Let’s talk about things …

Wow, I have a whole gamut of stuff washing around to talk about this week. I’m not sure if I’ll get through it all or do it justice but off we go.

First of all, last week, you’ll have noticed there was a break in transmission. Yep. No blog post. I meant to do one but then it was time for the Christmas Fayre I was getting all my shizz ready and … er hem … I forgot.

In my defence, my father’s memorial service took it out of me. It was wonderful but blimey I was knackered afterwards. Lots of emotional stamina required. Which reminds me, I should write and thank a lot of people. Yet more stuff to add to the gargantuan, War And Peace-length list of Shit MTM Hasn’t Done. Gulp.

The fayre was kind of a mix. It was the first time in a new venue and it took a while for people to realise we were there. Friday was quiet, Saturday reasonably busy, and Sunday a lot busier. The books sold well, although differently, a lot of people bought two; a copy of Escape From B-Movie Hell and a copy of Small Beginnings. The EyebombThereforeIAm calendars, which I thought would sell like hot cakes and bankroll everything, they didn’t sell at all. So that was bizarre.

The ill fated eyebombing calendar

The consensus among friends and family is still, ‘oooh I’d buy one of those,’ and some even have, but they clearly left the general public cold. I am selling some for charity, which might help. I had to sell 30 at £9.99 to pay for costs, I sold five at £9 and I have sold three to a lovely friend for £9.99. I picked £9.99 after researching them in local shops and discovering they were mostly £9.99 – £15.99 so I went for the lowest price. However, McOther tells me a pop up calendar shop has opened in the new shopping centre with prices from about £7.00 to £9.99 so perhaps I’m now at the high end.

Never mind, onwards and upwards. If you think you’d like one you can find out more here.

Dad’s memorial went well. It’s always interesting going back to Lancing because for the first sixteen years of my life it was my home. I also had another home, kind of a two sheds Johnson, that was me, because we lived off site in the holidays. But Lancing means as much to me, in a different way, as the other place I grew up, which Mum still lives in now. Going back is like having a little squiffy in your old house, seeing how the new owners have changed the decor! Although I haven’t been in our actual old house.

It was a glorious celebration. Really lovely. I cried my eyes out at the end in a way I hadn’t at the funeral, which was a bit embarrassing but also kind of cathartic and easy enough to hide because I was wearing a big hat. Just look down and hey presto! Nothing to see here. I suppose I felt it more because this was the last goodbye and the last thing we can do for Dad … well … except inter his ashes but we are going to … er hem … batch him and Mum. The eulogies were great, really funny, the way Dad would have wanted. Lots of stories about his antics. Some good shouty hymns. Really well chosen readings and the readers and speakers did a grand job. I even managed not to cock mine up! Woot! Although I was last up so I was shitting gargantuan bricks for most of the service. Listening to audiobook proofs all week helped in that respect as I just followed the little voice in my head that said ‘read it the same way’ and did. Minus the funny voices, of course.

Highlight of the readings they chose an excerpt from 1 John Chapter 20, which included verse 4:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.

A perfect summation of Dad’s attitude, since he was the embodiment of love thy neighbour in a way that many of the loudest Christians on the internet – especially the mentalist, old-testament-thumping, gun-loving ones in the US – are not. Yes, if you think anyone is Satan’s own spawn because they think differently from you and say you love Jesus, you’re a liar! Love that.

Desmond Tutu stood here and so did I.

Huge amusement afterwards when we discovered a plaque bearing the legend, ‘Desmond Tutu stood here to dedicate this window to his friend Trevor Huddleston.’ Much incredibly mature ‘standing here’ where Desmond Tutu had stood ensued, from me, Bruv and Eldest Nephew, Good-King-Wenceslas-‘heat-was-in-the-very-sod’ stylee. Mwahahahrgh! Phnark.

