I was nervous upon meeting Godfrey’s sister Alice, shocked when she agreed to meet up at the “Little Chef “near Skibbereen, Beatrice warning me she had been carried out of the better cafe’s. I found Alice oddly engaging, daft yes, she will probably be upset that I found her like able..
.. Your earliest memory, Alice- Long before Godfrey came, in a boat out fishing just me and our dad. Ma knitted a wool harness if I fell over side, I caught a wee salmon all slippery and bright. Dad whacked my fish, it died and I bawled but enjoyed it with beets and tatties that night. Childhood Friends?- I had none, never bonded with anyone, not even you for I am an old curmudgeon. Not Even A Pet- My only pet is a cactus, a mean one. Vern Felonwort speaks kindly of you- Vern Felonwort pointed with his Piccolo once at my behind, I hung it from the highest train trestle bridge I could find.
What Do You Enjoy, Alice- I like beets, and long walks on the beach with a stick to whack what pleases me, like to prod about under seaweed and debris. I love to eat boiled eggs when in line at the bank, garlic cloves when chatting breathless to the police. Like to upset children at the petting zoo, bring my plate, knife and fork, pick out a plump lamb and demand a Bar-B- Que. Often pause and peer and point down a sewer grate, just to see how many others stop to peer and point with me. I delight in watching Vultures on the nature T.V.
And You Dislike?- Herring, and the disturbing white shoes that chap across the room is wearing. Hypocrisy, Bigotry in all forms, so called polite society. Bum-Warm chairs offend me. The ache in my chest when asked of my brother Godfrey, I’d consult the quack but dread being touched by gloved hand, no one touches me or gets to see “The Promised Land”.
Speak Of Godfrey, Alice if You Can- When I began school at three, all the kids climbed ropes and skipped, they were bigger than me. I learned to read and write and fight, I chose to excel academically. Then I was handed Godfrey, wrapped in a blue towel to hold, Miss Commerford the nurse (She spits when she talks) told me, “Here is a dear brother for you, one hour old” He peered up and blew a spit bubble at me, first memory age six I was, of Godfrey” He was an odd, quiet baby but as he grew and learned to crawl, nothing contained Godfrey. When I told him, “lick this ashtray, it is yummy, he did. His first toddling steps were taken, tongue black, grimacing to me. At a funeral he escaped my knee, crawled the length of the church, under every pew, stood at the alter with his gummy grin as the Vicar spoke of sin, dust coating him, he held up Mr Gaglee’s shoe and The Book Of Common Prayer, Ma claimed to have no children, it was I had to drag him down from there.
“I read him scary stories from the lurid magazines our Aunt Lefty left about for me, he believed in the beasties that ate beet loathing little boys named Godfrey. Herring?– Why must you ask of herring, I dislike herring, do not eat herring. When Godfrey was two, as you well know I painted him blue, due to the fact that he ate herring, put a herring in my piano if you must know.
When Did The Music Start?– I was conceived neath an over turned canoe on a mild, damp New Years Eve, Ma recalled the cold sand and the sound of the band playing loud in the hall up the hill. We always had music in the house, I sang before I could talk and would still rather sing than talk to you, I sang in Royal Albert Hall, you have heard of it no doubt? I sang in Sydney Opera House until the ushers threw me out…
Pranks?–As Godfrey did with poems, I left plastic sick strewn about. It was I backstage at the famous Beauty Pageant let the box of mice out. -It was I pulled that rat on a string, in the path of Mary Boggs as she prepared to sing. –It was I , Alice claimed my treasured gold watch, fell down an out house, the one behind the pub in Withersnea, the rude men who booed our band had to dig in deep nasty, to get it back for me.
“Uncle Lou never turned down a booking for the band as it meant he never had to go home”. For years all I knew were tawdry hotel rooms, dance halls that smelled of pork, every banquet room in York” (we were popular there). I sang from every makeshift stage, and mornings alone thought of all the naughty things I would get up to in my old age”. “Then Uncle Lou ate fish n chips in the path of that train, the band dispersed, I never saw them again.
…I bought Ma and step-dad Arthur the house in Skibbereen, where Ma can happy knit, and Arthur gabs on about the war, the old twit. If Godfrey was Here? I’d remind him of the day he first trotted off to school, with his poem to share, and tail of his ridiculous horse sweater trailing behind. When hit with beets hurled unkind, when chased home by bullies, or driven high into a tree, getting him down safe every time was up to me. I alone could torment him with beets. He never got angry, simply waited for a herring he could hide. “We pranked each other until Ma could take no more, no more beets or herring, Ma was past caring. She kicked us out, Godfrey took it in stride, when he left for Australia, Knowing it was forever it was I Alice, sat out on the steps and cried…