This is Not About Me

By Janice Galloway


When her mother left her alcoholic father and set up home in a tiny attic room above a doctor’s surgery, Janice Galloway quickly learned how to keep quiet and stay out of the way. Her mother hadn’t expected or wanted another child and Galloway wasn’t allowed to forget that she was a burden. Her much older sister Cora, with her steady stream of boyfriends, her showy fashions, and erratic temperament, never failed to remind her of her insignificance. Galloway’s Scottish childhood is defined by the intimate details of her environment, where every family member looms close. With startling precision she remembers scenes of domestic life: her mother’s weekly round of washing, the sodden tweed dripping on the line; Cora putting on layers of make up for the Ayrshire night life; learning to write—and control the often rebellious letters; the living quality of her mother’s mangy old fur coat. In these cramped conditions, ignored by her elders, Galloway is a silent observer, carefully and keenly watching the people around her. As her rage grows, she begins to think for herself. Slowly, unexpectedly, she finds her voice. Out of the silent child emerges the girl who will be a writer.

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