Chatting on-line!

FCB@5 (Friday Consortium Blogging at Five p.m.) is once again the order of the day.

In the past few weeks the topics were chosen by:

  • Conrad – USA             ~~ Creativity
  • Ashok – India             ~~ Stereotyping
  • Ramana – Pune, India  ~~ Ambition

All amazing topics to work on, and approached from very different directions by each one of us, providing interesting reading from the whole group.    Hopefully Marianna is healing well and able to join in the fun very soon  If you are playing catch-up I recommend you grab a coffee, find a comfortable chair and have a read.

Today it is my turn to suggest the topic…    COMMUNICATION

Chatting on-line!

This poor quality oldie dates from 11th August 1964.  How do I know?  The date was written on the back.  The two ladies had the same first name and both surnames began with the same letter.  Both lived in Ireland, one was born in Dublin and the other in Cork.  They lived next door to each other for over 50 years.  Between them they reared eleven children.  They called on each other in times of trouble, yet there was no running in and out of each others house.

Right throughout those years despite knowing each others first names they always referred to each other as Mrs (insert name).  They talked regularly, always through the gap in the hedge.  Hanging clothes on the line drew the little woman on the right out into the garden for a bit of a chat.

Now, many years later, I realise that perhaps she was lonely during the day when her husband was at work and the children at school or at work as they grew older.  Her husband was also from Cork and they had no other relations in Dublin.  They had no telephone or car.

Her house was always spotless with the quietness of a library even when all the family were at home.  The only time you heard any sound was on a summers day like in the photo, when all the windows would be open and she sang as sweet as a bird while she worked around her house.  A very soft spoken woman, but if you listened intently she told you all the news from the neighbourhood.  When her voice became a whisper, the gossip was juicy!

The lady on the left was my mother.  Back in those days about four clothes lines criss-crossed our garden on washing day and they were all well filled with sheets, shirts, tablecloths and all the other garments that were required by a large household.  The lines were removed when the dry clothing was un-pegged and taken indoors for ironing.

I remember a time way back…. when I had to really stretch up to reach the line to either peg on or remove the clothes.  On one such day as I was struggling to remove a sheet larger than myself, I heard the familiar voice from through the hedge call my name.

“Marie, is mammy sick?” our neighbour asked.

“Yes” I replied.  “Mammy has migraine again, she has been in bed for two days”.

“I thought so” said the lady.  “The clothes were hung differently to the way your mammy hangs them” she added.

She quickly followed with “Are you managing?  Is there anything I can do to help”?

Mammy never minded standing chatting in good weather but on a winters day she liked to keep the talking as short as possible.  They never thought to call and visit each other and talk over a pot of tea, it was always through the hedge.  As we grew older, when mammy was going out to the line on a cold day she would say “Don’t leave me out there too long, call me for the phone or the oven”!  If you hover over this photo you will see the title ‘Mammy the phone is ringing’.

We are no different today.





We still chat or talk ‘on-line’ all the time; but our ‘on-line’ is the internet enabling us to chat by using our voice, fingers or webcam, through email, IM, Twitter, Skype, Facebook or Blogging; not alone through the hedge but to folks on the other side of the globe, at any hour of the day or night no matter whether the weather is hot or cold, wet or dry, just as easily as if they were in the garden next door.

Thathaasthu – so be it.  Keep talking and have fun!

Much love
Lán grá
Bahut Pyaar Key Saath
Mit viel Liebe für Sie
Avec beaucoup d’amour pour vous
с большой любовью к вам
với nhiều tình yêu cho bạn


PS. I wonder if these two ladies have found a gap in a hedge in the afterlife?

20 thoughts on “Chatting on-line!

  1. Hails

    The part about your mother wanting you to come for her saying there’s a phone call made me smile. We had an elderly lady living next door to us throughout my childhood, and if she saw you walking down the garden path she’d be leaning over the wall wanting to talk. Once she started, she went on for ages, and if any of us realised that someone hadn’t come home when expected, we went out to check if Mrs. C had got them. Sure enough, they’d be standing there nodding away as she talked and talked – so someone was expected to come and say “phone for you!” in order to rescue them!

    I often feel a bit guilty about that now she’s gone. She must have been terribly lonely. Fair play to my mum, though – she’d often stand and listen patiently for up to an hour and come back in without a word of complaint.

