Celtic Illumination, part 340, By your pupils you’ll be taught.
It was nice to know that everything had been sorted, well; the plan had legs, survival mode was initiated and ticking along nicely. I now needed to sink myself deeper into the local society so that I could find myself a decent job, not one where I could earn a decent amount of money, but one where I could be paid an obscene amount of money for doing nothing which would allow me to continue to write. I wasn’t considering becoming a social worker so knew that I could probably find something that paid well and wasn’t too strenuous. I was looking forward to going on the building sites for six weeks. The weather was fine and I looked on it as getting myself fit and healthy. It was also the sort of work artist’s love. You don’t have to think, the work is usually straight forward and boring so you can free your mind to concentrate on the important stuff.
I went for a wander around the town to make sure I still knew where everywhere was and to see who I could bump in to. I remember calling in to see Buster and Gerry. Gerry was a sister of my old girlfriend Pat and we were great friends. I wasn’t aware of any connection that they had that might benefit me; I was purely calling in to see them as friends. We were in the kitchen, I was sitting at the dining table, Gerry was busying herself making the tea on the work surface by the sink and Buster was stood standing by the door smiling, as the pair of them were, like a lunatic who has just wet themselves and was enjoying the warmth. I knew that something strange was happening, I could sense it, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
There was a good reason I couldn’t put my finger on it, for I had my elbow on it. The dining table in their kitchen was salvaged from our house in Belfast, not a bit of wonder I could sense something strange. Gerry had always been into crazy arts and crafts projects and saw the table in our garage and asked if she could take it and restore it. I really couldn’t believe that I was sitting at the table I had eaten from for most of my childhood. It was crazy. I moved on to meet another sister of Pat’s, Anne and her husband Davie. Before leaving Buster and Gerry they said that if they ever replaced the dining table it would be stored in their garage and would wait for me if I ever wanted it back. Davie and Anne told me that they had a spare bedroom which I could have if I wanted, once again no rent was wanted except perhaps a small donation toward the bills and of course the food.
Once again it made me very sad to think that my friends were offering me more help than my family were. In fact Anne and Davie had once sent me the best birthday present I have ever received. I had opened a birthday card from them and found a photograph. It was of a small restaurant, or pub, table with a plant in a plant pot, a hair brush and a pint of Guinness. Even the crossword solvers amongst you would not be able to work that one out, don’t worry; I couldn’t work it out either. Northern Ireland is a very small place and everyone will at some point know everyone else. Anne and Davie had known all about my search for my biological family and Anne believed that she had gone to University with a sister of mine. Turned out that it was actually a cousin and we did speak a number of times and she gave me a lot of information about my family.
Having received the photograph in my birthday card and thinking that it had been put in there as a mistake I telephoned Anne and Davie to enquire if they had misplaced one of their weird photographs, although I suppose if you compare it to most of the photographs of peoples lunch that appear these days on Facebook it’s not that weird after all is said and done. Well; we had discovered that my father was the pharmacist in a small country town, my mother had a flower shop and one of my brothers had a pub. Anne and Davie had gone to the town, bought the potted plant in my mother’s flower shop, the hair brush in my father chemist shop and were having lunch in my brother’s pub, which is where they had taken the photograph. It could only have been better if they had sent me a photograph of my mother, my father and my brother, but you would need some excuse to get those.
I just couldn’t believe the effort they had gone to to get this one simple photograph, it really was amazing. And yes, how daft was I sat sitting there looking at a photograph of a hair brush, a potted plant and a pint of Guinness? It would be like something you might expect the artist Tracey Emin to submit to the Turner Prize competition. But that’s the calibre of the people I knew and associated with, so it was no surprise to hear Anne tell me that she had continued with her enquiries, concerning my biological family, and she had now discovered that I had a brother living in Warrenpoint. It’s tradition in Warrenpoint, in fact probably all over Northern Ireland, although probably apart from the great metropolis of Belfast, to say hello to every person you meet, whether you know them or not. To think that I had been wandering around Warrenpoint for almost three days and that one of the people I had greeted could have been my brother was strange and a little bit exciting.
Not only was my brother living in Warrenpoint but I would know his wife. She was a local girl from a village called Burren which is about two miles outside Warrenpoint. Anne and her sister Gerry were primary school teachers, as was my brother’s wife, so Anne was able to tell me where they lived, how many children they had, where they liked to socialise. That’s when one of the strangest things of all happened. My brother ran a pub, not in Warrenpoint, but in the village where my biological family lived, he travelled there every day but when he had some time off he would wander down the street in Warrenpoint and enjoy a beer or two, as you do. Not only did I know the pub he frequented most but I also knew the people he hung about with. The good ol boys. Seems that when my brother went off for a beer he would normally end up with Phelim and Peter, my best friends, talk about weird or what?
This was something I had to get my head around, I know that mother number two had told me to stay away from her, and I assumed that she meant the remainder of the family as well but what was I to do? I knew that I was going to have to contact my brother, far too many people, like Anne and Davie, knew about my biological family and had taken it upon themselves to find out who and where my eleven brothers and sisters were and lived. Somewhere along the line people were going to start making connections and I thought it would be better if I presented myself to my brother, rather than allow him to start to hear gossip and rumour and maybe even the odd laugh. I found myself sitting on the sea wall swinging my legs and watching the waves, as I had done so many times before. It was nice just to let the sound of the crashing waves wash away your thoughts and worries. I decided that I should contact my brother, explain to him who I was and see what happened. I had lived with the situation all my life and realised that if he knew nothing about me then it might take him some time to come to grips with it. I just wanted to assure him that I was no threat, I wasn’t expecting to be invited around for lunch or that we should become best buddies. I simply thought that he should know who I was and what relationship we had and then see what developed from there.
I telephoned Irene and spoke about what I had discovered, like myself, Irene agreed that I should contact him rather than have him face any sort of discomfort or embarrassment should I accidently bump in to him while out with the good ol boys. Not that I would have expected the good ol boys to make a scene out of such an occurrence but I would expect there to be a lot of beer, whooping, car horns, more beer, loud country and western music, probably some more beer and much more whooping and a bit of extreme engine revving. I replaced the receiver and dialled my brother’s home telephone number. Thankfully he didn’t answer, his wife did. I was able to introduce myself. I suppose when you were as good looking as I was and of course still having the loveliest legs in Ireland most of the girls in the local area were madly in love with me. I should have had posters made, might have supplemented the old pocket money and put David Cassidy out of business. She remembered me, told you, which made my task much less difficult. It also meant that someone he knew, and trusted, would now inform my brother. It was almost perfect. She assured me that she believed me, she had heard the odd rumour here and there, but she would choose an appropriate moment and tell my brother. Life was looking up, not only had I found myself a job and somewhere to live I might even have found myself a brother.