Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Tag

The Man At The End Of The Bar (love hurts)

He’s of indeterminate age.  He resides in every pub and bar in the land.  An everyman with a pint glass.  He doesn’t appear to have any friends… unless they’ve all used the excuse of going to the toilet.  He’s a self-regarding oasis in an ocean of anomie.  This man is an island… He’s most definitely not a peninsula.  If he were the butterfly wings of chaos Sinking a pinttheory then heaven help what’s happening on the other side of the world.  If there really is six degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon – then he’s number seven.  If all famous rock bands have an unlucky early member who leaves prior to them making it big – then it wasn’t him.  If he had a makeover no-one would notice – because no-one would remember what he originally looked like.  His sole purpose in life is to make comment on conversations he isn’t involved in; to people he doesn’t know; while delivering his wisdom to an audience of none.  He offers his opinions regardless.  Without thought.  Or fear.  Or favour.  Or reason.  His only obvious social skill is setting a tumbleweed of indifference adrift among a desert of silent disbelieving looks.  Who said that?!

The Man at the end of the bar

EmptyPintGlass

“You’re quiet tonight…”

“………”

“I said you’re quiet tonight…”

“………”

“Let me guess… women?”

“How’d you know?!”

“It’s about the only thing that keeps you quiet.”

“She says I’ve really upset her Dave…”

“How come?”

“She says I’ve alienated her…”

“Yeh?”

“I told her that’s just bloody ridiculous – the new X-Files is only six episodes long and I didn’t watch ’em all at once!”

“Right…”

“Looks like she’s gonna leave me; just like all the rest…”

“Hmmm…”

“I’m just devastated Dave…”

“Yeh…”

“Do you think she still cares?”

“Remember… they do say; you always hurt the one you love…”

“Yeh… you could be right…”

“Either that; or you always love the ones who hurt you…”

“I spose so…”

“Or was it… you always love the ones who love to hurt you?”

“So ya think she still loves me then Dave?”

“Mind you; it could have been you always love the hurt from love and that’s why you love the ones who love to hurt you?”

“Er…. just put another one in there will you Dave?”

Mavis And Ted *6*

Mavis & Ted

Junk In The Trunk…

 

“Ted?”

“Wot?”

“Do you still love me Ted?”

“Huh?”

“I said, do you still love me Ted?”

“Er, yeh… of course… yeh…”

“Same as when we first met?”

“Same as when we first met…”

“As deep as the deep blue sea?”

“Yep.”

“As deep as the deep blue sea?”

“As deep as the deep blue sea…”

“More and more each day?”

“More and more each day…”

“With every beat of your heart?”

“Yeh, with every beat of my heart…”

“Good…”

“Hmmm…”

“Ted?”

“Wot?!!”

“Do you still fancy me though?”

“Yeh, I still fancy you…”

“Have I still got it?”

“You’ve still got it…”

“How about the junk in my trunk?”

“You been hangin’ around them kids at that burger bar on the front again?!”

“In all the right places?”

“Yeh, in all the right places… mind you, there are places on your places now…”

“What was that Ted?”

“In all the right places…”

“Good…”

“Yep…”

“So I’m still your girl then?”

“You’re still my girl…”

“All the fun of the fair?”

“All the fun of the fair…”

“Forever and ever?”

“Forever and ever…”

“Good…”

“Yep…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mavis And Ted *5*

Mavis & Ted

Magnum Force…

 

“Good grief Ted!”

“What?  What’s up?!”

You… have you finished that ice cream you bought already!?”

“Yeh… well?”

“You’ll have indigestion again you greedy guts and you know who’ll be kept awake all night don’t you?  I’ve barely had the chance to lick me cornet!”

“Er, sorry Mavis, but you know I always eat quickly when I’m stressed.”

“The sky’s blue, the sea’s calm and we’re havin’ a luvly time watchin’ the world go by… so what on earth would you be stressed about?”

“It was the guy in the ice cream van…”

“You got your ice cream alright, didn’t ya?”

Obviously…”

“What was it?”

“A Magnum.”

