1. What was it like to grow up 'black' in ireland, and do you feel racial tensions have decreased over the years?
I felt like I couldn’t breathe properly, like I couldn’t be me, like everyone was trying to mould me, to coach me, to demand me to become something impossible…white.
I felt constantly interrupted! You know that feeling you get when you’re having a chat and you think the chatee has paused. You attempt to speak but the chatee is on a roll, you can’t get a word in, so you just swallow them. Or the feeling you get when you think you’re having a fairly decent conversation with someone that suddenly takes a turn for the worse. You weren’t expecting that! Again, you swallow the words you were going to attempt to utter. You end up walking around with a belly full of unexpressed feelings and words that spell…frustration and anger, and like a burp, those words and those feelings need to be released.
It was exhausting not being able to get through a day without my colour being mentioned. I might think I was having a regular conversation with someone, then they would refer to my colour out of the blue. It wouldn’t be an intelligent reference, more, so…you’re a black girl then. In that moment, I felt rudely and unnecessarily interrupted. Ok, you know I’m black, I know I’m black, you don’t need to stop me in mid-sentence to state the obvious. But they did, a lot. Racist people can be very unpredictable. I remember innocently conversing with a man in a night club I used to frequent. At some point during that conversation and out of the blue, he called me the ‘N’ word. Then without warning, he knocked me unconscious by punching me in the face propelling me across several tables. It’s difficult to forget those memories.
When some shouted at me to ‘go home’ I was home, wasn’t I? These comments and actions made me feel displaced, like an outcast in my own country and rejected. This was the only place I knew as home. I was frequently made to feel like a novelty, an object to be studied and critiqued. There were some positives, in that I was occasionally told I should be a good dancer and singer like Shirley Bassey when I got older. Oh, and I had nice curly hair and white teeth.
It was even more confusing when I realised that although some were taught to hate the colour of my skin, they had and still have, great affection for me. Members of my community and family could be fiercely protective of me and on these occasions I was, ‘one of us’. How do you reconcile hate with love? Like many of my Irish friends and family, I struggle with this concept to this day. So, to sum up, I think it’s fair to say we (Ireland and me) have a love hate relationship. Some hate the colour of my skin and yet love me. I love some of them and hate their learned views and behaviours based on the colour of my skin.
As an innocent child, I was not taught to hate the colour of a person’s skin by my mother. We were taught in our community to hate Catholic people, based on their religious persuasion. I was confused, frustrated and angry, when people pointed my colour out to me, as a negative difference between them and me. I would have loved if this was pointed out all day every day, in a positive sense. Their persistence eventually wore me down and then they got me looking (at my colour)!
The negative comments and constant interruptions lead me to have low self-esteem. I didn’t wish to have low self-esteem, a condition forced on me because I couldn’t become white. When I tried to fight, and hide my low self-esteem, this lead to me overcompensating and becoming flamboyant and aggressive. I acknowledge that I do naturally, have these two characteristics in my genes, although, in much lower doses. When I became aware that I was up against a life-threatening situation…racism, I was forced to choose between fight or flight. Well, clearly, I chose to fight for my life! I was not about to allow anyone to control my world or kill my soul.
My mother and other more conscious individuals, tried to educate me that most of our community, including my own extended family, had never been in contact with black people and they were ignorant. At the time, I didn’t understand my mother’s logic. I thought she was just trying to water down my reactions to racism, and the impact on me, and let her counterparts off the hook with regards to their behaviours.
For the Love of a Mother –
“It’s not your fault, that’s the way you were born.”
“You’re not black, you’re one of us.”
“You’re a nice chocolate colour, a chocolate drop.”
“What’s Annie?” they asked infants who could hardly talk.
“A darkie,” the child would answer to a roar of laughter from all in the house. I had a pain in my stomach that wouldn’t go away, it was called hurt, sometimes it was called hate.
As an adult, I acknowledge Irish history in relation to ‘the troubles’ and there is clearly no denying, they are a people who have killed their own people in relation to difference, albeit religious difference. I believe that some Irish people are victims of their own circumstances. Having earlier been consumed by the ‘troubles’ that was actually a civil war, and those related issues, there was not much opportunity for people to think about or explore other cultures or to travel in order to have different experiences. Some will be deeply scarred by their past and unable to move forward positively as they don’t recognise, or hide, or ignore, or deny, the cause of those scars or how to begin healing. I would describe living in a war-torn country as like living in a cage (cage being a metaphor for Ulster). Whatever is going on in that cage becomes your norm. When you are let out for the first time, that can be a frightening experience. You either growl, and crawl back inside, or, like me, you bounce out of there and feel the grass. Sadly, too many are still growling and gravitating to the old of the ‘troubles’.
