Sunday, September 15, 2013

Not

I'm fine, except I'm not.
We're happy, except we're not.
Things are good, except they're not.
Everything's great, except it's not.

You love me, except you don't.
You'll change, except you won't.
I want to leave, except I can't.
We're getting there, except we aren't.

Yeah, I'm good, thanks.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dearly departed

Went to a funeral today. Worried more about my outfit than the actual funeral. Went with jeans and a velvet jacket. Under-dressed. Aunt's husband. He had 6 kids from previous relationships. Funeral in Anfield. The coffin was still open. In the living room. An open coffin in the living room. It was a very small house. They had put cards and cuddly toys in with him. Had to physically restrain my dad from explaining the embalming process to my mum while the bloke's relatives were standing 6 feet away. Also stopped him mid sentence saying, "It's cultural in these parts to do that..." A real sense of community. Neighbours dropping in with cards. People sitting on their doorsteps talking together. Making the sign of the cross as the funeral cars went past. The lady vicar had maroon polish and sparkles on her finger and toe nails. The organist played 'Altogether Now... for Everton'. Location ironic. Driving through old Liverpool to the crem. A woman clipping her dog's coat in a field. Elvis. Pub. Pork pies, sausage rolls and gateau. "Do you want Clover on your barm?" May have been hit on by someone who thought I was a student.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Goodnight Sweetheart

With shaking fingers, she unplugged the vcr and laid it on the floor beside her. "Well, old friend," she whispered. "We both knew this day would come.

"We've had some good times these past thirteen years. Sure, there was that period when you suddenly decided that you didn't like TDK tapes anymore, which at the time was basically our entire collection, but you soon redeemed yourself when we started buying Memorex and Sony. You're such a label snob... it's what we have in common.

"Then there was the time we couldn't play tapes without having to hit you to get the picture to stop rolling. But we both know that secretly you liked it.

"People said I was a fool for buying Sharp products when there were better brands available. But you've always been kind to me. Okay, there was a brief period when for some reason you forgot how to work out what day it was and wouldn't record anything after midnight. But we got through it, and it's not like I go to bed early these days."

The vcr wept bitterly and wrapped it's cables around her waist. "Please don't do this!" it sobbed. "We can work this out. PVR's are overrated: video is forever! We outlived the HD dvd, the Betamax, the mini-cd. And no-one admits to owning a dvd recorder these days."

"I know, Sharpie, I know." But I love my Sky+ box more than I love my cat. And there just isn't enough space in front of the tv for another remote."

"Please just say you'll always remember me," it begged. "You're bound to want to watch Threshold again. They'll never release it in this country. Everyone's obsessed with Fringe and that annoying cow Olivia Dunham: she looks like she's had her frown superglued into her face."

"I know, my darling, I know. I'll always think fondly of you when I'm fast forwarding the adverts and noticing how quiet it is. And you won't be going far... just to the cupboard under the stairs-."

"No! Not the cupboard under the stairs! Let me live next to your bed with the ps2!"

"But you're too... big boned for my bedside cabinet, Sharpie."

"I know. It was the 90's. We were all made that way back then."

She sighed and patted the vcr gently. "Goodnight, sweetheart..."

"Well, it's time to go..."

"Ba dum ba da dum- ooh, Adventure Time!"

"Noooooooooooooooooooo!"

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Bells they are ringing

Today I went to church.

I haven't been to church regularly since 2002. A lot of reasons. I started to doubt my motives for attendance. Was I going because it was important to me to be there, or important to my parents? Then there were problems with my lodger. He was going through a bad period over a girl. And one morning I was late. Somebody made a sarky comment at the door. No one important, not a leader, not a friend. Just some woman appointed to shake hands with everyone. I just snapped. And walked out. Pretty soon I stopped turning up all together. Didn't matter that I had responsibilities. I couldn't care less.

