A long time ago, oh Jesus, a really long time ago, I won a competition on RTE’s Jo-Maxi. Remember that? The really sad thing was all I got was a copy of The Guinness Book of Records!! Anyway, this is what got me that coveted prize. It also proves that I must be a hoarder as I found it amongst other hand written stuff in an old handbag the other day.
Dear Mr. Byrne, (Gay)
Mammy’s after hitting me again. For nothing. And this time I told her I really was going to ring up Child Line and complain. She laughed and told me to cop on to myself, these people had bigger problems to listen to than someone who got a slap around the ear for not doing what they were told. All the same, when I went to the phone, she put the lock on it. I thought I saw fear in her eyes that time alright.
So I decided, Mr. Byrne, to write to you instead. In a way it’s better than ringing Child Line because that’s supposed to be confidential, isn’t it? This way, I can mortify her publicly and (hopefully) get 500 quid into the bargain. I reckon an unfair life for a fifteen year old is a form of child abuse anyway, especially when you hear about the Christmas I had.
It’s supposed to be the Season of Goodwill and all that, right? Well, you should’ve heard Mammy screaming abuse at my little brother John when he let the cat get the turkey. Child Line would have been interested then I can tell you! Christmas wasn’t even really here yet and she was telling John was he was getting next year – a cage. See what I mean about life being unfair? She never gets me anything!
And then, Mr. Byrne, didn’t we all sleep it in on Christmas morning. Until the Christmas tree crashed to the ground, that is. John had taken a fancy to the star at the top and ripped himself to bits trying to get up at it and knocked the whole thing to the ground in the process. You should’ve heard the roars of Daddy about how battered it looked. Then Mammy started saying he should know, he looked fairly battered himself after a few pints and he’d want to get his priorities straight, that the poor child could have been killed.
The “poor child” was, at that moment, making short work of my selection box. Jingle hell, jingle hell, jingle all the way.
The rest of the day, I’m glad to report, was fairly uneventful. I watched a Fish Called Wanda. I suppose with a face like hers, Jamie Lee Curtis doesn’t mind being called names.
And will I ever forget St. Stephens Day? Who the hell was Stephen anyway? Oh yeah, he dumped me for what’s-her-name last month. I hope he likes the Kelly Family album I sent him. Him and his precious leather jacket and heavy metal collection. God, Mr. Byrne, I was beginning to hate Christmas. I think I’m going to treat myself to a ticket to Spain or somewhere next year. And to top it all, John tried to clean out the fire and burnt a hole in Mammy’s new sheepskin rug. Daddy offered to skin the cat, the one that got the turkey, and use that to mend the rug. It didn’t go down too well.
The bald man on the news cheered me up a bit though when he said we were going to get snow. Yeah, right. The only thing that happened was the tree caught fire. Everybody blamed me of course. It wasn’t my fault. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to put a fake tree too near the fire. Daddy put it out just in time. It was a bit black and bald on one side, but I thought it looked nice. Different anyway. At least nobody else had one like it. If John did that, they would’ve patted him on the head for being creative. And it wasn’t my fault. The way my luck was going, I knew I’d be ringing in the New Year with coke again this year. Then I thought it really was snowing when all this white stuff started floating by the window. It wasn’t though. I don’t think it ever will. It was only the chimney nearly on fire. John again. It rained alright though.
I was in dire need of a good night out after all of that, so I went to the New Year’s Eve disco. Stephen was there making a right desperate eejit out of himself when they played that Kelly Family song. What’s-her-name looked more like a dog than usual. I’ve never seen anyone with their tail stuck so far between their legs before. That cheered me up until the next day when Mammy started pestering Daddy to bring her to the sales. He didn’t want to. Mammy asked him what happened to his promise to swim raging waters and climb rocky mountains to make her happy. He told her he put his back out carrying her over the threshold. They were still fighting over it the next day. And then Mammy got a phone call. You should’ve seen her face when she heard her brother is home from America and is coming to visit. Her perm nearly went straight. I thought she was going to have a hernia. On top of her ulcers. I really did.
She wanted to take down the Christmas tree but because it melted when it caught fire, it was sort of stuck to the carpet. Then she nearly went mad trying to get the black stuff off the tiles on the floor. I tried to tell her the black stuff was on the tiles when she bought them and that things are meant to get worse before they get better. And that’s when she drew out and belted me. She thought I was skitting her.
Then something really cool and school threatening happened. I couldn’t believe it. It started snowing. Great, big lumps of it everywhere. It was brilliant. And I got 20 pounds all for myself from Mammy’s brother from America. I’m going to see if he’s coming next year in case I miss him if I go to Spain.
He’s kind of funny though. And Mr. Byrne, he’s so loud. I think John’s afraid of him. Which is a good thing. It’s about time he was afraid of something.
And he liked the Christmas tree. Or at least I think he did. He said something about it being “totally, utterly and incredibly awesome.” And he patted me on the head for being creative. Daddy snorted and said “dangerous, more like.”
Sure what does he know anyway?
Mammy’s brother is great fun altogether. We built a snowman and we found this old sheepskin rug with a hole burnt in it, in the garage, and we used it for a sled going down the hill at the back of the house.
He said he’d take me and Mammy into the sales. I can’t wait!
I’ve changed my mind, Mr. Byrne. I love Christmas. And I’d love 500 quid even more. So please. Give a little. It would help a lot.
A Battered Child.