Tuesday July 01, 2008
People, Through the Eyes of a Fish
. . . or some other equally alienistic title.
I have just been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, which brings with it mixed feelings, but all faint ones - a little sadness, for all the years (especially in childhood) that could have been easier had anyone known or figured it out; a little hope, that things may be easier now; a little relief, because it explains a lot that I didn't know or understand about myself*; and finally, a feeling I cannot describe, one that comes with knowing for certain now that lots (lots**) of things people do and think will never make sense to me, that it's not just a matter of growing up. I'm not sure what to think of that. But it's ok.
I have not been here for a long time . . . I alienated myself from the internet. I forget why. Now I have no computer anyway. But I hope everyone is well, and send my love. All, take care and look after those you love. Tell them why they matter while you can. Because you can. Isn't that remarkable? We're all here.
*For instance, the fact that I look at people's mouths rather than their eyes when they talk to me, that I can only wear cotton as most other material on my skin feels terrible, the fact that I will jump without question at any loud noise, am scared of the hoover, refuse outright to eat anything of a colour I consider a bit dodgy, and can 'never see anyone else's point of view'.
**To name but a few . . . vanity, smoking, self harm, buying a wig, wearing make-up, etc. Willingly being in the company of more than one person at a time. Getting drunk. Why the sound of most women singing is at all enjoyable. These things make no sense to me. They never have.
P.s. I met Nick Cave, and he signed my arm, and I got it tattooed. I smile when I look at it :)xXx
Monday September 17, 2007
The frustration it renders me hateful: a rant
( . . . in the hope Iíll feel better).
There are very few things that genuinely make me angry, but people smoking is one of them. Itís just so insanely, jaw-droppingly selfish Ė what other words are there for it? It really makes me want to cry, itís so frustrating to think that these people imagine itís perfectly reasonable or excusable to firstly, hurt and damage whoever has to live around them with their disgusting smoke and secondly, to knowingly and willingly hurt themselves, when they all have people who love them and will actually care that this moronic habit could and probably will kill them. Itís not only that, but how can they do that to themselves, take the chance of making themselves ill so that they will take up time and space and resources in hospitals that could be used for people who deserve them, who at least made the effort to look after themselves, who respected and were grateful for the fact that they had a body that worked, and a mind to match, and who got ill through no fault of their own? Itís horrible, itís everywhere Ė all the shops seem to sell the means for people to do this to themselves, and do they care, what they are helping people do by selling these things? Do the companies who make them feel in the slightest bit guilty about what they are helping easily led people to do? No: like too many, theyíre greedy, theyíre stupid, they only care about their own gain and as long as they can make as much money as possible from equally greedy and stupid people theyíre couldnít care less what and how much they destroy along the way.
People who smoke seem to me as bad as people who eat meat, and today even worse because Iím so full of frustration and intense sadness for all the people who are ill, whether through breathing in other peopleís smoke or their own, for the money people persistently spend on being so indescribably selfish and arrogant when there are people who canít even afford food and things they actually need to survive, for the health which people donít appreciate and they waste. Are they so-self absorbed that they canít see this, that they donít know what theyíre doing? Donít they hate themselves for this, when they know that children and babies all over the place Ė not just around them, but everywhere, are being made ill, sometimes even fatally, by the pollution coming out of their smug, stupid, self-satisfied mouths however many times a day they undeservedly have the money to do this? They should be truly sorry and ashamed of themselves. If it was up to me Iíd put them all in a massive cage and leave them on an island with nothing but the vile-smelling clothes on their backs to fend for themselves until they were less self-centered, until they had learned and had some idea of how lucky they are and what actually matters. Though it wouldnít surprise me whatsoever if they all just ate each other instead.
People can be so massively disappointing and ugly that I just donít know how to reconcile being one at times.
