Friday, 22 August 2008

So anyway . . . .

Home from the wars so to speak.

A friend at work is pretty worried because her son's on his way to Afghanistan shortly. As a mother, statistics don't mean a thing and the danger is ever present. He's unlikely to get even a scratch - more likely to get a boil or bad guts than come to any harm in action. I'm not sure how we ought to deal with it. Everyone is avoi
ding mentioning it and nobody talks about the situation out there. I think it's the wrong approach, but I tend to be callous / optimistic about that sort of thing.

He's set up their computer for video links and the like and he'll be sending email and making phone calls all the time. I'm of a generation who went to sea and relied on letters to keep in touch, so it all seems very strange. I think it'd be surreal being in almost constant contact with my family while I was in the middle of a war zone, or even abroad on holiday. Several people I know at work even take their XDAs on holiday with them 'just to keep in touch'. It's very strange. However, in the grand scheme of things, what's one life more or less when we're faced with a cold war revival and third place in the medals tabl
e at the Olympics? It's amazing the way the news programmes run stories together with seemingly equal importance. Suicide bombers just before the football results and QVC carries on regardless.

Busy weekend ahead. Housewarming party tomorrow, kids on Sunday and then take'em to the airport on Monday. In between this it'll be the hospital, house jobs and, maybe, painting some leads. Weather's going to be shite and so it's a perfect excuse to avoid gardening. Got some stuff finished and more stuff started on the painting table, but no drive to bash on with anything really. It's a shame, but this hospital thing ddrains energy like a cancer. I'm home around half past eight and then it's just vegitate until bedtime.

So today's toy:











You never know the minute . . . .

I've got an auntie, Auntie M, who is 89. She was 'born on the day of the Great Armistice' as it says in the family Bible and it looks as if she's on her way to meet her maker. She went into hospital about ten days ago with pneumonia, septicaemia in her blood, a raging chest infection and a temperature of a hundred and five. Not a bad collection of things by anybody's standard. Anyway, she's fought her way through the pneumonia and the septicaemia and her temperature is down, but she can't move much, can't speak, isn't often conscious or cognisant and still needs oxygen and a glucose drip. Hard as nails, but, as 89, I think she's had enough.

She's the last of her generation on all sides of the family and she'll take with her a lot of family history. There are only three of us left who can remember anything about the family and knew anyone from before the war. To paraphrase a line from a film, " the worrying thing about being one of the 'few' is how we keep getting fewer' . . . .

Back later.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Moribund

My Mother died in 1980, my Father died in 1985. I still think about them a lot and if they walked in through the front door tomorrow I'd welcome them with tears and open arms. They were great parents; full of faults and foibles and funny little habits and they rowed and laughed and I rebelled against them and finally realised, too late, what excellent people they were.

Where I was brought up we didn't have mothers and fathers, we had mams and dads. Mam was the disciplinarian and you didn't cross her because then it would involve Dad; the childhood equivalent of Defcon 4. Mam had the boniest hands in Salford which could inflict severe pain effortlessly and with lightning speed. She rarely used them, but I was a hell of a good 'ducker' nonetheless - all my mates were too. She didn't need to anyway because she had a tongue like a scalpel and could strip you to the bone with a very short phrase. I honestly can't remember Dad ever having to resort to a clip round the ear though I'm sure he did now and then, but the sound of disapproval from that deep voice was enough - I can hear it now, as clear as day.

As kids, neighbours kept an eye on you and weren't afraid to tell you off. Policemen warned you off with "I know where you live and I'll b
e round to see your Dad" and we'd shit conkers in case they did; which they didn't, of course. A penny would buy you an hour in the swimming baths, a bag of broken biscuits or a huge slab of cake with God knows what in it, a bag of scratchings from the chip shop or eight Mojos of Fruit Salads from the corner shop. We pinched apples from the greengrocer and got rhubarb from near the railway line - and sticky buds. A comic each week and scabs on our knees and we were happy because that's all there was.

We lived in an age of certainty where Germans and Japanese were bad, but Yanks were good and had co
wboys and big cars. The local clergy knew everybody and it didn't matter whether you were Catholic or Protestant. Hindus and Muslims were in comic stories about the Wolf of Kabul and Jews ran the haberdashery and jewellers and all lived in Prestwich. We were very familiar with what our Vicar called the 'Dark Skinned Races' because they came off the ships in the docks to drink and whore on Trafford Road. There were only three categories: Darkies, Indians and Lascars (anyone who didn't seem to fit the other two categories). And we didn't mind any of them, but we always touched the darkies for good luck.

Skip forward to the late 1960's and 'They' decided we lived in slums. I'm still not to sure who 'They' were, but, in a few short years, communities were destroyed and people who had lived and died together, been through two world wars, been blitzed, seen the first cars and the first men in space were scattered across Salford and housed in anonymous blocks of flats with new neighbours who they didn't see anyway and given shopping precincts full of strange shops selling stuff they didn't really want. Kids went to different schools, some brand new, and lost the freedom to roam the streets they grew up in.

Yes, you bet I'm bitter about it because now we've evolved into an unhealthy mix of 'you've got; I want' and plastic values. Neighbours are now a pain in the arse who park across your gates, but you rarely see them anyway. Consideration isn't something that comes naturally and is now purely a term in contract law. We've been enlightened in so many positive ways yet dragged into a new 'Dark Age' in many others and I find myself saying what Dad said when Kennedy was assassinated: "What's the world coming to?"