I was born in West Belfast is alright, it’s just like anywhere else you go. Well, maybe not because there is always a different atmosphere wherever you go. Like that, so em…I don’t know. I have lived there my whole life.
I was born in West Belfast is alright, it’s just like anywhere else you go. Well, maybe not because there is always a different atmosphere wherever you go. Like that, so em…I don’t know. I have lived there my whole life. People up there are different...different atmosphere completely, and then when you are down where…I don’t know, you are probably just used to it. And you know everybody...you know what I mean?
I never went into the Protestant estate beside where I live...I couldn’t even walk through there. I would be scared in case I got jumped, or something. There does be trouble...like, I live at the top of the Glen Road. It’s quieter up there. Down the bottom part would be... would be louder, because there’s more kids. But up at the top it’s more like older people, if you get me? There is not as much kids, but it would be all older ones. But my brother and all...when he used to run about at the bottom of Lenadoon, he used to go down and they used to be throwing bricks and all...over to the other side, with all his mates.
I couldn’t be bothered with all that, though. I like it at school…I go to an integrated school. I’m like a teacher...I swear. I like...I don’t know. I just get on with them all, really dead well. Like, do you ever get that...where people hate school because they hate the teachers? Our school...see our teachers? They are so dead on. I swear. Like, I have never had a problem with one teacher in my school. You know the way you say, “I like him” and “I hate her” and all? I like all of them. I think that makes it a better atmosphere to go to school... do you know what I mean like...when you like the teachers?
It is probably because when I was younger... when I was in primary school, I didn’t get on with my teacher. I hated her. I really hated her. I used to have a different teacher every year. I hated the school. Because...mostly because just me being a messer, and messing about and all. And then I says to myself “I am going to go down a different road”.
School is brilliant...good. I’m doing Health and Social Care. I want to be a social worker, but like...Art. I’m really good at that, and my painting is coming on really well, I am told. And my teacher is saying to me about me going to Art College and all, so I don’t know what is going on at the minute.
My granny and all, and my Mummy...they used to say to me...we used to be sitting there and all, and like, they would say...because I remember there used to be this crowd that faced where my Granny lived. My granny used to live in a fold. And I was only in first year or something, and they used to stand smoking and all. I used to say, “Granny, oh that’s terrible” and she goes “You go to school and all, and you get a good job and all, and you don’t be running about like all them there ones out there!”. And I actually thought in my own mind that I never ever ever would smoke. Like, I never ever ever did smoke or anything, and I thought that was a really big thing and all, and really bad and all, and I thought “Oh my God that is terrible” and “I would never do that” and all, right?
It was always me, my Mummy and my granny. Do you know what I mean? It was always us three, like...before my wee brother came along. Because we were always in my granny’s house...always. And because my Mummy was the only girl, and she was the closest to her, and I was the closest grandchild. My granny had thirteen or fourteen grandchildren, and like, I was the closest like out of all of them. I was always there, like. Even my uncle used to call in, and he used to say to my granny, “You’d think she was my sister! You’d think she was your child!”. You know what I mean? Because I was really really dead close to her. And I think there was a wee bit of jealousy between my Mummy’s brothers and all, because she loved me so much. I don’t know... it was really really really close. And if I had’ve said to my granny, “Granny, I want these shoes”, she would have made it her business to get them for me.
It was brilliant, like. We used to be sitting there...my granny used to like me coming down for company too, cuz like…I used to get bored sitting there sometimes like...watching the news and all, and I used to be a wee bit bored, and I used to say, “Granny I want to go home”. And then like, I used to go home, and then I used to miss her again whenever I went home, and then she used to phone me and say, “Ach Alana, come on down and keep me company”. So I used to keep her company. I loved it...and I used to sit there and all... watch films and all, and do the usual routine. Go round to the shop at eight o’clock and get the magazine and all, and get a wee party in and all, and she used to get milk...and do you know...stuff like that.
Then I says to her one day “Granny can we go down to Newcastle?” God love her, she couldn’t even walk the length of herself. Here’s me, “Granny I want to go to Newcastle” and she goes “Ach, Alana, I’m not able now”. I was hammering her all that week, and she went “Right, ok”. I had her walking down to the bus station, and God love her, she couldn’t even walk. And then when we went down, I was talking to my Mummy, and she was like “Where are yous?” and I was like, “In Newcastle”. And here she was, “Oh Jesus, did you take my Ma away down there?” Here’s me, “Ach Mummy, it’s alright”. I had her taking me into Coco’s and all. We had a wee party all the way down and all, on the bus
My nanny got sort of, like sick...and she was on a…what do you call them? A nebuliser and an inhaler. And she had all this here stuff...you know like, stresses over her skin, and she had to put creams and all on. I used to sit there, and I used to do her legs and all for her, and put the cream on, and say “Right granny, give me your feet and I’ll put them on the wee cushion” and I used to lift her wee legs up, and put them on the cushion and all. I used to think it was great. She had problems scratching off that…psoriasis. She had to go and use the sun beds in the hospital to try and get rid of it. But like...and then like, she couldn’t really walk anyway. Then she used to say... you know when she had a wee drink and all in her, and I used to be sitting there...she used to watch that there...I will never forget it. Showboat. She used to watch that every night. Showboat. She used to come in and turn it on and then we used to be sitting there, and she used to watch that, and then like...she used to say “Now when I die…”, I was going, “Granny, never mind all that there. Don’t be talking about that”. And she used to go “No, when I die…” and I go “Granny, you are never dying. You are not going to die until like...years and years away.
