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In stillness

I’ve kept the birthday card you chose for me, Mum. I might even frame it. The dog’s expression is so funny, as if he’s just raised his head from a good session licking something unsavoury. Ready for the next, inevitably fabulous turn of events. I was pleasantly surprised that you’d managed to pick it out for me. Sorry - that sounds patronising. What I mean is, it’s the perfect card, the sort of card you might always have chosen. Actually, that’s not quite true… It is better than your choices of recent years, plump teddy bears proffering armfuls of flowers dedicated “To a special daughter, with lots of love.” Dad said the scruffy dog made you chuckle when you spotted it on the rack at the garden centre. I laughed out loud when I opened it. Your eyes widened in delight. I took that as a sign that you are still here. There. Still Mum. On occasion, you do sound quite like your old self when you speak. Certain turns of phrase that startle me with their briskness, their spick-and-span [...]

By |2022-11-30T09:31:58+00:00September 26, 2022|Talking to Mum|8 Comments

A dream

Hello, Mum, how are you? Did you go to see the swans in Worcester yesterday? Yes, it’s lovely to see you too. I’m OK. Busy. Oh, Sean’s doing fine, moans about school though he’s enjoying it really. Dad says you’ve been helping him with the jigsaw puzzle. The rain looks pretty set in, doesn't it? Shall I make you a coffee before I start work? By the way, Mum… I had a strange dream the other night. Dad and I were living in a house next door to very rowdy neighbours, who argued and played loud music all day long. It was summer, their garden was daubed with cheap, gaudy plastic, my thoughts all had jagged edges and my nerves wanted to crawl right out of my body. I couldn’t stand it any longer, I had to get away from them. I ran off, and found myself on a steeply slanting lane, scabby with moss. The surface was slippery, the lane so narrow that I would be clipped by any passing car. My fingers, my arms, the nape of my neck [...]

By |2022-11-30T09:32:33+00:00February 10, 2022|Talking to Mum|6 Comments

Torrent

Do you remember, Mum, what I said to you after your mother’s funeral? I said “You’re free now. It’s going to be OK. You’re free.” It was such a long time ago. I remember stroking your hair, stiff with styling spray. I remember the tilt of your head, a damp hopefulness in your eyes. And a vague discomfort at offering comfort to you. Inauthentic is how I felt. Partly because, by then, I had begun the process of unpicking myself from you, stitch by tight stitch. Partly because the words felt threadbare. I knew that your freedom could not be so casually gifted. In adulthood, your mind remained caged by a childhood that required you to become nothing more than your outline in order to continue living. You were chastised, screeched at, berated, neglected, controlled, coerced, blamed, mocked, and punished with scalding silence. Not permitted to disappoint, denied the means to succeed. I try to imagine what it was like to be a young and frightened you, in that bare house with the blank eye of a porthole window halfway [...]

By |2021-12-30T11:33:42+00:00December 12, 2021|Talking to Mum|2 Comments

Rivelin

I’m sitting at my desk, realising my mood has picked up again in spite of the autumnal murmurings of wind and rain outside. Out of nowhere, I am seized by a desire to be back in my Mum’s horrid ‘Arum White’ Austin Maestro, travelling along the road that leads away from Hillsborough and out to the Rivelin Valley, before the city yawns wide and breathes out Derbyshire. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay How many times must we have made that journey? It felt a little like being underwater, moving through a deep pool of green leaves, sunlight dappling tarmac, blur of low stone wall, shallow river beyond it, heard but unseen. My memory tells me that my hoola hoop got lodged in a tree along that road. I threw it up and the branches stretched out and caught it, and would not give it back. Is that a true memory? Of my dad trying to shake and tickle the tree into spitting out my treasured (yellow?) hoop? Or was it a stranger’s hoop that I merely spied [...]

By |2022-01-26T17:54:04+00:00October 16, 2021|Talking to Mum|6 Comments
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