Unseasonable grievances, but they blacken me. There are perhaps worse things, but today I am angry about this, because sometimes it feels like itís everywhere. I want to run, I want to go back to a house in Scotland that my parents once took me to when I was younger. It was beautiful, and I forgot these things that stick in me like thorns when I was there. It was large and silent, and it was surrounded in all directions by cloud-skimmed hills and purple moors. It was a place of wild rain at night, of black heather and cries from unnamed creatures I would never see, only hear their echoing between the parameters of the sharp, clean, frozen sky. There were no people to make me scared of myself, there were no shops to frustrate me, no adverts to make me grimace and no television to depress me. There was nothing to question, nothing to make me jump. There was only a quiet, calming circadian rhythm that resounded with clarity rather than sorrow for things about which I can do nothing, and that lapped at the edges of sanity with the warm touch of things to be learnt, not things to fear. It spoke to me, and from the size of its voice, everywhere there, and the strength of its hand, I knew that I was as infinitely small as grief and joy are immense, that eventually, one could be as free from fear and pressure there as the earth is beautiful Ė and it is, if one can escape the noise that drowns out the voice that says so. I like feeling small in that sense. It scares me a little, but it comforts me somehow, how huge trees are, how the wind can make them thrash in their turn, just how much grass and air there is, the height and speed of clouds, the silence of night, and the sheer depth of the sea. These things all make me feel indescribably fragile. When it is overcast, and birds and trees fight against the wind, I am just thin skin stretched over bone, and the sound of my heart is unheard above the roar of the world turning. My blood would stain grass, water or snow like anyone and everyone elseís, and if it did, these things would go on, as silently and inexorably as they always have done. I love that, somehow it makes me feel safe - but itís the same thing that terrifies me for others.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
But I do feel a little better :).
Wednesday September 05, 2007
Miffy say . . .
". . . sshhhh . . . things will be ok."
Tuesday September 04, 2007
Subject . . . there isn't one . . .
. . . but it's try my best to concentrate on writing to you, or ring a hospital because I'm scared to be alone with myself and I don't want to do that, I don't want mum to know I feel like this, she doesn't deserve that, and I'd feel so ashamed of upsetting her, I'm trying not to move, and to just write to you until I'm too exhausted to even cry, and apart from mum you're the only person I trust and feel vaguely close to when writing, or at all, it has always been like that. Thankyou for ever reading what I write. it doesn't sound like me and I hate admitting to feeling like this and so far haven't, but I'm scared of myself sometimes, I just feel worse and worse, and I want someone to talk to so badly but mum's asleep, she gets so tired and she has work in the morning, I don't want to worry her anymore, and anyway even if there was anyone I can't talk, not as I'd like to. All I can do is cry, and I just feel indescribably awful, I can't sleep, I feel sick when I try to eat, my head and face ache and I don't even know what I'm trying to say now. I just don't know what to do about anything anymore, since I was at university I'm just not the same - something happened to me, I can't think how else to describe it, it feels like a part of my brain was shut off and I can still only just remember what it was like to have it there, and so I feel its loss, the space it left reminds me it's there constantly, because I know I shouldn't be left so cold. Everyday things used to actually make me feel, well, happy sometimes - or at least free of whatever holds me right now - I used to go running, and not cry at the song I was listening to, my legs wouldn't ache, I wasn't so tired, and everything around me would feel meaningful and affirming somehow, despite everything - the things about me felt like they had a purpose, the burned-out shell of summer would rest like something on the landscape, like a vessel for euphoria, and I would feel so lucky to have arteries and skin and blood that worked. Now I just always feel so dulled and drained, like I'm never going to be the same person again, and I know I am incredibly lucky, and thankfulness will never waste away, but it is just the answer to a calculation: there is no emotion to come with it. Or rather, a lot of what used to bring on the emotion has lost its touch, and that scares me, because it always felt like something to cling to. Maybe I just grew up, maybe it is just the next step in not getting inexplicably excited about Christmas and the fact that it is Friday, but is it supposed to be like this? Is this what being an adult is like? It's hard to think that that gratitude is just something childish - if I'd known I would have paid more attention. Maybe that's exactly why I shouldn't have known. The sorrow of imminent loss lays waste to what should be appreciated. It's a lot like life, at times. A feeling that does often come is sorrow, and unfairness and guilt for those who aren't lucky, who don't have limbs and things that work, who don't have the things I do - and not just, I don't think, because I do have them and for some stupid