It must have been one of those compulsive urges children have, like when they are walking on a tiled floor and refuse to step on a seam, or — this is the one I struggled with when still a child — walking along a road and hearing a car coming up behind me, I had to run as fast as possible to pass the next street lamp before the car passed me or else I’d get a heart attack and die.
What should have been another summer camping trip turned into something completely different. On the first night after arriving in Ireland my parents and my aunt and uncle tried to put up a tent in gale force ten on the banks of a grey and rough lake, while we children, my sister and me, my little brother and my three cousins watched on from the car. We must have arrived late because I remember it being dark. We had camped many times but up until that point had always sought out sunny, southern spots in Italy or Spain, once we went to Yugoslavia but the temperature there proved to be too hot for us. I can’t remember if they eventually got the tent up, as sticks were constantly falling over and the wind got into the canvas a few times nearly taking it out on to the lake.
Jane and me were both daffodils. We were eight or nine and her mother had heard about a new Girl Guide troop starting in Monaleen. Jane said it would be fun and talked me into it. Not that I needed much talking into; where she went I went, and where I went she went. So the both of us ended up daffodils. My sister was a poppy.
I loved the badge, the yellow daffodil embroidered on a black background. The yellowness reflected the sunshine, and looked very cheerful. I had always loved yellow. Actually I’m not sure if yellow was truly my favourite colour. Continue reading →
My fascination with skeletons probably started in Askeaton *. I revisited the skeleton in that cracked tomb many times. I remember the coolness of the draft and the smell as I leaned in to peer inside; that sweet smell of pastry, which I recognized every time dough was rolled out on a flouring board in our warm kitchen, at home. I don’t remember finding it gruesome; it was much too fascinating to be gruesome. The eels my father caught were gruesome; the way they wriggled in that bucket after their heads were chopped off and their skins removed, the bloodiness of it. My skeleton was nothing like that, it was clean, white and floury.