I’d been here for a decade, when I entered the University of North London in 1996, where I gained an honours degree in social work. One of the first books that caught my eye by chance, was a book partially hanging off a shelf, asking the question, are all Irish people suffering with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) due to the ‘troubles’? I remember tutting and feeling enraged that someone had suggested this ‘folly’ and had actually had the cheek to write about it. I wondered if there was anyone I could complain to (already showing some militant student tendencies) and muttered to myself that I wouldn’t be reading that! I was in denial about my earlier depression and still hiding this. During that day, I couldn’t get the book out of my head and I went back later to have another look. When I read a little further, I was taken aback by some of the debate. There were many references to issues I had, and was still personally dealing with. I knew some of my friends and family were dealing with similar issues too.
I sneaked into a corner of the library and cried. The little that I read in that book opened my eyes to the possible causes of my earlier pain, and made me begin to understand PSTD and its effects. I’ve never been diagnosed as such or even sough any support in this regard, but I instantly recognised me. I wanted to call my friend’s and tell them they too might be suffering with PSTD or other related conditions, but I thought they would laugh at me and mock me for being a ‘student’ with lots to say about nothing.
There were several groups responsible for racial tension back in the 60’s. These groups included the National Front (NF) and Combat 18. As I’ve said previously, I am not political and therefore I am not able to explain their functions. In my life as a lay person and as a child, these groups were known to me as people who wanted to hurt black people because of the colour of their skin. Some of these people knew my family well and had affection for us, yet, still, they were a part of these hate groups. We once received death threats from the NF and I did an article in The News of the World about this. I didn’t mind dying because I didn’t want to live in a cage.
Members of the Mafia had already let my family know, they would never stand by and watch any of these people abuse us. One afternoon I was alone, shopping in my town centre, as I came to a corner, I noticed a male I didn’t recognise, clearly selling NF magazines. As I passed, he tried to spit on me, shouting the ‘N’ word. Out of nowhere, several locals appeared and that guy disappeared under a sea of fists and feet. One of us! Mostly, people would make attempts to attack us when we were alone, because if we were with or near any of the Mafia or our friends, they absolutely would not let us down. I think these groups were mainly active in showing support for their mainland counterparts, because as far as I’m aware, there was only my family and a few others to send back to their own country (and we were already home) or kill. So, it wasn’t really worth all the effort for magazines and all that marketing.
When I lived in Ireland, religious tension was all consuming. I believe other tensions would have been viewed as minor distractions to ‘the cause’. Post the peace process racial tension is on the rise. Having been away from Ireland for over 3 decades, I didn’t feel compelled to keep abreast of issues there, until recently. I was made aware of an article describing appalling acts of violence and humiliation being perpetrated on black and ethnic minority families. I have read news articles suggesting that incidents have increased significantly since 1997 coinciding with race relation legislation and the efforts of groups set up such as the Chinese welfare association, CWA and the Polish association Northern Ireland (PANI). Government policy responses are apparently ineffective.
Census 2011 shows how diverse N. Ireland has become. But this appears not to be embraced as a progressive step post the peace agreement. News articles suggest the recession coupled with rapid immigration and austerity has led to other ethnicities being scapegoated. I believe some are gravitating to the old habits of the cage. The actions of some, deflecting blame from the governments failings and normalising and rationalising attacks on their scapegoats. Belfast is being labelled, the race hate capital of Europe. Racism appears to be the new sectarianism. If the colour of your skin is black, you are an easy target for racists there. I’m not clear how effectively people are being supported and I feel awareness of the problem needs to be raised. My message to those perpetrating acts of violence is this, if you have an issue with ‘immigrants’ coming to Ireland, lobby your government and provide ethical reasons and solutions. Do not attack innocent children and their families because they want to live in your country. Come out of the cage! There are many decent people in Ireland who will be sickened by, and not condoning this behaviour, likely the same people and families who fought for peace back in the days of the troubles.
When I first came to London I tried to explain my feelings about being black in Ireland. I wrote an article entitled THE PROBLEM WITH SKINNIN YOUR TEETH (street slang, meaning smiling falsely).
