Here I am about 10 years of age going on 11 years. It was the “Class Party” end of the year, Winter I believe. Dressed in my one and only White Polo Neck Jumper of which I loved, and my one and only Red Tartan Skirt I was in love with, convinced myself it was an Irish Tartan skirt but of course it was not, have no idea what it was meant to be, all I do know is I loved it. Long white socks, and my long fair hair had a Black Velvet Alice Band. One boy in my Class, he was my dancing partner, told the class one day after our Scottish Dancing lesson (scottish dancing lessons in a predominantly Irish Catholic School?) “Anna Morrissey” (me) “is the prettiest girl in the class”, I blushed then, and I do now as I type it. I remember him well.
I was dancing around on the double bed I shared with my eldest Sister, in the bedroom which was called “the back room” in the four roomed flat we lived in, we had the ground floor flat, we lived in this big house that was shared with this couple and their son, who was a young Man who had done or was going to do his “National Service”, I liked him so much, he was always so nice to me. My Mother and his Mother never got along, as for my Father well he kept out of it all. I was looking at myself in the dressing table mirror as I spun around on the bed. Suddenly the bedroom door opened and in walked my Mother, low cut top she liked to show her bosoms – yes she did have large round breasts she was proud of, would have denied that if she were asked, but she did like to show them off. “Get down, what is this” she shouted at me, she pulled me down off the bed but not before her large hands came across my thighs and legs. I can never remember to this day what came first the white marks or the red marks, all I know is they really hurt, for once I did not get the Bamboo cane across my lower back and thighs.
My Mother wasted no time in telling me how vain I was and that it was a Sin (no doubt a Mortal Sin) and that when I went to Confession I had to tell the Priest. Was it never a Sin that she liked to show her breasts, of course not, I know my Father never objected to her showing off like that. Whatever she said would stay with me and I have always found it difficult to this day to accept Compliments. When I started working at the Prudential in Holborn I used to go so red at the nice things that were said to me, a Boy or Man fancying me I found that difficult to believe. I wonder sometimes the real reasons why I settled down to Married life with a man 30 years older than me. So many men in the Pru where I worked could not understand why I was marrying someone so much older, but I did – many ways I paid the price.
Needless to say I never went to the “Class Party” and I never saw my White Polo necked Jumper or Tartan skirt again, they both disappeared. Disappeared over to Ireland, my Mother used to send Parcels to her Sister for my Cousins, on my mother’s part it was all done to make her look “good Mary”.
I remember this event as the time I found out I was Vain. Vanity a Sin to be told to the Priest next time at Confession. I never mentioned it to the Priest, I know that much for sure, and later I became lapse Catholic, still am. It did leave me for the rest of my life feeling awkward every time I was ever complimented. What we Mothers do to our Children, not always good.