Monday, August 18, 2008

Yves Saint Lauradge.

8.06 and I'm out of bed. Nothing worse than waking four hours into a good night's kip, having to urinate, banging your knee on the doorframe and throwing any possibility of further rest to the gods.

Still, at least I get to enjoy this morning of murk and rain and general miserability.

There's no work to be going to, no commitments beyond the hunting and gathering of food and J-cloths, so here I blog.

When I was away recently I got to thinking about the younger Radge. It was a strange thing, memories that I'd long since squirreled away returned in glorious technicolor as I did little but sit and sip drinks and sightsee around.

Radge the parfumier.

I remember being in my back garden with my sister Anne and a few other friends, my granny looking out the window at us from her kitchen sink, when I took the idea of snipping the rose bushes outside and using the petals to make perfume. This involved getting several glasses of water and swishing the mixture around and testing it on the female members of my family.

My mam, ever supportive, told me it was absolutely beautiful - and that she'd happily wear it on a night out - so I took to going house to house, selling my flower water at a low, low price.

It sold moderately.

Radge the gardener.

This one I only barely recall, but involves a spade, my friend Ronan and his front garden. Ronan informs me that he was sitting inside with his folks, having a feed of toast and tea, when his father Noel walked in, all befuddled.

"What's wrong Noel," Teresa asked.

"Well, ****'s in the front garden. Or what's left of it. He's after digging the whole thing up."

Such industry! I was seven.

Radge in the battle of Pig and Cow.

This isn't one specific memory, more a signature of an entire childhood spent fighting with Anne, who - while only a slip of a thing - was a tempestuous little urchin at the best of times. We fought A LOT. My good friend Kev used to have ringside seats, and he'd commentate on our various bouts. "Pig looks at Cow crooked. Cow doesn't like this. Cow throws a pillow at Pig. Pig retaliates with a cup. Cow is rattled but determined. PIG GOES DOWN!"

I'm still not sure if I was Pig or Cow.

Radge the failed truant.

In fourth class I had a teacher called Sister Cora. She was a brick shithouse of a nun and a complete psychopath to boot, but she loved me for some reason. I realised I could get one over on her easily enough, and over a number of weeks came down with all sorts of imaginary sicknesses so I could go home.

She'd phone my dad, who worked from home in his Dublin days, and he'd promptly appear on his bike and wheel me home.

This was all very well as my mother - a teacher and by far the disciplinarian of the two - would not get back from school herself until 3pm or so, at which stage the horse had bolted.

One day, however, she returned early. 11am or so. I was up in the folks' bed watching telly, all delighted with myself, when my mother came up to check on me. She tells me now she knew instantly there was fuck all wrong with me, but she wasn't about to let on at the time.

Instead, she told me to put on some clothes, that we were going to go for a bit of a drive. I got all excited, forgetting instantly I was supposed to be writhing in some suspicious agony, and bounded down the stairs.

"Where are we going?"

"It's a surprise but you'll love it," she replied.

Next thing we pulled into the school gates, she produced my schoolbag from the boot of the car, and told Sister Cora to make sure I was ACTUALLY sick the next time she sent me home. What a brilliant humiliation. I never rang home sick again.

Radge the forger.

First year in that Jesuit rugby-obsessed school on the North side that dare not speak its name, my love for study was bettered by experiments with drinking, smoking, petty theft and heads and volleys in the park. OK, not the petty theft.

One maths test did not go at all well, and I failed with a miserly 37%. We were told we had to get the tests signed.

I turned to Kev, who informed me he was expert at forging signatures. He took a few practice runs on the test paper itself - on. the. test. paper. itself. - before applying the name of my mother in the most ham-fisted scrawl possible.

The teacher, a young one by the name of Ms Browne, saw this and passed no comment. God knows she must have felt sorry for me.

I thought I was out of the woods but stupidly kept the offending article. Anne, going through my stuff with scarcely a thought for my privacy, found it and vowed to show it to my mam. I was shitting it for about a week.

Just when I thought I was out of the woods, my dad found me in my granny's sitting room and told me my mother wanted to see me.

Imagine my horror when she confronted me with half a packet of Rothmans found in my jacket pocket. I was shell-shocked. The two of them lectured me for a good hour on the perils of smoking (while smoking themselves - my dad quit a couple of years later), and threatened to tell Anne, who would make my life miserable for aeons to come.

Lecture over, my dad brought up the subject of the maths test. Anne had ratted me out, the little bitch. My mam didn't flinch. "Yeah, I remember that, I signed that."

You win some, you lose some.

Radge the vagrant.

An old couple, Mary and Dermot, lived down the road from us. They were simple people. He an illiterate, she a bible quoting busy-body that people crossed the road to get away from.

I took against her, in particular. Knick-knacks, tricks and general cheek were the order of the day as I made it my life's mission to torment the poor couple, little shit that I was.

One day, I took a couple of footballs, bikes, jackets and sundries and put them in her fenced front garden when there was nobody around to see me.

Half an hour or so later I rang her doorbell, and Dermot answered.

"Hi Dermot, can I speak to Mary please?"

She appeared at the door.

"Hello Mary, myself and the lads were wondering if we can have our stuff back please?"

"What do you mean?"

"Our stuff. It's all in your front garden and we want it back."

"I did NOT take your TOYS!"

"They're not toys. And I'm sure you didn't Mary, but it's all in your front garden and we need it back."

"Yes, well, yes, well....I'll let you in. Dermot, where are the keys? I really have no idea how..."

"I'm sure you don't, Mary. I just hope this doesn't happen again."


Dot-Com said...

Where are the pictures to go with the tales? We'll settle for your drawings if that's all you can come up with *grin*

Radge said...

I buried them in Ronan's garden.

Dot-Com said...

Nice try, but seeing to it that you've known how to use a spade from the age of seven, I suggest you dig them up.

Susan said...

I love these stories! I only wonder how we (stupidly) become parents ourselves, knowing the misery we put our own parents through.

"She was a brick shithouse of a nun and a complete psychopath to boot, but she loved me for some reason." --- Congratulations, you're now featured in my FAVOURITE SENTENCES OF ALL TIME notebook.

It would make a great first line of a story, come to think of it...

Radge said...

Thank you Susan, much appreciated. Words can't describe the fear that woman instilled in our 9-year-old souls...

Kath Lockett said...

Radge I suspect that you'd have been a likely business partner for me.

I grabbed three plastic buckets, filled them with water, buried them up to level top in our sandpit and put red paint in one, yellow in one and blue in the other. I then loudly proclaimed to all the other kids in the neighbourhood that I'd found some magic wishing wells that would work if coins were thrown in.

Made a small fortune - $11 - not bad for 1976 and my folks were horrified at my charlatanery but kind of pleased at my resourcefulness. It was too hard to decide how I was to return how much coin to what kid; so instead I had to donate it all to charity which earned me a good star from my teacher.

Radge said...

Remarkable ingenuity there, Kath. You'll definitely form part of my new world order.

Oh, and I'll be borrowing 'charlatanery' and passing it off as my own. As I do.

Anonymous said...

You were the pig!

Nita said...

Well written article.

Radge said...

Thanks a lot Nita. Welcome.