Mice, men and plans.

Mice, men and plans.

“Maybe we can leave early?”

I have work, so it can’t be really early. But, as in less than two weeks, I shall be staying at work a little later (rather than go home before picking up Best Mate), I could leave half an hour earlier.

So, in order to be at home as quickly as possible today (Friday), last night, I went to buy cigarettes rather than, as I usually do, on Friday. And I bought that long-life milk to take down with me. That would mean that the only thing I would have to do on Friday night, on my way home, was fill up with petrol.

But, the best laid plans ….. etc., etc.

Of course, it was first mentioned, a few days ago.

“They can’t deliver the new furniture until Saturday.”

This is for the shop. Since he’s responsible for the layout, it’s important that he’s there. It was due to come this week, during the week but for some reason, can’t be done until Saturday. I ask if he has to stay and he says “no” but I’m not convinced. His boss has also told him he doesn’t have to be there. But I know he’ll feel responsible.

So last night, I met him and some of his colleagues for a drink. He tells me two things. 1. His brother (and girlfriend) will be staying at the house from next week (his girlfriend’s house got flooded and is being “worked on”) and, 2. he has to stay in Milan for Saturday.

Whereas I’m not really surprised, I’m disappointed (and very disappointed for him) on two fronts. First that his brother will “mess up” the tidy, super-clean house that he spent about a week doing, ready for our holiday and secondly that he can’t come down this weekend.

He’s quite angry and frustrated. With his brother and with the furniture thing.

I shall still go down tonight but it’s not really so important to leave early. My heart’s not in it. Without him it’s really not the same. But I’m going down because it will be so hot over the weekend and going down is so much better for the dogs, poor things. But, I think this year, we’ve actually travelled together only once. And, even if he annoys the hell out of me (switching off the air conditioning from time to time and not wanting me to smoke when I want and lots of “be careful”s or sharp intake of breaths because he thinks I’m not driving slow enough, etc.) I much prefer that he’s with me. In fact, I much prefer that he’s with me most of the time and this year he hasn’t been.

And, then, maybe, the weekend after, his brother will still be there so probably we won’t go down, which is a shame, mostly for him.

But let’s see. He wants to buy out his brother from the house. If his brother won’t give up his half, he says he will push to sell the house and then buy one of his own.

He’s angry and frustrated, I’m just disappointed. My plans were for nothing.

Lies, damned lies or much, much worse.

Another of those draft posts written but never published. This from July 2014. Maybe now the blog is more “secret” I feel better about posting it?


Of course, you never really know anyone, do you?

You have to trust. Or not.

And, then, there’s what someone tells you. Is it always true? If not, is it because they’re trying not to hurt your feelings – a “white” lie. Or, sometimes, is it more sinister than that.

There’ve been cases recently, in the newspapers, for example the girl who accused her boyfriend of rape and later admitted she had made it up just for attention.

Sometimes, it’s for attention. Sometimes, it’s because someone lives in their created world.

I employed a salesman who was like that, once. Later, when we learnt that everything had been a complete fabrication, everything started to fit into place. Unfortunately, by then, he had married one of our other employees and she ended up being taken for a ride too. But she was a strong lady and now lives happily (I think) with their rather delightful son. He, on the other hand, continues on separately from them.

Sometimes, I think it’s malicious. And those are the worst kind of people. They do it for spite, for jealousy, or just to be evil.

So, if, years later, you find out that something you had been told had been a fabrication but, as a result of that something, it had taken you down a road that affected, not only you but others as well, what should you do? How can that purposeful, vicious lie be undone?

Of course, first things first – maybe it wasn’t a lie? Maybe the lies are being told now? How the hell do you find out? Should you find out?

Or, perhaps, in any event, it’s better to leave things as they are? After all, many years have passed, many rivers crossed, many mountains climbed. And what possible good would it do to try and repair something broken by the vindictiveness of someone who’s now dead? What purpose would it serve?

The “Family” tag

Well, so far it’s taken me about 1 month to fix all the links/pictures.

But, I think I’ve done it.

