Saturday, March 13, 2010
12. Autobiography (5) Sketch: Wash as far as Possible
Every night, Mummy says to me: "Wash as far as possible, and then wash possible."
I always feel the redness in my cheeks. I have to stand in the concrete trough in the wash house. Mummy puts soap on a flannel and rubs my face, my arms, my back, my legs. Sometimes the water's too hot; sometimes the flannel scratches.
There are lots of chooks in our chook pen. Dad lets me help him collect the eggs. Sometimes the chooks sit on the eggs in their hutches, and when I try to take the eggs, they flap their wings. Daddy says not to drop the eggs. I hold them with both hands. Sometimes they are warm to hold.
One day my daddy killed a chook. He chopped the head off and the blood sprayed all over the chopping block, and some went on my mother's sheets that hung on the clothesline, and the chook ran backwards around the yard till it fell down dead. Then dad ran boiling water over it for ages so he could pluck it. When the feathers came out, the skin was all like goosebumps.
Our toilet is out the back, beside the sleep-out where the 'men' live. The men are Mr Pearson and Mr Pitfield. They work at the Lincoln Mill, and they live with us. Mum cooks and washes for them, and they eat tea with us at night. They sleep in the bungalow.
The toilet is old and made of wood. When dad goes to the toilet he leaves the door open, and smokes while he's sitting there. There's a hedge in front of the toilet, and the leaves are green and yellow. The seat of the toilet is made of wood. Dad cut a telephone book in half, and it hangs by a string, on a nail. When I go to the toilet to do grunts, I have to wipe my bottom with a piece of paper from the telephone book on the wall there. One day, when I was little, I fell back through the seat and got stuck and dad had to come and pull me out.
At night there's a pot behind the door in mum and dad's room. We all use the pot at night; it's too dark and cold to go outside to the toilet. I have to kneel down so I don't miss the pot and wee on the floor. Or I can sit on the pot. If I have to do grunts, I have to sit on the pot. I don't like sitting, because mum and dad wee in the pot too, and when I do grunts, it splashes me. And it smells. I wet the bed sometimes. Mum said the doctor says that I'm highly strung and that's why I wet the bed.
The Fitzes live next door. Mrs. Fitz is my mum's friend. Mum and Mrs. Fitz went on a holiday to Sydney when I started school, so Dad had to take me the first few days. I like Mrs Fitz, but Mr. Fitz frightens me. Mum says Mr. Fitz drinks, and that's why he's so angry and why he shouts. Mum says that Mr. Fitz drinks because he went to the war. My dad didn't go to the war because he had flat feet, and he was too old.
Mr. Fitz goes to the pub every night. So does Mr. Coventry. He lives in the house next door - on the other side - up Reynards Street. Mrs. Coventry plays the piano, and sometimes I can hear her playing on the other side of the wall. Mrs. Coventry tells my mum that sometimes she can hear me singing, through the wall, and that she likes to hear me singing, and that I must be a happy boy to sing so much. Mr. Coventry has a red nose, and a red face.
When men leave the pub some come into our laneway and wee on to the wall. Mum says that that is a naughty thing to do. But sometimes, when I'm coming home from Sunday school, up the back lane, I have to have a wee, so I wee in the laneway.
On trams, boys must stand up and give their seat to a lady. Mum takes me to the city on the tram. The trams are green. Coburg trams are number 19 and number 20. One day there is a lady on the tram who talks to herself all the time about God and Jesus and sin. Mum says I mustn't stare at the lady, that it is rude to stare. Mum says that the lady is a 'religious maniac', and that she reads the Bible too much. I want mum to tell me more, because I don't understand, but mum says that children should be seen and not heard.
When I go to Sunday school, Jimmy Campbell sometimes meets me and walks me home. Mum says that Jimmy is a nice boy, but he is a bit simple. He's much older than me. Sometimes he wants me to have a wee in the lane, and he keeps asking me if I want to have a wee, and tells me that I should have a wee.
At Sunday school we sing songs. We sing:
Hear the pennies dropping, listen while they fall
Every one for Jesus, he shall have them all
Dropping, dropping, dropping, dropping
Hear the pennies fall
Every one for Jesus - he shall have them all.
I give Jesus a penny every Sunday. We sing other songs too:
Jesus bids us shine with a pure clear light
Like a little candle, glowing in the night
In this world of darkness, we must shine
You in your small corner, and I in mine
I like this chorus, especially the last line … You in your small corner, and I in mine…
When we have finished, we sing:
Now Sunday school is over, and we are going home
Goodbye, goodbye, we will be kind and true
Goodbye, goodbye, we will be kind and true
At bed time Mum gives me big cuddles and I nuzzle my head and my nose into her. I like being cuddled by my mother; she has a soft, warm bosom. Aunty Rita has big bosoms, and she kisses me on the cheeks all the time. Her bosom smells of lavender powder. I don't like it when Mum powders herself in the bath, because when it is my turn to have a bath, the powder floats on the surface.
I don't like it when I wet the bed, because sometimes the bed goes cold, and I wake up shivering. Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, the bed is wet and I don't know why. I hate it when I have to get up in the night to do grunts, because it smells. Some people say 'poo' instead of grunts, but mum says poo is a naughty word and I shouldn't say it, so I say grunts.
Mum says I'm her good little boy, but she says sometimes I can be a little sod.