Although of Irish descent, Morrissey Lass actually grew up on the wild plains of Africa-land in a small village called Alice. Alice boasted one main street (‘blink and you’ll miss it’), one butcher (owned by the Tremeers), one hotel, one small, magical library, a playschool, a handful of churches and the grounds on which the acclaimed University Of Fort Hare squatted and sprawled at will. (Alice might have boasted a lot more than these, but Morrissey Lass was too small to know about that then. She knew about her home with its long driveway and endless backyard, she knew about her best friend who lived next door through the nifty hole in the fence and she knew about her much loved nanny, Emily. She also knew where her dad lived and she knew where the horse lived that her dad took her to visit when they had run out of things to do. Which was often. Morrissey Lass knew how to walk to the bus stop to catch a lift to school (a half hour drive to the neighbouring town) and she knew that you should never smoke because that’s what the smoking bus driver with the dirty finger tips told her after he caught her sucking on the end of one of his stompies one late afternoon…)
Morrissey Lass only lived in Alice because of the University of Fort Hare. Her folks worked in Academia, her folk’s friends worked in Academia and her friend’s folks worked in Academia for the most part too. Fort Hare was Alice and possibly the only reason why anyone would choose to live there. Unless they were the butcher, of course.
Morrissey Lass spent her days like all small village children do – outside with siblings and friends, on a bicycle, up a tree, or in the farmlands stealing fruit off the trees in dress-loads full. Because Morrissey Lass actually wore dresses back then.
Her mother did not raise her children on sugar and sweets. Instead, Morrissey Lass was grown on curries and vegetables and all those things small children love and appreciate. Oh, and ‘Emily’s Jam’ on top of a thick layer of margarine on top of bread, which was a staple and which she later found (when she could read) was actually called Hugo’s Mixed Fruit Jam and was laden with sugar anyways.
Her father also once tried to feed them black soy sausages instead of regular viennas, and it was probably at that point that Morrissey Lass realized her family was not the regular type of family. Their saving grace was that they had some far funkier family friends to which to compare themselves – like the family up the road living on a small holding in the mountain village of Hogsback, who did not even get to eat mixed fruit jam, normal cheese, sugar in their cake or store bought toothpaste like she did.
All five kids from this family wore homespun jerseys, were strictly vegetarian and had that distinct, wild, ’raised on fresh, mountain stream water and goats milk’ look around them. Compared with such a family, well Morrissey Lass’s one looked bog standard. Which was fortunate.