Friends

21 January 2020

DISCIPLINE OR WHAT?

I blogged this true story a very long time ago, some friends might remember it. I used it as a talking piece when I was in the Women's Institute and, would you believe it, they all laughed. So did I, of course, it is easy to laugh when many years have passed. Anyway, here  it is again. Go on, have a giggle but only if you didn;t have a mother like mine!


A BRIEF  GLIMPSE OF CHILDHOOD
ENTITLED
"DISCIPLINE OR WHAT?"


For amusement I have decided to relate four incidents from the first eight years of my childhood. Though distressing ordeals at the time I now regard them as useful subjects for short discourses.

My first memory was of being abandoned, left entirely alone for what seemed like hours, a small toddler sitting on a baby's pot. It was not funny. My incompetent mother had gone out, probably for a matter of minutes but long enough for the enamel chamber pot to make an impression on me. I learned at a tender age not trust Mom’s parenting skills.

Did you have occasions when you wanted to disown your mother? Judging by the nodding heads in the front row I see you did. Well, let me relate an episode which still makes me cringe.

The scene was a crowded double-decker bus. We were sitting in the seat behind the driver, whose interior window was open. My tactless mother had suspected that the morning ritual of scrubbing teeth had been overlooked. Her voice was shrill when she demanded to know had they been cleaned.

The driver laughed.

I answered in the affirmative, speaking in a deep whisper, praying other passengers had not overheard.

'Let me have a look,' Mother said.

More sniggers issued from the driver's cab.

A man called from behind, 'Go on, kid, open wide.'

Believe me, I could have curled up and died.

In strident tones Mother persevered with her persecuting performance, jabbing my arm and instructing me to do as the man said.

A hearty guffaw sailed through the driver's window.

(Your chuckles remind me of those which reeled from seat to seat, upstairs as well as down.)

There was nothing for it, I was compelled to put my teeth on public display.

'I knew it!' Mother cried as she inspected each tooth.

Sinking them in her neck would have been unkind considering they were thick with plaque and decorated with remnants of the barley sugar I crunched at the bus stop. But Mother was quite decent about the indiscretion. She didn't hit me until we alighted from the bus.

A third circumstance concerns the fruit which Mother confined to a cut-glass bowl on the dining room table in a room overlooking the road. It was for display purposes only. The room was out of bounds but when Mother was out I would sneak in and pinch an apple or a pear, convinced that she would never know. One mad, mouthwatering moment I dared to steal a juicy red apple at a time too close to Mother's home-coming, lifting the fruit just as she passed the window. I was caught red-handed. What could I do? Where could I run to? Too late to contemplate suicide, I prepared for a beating. And my appetite for apples was destroyed.

I wonder if all children are as apprehensive of their mothers as I was. Mine scared me. She would wallop me for no reason. I daresay there were motives; if there were it didn't occur to her to disclose them.

I recall the time I came home from school bursting to spend a penny and dashing straight to the outside loo. During the process of unburdening, my ankles graced by navy-­blue knickers, my fingers pursuing the elusive toilet roll, the door shot inwards. Without a word Mother reached out and slapped my face, then closed the door and returned to the kitchen. She had been so angry that she couldn’t wait to dole out my punishment. I didn't challenge it. I knew when to keep my mouth shut. And until the end of my residence in that house I made sure to slide the bolt on the outside privy door.

Thank goodness parental attitudes have changed.

Thank you for listening.

19 January 2020

THIS AND THAT IS HERE AGAIN



1.  I wish I could stay awake all night and watch Charlie doing whatever cats do on dark nights. When I see him in the morning, he is ready for a long sleep. He jumps on my bed and snuggles up, then goes into a make-believe slumber. He thinks I don’t know its food he’s after.

2. For several months I have walked with the aid of a wooden cane that disappears when I put it down. Okay, I know, it’s the memory at fault. I spend hours looking for the damn thing. I traipse all the rooms in my hunt for it. Most times I feel anger, but at other times I feel tears forming. In the end I decide to forget it and, yes, you’ve got it…. that’s when I see the damn thing staring at me. It doesn’t happen when I use a (colourful) metal cane so what is it with the wooden one?

3. The off-job boy has left school and started work. Odd jobs now have to be done by me. However, he rang the other day and said he would pop in. Ooooh!

4. Personal hate: workmen who say they will come to do a job but don’t turn up.

5. Why can I type at speed without errors when I don’t look at the keyboard, but one glance at it has me searching for the right keys.

