Thursday, 2 June 2011

The Centre of Attention

The Centre of Attention

When I was a boy, my sister and her friends got a great laugh at my misfortune as they’d pin dress patterns and material to my varied limbs and other parts of my submissive body.  They would busy themselves in deep, animated debate as to what was working and what was causing their designs to go wrong.  If I moved without instruction, I would be snapped or snarled at and, once again, my cowered reaction would be the target of their collective mirth.

If I had a penny for every time my delicate skin was punctured by their over-enthusiastic machinations, I’d be able to, well, I’d be able to have a couple of well-deserved pints.

I was begrudging; always complaining, maybe by the way I stood in protest, or the turn of my mouth, or the way I wouldn’t look at them; the quintessential victim.

How I’d love to be there again, even for the few pin-pricks, or the ribbing from my sister’s friends.  I see none of them now; hear no laughter or furious debating.  They are gone from my circle of existence.  I thought that included my memory too, but now I know it only takes something simple, like a magazine photo, to bring it all back.  I loved being the centre of attention.  Still do.  Though now, I tend to wear my own clothes.


  1. Hi Eamon, with the help of Mitch, I found your blog and have read this piece which I find interesting. I identify with some of this from my own early life. Your piece raises the question for me, 'why do you never see them anymore'? Is this a choice? I love that final line, 'though now I tend to wear my own clothes.' This reminds me of a line from Paul Durcan's poem , the Crucifixion, taken from his book of poems 'Crazy about Women' based on paintings in the National Gallery. The line I refer to is; 'That my feet are bleeding from being made/To wear shoes that are too small for me'. Enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I think that's the way of it for most of us. I have incredible memories with my brother but realised when he called the other day for my birthday that I hadn't spoken to him in two years (through no fault of my own I hasten to add). What we shared no-one else could ever imagine. Great times as well as the tougher bits.

  3. Thanks for finding me, Rachael. To answer your question - I'm afraid the old adage 'blood is thicker than water' has been sorely taxed in my world. Society somehow dictates that we retain familial connections, but I'm afraid life's way too short to share with those who add nothing to it but negativity. Sad, but there you go.
    I had the pleasure of attending two workshops with Paul Durkan many years ago. An interesting mind, to say the least. Thanks again for checking in on me. I must go see if you have a blog up yet.

  4. K, I love reading your memoirs, especially about your life on the boat. I'm hoping to see some of that posted on your blog soon. ;-)

  5. Eamon,
    I just found you now and love this story, it is how our lives should be still only talking about such fun memories with our siblings. Like you, I have little contact with mine but I have some very happy memories of our childhood, before my mother's drinking got in the way. I might write about those memories, they were simple but very happy times. I would have gotten on well with your sisters and done the same to you. I loved cutting out Bunty on the back of the comic and spending hours hanging clothes on her with the tabs and shoes and even drawing and making clothes for her. My brothers never came into the picture, never thought of it actually. Bit late now. Loved this story and will try to write one myself. Maire

  6. Ooh yes, Maire, I'd love to read some reflections of your childhood/youth, though I understand that the very writing of such may prove difficult for you. In saying that, it can also be hugely cathartic, creatively and personally. Two of my early novels (in a drawer) are basically outlets for the darkness of my own childhood. I look on them as a safety deposit of my memories, maybe for a later generation to mull over. Maybe not. I think the important thing is to have it expressed - down - out - done and dusted. You say you have time between your weekend trysts? Maybe it's time to open that cupboard?

  7. Eamon, another interesting write about the simple joys of those shared innocent times in your life...I really like the vivid recreation of these times in your the boy being the dressmaker's dummy for your sister and her friends...A classic image here.

    But sad how things can change so radically in later life, and we lose people, siblings, friends we thought we would know forever. Sometimes even our children. Life is not always simple, and we can't always fix things..

    And then a poem, or a piece of writing, or a novel etc can release that hurt, or file away that memory, put it in its place, give it a fresh perspective.

    Like many of us, I find the writing cathartic, but I do try to balance the dark writing with some of the fond and wonderful moments...Not always easy in the sombre winter months, but the bright and happy ideas do seem to blossom again, resurface during spring and summer..

    Affected by the moon, affected by the seasons, weather? Yes, I am, I know. So many exterior influences at work on us, and we are not always in total control, at least in my opinion.

    And re your title here, I think all of us like to be visible, placed at the centre of attention - at least for a little while. It's part of a human need...
    I enjoyed this one...Thanks for sharing, Eamon.

  8. True, B, it is part of a human need, but it's nice to slip into the shadows too. Helps put things in perspective. Referring to external influences, I see we'll have quite a unique sunset (Europe), with the sun setting as an eclipsed red moon rises. I shall make the effort to watch that. Who knows, it might create a surge in my own imaginative tide.
    I imagine you're busy packing and preparing for your holiday. I'm delighted for you, that you're finally able to get away, especially after putting all your energy into nursing good old Hugo back to health. You have a bound duty to enjoy yourself and to relax and recover. Don't forget to take a few photos. ;-)

  9. Yes, good to be able to slip into the shadows when we need to isn't it? Can't be at centre stage too's exhausting!
    Hugo is going to the vet so he is safe and sound under her care for the time we are gone. I hate leaving him , but we need a break.
    And that eclipse is coming up, but I doubt we will see it here.
    Now - countdown to Surfers Paradise, Eamon...And there will be photos when I get back. XX