Some of the content is below:
My earlier life was spent either skinning my teeth at some people or them skinnin their teeth at me. Skinnin teeth remains part of my life. The skinnin of the teeth is like smiling for the camera, you know, when you can’t hold the smile any longer because it’s forced and you feel uncomfortable and your smile fades to a nervous twitch. That’s what it was like for me. When talking with some Irish people and suddenly the conversation turns to race; I would hear the usual, ‘She can’t help being Black, that’s the way God made her.’ As if being Black was an affliction. It’s like being stopped or interrupted in the middle of a sentence; you find it hard to go on…lose your train of thought. I constantly felt interrupted. I was constantly losing my train of thought and finding it hard to focus on what I was saying.
…. if I hear a Northern Irish accent, I will inevitably be curious and gravitate towards that person to find out what we have in common. You know, ‘What part of Northern Ireland do you come from?’ etc. If I know the area I say, ‘Ooh, I know that town;’ and I feel a little affiliation with the person for that moment. Usually this is short lived as I recognise the skinnin of the teeth. The person possibly thinking, ‘What does she have to do with me or Northern Ireland?’ Thus, negating and interrupting my genuine thoughts and this makes me start skinnin my teeth as I feel rejected and frustrated. I feel more hurt when I am rejected by Black people seeing as I left Northern Ireland to be with ‘my own people.’ On introducing myself to some Black people immediately my Blackness is questioned as the person becomes acutely aware of my accent. So when I start to speak they start skinnin their teeth and can’t get past the accent. I explain that I have lived in London for 30 years and the response is sometimes, ‘And you haven’t gotten rid of the accent.’ Why would I deny a part of my being? By the way I don’t believe you can ‘lose’ your accent. Most only disguise it to conform with their surroundings or to fit in. My accent has only mildly changed due to trying to communicate with others who won’t understand what I’m saying as they cannot get past the accent and their stereotypes. I wasn’t quite what they expected. Their smile fades to a nervous twitch as I don’t quite ‘fit’. When one is constantly interrupted in conversation you either lose your train of thought and/or stop talking. Personally, I am able to retain a healthy zest for talking, but I am prone to losing my train of thought and that’s how the interruptions affect me. So I’d prefer not to be around ‘pretentious’ people or those who ‘skin their teeth’ at me because it hurts and I don’t know whether the pain of constant interruption will make my head burst, my heart burst or my mouth burst first. Personally, I am prone to do the latter…then you neatly and smugly fold me into tick box aggressive!
I had a lot of rage inside that manifested in aggression. I was determined to counter those negative comments and stereotypes and I continue to refuse to accept that anyone is better or more superior than me, based on the colour of skin.
2. What was the final thing that prompted you to leave Northern Ireland and move to London?
The daily grind of fighting racism lead me to some very low times in my life. I developed ‘hidden depression’ that almost ended my life. It shocked me to the very core to realise that I could actually die! Again, I chose to fight. I moved to London and I chose life!
When I moved to London in 1986, I began writing down my story, initially as a form of self-therapy. I had thought about writing my story from the age of seven, but didn’t have the words or maturity to do so. Writing helped me to move on emotionally and culminated in me producing my book, For the Love of a Mother (The Black Children of Ulster).
3. You're actually mixed race, but I imagine was often defined as black by the people in your area. How did that shape your identity, and did you ever struggle with it?
Mixed race, half caste, coloured, black…people, black and white, will always try to push me into a tick box and define who I am and I will always resist that. I view myself as, and am proud to be a black British woman of dual heritage.
Many years ago, here in London, I was asked by a black male where I got my culture from. This was designed I believe, to prove his ignorant views that people of dual heritage don't have any culture. I simply replied I am multi-cultural. Like many others, I adopt and adapt my culture according to how I wish to live in this world. The male then revealed he never knew his father. In a rather awkward manner I tried to teach him about his own ignorance. I asked the question, how does a male develop and understand male culture and how to be a man, how to be a father without having had this cultural aspect in their life?
I am luckier than some (black and white people) in that I know who my parents are. I had experience of having a father until I was four, when my parents separated. My father was a merchant sea-man who met and married my mother in Liverpool. We had lived together as a family in the West Derby area. After their separation, I never saw my father again. I have one sole picture of him and little memory. I lived with my mother until I moved to London and although her parenting was neglectful, we remained as a family throughout our time in Ireland and were never apart from our mother. For good or ill, she kept us with her through thick and thin.