6. I don’t miss cooking at all but love the ready prepared food delivered from the local farm. All I have to do is heat it in the oven. Christmas dinner was lovely.

7. Back to the back and a discovery: using the colourful metal cane has reduced the pain in my back. Surely that can’t be my imagination?!

8. Reading through this I saw a computer message that said: when writing ‘He thinks I don’t know it’s food he’s after’ I should change ‘it’s’ to ‘its’. I always thought it’s was an abbreviation for it is. Guess it serves me right for using slovenly phraseology. .

9. Had to laugh when the milkman dropped two bottles of milk on the footpath. Only I could see the funny side of it whilst watching him clear up the mess!

10. Busy week ahead…. Paediatrician: I can’t wait for him to get here, visits by friend who keeps an eye on me  twice a week (more on that another time), grocery delivery, window cleaner, all on separate days. Thank goodness the gardener only comes when winter disappears.

14 January 2020

SURPRISING REVELATION




The day was bright and sunny when Grandma Charlotte told me about her infidelity. She was dressed in a lavender tweed skirt and very feminine pink mohair jumper. She dressed well, kept her small frame neat and tidy, never letting age dictate her attire. As she spoke, she continuously stroked the deep grey wave that curved from front to back of her small head.

We were seated on this same iron bench overlooking the lake, a place we frequented as often as we could. Swans glided past, babies in tow and followed by a single female mallard. Gran said she thought it must be ladies day and giggled at her observation. Gran giggled a lot, especially when she was nervous. At first, I thought she was imagining things but her tale was too realistic to be dreamed up.

It happened when Grandfather Tom was at war. It was a long war and she’d been lonely without him. Not that she admitted it to anyone. I suppose she missed her Mom and Dad and all of her seven siblings. I know what it’s like to miss parents; mine were killed when I was just a kid. I’d lived with Gran and Grandfather ever since. They looked after me, putting up with the tantrums and guiding me through the difficult teens. I loved them both dearly.

Gran met the man in an electrical repair shop. She’d gone to collect a radio that was having new valves put in. She had to explain about valves and I still don’t properly understand how they worked. Gran had been leaning across the counter trying to see if the radio was amongst the ‘readies’ on the back shelf, when suddenly his face appeared before her. She couldn’t see the rest of him. Apparently he was picking up dropped coins. Gran went quite girlish when she described him as a blonde bit of all right. Her eyes literally twinkled as she smiled, not a wide grin, just the hint of a smile. I always think of Gran now when I see the picture of Mona Lisa.

His name was Des, short for Desmond. Gran showed me a photograph and I must say her description was right. He had loose blonde curls and huge laughing eyes, wide open, as if he had been surprised by something the photographer said. His chin was deeply dimpled and I silently wondered if he lived up to the saying that people with deep dimples make good lovers.

Des and my Gran became firm friends. He would see her weekends and she would call in the shop in the week when she finished work at the munitions factory. Des couldn’t go to war on account of his deformed leg. You had to be fully formed to fight for your country.

Gran went starry eyed again when she told me about their first kiss. They were out walking, holding hands, telling each other stories about their past, when Des suddenly asked Gran if he could kiss her. I laughed when she said that, I never had a man ask for a kiss, the men I knew jumped in without asking. Anyway, Gran said yes and they never looked back. In fact, they looked forward most of the time, if you know what I mean.

‘Sylvie,’ she said, ‘I’d have done anything for that man. He treated me like I was something precious. Never handled me rough, always considerate. We were like man and wife except we didn’t live together. Her voice was silky, as if the mention of love had smoothed the words before she uttered them. I thought I knew my grandmother so well. Why had I not realised there was something … someone else in her life?

I dared to ask if they slept together.

‘Oh yes, we slept together but we didn’t stay together. I loved that man with all my heart. I loved his kindness, and his attitude to life, but neither of us wanted a scandal that would hurt our folk.’

‘But … what about Granddad Tom?’

Gran was silent for a while, searching for the right thing to say. Unseeing eyes followed a feeding robin, bravely pecking at a crust before an approaching magpie could seize it.

Scrunching her handkerchief in the palm of her hand, she told me, ‘I loved your Granddad in a different way. He was a good man, he didn’t deserve me, and I didn’t deserve him. I was impetuous when I married him; I didn’t really know what love was. I admired Tom and respected him, but my heart was with Des.

‘Did Granddad know about Des.’

Gran looked down, silently studying her hands. Along the path a youngster toppled, and cried. His mother shushed, promising to make it better. Gran gazed at them, while I wondered what she was thinking.