Since then, I had a brief attendance in early 2004, but otherwise I haven't visited apart from at Christmas. It's not the same. A large group of friends and the head minister all left in late 2002, just after I stopped going. It lacks something with them gone. Drive, spirit, passion. It feels flat. They all set up a new church in the next town. Too far for me.

After one of many long chats with Monkey Man, I decided to bite the bullet and email someone on Facebook who I knew attended the new church. And straight away she set me up with a lift with someone.

Going back... well, not really going back as such because I've never been before, yet it feels familiar... everyone who I knew from before was very welcoming. Feels just like the old days, warm, comforting. Little touches, methods I remember were tested out at the old church that were not kept up are in use here. Almost a pioneering feel, no formal dress, everyone pitching in. Really good atmosphere of worship.

I don't feel any loyalty to the old church. I love this place and I've been only once.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A year in the making

If 2006 was all about self discovery, then 2007 was finding out about my family. It seems i got through 29 years never really knowing them.

It all started last Christmas day when my dad sang karaoke at my sister-in-law's house. For some reason, finding out that he knew all the words to Ring of Fire and Son of a Preacher Man lead me to begin reconsidering my whole life.

I guess it never occured to me that he knew stuff like the words to songs. I always assumed my parents were happy to be very out of touch with the real world. Now it occured to me that maybe it was just my mum. Over the next year I noticed other things. Just talking to him, I realised he was understanding the pop culture references I mentioned. Finding out that he watched Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, that was a wierd one. I discovered that, by totally ignoring everything my mum was saying in the background, I could have an entire normal conversation with him.

Earlier this year at my mum's birthday, my aunt (mum's sister) and uncle visited and brought her photo albums of the family. She had many photos of my grandad growing up that I had never seen before. My mum's album is full of pictures of my grandma and her family, and herself as a child. She also brought my grandad and his father's war medals that they had framed up. It was very emotional seeing and holding them, flicking through pictures of my grandad over the years. There was a photo of him in uniform at sea. Aunt said they were probably on the boat to Hong Kong. I'd known he had been a POW of the Japanese in WWII. I think if my parents hadn't been there, I would have blubbed my eyes out. But not in front of my mum. I don't respect her enough to let her see me cry.

This Christmas, my aunt and uncle came here again. They came round to our house after visiting with my parents, and we talked a lot about them growing up, moving around and my grandma's mental illness. She's a smart person, it seems as if she was aware of her mum's problems from an early age, even if no diagnosis had been made. I wonder if maybe my mum couldn't cope with it in the way that Aunt did. Aunt has mentioned that my mum was a goody two shoes, always did as she was told no matter what. It occurs to me that I was brought up to do the same. Always obey, parents, teachers, employers, government, but blindly, without consideration, because to question would be disrespectful. I think that it is healthy for children to say "No!" and to make their own decisions. I'm glad I eventually learned to do that for myself.

Maybe the reason my mum has hardly any photos of her dad is that she was blind to all else except her beloved mum. She cried loads when her mum died unexpectedly in her sleep nearly 11 years ago (can't believe it's been so long), but not so much when her dad died of cancer later that year. To be honest, I think her dad was always a little distant, as many POW survivors were. He never spoke of his experience until shortly before he died, and then it was to Aunt's vicar, and it was Aunt who arranged the burial and Aunt who planned the funeral. I don't think my mum ever really knew what he went through.

I think my dad had a fairly normal upbringing, and underneath is a fairly normal guy. Okay he's a bit OCD, obsessed with hygiene, maybe a touch of Asperger's, and he obviously feels the need to compete when it comes to other people's belongings. I wonder if, were it not for my mum, he would be doing more with his life. I remember being young and being told, my dad's hobbies were frivolous, his collection of old records was pointless, but these were normal things for a person to have in their life. Now I wonder if he was just trying to retain his own identity while keeping mum happy.

I feel guilty that the balance has shifted, but I feel happier that I get on well with at least one parent now. And I'm honestly not sure that my mum has noticed.