The roar of football from one room, a kids’ movie in the other. The smell of steak and onions. An as yet unopened bottle of red on the counter. It’s on a promise. The doors are closed, the blinds are down, the pressure’s off. There’s a blanket of calm with a weave of excitement running through. There’s an unmistakable sense of Saturday night.
That excitement – that Saturday night special-ness has never disappeared over the decades – only the details have changed.
The childhood years – coming home from the weekly library trip, curling up on the couch to watch The Fall Guy or Macgyver or Remington Steele, and read a Nancy Drew.
Then on to pre-teen sleepovers, and slumber parties, and Christopher Pike books till 4am.
Then later again, the first discos – all dressed up in jeans and paisley shirts and bubble-toe Docs. Then the underage years in an infamous Stillorgan pub, then finally, the eventual high of legitimate night-club entry.
The college years – heading up to Club 92 after drinks in someone’s house, the smell of Red Bull hitting us as we walked through the doors. Carpet underfoot, low lights, bathroom queues. Walking home because there were no taxis. Toast in the kitchen before bed and hangover.
The city centre years – living just past the top of George’s Street, all Dublin had to offer at our feet. Pints in Capital Bar or Hogans, if we could convince everyone to come our direction. Chips from Roma II on the way home. A fry on Sunday morning, because that’s what you do when you’re twenty-five and living with a boy.
Saturday nights in Doyles and the Long Stone when we move to the northern suburbs – the long, trundling journey on the 41 or the 33, rewarded with Coors Light and King Crisps. Lamenting heels on the walk home from the Nitelink, motivated by thoughts of cheese on toast.
A Saturday night in 2005 when a radio show is putting together a book of snapshots from the whole country – sending grainy photos from a kitchen table drinks party. Ireland at its height: no idea what’s ahead. Walking though the dark October chill to another new house, one for married people who think they’re grown up – this time nearer the sea and home. Still regretting the heels, still high on the very existence of Saturday night. And friends. And youth. And time.
Then, a baby. Suddenly Saturday night is very much like every other night – feeding, carrying, rocking, hoping, praying for sleep. Dinner eaten one-handed on the couch, trying not to spill crumbs on a milk-drunk baby. TV that’s not taxing, because interruptions are frequent, and we don’t yet have the kind of TV you can pause. Memories of Sunday lie-ins blurry. Chaos. Then more babies. And more chaos.
The babies aren’t babies anymore. Family dinner becomes a doable feast. Meals are deemed to be Saturday-appropriate (steak, pizza, fish and chips) or not (anything that doesn’t need ketchup.) There’s extra TV for the kids. There’s sport on the kitchen telly while the Saturday-chef cuts the chips and seasons the steaks. There’s a promise of wine when the kids are in bed. And cheese. And sometimes Prosecco, if we can find an excuse – any will do. And a film, and staying up later than we should. Because we can.
The details have changed, but the indefatigable essence of Saturday night is always there – it’s in library books and fireplaces and getting dressed up and queuing and packed nightclubs and lipstick and chips and late buses and high heels and live TV and steak and onions and wine. Wherever you’re having yours, happy Saturday.
If you need some nostalgia, here’s the intro to the Fall Guy: