By Ciaran O'Driscoll
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Extra resources for A Runner Among Falling Leaves: A Story of Childhood
I thought an orbit was a hole in a kind of crust up above the earth, that sealed in earth and sky from outer space. Rockets and spaceships had to aim at these holes or else they wouldn’t get out. I don’t know how I reconciled 51 ODriscoll_Part1 51 15/10/01, 10:49 am this idea with the fact that the moon and sun, which I knew to be in outer space, could be plainly seen. Looking at a photograph of a lunar crater in The National Geographic, I decided that it must be a hole in some kind of crust up above the sky; and having read a paragraph underneath the picture, which mentioned the word orbit, I concluded that the word was the name for this kind of hole.
Helpless parents have written about how they had to suffer in silence, watching their children suffer and unable 33 ODriscoll_Part1 33 15/10/01, 10:49 am to do anything about it. A child beaten because a labouring man couldn’t provide her with two pence in mid-week for a supposedly voluntary elocution class; a child ostracised by his teacher for being out of school for a week because of illness. The parents helpless because they have exhausted all recourse and cannot find another school within walking distance.
But in a way she was a philosopher, with an understanding of cause and effect far superior to that of my father and all the others in the social strata above her. But the children whose mental and physical injuries are described in the pamphlet were perhaps, comparatively speaking, lucky. The fact that a letter was sent to the Schoolchildren’s Protection Organization meant that their parents, or some relative or adult friend, sympathized with them. There was an adult in their lives who validated their sense of wrong.