I have struggled as a child and in adolescence with my identity. I grew up in a place where it appeared the only way I would escape the constant persecution of racists was to be white. So, when I was a child, with the help of my friends, I tried to scrub my colour off, I thought it would be that simple, like rubbing out a mistake. Well, I was quite annoyed at the time that it wouldn’t come off, and I elaborate about this in my book. I didn’t realise until I came to London, that some of my other black friends had tried to do the same at some point in their early life, due also to racism here.
People who would not accept my blackness, tried to ‘make’ me ‘more white’ in other ways. They couldn’t change my colour, but they thought they could make me ‘sound more white’. For instance, from the age of five to eleven, I was forbidden to use my own birth name in school. My head teacher had called me into his office, and after studying me like a project, he promptly told me that instead of being called Annie Yellowe, I was to become, Ann Yellow. I break this down to the bone in my book and describe that day in detail, and how I ‘lost’ my identity, or rather, how it was ‘taken’ from me. Even to this day, I find this incredulous. These are things people read about in history books, that happened to slaves, and it happened to me. To be able to recall the day it happened and the way in which it happened still troubles me. Some encouraged me to have short hair, but I just grew an afro that would put the whole Jackson family to shame. I wasn’t aware that I was fighting to ‘keep’ my identity, but that’s exactly what I was doing.
I don’t struggle with identity anymore, I live and I love who I am, warts and all.
4. What would you like people to take away from reading For the Love of a Mother?
I hope that people will fully enjoy reading the book. For me to have come from a place where I couldn’t put words on paper to having written and published a book, this is a great achievement that others might be encouraged by. A few years ago, a good friend of my family, Clifford Forbes arranged that I was invited to afternoon tea, by the then Mayor, in Ulster. I was congratulated for my achievements. I was so proud to be there, flanked by my two long time childhood friends, Kim McCoo and Jennifer McCorry and a young man who is a very close family friend, Richard Jennette. There are many issues covered in my book including racism, poverty, mental ill health and violence. I think I have described these issues and their impact in such a way, that will continue to help with raising awareness, and give hope to those who have been, or who are, living with these issues in their life.
I want to reiterate that racism hurts, it is a learned behaviour that can be unlearned. I want to reach out to those families where there are children of dual heritage, that they might be more aware of their children’s needs and help to prepare them for, and protect them from, the effects of racism. Racism is an ugly visitor who is not going anywhere soon.
I want the book to encourage people to go out and see their world. Not to exist in a tiny corner or cage, hating the colour of people’s skin or for being different. Go and meet some of those people you’ve been taught to hate, visit their countries, taste their foods, experience their languages…LIVE!
When I was a child, having been indoctrinated to hate Catholics, we were also told they didn’t look like ‘us’ (obviously meaning the white children, because they certainly didn’t look like me). We were warned never to enter their Chapel’s and they were different from our Churches. One day a very good friend of mine called Kate, smuggled another girl friend and me into a Chapel. I was beside myself, anticipating and envisaging a great revelation to a life time’s mystery. Imagine my disappointment to find that it was very similar to the inside of our Churches. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to pretend I’d seen the inside of many Churches, but those I did see, were similar.
Most people will have a story and it can be very therapeutic to write it down. This doesn’t mean that you are obliged to publish your information to the world as I have done. Writing your story down can enable you to trace the origins of behaviours and address them. When my grandfather passed away, I had thought that I dealt with his death very well. However, as I edited my work, I was shocked to be able to identify that his death was linked to my hidden depression. I could see how, when and where some of my behaviours developed and reflect on how I coped with them. Reflection helped me to feel proud of my achievements, and how I effectively started to heal myself. I hope the book will encourage other people to recognise their own achievements and worth.
5. How did you get into writing?
As a child growing up in a war-torn country and in poverty, I had little to write about. In my English lessons, I remember being in tears staring at a blank page that was to be completed with glorious stories of what we did in the half term break. I was tempted to write, ‘nothing’ but Miss was watching me. I was filled with jealousy watching others hunched over and writing eagerly. One day Miss told me to ‘use your imagination’ and that set me off like a detonated rocket. I began writing about all the things I actually craved, going on holidays, to a fun fair or spending time with a gentle and caring fictional grandmother. I began to get good grades for my work, coming first in my class on many occasions. I was overjoyed that I, Annie Yellowe, could get a first in English. In my earlier angrier days, the main words I used to express myself usually started with ‘F’. As part of our lessons, we sometimes were asked to write limericks. I was a natural and developed a talent for writing poetry. My brothers laughed at my poems and I hid them under my pillow. Even when I had long lost the paper they were written on, I sometimes remembered the words. When I came to London, I revisited poetry and this culminated in the publishing of Annie’s Books. I still have a collection currently available from Amazon in the form of an e-book. One of my favourites is Unspoken Lust.