“Your favourite… so I don’t see…”

“Well, when I asked the guy in the van for it he goes to me… ‘Do you feel lucky punk?  Do you?’  I said at my age I’m lucky to feel anything…”

“Then what’d say?”

“He then says… ‘How old are you granddad?’”

“What did you say Ted?”

“Seventy-three!  What do you think I said!”

“No need to take it out on me!”

“Sorry gal… I’m a bit upset… see – I’m tremblin’…”

“So you are Ted… then what did he say?”

“He goes… ‘1973 – that’s the year when the film came out so you are lucky – you punk.’”

“What’d he mean by that?”

“Well, he goes on to tell me he’s a big Clint Eastwood fan and he watches all his movies on his i-pad apple thingy in the cab between being disturbed at the best bits by havin’ to serve old gits like me with no teeth – ice-cream!”

“I tells him… I’m no ruddy punk and he says…”

“What’d he say?!”

“Only that I looks more like Clyde the ruddy gorilla in Every which way but loose – cheeky young sod!”

“Too right Ted – If me memory ain’t playin’ tricks though, it was of them Orang-utans…”

“Does it matter?!”

“Sorry, what’d you do Ted?”

“I says – I may be old but I’m mainly good… but I can be bad so you’d better watch out!  Then I says… sometimes it’s been known for me to be downright ugly!”

“Ooh, what’d he say to that?”

“Not a lot… by then I’d tipped his rack of cornets any which way I could, squirted his raspberry juice on his Bronco Billy and shoved some of his 99 flakes right up his Eiger Sanction!”

“Oooooh Ted!  Play misty for me tonight?!”

“Only if me indigestion ain’t playin’ up.  Yer right, I did put that Magnum down me throat with too much force…”

 

 

 

 

The Man At The End Of The Bar (ukip)

He’s of indeterminate age.  He resides in every pub and bar in the land.  An everyman with a pint glass.  He doesn’t appear to have any friends… unless they’ve all used the excuse of going to the toilet.  He’s a self-regarding oasis in an ocean of anomie.  This man is an island… He’s most definitely not a peninsula.  If he were the butterfly wings of chaos Sinking a pinttheory then heaven help what’s happening on the other side of the world.  If there really is six degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon – then he’s number seven.  If all famous rock bands have an unlucky early member who leaves prior to them making it big – then it wasn’t him.  If he had a makeover no-one would notice – because no-one would remember what he originally looked like.  His sole purpose in life is to make comment on conversations he isn’t involved in; to people he doesn’t know; while delivering his wisdom to an audience of none.  He offers his opinions regardless.  Without thought.  Or fear.  Or favour.  Or reason.  His only obvious social skill is setting a tumbleweed of indifference adrift among a desert of silent disbelieving looks.  Who said that?!

The Man at the end of the bar

EmptyPintGlass

“UKIP?  Always sounds like a cure for insomnia to me… Get new UKIP from JML!  Available at all good retailers – and Robert Dyas… believe me you don’t want to know.

 

“Why should I like Nigel Farage?!  Just because I enjoy a pint?!  I’m not a racist: I’m a people person me – years ago I’d have been described as the salt of the earth.  What do you mean you’ve never heard of that expression?  Anyway, Nigel was always the uppity kid on the school bus; I remember he was always travel sick… wouldn’t sit next to the girls, fat John with the perspiration problem – or the kids with turbans.  Hmmmph… they were the only ones who’d sit next to me…

 

“I don’t care if they do well in the European elections… Why?!  I’ll tell you why… Because old Nigel has poked a stick under a stone deep into the dark underbelly of the English persona and stirred up a hornet’s nest – that’s why.  There’s nuthin’ worse than someone rummagin’ around in your psyche… we don’t like it: we don’t want to be poked or put on the spot; we want a peaceful life; we want to get on with our neighbours – quid pro quo and all that… we like to leave our backdoors open so to speak: we prefer to leave politics to those who enjoy all that backstabbin’ stuff.  They smile in yer face but all the time they want to take yer place… Who?!  The backstabbers!

