‘I won­der if my sis­ter fully com­pre­hends how much those first years changed me be­fore she came along’

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - BODY & SOUL -

adult­hood. In sec­ondary school she was a promis­ing run­ner and was very pop­u­lar. She re­mem­bers her time at school fondly and has stayed in touch with old friends.

I re­mem­ber my schools, par­tic­u­larly the one in Great Yar­mouth, with ter­ror; al­ways the ‘new girl’ with the strange ac­cent and the wrong clothes, an easy tar­get for bul­lies. Be­cause I found it dif­fi­cult to make friends (why make friends only to leave them again?), I spent my child­hood es­cap­ing into books, TV pro­grammes and my own head, while my sis­ter was al­ways out with one group of friends or an­other. She still de­scribes Great Yar­mouth as ‘home’; I still say I didn’t find home un­til I ar­rived in Lon­don to start univer­sity at 20.

Strangely, I wouldn’t swap my up­bring­ing for my sis­ter’s, and I’m sure she wouldn’t switch her more tra­di­tional one for mine. We both ben­e­fited and were af­fected in dif­fer­ent ways by our child­hoods; so wholly dis­parate we might as well have had sep­a­rate fam­i­lies. Be­cause I grew up in a con­stant state of flux, as an adult I am to­tally un­afraid of change; in­stead I seek it out, see­ing it as an ad­ven­ture and an op­por­tu­nity. I in­her­ited my mum’s in­de­pen­dence and itchy feet and trav­elled widely be­fore set­tling in Lon­don, though I still get away fre­quently and of­ten alone — most re­cently to the wilds of Siberia. I be­lieve that my colourful but chal­leng­ing child­hood, full of coun­cil- es­tate char­ac­ters and week­ends sit­ting at home watch­ing black and white films

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