Celtic Illumination, part 341, Hands across the water.
You may think that I was feeling unstoppable with everything falling in to place so easily, jobs, accommodation, brothers. On the surface I suppose things looked fine and dandy but underneath I did have one or two worries. Buying and selling houses would probably be the biggest headache facing me but there were so many other factors to take in to consideration. I knew that the family would put me under great pressure to have the children brought up as Catholics. I had no real problem with that as I knew as Catholics they would get the best education possible but I didn’t want the associated guff that came with it. I find it very hard to believe in a God, any God, that can allow such cruelty and evil to exist in our world.
I accept that there are people who have a religion and who get great comfort from following that religion and I wish them good luck. Just leave me out of it. I suppose the biggest worry was that I was going to have to hold a taxi drivers license in order to run my friends firm. Many of my friends were doctors, solicitors, teachers, professional types. I would want to say that we would always meet as friends and equals but unfortunately Northern Ireland was affected by the British disease, the class system. Some of my friends were golf club types, BMW driving idiots, who thought they were better than everyone else. Not an Irish outlook at all, all men are equal. I knew that the most pressure would come from my family who could out snob Little Lord Fauntleroy himself.
Of course I had no intention of remaining as a taxi driver or even running the firm, my objective was to find a comfortable job that was well paid and continue with my writing career, the job was secondary to me. For once I knew that I was going to have to be quite selfish in my pursuit of this new life and I was happy with that. The first objections were raised at Sunday lunch by mother number one. As we sat and ate our lunch I described my good run of luck, explaining that I would be starting work on the Monday and that I could move in to my new accommodation as soon as I liked. It felt really strange sitting talking like that as upstairs was a bedroom that I had considered to be mine, full of my ‘stuff,’ books, bits and pieces, memories, stuff.
In our talks about whether I should come home to Ireland Irene and myself talked about mother number one. Despite whatever had happened in the past we decided that I had an obligation to return home and provide whatever support that mother number one might need. She was old and getting older so as a sort of thank you for bringing me up, although could you find one person in their right mind who would want a childhood like mine, I saw it as my duty. So it was strange to find that there wasn’t exactly a warm welcome waiting for me. I suggested that we should head up to Glenarm and see Nora and recharge my outlook on life. Mother number one agreed and then asked if she had told me that I had been cut out of the will? I explained that I didn’t know what she was talking about.
It had always been accepted that the family house in Glenarm would be left to me. I understood that it was another duty to look after the house, that it was a family house and that any member of our family could come home and stay there. Quite a decent outlook when you consider the position I was in. There were five cousins, Charles and John in England, Mary Claire in America, Carol in Italy and myself. Of the five of us I was the only one who wanted to return to Ireland, so once again we were entering ‘no brainer’ territory. Mother number one then tells me that some years before Nora had sent me a cheque for two and a half thousand pounds which I had never thanked her for, so because of that I had been taken out of the will. The house in Glenarm would no longer be left to me.
I remembered the incident very well and explained what had happened to mother number one. Nora had actually sent all five of us two and a half thousand pounds each, it was totally out of the blue and a most welcome gift. I do remember telephoning her and thanking her and a week later telephoning her again because another lump of money had arrived. This time I had been sent the book associated with her savings account, which had been transferred to me and which contained seven and a half thousand pounds. Nora was swearing when I told her, but not at me but the fool of a manager at the building society who had messed up her instructions. We laughed off the situation, now that we were aware of it, and I promised to return the bank book to Nora immediately. So it was the sort of incident you tend not to forget, I didn’t want to start arguing with Nora about it, but knew it would have to be addressed so that I could find out the real reason I had been cut out of the will.
I wasn’t too bothered; I mean what would you do with two houses? At least the house in Glenarm would remain in the family, we could all still use it and that would be the important thing. Someone else could pay for the upkeep and the insurance to keep the place ticking over. I found myself wandering around the front shore deep in thought and bumped into Brendan, the murderer, well; ex murderer, who was on his way to Omeath in the Republic for a pint or two. It didn’t take much to twist my arm so off the pair of us went over on the ferry as we had done so many times as teenagers. I needed to speak to Brendan anyway as I needed to let the local IRA know that I was home for good and was no threat to them. At the same time I needed guarantees that I was under no threat from them.
I didn’t know the precise structure of criminality in Northern Ireland but I did know that, depending on where you lived, the terrorist organisation running that area would control all aspects of thuggery. So although I knew most of the IRA men and knew I was under no threat from them, I knew that they would keep the local riff raff in their place and in a strange sort of way would protect me. Violence and punishment beatings are still very much a part of everyday life in Northern Ireland, these days it’s still happening but the majority of the population ignore it as they believe it is associated with the illegal drugs trade and therefore deserved. So Brendan and I had a nice couple of pints, I explained that I was home for good and that my wife and children would be following soon. I knew that the information would be passed along the line and I should be allowed to settle back in to my old society.
I got back home and found my uncle waiting for me. He had been the local parish priest for Warrenpoint and I had lived with him in the parochial house there. I had always thought this fellow was my biological father as he was the only person who had shown me any sort of affection. Mother number one made herself scarce by going into the kitchen to prepare tea. Seamus and I sat chatting. “What are you doing now?” he asked, and I explained that I was trying to establish myself as a writer. I didn’t bother going in to detail and try to explain what I had been up to as he was very dismissive. “I wouldn’t know anything about that.” he hissed, which I thought was quite insulting. Normally, if you didn’t know anything about something you tended to ask about it, learn a little, be polite, these were the rules of polite conversation, even if you couldn’t have cared less about the person.
“How long are you home for?” he asked, and I told him that I was home for good. “No,” he said. “How long are you staying here, with your mother?” “Oh,” I said. “Three weeks. She said I could stay here for three weeks.” “Three weeks!” cried Seamus. “Three days is too long, get out.” This came as a little bit of a shock, I was trying to get my head around what he had said but knew he was still talking at me. “I want you out of here by tomorrow.” Was just one of the things he was saying and he was quite puffed up and angry. Needless to say the conversation between us died a death. The television was on and it was one of those stupid game shows where children answered questions. Seamus seemed to be enjoying it and laughed and guffawed along with the programme. I felt sick, I had just been thrown out of my own home, I wasn’t sure what for, but at least the family remained true to form.
I knew that mother number one wasn’t preparing tea in the kitchen, well she was, but she was hiding, the pair of them would have worked this whole thing out. She called saying that our tea was ready if we would like to come through. I opened the door for Seamus and explained that I was off to wash my hands as he went through. I headed for the downstairs rest room which was next to the front door but instead of going in and washing my hands I collected my coat and left the house by the front door. I wandered off down the street and came across Phelim. We went in to a bar and bought ourselves some beer. I explained to Phelim what had just happened and he said that it came as no surprise to him. Seamus was not liked by anyone in Warrenpoint, he or the other good ol boys had never mentioned that to me as Seamus was my uncle and they didn’t want to embarrass me. In fact he was known as a pervert throughout the area, his hands were always slipping when he was helping little boys and that was the moment it all fell in to place for me. Seamus wasn’t the only person in our family who had shown me affection, Seamus was a fecking pervert, and would I want to expose my children to such a beast as that?