By Ciaran O'Driscoll
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Extra info for A Runner Among Falling Leaves: A Story of Childhood
It was strange that girls had no gillies. They had a kind of slit instead. My sister standing up naked in the bathtub, looking odd without a gilly. But Harriet was different. Harriet spoke to me. She spoke to me for a good while, and it was different from talking to boys, but still natural. Harriet made it seem natural for me to talk to her. Harriet, too, was a different kind of name. But it suited her very well. Afterwards, the solicitor’s son wanted me to show him my gilly. He brought me round the back of their big house.
Suddenly a living creature appeared on the screen of my daydreaming: a goose running to keep up with the wind, flailing its wings, the day’s epiphany. The westerly airstream boomed and buffeted and whistled against the solid stone walls of the school, and my father raised his voice in competition. The lesson in Irish History needed to be brought to a proper conclusion. Justice had to be done, though the heavens fell. 50 ODriscoll_Part1 50 15/10/01, 10:49 am ‘And so we see how the Irish betrayed one another and let the Normans in to conquer them because of their petty jealousies and their bickerings.
He left every morning on the local bus. After a few weeks, my father decided to call at the school and see how Anthony was getting on. But he had never once attended; the headmaster had assumed that my father had changed his mind about where to send him. I grudgingly admired my first brother’s attitude to our domestic tyranny. It was courageous and at times gave us something to laugh at, the release of laughter’s complicity. But his attitude was born of despair. And I believe that underneath the sang froid his anger grew, contorting itself in his teenage years into an admiration for Hitler’s Germany, his bedroom walls covered with cut-out photographs of Panzers and Messerschmitts, of Hitler himself and Goebbels and Himmler, and big headlines proclaiming Führer and Blitzkrieg.
A Runner Among Falling Leaves: A Story of Childhood by Ciaran O'Driscoll