March 27th 1970 – Our Kid

“We are of the earth
To her we do return
The future is inside us
It’s not somewhere else
It’s not somewhere else
It’s not somewhere else
One day at a time”
 ( The Numbers – Radiohead )

Before I begin I must explain to those not related to me that I grew up until I was five in a two up two down terraced house in Market St., Dundalk with my Mum and Dad and Dad’s mother, my granny,   whom everyone called Nanny Bond. Mam’s mum & dad, Granny & Granda also lived in Dundalk in Fr. Murray Park, and both Dad and Granda worked in Clarkes shoe factory in the Ramparts.


March 27th 1970

It was a strange day, although to be honest, everything and every day is strange when you are 2 &3/4s. This day was stranger still. I awoke to Kim barking excitedly out the back yard. Looking back, I guess he was wishing Mum ‘Good Luck’. Then I heard the front door close. Nanny came back up the stairs and got me dressed. “Your Mum has gone to the hospital !” she told me breathlessly. “You’ll have a wee brother or sister soon!”. This sounded like a terrible idea.Mam & Dad had tried to explain what was happening over the previous weeks or months…it’s hard to tell at that age. But I either didn’t want to know or really, really didn’t want to know. The radio in the kitchen was talking about someone called Nixon.

Once dressed I made my way downstairs and I washed my hands, like a good boy, at the Belfast sink in the kitchen, looking out at Kim chasing away any sparrow that dared to land in his yard. Nanny made me a guggy egg and soldiers.

Aunty Anne called in from the corner, I loved when she or Uncle Johnny called. They owned the corner shop literally 30 metres away and never visited empty handed. She brought us some cream donuts and my wages from Uncle Johnny, ten pence for crating the returned mineral bottles. Today I was I was hooshed outside to play with Kim.

I took my Clackers with me. Kim hated the Clackers but they were handy protection for a 2 & 3/4’s year old in the confined space of our back yard with a wildly over-affectionate and giddy Cocker Spaniel. Truth be told I hated the Clackers too…they were dangerous in the wrong hands. My hands were the wrong hands. I caught my own fingers in my own clackers. I bawled and went inside. Nanny and Aunty Anne fussed over me and ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water was playing on the radio. I calmed down.

As I was now a very brave soldier, I was allowed to watch The Clangers on our Pye television. God, I loved the Clangers. Especially Tiny. I wondered if I said a prayer would God give Mammy a Clanger instead of a baby. I chanced a Hail Mary.

Nanny brought me in Elevenses after Aunty Anne went back to the shop. We had milky , sugary tea with Marietta biscuits smothered in butter. Unfortunately, she wanted to watch the news.
There was a nuclear   test in Eastern Kazakh by someone called the Russians. Nanny mentioned something about the Third Secret of Fatima and blessed herself. The news also mentioned that Aer Lingus had received their first Boeing 747. Nanny called it a Jumbo Jet and said that maybe that’s how they were delivering babies these days instead of storks. She laughed to herself. It made no sense to me, stork was a margarine. There was more news ! My goodness, when would it stop. Now they were talking about Dana and the upcoming Eurovision. Nanny said that Dana was lovely and started singing :

“Snowdrops and daffodils,
Butterflies and bees,….”

 Mercifully that was all she could remember.

The news started to talk about the ‘Arms Crisis’ and Nanny immediately switched channels, she loved Charlie Haughey and this was a trying time for her. She switched back to the BBC, ‘Skippy The Bush Kangaroo’ was on , what luck !

I loved Skippy The Bush Kangaroo !

“Dear God in heaven , and all the holy angels, please give Mammy a bush kangaroo instead of a baby.”

If Mammy was here we’d be out for a walk by now, most likely all the way up to Fr.Murray Park to see Granny, Terence, Francis, and Margaret if we were lucky. But Mammy wasn’t here, she was up in the Louth, so I was having a brilliant day eating as many Marietta biscuits as I liked and now watching Sesame Street. I started to eat my Mariettas like the Cookie Monster.

And then I fell asleep, it was nearly lunchtime. I dreamt of going up to the hospital and Dad bringing me to the window and lifting me up . I could see Mam smiling brightly…with a tiny Clanger in one arm and a bush kangaroo in the other.

Dad woke me when he came home for lunch. Granda also called, looking for news. I told him the Russians had blown up kakastan, Charlie Haughey had lost an arm and that Mammy’s new baby was arriving by Jumbo Jet. His jaw dropped. We ate our spam sandwiches in silence.

