My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it.

Boris Johnson

In other words, have your cake and eat it.

The little girl on the right in the picture above was just told that she could not have the cake and eat it. It’s either or. A life lesson kids, generally, learn early in life, certainly before their 57th birthday. (You also cannot have a lockdown and wild booze parties. Or participate in an election and not accept the results.)

We celebrated a birthday in the family last week with Pádraig enjoying the celebrations, and the cake. Birth-day stories, in addition to the cake, are one constant with birthday celebrations, probably not just in our family. I have a set of them for these annual occasions. The joy, the fear, the relief of that day. Now many years ago. Everybody, generously, just takes a deep breath when I tell them, again. And again. Every year.

It’s all pretty predictable. A given.

Or is it? – Not really.

I am so grateful that we can all be together. That I can tell my stories. That everybody is in a generous mood. Having a good time. Eating the birthday cake. Blowing out the candles.

Last week was the week a young school teacher was killed while jogging in the afternoon along the canal in Tullamore. Vigils were held all over Ireland, in England, Australia and the USA to remember her, to show solidarity with the family, and to send out a strong message to the world: no more attacks, no more deaths, no more tolerance for a culture where this would be in any way acceptable.

Pádraig came across a place where one of these vigils were held, yesterday afternoon when he went for a walk. Many people say that Aishling’s murder is one of these watershed moments that will change our culture. Let’s hope it does.

Being together is not a given. Nor is being able to blow out the candles on a birthday cake. Not even being able to eat and enjoy the cake is a given.

I am pro being together and pro enjoying the cake. Pro being there for each other and pro having a good time. Pro finding a purpose in life.

And pro changing the culture of abuse, neglect, targeting, letting die, killing, and looking the other way.

It is us, you and me, who will have to change this culture. Nobody will do it for us.