“Watch him, Ann. I’d say he’s a gouger.”


But the Luas is too crowded to whisht her. She’s been doing nothing but listening to Liveline for a year and a half, so she’s convinced the world is full of gougers.

I look around with a smile to reassure people I don’t think they are gougers. They’re all looking at their phones with the little yokes in their ears. No harm.

Denis would have driven us up but he’s out in the lorry. There’s nothing he’d want less than to drive us to Dublin. If he couldn’t get parking at the foot of Clery’s stairs, he doesn’t want to know.

“I don’t like them high-rise carparks, Ann. You could be shot in a drug deal gone wrong.”

We’re in Dublin for shoes for Mam at Old Head Young Feet. The only shoes that don’t drive her corns doollally.

“I’ll keep an eye on yer bags girls,” says a fella who is leaning against the pole near us. “This tram is fulla gougers.”

He looks around as if he knows which ones.

“Ye’re up for the day are ye? Let loose in the big city. Like Samantha and Carrie. Only I heard they’re not talking.”

This is the most words a stranger has said to either of us since 2019, so we’re a bit slow off the mark.

“Sorry girls. I’m full of chat. After the two jabs, I’m making up for all the time cocooning, Janoreaman.”

“I do, surely,” pipes up Mam. “You’d be gone spare. Looking at the walls. We can live a bit now after the vaccine.”

“Gerrup there and let this young one sit down,” the man barks at a teenager near us.

“NO respect girls,” he says.

Mam looks all pleased with herself. There’s a glint in her eye.

“Wasn’t he a very nice fella, Ann?” She says to me after we get off and make our way over for the shoes.

“Bit young for you, Mam.”

“If he has the two jabs got he must be close enough.”

“Will we get a burger, Ann?” She says to me after the shoe shop.

“A burger Mam?”

I look at her like she’s asked me for hash. Mam wouldn’t eat a burger in a fit. The Luas man has put a pep in her step. We go looking around the restaurants, but the Dublin prices put her off. We end up in McDonalds. It’s getting late, though, and we’ve to go to our digs. We’re staying with a sister of Denis’ who did well.

By the time we come out there’s a riot going on. Young fellas throwing bottles and a waiter throwing kicks.

“Is this enough gougers for you, Mam?”

We’re sheltering against a wall.

“Do you see the young fella Ann. Doing the sort of Irish dancing kicks?” She seems to be admiring him.

I don’t know what version of Riverdance Mam’s been watching. Flatley must have lost the plot entirely since he went out on his own.

I see guards chasing and suddenly there’s a big run of these lads in grey tracksuits going past us. We clutch our bags. And … I don’t believe it.

Mam has tripped one of them with her umbrella! Was she trying to do it on purpose? The youngfella is on the ground and then there’s a waiter and a guard on top of him and some other fella throwing digs who I don’t think had anything to do with it but that must be the tradition up here. Waste not want not.

“Fair play girls,” says a voice next to us. It’s the fella from the train with a pint in his hand.

“There’s great stuff in that vaccine isn’t there missus?”