reason seem to have lost the power to do much with them, though I do loathe myself for that on nights like these. It's something insurmountable and with infinite triggers in all directions: a moth trapped in a bus is a symbol for a family who lost someone at sea, someone walking home alone and wondering how exactly to tell their wife they were just diagnosed with a brain tumour, a blind man who just gets on with it and never complains, an octopus who died on the sand, unable to reach the waves and whose brain was a mass of impulse and memory to the last flicker. At times like these everything magnifies strength and the sadness of its necessity, and it's sometimes exhausting to go out, or to stay in. Life is colossally sad, and it sounds childish to ask just what one can say to the fact that everyone you know will die, and ultimately there is no answer. I just think of the people I love, and just those who are loved by anyone at all, and the answer is as raw in its blankness as gunshot and grief. It's a kick when I'm down, it leaves me with no energy sometimes, but still I'm so jumpy, because what was once there has been twisted into something that, when I feel like this, makes me not want to leave the room because I'm scared of the things I imagine, I know they're not there and never were but they rush past like trains and I prickle with sweat and the memory of what it was like to be small and in the company of ... this. I need the bathroom, but I can't go right now, because of things that can only be dreamed. There are some things that dreams never seem to feature - like seasons, like laughter. The air at this time of year feels as if it is just arrived, or that the things in it have just arrived. Something is new, and the light at this time of year spindles legs and shadows the corners of lips in a way that makes you feel in awe of every crack, line and hair follicle. They are things that the people themselves aren't aware of, and like the kindness that some people have and some just don't, they ride the crest of different lights and times, only to glimmer every so often, and remind me that some things never go away, we are just dragged from and around them by the things that take us in hand and mind and show us them from different angles - and maybe I've seen kindness from both sides. I think we all do at some point.
Tomorrow will be like any other, and already the street is that ominous, cold grey of early day now; the colour that will later pale into the quietly garish, yet oddly honeyed tones of midday sun on tarmac and leaves, the colour of shame on waking - shame that half the day has passed in sleep, the shame of existence, on some days. I dread that, I dread the shame of my own birth and the small failures that filter through its clumsy efforts like krill, but most of all I dread the passing of time. I dread the one inevitability I have access to. I take comfort in being as absurd as anyone and everyone else. My head is hollow and acheing and my throat raw enough now that I feel able to trust myself to move, and to fall away with nothing in my mind but the dull noise left in the wake and void of feeling as I did when I began to write, three and a half hours ago. Thankyou to anyone who reads this, it helps, oddly, to know that people do. Take care, look after those you love, because they are inexpressibly precious (you don't need to be told) . . . and enjoy every sandwich, as a much-missed man once said.
Wednesday September 13, 2006
I do return to my old village, every so often, and so I did . . . I donít know why, because invariably the bad things come flooding back, not the good ones. Passing by my primary school, I went in to see my old teacher, only to learn that she had died two years ago, about eight months after I last saw her. She was always incredibly kind to me when nobody else was, and she would let me stay indoors at break-times and help her tidy the classroom because I was being bullied anywhere else. And she would tell my parents on parents evenings that they should be very proud of me, and whilst I couldnít and canít see any reason why that should have been so (and nor could they, I shouldnĎt think), the fact that she would say it meant an awful lot. I wasnít in any way a memorable child, or even one that warranted any comment, but occasionally she made me forget that, which was and is invaluable.
I donít know where these innate assumptions that some things were always there and always will be come from, but sometimes they are yanked away, leaving nothing but shock and the naked realisation that we should say what we mean and what we want to be heard. While we have the time to do it.
Thankyou, Mrs. Rutland, wherever you are and if you somehow know (and I like to think you do) . . . infancy would not have even been bearable without you - Iím really going to miss you - and Iím sorry I didnít say so sooner. Thankyou.
(It has as much tune as I have talent at composing ditties, but I did mean it).
Monday September 11, 2006
"Blah, blah, blah, blah . . ."
If you could be an underwater creature, what would you want to be?
A sea cucumber. Nobody suspects the sea cucumber.
If you had to sell your soul for one thing, what would it be for?:
Happiness and safety for those without whom my soul would have fled long ago.
If you could create your own documentary, what would it be about?:
I could do that if I wanted. Whether or not anyone would really watch it is another thing entirely . . . But it would be about peopleís faces. I think. I find faces fascinating.
