An Early Childhood Chapter 8 Part Three

Continued from Chapter 8 Part 2.

                My sister Marie-Wallace – or sometimes, Mary Wallace, was so named after the landlord, and him being called Mister Wallace – a Protestant who lived in the upstairs pjentjhjuse – which was a penthouse done in the Double Dutch style. Anyway, we often eavesdropped on his conversations through the ceiling, and judging by the tone of conversation we’d hear, it was more often than not his fellow Protestant colleagues he’d be entertaining, fellow being tautologous, of course, but the more descriptive you are the better you sound, be those Protestants men, women or children. You could hear the Protestant banther filtering through the floorboards upstairs, composed of talk such as:
               “I work one hundred and twenty hours a week and I drink very little.”
                “There’s a kind of scrupulousness – indeed, a meticulousness – of thought – required for the Crosaire. Would you not agree? A tally ro yah yah?”
                “I use contraception when engaging in intercourse with more than three women at one time.”
                “I’m very well educated and so are you.”
                “He wasn’t to know that my bra opened at the front. But he had no right to use the scissors.”
                Anyhow, rent day came and went and Mother was a few shillings short, so what did Mister Wallace do only strip Mother of his namesake Marie-Wallace and sell her to the Protestant Ascendancy in London, wherefore a maid she became for the Protestant Archbishop, a death sentence to hell it was, gone doubt.
                Well, Baby Jack was the youngest of the babies in our family to survive childbirth, finding himself beyond the realms of this life and straight into the next before the rite of Baptism could be conferred upon his little fontanelle. Baby Jack was born with a disease known back in the day as the Spaniard’s Influence, and he sniffled and snarfled his first few days of life in this world with a snotty nose and phlegmy little lungs. One evening, on which we were sure it was the evening of his death but then it wasn’t, his breathing got so heavy, what with the gasping and the heaving out of him, that all the family sat around his little crib, praying over the baby in what I believe Mother described at the time as a village.
                “I’ll light a candle and we’ll hold a village,” she said quietly.
                “Argghh, toy Hill wath this!” Father roared, and he picked Baby Jack up into his huge arms, and covered the baby’s mouth and nose with his own mouth, and he inhaled sharply. The sharp intake of breath sucked the mucus out of Baby Jack’s body and the baby started to breathe with greater alacrity and contentment. All the family cheered, Father spat the snot and phlegm into the fire, and we had a party.
                The next night we again sat in village around the baby’s crib, and again Baby J, as he was called, was sniffling and snarfling. Father proceeded with the same procedure, and again the baby’s breathing eased considerably.
                Needless to say, on the third night Father was so enthused with his success that he sucked Baby Jack’s brains out through his nose along with all the mucus and that was the end of the J Boy, as we called him. So that’s just a few of the sicknesses of my sick family, and it goes to show how few of my siblings survived to adulthood.
                For now, though, let’s continue with the rest of the biography of my life.

The beginning of Chapter 9 is here.