 

“Me… apathetic?!  No way!  I just can’t be bothered – that’s all… I still have my role to play.  I’m the man on the Clapham omnibus; I’m the litmus test; I’m the man in the street… well obviously that’s metaphorical you knob!  I’m the political barometer: I’ve been known to swing both ways accordin’ to Peter Snow…

 

“Let’s cut to the chase… If he pronounced his name as his mother intended – Nigel Far-idge – and not Nigel bloody Far-aaahge then believe you me we wouldn’t be havin’ this conversation… Put another one in there will you Dave?”

 

 

Mavis And Ted *4*

Mavis & Ted

Weather Girls…

 

Aaah, that’s better… weight off me feet, a bit of sun and we’ve beat the Bank Holiday rush.”

“Yeh –  it was a good idea to come a few days early.”

“Nice to get away from all the stress…”

N-i-c-e…

Aaah; just smell that sea air…”

Mmmm…”

“Weather looks set fair… at least according to Carol on that BBC Breakfast.”

Only until Sunday.”

“High pressure in charge she said… a bit of cloud driftin’ in from the Continent but temperatures above average for the time of year…”

“That’s not what Kirsty said on Channel Five…”

“What does she know?!  This was Carol on the BBC… nice lady… always laughing…”

“Listen; they all get the same weather information.”

“Why is it always different then?!”

“It’s a question of interpretation – I expect Kirsty and Sian are more up to date with them satellites than your Carol…”

“Sensationalism – that’s all you’ll get from that channel!  Anyway… they’re weather girls… Carol’s experienced – she’s been forecastin’ for years!”

“Weather woman? – Weather girl? – I’ll have you know Kirsty’s had two babies…”

“Well, unless they were baby satellites I don’t see your point.”

“Meteorological Bureau’s near Reading – right?”

Yeh…”

“Channel Five is in London… “

Ye-eh…

 “The BBC has moved to ruddy Salford so I doubt if Carol commutes on a daily basis!”

“I don’t blame ‘er… I went there once – didn’t like it…”

“I never knew you’d been to the Meteorological Bureau?!”

No… Reading!  It’s a bit like London – only smaller.  Too many people for me…”

“I expect the Meteorological Bureau’s the same.”

“What – small?”

“No too many people – just look at all the weather girls that are on all the channels…”

“I see what you mean… I’ll bet the corridors are full of these young women with big hair, bodycon dresses and high heels – don’t you Ted?”

“…………”

“Ted!”

“Er; yeh…”

“So Kirsty’s your favourite?”

“Not likely – I prefer that wots ‘er name – Lucy Verysamey on ITV; you know… the one who used to be on Daybreak…”

“I know who you mean… she’s very samey alright – all seductive shoulder, spray tan, tight blouses, pert breasts and pout: don’t think I haven’t seen you lookin’!”

Yeh… doesn’t matter what the weather is when she’s on…”

“You don’t look at me like that anymore.”

“Cold front, lingering depression and too many isobars…”

“What’d you say Ted?”

“Er; nuthin’…”

“Don’t you go all Michael Fish on me and deny it!”

“I said it’s cold on the front so let’s enjoy it while it lasts up here behind the bars.”

Hmmmyeh… that’s what I thought you said.”

Mavis And Ted *3*

Mavis & Ted

First Love…

 

Oh Ted… it’s wonderful to be back again.”

“Aha…”

“To think it was 1963 when we first came here!”

“Hmmm…”

“Our first time away together… our first ever holiday…”

“Yeh…”

“My Mum was against it – she told me I could do better – do you remember?”

Oh yes…”

“I remember Dad wanted to chaperone but we made it clear we’d be staying in separate rooms and getting married later that year.”

“My Dad was glad to get rid of me for a week.”

“Funny isn’t it… how times change?  Especially when you see what the kids get up to on the beach now… all those girls with next to nothing on throwing themselves at the boys… it’s terrible.”

Terrible…”

“We stayed in that little B&B off the front next to those lovely gardens.”

“The one next to the pub.”

“The landlady was lovely.”

“Her daughter was up for it.”

“She did gorgeous cream teas.”

“The local beer was great.”

“I got so full I felt sick!”