If you could only save one picture, which one would you save?:
I canít decide that, as you know very well.
If you could describe the perfect body, how would you describe it?:
What a defeatist question . . . I could easily do that if I didnít think it was a ridiculous concept. All bodies are perfect to somebody. They just need to be told so more often.
What perfume are you wearing?:
Disgruntlement, by Calvin Klein.
If you could eliminate one habit of yours, what would it be?:
Worrying about things about which I cannot do a solitary jot.
If you could throw a party, what theme would you give it and who would come?:
It would be Tim Burton themed and I would invite Char Boy and Edward Scissorhands. But not Toxic Boy, he ruins everything.
If you could create any one thing, no matter how expensive, what would it be?:
I donít really understand the question . . .I seem to be expected to say a diamond-studded helicopter or something. Is it a very common condition, this yearning to create something very expensive?
If you could make a new cereal, what would it taste like?:
Again, I could make cereal if I really wanted to . . . And I imagine it would taste hideous, because I have no idea how to make cereal.
If you could name the most important event of your life, what would it be?:
Everything so far seems to pivot around the fact I was born. Or so I imagine. I probably just appeared in a building site one day. (And the Lord said there shall be a child of surpassing density and ineptitude - and Lo! It was done.)
If you had to torture someone, what would be your method of torture?:
I think Iíd just sit and look at them. That would be enough.
If you were given a boat today, what would you name it?:
Sorrow. It would have black sails and lots of wind chimes just to annoy everyone within a four mile radius.
If you could re-colour something, what would you re-colour?:
If you didn't have to work, what would you do?:
Re-colour my aura.
Name the five senses:
Love, mild disappointment, shock, ineptitude and hunger. In that order.
If you could tell your boss any one thing, would would you say?:
I have no boss. You can iron my shirt, but not my soul . . . And so forth.
If you could name the best song ever made, what would you pick?:
I could very easily name Ďthe best song ever madeí, but Iím not going to because there isnít one. (ĎCaptain Jackí by DDR?)
If it was possible, would you choose to be blind for a day?:
No. Why would anyone actively choose to be blind for a day? What would that achieve?
What about deaf?:
No! Stop it, stop it.
If you could have one dream that you've had come to life, what would it be?:
I spend far too much time asleep to answer that fairly . . .
If you could give your parents one gift, what would you give them?:
My continued absence. Failing this (and I am) health for my mother and sanity for my father.
If you could choose the best instrument, what would you pick?:
I can, so I will: Ye Bagpipes. Or possibly the kazoo.
If you could be given any one talent, what would you want?:
The ability to switch off my mind, for the little capacity it has. Aaah, but no - it constantly churns, crushes and rearranges its contents, like a mental stomach. Oh, also I would quite like to be able to levitate people very slowly when they say something awful, just to show them that things arenít quite as they think them to be. Just very gently, and just enough to scare them.
If you died right now, what would be the first thing you'd want to see?:
The rocks below (la de da, la de da . . . )
If you could wear only one colour for the rest of your life, what would it be:
Black. (And whoís stopping me?)
If you could have one mate or many, would you choose the one or the many?:
Ah, but in the case of the many, would they really be Ďmatesí, now really?
If you could have written any one song, which one would it be?:
ĎThe Forgotten Maní by Burt Bacharach.
If you could be on any TV show, which one would you want to be on?:
Super Happy Magic Family Wish Show . . As hosted by Morrissey.
If you could own any one business, what would you want to own?:
One that sells really unsightly and disappointing food items in expensive and promising packaging. It wouldnít last long, but it would be worth it.
If you could bathe in anyone's dirty bathwater, who's would it be?:
I wouldnít call it Ďdirtyí in this case. More . . . infused.
If you could un-know any one thing you currently know, what would it be?:
Oh, so very, very many things. For instance, how After Eight mints are actually made.
Would you have a face-lift?:
Certainly not. I donít know how people can bring themselves to care about a few wrinkles and so forth when so many good people have died far earlier than they deserved and never even got the chance to whinge about such paltry things. Mortality is beauty, and beauty is the only immortal thing worth remembering. And it canít just be summoned with money at the hands of a surgeon.
If you had to name your single worst fear, what would it be?:
Iím scared for other people . . . but not for me. Rabbits intimidate me -does that count?
