‘GET up off the floor there, you’ll get a cold in your kidneys,’ I tutted at my niece, before coming to a screaming halt aghast.
I couldn’t believe the words had just come out of my mouth. I was repeating the pearls of wisdom my own mother had bestowed on me all those years ago, words I had scoffed at but was now trotting out with abandon.
If I didn’t watch myself I’d be telling randomers on the street that if the wind changed they’d be left like that, or if they ate the core of an apple a tree would grow in their stomachs.
When I was a kid the main evils Mammy Dunne warned against were whistling and chewing gum: she had a vendetta against both.
‘Every time a girl whistles, Our Lady cries,’ she’d tell us with a martyred look whenever we pursed our lips. And who wanted to be the cause of Our Lady crying? Poor oul Mary, I made her life a misery.
‘That chewing gum will stick to your insides and block your stomach if you swallow it,’ was another lofty pronouncement. Little did I know that actually Mammy Dunne thought gum was ‘common’ which was the main reason she didn’t want us to eat it.
What is it about Irish Mammies that fills them with fear about wet walls and apple cores, kidney colds and changing winds? Do American mothers have the same fears, or Indian mammies, or Australian mammies, I wonder.
How about you Beaut.ies? What weird and wonderful sayings did your mother have growing up – and do you hear them saying them to others?