“I got so drunk I was sick!”

“I had to go and walk it off on the beach.”

“She wanted me to meet her by the pier.”

“A good constitutional does the world of good – as Dad used to say.”

“She asked me to run away with her.”

“At least we never broke that promise to Dad.”

“I… I just couldn’t.”

“Mum and Dad had their doubts about our feelings… thought I didn’t really love you… an ‘infatuation’ Mum called it… she wondered whether what we had would last…”

“It was love at first sight.”

“I guess we kind of grew into each other so to speak…”

“Never saw her again.”

“We’re living proof that – given time – affection can grow into something else.”

“She had the most beautiful blue eyes…”

“We’ve always been steady though haven’t we?”

“I can still see them now…”

“We’ve had a wonderful fifty-odd years.”

“It’s been a long time.”

“Wish I could find the photos I took by the pier… me in that dogs tooth two-piece – you in your leather jacket.”

“She wrote to me for six months.”

“Never find them now…”

“I threw her letters away ten years ago…”

“Must have lost them in the move…”

“If only…”

“Still… No regrets – eh Ted?”

“Er…What?!”

“I said – no regrets?”

“Me?! Of course not…”

“Happy?”

“Aha…”

“You want a ninety-nine?

“Hmmm… That’d be nice.”

“Two flakes?”

“Yeh… You know me…

“I should do by now!”

Mavis And Ted *2*

Mavis & Ted

Donkey Kick…

 

“Your mother never liked me…”

“What on earth makes you say that now?!”

“There’s a donkey on the beach that just kicked its owner where it hurts then trod on a sparrow…”

The Man At The End Of The Bar (christmas)

He’s of indeterminate age.  He resides in every pub and bar in the land.  An everyman with a pint glass.  He doesn’t appear to have any friends… unless they’ve all used the excuse of going to the toilet.  He’s a self-regarding oasis in an ocean of anomie.  This man is an island… He’s most definitely not a peninsula.  If he were the butterfly wings of chaos Sinking a pinttheory then heaven help what’s happening on the other side of the world.  If there really is six degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon – then he’s number seven.  If all famous rock bands have an unlucky early member who leaves prior to them making it big – then it wasn’t him.  If he had a makeover no-one would notice – because no-one would remember what he originally looked like.  His sole purpose in life is to make comment on conversations he isn’t involved in; to people he doesn’t know; while delivering his wisdom to an audience of none.  He offers his opinions regardless.  Without thought.  Or fear.  Or favour.  Or reason.  His only obvious social skill is setting a tumbleweed of indifference adrift among a desert of silent disbelieving looks.  Who said that?!

The Man at the end of the bar

EmptyPintGlass

“Eh?!  What do you mean – what have I done?!  What you on about?  I came in here for a quiet drink… not to be disturbed by a bunch of teenagers pokin’ their noses into my business… Huh!

 

“Can’t you do somethin’ about this Dave?  I am a regular… What?!  Christmas – what?!  If they stopped makin’ so much bloody noise I might be able to hear you… Oh… Right… They’re just singin’ John Lennon’s Christmas song.  I knew that… of course I did.   He was a hero of mine.  Yeh, that’s right kids – people used to say I was a lot like him… Plastic Ono Band?  Oh yeh I’ve got the coloured vinyl at home from when it first came out.  What colour?!  You stupid or summat son?  Christmas puddin’ colour of course…

 

“♫And so this is Christmas…

Da-da-da – er… fun…

Da-da-da-da-da-da – and er… y…y…oungggg.

 

Da-da-da-da-da-da…

Da-da-da-da-da…

Er…da-da-da-da-da…

Da-da-da-da… f..e..a..r…

 

War… huh…what is it good for?  Course I know that’s the wrong song!

War… is…. o…ver…

If you er… w..a..n…t it…

Do I want it?  Yeh!  Do you?  Yeh!