If you could know how you are going to die, would you want to know?:
I know how Iím going to die. Why do you think I always look so nervous around penny farthings?
What do men want?:
I should imagine it depends upon the gentleman in question. The one next door wants some tea, because I just heard him say so through the wall. My father wants a new bath robe, and meanwhile my friend wants to be a different person entirely. (Some men are bigger than others).
What do women want?:
Again . . . (women and men are a lot alike, you know. Hasn't anyone noticed?)
If you could be the king of something, what would it be?:
Wishful thinking? Too late . . . If I could be the lord of something Iíd be the Lord of the Dance, purely because I canít dance whatsoever and it would be a huge disappointment and everyone would throw vegetables at me and then leave.
If you could spend a million dollars at any one store, where would it be?:
If I was ever on the point of spending a million dollars at any store, it would be time for a long, hard think. And not regarding which store, either.
If you had to die in a natural disaster, which one would you choose?:
If you could have been the actor/actress in any movie, what would you pick?:
Mothra!, so I could say ďO My God, itís a giant moth.Ē
If you could be invisible for one hour, where would you do?:
Drape myself in flowers and prance about peopleís gardens.
If you had to listen to a single song today 100 times, what song would it be?:
Something I didnít much like to begin with - then, by the end of the day, I might do.
If you could initiate a new charity, what would be it's purpose?:
I think all the charities we need exist, they just need more money.
Who is the luckiest person in the world?
If you could ask anyone any one question, who and what would you ask?:
I donít know . . . I tend to find things out myself. What I would like to do is put a pair of fake ears and a tail on a small bear, and take it out for a walk, to see if anyone noticed it was actually a bear.
(ďThatís a bear!Ē
ďIt is - look! Its tail just fell off.Ē
ďI do not know of what you speak.Ē)
Wednesday August 09, 2006
Find me, and nothing more
Today, ostensibly on my way to buy bread, I found a hedgehog lying gasping on our lawn. I manoeuvred him (as usual, I canít actually tell, I just assume itís a Ďheí because I prefer to) into a box with a ladle, took him into the kitchen, and put a saucer of water in for him. He put his nose in it, blew a bubble and then shuffled into the corner with his head tucked in and sulked. Needless to say, the bread was never bought, though I have discovered that he likes dried apricots (NOT raisins, under any circumstances), small bits of Quorn, going to sleep on a pile of lavender springs (these being my rather feeble attempt to make the cardboard box less depressing), having Life Is A Pigsty sung to him very softly, and being gently stroked on the head with a forefinger. This causes him to go to sleep. All would be quite well, but I gave him a bath in the kitchen sink to try and remove what I thought was muck clogged between his spines. It came off, but the spines in that area fell off with it, and the skin underneath seems infected. He seemed to be in no pain and to actually rather enjoy being bathed, but I will take him to the vet tomorrow, because having a big bald patch canít be very pleasant. He does, though, seem much better than he did when I found him, though I never learn: I carefully fill tiny saucers full of the desired foodstuffs and water, and place them in a row where he can see them. I return half an hour later to find that he has trodden on each in turn and upset the water all over his bed:
(The small pink cat was another effort to brighten the place up, but it didnít really work because he later bit her on the ear, dragged her into the water dish, and left her for dead).
Sadly, not everything everywhere is quite so tranquil. My fatherís Ďbossí (whom we shall refer to as Sandy, because I've always thought he looks exactly like a Sandy) intends to sue my father for having burnt his thumb with malice, no less, by handing him a scalding hot tray on purpose. My fatherís response has been to fling himself from his desk chair onto the floor with a dreadful cry and claim that the castor had snapped off, a direct result of Sandyís negligence and unwillingness to buy decent equipment. I canít even remember what they were arguing about in the first place now.