Now there are a couple of things I want to do (such as linking to my “best” posts, linking to specific areas, etc.) which will take more time but, slowly, slowly.

In the meantime, I have got rid of about 50 or 60 posts (some of which were draft) and published some other draft posts (as you will see (as they are scheduled to post over the next few days) and as you will have seen already). Then set up some links from the old blog. And so on.

But, one of the things I just wanted to clarify, which came about as I was double-checking all the old posts. That is, Family. There is a tag “Family” which is great, of course, but not really that simple and could be confusing.

The Family Tag

In my head (and, therefore, on this blog) I have at least 3 very distinct and different “families”.

These are:

1. F’s family – who have always been so kind and who, initially, got me confused with S, F’s ex-boyfriend but, from the first time I met them have been very inclusive – i.e. including me. I treat them as family because, well, they are!

2. V’s family – who were always so lovely to me (with the exception of V’s sister, P and her ex-boyfriend who were, to be frank, downright racist!). I still phone on birthdays, send Christmas cards, etc. Of course, since the split, it’s not been quite so easy either for them or me. Worse still as V is now back “at home”, so more difficult for them, I imagine. However, there is a post soon about the call I made to his mum on her birthday. I still treat them as family because after more than 25 years of being my family, they are too!

3. My family – who, by and large, I dislike intensely. For a while, just recently, I was in touch with my younger brother but that seems to have petered out and, probably, that’s for the best. Just to be clear, there was my father (who died in 2003) who was a right bastard, my mother, one sister who is much like my father and two brothers, the youngest of whom looks slightly similar to me. I now have sister-in-laws and nephews and a niece – but I haven’t met any of them. I don’t treat them as family but as people to avoid. I find them intriguing in that they are my blood relations – but I really don’t have any ties to them. They are a bit like “ancestors” – but still alive (some of them). Only my maternal grandfather remains as the one of them who causes me to feel deep, deep love, even after he’s been dead for so long.

For all three above, if I post about them, I use the tag “Family”. So, it is possible to get confused by that.

So this is just to clarify the category.

I loved you for a bit and then I didn’t

I loved you for a bit and then I didn't

I wondered if I’d get anything.

My guess is that, by now, any credit he had on his Italian phone would be gone and, so, I thought it was unlikely that I would be able to get hold of him. I mean, directly of course. I could phone his mum or dad and ask to speak to him.

Anyway, he didn’t forget my birthday and, as usual, I get a text from him, wishing me a happy birthday and, as usual, expressing undying love for me. It’s unfortunate that, with all the lies over the years, I am completely unmoved by this.

He also tells me that he’s “in England at the moment.”

Of course, I already know this. Except that I know it’s not really “at the moment” but for good.

I know that an excuse will be forthcoming, eventually, so I think that we might as well get it over and done with and ask, in my reply, if everything’s OK. Are his mum and dad OK?

This would give him the opportunity to come up with the excuse. The one I’m thinking of is that he has “gone home to look after them.”

Instead, he ignores the question but send me this video to watch:

Ellie Goulding – How Long Will I Love You.

Of course, the answer to that was about 18-19 years, I guess. I so want to reply that – but it wouldn’t be nice, so instead I say thank you.

I suppose that Ay hasn’t told him what I know. If she calls me later, I will ask. Just to make sure. She and I need to stay on the same page with this, of course.

I’ll accept his reasons, whatever they will be. It’s not like I want to trip him up. I don’t hate him after all. It’s just a bit sad.

Plus that he really did love me but only for a period of time. And, then, he didn’t love me any more!

The recurring teddy bears

Recurring Teddy Bears

He had died, apparently.

His dad said something to me about “not wanting to bother me” or somesuch thing. I cried. It felt wrong that they hadn’t told me. I was upset, for sure.

Earlier, we’d been watching a film. It was a cross between a thriller and a horror movie.

There had been a teddy bear which something embroidered into it. I asked F what it had been on the teddy. He told me it was an “M” (or was it “em”?) When it had been seen, everyone’s eyes went pink, including the teddy bear’s!

