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April 4, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Kate Follows Celia – An Account of Celia’s Childhood

Celia Wade-Brown is the subject of this column and the subject of this issue of Salient is childhood. What better way to combine the two than to write about Celia’s childhood.
But I wanted to know more than what I could find and the best way to do this was to write a fictional story about Celia’s childhood, based on some facts.

Celia was born into a poor family in Paddington, London, to parents Eliza Wade and Liam Brown. Their council flat overlooked the train line, and young Celia loved the rattling trains. With Eliza and Liam having six other children (Celia was the middle child), bills were always hard to pay. Celia and her brothers and sisters, in an effort to help, had a series of circus tricks they acted out at Paddington Train Station. Celia’s specialty was the ‘fattest child’ sideshow. The Wade-Brown children spent holidays at their Nonna’s place in the country, playing in the garden and getting in the way.

Mr Brown and Mrs Wade (atheists, vowing never to marry), wanted the best for their children, but times were tough, winters were cold. When they heard of job opportunities for skilled arboriculturists in Berkshire, they moved at once. Here, Celia proved herself to be exceedingly smart and gained a scholarship to grammar school. She has since scorned this grammar school, calling it ‘monocultural’. At the time though, she flourished under these expectations and performed particularly well in the sciences and maths. Much to the horror of her siblings, she insisted on taking violin lessons.

In fact, Celia’s brothers and sisters very much resented Celia since the big move, because of her scholarship and success. They expressed this envy by tormenting her for being fat and for having ginger hair—the only one in her immediate family to have either of these traits. Eliza and Liam were so busy working, moving up the ranks of arboriculture and looking after all seven children. Quite the outcast, the teasing continued throughout her time at home and was the main reason she took a gap year after school—to leave her family behind. Celia travelled to Ghana, working at a girls’ school during the week and travelling and partying in the weekend.

Eventually, Celia had to return to England, where she studied at university. Back in the motherland, Celia continued to be the subject of fat-bashing and ginger-teasing by her siblings and new classmates. Finishing her degree, Celia vowed to leave forever and transform herself. This is where Celia ended up in New Zealand, remarried to ensure she cut all ties and set about her transformation. She took up cycling to work, walked the city green belt, kayaked the harbour and was no longer fat. Yet nothing could be done about her ginger locks, which remain resistant to bleach and dye to this day.

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