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And, it’s always someone else, it seems, who is at home in the world... But, yet, I can still recall some of time’s lost fragments, when my sister - finally too old to be unschooled - was away, and my mother & I (miraculously) had no constant jealousy at our sleepless vindict to attack the innocent pleasures that were ours, and I almost too young to remember.

Still, such joys were fleeting. Parents were fine...parents, though, had grown-up tight-knit - amidst isolate larger families themselves - and, never, themselves were so dependent upon a peer-group of one...and one so without faith, or charity...

For such was/and is, sadly, my sib. She never thought of others, save to break their backs in rivalry...or to use them as the slaves she craved... And, yet, none was so quick to claim unfairness whenever her will was thwarted. So I learnt, far, far too early, the false wisdom of compliance...and have sadly spent most of my life unlearning same.

I was the “good” son, inconsequence...entrapped in the role, then blamed for such - and, especially within our, isolate, family - could never then walk away from this, without leaving my parents bereaved of any offspring worth having. And she, she had the power - being two years older, born without remorse, and high upon self-justification.

For she, none other, bore the black dog that abides upon my back...having ruthlessly shaped me for such a burden years before the damnable thing itself was fully born...

Still...she did have help.

Bureaucracy, for one...which condemned me to shift schools three times in four years - solely for the sin of being born 13 days too late...and far too precocious a reader to sit idle amidst the previous year. And so, by the time I was (finally) settled, I had fully learnt never to be too much at home - outside of home - whilst the gorgon in the nest made sure that I was never, really, ever at home there. And, yet, home was always - by unspoken covenant - “ours”... I might - if lucky - be (regularly) welcomed into the homes of others, as I times. But, I can never - ever - remember other children at ours, save upon (very) special occasions.

Perhaps, just perhaps, I might have broken this spell - the fruit of my parent’s childhoods, and mine own sister’s malignance - were it not for this early training...

Still...when I try to look back, upon those first few years of schooling..I seem to witness, yet again, fragments of a life I never had. All the happiness of free childhood play I have is there - never to be repeated - with playmates that were stolen from me, whilst I...I never moved an inch. But by the time I found a school I/we could/would stay with, I’d learnt to tight- focus my friendship...a lesson that served me ill - once that friend moved elsewhere, and the exclusionary politics of puberty locked in...and my role as isolate/scapegoat became firmly Croydon High.

No exit - repeat, NO  EXIT - was available. My parents - teachers themselves - didn’t believe in either selective or private schooling...and there were no other legal escapes from this dead-end outer-suburban high school...with one of the poorest academic records in the entire state. And so, as the “good son” - amidst mine own sister’s own bullying (tolerated in the name of “fairness”) and histrionics - I had to, simply, grin & bear it.

The subsequent cracks took years to fully fissure - as I (still, damn it!) tried to do what was wanted - but, eventually, the price had to be paid. Funnily enough, but me is ever to be blamed for my failures...

And so, yet again, I am alone...for, it is always someone else, it seems,
who is at home in the world...and, me?

I am here...amidst all of my hard-won defenses,
alone in my room...

John Henry Calvinist