 

“Okay… Merry Christmas!  Yeh, you all have a good one!  See ya!  That’s right – solidarity brothers!  And sisters… that’s it keep doin’ it for yourselves…  Bye… bye!  Rock on!  Bye!  That’s it lads keep fightin’ the powers that be… Alright darlin’ there’s no need to get uppity I only wanted a kiss under the mistletoe – alright?!  So much for peace and love!  No I couldn’t be her Grandad!  How old do you think I am?!  Dad?  Well…maybe?  Bye… Merry Christmas!  Bye!

 

Phew… they’ve gone… bunch of student wasters if you ask me.  Never liked that peace shit of Lennon’s anyway… he let a woman take over didn’t he?  Remember what happened at the Duke of Wellington when the landlord’s missus got started doin’ the orderin?  Plastic Ono Band?  Oh No indeed!  I much preferred him when he was a walrus.  Poet of the people.  Better still before he had them glasses and the long sideburns.  Put another one in there will you Dave?”

Mavis And Ted *

Mavis & Ted

Yellow Bikini…

 

“What are you looking at Mavis?”

“That girl there… down on the front in the yellow bikini… She’s very pretty…”

Very…”

Beautiful blonde hair…”

Beautiful…”

“She’s got a lovely figure…”

Lovely…”

“A perfect 36-24-36 I’d say; just like mine used to be… eh, Ted?”

“…………”

“I said 36-24-36!  Just like mine used to be!”

“…………”

“Ted?!”

“Sorry dear – but it’s a bit like when you find an old phone number… you know it was important once – but I’ll be damned if I can remember why!”

The Man At The End Of The Bar (god)

He’s of indeterminate age.  He resides in every pub and bar in the land.  An everyman with a pint glass.  He doesn’t appear to have any friends… unless they’ve all used the excuse of going to the toilet.  He’s a self-regarding oasis in an ocean of anomie.  This man is an island… He’s most definitely not a peninsula.  If he were the butterfly wings of chaos Sinking a pinttheory then heaven help what’s happening on the other side of the world.  If there really is six degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon – then he’s number seven.  If all famous rock bands have an unlucky early member who leaves prior to them making it big – then it wasn’t him.  If he had a makeover no-one would notice – because no-one would remember what he originally looked like.  His sole purpose in life is to make comment on conversations he isn’t involved in; to people he doesn’t know; while delivering his wisdom to an audience of none.  He offers his opinions regardless.  Without thought.  Or fear.  Or favour.  Or reason.  His only obvious social skill is setting a tumbleweed of indifference adrift among a desert of silent disbelieving looks.  Who said that?!

The Man at the end of the bar

EmptyPintGlass

“Do I think there’s something bigger than us?  What sort of question is that?!  Of course there is… You’re obviously not from round here… Oi! I say Dave – they’re obviously not from round here.  Haven’t you seen Big Al?  Once seen never forgotten.  Why?!  Because he’s big stupid!  He lives down by the bypass – in that row of old back-to-backs the council want to pull down to build the new Tesco.  He was made redundant a few years ago – then his wife left him for the foreman of a travelling insulation company.  Apparently she really fell for his renewable energy.  Big Al came home from work to find him filling more than just the household cavities.

 

“He’s a bouncer now at that club in town: Bar None.  It’s got more flashing lights than a sales convention for the emergency services.  Mind you – the drink prices are so steep you’d probably need to call 999 for oxygen.  He used to be at Shotz on the high road but he said that was all rivers of vomit, hen nights and shameless young women showin’ their Cheryl Coles.  Not that there’s anything wrong with shameless young women… just that at Bar None he gets a better class of punter to hit.  Big Al’s old school: proper muscles – like granite.  Not tattoos on a blancmange.   I’ve seen him lift a kerbstone in each hand when he was workin’ on the roads.  Me and him are carved from the same stone so to speak.  Moulded in life’s furnace.

 

Yeh… he’s like me.  How?  Well; quiet obviously and doesn’t see the need to flaunt his physique.   As for the rest of these young lads with their protein-puff muscles – you can keep ‘em.  Nuthin’ but trouble… I call ‘em the W(a)hey boys… one stiff breeze would blow them over – the milk sops.  There’s a lot to be said for hard natural muscle…

 

What?!  You mean?  Oh right – you were talkin’ about the Big Man upstairs.  Huh; why didn’t you say?  God eh?  Him.  The omnippertent one.  Me?  How do I see him?  Oh… I guess I see him as a sort of universal landlord – The Big Spirit – only bottle-matured for thousands of years.  He’s not on draft either – you’ve got to sort of seek him out like a good pub.  And when your time comes and he calls last orders either you’ve been a good mixer or otherwise you might get barred.

