A Degree of Separation

Published date Posted on by John O'Toole in Events

Roundwood House

The world is a small place. Well it’s not really, but uncanny connections are made in its furthest reaches sometimes, and our dining room is one of those coincidental hotspots. Granted, it is Ireland and if two Irish people can’t find a connection in five questions or less, one of them is an imposter.

But when visitors from outside the parish visit and make connections, you start to take notice.

We have a regular guest, who escapes Milan in its more sweltering moments and stays in our cottage, to avail of the rain, the company of our dog Rococo, and copious amounts of Guinness. It’s a package we offer. (His love is such for Rococo, that he mailed him a pair of ‘Doggles’, when he learned that Ireland was experiencing a rare heat wave last Summer.)

One of his visits coincided with that of another Italian gentleman, who’s command of English was a bit limited. I decided to seat them together for dinner, so my friend could guide our new friend through the conversation at the communal table.

A perfect pairing it seemed. My friend acted as translator, opening up the night for our engaging new guest, saving him from a night of nods and smiles. He was a great contributor to the banter around the table, and as it turned out was also from Milan. Not only that, but lived on the same street, two doors down from my friend’s office. What are the chances?

As I served dessert I noticed my friend had fallen silent. I offered him another glass of wine, which he surprisingly declined. He stood up, smiled and slightly bowed to the table. He then turned to his new Milanese acquaintance - “Good night and have a lovely stay. The black pudding at breakfast is great.” With that he turned and left the dining room.

I quickly filled a couple of glasses and followed him into the main hall.

“Is everything alright?”, I asked. “It’s not like you to turn down a glass of Amarone.” “Paddy, I’m sorry for leaving. I hope I didn’t seem rude, but I had to escape quickly. I was one question away from our new friend figuring out that I’m sleeping with his sister.”

When the world is shrunk to the size of our dining room, it can be suffocatingly small sometimes.