But she must have knew, and then...I don’t know. One night she was coming in she fell and slipped. She was getting very very sick, so my Mummy comes down and says “Mummy, you don’t look very well...I’ll bring you over to the hospital” and she was like, “I’m alright, I’m alright”. But my Mummy was like “No. I need to bring you over to the hospital”. So my Mummy took her over to the hospital, and the doctor says “Nothing wrong with you...nothing wrong with you. You’ve a sore back...whatever”. So they let her out anyhow, and then my Mummy brought her up to our house, and she lay in a seat for a week. And my uncle came around and my Mummy was really worried and all and he phoned the ambulance...and the ambulance came out. But she was like...all white and all. She was just lying there. And I was like “That’s not right...that’s not right” and the hospital just kept sending her back saying “There’s nothing wrong with you. There is nothing wrong with you”. But I never knew...I was too young at the time, and I would have been down in the hospital screaming murder.
I was in this here wee shop...a wee holy shop. I was standing there, and I got this big thing through my mind. It says “If you get her the present she’s dead, but if you don’t get her the present she is going to be alive”. I don’t know why that went through my mind. I don’t have a clue, but I just thought of it, and went “Oh my God...what am I thinking like that for?”
And then I got her it anyway, right? I just said “I am thinking things and I don’t even know what I am talking about” right? So then I was on my way back and my Mummy’s boy came down to pick me up. But I knew there was something weird about. Something dodgy. There was something... like, the atmosphere or something...on the way up home. He was dead quiet or something, or he was dead nervous, or something. And I was like, “Oh my God...What is wrong here?” Do you know the way you just know? And then we went up to my house and there was all cars and all. Cuz do you know the way it is...the last thing you want to think in your mind? I was walking in through my gate, and everyone was in my kitchen and I just had to look...one look at my Mummy, and I was like…”Oh Mummy...please...”
She had a busted artery and they didn’t even check it. The hospital said if they had’ve checked her properly, she wouldn’t have died. She would have been still living. See when she was lying there, the hospital said she would’ve knew she was ready to. I wish that I had’ve been a bit older, do you know what I mean?
We are really really close…we were always really close. Do you know what I mean? We are all like...the same personality. Obviously Mummy is more stricter, whereas granny was really easy going and all. I never visit her grave or anything, but it’s about thinking about them, and talking about them, and remembering stuff. I remember the first year she died...God love me, I went away down to the wee shop and bought her flowers and all. I walked all the way over by myself and I was only really young.
I remember when I was younger...around seven. I wanted to see my Daddy, and my Mummy told me he was no good. But then I think she felt sorry for me, so she got in touch with him. One day, we went down to my granny’s house...where he was living at the time. I can’t really remember much, but I just remember my granny taking me out in her big silver car. I used to sit in the front with a cushion...I thought I was great. Me and my Mummy ended up going home, and then I just remember my granny and my Daddy coming up to my house one day, and I think my Mummy and Daddy got back then. I don’t remember him being a normal Dad. He would have hit my Mummy...but I can’t really remember, because my Mummy tried to hide things like that from me.
I remember being out with my friends and getting called in really early and sent to bed, but I can’t remember what I done. I remember looking out the window and seeing the other kids out playing...I wanted to go out but I wasn’t allowed. No one ever came round to my house, because they knew he was sick, and didn’t want to take anything to do with it. They probably knew my Mummy would get it sorted on her own...which she did.
I used to go to a youth club in my street and I remember stealing something...can’t remember what it was. And the woman from the youth club came to my house to rap on the door, and he answered. Then I remember getting sent to my room and not being allowed out. I remember my Mummy coming in, and saying to me, “This will all be over soon”, because she knew herself it wasn’t normal. We ended up going down south to some house to stay, and I remember me and my Mummy running up the road really fast. He was chasing us up the street and we were running really fast, but he caught up... and we had to go back again. But it’s all-brief. I can remember her getting hit when we went back. I can only remember wee tiny bits. I was in the other room...I just knew she was getting hit. But then my Mummy finally got rid of him. We were so happy; we could get on with our lives.
My Mummy met John a year before my granny died. Em...how could you put this? My granny and John didn’t get on very well, and I didn’t like him either. I don’t know why but, because I hardly knew him. I think it was just because it was always me and Mummy...and then it felt strange because I wasn’t used to it. I was used to her giving me all her full attention. It was really hard for me. John did try...but it just wasn’t happening. I got really annoyed, because I felt like I was getting put to the side...so I got a black taxi and went straight down to my granny’s. I ended up living down there because I couldn’t stick it. He turned me.
When my granny died, I moved back up to my house. My Mummy was so close to my granny she couldn’t cope anymore, and she started drinking. I think it was all the stress of John, and then my granny dying. It got to her. She was drinking on and off for two years. It was bad, the first year, cuz... she was drunk. I didn’t like seeing her drunk.
She would have got up and starting drinking in the morning and been drunk when I got in from school. I would have just went on out with my mates, and when I got back, she would have been sober and wanted to watch a DVD. She was trying to do two things at once. I still loved her... but, she would have sat me down and said “This will all be over soon, love”. Looking back on it now, it was very different...and thinking about how I felt...I kept wishing for it to be over, so I could have my Mum back.
Thinking about this story...things have big time changed. She still hasn’t completely got off the drink like, but she has cut down. She doesn’t get drunk now...two or three tins would do her. But she’s trying to get off it completely. When my wee sister starts nursery she’s getting a job and all. I hope to become a youth worker and be able to help children that went through similar things to me. I hope this story can help others see a different way out...I’m glad to have had the opportunity to tell my story.