The first memory that comes to mind is one, I think, when I was 11 years old, I’d gone to boarding school because my father was in the RAF and when I was about 11, I went on to a PGL holiday, there was a week away doing canoeing, pony-trekking and sailing. I have a strong image of the canoeing part, we had more days of that, I think 4 days of canoeing it was in Ross on Wye and I remember sailing up the river Wye and seeing the church of Ross on Wye, I remember being in a double canoe with a friend called Stuart Little. It was probably the first time away, well not the first time without the parents as I‘d just joined fucking boarding school but my first time away on anything like that.
I believe the year to be 1989, I am 3 years old, it’s a winter evening. I am inside my house in Clonmel, county Tifferary, Ireland. It is a two storeys house, I remember it being very warm, I am wearing an all in one pink wonsie with quite padded feet, I am sitting on my brothers lap, I think he is 6 years old, in front of me there is a book, he is reading from the book, it’s a book about farming, there’s picture of tractors, cows and sheep. My mother and father are also in the room, my father is at a type writer and my mother is watching me and my brother and that’s my earliest memory.
I am sitting on a stainless steel high chair with a red top, I am in the eating room of our house, I think I am about 2, 2 and a half years old so it’s about 1958 and it’s hot because it’s summer in Australia and my father is beneath me and you know what, I’ve just realised, its not hot, its hot because the heating is on inside because its cold outside, and I know its cold outside because there is a wood burning stove on the right hand side and its during the day so it only burns at night and during the day my father cleans it out so he takes out the tray at the bottom that’s got all the ashes from the wood and he reaches up and puts it on the table top of my high chair and I remember he goes back down to the wood burner and my sister, who’s maybe a year old, crawls pass my high chair and I can remember very clearly, that as she is just beneath me I push the tray which has got all the ash so it falls down and spills onto her back and her face and her hands and that’s when the memory stops really. I should imagine there was some sort of chaos after that but I think I’ve blocked that bit off.