Chapter Three (Part One) of An Early Childhood

“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 from various sources.
The first part of Chapter 2 is here.
The second part of Chapter 2 is here.



                Mother, apart from the stealery in the orphanage-cum-convent, could more often than not be regardered as the most decent and honourable woman this side of the River Shandy, as well as the other side. And she was seen as such, even in fierce times when people would call to the house and they’d see the holy chalice from Chapel No. 5 sitting on the mantelpiece. People wouldn’t believe her when she told them she had stolen it from the orphanage. Despite her blatant honesty when it came to her own kleptomania, nobody believed her because she was that good of a person.
                She was known as the Lady of the Light because, before she married, she worked as a housemaid abroad for a married couple who were both scientists, name of Curie, and ever since then she’d had the unwitting capacity of being able to glow in the dark. Alas, the Curies passed away untimelyly, and Mother returned to her native land to shack up with Billy Flanagan, who was my father. Now, Billy and Patricia, as my Mother was known, ended up in the family way, in that they were not long courting together before they were married. And Mother insisted on doing it that way, because she had met a fellow while she was abroad, Jude Fawley was his name, and he hadn’t gotten married and he was living in sin with his lover and he’d never got a chance in life because of it. His story was a tragic tale, a veritable critique on the nihilism of a Darwinistic universe. Or something.
                And Mother’s generosity of spirit and healing qualities were known to all and sundry. I remember one occasion when she was summoned out in the middle of the night because Mrs O’Meara had delivered herself a backwards baby. And Mother had to take me with her as the proper example of what a baby was. I served, I suppose, as the template for a real baby, not the made-up mess of a thing that Mrs O’Meara had given birth to. And Mrs O’Meara saw me, and she agreed that her baby had been born inside out, even though she had been in denial about it. So with a deft flick of the wrist, Mother turned Mrs O’Meara’s reverse baby back to front and saved its life.
                And Mother used to go down to the shops and ask for credit, and she always got it, irregardless of the fact that she owed more money in that shop than small South American countries produced coca, from which a certain illicit substance is derived, which we may go into later. And so, she’d get gobsmackers for all the family, and aniseed spheres, and bitter monkey pennies and toffers and scoffers and spsirc and Jim Larkin’s cooking oil and liquorice whips and sour lemon protestant jew balls that could only be looked at but not sucked because “eating them was akin to tupping a lady of the night”, as Mother insisted.
                And although I’d never met a vampire, much less a female one, I always got the impression Mother was actually alluding obliquely to sex with prostitutes rather than anything en vogue today, with the Wampyric Wenaissance.
                She’d also pick up some tylet roll, if she could afford it, but we usually used old newspapers and books and babies to wipe Father’s bum. And she would always, always, always, buy an economy container of Blue Steam, because she insisted on keeping a germ-free household.
                Every morning, Mother would travel the twenty-one miles down to the well next to the copper tylet in Main Square to fill up a large bucket with water for the family for the day. And she would carry the bucket on her head, two babies suckling off her teats as she trotted down to the forum. And Mother would lower the bucket into the well, often flicking the babies ‘accidentally’ into the water with some sudden action. And she would pretend not to notice their cries; she had enough children already, and only one of them a millionaire, and him dead now, what with his mystoperia and his tuberculosis and his musical career and Mad Leopold Cassidy That Jewish Bastard.
                And then she would return to the house, or sometimes she would take a detour down to the strand to pick up her hoard of orphanage goods, and she’d come back to the house with her fresh water and her stash of stolen goods which had been buried near the seawater. There’s some kind of symbolism in that kind of banter, but I’m not entirely sure where. And then she’d wash the remaining infants in our own tylet and hang them out on the line and talk to me, teaching me such words as iniquitous and nephron.

The continuation is here.