Some kids were playing in their room. It reminded me of Peter Pan. Four kids of different ages, jumping on the beds as if on trampolines. It could have been on stage. It may have been on stage – the camera angle being from below and to the front of them – as if outside the room – there was no wall or it was as if the wall wasn’t there being the front of the stage.

Their mother called them for tea. They ran off. The teddy bear was on the floor, near the nightstand, in front of the nightstand and had a sting of pearls around it or, at least, a necklace with beads. It was dark in that particular corner. A hand reached out from under the bedside table and pulled the teddy bear back underneath, breaking the necklace and, so scattering the beads/pearls over the floor. They rolled around noisily.

I got up to go to the bathroom. I asked F if, in fact, I had asked him this question. He said “No.” It had been a dream that I was awake and half-watching the film whereas, in fact, I was asleep and, most probably, fitting the dream to the sounds of the film.

And, then, later. When he died.

And I don’t quite remember whether it was afterwards (after I had got up to go to the bathroom again) or during the dream that I had had the keys to the flat given to me because that was what he had wanted. And I remember the special teddy bear I had bought him years ago – a limited, numbered edition, with wire-rim spectacles and a rolled up certificate. It had been sitting on the small, child’s chair in the hallway. And I didn’t even, at the time, have any reason to look and less to remember and, yet, I did and had remembered.

And was it during the dream or after I had woken that I was torn between wanting to be the beneficiary of the will and wanting to wash my hands of everything because being a beneficiary was also being responsible for all the shit he had left behind.

In any event, I was upset and I cried more than once (but that was definitely in the dream.)

And, for certain, when I was awake, I didn’t want it to happen – to have happened. For all sorts of reasons.

And, I wonder, when will I be able to shake him (and the problems and issues he brings) out of my life?

I don’t know if I really did wake so many times to go to the bathroom or I dreamt it. These were just two of the dreams I had last night. There were others but I don’t remember them.

Nuggets of truth. Perhaps?

Nuggets of truth.  Perhaps?

There is some truth, of course, although that’s not always guaranteed.

But only a small amount. The story I know will not, almost certainly, be the one I will hear. I know that already. I don’t know when I will hear the story directly but I know that, at some time it will come, when we eventually meet.

Of course, I don’t really care about the story I will be told for already I know a truth (but not THE truth for that, I suspect, will never be really known) and, therefore, I know the story to be told will be, to all intents and purposes, fictitious. But when I get told that story, I will accept it and not ask probing questions to trip him up. What purpose could that possibly serve?

The story I will be told will be something like: I had to come back to look after Mum and Dad.

That bit, of course, is not even slightly true and that’s not the bit that will contain any small bits of truth. The small bits of truth will be in the detail of the story told to me.

Of course, there is a long way to go before that story gets told to me, so anything may happen in the meantime.

But it makes me a little sad. As I mentioned, I have been reading up on my old posts, checking links and making sure they aren’t corrupted with strange characters. I’m up to the point where I have been a few weeks in the perfect-flat-in-the-perfect-street. And the major thing that I have been reading about is the lying that was done before that. And, so, the story will be a fabrication of lies and, as that was the reason we split in the first place, I am sad that it (the lying) will be continuing.

But I have become like everyone else in his view. Or maybe it was always so and I was just too dumb or stupid or blind or blinded by love that I missed all the signs that were slapped in my face.

But, let’s move on to the story I know, which contains more truth than the story I will get but also huge omissions that I will never (nor will anyone else) know.

Ay and her boyfriend, E, were over.

We went out for one dinner. F didn’t go away so he was there too. It was lovely.

But Ay and I gossiped, of course. Gossiped about the “family” – not mine but hers (and, yet, in some way, one of my families too). Which, of course, makes it also V’s. And, it couldn’t be helped but we gossiped about V. Or, rather, she gossiped about V and I listened.

It seems, now he’s there, that he hasn’t told anyone what really happened. We talked about the strange telephone call from her grandfather (where he said he had missed a call from me even though I never made the call.) I told her why I thought he had made the call. 1. Because V was there and really wanted to talk to me or 2. Because V had told him things and he was checking I was OK and not “caught up” in trouble because of V.

