Sitting on the couch this afternoon, taking such pleasure in quietly reading my book, I had two thoughts, one arriving fast upon the heels of the other.
The first went something like this;
“How lucky am I? That Mum and Dad gave me this gift of loving to read.”
The second was considerably sterner;
“What are you on about, fool? Your Mum and Dad hardly read a single book in their lives.”
I’d forgotten that but it’s true. Dad liked his ‘True Detective’ magazines and Mum would splash out on a 'Woman’s Way' now and again but neither of them were committed book readers. There was no great shelve of literary tomes waiting for me to discover. There were many other great things but not that, never that.
So where did it come from, this reading fascination? Was it something I just fell upon myself, out of the blue? No, it wasn’t that. It was given to me. It was handed down.
It was my two older brothers, that’s who it was.
The elder of the two (let’s not do names – they’d kill me) was always a voracious reader. He would devour books, tossing them over his shoulder as he went and I would catch them and read them because reading was obviously cool ‘cos Big Bro did it. He gave me reading, no doubt.
The second eldest gave me music. He was the devourer of all things musical. Coming home from school with borrowed LP’s and singles. Cozy Powell, Cat Stevens, Mountain and the omnipresent Bob Dylan. This brother assembled a stereo system in our bedroom with huge speakers and cables that ran all over the place and which could clearly pick up Radio Moscow even though there was no radio tuner in the setup.
They both gave me movies, I reckon, although my Mum and Dad loved the movies too. I remember going fishing with the Bros and listening to them talking about the flick they had seen the evening before in the Gaiety. I particularly remember one film being described which I only identified years later as Polanski’s ‘Dance of the Vampires’.
The great thing was how they shared all this stuff generously, without quibble. They never seemed to get upset with the stumbling little fellow who was following behind, hoovering up all the stuff they left along the way.
Maybe we tend to forget what we get from our older brothers and sisters, in among the moments of dominance and the occasional Chinese burn, there are things we might not have if they hadn’t been around.
I see the very same spirit of generosity these days in another set of brothers. My own sons. I can note the openness with which the eldest shares his experiences with the younger. No request seems too much of an imposition. Nothing is too much trouble.
And I can see shades of myself in the younger boy. Old and wise beyond his years, thanks to his elder sibling. Following along trustingly. Soaking it all in. Reaping all the advantages from the one who had to do it all first.
It’s great to see.
So thanks, bros, for teaching me about all of the cool stuff.
It’s taken me a while but, now, finally, I appreciate it.