5. Have any of your family members read the book and given their feedback?
My family have always been aware of my writing this book I dreamed about since I was seven. Despite some earlier anxiety about the content, they are all very supportive and proud of me. I accept that I am amongst the minority in sharing such personal information with the world. Feel the fear and do it anyway. This book is for my family history and my legacy to them. My brother Gabriel has read most of the book. He has showered me with brotherly praise and is positively amazed by the end result. Gabriel says the book made him reminisce about his childhood and the way in which I write, makes him feel he has literally travelled back to that time. He thinks the content will resonate with many of our friends and others.
I have also shared excerpts of the book with my followers and have received feedback from some. On the whole, my followers appear to be eager to revisit their own parent’s earlier life through my writing. Some have told me, they too, feel they have physically been taken to another time and place having read the excerpts. Many of those I grew up with, have lost family members and friends to the ‘troubles’ and some of their parents have now passed away. I think they want to use the book to reminisce as the book brings some of those dead characters to life again. Some of my followers are the children and grandchildren of my friends. As they were not born in the 60’s I think they want to gain an understanding of that historical period and get an understanding of how their parents lived before they were born. A small minority are curious and appear anxious that the book is some kind of political expose. The book is personal, not political and I only touch on some of the politics as they pertain to me as a black child and my family. I also think that secretly, some want to know their character or family is in the book. They will have to read it to find out and all names have been changed to protect identity.
6. What was the overall production process for this book, as far as writing, editing etc. and how long did it take?
I have been writing my story for over 25 years. When I first started writing I was bitter and scarred by my experiences. However, the old cliché that time is a healer, is true. I have done all the editing myself, and I have been able to produce what I think, is a well-balanced and frank account of how my life was then. Two of my five brother’s and some of my friends have helped me in relation to some of the necessary research elements.
For the Love of a Mother (The Black Children of Ulster) is based on my true story. The book details my life in Northern Ireland where I grew up in the 60's. In the book I describe myself as being one of six mixed race children, born to an Irish mother and a Nigerian father. Both my parents are deceased.
We spent most of our early childhood "behind the barricades" in Ulster. As far as I am aware we were amongst the first black people in Ulster, our family settling there in the late 50’s. I tell of our unique experiences in living through the ‘troubles’ (civil war) between the Catholics and Protestants and how we coped as a black family.
7. Tell me more about the 'Irish Mafia'
For most of our lives there, we knew little about peace and life was very turbulent for us, trying to deal with race and religious issues daily, whilst living in an impoverished backstreet, amongst some of Ulster’s most dangerous paramilitary men and women. In the book, I refer to the paramilitaries as, the ‘Irish Mafia’. I use this description for several reasons. Much of what I write earlier in the book is from the perspective of an innocent black child. As a child, I had no real concept of, nor could I distinguish, one group from another. As the book is not political and I am not politically minded, my understanding of these groups didn’t change much as I grew older. When I recall situations, I am not able to remember which group might have been around at any time. Also, many people in England will not be familiar with acronyms such as the UDA (Ulster Defence Association) and the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force). I use the ‘Irish Mafia’ to describe them all to limit confusion.
I go into detail about coming to terms with being black and the impact racism had on us. Like many other parents, my mother was a heavy drinker and quite a character. She had a wicked sense of humour and was as tough as nails. We witnessed our mother being brutalized by her live-in lover daily for several years. In the book, I give harrowing but truthful details about this and the impact this violence had on our family.
Despite the harsh realities of being brought up in war torn Ulster, we were able to laugh too. We were very feisty (survival) and we all had and still have, a great sense of humour. We could find fun in most situations and we were mischievous to say the least. Nicknamed the Yella’s we were a family to be reckoned with and we did and could hold our own for the most part.
