He is such a good brother; he always knows what that child wants. She doesn’t even have to say a word, he just seems to know. "That child shouldn’t be watching Doctor Who", "That child needs the toilet", "That child is hungry". That child! I hardly ever uttered a word as, helpfully, my older brother had a non-contagious condition of uncontrollable verbal incontinence that made sure most of my needs were met.
I am defined as a Gen Xer, who was born to silent generation parents. Lack of speech was seen as feminine shyness and, as I was such a good girl, I hardly ever cried – well not in front of people. My subconscious decision not to speak, to be quiet, to be still, to not take up too much space and to observe people at a safe distance was not seen as an issue. I was considered to be a delight, well-behaved, polite and quite self-reliant. As a small child, I made sure that I kept my head to the floor and not in the clouds. I found wonder in the peaceful world of nature. I lost myself in the often overlooked miniature universe which thrived just below my knee level. I engaged carefully with snails, caterpillars, slaters, ladybirds, ants, butterflies, crickets, red spider mites, newts, sticklebacks, pond skaters, frogs, toads and slugs. These small creatures seemed to accept me and I felt a connection as I gently touched them with soft fingers and welcoming outstretched hands. I loved the feeling of warm concrete on the soles of my feet, the rough particles of sandstone on my fingers, the slipperiness of wet river clay, the coolness of quartz, the tickle from a fern on my legs as I brushes past and the softness of the fur of fallen willow catkins.
I would visit plants in my close. The "kind lady" had a garden full of pansies of every colour, the "never seen" neighbours at the bottom of my garden had horse chestnuts and I would sneak into their garden to collect conkers. In my garden we had Lily of the Valley, Lupins and Butterfly bushes.
On occasions, I did break my vow of silence and found my loud outdoor voice. At the weekend I often elected to sing along with my Dad, a proud Yorkshireman, to his socialist folk music when rambling (walking) through the Scottish hills. The lack of good vocals never stopped me or him, however, my brother rarely sang and never uttered the words "That Child"!
My Dad's favourite walking song was ‘I am a Rambler’ and we sang it with gusto, 'And sooner than part from the mountains I think I would rather be dead.'
I loved to ramble. I found bilberries whilst my father could be relied upon to find a bog to lose our wellies in. Often we would feast on unwashed brambles, and, if we got lucky, hazelnuts. When we got thirsty we nibbled on the sweet stems of false oat grass.
We trudged passed the spikey yellow gorse and tried to identify Ling from Heather, my father’s joke as I now know that Ling is Heather.
We sat and ate tinned hot dog sausages from a flask my mother had prepared, but only after we had each placed a stone on the cairn.
On Monday, my Dad returned to the cast iron foundry in Govan and I went quietly back to school. We each served our time before our next adventure when we could rowdily sing, 'I may be a wage slave on Monday, but I am a free man on Sunday.'
*Reference - The Manchester Rambler by Ewan MacColl