Sandra pointed her out; a skinny girl with a long plait which bounced on her rugsack as she jumped from the gate into the fields. She said that she lived near me, that she knew all the short cuts going home. I usually walked with my sister and Sandra who lived on the same road as me, but much further down the hill, miles away from our bungalow really. Sandra was in the same class as me, but a year older. I was by far the youngest in my class. The reason being that the school head deemed the class I was supposed to be in too full, so I skipped a year and went straight into fourth class which had only about 40 pupils.
Months later Sandra screamed at me that I only ever played with Jane now, that I never bothered coming down the hill to see her anymore. And I screamed back that she was the one that introduced us, making it somehow her own fault. But from the moment Jane and me became friends we were inseparable like Laurel and Hardy, well sort of. Who was who is hard to say… I think I was the fat one, the dominant one, and Jane the kind and gullible one, although she wasn’t gullible and I wasn’t fat. I had to wait three years before we were in the same class. I repeated the last year, because my mother didn’t want me going into secondary school so young. I remember so much from that last year and nearly nothing of those other years before it, because it was in sixth class that we were finally together.
In that year we went on a school trip to Dublin. We went by plane from Shannon airport to Dublin airport, and returned by train from Heusten station to Limerick station. First we visited a museum. The man getting us into single files shouted at Jane and me for eating an apple, making us look so stupid, as if that was the worst thing you could possibly do in a museum. I was so embarrassed, but Jane just smiled. We had our revenge though, we left the cores of our apples on one of their elaborate displays. And couldn’t stop giggling all the way back into the bus.
We had our lunch in the Bus Éireann kantine between all the hardened bus drivers having their lunch; real Irish food, and chips. In the afternoon we visited the botanical gardens; the size of the palm trees inside those Victorian green houses was amazing. We also visited Kilmainham Gaol, this was before it had become a museum. There were two old men, improvised guides who showed us around, my mouth turned dry as they pointed out the bullet holes in the yard where the leaders from the 1916 uprising had been executed, and they showed us the cells where they had been imprisoned; their last words written on the walls. I remember one cell particularly well, the prisoner had made a colourful mural, using only chalk, of the Virgin Mary and her angels. I can’t remember whose cell it was, but as I looked at the colours I could feel his breath on my skin. I was like that when I was young, and Jane was the sensible one, we were nothing like Laurel and Hardy really, we were just ourselves and inseparable.
* This is the sixth post in Childhood Memories
The Miniatures are for sale:
Framed miniature mounted in a wooden frame: 100 euros excluding postage and packing
Boxed miniature: 75 euros excluding postage and packing
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