Nuala McCann: Poundland's the only game in town when it comes to engagement rings
I have inherited my father's fear of waking up buried alive in my coffin and scratching my fingernails off in a bid to get out. So I'd be quite keen for somebody to saw through my ring finger at the wake. Call it an insurance policy
GREAT news for the cheap and cheerful among us – Poundland is selling engagement rings. How much, you ask? It’s Poundland, do the sums!
You can choose from four designs including a red ruby and each ring comes in a little red heart-shaped box that says: “Because we promise they’ll want to choose their own.”
I read about the Poundland ring in the Guardian. I’m all for it. Traditionalists say the price of the ring should equate to three months of the man’s salary. You could have a perfectly good built-in kitchen for that. You could swim with the dolphins down under, you could sip tea with a Geisha, you could lark with a llama.
A ring? There are those closest to me who would argue that I’m the original cheap n cheerful.
My mother still remembers our wedding fondly. We were students who took a notion.
“Cheapest wedding I ever paid for,” she sighs.
I was in the local butcher’s the following day.
“I got married yesterday,” I said to Billy the butcher.
“What are you doing in here?” he asked, wrapping up the ribs.
Ah, but we had fun.
The Guardian article on the Poundland rings reports that a survey carried out by Beaverbrooks found that out of 1,000 women, 10 per cent couldn’t stand their engagement rings.
Now, I’m looking down at my fat fingers and at the engagement ring which I love but which sits in a jug on the fireplace... hear that, burglars? The wedding ring is in place because it’s stuck forever, making a small dent on my pork sausage finger.
“What shall we do about the ring when you die?” asks my son cheerily as he cuts into his Friday night steak.
“Saw it off,” I tell him.
He pauses, his steak knife glinting in his hand, poised like a surgeon’s scalpel.
“Joseph Rea the jeweller may be upset but I’m sure I won’t mind,” I tell him.
The thing is, I have inherited my father’s fear of waking up buried alive in my coffin and scratching my fingernails off in a bid to get out. So I’d be quite keen for somebody to saw through my ring finger at the wake. Call it an insurance policy. If I were deeply unconscious and not dead, surely I’d wake up.
There have been a few beloved rings down the years. The first came out of the Halloween brack. It was brassy tat but I loved it. We didn’t do rings in bracks in the north – we liked money and the hundred thousand germs you got along with the two-shilling bit that had greased God-knows-whose palm before it was plonked into the apple tart.
When I was a student in Dublin, I bought a Halloween brack in Bewleys and carried it home on the train for tea.
“I’d like the ring,” I told my father.
It was in the middle of a serious man drought.
My father surprised me by racing in from the kitchen wielding a big lump of said brack that he’d secretly been eating.
“Take a bite just about there,” he said, pointing with his finger.
I did. And I got the ring, I got the ring, Daddy, I said. And he laughed and we danced about and I kept it forever in my jewellery box long after he died because, reader, there is no love like a father’s love.
At 18, my mother let me choose my own Claddagh ring. It was a gold one and tradition had it that if you wore the ring one way, it meant your heart was free and if you wore it the other, your heart was taken.
Think vacant or engaged on a toilet door; think open or closed on the window of a street in Amsterdam.
I never knew which way round to wear the ring.
My friend had one too. Hers was large and silver. We’d hold our hands up and compare, we’d discuss which way meant we were on for a snog. When she died far too young, I lost taste for our rings.
Then, one February, my husband-to-be and I drove out to the wilds of Ahoghill to buy an engagement ring. We chose it together. And although, since then, he has wanted to buy me more rings, I’m Princess Poundland at heart and I have told him that I’d really rather have a 100 per cent fresh cotton duvet cover or a weekend away.
Down the years, he’s got the message. It was far from a big ass solitaire, I was reared.