Monday August 07, 2006
No is always easier than Yes
Ten minutes after he had arrived home on Friday evening, my father received a phone call from the dental surgery at which he works, and has done for the past nine years. It was the manager, who was apparently disgusted by the fact that my father had left some drips of water on the floor, and had escaped without cleaning them up. ďAnd itís not just me,Ē he continued in the tones of a human wasp, audible down the phone even in the next room, ďIíve had the other staff in as well and they all agree with me. Itís bang out of order.Ē Never one for sophistry, my fatherís response was to throw the phone into the corner, and steam back down to the surgery that very instant to hand in his notice. Still, people are constantly wrecking their teeth one way or another: Iím sure heíll find somewhere else to work. The whole thing is only really noteworthy and quite curious with it because it probably would not even have happened had my mother not been prevented from talking him out of being so impulsive by the greasy, all-pervading aftermath my sisterís nauseating antics with a chicken carcass. Not content with putting galline cadaver #1 into the microwave that morning for 42 minutes straight in an attempt to defrost it, she then left it there all day, black of limb and blistered of skin, to fester before coming to terms with the fact that I would not under any circumstances remove it for her, and on returning from the hurried purchase of already Ďcookedí cadaver #2 ( an enterprise designed to distract my mother from the morningís debacle, and another thing of which I washed my hands entirely) dropped it all over the floor. So: the house smells of microwaved corpse, the kitchen floor is like an ice rink, I canít go in there because the idea of encountering something I donít want to with my foot makes me ill, and my father suddenly has a lot of time on his hands. It is very curious and oddly liberating, in ways that I cannot really articulate, to think that this may not be the case did they not insist on eating chicken, or if Grace could operate the microwave, or even - simplest of all - had she not cascaded fluids of unmentionable origin all over the floor.
More happily, all the beer had gone off at where I work. (It may not sound very happy, but it was because it adds variety). This was only found to be the case after a great many had been served, resulting in en masse mutiny and decampment of our usual customers to the bar downstairs, where the taps are shinier and there are no annoying Christmas decorations as festooned all over the place by me because I was quite bored. The upshot of all of this is that we sold not a singular pie (again!) and management are giving serious thought to confiscating our pie oven. They canít do that: people wonít be able to complain because the chocolate bars are all melted from sitting on the top of it. Itís not very public spirited of me, but really work is only engaging when it goes awry. I have no future - other than as a sabotager of all that is wholesome and decent. And who would pay anyone for that?
Tuesday July 18, 2006
You know I couldn't last
On Friday I was sacked from a telesales job for achieving the record breakingly useless sum of two appointments out of three thousand and eighty-seven phonecalls. One of these fell through when it transpired that the man I had spoken to had somehow gotten the impression that I was selling windows, which I wasnít. I could blame it all on the fact that I had strained my vocal chords (theyĎre just not used to being used) and caught bronchitis AND a throat infection within the first week, but Iím not going to. I was, in a word, Dreadful. This figure would perhaps not have been quite so bad in itself - just a tad pathetic - had I not repeatedly gotten into daft arguments with the people I was ringing, Iím not sorry at all - I rather resent being told by a man who owns a dinghy hire that Iím something unrepeatable for wasting his time with my feeble job. ďWell, we canít all hire out dinghys, now can we, sir?Ē didnít help, and he rang up the manager and complained. Really, though - who hires dinghys anyway? It's not as if they're 'fun'. A yacht I could understand, but surely the whole point of dinghys is that they are only used when the boat one actually wanted to be seen in has sunk? The downcast and kindly man who trained us was not, as I had originally thought, the manager: it turns out he is just kept in a cupboard and brought out when there are new recruits to train, and also when there are not-so-new ones to extract. Nor were we selling kettles, as I had originally been led to believe - that was just a Ďpractice scriptí, and only used in the first place because no-one would ever in a month of Sundays agree to buy a kettle, sight unseen, over the telephone. The actual manager was never without either a cigar or an oversized sandwich (quite often he wielded both at once), and was quite driven and charmless. Like people sometimes seem to, he assumed I was Polish, and seemed to think I was making it up when I said I actually wasnĎt.
On my last afternoon, the list of numbers I was given held the data for the owner of an antique shop in Birmingham. After having telephoned the business, we were required to record, in our own words, their response to our demand to appear at the premises for an assessment of their telephone bill in the box next to their name. Next to this one, someone had written ídid not understand, and started to cryí. Iím sure he didnít really, but I was tempted to ring up just to ask how he was. I didnít, because he wouldnít have liked it - the fact that one has never met a person Ďin the fleshí as it were, somehow makes the fact that one would care instantly very suspicious. Of all of the saddening aspects that emerge from such a job, that was the most upsetting. Added to which, the fact that I sounded like a chain smoker choking on sawdust would not have helped matters.
