The scariest witch lived at home.

The photo.

You know, I look at this photo of my twin sister and I and wonder a lot of things, did I know just what I had let myself in for, did I know that I was going to grow up unloved and unwanted, did I know that my twin and I would be so different, did I know I was going to have to fight everyone just to survive, did I know that so many of my friends would be taken away from me before I reached 25, did I know that I’d live the life of constant change – even as a child, did I even know if there was a plan…

I look into my eyes, I’m on the right BTW and wonder what was going through my head, probably fear, probably being ordered to sit incredibly still and not move. Neither of us are happy in this photo, there are no happy shots of us until we left home at sixteen but there are happy memories of being away from home, playing with my friends, climbing tree’s and stealing apples from orchards, building go-carts, hiding away at the bottom of the vegetable patch and eating Charlie Ferguson dads peas, building forts out of the grass the council had cut in the field outside the door, swinging on the rope hanging from the tree over the swamp, caddying for the golfers in Clandeboye Golf Course and earning 35p, working with Raymond and then Dickie and Boo Graham delivering milk, chatting to the customers, listening to my boots making that crunching squeaky sound as I walked on virgin snow on Xmas morning delivering milk, watching the lights come on in the houses on Xmas at 5am as the kids woke up excited to see if Santa had arrived, doing the paper round and getting soaked and getting chased by the scary dog in Belmont, trying to flirt with the nurses in Crawfordsburn hospital.

My biggest worry those days was doing my mathematics homework for school and if I’d have to go on a mission of mercy and deliver  bottles of milk to Witchie-poo, the old lady who lived in the creepy cottage in the middle of the dark forest.. at aged 11 you still weren’t sure if witches existed or not but as I walked down that muddy track surrounded by the scary tree’s and the ferns and the full moon, well it seemed prudent to be ready to run like fuck…and yes, even that is a happy memory..

Learning to do somersaults with Albert Vine onto that old mattress in his garden, playing catchy-kissy with his sister, being a witness to the love his mother gave them both, walking around to the sweet shop when I was 5 to buy my first pack of sweets, Jelly Tots and having a whole packet to myself, being the first one in the family to pass an exam, discovering ELO, classical music, Mike Oldfield and having Raymond mockingly call his album Tubular Balls, having a crush on Cathy, the first adult to treat me with respect and babysitting Cheryl and Tracy so I got to have a remote control all to myself, discovering there was Chinese food and Indian food, lying on the branch of my tree and telling it all my hopes and desires, winning at Mousetrap one day, discovering books and losing myself in science fiction.. and losing myself in The Call Of The Wild, going to Pickie Pool and learning to swim and dive and swimming in the sea and making it out to the raft – the mark of manhood – ice-cream sliders from that Italian shop just beside the bus station, discovering the chip shop would give you cash for empty coke bottles, my other sister shoplifting and getting caught, no longer being the smallest in the family once Terry and Gerald were born, wrestling with my older brothers, finding lost golf balls in Clandeboye and selling them back to the golf shop, discovering that I could outrun my mother..and pulling faces at her and getting caught and standing up to her for the first time and being more than I was programmed to be

And I wonder, if I had a choice, would I do it all again, because I like who I am, and even more interesting, perhaps I ‘am’ doing it all again and again because I enjoyed it so much the first time, second time, third time.. we go to see movies were there’s heartache and tragedy but the hero comes through in the end, is that what I’m doing, re-watching this movie more than once because it was so inspiring, and let’s be honest – amazing fun too 😉

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