Some clever dick once wrote that women are from Venus and men are from Mars. I would never have believed this until the other day Husband when started speaking Martian. I couldn’t understand a word that came out of his mouth. I must have looked at him oddly because his Martian grew dialect and began to twist and and grow spikes. I still couldn’t understand him which made me frustrated, and before I knew it, I began to speak Venutian. Husband took to his cave. He has been there for a while now. He sometimes comes out to check we are all waiting outside, keeping vigil. He comes out to swing his club – his golf has improved I hear, or to cast a fly that lingers on the end of his rod tied on with an almost invisible yet extremely strong line of nylon. Last night he caught a fish.
I do believe that marriage is a road that sometimes runs out of tarmac. It happened to my sisters’ marriages. One day they were trundling along the marriage path way – bumpy in parts, exciting in others – enduring both fair and inclement weather and then, stop. No more road left for them to travel down. So they bid their spouse goodbye and ventured to new life pastures to graze on the leaves of liberation until, one day (for one of them) a new path appeared.
An unhappy marriage or one that ends is a nasty Earthen condition. So I busy myself finding material to make some harmonious and robust marriage road for the both of us. This isn’t the first time this has happened, so I go to my stock pile of hope and what-the-hell, to see what I can do. I don’t want things to end or even grow badly. I don’t want things to end at all. And I wonder maybe, it is best just to not want things to be nice and happy and harmonious? To stop wanting all things altogether might be one way of coping and accepting that things are, just the way they are. Maybe I should not want him to come out of his cave and leave him to his granite hollow.
This thought reminds me of a lady I once worked with, Gill. She didn’t want anything. I know this because one day, in work when I was dreaming up lessons and she was sharpening pencils, she told me that when she was younger her Quaker parents wouldn’t let her have anything. She had one toy and that was enough, She had one bike and that was enough. Her cousin had a horse that she could trot on so and that was enough. She had wanted other things to complete her childhood, like a tea set, a party dress or a stick, but no. Her parents refused everything and her ‘wanting and desiring’ for the silly little things drove her almost to distraction. She soothed herself by having the brilliant idea of just choosing not to want anything, ever again. And that is how she lived – until the day when there was a social gathering on the horizon. She had told me, she didn’t own a dress. I looked at her, “You don’t own a dress?” No, she said, she did not own and dress and she was very happy about that too. “What about a skirt?” I ask her. “You could wear a skirt for the social gathering in the calender that indicates making oneself look pretty and happy to be a part of the celebration.” And then she told me. “I don’t own a skirt!” I looked at her. “You don’t own a skirt? Not one?” And she replied in her best North Yorkshire chant of “noooooo”, this also insinuated that I should stop asking her questions. When she had finally exhaled her long and lingering negative affirmation, I pushed on and asked her in all seriousness, “Gill, if you don’t have a skirt, what do you wear when you do skipping?” She put down her clutch of pencils and pressed them hard into the table as she looked at me. “I don’t own a skirt, I don’t own a dress, and I don’t to do skipping!” she piped. And then put her face to her pencils, pushed her specs up her nose and hummed. I offered to take Gill shopping and then she, offended that I thought that she didn’t know how to shop, declared that she would shop for a skirt and that this would make us both happy. The following week, Gill skipped into the staff room swinging a bag on the end of her right index finger. Her hair had been washed and she was wearing a smile. She had bought a skirt, herself. A very expensive skirt. She went to the ladies and tried it on to show me, she lifted up her navy fleece jumper to expose the waste band and low and behold, the woman had a small waste and looking down her milky legs, I notice the most sculpted ankles. Gill! I declare – you have the most amazing legs! Are you sure you don’t do skipping? She did not. I will put money on the fact that Gill still has this one skirt, has never wanted to own another and still has not experienced the joy of one skip followed by another.
Reflecting on Gill, brings me to consider Kate Winslet. The famous Kate never stops wanting and never stops getting. Do you know, she has three wedding day albums and three children and three rooms filled with awards, that’s not to mention her time pieces. Where does she find the time for all these things, all these films, all these children and husbands, long dresses, wrist watches and awards? Does she spend her currency of time or waste it? Does she use her time to accumulate more experiences and things that stretch her existence in some way? And what about Kate’s stock pile of ‘hope and what-the-hell’ needed to build marriage road tarmac? Did she ever have a pile to begin with? Three marriages in, I’m not sure she did. I can’t decide.