She told me that, almost certainly, those reasons were wrong. He would have rung because he had had nothing from V and needed an excuse to talk to me with the hope that I would “spill some beans”. But, in any case, I have very few beans to spill. Or, rather, I had very few factual beans – the beans I have being pieced together and some of which are “supposed” beans.

It seems he is acting like the prodigal son. He has no money, has no job, etc., but is happy to live and be fed and looked after by his parents. It seems that his other sister, P, is helping him to get benefit money and the “plan” is to declare that he is there to provide full-time care for his parents.

Ay and her mum are not particularly impressed since, for all the years so far, he has provided nothing in terms of help – of any kind, while they have – and not been asking for any benefit money either.

Still, it remains to be seen if he will get any money for this. With the crackdown on “benefit scroungers” in the UK, I’m sure they will want to make an assessment of the parents – and that won’t be comfortable for anyone!

But, more than that, it seems a shame that someone who, at one time, had a promise and future, will never realise any of that potential. On the cusp of half a century, instead of forging ahead he will find himself trapped in this spiral of requiring hand-outs.

I had written during some posts at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 of how, I wondered, he would cope without me. In fact, he has and is “coping” but not in the way that I had imagined nor in a way that would suit me. Nor, I imagine, in his heart of hearts, is it what he envisaged for himself.

And so, I wait to hear the story that he will concoct to give to me. And, of course, whatever I hear, I already know will be mainly a fantasy.

Which is the greatest shame. It could have been so different but I do not feel responsible. I am not responsible. He has “achieved” this all by himself. Still, it makes me sad.

Missed call or something else?

In the meantime …….

I get a call.

“Hi Andy. Did you call me? Only I’ve seen there was a missed call.”

This wasn’t all one short thing but I’ve distilled it to this because that was what, supposedly, it was about. I hadn’t called. I apologised for having “inadvertently” made a call, explaining that it must have been in my pocket.

But, none of that is true.

So I wonder why the call is being made?

I ask after him and Mum. It seems she is OK but I’ll learn more when Ay is over.

I think about it but don’t ask about V. Is that bad? I don’t want to appear nosey. Nor do I want it to seem like I’m gloating. As always, I worry about how others see what I do or say.

He doesn’t mention V. Which is also strange. I mean, why not? He’s there, isn’t he?

But he seems cheerful enough. Then I think that, perhaps, he expected me to call. But, surely not? My days of being concerned about V are over. I don’t take responsibility for him any more.

But it was a strange call to make.

I’ve double checked as I was writing this post and no, I didn’t make any call to his number since before February! So it does seem really strange.

Maybe V got him to phone just to see what I would say? Well I said nothing.

I’m glad that he and Mum are OK though. And it’s nice to hear his voice, even if he’s not my real dad.

Waxworks, horror and frighteners, part I

It doesn’t break for breaking implies noise, suddenness, unexpectedness.

This fades in (or fades out). This steals upon you. One minute it isn’t there and the next it is but it seems like you missed “the moment”, like the moment happened whilst you weren’t looking. I realised this when I could see the mist hanging low over the fields as if the earth was still in bed and hadn’t yet rolled back the covers. But it was time to wake up. Although, of course, I’d already been awake for some time.

In fact, I’d been awake since 2 a.m. Sort of. I guess I must have dozed a bit. The clocks did their thing at every quarter hour. I remember most of them. Then came 4 and I was worried that I would oversleep and miss the alarm set for 4.30. I nearly got up but thought that some rest was better than none, even if sleep was not possible.

The alarm went off and the dogs were there, waiting to be walked. For them, it doesn’t matter what the time is. Middle of the night, middle of the day, it’s all the same. The alarm means a walk. Except if F is here. But he’s not and they seem to know that and seem to understand that the alarm is different when he’s not here. I don’t have so much time. I get up and take them out. It is dark, of course.

