When Willie started national school in Skerries he would finish baby infants at lunchtime and go to the bank to be driven home by daddy – of course on lots of occasions daddy would be in the pub and Willie would just sit in the car and wait – this tiny little boy.
I looked out for him at lunchtime – not, I confess, from any sisterly care, I was way too cool for that – but because I’d bring him back to my classes and all the girls would fuss over him and the teachers would let him stay and it would be a diversion for us – he was the cutest kid in town and I earned kudos from being his big sister.
And I also have very fond memories of his time with me and Fran in Olaf road (or Oraf road as we liked to call it because the Chinese delivery service – Charlies, which was our staple diet – always wrote the delivery address as Oraf on the bill for I hope obvious reasons ) Willie was fascinated by one of the residents of that street – a retired surgeon he called “the dipso doctor” who had a Cadillac that was bigger than the tiny cottage he parked it outside and who drank in the worst “spit on the floor” pub locally – Willie always wanted to get chatting to him but he was very old, deaf and very unfriendly – Fran you might remember if he ever achieved his aim?
There were other neighbours that piqued his interest, he’d make up stories about them and observe their routine ways – he brought those people into being for me at any rate cos I’m so self absorbed I’d never have noticed them – and when I think of living there I remember those neighbours through Willie eyes and I still try to recapture that naive and eager fascination he had for the humdrum, day to day and the lives of others
During that time Willie also introduced me to The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ragged-Trousered_Philanthropists He would earnestly read out passages from the book to me and had particular respect for the author as a fellow painter – here’s a free download of the book (the Oraf road Bible ) if anyone would like to read it : http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3608
I loved Willie and missed him terribly when he left – knowing quite well that phoning and keeping in touch would never really cut it
I’m just really happy to have had that time with him