I plan to write a sequel detailing my life in London, charting my progress and what I have achieved here. This will be another roller coaster, emotionally full of fun and excitement with candid stories of harsh realities in living life in London as a black woman with a distinct Irish accent. That’s right, it’s not all roses here either, I can just breathe more easily and at least smell them. I have progressed in London beyond my dreams and my past has enabled me immeasurably, in my career as a social worker, and in my private life. Reality check here…the old cliché ‘I wouldn’t change a thing’ does not apply to me. If I could turn back the hands of time…I’d swing on them! Seriously, I would not choose to have been brought up in such harsh circumstances. That being said, I’m a pretty decent and well balanced human being.
I have signed an agreement with a publisher on a print and demand basis. Unlike the vanity publishers, you only pay for what you ask to be printed. The book is due for release at the end of March this year and I am currently planning a book launch in Portadown, in N. Ireland where I was brought up. I have built up a decent following on social media and the progress of my work can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, Simplesite, Linkedin and Wattpad.
8. What advice would you give to other BME writers?
Believe in you, do not be put off by other people’s doubts. Their opinions do not define what you are capable of. Be bold, dare to write down what others will hesitate to, knock on the doors of whomever you feel to and do not let others fears restrict you. In my earlier days of writing I was encouraged by The Writers and Artists Year Book. A periodically published book full of ideas about the do’s and the don’ts along with lists of publishing companies and agents. There is guidance about how and who to approach, but I ignored a lot of this advice. I’m an Aries, a leader, not a follower, so I have a healthy disregard for other people’s imposed restrictions.
If you choose to publish your work, do it. Publishing has long since lost its mystery and if a publishing company won’t support your work, do it yourself! There are so many ways to get a book into print and publishing companies do not now have the monopoly on this. Be creative. Uploading an e-book is so simple, you’ll be amazed at how quickly this can be done. The internet is a great tool to use in exploring the various sites for uploading your work and where you can find guidance on many issues relating to writing. Avoid Vanity Publishing companies. These are companies who in my experience, give you a little for a lot. They usually ask for your signed agreement that you will subsidise your work before they will publish. You are normally asked for quite hefty fees upfront and there is no guarantee they will promote your work in the way you had hoped or envisaged.
Writing is not likely to make you rich or enable early retirement, so if this is your reason for writing, don’t…just don’t. Writing should be enjoyable and not a chore. Not taking yourself too seriously also helps and good luck.
9. What was it like to be the only girl amongst five brothers, and describe your relationship from then till now
In my book, I describe our relationships in detail. We are not all from the same father, however, I never heard the word half-brother or sister until I came to London. I don’t like that terminology and I’ve never described my brothers as ‘half’. I love them all deeply.
My two oldest brothers spent a great deal of their life in the care of our grandfather. They have always lived close by and had daily contact with us when we were younger.
My oldest brother Jimmy, who is the only white child in our family, was a father figure to us until he got married and moved away. He had realised some of my earlier fantasies about living a happier life, taking us on little trips and trying to make sure we were ok.
My second brother Alan, although he will try to deny it, used to teach me how to fight. He always wanted me to do well at school.
I have always been closer to my three younger brothers, Gabriel, Wilson and Billy and we were brought up together with my mother. Up until recently only Jimmy and Alan remained in Ireland. Recently, they have been re-joined by Wilson and Billy. Only Gabriel and I remain in England.
They taught me how to spit, whistle, build go-karts, be a karate expert and climb barbed wire fences. I wanted to dress in pink, play with dolls and try not to get my hands dirty. To this day, my brothers are fiercely protective of me. I would say my younger brothers have always looked up to me as a mother figure and someone they aspire to and admire. They all have a healthy respect for me and will seek me out for discussion and advice about life.
Growing up with the boys was for the most part, hilarious. My brothers all have a wicked sense of humour. Wilson once invited me to lunch and made me laugh so much, I lost my voice for 2 days. Gabriel regularly has me in stitches over the phone, he loves to reminisce about the past. Billy, the youngest, who we refer to as, Wee Bill, (he’s not little in stature) keeps in touch with me mostly and he is a funny and complicated character.
Boys can be messy and I struggled with this sometimes. They were and are, always there for me. Vetting potential boyfriends, mostly frightening them off and generally like an invisible wall around me. I love being around my girlfriends, however, being brought up with so many men in my family, I am very comfortable in the company of males. I tend to bring out their more sensitive nature.
My brothers and I have always had a very close relationship. I am the one in the family who tries to ensure we keep in touch. Since my mother’s passing in 2008, my biggest wish is, that as we are all still alive (quite an achievement) I would like to sit down to dinner (might be the last supper) with all my brothers, one last time. No partners, or extended family, just us.