 

“Am I a believer?  Close to God?  Nah… no…. maybe…. sometimes… once… When?  Well… it’s hard to say really: no I don’t mean that I’m so pissed I can’t say it!  It’s a difficult memory to recall that’s all.  I put it in another place.  Like I always drink beer here but I’ve been known to go for a whisky now and then at The Highwayman on Bridge Road.  Now that I think about it… Sorry – something in my eye… No; that’s alright – I’m okay but you know how it is… Look if you shut up I’ll tell ya…

 

“Ten years ago now it was… But I can still remember the day… the day Mum passed – like it was yesterday.  It was 2003: it had been a good summer for a change.  I’d got sunburnt in the pub garden.  Mum hadn’t been right for a while.  When she coughed it shook her body like a rabbit in a dog’s mouth.  There was blood in her… in her… in her – you know.  The doctors were optimistic at first.  Mum had her faith.  And me.  As the nights crept in during the autumn so did the disease.  The doctors changed their minds.  The days were dark and wet and short – and so was the time they gave her.

 

“She was in the back bedroom that day when He came to call – all wrapped up against the chill by the quilt she had made.  You could see all the colours even though it was semi-dark and stormy out.  Bright they were: so bright – like proper psychedelic; though Mum would have hated the drug reference.  It was the fag end of a really dismal day.  The weather girl on TV had promised a sunnier outlook – but then so had the doctor.  He was there checking her over, talking – in that matter-of-fact way that comes to those who’ve seen it all – to a Macmillan nurse who gave me a sort of resigned but supportive smile.

 

“She hadn’t eaten properly since the weekend.  Just picked at her food.  I remember the rain… it plink-plonked on the windowsill from the broken gutter that I hadn’t got round too.  I always did the odd jobs at Mum’s – she called me her rock.  She was so small it was as if she wasn’t in the bed at all… it was like the quilt had just been tossed aside unmade that morning.

 

“There was a picture of my Gran on the dresser.  It was taken on cousin Jim’s prize Pentax just before she died of cancer aged 94.  My Uncle Peter’s third marriage it was.  Mum said it was a triumph of hope over judgement but she had a good time dancing at the reception to one of her favourites – Dusty Springfield… ‘You don’t have to say you love me just be close at hand’ – kind of sums me and Mum up.  I danced too… only because I was pissed.  It wasn’t just the half light on the picture frame… Gran and Mum looked like twin sisters then.  Mum was only 62.  I knew it was the end.  The doctor shook my hand but couldn’t look me in the face.  His grip was really strong – like big Al – but he had soft hands like a girl.  He went downstairs with the nurse – I knew he had reached the bottom as the last step always creaked from a loose board: that reminded me – it was another job I’d promised to do for Mum.  I heard him leave – the nurse flushed something down the loo then I heard the kettle in the kitchen.

 

“In between fits of coughing and being on the edge of sleep – Mum twisted and mumbled names that were indistinct and talked of memories that I had long forgotten.  Once she fixed me in the way she did when I was young and had a chore to do but hadn’t done it quick enough for her: she showed her displeasure and disappointment at the same time.  She knew… I made her lips wet from the glass on the bedside table – it had been standing too long and had those little air bubbles that cluster like bad news.  Her mouth left a greasy print on the rim.  She struggled for breath but asked me to put on her favourite record.  There hadn’t been music in the house for months… all she had was an old Dansette record player from her youth; disc stacker, record arm; stylus and all.  She was just as thin in her heyday but it was a different thin – healthy… not pallid and sweaty; she was like a wax dummy in a heatwave…

 

“If only I’d known I could have brought my CD player and put on The Matt Monro Collection that I got in the pound shop that I had given her at Chritmas… but I found the Dansette easily in my old room.  I dusted it quickly on the landing and I plugged it in behind the door once I had moved her dressing gown.  Just then – when I put the gown back on the hook behind the door – Evening in Paris filled the air the way it had when I was a kid.  I smiled and… but Mum nearly choked and I was yanked back into that stale air that reeked of decay and departure.  The record was also in my old room – the sleeve was worn nearly beyond recognition.  There was a crackle and a strange electronic squawk as I struggled to put it on the player.

