to her ample bosom and declared he could stay as long as he liked.

"What's the story with your dressing gown and slippers?" I asked her.

"Oh, he just likes wearing them, don't you, Raju?"

"They're grand," beamed Raju, getting into the swing of the local lingo as he gazed up at Patsy with nothing short of adoration.

She patted him on the head. "Hasn't he lovely eyes?"

You couldn't make it up.