Pride and the monsters


Sipping tea, can hear some movement upstairs, probably Syd getting up, hopefully so, he is off to his dads for the weekend.

Syd was woken by the drunken men in the night. I was too. Bad enough to be woken by an ill child but by drunken men stumbling around in the half light thats just really really annoying.

Syd is now watching The Mighty Boosh.

Me: How do you spell boosh Syd ? 

Syd: Are you going to write about me ? 

I have found some photographs on the internet of a house that I lived in as a child. Everything has changed. Everything has been white washed and modernised and the garden carved up. The conservatory to the back of the house has been replaced by a sun room, where once a beautiful grape vine that grew.The vine that bore fruit, extraordinarily large grapes, bitter with pips that stuck in-between your teeth and had to be spat out. The conservatory was the place where we kept scooters, wheelbarrows, footballs, old pieces of furniture and where the cats kittens were born and raised.

Stone steps from the conservatory led in to my dad’s study. A place that was out of bounds. An orange carpeted room, covered in piles of paper work and a record player, a collection of albums in a plastic case, mainly classical and some Abba. Abba was about as exciting and mainstream as it got and I think that there was one New Seekers single. Dad seemed to spend hours in the study. I can remember being allowed  to ‘visit’ him in the study if I sat on the carpet and was quiet. I remember watching him work, make notes, type furiously, occasionally smile. He wore wild shirts of shifting pattern and colour and cords.

The garden was amazing, the sort of garden you could completely disappear into. A front garden, side garden, and the orchard at the back, a gravel path that swept from front to side to back joining it all together. A snake. Two walnut trees. Firs at the front. Apple, pears and damson trees in the orchard. I have written something about the Orchard, I’ll dig it out, maybe publish it here.

I spent a lot of time up the trees, watching the world below. When my little sister was born I got stuck up a tree and my poor mother had to climb up to help me down. She still recounts the story. She must have been so sore and tired. Climbing a tree is really not the sort of thing for a woman to be doing days after giving birth.

My baby sister was fretful, she cried and cried and hated to be put down. So desperate was my mother for some rest that she would push her pram to the end of the garden and leave her there.

She was a beautiful little baby all small neat features, peach skin and rosy cheeks, my brother named her after his friend at school who had died too young of leukaemia.

My sister was born at home. All I can remember about her birth was staying over the night at a friends house. All I can remember is a green carpet, an unfamiliar smell.

The garden barely exists.

Back then to the front there was a high bank, a rockery, a large lawn, a privet hedge, firs, a red brink wall and stone gate posts with a name and number carved in. The lawn was soft and mossy, me and my elder sister would practice our gymnastics cartwheels, foreword rolls, my brother would play cricket or kick a ball. The privet hedge provided food for our stick insects that we kept in old plastic sweet jars from the newsagents.

The garden to the front is gone, and the firs, its all gravel and garage, and looks ugly.

The side garden has been cut of trees and life. Nowhere to make a den out of kitchen chairs and blankets, no soil to make mud pies, no walnuts to toast on a fire. The side garden ends at a fence and a full stop.

There is no beyond the side garden, the coach house is now another home, and the orchard just a lawn. All the fruit trees have been slayed. The allotments are still there, so maybe the trough is too. The trough where we would race newts on pieces of bark across the water surface deep in lime coloured pond weed.

Time is up…the beep on the buzzer has sounded, The mighty Boosh has ended, Syd is in the shower. Time is up…..


Me and Naoise played drawing Monsters together and we held hands watching films on the sofa. Naoise got very annoyed when I was working, and pleaded for my attention. We eventually got to watch The Princes Quest.

In the evening me and the children watched Pride, the film about the gay activists raising money for the welsh miners in the 1980’s. Thatchers cruel years. Such a great film, I recommend it. I need to be more proactive, join marches, sign petitions, there is so much to be angry about. Austerity Britain does not seem quite as bleak as it was growing up as a child in the 1980′. But then again perhaps it is, maybe its worse, we have food banks, bedroom tax, cuts to public services, dentists bills to pay, unfilled holes in our teeth and the road, a lack of affordable housing, mistreatment of vulnerable and disabled, a worn away welfare system, student fees, debt and the NHS, always under threat of privatisation, there are few jobs and the rich seem to get richer…..the gap between us and them grows wider.

Don’t mention the environment, the lack of fossil fuels, global warming, the eradication of the rain forests, denial is easier. Don’t think about a future for our children.

I remember being on the picket line with my mum (she was a nurse), toasting my hands around the sides of a burner outside the cottage hospital where she worked. Nurses, coal miners, bin men, strikes, power cuts, bags of uncollected rubbish, the Falkland’s war, and the disappearance of corn beeth hash from the dinner table, the scary aids advertisement’s on prime time TV, Nucleur weapons……..and the year my dad lost his job and we moved from away from my dream house to a council house with an outside loo.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *