I have been absent of late. There are reasons which will become clear so I want to get the ball rolling again with a tribute to the most fantastic person I’ve ever met. My mom. So, a little belatedly … A Happy Mother’s Day, with flowers from one of your favourite holiday spots. Roundham Head, Paington.
Speaking of holidays …
Some people have a good sense of direction. Unfortunately, not my mom. The reality was never more evident than on a break, way back in 1977 when both she and my nan got lost in the Ocean Hotel in Brighton. To be fair, it was a massive hotel which had over 300 rooms and it is understandable people could get confused. However, add the fact my mom could get lost in a caravan, then you had a recipe for disaster. It didn’t help she was with my aging nan at the time, who was even worse than Mom.
Still, they set out from the restaurant one morning to make their way back to the bedroom. The rest of us followed a while later and were surprised to find both of them missing. Therefore, search parties were sent out and we split into groups to begin combing the area.
A good half-hour passed until finally, I heard hysterical laughter coming from the other end of the staff quarter corridors and there they were, doubled up after taking a wrong turn and ending wandering aimless before being caught lurking near the rooms of the entertainment staff.
Okay, it was an easy mistake to make and I am reminded of my adventure within the catacombs of the Aldelphi Hotel in Liverpool. How history repeats.
Clearing the clutter.
I left home a good 25 years ago. When I moved, a fair number of boxes of clutter which had accumulated during my childhood and early twenties, remained at my mom’s house. All this got shoved up the loft to gather dust for many a year until it had to come down for insulation to be fitted. For years, my mom badgered me to sort it out and remove the items as they more or less took up half of my old bedroom. I never did, though and she got round the problem by every now and then, giving me small piles of objects which she said I may want.
I was in my own loft the other day and found the last lot she gave to me. A football annual from 1971, newspaper cuttings and a certificate to say I trained my dog in 1984. This said the dog could walk in a straight line without deviating and trying shag somebodies leg. Finally, there was a card which congratulated me on passing my driving test in 1982.
I only recently sussed that after much pleading, she’d decided I was never going to take the stuff so she adopted the policy of stealth. She would feed it to me in dribs and drabs without me realising she was handing me piles of crap that I didn’t want, but wouldn’t throw away.
I always wondered where I got my devious nature from.
Don’t mess with a Britt …
To look at her, Mom didn’t look remotely threatening, but get on the wrong side, and you’d find out otherwise.
I recall an incident where a man was hurling abuse and threatening violence. My mom shouted him down, putting him in his place.
‘Oh shut up and calm down, you stupid little man,’ she said to him as he retreated to the safer haven of his car on the busy main road.
Yes, I guess I know where I get my ability to stand my ground from. Thanks Mom.
Don’t ever try to put one over on your parents.
I learned this valuable lesson at the age of five and it came about as I started infants school. My mom had got me kitted out in an all new uniform and in particular, a P.E kit and pumps in a hand-sewn bag (For my US friends, pumps are gym shoes and P.E is gym/sports). On my first day, pump-bag in hand, I walked into the hall where I would be doing P.E. I took one look at the gigantic climbing bars which reached up to the ceiling and thought, ‘Fuck that for a month of Sundays.’
Therefore, when the first P.E lesson came along, this five-year old had the excuse. I said I didn’t have a P.E kit. This went on for a few weeks until the day I was summoned into the headmistresses oval office. When I try to picture the head, forty-five years on, I can only see Alistair Sim as Miss Fritton in the Saint Trinian’s movies. Strange that. So perhaps that’s what she really looked like.
I explained as best as a five-year-old could, that I couldn’t pass on the letter she wanted me to take home about the lack of P.E kit, as my mom did not like getting letters. You see, I explained I did not have a P.E kit due to the fact that we couldn’t afford to buy one. I will point out at this juncture that even then, I had perfected the art of coming out with perfectly believable bullshit.
All was sorted, or so I thought until the dreadful home-time later that day when my mom came to collect me and a showdown in the headmistresses office took place. It was explained that if we could not afford things, the school would could help financially.
Mom retorted that I did have a P.E kit (which was actually on my peg in the cloakroom all the time). I will leave it to your imagination just what sort of reaction I got from Mom and how much trouble I was in. Let me just say that on rare occasions afterward, the subject of the pump bag was brought up by Mom, just to make sure I haven’t forgotten it.
Look, I was five, and the climbing frame was bloody massive. They really should not expect children that age to endure torture chambers as such. It still took them four weeks to suss me out, though, until my mom did it for them.
One of the random things I love about Mom is the way that when I accompanied her to the supermarket, I would have finished with a full trolley and she would still be on the fruit and veg, weighing up the pros and cons of different brands of apples. Another, also in the shops, would be how she used to go through all the different cakes on offer to find the one with the most cherries in as she knew I liked them. A lasting memory. What more could you want than for your mom to make sure you had the perfect slice of cake.
It was Mother’s Day, two weeks ago.
Mom was rushed into hospital the Wednesday before. She just about managed to read and enjoy her cards, commenting to the nurses, she always had lovely ones from her children. She passed away a few days later. The funeral is this Wednesday. She will be so missed.
I can’t complain. I know people who lost their parents when they were young, even some who never knew their folks. So to have Mom for nearly 50 years, I reckon I’m lucky. Still doesn’t make the hurt any less.
All I want to say is, thanks Mom, I could not have wanted for more. You are the best.
Mom, with some dubious looking children.
*Signed with proper name, just for today.