MIR­ROR, MIR­ROR IN MY MIND

Arabella - - NEWS - writ­ten by Pamela Meacher

I am a twin. Both of us were born in the U.K. dur­ing wartime with air-raid sirens scream­ing, bombs ex­plod­ing, and chaos rag­ing all around us as the whole street was set ablaze. At the nurs­ing home the Doc­tor bravely stayed on even though the rest of the staff had wisely gone home. Im­me­di­ately af­ter I was born, I was placed be­side my Mum. The Doc­tor told her she should stay where she was be­cause, as it turned out, she was about to have a sec­ond baby. Mum very calmly took some tea and toast and lit a cig­a­rette in prepa­ra­tion for the ad­di­tional two hour wait for my twin brother to ar­rive. Like so many other war-time women, Mum was the - at twen­ty­one years of age - en­tirely on her own, with three chil­dren un­der three years old to care for and keep from harm. Fi­nally, af­ter be­ing away fight­ing in the war for five years, our Dad came home again. For our older sis­ter, it was great that her Fa­ther had re­turned. For us, the twins, it was a bit strange. We of­ten used to ask our Mum who that man is and when would he be go­ing home?” Thank­fully he stayed. I grew into a bright, happy, care­free and ap­par­ently re­spon­si­ble lit­tle girl who at the age of four could be counted upon to bring home the cor­rect change - cor­rect to the last far­thing - from a shop­keeper down the street. I was good at lo­cat­ing miss­ing ar­ti­cles too. My Mum used to say “If you can­not find any­thing ask Pamela, as she never for­gets.” Like most Bri­tish chil­dren I grew up in a walled gar­den. When I was not play­ing with my sis­ter or my best friend, I al­ways had time to play with faeries. I would in­vite them to ‘tea’ and serve them mud pies, dec­o­rated with wild straw­ber­ries. My brother would fash­ion swords out of twigs and would rush about madly shout­ing “be gone thou var­let!!” He has blonde hair with clear blue eyes. I have dark brown hair with hazel eyes. We were dif­fer­ent in every pos­si­ble way. As there were no school buses in those days, I went off to school at the ten­der age of five, rid­ing on the Lon­don bus with my big sis­ter and brother. I felt so proud and grown up in my school uni­form. We al­ways had to ride on the lower level of the buses. Girls were not al­lowed up­stairs, just in case our skirts got caught and lifted by the wind. The bus driv­ers rec­og­nized our school uni­forms, so if any of us mis­be­haved they would re­port us straight­away to the school’s head mis­tress. My brother had a wicked sense of hu­mour, and there were many times my “buf­foon’ of a brother,” as our head mis­tress used to call him, sorely tested the Vic­to­rian sen­si­bil­i­ties of the school. I will never know why, but I was al­ways in­cluded in any pun­ish­ments meted out to him. Some­times, he would not be al­lowed to take the bus home, so I had to keep him com­pany. We walked home to­gether for what seemed like a hun­dred miles. School may have felt a bit re­dun­dant to him, given that he was read­ing the news­pa­per from cover to cover be­fore he was five. To my par­ents’ as­ton­ish­ment, he would leave all of the pages of his ex­am­i­na­tions blank and sim­ply walk out when he was sup­posed to be sit­ting the ex­ams re­quired to en­ter the gram­mar school. He ex­plained it was be­cause he could do it all in his head! He was only eight. Our Vic­to­rian head­mistress con­sid­ered boys over the age of eight to be very ‘sin­is­ter,’ so my twin brother was forced to re-sit his ex­ams and was duly sent off to an all boys’ Gram­mar School. Not hav­ing my brother in the same class was ac­tu­ally a re­lief. We were fi­nally two sep­a­rate be­ings

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