Monday, September 27, 2010
Return of the Prodical
The Uncles, Jimmy, Peter and Eddie are here with their familes, as well as Auntie Patricia with her husband and children in tow. It’s Saturday night, and the living room, hall and scullery are packed full to bursting. The outside door lies open to the landing.
Running up, down and along the stairs, we play games of tag and hide-and-seek with our cousins, as inside the grown-up’s, lubricated by the Babysham and beer, take it in turn to sing.
The floor vibrates to Uncle Jimmy's thumping, his foot drumming beat to the rhythm. “For these are my mountains” is a popular request, along with other firm favourites such as “Ally-Bally-Bally-Bally-Be” and “Old Sheppie”.
Ma has the best voice, everyone agrees she should’ve had professional training. I can hear her belting out the second verse of “Oh Danny Boy”, as da accompanies her on the mouth organ.
Da’s been back for over a week now, and there’s a boat waiting for him come Monday. He’s never been too fond of ma’s “clan”, our Uncles and Aunts, but he’s allowed them over for ma’s sake, a show of his good grace.
I love these impromptu parties, everyone happy and smiling. Ma has put on her best dress and rouged her cheeks, she looks beautiful.
Out on the stairway, Mary and the cousins decide to play Rumpelstiltskin. Being one of the littlest, I’m the dwarf, bid to hide behind the curtain until it’s time to make an appearance. The tall window has a high deep sill, and I need to be hoisted up to reach there. The frame is rotted, and I’m warned against leaning lest it gives. Each time I peek out to watch them, someone yells, “It’s not your turn yet!” and I’m shooed back under the musty curtain.
Hard done by and feeling bored, I watch the traffic below, counting how many red cars go by. I’m almost at twenty before the adults, unknowingly but mercifully come rescue me.
“Where’s the bairn? Karen, where are you dearie?”
I poke my head through, spy Auntie Patricia’s flushed, round face shining up at me. “C’mon, my darlin’, come and give us all that song, eh?”
She spins me down to ground level, steering me back inside. Mary tries to reason with her, but Auntie Patricia will have none of it.
“Och, you’ll need to find another Rumpelstiltskin, she’s a wee bit busy at the minute, aren’t you Karen?”
“Aye, I am, so there!” Hoping it’s spoiled their game, I gleefully skip ahead.
The grown-up’s want to hear my rendition of “Nobody’s Child”, it’s my famous turn. Knowing how to work my audience, I take my place up behind da’s armchair, positioning myself by his shoulder, and donning my best tragic face, I start in on the first verse.
“As I was slowly walking past an orphange one day,..”
A mournful rendition accompanies me on the mouth organ, as I enter the chorus,
“Nobody’ child, I’m nobody’s child.
Just like a flower, I’m growing wild,
No mummy’s kisses, and no daddy’s smiles,
Nobody wants me, I’m nobody’s child.”
There is not a dry eye in the house when I reach the climax (“..sometimes I feel so lonely, I wish that I could die”). Da has abandoned the musical accompaniment to blow in to his hankie. Reaching in to his pocket, he digs me out a sixpenny piece.
A real result!
It's unanimous, I have my bonny mothers voice, no one is in any doubt, wee Karen is a good, sweet bairn and both my parents are blessed, so they are.
Beaming, I agree. I'm far done from drinking in my praises, but apparently they are, for the conversation disappointingly moves on. Calls go up. The cuter, younger version of me, my cousin Julie, is now called forth. Her ever more popular version of “Bobby’s Girl” is in demand.
Redundant, I drift back to see if I can still be the dwarf.
Sleepy-eyed, I endure all the hugs and soppy kisses, as one by one, our relatives depart. It’s late, and everyone is slowly taking their leave. Ma and da wave them all off. Emptying ashtrays and collecting glasses, they point us off to bed.
Under the covers, I ask Mary about the woman at the house with the blue door.
“Is da not with Sandra now?”
“Och no, don’t be daft, he’s back here with us, isn’t he?”