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Location: Dublin, Republic of, Ireland

Sunday, 24 September 2006

2 memories of the infant writing life

Picture Book Influences

My earliest memory was of a happy babyish-toddler, drinking Ribena with a purple tongue (or rather being desperately cajoled to gulp the lot down for a Smarties reward) while hanging on tightly to a merry picture book.

I was expected to guard the book but sadly, knew nothing of its mysterious contents.

That probably replaced my version of a homespun raggedy Teddy Bear losing one troubling eye and a majestic bow, somewhere under my untidy cot.

I also remembered the luxury of being lullabied in a rocking chair and drooled over by a couple of elderly aunts missing a few teeth here and there and aptly hissing saliva with their spitty kisses and crusty lips, all over my nice new bib.

Naturally, I was then forced to master a plan to contemplate a wardrobe disposal with serious
transportation that would involve stealthily crawling under the mysterious dinner table, with which to inspect graveyard possibilities for a decent bib-burial.


That turned out to be a bummer I can tell you. Especially when my mother caught me biting someone's knee for what I had considered as having a bit of 'time out' and also to sharpen my armoury.

I suspect I possessed at the time, a satisfying feeling of baby-management over my affairs and peace for all the world.

My First Pencil

I was presented with my first bright green pencil at 4. It had a picture of lambs dancing about on a meadow. I was fascinated by the dusty pink blob of a rubber at its end.

My mother taught me carefully how to use the pencil with a genius disposition and without making black sticky marks on the drawing paper.

My 3 year old sister had a pretty blue one with swans in a lake. Each of us soon envied the other and ended up in tears. I believe a fiery toddler's boxing championship match and nasty hair tugs were involved.

Later, my sister would stick her pinky finger deep into the tiny sharpener for an ambitious and foolish inspection of how a nifty mirrored sharpener conducted its operations.

This would be followed by an exaggerated piercing howl of dismay.

Rushed to the clinic in dramatic fashion that was so Daddy, and all for a suspicious looking cut (I had suffered worse with a bee sting), my sister arrived home way past her bedtime at 8.30pm

She had a majestic reputation for crankiness.

Looking triumphant at her victory, her finger thickly plastered and used solely now for exhibition purposes and with her pencil permanently confiscated for safety precautions; I still remember how she championed the moment by sticking her tongue out at me as far as it would go.

Besides, I never came across those pictured swans again.

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