With the election on, I think I am feeling Dad’s absence a lot more, mainly because of the race the bottom that is the election campaign. I’m one of these weird, old fashioned people who thinks that lies, soundbites and dirty tricks, just make a party look like a bunch of twats. I think fake news is a danger, not something to be embraced. I’m one of these old fashioned people who thinks dishonourable and shoddy behaviour, unkindness, opponent smearing, hypocrisy and bare faced lies, you know three year old caught with a hand in the biscuit tin and denying it, Scottish Spaceport is nearly built, let’s change our twitter name so we look like an impartial not for profit organisation disseminating facts rather than one of the contenders, kind of lies, and a general complete lack of integrity, are actually bad things. I still believe elections should be fought on issues although I’m not 100% sure if the labour site I’ve found is their real site or a conservative spoof. Sigh.

When it came to the day to day discipline of running his house, Dad had zero tolerance for three things, drinking hard spirits (he’d Not Catch boys drinking beer, wine or cider, so long as it wasn’t too out of hand but he would catch the spirit drinkers) drugs and bullying. Even so, nearly every boy my Dad expelled was expelled for bullying. One, who was expelled for doing something particularly stupid but which wasn’t bullying, was finally reinstated after three days, at my Dad’s behest. He didn’t stand by and let something go if he believed it to be an in justice.

Maybe that’s the trouble with this election; the glaring lack of statesmanlike behaviour in pretty much every one of the high profile politicians. The trouble is, there are decent people beavering away on the back benches for all parties. They just never seem to make it to the front.

To me and many others, the NHS is a good thing, and the death of a thousand tiny cuts to which the current and previous governments (of all colours) have subjected it is a bad thing. Successive governments have been breaking it so they can say, ‘look this doesn’t work’ and contract it out.

Take dementia care. My father paid tax all his life but until he was down to his last £14k he was not eligible for free health care, and even when he was, because he had a work pension, he actually paid for it, they just charged a lower rate. If he’d had a frontal lobe tumour it would have presented the same symptoms, but he would have been half a million quid richer when he died. Half a million quid of life savings which he’d earned and already paid tax on. You know tax don’t you, the stuff you pay so you get things like free healthcare from the NHS? At the point where he was weakest, most vulnerable and most in need of help, Dad was betrayed.

The thing is, hanging out with my Dad, as he became more and more mentally disabled, has turned something round in me. My Dad said and did some pretty grim things during various phases of his disease. Partly because there were no filters, partly because his world was warped and distorted by his disability, and I guess partly because his disability also warped his efforts at self expression. Sometimes he was horrible and that hurt because he was always my dad. And I knew that somewhere inside that inappropriate, screaming exterior was the gentle, kindly soul I knew. He just couldn’t reach us. A lot of the time, all he needed was the right word, the right help, to bring him back. We couldn’t always find it but we tried and I think he was aware of that.

But now when the conservatives talk about scroungers and tell disabled people to get jobs, when they foster the zero tolerance, claw-it-all-back attitude to social care and disability benefits I begin to wonder if I’ve jumped timelines or something, I’m so out of kilter with the way other people think. When they shame and vilify disabled or chronically ill people as scroungers, I feel sick. When Social Services ask my friend’s daughter, with achondroplasia, when she expects to get better I am unimpressed. This, a bright, very bright, intelligent human being, someone with a great deal to contribute to society, who was also in with a chance of becoming a future Olympic athlete. So not a scrounger or a free loader then. I’m beginning to understand what Sir Terry meant when he talked about holding onto the anger. It’s not angry ranting, well not always, it’s just righteous ire that burns the whole time. That’s why I have to write it out, it’s doing my head in.

The anguish of Dad’s last half year or so still haunts me and it probably always will, but it has also profoundly changed the way I see my fellow humans. I now realise, more than anything, that imagination is the most important gift we possess. It’s imagination that makes us able to see the other person’s side. It’s imagination that enables us to find a way through. It’s imagination that helps us understand that, if our enemies saw people’s heads off with a kitchen knife and post it on YouTube, the thing that raises us above them is that we don’t. It’s imagination that allows us to understand that torturing suspected torturers, ‘because they do it to us’ merely makes us one of them, possibly worse, because while they’re brainwashed and uneducated, we have the tools to know better and have made a conscious choice. It’s because we have imagination what we can realise that an eye for an eye merely debases all the arguments that our way is better than theirs at a stroke.

