Like most younger brothers, he was a pain in the ass. He would always break the things that you made out of Lego, reckoning that his inventions were more important than yours. The same with anything you made out of sand. I usually made houses, with landscaped gardens. He has no hesitation in bulldozing over my mansion with his toy tractor to make a field of sand to plough - 'real work' he reckoned.
In fairness, he was a great fella for dismantling anything mechanical and making something else out of it - Mac Gyver wouldn't have a look in. Fascinated by his entrepreneurship Granny Russell would watch him and say 'God bless his hands'.
Ever the farmer, there was a very memorable event where Rob and his cousin Anthony ran up the fields after my Dad when he was spreading slurry. Dad didn't see them and turned on the spreader. The pair landed at the back door, covered from head to toe in slurry, resembling the monster that appears in Julia Donaldson's 'No Room on the Broom'. Needless to say, they were stripped at the door and scrubbed clean.
Maybe that is where his aversion to water came from. The rest of us spent many happy hours paddling in a shallow river across from our house. Rob didn't like getting wet almost as much as he didn't like wearing shorts. The wee fecker liked throwing stone to splash the paddlers though.
Things didn't get much better when he went to secondary school. We could call these 'The Mullet Years'. Like many a young lad before him, his teenage 'do was not pretty ... I'd better confess that yours truly was his hair stylist. During The Mullet Years, de mammy started wearing aprons with a pocket to hide letters from the school principal from my Dad. That is not to say that my bro was illiterate - far from it. He was quite fond of essay writing. Indeed, he had a particular perchance for including a certain teacher in essays as a tragic heroine who sometimes came to a sad end.
Transport to school was never a problem for Rob. If he missed the school bus, he caught a lift on the Gypsum freight train and hopped off in the field behind the school. It was quite a dramatic entrance, as the railway track was overlooked by some of the classrooms. Is it any wonder de mammy turned grey ?
Her many rosaries/novenas/trips to Knock paid off and the boy did well in his Leaving Cert and began his studies in Tralee to become a (very successful) diesel mechanic. It was there that he met the lovely Denise Galvin . I first met her about 13 years ago in my flat on the North Circular Road, which was a half way house for anyone going to the airport/Heuston/hospital appointments/flat hunters/day out in the big smoke. I'd like to think that Rob brought Denise to meet me to get the seal of approval, but truth be told, there is a train from Heuston to Kerry and she needed to get home for Christmas.
In true mechanic style, he had wooed Denise with a note left with her books in the college library asking 'Ms 123 KY 92' to meet 'Mr 456 MH 93' for a drink in a local bar. Despite a few false starts, they finally got it together.
I reckoned the wee woman was a keeper when she charmed the pants off my Dad. A hardened Meath GAA supporter, JR had every reason to not like anyone from The Kingdom. What sealed it for me though, as to whether this girlfriend was for keeps or not, was the fact that Denise managed to Rob to wear shorts. Air on bare legs, OMG !!! Me Ma spent ten years trying to do that.
Two gorgeous kids later and they are sealing it all with rings tomorrow. I couldn't be more happy for them. Much love lil bro Robert Russell and Denise
I haven't forgiven you for this though, using your sis to flog Russell Fastraxx. And not even a decent photo either !! You are still a pain in the ass
I wrote this on the eve of my brother's wedding on the May Bank Holiday weekend. In typical Russell fashion, our way of showing affection to each other is slagging, messing and taking the mickey. We don't do 'I love you' and sentimental stuff like that. You might get a hug, or a punch in the arm if you are lucky.
But on the day of my brother Robert's wedding, I could clearly see that he really loves the gal he married. Proper grown up stuff too. This photo says it all. I'm made up for you guys. Happy ever after, methinks. Now enough of the emotional stuff. Back to the slagging.