 

“Then all of a sudden the atmosphere changed completely… Mum’s absolute favourite  that I knew word for word – A Portrait Of My Love – infiltrated all the dark recesses accompanied by the gentle percussion of the rain and her old alarm clock which lurched on marking time toward the end.  It was one of those travel pieces that fold up when it wants to but won’t open when you need it.  It’s vinyl cover was as green as Mum was grey and blue.  I hated Matt Monro but in that charmed; blessed; pre… sorry… sorry… pre… precious, wonderful moment as she smiled as fat a smile as she was gaunt and thin I could see her and Dad slow dancing in front of the fireplace in the living room of our old house.

 

“Dad was a bastard: he disappeared when I was ten… He took something from Mum the day he left that she never put back.  He was a waster with everything but his love.  Then it happened… The rain stopped – a thin shaft of light entered through the window.  Hurray for the weather girl!  She was my favourite; always had a very nice line in pencil skirts that helped even the worst forecast.  She used to put on bright red lipstick and talk the Queen’s English with a buttoned-up manner – I often imagined her as a sort of wanton-woman after hours – like Lois Lane… Ahem

 

“The very last point of autumn sun – before it sunk late-afternoon over the back of the park’s conifer trees – illuminated Mum’s poor face and stripped back the years… the rain plink-plonking and the driven clock were silenced and at that moment it was as if a choir of angels droning one celestial note had joined Matt Monro’s final tribute.  I swear it seemed as if a celestial choir was singing Mum home… Her cold bony hand was in mine as I sat leaning across the bed.  She told me she loved me as I stood up and kissed her for a final time.  She told me that I was to take care… then… then a horrible groan come cough, come sigh gurgled from deep in her chest: her eyes were frightened momentarily but then shone brightly with relief and forgiveness and hope and happiness and love and it was like a child on Christmas morning with the biggest present under the tree.

 

“I struggled with what I saw – the light warmer now and brighter than any autumn sun had a right to be pointed like a ribbon to the ceiling; to the stars; infinity, oblivion… and beyond.  She looked so happy – so young – so bright as if everything had lifted from her… Fucking hell I cried!  Shaking and desperate as she had seen me many times when I was young over something unimportant – but her grip was now strong and reassuring as somehow out of that horrible gurgle she spoke for the final time: it sounded like ‘Is it really you?  Please wait for me’ to someone; something above her head.  Her eyes were fixed joyously to just beyond the tassels on the fraying shade that was hanging from the rose of the room’s main light.

 

“Then she was gone… lifeless; blank eyes… her back arched on her final breath and she stayed there supported by my arms until I let her slide back.  Careful precious cargo.  I got up and cried again like I had never cried before.  The sobbing of the eternal.  I brushed her eyelids shut; kissed her again and wrapped her in the quilt she had made as the stylus arm jerked – trying to escape from the never-ending final groove of the record on the turntable……………………………….

 

“Me?!  Pray?!  No… Angel choirs?  Next door’s bloody cat more like – arguing with a stray ginger tom under the bedroom window!  Heavenly light?!  Do me a favour – it was the sun reflecting on the old gal’s picture.  God calling her home?  Perrlease – Matt Monro stuck on repeat… what a nightmare – bloody old Dansette…  Oh… and the ceiling needed a coat of paint.  And she’d nagged me for two years to get off my arse and do it.  What is wrong with you people?!  You’ll ‘ave me silent meditatin’ while stroking her hair and musin’ on the nature of my beliefs next!

 

“What did I do?!  Went down the pub and got pissed real quick – that’s what.  PhewGod help us… Put another one in there will you Dave?”

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