Sidney Alfred Pickles was born on a thundery Wednesday afternoon in the middle of June, the product of an excruciating forty-two hour labour. His mother, Selena Pickles, was a warm and loving thirty year old who smelled of face cream and lemon washing up liquid. She liked to sing along to musicals while she was cleaning, and also liked to make up new words for things that were difficult to describe. She suffered from undiagnosed schizophrenia.
Sidney’s father, Boris Pickles, was a kind man, and although not intelligent he loved his little family very much. He worked long hours in a burger van selling questionable meat to late night club goers. He smelled of tobacco and animal fat. When he wasn’t at work he liked to tinker with things in his shed. He would take stuff apart and lay all the bits out to look at while smoking endless cigarettes. He was extremely good at taking things apart, but could never quite find the motivation to put them together again.
Sidney was not the most beautiful baby. His head was large and misshapen. His ears stuck out like sugar jug handles. His right eye was significantly smaller than the left; it had a drooping eyelid and a tendency to twitch in social situations. The nurses tried not to grimace as they wrapped the slimy, wailing Sidney in a blanket and rested him on the chest of his exhausted mother.
To his parents however, Sidney was the most perfect baby in the world. His mother held the little blood-stained, wriggly, purple thing close to her heart and loved him just as much as it is possible for one human to love another. She called him her tweaky miracle. She doted on him and delighted in his burbles and giggles, happily babbling back in shared nonsense speak.
When he was a little boy she would tell him fantastical stories every night before bed; delicious, dark, magical stories. She did the voices for all the characters, from the great booming giants to the tiny squeaky mice. Sidney sat in his pyjamas, absorbing it all in absolute wonder, his head dancing with tales that came to life, all the more so as his mother continued to converse with the characters long after the books had been put down.
His mother had many friends, most of whom were imaginary, and they would turn up unannounced in the tiny house that they shared. Sometimes she would chatter away to them as she scrubbed the floor, gossip with them as she hung clean socks on the washing line, or argue with them intensely while she did the washing up, angrily clunking the dishes in the sink. Other times, she would just stare out of the window in silence for hours on end. Sidney did not mind. He adored his eccentric mother.