Because I had nothing else to do yesterday, I watched The Wicker Man, and failed to understand quite why it is said to be so frightening - how could it be when Christopher Lee looks as if he is about to collapse giggling throughout it? And quite rightly so - I would laugh as well if I were made to wear this:
Wednesday July 05, 2006
Something went wrong, can't be to blame . . .
Today it became apparent, even to me, that my parents, on their return, will be absolutely outraged at the state of the garden if we donít do something about it. Despite the fact that our garden is at best one of the very worst for streets about, they continue to be insistent that the grass is cut every two weeks. This only exposes the terrible bald lumps and divots all over the thing, especially when I operate the lawnmower - which I did today, out of necessity. It was to little effect, although the churned turf in the centre now nicely matches the crater where my father spent five sweaty hours hauling out a perfectly happy rose bush by the roots with a trowel and a length of twine with the intention of replacing it with a clematis. Predictably, he never did, and now we have a barren waste land of stumps and forbidding dry soil, with the odd thistle. However, to effect all of this, I had to visit my grandparents, to borrow their lawnmower, because ours is just a tardis with blades on it. I do love visiting my grandparents:
Gran: Iím pig sick of that Elsie*. Do you know what she did yesteray? She threatened me, you know! Said sheís had jujitsu lessons. I was only trying to give her her eardrops. I wouldnít care, sheís 93 next month. And I donít know what Iím going to get her - she never eats them York Fruits**, she just puts them under the stairs. I saw them. She must have thirty boxes under there. Are you listening to me, Isiah Johnson?
(Isiah Johnson is not listening one little bit, but passionately regaling to his three female granddaughters with a diatribe on the innumerable shortcomings of our sex).
Grandad (unbuttoned of shirt, with a mouth full of pickled onion, waggling a fork): Women, without exception, talk a lot of bloody rubbish. If you want something made a hash of, get a woman to do it! Her, her there (here, he indicates his wife with that sceptre of judgement, the cheese-encrusted fork), she dunted the car into a paint wagon yesterday!
I: What did the painter say?
Grandad: Intrigued you that, has it? Well, she didnít stay, to find out, did she? She came straight home, and says to me, she says, Isy, Iíve dunted the car. I says, woman, youíre a bloody waste of space.
Gran (winking at us): Youíve got a bit of cheese stuck to your face. Itís like eating your tea with Tarzan.***
Grandad (smearing it across his cheek): Thank-you, dear. Our Donna, when she was a girl, when she used to give me cheek, I used to tell her, I used to say ĎGet up them bloody stairs, or Iíll bite yer lugs off!í (Here he chews meditatively, as if lost in the memory). Gladys, this bread is like the sole of me shoe. You wouldnít know a good bit of bread from your bloody foot, do you know that?
Later on, sitting in the subdued quiet of a company of blood relatives who have little left to say to each other and less desire to think of anything, my Grandmother looks across at my Grandfather, who is in a be-slippered, contented heap in his armchair, gazing fondly at the carpet. With calculated and deliberate venom and the light of the electric fire catching in her eyes, she folds up her magazine, turns to him and says:
ďJust look at the state of you.Ē
And I think that says it all really.
*It may be just as well to explain who Elsie is. Elsie is A cantankerous one-time friend of my grandmothers whose reason long since mouldered, along with her flat, clothing and ability to look after herself. Whilst she can just about totter to the shops to purchase her weekly 5 litres of ice cream, three tins of corned beef and some packets of Smash instant mashed potato, it has fallen largely to my grandparents as the only people in the street she hasnít absolutely alienated to look after her. Every so often she will become inebriated on sherry, and wobble over the street to knock at the door and shower whoever answers it with abuse.
**These seem to be a sort of Liqueur filled fruit pastille, in an upmarket box. I have never known anybody purchase them except my grandmother, who, despite much consternation over what to buy Elsie every year, always turns to them as a last resort.
***Iím still quite unsure as to what she meant by that - perhaps a reference to his shirt being undone rather than the bit of cheese.