Raymond was born on the 15th of March 1934 at St Leonard’s Women’s Hospital, Kipling. His descent from womb to world signified the beginning of his life, his bane. There was something wrong with Raymond’s face, there was something missing. The first thought that ran through McClusky’s mother, Gina McClusky nee Hollier’s mind when she first held Raymond, was why had God given her, a good and pious woman, a deformed baby?
“It is called a hare lip,” the doctor had told her, “and I’ve never actually seen one before, only in textbooks. You could probably get it stitched up, but I can’t do it here, I don’t have sufficient equipment. You’d have to go to Sydney.”
But they never went.
Typical of Gina’s ignorance, she had always wondered why her child was so troubled. For us, it isn’t hard to understand how McClusky ended up the way he did, for Gina was a remarkably strange woman herself.
But it’s not to say it had always been so.
It wasn’t until her husband took off in ’45 to meet a pen pal in Sydney, never to return, that Gina’s dormant absurdities bubbled over into a grotesque eruption.
Gina, a tough broad from a long line of tough broads, thought her estranged husband a bludger and a shirker for not only running away from his new family, but from running away from his responsibility of going to war. In a rage that was worsened by the absence of her lithium tablets, Gina would regularly send hen’s feathers to her mother-in-law’s house in Sydney, where she presumed he would be staying. Alas, he never was. In fact, McClusky Senior’s brother, Abel, had recently died on the Western Front, and Gina had been distressing the grieving family.
Gina guessed that her hubby had buggered off to chase some skirt, and that made her want to wear pants. She had an internal burning (which she had the doctor check) for change.
Gina wanted to evolve.
After her husband left, she almost unbuttoned (she thought zips were dangerous) her epidermis and slipped out of it (excuse the repellent analogy) to reveal a whole new person. Gina started:
· To dress differently; far more conservatively,
· To talk differently; far more conservatively, and
· To craft tapestries at home, alone; in a conservative manner.
Gina became more zealous in her religious beliefs and after a while, become known as quite the proselyte, or Tyke, as we used to call them. If one were to run into her on the street, one would be there for an hour-long sermon.