Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us MYSTERIOUS.
There are so many things that most people don’t know about me, I hardly know where to start.
I have had, what I consider to be, a very interesting & mysterious life. I can’t tell the whole story here but maybe a glimpse into my beginnings will explain why my life has been a little ‘different’.
My life started with a huge battle. I was the second child of a rhesus positive mother & her body turned against me, rejecting me as if I were some kind of virus. It was a long time ago & things were not as simply corrected as they are now. Suffice to say that I had to undergo a lot of treatment before I was ready to enter the outside world.
I was generally a sickly child. I’d had pneumonia twice by the time I was eight & suffered a severe bout of bronchitis every winter. This was either caused, or exacerbated by, my mother. I’ve never been sure which, probably both are true.
She was constantly checking my temperature & kept me wrapped in layer upon layer of clothing, starting with a particularly uncomfortable contraption called a “Liberty Bodice“. It was a kind of under-jerkin made from some thick & heavily starched material, with rubber buttons that I found impossible to get through the harsh, unforgiving buttonholes they accompanied. Consequently, I was always in need of assistance when dressing or undressing & regularly found myself in trouble at school for being the last in or out of any activity that required a change of clothes.
I was also an extremely introverted child. I grew up in a rather strange household of Irish, Roman Catholic, immigrant women married to English, Protestant soldiers. I decided at a very young age that my entire family were completely insane & I can honestly say that I’ve never been proved wrong. I had a sister who I rarely saw because my mother in her ‘wisdom’ decided when she gave birth to me that it would be best for everyone if my sister went into ‘care’.
My sister was, & still is, remarkably normal considering the suffering she must have had to endure being rejected by her mother & denied the joys of bonding with her baby sister. I was left at the mercy of my schizophrenic mother & my, completely brain-dead, grandmother.
My grandfather,an absolute angel, died when I was eight. It was a shame because I was just really getting to know him. I spent most of my early years refusing to be left alone with him. Why? Because he was a man &, much as I loved & trusted him, I was constantly being told by my mother & grandmother that men were ‘bad’, & that I should stay away from them & not talk to them. It was obvious that he found my apparent distrust quite painful & as I got older I wanted him to know how much I really loved him.
My grandfather slept upstairs alone in a room full of huge, empty wardrobes, that I was too scared to enter, my grandmother slept downstairs & wedged a chair under the door handle before she got into bed. I always wondered why & what she was trying to keep out. My grandfather spent his days shut in his workroom, surrounded by televisions & radios that he was trying to fix. In the few months before he died I had just started sneaking into his workroom, when no one was looking, & he had started teaching me some electronics & physics. I was absolutely delighted & so was he. I think we were both very lonely.
My mother spent a lot of time in hospital, as a result of her many bizarre accidents & health problems. She, for instance, managed to slip & fall between the platform & the tube train at the Embankment underground station in London, during the early morning rush hour. Anyone who has ever been there will remember the constant message over the loudspeakers – “MIND THE GAP … MIND THE GAP” – I’ve often wondered if that particular announcement wasn’t inspired by that very incident. This actually happened before I was born but is a good example of the type of ridiculous accident she managed over & over again in her life.
During her spells in hospital I would be left with my grandmother who would do her best to keep me fed & clean. My grandparents had a huge house bought, I think, with my grandfather’s army pension. It had an equally huge garden, which was littered with the weirdest junk imaginable. In the centre there was a huge cherry tree & I loved to play under it.
I spent large amounts of time completely alone & withdrew more & more into my own fantasy world, where I would imagine myself to be different characters from legends I had read in the many books available to me. It was here that I started to consider myself the sole authority in my life. I did what I chose &, as there was rarely anyone checking, I was rarely challenged. I became devious, dishonest & ruthless, but no one would ever have guessed it from my sweet, innocent looking face.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is that my mother was a religious fanatic, we spent much of our time together praying & studying the bible & the lives of the saints. We went to church several times a week. The house was filled with statues & pictures each with their own candles & under our clothes we wore something called a scapular. This odd little item consisted of two ‘holy’ cloth, pictures joined by two long lengths of ribbon. It was placed over the head so that a picture hung down the back & the front of the chest & the whole thing was, of course, blessed by the priest. Mine was attached to my undergarments to make sure I didn’t lose it, & along with my saintly meditations in the playground was a great source of ridicule for my schoolmates to use against me.
Actually I didn’t really have schoolmates as such. I spent my schooldays in almost complete silence & most of the kids thought I was too weird even to risk approaching me. Somehow though, regardless of being away from school for long periods of time due to my mother’s need to order me to bed every time I coughed or sneezed, I was top of my class. I think the long hours spent reading must have contributed a lot to my education.
I’ve come a long way since then, but I look back only with fondness. I believe my early life helped to mold the strong individual I now am.
So there it is.
I started life as a complete nutter, descended from a long line of complete nutters.
So if I seem a little strange sometimes it’s probably because I am a little strange.