Tuesday, September 25, 2007
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
I was watching my sons eat breakfast this morning and it made me think about being a child. Dan our youngest had a cereal called Ready Brek, just a gooey mess, but it looked so good I had some myself, I like it because it involves minimum chewing.
I then showed Dan how to tie his laces, he's been struggling with this for a while, but this morning he got it, I was so happy for him.
Last week I went with my friend Alain to a place called Craigavon, we used to live there on an estate called Edenbeg. We went looking for my old house but it had been knocked down, the whole block of houses where we used to live is now just a grassy area, I found it quite disturbing. Mainly because this was the happiest place of my childhood, we moved there from Belfast, I think late in 76 and then stayed there till we moved to England in 78.
Why was I so happy there? Well I guess I was 6 so you start to remember things from then but primarily we where altogether as a family. When we moved to England there was all the mickey taking with accents, getting used to a strange land and then our mother dying which led to sadder times.
So for me Edenbeg was the happiest time of my childhood, I remember moving to the house there, it was brand new, we were on a mixed estate with Protestants and Catholics, there was no tension in that, even though most of us had moved from Belfast and the 70's in N.Ireland was quite a tense sectarian time. In fact when my mum died we had catholic friends from the estate phoning my Dad in England saying they were going to mass for my mum. Probably a testament to my mothers great ability to get on with most people.
It was the first time that we had a proper back garden, although being Irish my dad dug up the complete back lawn and planted potatoes! Just in case.....
We had friends called Declan, Fabian, Sean and Kevin Murphy in fact if I remember we were probably the only protestant kids that age. In all my childhood years I can never remember being taught any negative sectarian values, a fact that is true for a lot of people from home. We would hang out together building dens, playing football and exploring, in those days a 6 year old could disappear for hours without anyone getting stressed. We would explore on building sites, as the rest of Craigavon was still being built, loads of fun when you are young. We would get these black bands that go inside pipes they were made of rubber and then put them on a 2 foot piece of wood and fire them at each other. We also used to go and get apples from nearby orchards, this was also a good rush as you weren't really meant to steal apples, looking back we probably only knicked a few each and it hardly would have dented the farmers crop, but it felt dangerous and exciting at the time.
My dad owned a Morris Minor, quite an old car, one day on the way to school he was driving around a corner when the door popped open and I fell out. I was quite shocked but relatively unhurt, I remember my Dad couldn't stop the car and felt that the lord had enabled this incident to happen so he could stop in a safe place because the brakes were gone. I always felt a bit peeved with God, that to warn my dad about the bad brakes, He had pushed me out of a car.....
Graigavon was a failed experiment in social integration years later it became quite a deprived, divided community, but for me it was the best place I ever lived. I sometimes wish I could go back to those times and that place.