I call Cousin John to discuss. Cousin John is the cousin of my late mother. Which makes me his second something or other. It’s a good thing to be, I have decided. He is the one of the few men who knows every word and verse to “In My Liverpool Home” and can sing sea shanties with the voice of an opera singer. He is diversity in socks. We talk on the phone. He tells me he has escaped his beloved Irene who is in the kitchen talking to her sister. He is on a bike ride and has just stopped at the meadow by the river Trent to lie in the grass and drink a secret can of Guinness. The sun is shining. Oh delicious, I tell him, cold Guinness in tall meadow grass. I like his choices. We discuss stressful situations. John deals with his stress by putting it in a drawer and forgetting about it. Like a wasp or an angry boss. If you ignore it, eventually it will go away. He tells me stories of his mother and my grandmother. They would visit each other every day and talk and talk and talk until – as a boy – he questioned them. Surely you can’t have anything else left to talk about because you are always together talking – what is there left to discuss? The sisters had lived through the second world war and the Battle of Britain when Hitler sent his planes over to Liverpool and bombed their chippy. They had everything to talk about and still would never be finished. I recalled the story of when Nana Lilian was having a date with the Norman she would marry when a bomb dropped in Bootle which sent John’s mum to the ground. She wasn’t far from where it fell and had been on her way home from work. When she got home she found Lil and Norm sat on the sofa, both with soot on their noses and their heads and shoulders from when the house had shook with the blast. They were still carrying on with their date. still on the sofa, still nibbling on sandwiches. Bomb or no bomb they carried on. This experience didn’t rock them. Not long after this they got married. I am glad they did. They were wonderful grandparents.
In Lockdown it helps to talk to wise family and see friendly faces. I see Mark and Ceri’s faces across the garden a couple of weeks ago. They seem calm if liberated by the whole lockdown experience. They have been given their daughter back from the clutches of school. She is free to prance with petals and puppies and skip into imaginary bubbles of fragrant playtime that can come and go with the clouds or when she decides and not be dictated to by the ticking clock of any establishment. She can rely on her own innocent whim. We discuss words, loved ones and blow outs. These friends are like flowers that stand socially distant on the grass and then leave with the evening breeze, taking their baby home with them. We are warmed by the glow of funny memories and the comfort that comes with sharing a page.
We have all been locked down now for weeks. Husband has actually been locked down since the 27th February which makes his cave dwelling understandable. He works from home, washes from home, digs his cave from home. No wonder he is speaking Martian. He is afraid of the Covid Curse – he saw how it floored me – and so I decide to help him. I start to by making soap that has messages in it like “Fuck off Covid 19” and “2 meters” and “stop the world I want to get off”. I hope that these soaps will cheer him up – contribute to the pile of ‘hope and what-the-hell’ to get him back on happy tracks and draw him out of his cave. Then I make some to cheer myself up, too. The lemon soap with a conker in is called, William the Conkerer. They all go to the isolation station. And then I attempt to make soap that has the message of hope that is attached to a rope. A tricky business, putting a message of hope in some soap attached to some rope, but I get there in the end. This inspires me to make some more Man Hands Moisturiser which is a hard moisture bar that Husband likes, but for this, I need more Bees Wax.