It’s imagination that makes us think before we wade in. It’s imagination that tells us when taking sides is necessary or merely petty. It’s imagination that allows us to step outside the bubble, accept and enjoy friendships with people who have different political viewpoints to us or are friends with people we don’t get on with. Politics is about issues and problem solving, it’s not a competition to see who can tell the most lies or paint their opponent as the biggest shit, although anyone looking at it now could be forgiven for thinking it is.

Another thing I have learned from the experience with my Dad is that everyone has a value, everyone is of some importance, everyone has something to contribute. I’m even beginning to see how Corrie Ten Boom’s sister, in Auschwitz, was able to feel sorry for the guards because they were so cruel. She thought their lives must be so empty, so without empathy, love, compassion and all the other things that make living so wonderful. I thought she was nuts at the time, now … I dunno. I am beginning to think it must be truly terrible to be as pompous as vainglorious as desperately in constant need of ego affirmation as Trump or Bojo. And yet I’m also beginning to see the humanity in the psychopaths, the killers, the mentally ill; those who I would have dismissed without a second thought as evil before I watched my father go insane. Perhaps I’m beginning to understand that many of them are just unwell. Mental illness is horrifically complicated but I seem to be able to extend them a courtesy I am finding it very difficult to give Boris, Trump and their ilk.

Dad always held the view that to get anywhere or do anything, you had to be a decent human being. He believed that being decent and honourable gets you quietly, unobtrusively, where you want to go. Because if you are straight with people and stand by them they will love you, and people who love you will move mountains for you. Not necessarily at the times, places or in a manner you expect but they will.

More and more, now he’s gone, I find myself sticking my head above the parapet, not because I care that much even, but because Dad’s not here to do it. Even if it’s just to joke about being the token bleeding heart liberal in some of my friendship groups and put a different point of view. But the thing is, despite half my friends having voted Brexit, which is a bit of a downer, we still all have so much common ground and we are still friends. Maybe this country will heal, if the politicians and the loud mouths will stop using the divisions to score points and entrenching them further; ie, shut the fuck up and give it time.

I can’t wait until this bloody election is over.



Filed under General Wittering

32 responses to “Let’s talk about things …

  1. I know what you mean about sticking your head out because your dad isn’t here to do it. I’ve been sticking mine out a lot more lately – anywhere there’s a prayer of being listened to. There are still plenty of people who are misinformed rather than evil. With all the fake ‘news’ and sites, it’s easy to get distracted by misinformation, especially when those sites are subtle (which they usually are not).

    Keep on hanging in there – it’s what we have to do.

  2. You’re not alone in most of what you say (probably in all of what you say. Letting it out in a constructive way so that more people realise they are not alone is important. Of course, it doesn’t make the headlines that our rich media wants to make.
    Take heart from the millions who have registered to vote for the first time, partly because so many of us have been sharing to death the messages to do so, or you’ll get what you don’t want. The one about the bus to nowhere is particularly good.
    There are lots of good, kind people out there. We’re just the silent majority. That’s no good when it comes to making headlines.
    I have an important event happening, probably before the election. Just too late to register to vote in a place where my vote will actually make a difference (which is one reason I’m leaving).

  3. Reblogged this on writermummy and commented:
    I’ve been absent for a long time, as parenting tweens slowly destroys my sanity and patience. This post from my lovely fellow writer MTN struck a chord today, so I wanted to share it with anyone still hanging around to see if I make it back to writermummy from the land of just ‘mum’.

  4. Reblogged this on A Suffolk Lane and commented:
    A wonderful post from MTM who also write the funniest fantasy novels I have ever read.