I get back, make coffee (I will need coffee) and get ready. I leave. It’s a little after 5.30 and I know I’m a little bit later than I wanted to be. The navigator says I’ll be there about 10 to 8 but I’m hoping I’ll make up a little time. There is little traffic. I make it to the motorway.

And, it’s as I’m driving that I realise that dawn doesn’t break at all but just slowly, imperceptibly, comes into being. It’s not summer but it’s not so cold. Cold enough for a coat though, which I have forgotten. Well, I can’t go back as I have no time. Anyway, I think, I’ll be in the car or the church or somewhere for most of the time so it’ll be OK.

So, I’ve started in the dark and now it’s light without any fanfare, without any sudden break, just quietly daylight and sun and clear blue skies. I smoke too much. I am tired but awake. I drive. I wonder, at one point, if I shouldn’t have gone down the day before. This is crazy. But I couldn’t go down the day before. I have the dogs and J is here. I am already leaving her alone for the day. But this has to be done, even if F had said that I don’t need to come. I did need to go. I’d thought about it sometime between 2, when I first woke, and the alarm gong off. I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for permitting me to join the family. And a big thank you for giving me F. And, for that, I would have left at any time to travel down.

I arrive a few minutes earlier than the navigator had said. There was hardly any traffic to speak of and the journey was one of the easiest ever. I text him that I have arrived and he texts me to come up. I go up. I give him a quick hug and then his mum comes out and I give her a hug. It’s all subdued, of course. His mum makes me a quick coffee, for which I am grateful.

I follow him to pick up his sister, brother-in-law and niece. The BiL and niece get in my car and we drive to the hospital and find somewhere to park.

We go in to the small chapel-like place. We enter the room on the left. I don’t really know what to expect but I immediately feel like I’m on the set of some horror movie. The waxwork-like figures have what, at first glance, seems like cobwebs all over them. It’s as if they’ve been there for years and nobody has cleaned them. In fact it’s a white netting but the effect is quite surreal and I’ve never seen it before so it’s all so strange. The first woman, I note, had a huge, pointy nose. Well, she still has that but the thing I’m looking at is the wrong colour like the creator of the model didn’t have the right colours to make a human colour or the dyes were so old that they had faded. There are two coffins with these waxwork figures in them with the cobweb-like netting draped over them. Then we go past to another room. And there is PaC. Except, of course, it’s not him but, rather, a model of him. A likeness of him without really being like him. He too has this netting over him. I realise it’s probably to keep flies off, for if it was summer it would already be so hot. But this is not summer and it is cold. There’ll be no flies.

We stand around. People touch his forehead and then kiss their lips with their fingers. Except his sister who strokes his forehead and cries nearly all the time.

I don’t do this – neither cry nor touch the waxwork. I’m not sure that I could do that for anyone. I almost seem outside myself. I worry, sometimes, that I have no real feelings.

Worse still, we are in the mountains and it is damp. Although it’s light and bright, the sun doesn’t get over the mountains and into this part of the valley until a little later. My hands are cold. My feet are cold. I go for cigarettes. People wander in and out. Hearses arrive. There are at least five waxworks here. It seems most are going today. F suggests we go for a coffee with his brother. It is welcome.

Back at the chapel, F’s sister sometimes seems as if she’s gong to jump into the coffin. I’ve heard of it. F shows me that he’s put a cigar in one pocket, a pack of playing cards in another and, down the side of the coffin, a Toto DVD. It’s his way of making this lighter for him and everyone else. I smile. He is so sweet. Eventually, they close the coffin (although everyone except the sister are outside by now, in the sun which has breached the mountain top) and load the hearse.

We drive to the church. The same one for the Aunt. This is not like the UK, at 5 miles an hour but, more or less, at normal speed. We park up and arrive at the church as they wheel the coffin in. F, bless him, comes to find me and we go in. I’ve learnt that he (the deceased) was a well-respected tailor here. I didn’t know. We go and sit in a pew. We are on the front row again. The big fat priest is there as before. As is the uncle priest who has flown in from Sicily last night and the cousin nun.

