Having just described some of the early life, and the abject misery of being in a house with people who didn’t seem to care about anyone or anything, it flowed down into us.
But, here’s the thing.
When you are so young, you don’t know much about the world, and the people in it. This is learned from your parents, those first people in your life and who teach you the fundamentals, according to their beliefs.
It is the reason why a lot of children who when they eventually begin interacting with others have some horrendous traits, difficulty with language, or the use of swear words, and the treatment of others. If you’re a boy and your father drinks, smokes, swears incessantly, and beats his wife and children, then that’s what the child will do.
Similarly if you are just there, and no one treats you with the care that a child needs, then they become introverted and quiet. You listen and don’t speak, you observe, and wonder what else there is than this life that you have.
When you leave the house, and begin to interact with others, that sheltered life, and lack of interaction with relatives and others leaves you alone and miserable in a world you know little about and are totally unprepared for.
It’s where you start making a different world, one you can cope with, one that you are more than just nothing in. There is television, but it’s not something you can see all the time, and viewing was limited to what parents watch. There’s radio, but it’s from a world outside your own. There are other people you meet, but they might as well come from another planet so different they are from you.
But there are moments when things are different.
Like going to stay at my grandmothers place in the country.
It became a castle. A house with many rooms. A house that was old, made of bricks, had high ceilings, worn carpets, and holes in the floor. A small kitchen with a wood stove. A separate room to eat in, where the food served was completely different to what we had at home.
A large house on a large block of land, next to a church.
A place where there was a garage, rusting hulks of old cars, a large workshop that had all manner of tools and wood lying around, dusty and cobwebbed from years of no use. A whole day could be spent there just finding new and old things, each of which had a story of their own.
A block that had a huge garden, and overgrown fernery, and a huge overgrown water fountain, with paths going off in all directions. And a front garden that would rival the best of any rose garden.
In short, it was a place a child with an active imagination, could turn into anything.
I stayed there with my brother. I doubt he had the awe and wonder that I had, but he too was an explorer and between us we hacked away at the overgrowth, looking for and restoring parts of the rose garden and the fountain.
I remember it well. We never came in the front door. No one did because the path to the front verandah was blocked by overgrowth. But from inside, the entrance hall was huge with ornate wooden panelling.
One one side was my grandmothers bedroom, on the other, the lounge room, with a worn carpet square that covered nearly the whole wooden floor, and huge lounge chairs with wide arms, on castors.
Further across was a huge dining table, and an access through to the kitchen. We never used the dining table because it was covered in crockery, stuff my grandmother won when she went to lawn bowls.
Through an archway to the rest of the house, a huge hallway, where down one side were the bedrooms, four of them, and a bathroom at the end on the other side, and a door that led to the back porch.
THe first room was a storeroom filled with old stuff.
The second room was where we stayed.
The third was empty, and the fourth bedroom was when my mother’s brother, our uncle lived.
In this hall was a piano. It was a hall large enough to hold a dance in, only that would be difficult given that parts of the floor had rotted, and there was no sneaking about because the floorboards creaked.
It was, to me, a house with loads of character.
It was fitting then that it became the inspiration for a castle, and a life that was so very different to mine.