My brother was once described in one of his school reports as nothing more than a scofflaw. The word sent my parents scurrying to the dictionary to find what derogative term was being used about him this time. To say they were unimpressed is to put it mildly. Though they did concede the reference was justified and better than his previous report in which his woodwork teacher had referred to the sawdust on the floor of the classroom as having more intelligence than my brother.
It would be fair to say that he took a circuitous path through life. One could never say he was a taciturn fellow in any way as one of the great obstacles he faced in life was the control of his tongue. He was forever willing to offer an opinion on most things whether or not he understood it or not and could be drawn by those who knew him to mouth his views in no uncertain way.
Despite all that and his wayward tongue he did have a clear sense of justice. He would readily castigate anyone he thought was ill treating animals or the unfortunate. He hated racism in any form and was often drawn into battle at the pub of a Friday night when his consumption led him to voice one too many opinions.
I always worried about what would happen to him, where he would end up in life. School as never really for him, he studied little and yet as fate would have it he somehow managed to turn out alright.
I know it had something to do with his wife. There was no doubt she was ravishing. A rare beauty indeed. But it was also the purity she possessed, she understood my brother and controlled him and at the same time saw him into a trade and helped him with his studies.
If ever there was a chalk and cheese couple it was my brother and his wife. They have been married over thirty years now and I still feel that frisson of excitement at the prospect of he and his wife coming to dinner. He is such a lively character even now in later middle age.
There was always one thing I could say about him and it’s that he was never given to artifice to achieve a victory over any opponent. He could argue and present his case forcefully. Admittedly his way of arguing especially in the pub on Friday nights led to his being excluded from most of the drinking holes around town but he accepted this as part of life.
There were many nights when I would go round to his house on Friday afternoon and find him moulding resin which he gathered from the trees around and made into small ornaments and often pieces of jewellery his eldest daughter sold at the Sunday markets.
He was in so many ways an enigma. Loud and boisterous, quick tempered and smart tongued but always was he ready to help me when I asked. The days of us playing together in the back yard had given us a platform to live by. As competitive as we were we always supported and encouraged each other.
A scofflaw he may have been in the eyes of many, but to me he will always be my brother.