Thursday, January 23, 2014


I’m eight years old, my life is a simple cycle of eating, sleeping, playing and state enforced learning. These activities all take place within the protective cocoon of a small village on the Welsh border. Little concerns me; I’m a poor loser but given that there are only four boys in my year at school and I am the don, this doesn’t happen with any great regularity. My mind is free of troubles, to use the early eighties vernacular, my life is skill!

On any given day my unfettered joy can consist of football, cycling and tree climbing but without fail there must always be a large dose torment dished out to my sisters. One older, one younger. The older one’s feeling towards me oscillate regularly between antipathy and abhorrence. The younger one blindly adores me. To me this matters not one whit; I will inflict irritation on whichever one is nearest. They are both ticklish so a swift grab of an unguarded foot can be hugely satisfying for me and distressing for whichever sister is on the receiving end. At this stage in my life I am unfamiliar with karma.

It’s Sunday morning and having eaten all that I can reach in the kitchen, I wait impatiently for the remainder of the family to wake up. Finally mum appears and makes a pot of tea to take upstairs. This indicates the start of the ten minute notice period before we can all go and pile into their bed. At last having watched the minutes slowly pass we’re in the bed. The older sister has long eschewed this family fun and as I’m not yet bold enough to torment my parents, annoying my younger sister is the only option. Like a cat sizing up prey I wait for the perfect moment. I strike for the foot, the foot feels strange and my dad has just leapt like a salmon, spilling his and everyone else’s tea.

After the commotion subsides my parents don’t make a big deal of it and all my younger sister knows is that I missed her foot. I will carry this burden of shame with me for the rest of my life, I touched a man’s penis and not just any man’s, my dad’s! I am now familiar with karma.

Tim McB