So, the schools and colleges and universities of England have broken up for the summer holidays – no, not vacation, we don’t say vacation in England, unless you are going away from home on an actual vacation! (The English language huh?!)
You’d think I would have time to settle into a decent writing routine, wouldn’t you?
Previously I had been posting for this blog on a bi-weekly basis, then I cut down to one as, working and fiction writing demanded more time.
Upon the arrival of end of June, I was raring to go. I had plans to edit a series of stupid stories and self-publish them. I have a complete manuscript that I am ploughing through for the umpteenth time, plus the short story I am currently working on, and the handful of submissions for short story/anthology open competitions/submissions.
First week off, the phone rings – my mother is in hospital
My folks are old, like octogenarian old. My father now shuffles – literally- at a pace that boggles the mind, he’s losing his eyesight, and his hearing, his appetite, his balance. Yet he remains as obtuse, argumentative, opinionated and bloody annoying as ever!
My brother and I can’t imagine why our mother ever stayed with him.
So now, instead of spending happy hours immersed in words, I am driving two or three times a week, on a 2 hour round trip to collect my old dad, through roadworks, hold-ups, congestion, to visit my mother in hospital and take him home again.
She had a half-hip replacement, so is learning to walk again. She’s doing well, considering. I wonder she doesn’t just pretend she can’t do it so she can have a longer break from my dad!
You might wonder that I don’t go more often – but we have one car and hubby needs it to get to work. You imagine living in suburbs that the bus service would be great – it isn’t. Anywhere outside of London has appalling public transport systems.
And so I drive the car whilst my dad points out every bus that passes and tells me it’s route, and exclaims at empty buildings and tells me his ideas for, well practically everything- “These people don’t think!” he rants in his now high-pitched voice – because he knows best. And points his hand across my face as I try to peer over and navigate the road, because he wants me to look at where the British Legion used to be, or where an ex-neighbour from twenty years ago, whom I do not remember, moved to. And we get into arguments because I cannot let him get away with saying things like, “Why do you drive this way? Why don’t you go along the Northbound? You people just can’t think in a different way.” And I rise to the occasion,( I have become in his mind You People, and it irks) reminding him that he had an hour long moan when I washed his tea-pot after doing the dishes.
“Why does it matter?” I had said.
“Because that’s the way we always do it.” He said.
“But it’s all done, see? The dishes are washed and put away, I’ve done the tea-pot, and wiped up, so why does it matter what order it gets done in?”
He pointed at the counter, “There’s water there.”
I stood and faced him and made him tell me why it made a difference. He, of course had no logical answer.
And so back in the car this Friday, I couldn’t resist bringing up the tea-pot argument when he criticised my route.
“Why do you wash the tea-pot before the dishes?”
“Habit.” He said.
“Well, there you go.”
He still harrumphed, so a sent a parting shot – “Pot, kettle, black. Sound familiar dad?”
This morning,as I was reading ‘Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim‘, my husband said I should use my writing as a catharsis and write, like David Sedaris, about my family. I’m afraid I don’t have the wit of Sedaris, or the unusual and interesting family, or events to satisfy anyone, just a stubborn set of parents and brother who all seem stuck, like flies in aspic, in a 1950s England, who enjoy complaining as much as the next Brit.
And I fear I might be the same!