There you were, a ginger-haired, lumpy bumpy baby boy, a boy growing into a complex of disabilities, ugly as an afterthought, and she loved you. It surpasses understanding. Loving you, like loving sausages, was a passion eschewing close inspection or contemplation of the object. She loved you despite — she loved you regardless — she loved you.
She loved you though you were an indictment of her union with your father. Your parents were diversely hideous and their greatest gift to the human gene pool would have been chastity.
Your mother: short, fat, breathless, with a crowded red face. Your father: tall, pockmarked, bristly, marfanoid.
Your mother always talked, in her whispery urgent voice. She knew that everybody needed her advice. She thought that Catholics ran the government and that the government was always picking on the little people. She thought that Jewish people ran the banks and that the banks were always picking on the little people. She thought that honesty was the best policy. She thought that bleach was the essential cleaning aid. She thought that TV was full of corrupting influences.
Your father implicitly agreed.
You were late to speak. Your first word was “Poo!”, but you quickly followed up with “Truck!” and “No!” You were fond of shoving soft toys into the toilet. You did not play with other children. You had amblyopia, strabismus, astigmatism and myopia. You were blessed with glasses from age three, and thenceforth your nose began to develop the horny shelf so practical for your spectacled existence. With one lens covered in sticking plaster to discipline your sight, you looked like a spaz. You could not run. Corners elbowed you, steps tripped you. You fell down a lot, but at least your legs were short and your big head was hard.
Your hands were spades.
You breathed through your mouth. You were allergic to dust. Also milk. You refused to eat eggs. You swallowed without chewing. You choked easily and often. Give you a fish and you would catch a bone in your throat.
You liked to catch flies, although it might take you an hour by the window to trap a single blowie. You kept them under your bed.
You were, at this stage of your horrible existence, often happy. Little did you know.
Your first days at preschool were misleadingly pleasant. The play-dough tasted good; the plasticine less so. You sat in a little chair at a little table and were introduced to red, blue and yellow paint. Finger painting! Flowers trees birds teachers girls boys curly hair eyes eyes clouds see-saw swing monkey bars monkey boys dog cat man with big bum face with big nose nose with sharks coming out spider with fly paintpot window hands.
They had never seen anything so … obsessive. They tried to move you on. You were not good with blocks. You were not good with sharing. You did not know the magic words. You failed skipping. You were often involved in little disagreements with the other children.
The preschool teachers would have expressed their concerns to your mother, but they could not get a word in. She was urging them to close the sandpit, because of cats, or telling them what sort of shoes to wear.
After a slow start, little Peter Carter recognised your existence. He came across the playroom to hold you tight. He shoved beads into your ears. This led to complications: visits to the doctor; extractions; infections; perforations; grommets; hearing loss.
Stop putting beads in your ears!
Not me. Peter.
Your mother took you out of preschool. You were relieved, but it was the end of finger painting.
© 2020 Craig Bingham
Watch out for A to F. Part 1.2, coming soon to a blog near you.
Read something similar:
Give this to Terry [fiction]
Read something different:
the innocents [fiction]
Enmeshed — thoughts on ‘Never let me go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro [opinion]
A life in pictures [memoir]