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Saturday, 19 November 2011

Violated teddy bears, hauntings, an unapology, a benidorm dream and Clare De Lune.

"No! Sorry. There's only one christmas day, 25th December, only that day. I am not accepting any other possiblities". The boy's lively tone has an edge to it. "Oh, oh no, in fact it could have been another day, like, like, some people think it was in April, A theologian visiting our school told us , they just picked the 25th in order to have a day to celebrate".  The rest of what the boss has to say is drowned out by a resounding "No" from the boy  "I mean, right,  we will agree to differ on this " ( the parental solution, imposed on extreme arguements is  now adapted by the boy) "but"  (sotto voce) its the 25th. Only one." Poor boy, brain of ungiving cut and thrust, muscles of steel, instincts of a scrapper, and heart of mush. He it is who digs out halloween and Christmas decorations every year, sternly upholding family traditions. He discovered this year, at Halloween, that one of our large witch posters had vanished,  disintegrated as I  explained  (after seven years hard haunting) and I rushed to find the remaining one ( lurid orange with hook nosed, pointy chinned, leering witch.). "Oh, at least you kept that one. That one's sacred. You will keep that one, wont you?". I am an abandoned  declutterer, ruthless and reckless in dispatching stuff  via bin , blackbag and recycling plant. It is the only way, I find, to hold back the tide of stuff  that comes with stages, interests, and essential needs of three children who are as sentimental about stuff as they are fickle,  forever moving on to the  next  irrisistible thing. They mistrust me deeply, of course, suspect me if stuff can't be found. I am blamed, even as I tell them  I should cast out more! more! to save  us all and the house being engulfed in a tsumani of STUFF..

Anyhow, the boy puts up his sacred pictures every year, and has an ancient teddy bear in his room, a hostage to fortune, who from time to time is seized and borne off by our Hound of the Baskervilles , to a corner of the house to be violated. The hound is entirely addicted to the raiding and carrying off of soft toys, all the cuddlies and fluffies from the girls bedrooms, and the boy's bear (positively the only soft item in his bedroom). The hound knows his transgression is heinous indeed, but he can't help himself, the wild light of addiction, the reckless thrilling joy of being bad, in his eyes as he streaks past you on the stairs, a fluffy  between his jaws. He has removed the eyes and nose of the boy's bear, in various attacks, before being cast out into the garden by a distraught boy. And I can tell you that your heart would have to be a cold and stony place indeed, not to be  yourself  undone by  the boy's raw sorrow,  his anguished demands that you repair the bear. He left it behind him  in a hotel when he was younger (couldn't holiday without it ) and I had the  guilt racked sense of having carelessly misplaced a child until we got the  lost  one  back (messy detour with distracted boy). Least I ever forget,  the boy needs his ediface of sacred days, and bears  and holy pictures,  even as  I work on   regulating his profanity.(a work in progress)

I am all aglow on Tuesday after the boss's parent teacher meeting.(Her last one in Primary school)  Is it too fanciful to think that the universe gave me boss's  parent teacher meetings  to make up for all the rest?  (the horror, the horror!).  It's all good, no , it's all superlatives, let's not be modest here. Well I don't actually take credit for it, she came onto the planet fully formed, already superlative (I have the baby  pictures to prove it, her large intelligent face looking benignly at the camera,  like a visiting alien from an altogether superior species, whose intentions are, more or less,  altruistic) So, no, I don't take credit but I do bask in reflected glory, the boy asking me why I am grinning broadly  (like a crazy person) when I return to the car.

On the way home, she asks me if  I want to know something really annoying and JUST WRONG  about the broadcaster, Pat Kenny. "Umm yes, why not" (surely nothing sordid?).  "Well he gets  paid €90 per hour, every hour, EVEN WHEN HE IS SLEEPING,  while, like,   people in the world and maybe even in his own country now are starving."  "Pardon?"  "Yes, even though  he ONLY (heavy irony) gets paid €730,000 now, and...and he used to get  €900000, thats still €90 he gets  every hour EVEN WHEN HE IS SLEEPING. And,  and, like,  he must surely know PEOPLE ARE STARVING.   "Oh.  I see." (I guess Pat Kenny's not sleeping the sleep of the just, so ). She asked me last week whether I had a pension plan in place, (an extremely distracting line of questionng when  you are driving. I can tell you )(particularly from a strong minded person not easily fobbed off). "I mean" she went on, "how do you plan to have money mum, when you retire?" (Her uncle retired recently, and it was discussed.)  The boy snorted and I thought, ( an interior rant) retire? retire! I am never retiring.  Expiring  maybe,  when the three are launched and paid for, my ghost to walk the road between home and town (the  local metropolis where it all happens,  shooling, work and three burgeoning social lives) , screeching nastily at those cars with double headlights that blinded me when in my  earthly shape, and   flashing a ghostly boob from time to time   at boy racers .(as you do ). Retirement is for wimps,  civil servants, and politians.  However, and particularly after her impressive outing of Kenny, I am handing the management of my financial affairs over to the boss, (as soon as it is legal).

