Chapter One (Part 1) of An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan

“An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan” is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictitious Irish television and radio personality. It parodies misery memoirs (such as Angela’s Ashes by the late great Frank McCourt) and cannibalises and plagiarises from various sources.

Please check out the first part of the first chapter here.

A later chapter (Chapter 7) is found in a previous post here. I will post more of this work, and I would love to hear opinions and feedback. Thanks.

                My mother was an ear and my father was a goat. I didn’t dwell on it much as a child; you tend not to pick up on such things when you’re as underprivileged as was I.
                We were all underprivileged, all forty-two of us, all the brothers and sisters under the one roof. And seven more foetuses in the milk bottle always on our doorstep. My very first memories are of the room in Main Lane, sitting on the floorboards, preoccupied with the bald and tatthered shliothar that I had carefully fashioned into a make believe microphone that had once been a former baby’s head, most of the baby since made into a delicious coddle through the culinary genius of my frugal mother. Every so often I would babble something or other. My mother, working across the room at stove or sink, would look over at me, smile and ask shrilly:
                “Yes, macushla?”
                or agree with me:
                “Yes, macushla.”
                She couldn’t have done much else, she couldn’t have done any worse. She talked to me, engaged me in conversation, encouraged my incoherencies until they became intelligible. I get paid to speak at public functions now; you can make a pretty penny out of it, and I owe it all to my mother. My oratorical skill would not be what it is today were it not for her patience.
                I do recall, in my infant years, seeing a slightly older brother christened Larry trying to place his fingers in the electric plug socket that went unused after the Marconis’ departure. And Larry had teeth for legs and legs for teeth. Mystoperia, as the Good Indian Corkman Doctor Singh called it. The diagnosis upon birth in the hospital, my mother informs me after Larry’s malformed carriage broke her dam that Tuesday ninemonth, went as follows.
                Doctor Singh came into the delivery room to make his examination, stuck his spectacles on the bridge of his nose and scribbled with his quill on a piece of card. He pointed at Larry’s face from where the feet were protruding, running an officious index finger around the defective region.
                “Dayr is a Mestuparea here,” he informed my mother in his inimitable Indian pidgin. Then he pointed clinically at Larry’s podal domain, equally defunct as it consisted mostly of teeth. “And dayr is a Mestuparea here.” And that’s how Larry was first diagnosed with Mystoperia.
                There was a lack of psychoanalytic counselling in those days, of course, and Larry spent his formative years eking out a miserable existence without much attention, which he craved.
                At least one afternoon of every week, Father Rorty our parish priest arrived, to hear Larry tell of his complaints (the infant being utterly bereft of company) and “to give the child a gentle and special kind of love.”
                On Father Rorty’s visits, the rest of the clan would leave the dwelling. The gas cooker would be left on Mark Four with eight quartersticks of dynamite in the oven to show the glimmer man where to go (“The way to Hivin”, as Father always said) in case he called around on one of his random inspections. The numbers on the hall door would be reversed so that the postmaster-general would be confused and wouldn’t know what to do with any telegrams from Cousin Barney who was serving in a tedious conflict in South Africa at the time and would return later (both the postmaster-general and Cousin Barney).
                Father Rorty made a habit of coming near Larry at least once a week, sewing consistently beside the tainted child for at least fourteen years. The habit was made of silk from the gossamer cobwebs in the corners of our tenement. He gave it when finished to Mother Mary Magdalene, who stitched it into her scalp and refused to part with it on pain of death, smitten as she was by Father Rorty, and him not being the least interested in her, having more the proclivities of a celibate paedophile.
                The habit killed her in the end, so. Her encephalographic habeas corpus showed gangrene in her brain; it was obvious, according to the coroner, that the nun had stitched too deeply. Alas, Mother Mary Magdalene, her subcutaneous patchwork got her in the end.
                And so, on Father Rorty’s visits, Larry would get very excited. As soon as he saw the priest, he would start to clamber across the floor on his teeth, away from the equally delighted Priestly Presence, as he was known, struggling like mad once this Man of God – who in his spare time raised the sacred grail of the Lord heavenward every Sunday, his congregation lowering their collective heads in deference and closing their eyes in meditative and contemplative aspect – had him in his arms, and the screams of delight emanating from his legged orifice would fill Mother’s eyes with tears of joy. This was of course when paedophilia was still regarded as a deviancy. The family would leave the house and Larry under Father Rorty’s supervision, and we would all visit the picture house on Main Street, where PJ ‘Bán’ Ceagher, as the projectionist, would slip all forty-two of us for free in through the oculus for the projector, and we would sit in the back row, eyes fixed on the follower-upper to the pre-latest antics of Flash Gordon and The Three Stooges, hurling shit and abuse at the Protestants up the front and pissing down on them from above if the urge took us.
                The end of the film would mark our return home, of course, and when we came in through the door Larry would be propped up over a stool, naked from the waist down, face glowing with tears of delight and the healthy grimace of toes fixed between his deformed lips stretching from defective ear to happy ear. Another negligible few lines of silk would have been added to the habit Father Rorty had been making which he could have finished with ease in one sitting, like a widow’s shroud for a Greek hero, still far from home and alive but pined for as if deceased.
                Of course, Father Rorty was so attached to Larry that he couldn’t finish the habit he was fabricating for Mother Mary Magdalene in just one sitting. And Father Rorty would himself be sitting at the fire hearth, a lukewarm jar of milky tea flavoured with a spoonful of homemade jam in the Russian fashion in one hand, cigarette trembling ever so slightly in the other, gratified.

Part 2 of Chapter One here.