"...stories birling through my mind..."
A literary journey
Nostalgic Irish prose
Irish culture & folklore
Ulster-Scots short stories
"...stories birling through my mind..."
Dear Elizabeth Grace
Life is a pie and we are are born free to eat it.
You only get one pie, and it is your natural and imprescriptible right to divide that pie up as you please. The pie is your own and is safe from the oppression of others who might want too many slices of it. However you decide to divide up your pie, you must comply with the laws of the nation. You throw your eyes at me, fold your eyebrows together, and stamp your feet all you want, young lady! You will abide by the law of the land!
Liberty consists of doing anything which does not impinge on any slice of someone else’s pie unless it’s freely given. You might propel your Frozen dolls in my face in defiance, flaking the crust off my pie with your insubordinance, but some day you’ll find that there are borders to your desires to be free to play with any toy you wish. You are permitted, however, to run around adorned in nothing but ten pairs of knickers piled up thick on your thighs singing invented songs peppered with naughty words. I can only tell you that it’s impolite, as the law expressly shies away from impeding such behaviour.
The law is the expression of the general will. That means that you have the right to make your own ingredients. And this is important: failure to turn up at the ballot box will result in your never having the right to open that mouth of yours and bray like a donkey again! You don’t like it, get out there and tick a box! Your pie is exactly the same size as everyone else’s because all men are equal, and it is impossible to have more than one hundred per cent. You can have any job you want, but don’t forget: you only get one pie, so take your time about how you eat it.
It is my hope that you will take time to understand people of varying opinions from your own, especially religious ones: it can only add more flavour to your pie, so sit among friends and share the musings of your persuasions together because the free communication of thoughts and of opinions is one of the most precious rights of man, and you, Eliza Grace, at the age of four, have taken advantage of this as no other young lady has ever done. You respond regularly to abuses on your liberty to watch TV and eat sweets in words so eloquent that I have no fear for your ability to one day speak and write what you feel. Sometimes I wonder if the oven was turned up a little too high while your pie was cooking: my body was grateful for your eagerness to come into this world, but my mind has yet to recover.
One day, you may decide to have your own children, and I remind you again, that you only have one pie and you can’t make it grow any bigger. You will need to slice it and dice it in a whole new way, forfeiting half the life you had and enriching it will a whole new set of experiences. Time for tea parties, doing your nails and making home made stew from nettles and daisies, your early years indicating a fascination with those particular pastimes, will disappear as fast as a lego up a hoover.
The declaration of rights of man is not merely a preamble to the constitution of life: it is a fundamental view established by enlightened individuals like your mother. It is my desire that, like Lady Justice, you hold equal plates, in the divine rights of your own personal time on this earth: one plate for you and one plate for others.
Snugville Street, Angeline's debut novel is available here.
Scene from Snugville Street
82 Waterloo Road
The Teacher Voice
The Last Day of Summer Scheme
Uniquely Girls' Brigade
The Children of Latharna
The Band Stick
The Bully up the Brae
God Created Butlins
History & folklore
Fiddles and Melodeons
Martha Taylor's diary
Jean McCullagh at 104
Ballymena & the McConnells
Arms in Irish Dancing
Catholics & Protestants in Irish dancing
Irish Dancing: The Festival Story
The Protestant in Irish Fiction.
The Protestant in Irish fiction II
Ulster-Scots in Irish Fiction
An author in Wonderland
Dancing in Victorian Ulster
Learning the Irish Language.
John Hewitt Summer School
Thirteen Reasons for Peace
So Young then (Andrea Corr & me)
Lesley Allen & Helen Nicholl