Stirred from her reverie, she put her arm through mine as if seeking solace in my presence. She spoke in a whisper, answered my question. ‘It would have killed him. No, he never knew. Des and I parted company when Tom came home from the war.’

Tears formed in her rheumy eyes. Sadness washed over her as she leaned into me. ‘I had to do my duty to Tom, raise his children, and be a respectable married woman, one he could be proud of. He’d fought a war thinking I was waiting for him, I couldn’t let him down.

Speaking softly, I posed the question, ‘What happened to Des?’

‘He stayed where he was, looked after his widowed mother. It was too painful to spend time in each other’s company. We’d see each other out and about, we had to be content with that.’

‘And when Granddad Tom died?’

Gran straightened her skirt, adjusted her cardigan sleeves, and gazed up at the sky. I sensed her mood lighten as I waited for her to speak. ‘He asked me for a kiss,’ she said. A hesitant smile played on her lips. ‘He came to check that I was coping on my own and …’ Gran turned to look at me, her happiness beginning to shine through. ‘It was as though we’d never been apart. He was there for me; even apart, he was always there for me.’

‘Where is he now?’

‘After his mother died he stayed on in the house. He’s old now; it’s too late to change. At least he thinks so.’

Gran delved into her bag, withdrew a crumpled packet of toffees and offered me the bag. Putting her free hand on my knee she told me she had plans. As I unwrapped the sweet I wondered what plans an elderly lady could have.

‘I want him to move in with me.’

You can imagine my shock.

‘Don’t dismiss the idea out of hand,’ urged Gran. ‘We both did our duty. We hurt no-one. Now it’s time we had some real happiness. Together.’

I suppose she had a point. If they loved each other as much as she claimed, it must have been a wrench to give him up when Granddad Tom came home. But Granddad was no longer with us, where was the harm in making it easy for two people who needed each other.

‘The neighbours will talk,’ I warned.

That really stirred Gran. ‘Let them. I don’t care. I’ve waited too long to worry about neighbours.’

Des and Gran spent the rest of their days together and it was difficult to tell which one was the happiest. As the neighbours will tell you, they bubbled with joyfulness and love. As for me, well, there were moments when I hankered for Granddad’s company but I had a feeling that he knew and was content with the way things were. There were only happy vibes in their house. As I watched Gran and Des together I thanked God for giving them the opportunity of ultimate contentment.

Now I have a funeral to prepare, making sure Gran’s plans are carried out as she wanted. Des isn’t capable of dealing with it. Since Gran died he’s been like a lost soul. I told him the other day that she wanted a happy funeral, no dirges, and no tears. He perked up when I mentioned hymns, told me he’d like to hear everyone sing’ You are the sunshine of my life’. I couldn’t believe what he was asking. Gran herself had put that one at the top of her list.

She often said she’d make the hundred and get the telegram from the Queen but she didn’t get there. Nevertheless, we’re doing a cake with candles in celebration of a longstanding love affair. Their wish!

You are the sunshine of my life
That’s why I’ll always be around
You are the apple of my eye
Forever you’ll stay in my heart

I feel like this is the beginning
Though I’ve loved you for a million years
And if I thought our love was ending
I’d find myself drowning in my own tears

You are the sunshine of my life
That’s why I’ll always stay around
You are the apple of my eye
Forever you’ll stay in my heart

You must have known that I was lonely
Because you came to my rescue
And I know that this must be heaven
How could so much love be inside of you?

You are the sunshine of my life, yeah
That’s why I’ll always stay around
You are the apple of my eye
Forever you’ll stay in my heart.

12 January 2020

Keeping you informed....



After the rain comes the sun, a brightly shining orb that has me smiling. Pity it’s cold as well, though. No warmth in that lovely orb.

I am trying to catch up with replacing all that was shifted when the flood came from the radiator. I despair somewhat when I think of all that was almost lost through a faulty, leaking rad. The girls next door had helped to shift everything and now I can’t remember where it all came from. All the gear is back in the room but the order of things is driving me bonkers. 

My favourite saying now is: where the hell did I put that? I guess fixing all the new accommodations in my head will take time so forgive me if I start speaking gibberish or standing on my head instead of the feet.

The room looks good, though, and the last visit to replace the new carpet with another new one worked well. Don’t ever mention the word FLOOD to me again. Not ever!

It is lovely to be back, though. It was a surprise to realise just how much I missed all you good folk in the blogging world. I have to admit that all the messages and the help from our Ron did me the power of good. Let me just say here and now I LOVE YOU ALL.
Catch you again soon. 
vdnewaddy@gmail.com