By Gordon Ferris
Distant wailing sounds, like a whale in song, dreamlike, unsure of where I am. What’s that strange distant- like being underwater, irritating, noise, familiar, just can’t make it out. I turn over hoping it might just go away and leave me in peace. But it gets worse, a whale in distress, the harpoon in for the kill pops into my head, ah but now an even louder noise that shakes the floor, a leap out of a bed, then the sudden realization, Dora my niece is awake, that’s the whale wailing, Maeve my older sister has jumped out of the bed, mumbling, door slamming, cursing under her breath. Down the stairs now to feed her young beautiful daughter, silence resumes.
Trying to get back off to sleep seemed impossible. To retain that dreamlike state is so frustrating, if you don’t get back off immediately, you can forget about it. I just lay on my back and accepted that I’m not going back to sleep. My thoughts turned to my first day of freedom, no more school, exams over with, no more childhood things, no more being told what to do or go or what to think. I can be my own man now, make my own decisions.
I always did think for myself, but couldn’t be seen using my own initiative by my Dad, children should be seen and not heard and just do as there told. Do as I say, not as I do. So I just stayed out of his radar as much as possible, which wasn’t hard to do because he worked most of the time. We were in bed when he went to work and were also in bed when he returned home. So we just saw him on his days off. In fairness, he spent as much time with us as was possible.
My thoughts were disturbed now by a heavenly scent creeping up the stairs along the landing across my bedroom floor finding its way to my nostrils, the succulent unmistakable aroma of Rashers. If there’s one thing that’s going to get me out of bed in the morning it’s the scent of rashers. It’s a wonder nobody ever invented an alarm without sound, but instead used the glorious smell of bacon, someone could make a fortune out of that, or maybe if you could send a scent down the phone line.
Trousers shoes socks etc on like a light, into the bathroom then to throw water on the face, just to get the sleep out of my eyes, then down the stairs three steps at a time.
“I thought the smell would have ya out of bed, bet ya don’t be up at this hour at home”.
“Of course I do, unless it’s raining outside, plenty to be done, when the rain stays off.” I sheepishly said.
“Ye, I’m sure ye do, and the popes a Muslim,” Maeve replied sarcastically
“Believe it or not, I have a very busy schedule in my spare time, major football matches to be played with the other streets in the area, lands to be explored, before they’re built over with even more houses and factories, to employ the occupants of the houses from the ever-expanding population of Finglas.” I said as earnestly as I could, trying to sound serious.
Mauve looked at me with a hesitant smile and said,
“Ye, I believe ye, now do ye want an egg or what”
“What’s WHAT, I said, being a smartarse, is it nicer than an egg, can ye make a sandwich out of it, or WHAT.”
I said. Waiting for clip on the ear which came, lightly, immediately along with the title of
“Funny that because I always thought my name was little bollix, that’s what Ma calls me when she’s echoing my name up the street to get me in for me Dinner, get in here, Yer dinners poured ya little bollix, she would roar. Dora was sitting in her chair, one of those new-fangled ones a child can rock back and forth, bouncy chairs I think they call them. She was enjoying the banter, even though it was all double Dutch to her, she was roaring with laughing at us, so I leaned down to her and asked what she was laughing at, playfully, don’t think it would be received too well if I said it and meant it, I could end up with a thick lip and get no bacon. I let her play with my finger and was reminded again that she was getting teeth. Breakfast was out, three plates placed at the sides of the table, with an egg on each, to be filled from dishes centrally placed on the table laden with sausage’s, bacon, black, white pudding and tomatoes. There was a plate of bread there too, for us to help ourselves with. The nicest part of the breakfast is always the tea, for some reason the tea tastes so much better with a fry. Second cups are always had, and sometimes third cups. Dave arrived in just as the breakie was being dished out, dressed in overalls, he had a nixer on. Like most Saturdays, he had an extra bit of work outside, on a car, extra money always came in handy. When we had finished eating, Dave nodded at me silently to follow him, I was done eating so I did as I was instructed, trying not to draw attention to myself, but Dora started to call for me and Maeve copped on to us, she slagged Dave for trying to get away without doing the dishes, it wouldn’t have occurred to me do dishes. Until recent times I assumed new replacement cups and plates were used every day, every time we ate. I was shocked when one day I suddenly discovered my Mom was the one who did all the work in the kitchen. We got out to the car with Maeve’s scorn ringing in our ears. Bonnet was up and, sleeves rolled up, brake pads were removed, brake fluid was then emptied. Time flew in and before we knew it the job was done and we were getting cleaned up. “Make sure you pair don’t make a mess,” Mauve yelled up the stairs as we cleaned up. Swarfiga first, breaking down all the oil and grease, then heavy scented fancy soap that strangely reminded me of the red bars of soap my mother used to scrub us with every Saturday night, to be purified for mass on Sunday morning. Dave brushed his reddish-brown hair to the bottom of his neck and handed me the brush, I gave my almost black hair a quick brush without looking in the mirror. We came back down the stairs and Mauve put the kettle on, “Will ya be out with your Ma and Da tomorrow” she said, “should it not be our Mother, or is there a family secret I don’t know about” I replied. “Don’t let your Ma hear you talking like that, or you’ll have her popping Valium again and throwing one of her Hissy fits” She said flippantly. “I’m not that stupid,” I said. Knowing this was one of those unspoken truths about our Mom, for some reason that I didn’t understand.