First Page: Burning Bright
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The Pride of the Kerrigans. That’s what Dad calls me. Or sometimes, for a laugh, The Revenge of the Kerrigans. You see we live in Balfathery which is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it country town full of petty-minded snobs. All they want is for their children to be solicitors, doctors and vets. I have no intention of being a small town solicitor or a doctor, or a vet, no way. For me the sky’s the limit.
Of course since the whole Celtic Tiger thing started all the snobs are building big houses for themselves. Big, ugly houses, with lawns and patios and plastic tables and chairs out of Woody’s. None of them have a house like ours. We don’t live in the town, our house is too big for that. And it’s not in that string of show-off houses on the Athlone road that Dad calls “snoburbia central”, our house is five miles outside, in its own grounds. Dad was thinking more Beverly Hills when he built it. To quote himself, “Hollywood in Balfathery’s face!”
And you know the best bit? Dad was born in Barrack Street, you know, where the poor people live. The place all the Balfathery snobs look down on. Now he’s one of the wealthiest, most successful developers in Ireland! You see my Dad thinks big and I take after him. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.
I watch Mum from the door of the kitchen. She lifts the red-enamel casserole out of the all-singing, all-dancing, eye-level, self-cleaning oven and puts it on the matching, seven-ring, electronically lit, shiny, gas hob. Take note… electronically lit.
So why has Mum has a lighter in her hand?
She reaches into the cupboard and takes out something small. The something is wrapped in foil. She opens the foil to reveal an irregular-shaped lump, dark brown, about the size of a conker. She flicks the lighter, holds the flame under the lump and crumbles a generous half of it into the garlic and herb butter that she’s making for the garlic bread. It’s for the adults. Me and Kirsty don’t like garlic. She mixes it well, puts it to one side and starts to slice the French stick.
“Hi Mum.” I say and I smile my angelic smile.
“Oh Jake, hi. Are you ready?”
“I’m wearing a shirt!”
“What was that herb was that you were adding?” I ask.
She knows I’m interested in cooking – sort of.
“Just a bit of stock cube. It gives it a bit of pizzazz.”
My own mother! Even she forgets that I’m fifteen years old. I know perfectly well, that you don’t put stock cubes in garlic bread and you certainly don’t need a lighter to soften it!
That’s the worst about being a boy. Girls grow sort of evenly. Look at the first years up in St. Mary’s… they’re all a bit straight up and down. Second years… shaping up. Third years…. melon city!!!! But boys are different. In my class, average age 15 and a bit, Mick Wall and Gerry Stanford shot up and got hairy last summer, they could pass for eighteen. Most of the others were shaving by Christmas and getting taller as well. Then there’s the titches. I’m one of the titches.
I still look like I’m only eleven. Mum says not to worry, that I look like a spiky-haired angel. Thanks Mum – all I need now is a white frock and wings! Mrs. Lawless in “The Gem” gives me a lollipop when I go in to pay for the papers! Joe Martin in the Bank asks if I’m still into dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! For crying out loud, that was when I was in High Babies. Then I look in the mirror and I cannot believe that my body still hasn’t caught up.