I'm an avid reader, writer and pianist. I have written on a variety of subjects and in various genres from children's stories, poetry and history to adult short stories. My three Skinny Pigs and I live by the sea, where I grew up.
Letter to my grandchild
Darling, you’ll grow up and have the whole world at your feet. There’ll be so many things to do and people you can meet. Be a famous scientist or paint a work of art. Explore another planet if that’s what fills your heart. Be a political activist. Stand and join the fight for refugees and animals and other eco rights. You could be a traveller and fly across the sky and witness ancient cultures that exist from years gone by. If you decide to stay at home or work a 9 to 5 then that’s okay my darling, if it makes you feel alive. It matters not if you decide to live a hippy life and throw away the shackles of perpetual fiscal strife. Build yourself a little shack along an English shore or go and raise some chickens on a farm in Bangalore. ‘Happy’ is a construct that we cannot just achieve without a constant longing for the things we think we need. But being true to you and whatever you feel’s right should be the only thing you need to set within your sights. Remember you’re loved more than you will ever understand and I will always be with you, your ever loving, Nan.
The Pear Tree
You open your eyes. The pitter-patter of raindrops on the window has woken you from a dreamless sleep. Another night of delicious nothingness. But now you are awake and the teardrops sliding down the window- pane match those that have begun to trickle from your eyes. A teardrop sneaks its way into your ear, a ticklish reminder of whispers of love. You blink slowly, turning onto your side. Funny how an empty space can feel so full. You turn to face the window, unable to look at the reminder of enforced solitude. You close your eyes and sigh, swallowing back another outpouring of god-awful grief.
We had a family friend called Arthur. Of all of our friends and acquaintances Arthur was the roughest. And I mean rough as a badger’s arse. He wasn’t very educated and he was certainly opinionated but as the saying goes, he was a rough diamond and would do anything to help out (especially old ladies).
For the Love of Skinny Pigs
It is a well known fact that cats and dogs can be therapeutic. They are brought into hospitals and retirement homes because of their sanative dispositions and let us not forget also that dogs are man’s best friend. Well, my best friends are my Skinny Pigs. They bring me inner peace. Whenever I’m feeling exhausted, lethargic, poorly or sad, just a few minutes with Mabel, Doris and Matilda make me feel better.
When I considered the title of this challenge I had to stop and think. I love reading and writing, studying and playing the piano but what actually gets me fired up enough to speak out? I have a Facebook page where I share my thoughts in both prose and poetry so I had a look back to see if there was a recurring theme. And there was. I discovered a curious mix of sentimental prose, rather dark fiction and poetry that I have obviously written from the lofty heights of my soapbox.
Hazel is my upstairs neighbour. She’s little, old and thin and rather reminds me of my mum who died twelve years ago. In fact, they’d be about the same age, both born just before the end of World War II. Once a week or so Hazel and I have a coffee either in her flat or mine. I don’t allow smoking in my flat but I make an exception for Hazel. When I put the kettle on I dig out my mum’s green, glass ashtray from the 1970s and, with coffees in hand, I make myself comfortable while I listen to Hazel’s stories, most of which I’ve heard several times. That’s the trouble with getting old, you can only look back. But, I am very respectful of the fact that old people have lived, really lived (I’m thinking bombing and rationing) and I think I carry that respect over into material possessions too. I hate the idea of memories being lost and perhaps I place too much sentimentality onto inanimate objects but that’s what makes a possession sacred and special - the emotion we project onto it.
Fury at Last
God, this coffee’s rank. I feel like a bit of a shit for walking out of the wake but you know what? I don’t fucking care. For years she ruined everything for me - playdates cancelled ‘because I said so’, school discos missed ‘because I said so’, hot dates denied ‘because I said so’ and why? Because she fucking said so. That was her ‘go to’ when she had no other reason for making my life miserable. When I was a kid I believed her when she’d say she was only looking out for me but I soon saw the truth. You know you get to that age, that bloody frustrating age when you’re old enough to rationalise and argue your point but ultimately you’re still a child and have to do as you’re told? I’ll tell you, if being a bitch was an Olympic sport my mother would win gold. And, lucky me, I was an only child. Dad fucked off when I was ten. Can’t blame him. He’d had enough and the local barmaid, Liz, was warm and caring and fun and normal. I loved spending time with her and dad. But mostly it was just me and mum for about a decade. Me, mum and ‘because I said so’.
Simplicity and Practicality. My mum was a simple woman. I don’t mean unintelligent, she just didn’t crave money or material possessions. Her hair was always short and she rarely wore make-up. I rarely remember her in anything but trousers (particularly her purple, flared cords so popular in the 1970s). My dad told me that he loved the way she was plain but feminine. In her wardrobe though, she had a pretty pink blouse, a black pencil skirt and some patent leather court shoes for special occasions. After my son was born my wardrobe was divided up much like my mum’s used to be. Looking back at photos I can see that the clothes with the persistent stains and holes are linked with some wonderful times with my son and my sister’s kids - messing about in the garden, playing on the beach, making art and craft projects and cooking. When I was a kid we had a vegetable garden. Mum was always out there weeding, picking and digging. In fact she was digging up potatoes the day my sister was born. She was never bothered about my clothes getting dirty - they could be washed. I’m very much the same. I would much rather enjoy my time with my youngest nieces than fret about chocolate finger prints on my jeans. They’ll grow up soon enough and my jeans can be washed.