After lunch Granda wanted to watch ‘proper’ news and switched on the BBC. There was a story about a by-election in a place called Bridgwater where 18 year olds were allowed to vote for the first time. They elected Tom King, a Tory. Granda said that 18 year olds should never be allowed to vote again. Granda always fell asleep after lunch. Dad headed back to work. Nanny tidied up in the kitchen. I watched Mr.Ben.

I loved Mr.Ben.

Mr.Ben fought dragons, was a court jester, a chef, a cowboy, an explorer.

Mr.Ben was Dad.

Granda woke up before 2pm and asked Nanny if she was taking me to the Good Friday ceremony in St.Patrick’s. Nanny winked at me while telling him yes. Granda went to work. We did not go to St.Patrick’s.

We watched Wanderly Wagon instead.

I loved Judge.

I loved Forty Coats.

I did not love Mr.Crow.

I did not love Dr.Astro.

Sometime later there was a knock on the front door. Nanny sneaked a peak out the curtains and hastily lit a candle before answering . It was Granny , Aunty Margaret, Uncle Francis and Uncle Terence on their way back from the Good Friday ceremony, to see if there was any news. I said Charle Haughey’s arm was still missing. I was told to be quiet.Nanny said I’d felt unwell so we hadn’t gone to St.Patricks, but that we’d lit a candle and said a prayer. Granny asked if I’d been given any Junior Dispirin. I foolishly said no, so Nanny had to give me two of the foul orange chalky pellets.

We all had tea, more Mariettas, and waited.

I was now well and truly sick of Mariettas. Aunty Margaret took me into the front room and switched on the radio. She told me that the song playing was ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles. I knew who the Beatles were. I was named after one of them. The one from Monaghan.

The front door knocked again. This time it was Aunty Bridie, Uncle Brian, Aunty Noleen and a reluctant Uncle Eddie. Aunty Noleen asked if there was any news. I opened my mouth to answer, saw the look from Nanny and said nothing. They’d brought Kimberley , Mikado, and Coconut Creams.The front door was knocked, but no one got up as Nanny had just left it open the last time. Mam’s friends Geraldine and Ann came in. Ann’s husband Cyril had brought small bottles of Harp. He knew no one else drank, so he only brought six.

Our house on Market St. was small at the best of times, but felt tiny with all these extra people in it. Aunty Margaret put the television on for me  and I got to watch  Dastardly & Muttley.

“Dear God in heaven and all the holy angels and all the holy saints, if I can’t have a Clanger,or a bush kangaroo, can Mammy please have a Muttley instead of a baby? Amen.”

And then Dad came home !

There were cheers from the kitchen. Everyone was clapping him on the back, hugging, Nanny and Granny were crying, Aunty Noleen was sneaking one of Cyril’s Harps and Dad spotted me….

Dad knelt down beside me. I was sooooo excited.

“Paul you have a b….”

Please say bush kangaroo! Please say bush kangaroo !

“….a brother.”

I see.

Nanny found Dad and ushered him back into the kitchen. Granda called and collected Granny, Aunty Margaret, Uncle Terence , Uncle Francis and headed up to see Mam and her new non-bush kangaroo baby boy. Dad said we’d go up after tea. This being a Friday and the Holy season of Lent, we had smoked cod with mashed potatoes and a yellow custard like sauce. Yum.

Nanny elected to stay in the house to be there to pass on the news to any callers. Nanny told me to take a packet of biscuits with me for the baby. I was going to take him the Mikados, but I liked them, so took a packet of Mariettas, which I no longer liked. Dad was whistling a tune as he hopped into the car. He switched on the radio. The radio was playing the same song !  Wand’rin Star by someone called Lee Marvin, the radio said. It was number 1, the radio said. I liked it.

And before I knew it I was being hoisted up to the open window to see my Mammy and her new non-bush kangaroo/Clanger/Muttley baby.

I looked in, Mam looked up and smiled. She was lovelier than ever.

And in her arms….

In her arms was this most amazing creature.

Better than a Clanger.

Better than a bush kangaroo.

Better than Muttley.

Either the sun was shining in my eyes or….or there was an actual star in his eye. His eyes sparkled. And he smiled at me.

And I loved him immediately.

And some how I knew he loved me.

And I’ve loved him ever since….apart from those times when…well you know what he’s like.

Anyway , for the most part, I’ve loved him ever since.

Happy Birthday Our Kid !

Stay Safe you wonderful Monkeys ,


P.S. This is the stunning Numbers by Radiohead 

Author: paul

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