Tuesday, 6 September 2011


One and two halves a reprint from 2009

by Moannie

We were three, though for a long time, it was just Mick, my older half-brother and me. 

I was Pollyanna  [well, Mollyanne a] always smiling, not a great thinker, a follower, his shadow. He could make the sounds of instruments with his mouth; drums of all types, a flute a  Saxophone.  I sang  'Money is the root of all evil'  and he played along, all jazzy, like the music we'd only recently discovered. He was wound tight, St. Edith's had done that to him. He kept secrets the way he kept his sweets in their paper bag, all screwed up in his pocket so that he had to suck the paper off. Never shared. I would eat my weekly twopenny worth of Bulls-eyes, or Humbugs or toffees in one go, stuffing my cheeks and sussing up the streaming saliva, then beg 'G'us one,' but he never would. 

After St. Edith's it was just him and me...playing Dick Barton:Special Agent in the hidey hole under the eaves, or we'd play shops with the meagre contents of mum's kitchen, or Jazz bands. We'd sprawl on mum's divan bed with the tapestry cover of a jungle scene with lions and tigers and he'd be Tarzan to my Jane, or we'd play mum's few records over and over and he would copy the instruments until I could not tell if it was the record or him playing the snare drum or the trumpet. When Harry was there, before mum married him, we would leave the house and run, always run - to the park, or to the bridge over the railway where we would gaze in fascination as the snorting black and shiny monsters chuntered along the tracks.

He grew up to be tight-lipped, quick to quip, holding nothing dear. If St. Edith's was the cause, he never told me...he grew a moustache and a goatee beard, and he grew away from me. He wanted no ties of love, or emotion, not even for his mother who died with just me there, holding her hand. He came to her funeral, then left. We have not met since then, thirty years ago.

When Tony was born I was ten and Mick twelve. I fell in love instantly. At first I was forbidden to go near him, then gradually I became useful. He was the Prince-the chosen one, the wartime baby who needed the butter and the orange juice, eggs and milk and sweets [candy], all rationed, but he blossomed and thrived even though his baby teeth grew out in blackened and decayed stumps he was still beautiful and I adored him, which was just as well as he became my shadow as soon as he could walk. Mick dropped me like a hot potato and it was then Tony and me.
 But there was something in him that curdled, like milk left out in the sun, and the loving brother grew up and became someone else, self-absorbed, a braggart, an opinionated - the French have the perfect word which translates as near as dammit to- a...hole.

When mum was dying I called him-he turned over and went back to sleep.

We tried, many times to get back to something resembling family, but it was false and finally failed and it has been many years now since there was any contact.

There are many and valid reasons why they became what they are-and why I am who I am. Mick never knew his father, adored his mother and watched her abandon us then make a disastrous marriage and cling to it, even though we, the reasons why she married were anathema to the man and we hated him. He escaped through National Service in Suez and never went back home to live. Tony was wanted and loved and spoiled, but was born of Harry's gene pool. He loved his father, had no reason not to, but he was left alone with mum when I left home at eighteen and she began her long fight with Multiple Sclerosis and he despised her as weak.

I had no spine, no backbone, I wanted the fairy story, the loving father and mother, the laughing playing siblings, the gingerbread house, the happy ending.
I do not miss my half-brothers-they only ever made me unhappy, bringing JP to anger and me to agonise over each visit.

And in the end I made my own fairy tale.


  1. That was beautifully written and a touching account of your relationship with your brothers.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  2. You have such an incredible story. Some sad. Yet makes you who you are today. Nothing wrong with finding your own fairy tale.

  3. I wonder how many people are born into the fairy tale?

    To have made your own is magical. I hope I can do that too someday.

  4. Life handed you lemons when you were a child, but you sure knew not only how to make lemonade out of it, you even found the seeds to plant a whole lemon orchard!

  5. You went on to have a lovely family and happy marriage and so were'nt blighted by your experiences....you blossomed.

  6. By all means, you have the attitude needed - then and now. And I expect you're the happiest.

  7. Perhaps you had no spine or backbone, or thought you didn't, at the time, but what a strong and positive force you have become. You could have sunk into self-pity and loneliness and recreated stultifying relationships, but you created your own fairy tale from a vision that was sharpened and scraped and turned from a lump of coal into a sparkling diamond.

  8. So sad. But so wonderful that you used these experiences to shape your character for the better, and to create your own fairy tale.

  9. My dear, I relate to so much of what you say about your family. Not the details, of course, I grew up in the 80's...so things were a little different. :) But the yearning for a fairy tail. Now a mom myself, I realize my broken decayed family was just a practice run. I've found my forever after, so to speak, as you have. I'd say I'm sorry that your brothers turned out to be such...tossers, but I get the feeling you aren't sorry. Like you say, everyone has a reason to be who they are. Who they are shaped you into a true gem.

  10. I am still a bit miffed at the whole "fairy tale" thing. Not the actual fairy tales, you know - but the whole "if you eat right, do all your homework, study hard, and get a college degree, you will have a great career and marry a wonderful man, etc. etc.". There is no guarantee of any of that stuff, but people are happy to feed it to you when you're young.

    Happily, I have gotten around it and have made my own happy life out of a collection of mismatched and very unlikely bits and bobs! With (gasp) a husband who is not a lawyer, a doctor, or a dentist! The nerve of me!

  11. That was so sad. You make me cry. I have a brother. I was his shadow. I thought (and still think) there was no brother on the face of the earth who was nicer, more handsome, or smarter. He left home at 19, went to college, married, had children, and never moved back where my mom and I live. We see them maybe three or four times a year. We really have become strangers. It's so sad that families do grow apart, no matter how "fairy tale" the original family story was. I fear that for my own family now....I want my kids to stay close, but fear they won't. hugs

  12. I came across your blog this morning, and I must say you write beautifully. This piece is touching and moving and passionate. I love it. Although my story is a bit different, I can relate to the feelings in yours. I searched and prayed for a fairytale, but all I found is reality.

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  14. And in the end I made my own fairy tale.

    we have no control over the kind of childhood we are given but we can decide what sort of adulthood to have. you chose very well.

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