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Wednesday 13 December 2017

Covering Up My War Crimes

It's a passage of rites thing. At some point you bring your firstborn to the house where you were born. Ideally, something profound passes between you.

They complement your progress in the world, or lack of it. It's a moment the child will cherish. The reality is she's bored the moment she arrives, demands chocolate to stay and haunts you until she's allowed leave. She remembers nothing at all.

But it still had to be done. I'd hate there to be any kind of gap in the 'horrible parent/child bonding' experiences I've exposed her to. It's important she's bored as much as her friends were. And with my mother's house sold, this was her last chance to see where Tommy met Bridie, a two-up, two-down that had been my world entire.

I gave Eva the full works: this is the room I played darts in 'til members of my family thought I was less than the full shilling. It would have helped if I'd hung up the dart board or stepped away from it. Keeping it on my lap, and not so much throwing the darts at it as stabbing the board, over and over, often while yelling "you weren't expecting that!" didn't help my cause.

And this is the garden where I'd stab the dart board if it wasn't raining and we were allowed out. And if you think it's small now, you should have seen it when it had a chicken coop and the shed my dad made. Not to mention the vegetable patch. Don't look for the shed now, it isn't there anymore. I demolished it once when he was in hospital, as a surprise for him. Afterwards he went back into hospital.

And this is the road. To you a road, little girl, but to me a multi-purpose, all-weather sport stadium. Tennis was played here, with no nets and with cracks in the road as lines, five-a-side was played on an L-shaped pitch, cricket, rounders, sick, dying, dead and buried, catch a girl and kiss her, kick the can and a host of others. The games never really ended, but at 17, like so many others, I simply walked away.

There is not a spot on that road -- in Drimnagh -- that is not the site of a major incident: This is where Mr Butler's car caught fire, this is where we caught bees, this is where I caught my fingers in a bicycle chain, Jodie Bertley ripped his arm, an older boy made an improvised explosive, my uncle Bill drove over my dog Duke or a neighbour reversed over Dingo, the street mascot.

And this, of course, is where Action Man died. I needed to say this fast and mutter the word "eventually" as quickly as I could. There's no need for the little one to know about the Action Man episode. It still reflects badly on me. Thankfully, there were no war crimes tribunals then. None of this understanding the past so that we can better live together in the future, none of that shite at all, thank God. There are some things the little one is better off spared. Better she never knows that there is a world where her dad is actually a war criminal. Ahem!

Tune into Tom Dunne on Newstalk 106-108FM on weekdays, 9am to noon

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