"Its just completely unaceptable using that sort of language att this hour of the day, mum, and I am tired of being subjected to it , and I'd like to know what you are going to do about HIM"  the first daughter glares at my back (I can feel it), as I attempt to get the car out of the estate on to the road on Wednesday morning.  "What? what? what did he..."  "He told me to shove it up my arse, when I asked him to move his schoolbag (both sitting in the back), at this hour of the morning!, something has to be done about him!"  (I sometimes expect an American accented director type to reveal to me that we are actually in an extended version  of the movie Groundhog Day)  "Apologise" I order the boy hastily ( the delicate eared one is not going to let this go ) "For what!, she said stuff too". "Apologise! Now".  "Uh ah em   sor (sic) (its the unapology !, a boy special).  "Apologise PROPERLY "    "Sorry. I'll never ever say that again.  Never. Until later on in the day ". The delicate eared one begins a long lament on her misfortune in being connected  to such as the boy, and   doubly afflicted  in having a mother who LETS HIM AWAY WITH IT, while I reflect on how I told the boy last night that I was climbing on to the roof  to signal (any) passing aliens, who might be interested in taking him off for a good probing , after another round in the   war  of attrition between himself and his sister, while we were watching Speilberg's alien saga, Taken.  "APOLOGISE, SINCERELY AND AND NICELY RIGHT NOW". The boss sighs deeply into the silence that follows, and remarks on how impossible it is to disscuss thing with the boy's noise. "Shush " I hiss at him, as he gathers his verbal forces (I can feel it) (he knows she is an unstoppable force once she gets going) and she's off (he subsides, in the back) (I can........). The boss is afire with a school project where they set up a mini company in small groups, she and her friend plan to create a website to sell tee shirts and other items with her own designed logo, but,  like, her friend wants to sell things very cheaply, and , like , I told her we had to make a profit, and she said, what? whats that?and I told her,  and she said Oh.  And then, like,  she wanted to sell teeshirts with the twilight logo, beause, like, the movie is just out, but I said we could not, because there  would  be ,like,  legal problems , and she said Oh.  But I said I have worked out a design we can use, and, like, now we have to figure out what we need to buy , to, like,  transfer the design on to the teeshirts,  and, like, we could like  use your credit card mum,. and ...."    and I said "Oooh. Well anyway darling here we are, at school and I daresay we can discuss this later".

And still, I though afterwards , driving solo (bliss) one shouldn't dismiss any of the boss's ideas out of hand. I suspect she will be generating  shed loads of  money some day, and may syphon some of it off  to me (as a sort of afterthought). I don't  exactly stay up nights tormenting my poor head  about  retirement plans  ( see para four  above), but one should always have a fall back plan. Probably.  Well in fact I had a vague plan about taking myself off  to Benidorn, in Spain,  because it is sunny,  cheap and there's a grand view of the beech, if you take the precaution of renting  an apartment on the top floor of one of those high rise blocks, which I presented to my incredulous siblings on a night out recently, my vision deepened by pints of carlsberg.(oh yes)   After all, money is mostly needed in the rearing of children, and after that, what DO  you actually need, other that a supply of books, a decent sound system, a kitchen to cook in,  the odd bottle of wine and walks on the beech?  I used to think of this, when driving past Benidorm, (to somewhere more salubrious) on spanish holidays, I explained, and if one was lonely there would always be lovely english expatriots to talk to  and ...and  karaoke!  I can say accurately , at that point, that    my Benidorm dream  fell apart at the seams,  thrashed by my loving family's amused jeering at my low class vision for the future. (my negative equity inspired lateral thinking)  Still,  Spain sounds  a deep cord in  me, the tatty  and the sublime, the  lilting murmer of  spanish voices, the landscape baked all summer long, the complex tragic history and I may get  there yet (Benidorm or elsewhere), if  there is a lull before the Expiring that is, and I manage to keep my wits from wandering too far astray (probably requires a good sheepdog).

And besides, Karaoke, what's not to love? It has everything, freakshow, beauty and the sweet sweet music of good natured ,allowing  humanity. The earnest young girls, veterans of high school musical and  glee, who know all the words and sing without misgiving; the vibrant, disinhibited,  comrade in armed hen party girls shouting in perfect harmony, the startling solitary diva (always one) who takes you by surprise, making  the hair stand up on the back of your neck, with her  note perfect purity, (its  like  panhandling for diamonds really)(with the muddy bits being far more fascinating) the middle aged, shedding sense, discrimination and timing in an out pouring of  damp eyed  sentimentality and lets not forget the begrudgers  wallowing in a pleasurable orgy of distaste.   Its all good my friends.

On Friday, I am commissioned to download the musicsheet  for  Debussy's Clare De Lune, by my delicate eared one. Having recently taken her grade six piano exam, she needs a piece for a pending  provincial  piano competition. We went to open night at the boss's chosen secondary school on Tuesday night, where she and I trailed  exhausted after a   bouncing boss, determined to vist every nook and cranny, unearth every possible activity on offer, so that she could plot and plan  the next six years itinerary. As we trudged past yet another open doored, brightly lit classroom, the first one grabbed me by the elbow "Oh listen"! I extracted my attention from its  fug of overload and observed  a small girl playing Clare De Lune on an enormous piano with the most delicate timing and lovely competency to an entirely empty room, unheard except by my subtle, music loving girl. "Ah" she said "thats been in my head for ages, before I even knew the name, that's what I'm playing for  the concert. Oh listen! That's it. I am so happy." And she is, at the prospect of learning something really hard to master, of torturing herself  in obsessive and determined fashion with her  will of iron and  her able flexible fingers, till she gets it right, its beauty as suble, ordered and demanding as her own.

(the memory of the small girl who played the piano to  an empty room with such passion and delicacy, and I wish I could share the exquisite sound of her playing in those few moments with you my friends,  now stored in my gallery of mysterious, haunting and magical things (a  gorgeous mystery wrapped in a beautiful enigma) for all time ).

Footnote: dispatches from a roof, basically no show by the aliens.