  2. Grannymar Post author

    @Ramana – Your arm gets plenty of exercise doffing your topi! 😆

    @Conrad – …and every word of it true. There were times when mammy came in frozen to the bone. The little lady was the good neighbour, quietly helping in the background.

    @Hails – Glad to have triggered that memory.

  3. Ashok

    It was a very warm and touching take to the topic. Grannymar, as usual, you have outdone yourself. I rate this the best of the lot, I shall keep reading and rereading this over and over again.

  4. Nick

    Talking over the hedge isn’t so common these days, though I sometimes talked to my neighbour that way at our previous house. Nowadays people are invited in to the house or you don’t see the neighbours at all as they’re rushing out to the car or rushing in. But as you say the amount of conversation that goes on on the net more than makes up for the deserted hedges.

  5. Marianna Paulson

    Loved the play on words! Also, your encouragement to hurry up and join FCB@5! 🙂

    You do have the gift of the Irish – the tradition of weaving a story so that you are swept up and back to the time of “the line.”

  6. Darlene

    Marianna said it for me – our ‘on line’ communication is different than talking ‘on line’ was when I was young. A very clever lead in for your story.

    I remember hanging my son’s cloth diapers on line and having them freeze as fast as I could put them up. I froze also and still thank God for automatic dryers. We were more neighborly in those days, though.

  7. Grannymar Post author

    @Ashok – It is a simple story from a simple person. Glad you enjoyed it. I love the way we all take one word yet each comes up with a totally different angle on it.

    @Nick – We are losing the art of the hedge talk. There have been so many cases in the news lately of an elderly person lying dead in a house or apartment for weeks or indeed months and not being missed. It scares me at times.

    @Marianna – Thank you! I lived long enough to gather enough moss to form the base of a story or two.

    Darlene – My ‘on-line’ ladies above were full time home makers and mothers, without the modern equipment we take for granted today, and the food was all home made and slow cooked.

  8. Baino

    See I like the idea of chatting over the fence. Except my fence is about 200 metres from the washing line! The online thing is wonderful. I chat all the time at the expense of my laundry I might add! Great post GM.I had a neighbour years ago who didn’t even wait for me to go outside before yelling over the fence. Must say, I didn’t miss her much. . she used to ask if I could babysit or get Ray to mow her lawns. Not fun.

  9. steph

    Great post, GM

    Following on from Baino…

    I’ve a (bored) neighbour who watches our every move from her windows/behind the hedge. We often tease her by saying things she ‘wants’ to hear. When she doesn’t get enough info from spying, she rings our doorbell with some pretence or other, to ask directly.

    I wouldn’t mind except that she has a perfectly active social life otherwise.

    Sad 🙄

  10. Grannymar Post author

    @Baino – I miss over the fence conversations, thankfully the modern ‘on-line’ chat more than makes up for it.

    @Steph – I had a nosey neighbour once who blatantly asked how much I paid for my new car! I told him it was a present from a Toyboy! 🙄 That stopped his questions.

  11. Grannymar Post author


    We used to have a couple of guys of the Christine variety who lived locally. One shouted at everyone on the street while the other became a mascot for the local flute band. He wore their uniform and marched ahead of them conducting as he went.

    We don’t see characters like that anymore.

  12. Alice

    What a nice write-up. I’ve been thinking about how blogging is something like waving from the front porches of the south I grew up in. A friendly wave, but it wasn’t necessary to stop and chat and take up much time. That must be why blogging appeals to me much more than Facebook, and I can’t imagine twittering. That’s for birds! The photo is lovely; glad someone had the foresight to capture it for us.

  13. Grannymar Post author


    Blogging opens many doors, some we are not even aware of. I have been very fortunate to meet and make friends with many in the Irish blogging world. Facebook I find hard to like, but twitter has its place, especially for those who work alone.

  14. Grannymar Post author


    My mother spoke to our neighbour almost every day, sometimes more than once. She often came in frozen to the bone. They were women of their time and running in and out of each others houses was unthinkable. In fact most of my neighbours are like that today.

    They will chat away when they meet me on the street or down in the town, yet never think of inviting me in for a coffee or a chat. At least ten of the families roundabout have enjoyed my hospitality in the last 32 years. I don’t need five fingers to count those who returned the compliment.


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