Saturday, 19 June 2010


The day began with a communication from my mother once again waxing lyrical about my childhood. About the recordings of us as kids and me all laughing fit to bust. Along with the photographs we all knew we had to pose for, she has every evidence for our charming childhoods. The stains of our youth wrapped up in pretty gauze and ribbon. It stung me as I read and it bounced around my brain pointing a finger at me laughing.

The night before I had a new client and found myself agreeing to work in the smoky atmosphere of her house as she volunteered to open the windows and put on a fan. Two young women, soon expecting babies, and it is I who was bothered about the smell in case it gave me a headache. Then I am waxing eyebrows in a bad-for-me bending over position because I am working within her environment and not in my own carefully set out beauty salon. On the way home I realised how accommodating I had been and no longer wish to be in life.

Mixed in with my monthly hormones, by mid-morning, I was feeling a fist I so wanted to use against the world. Angry. This has to be a good thing that instead of my previous imploding I was turning my anger elsewhere. Pity son chose this time to question something I had said. His sixteen year old self not knowing where to draw the line and me getting angrier by the moment was not a pretty sight so by the time I reached over to get a sharp knife from the washing up son jumped back and I felt the world stop as even dearest Mr Doris looked on concerned. As angry as I was, I did know where to draw the line and just needed to cut up my lunch.

Two bars of chocolate later, and for someone who hasn't eaten that much sugar in six months, I was on my pre-booked train to London and quite high on a sugar-rush. A whole £4.99 spent on a glossy magazine with a freebie Celia Aherne novel, along with the two bars of chocolate. It was not until I was on a tube train and saw my headless reflection in the curved door that I felt a calm descend. Looking at my trim shoulders encased in a thin peacock blue cardigan atop a fitted fuschia top, and then a circular gingham skirt I looked quite striking. My bare legs set off with lovely toenails, a fashionable cuff (which I learned was so from the purchased glossy) on one wrist as my manicured fingers held onto the handle, giving the picture of a well looked after person. It was a moment of reflection that said I looked good and I had not needed to hide in a cave.

For two days I stayed with a friend and lived her life. She is blind and not "just" visually impaired but utterly and totally in the dark. No longer any light or shadows. No flickers. I watched as she washed up and sorted her fridge after the dinner she had prepared us. Darkness had fallen and the street lights shone just a little into the kitchen but I made no attempt to switch on the light. When she descended into the dark cellar to sort out her recycling for the collection the next day it really hit me the way she happily lives life and not only gets on but does some amazing stuff. Using public transport she gets across London quicker than a sighted person. Between her and her seeing dog, they know where all the tunnels are, where to turn to get to the lifts and how to make detours when some lines are closed. Using my eyes I couldn't work it out quicker than her.

On the Manchester bound train from London, several chapters into my Celia Aherne novel, the passing world absorbs my attention. Clouds heavy with greyness crowned with the late afternoon sun, float above green English hills. A wicker sculpture of a man fishing sits beside a pond, and cattle pose by water as if in a Constable painting. Passing by a distant country house, winding canals and old stone bridges as the chirrup-chirrup of someone's mobile in the next row along draws my attention to the fine suspension in the Pendolino train I am travelling as it tilts deeply into each bend and then straightens out. Reflecting on the Celia Aherne novel I had been reading and the child lost before it was even born and I wonder about my own children lost since their childhood. They are here or are around, but not the same sparkling eyes that looked back at me when they were little. Different eyes from different people. I feel like a bad mother floating with the clouds, inconsistent with my love and affection and there is simply no denying that. It just is.

At least I am returning with my passion softened and my anger gone. The hormones have done their work. Son's hired white tuxedo for his prom is delivered and I see him wearing it looking all delighted and happy with it. He went the whole hog and ordered up a fancy waistcoat and cane which along with his afro and dark skin he looks for all the world like some sharp pimp from a 1970s movie. I manage to crack a smile at him for a change.

The world revolves and I have to grow up. There are some good bits to me and there are some not so good bits. And just like the protagonist in the "Naughtiest Girl in the School" books, when she is good, she is very, very good and when she is bad she is awful. And that is okay.


Thursday said...

I was right there with you, seeing what you saw, feeling what you felt. Ace writing Doris, it just wound its way round and along, just like the train.

Jo said...

Vivid writing honey. You do have a real ability to stand outside yourself, to look back and describe qhat you see. A great skill, and especially admirable to those of us who live in a swamp called 'me' and who can never quite free their writing of it!

I would like to have see son in the tux. Bet he looked very cool...very Issac Hayes? ;-)

Doris said...

Aww thanks Thursday. I was inspired but I should have written down what had originally flowed at the time instead of waiting literally days!

Thank you too Jo though you are a tad hard on yourself. And Jo, sorry to say the look is more like Antonio Fargos as Huggy Bear in Starsky and Hutch! Something to do with the cheeky look and the cane. :-D

P. said...

Dear Doris:
I am new-ish to Blogger, so I don't know if they notify you when some reader begins to follow, but I decided I should tell you anyway. My name is Paige. I am 49 and live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I chose to follow you since I am also a mom to two kids, ages 17 and almost 21, work, am married and into my family. I also love to write...So much so that I have written a memoir book about growing up adopted and then finding my birth family.
Take care.