I don’t take bees wax from the hive in the garden because we are the worse bee keepers in Yorkshire – Husband and me – and every time we open the hive we have an argument. And yes, it is actually possible to have an argument over 40,000 angry bees, believe it or not who try and sting you for pissing them off – opening up their colony, dousing them in smoke and then stopping to bicker while they choke and panic. Thankfully these moments which also involve a few bee stings, are always short lived. So instead, we drive to see the Bee Man who sells me the expensive golden sweet fragrant wax, which he fetches from his own hives… no doubt in a calm experienced manner……… most likely without his wife. When we get to his house and out of the car I wear my mask. The Bee man laughs and leaves the wax on the wall for me to take. I hand over the money and ask him, “What are you laughing at, I didn’t laugh at your car registration plate I just noticed now on your van that reads B E E?” “You, you in your mask”, he says, “That’s what I am laughing at”. This is fair enough, it doesn’t suit me. And then he does that Yorkshireman thing. He delivers his opinion, like a rehearsed sermon with immovable faith. “Listen” he starts. I can’t not listen, this is a Yorkshireman with over fifty hives and an strong point of view. I adjust my mask and open my ears and nod for him to commence, which he does. “This Covid thing” he starts, “there are only a handful of cases ‘ere in North Yorkshire, in a population of over three HUNDRED – thousand and those that ‘ad it brought it up from London which is so disappointing….. (a pause here) But everyone has gone over the top, wi’ masks and gloves and all. It’s just madness. Over the top madness!” And he has finished. Quite a short sermon I feel. And to the point. Succinct, even. I nod. And blink. I want to tell him about the funerals I have been officiating, the brick in my chest that is finally dispersing after 9 weeks, our old friend Hugh who is in hospital for the second time with breathing problems, the fear my friend Louise had for her mum who had to battle the virus alone at home, aged 79, not to mention the pain and fear left with people I know as well as thousands of others I don’t, after losing loved ones too soon, knowing that they died alone. But I don’t. I don’t say a word. My mask helps. He can’t see my expression of WTF!!!! and so insteasd to the Bee Man I do say, “Thank you very much for the wax Mr Bee Man and goodbye to you!’ He is a Yorkshire man with an opinion. You have to leave them to it. Like a scouser with a joke, or a taxi driver with a life story, one mustn’t interrupt. I get back in the car.
Husband and I drive home past a kebab shop. We buy a dirty stinky greasy kebab and sit on the hill not far from the house in his car and talk about our children. He asks me, are you going to write about this moment in your next blog? How we sat and had a laugh and a beer together in the car and ate a dirty kebab, on a date. “I might do, I say. But what is so interesting about this?” But he is right, any thing nice is worth talking about. We eat kebab and talk about how we hope that one day soon, we might be feeling relaxed about things, we might be carefree and happy once again with family and friends filtering through the house. We hope this Virus will one day be gone for good. We hope that his mum will not get too depressed being in complete isolation in Wales. We hope my brother Steven doesn’t become ill while he is being shielded in Lancashire. We hope Hugh comes out of Southport hospital soon and is able to breathe easily, we hope Susan is coping with the death of her mother and the feelings of grief and despair. We hope that my chest X-ray will show nothing nasty. We hope I raise enough money to start Alison’s bereavement charity. We hope sister Becky will get through her divorce unscathed and once again travel on a happy track of love. We hope one day we will have forgotten to speak Martian and Venutian as it does us no good and as we look out over the hill to the dry quarry that sits in the lush landscape in front of us we hope that one day, all this will be something we remember with wise nods and knowing frowns. And as we know, hope is the last thing to die, we continue to hope and later we are reminded of the power of this little word as it sits in a soap suspended on a rope. The Beatles said that Love is All You Need, but I think that love is nothing without a little bit of hope, hope that the love keeps growing and that it doesn’t all come to an end, like a road that stops.
I am making lovely gift sets of bath bombs and soaps that can be bought for £14:99 and posted anywhere in the UK. Sets have the limited edition of Hope in the Soap on a Rope (because it is too good for the isolation station and I have only made six) so if you would like a bath or shower gift box donate at least £14.99 to my fund raiser and message me details of where you would like it to be posted to and any message you would like to include (Post in the UK) and I will send it for you. I have 47 days to go and still a lot to raise! And you see! Soap has its benefits! Let’s all hope I get there!
Thank you dears for reading my ramblings. I am still trying ever so hard to raise money so that I can start the Alison Bereavement Society Charity to support those who are bereft. If you feel generous right now, click on the linkety link and give us your money. Or tell your friends and they can give us theirs.
Now off you pop to be alert and socially distant and happy. Love your spouse, call your parents, send some flowers, stroke the faces of your children, tell those you love that you really do love them, say sorry for your wrong doings, forgive those who have hurt you and enjoy your time on planet Earth. And remember, hope is the last thing to die.
Until next time