The big fat priest does his stuff. The church is freezing and everyone wears coats except me and F’s brother. I regret forgetting my coat.

At one point during the service, we all sit down and F remains standing. I lightly touch his arm and, after a few seconds, he jerks a little as if just waking up, turns to me and sits down. He was lost in his own thoughts. I understand. I want to give him a big hug but can’t. At another point, as we’re standing, I look at him and, suddenly, I see him as an old man, slightly stooped, bearing the weight of life. Again, I want to hug him to tell him it’s OK. I realise that, in some years he will look like this – an old man. But then, so will I. And still I love him. But, for a moment, when he seems so old, I’m frightened both for him and for me. It won’t be the last time today that I feel like this but for different reasons.

The service drones on. Again I am struck by the absurdity of this religion thing (sorry, Gail). As if the suffering of this guy years ago, should it be true, has even the slightest effect on us, now, at this time. But the priest drones on about some point in the story. I am grateful I don’t understand so I don’t get too angry. I do wonder how it is possible for all these people to believe in this fairy story. Especially the priest who always looks so bored by it all. Who drones on in a way that says he’s so bored. Who says this is nothing and just a story. Who says everything as if he is an unbeliever.

The service ends, and everyone files outside. I move away, into the sun. People come over to me to say “hello”. I know quite a few people there now. There are kisses and “how are you”s. As I’m with these people, different people, like a changing of the guard, I watch F being greeted and consoled by people I know and people I don’t know. His mum too. I watch and feel part of it and not part of it. I’m grateful that people seem bothered to come and greet me. All this, in Italian, of course, which limits me as to what I say; as to what I am able to say.

At one point, E, his cousin – the one whose mother died in September, the sister of PaC, the sister of the priest uncle, the aunt of the cousin nun, the aunt of F – says to me that soon, we should come, at a different time, a better time, to eat. She smiles as she says it. My reputation as someone with a “good appetite” is written in stone.

The uncle/cousin/second-cousin? doctor tells a funny story about PaC, in Italian, to the group I’m with at the moment. I don’t really understand. He can speak English but prefers to repeat it slowly in Italian. I do get it. It’s about the fact that they ran (PaC and F’s mother) a laundry and PaC said that he could clean any mark. Any mark that is, except one. But, the doctors tells, I said to him but what? You always said you could clean any mark! Ah, yes, PaC replies, except the marks (scars?) of the heart. People laugh politely. I smile. Is it true, this story? And, anyway, does it matter? After all, the truth of the story is not the point.

F comes to me from time to time. I am there, for him. For his mum. For PaC, though not for him since that is too late.

People drift away. We go to the cemetery with the flowers. The body will be cremated in some place over 2 hours away. The ashes will be interred in the tomb with the aunt. It’s why they haven’t finished off the tomb yet.

There are too many flowers so some are distributed amongst other graves of relatives.

F tells people that I am going to go soon. He’s going to get a coffee with me and then I will go. That’s OK for me. I don’t want to go round to his sister’s where they will cook and talk and I will feel guilty leaving. But I must leave soon. I am tired and I have to drive back and J is waiting at home for me and so are the dogs.

We leave, being almost the last to leave. We go to our usual café in the Marina. We have sandwiches and coffee and cake. On the way, I ask him if he spoke to PaC when he arrived down, before he died. Apparently he wasn’t awake. But at least F was there.

We eat. He thanks me for coming. I think he appreciates it but I didn’t really do it for him. Or, not only for him. I got to say thank you, even if it was to a cobweb-covered waxwork.

He drives me back to my car and I leave whilst he goes up to his sister’s where the family are waiting.

I drive back. Now it hits me how tired I am but I arrive back in good time. I park the car. I get home and J makes me cups of tea. Several. I am exhausted but I can’t really rest.

Whilst we’re sitting, relaxing, my niece texts me. She wants me to find a hotel. She’s coming over to stay in April and she’s staying with V. Or so I thought. And then, that was the other thing that was frightening. But that is an entirely different reason and an entirely different post ………..