  5. We are all capable of the best and worst that humans can be, and you’re right, the only difference between the two is choice.
    Interestingly you talk about ‘sticking your head above the parapet’ … whereas I’m going through the opposite side of the cycle, that of withdrawing from the going’s-on’s of the world in order to focus on finding a place, both physical and otherwise, for us to stand firmly on while these ‘interesting times’ go through their death throes. Where we can welcome the broken warriors, and help them heal. I did my ‘warrior-ing’ in the 80-90’s so I know what’s required to support today’s ones.
    The cycle never stands still though, maybe in another decade or two, you’ll find this mad-as-hell-and-not-gonna-take-it-anymore, 70/80 year old woman on the ramparts again, ready to charge forth with the best of ’em. 🙂

  6. You are so right politically

  7. You’re amazing and you’re so strong and I love that you are doing things out of your comfort zone as an almost involuntary honor to your Dad, what a good and kind soul he sounds to have been. The world definitely needs more of that right now – and more Eyebombs too, they just haven’t quite caught on to it yet maybe! This election feels pointless to me. I can’t even wrap my head around the idea of shaking off the Tory vice grip, they always seem to find a way back, it’s frustrating. Not convinced Corbyn can get in, no trust in Lib Dems either. Blech. Only marginally less depressing than orange man.

    • Yeh, the orange man is a bit of a scary dude … I think these people just don’t understand the difference between a throw away comment in the pub and making similar throw away comments to thousands of people on national TV. There is a difference and it’s huge. Agreed that there seems to be no real way out, the hedge fund managers and multi-millionaires seem to be controlling more and more stuff. The only heartening thing is that these fuckers will be as screwed as the rest of us when our planet is fucked because a handful of old, white, exceedingly rich men are too shit at business to reinvent their fossil fuel interests.

    • And yes, Dad was a top, top man. Truly good. We received stacks of letters when he died and they’re still coming in.

      • That’s amazing re:your Dad. I hope it is some comfort to your family. Maybe if you feel up to it at some point you might want to share some more collected anecdotes. I know you have shared stories about him here before but your brilliant gift of storytelling is a wonderful testament to him.

        If only there was some sort of old billionaire plague, they really are screwing the world over. I try to tune it all out for sanity sake but well, it worms its way in and you don’t want be be the self absorbed person who just watches the world go up in flames either. Frustrating as hell though. Oh and hey beyond bizarre tale, but it turned out last month they arrested a guy I was…basically friends with in high school in connection with Trump/Giuliani.the Ukraine/all of it. Unreal! It’s a mad world indeed. I still don’t know how to process this.

        Anyway good luck with the fairs, this is a good time of year for them and hopefully it will pick up! Please @me (@SteffanyMR) on Twitter with the calendar or other links, always happy to share. xo

      • Bless you thanks re calendar and on the across front I am doing a book about growing up in the school so it’s definitely on the radar. Yikes re your friend, I had something similar a while back, I discovered a chap I went out with is in prison for being a sex pest with under age girls. Gulp.

        Re the calendars, thanks, will do. Sole of its going to charity so I note need to sell 60 to cover production costs. I know. I’m an idiot.

  8. Great tribute to your dad. It’s a shame all the political garbage had to interfere with it, but I have to agree with you as well. Good post MTM!

  9. As always, a thoughtful and human post, MT, and a lovely tribute to your father. My best to you and the family. I wish I thought the outcome of the election would bring relief to you and my own British family. It seems like a hard road ahead, and people who voted for what seems like the easy answer had better be very patient.

    • Yeh, I suspect we are all in for a rude shock. I was was chatting to a detectorist friend, the other day, who voted the opposite to me. It made me think. My detectorist friends are nearly all leavers, but apart from that one thing, we have so much in common, our love of the countryside, the natural world. The polarisation in the press is very sad but hopefully as it settles, we will start working together. Fingers crossed!



  10. Is there anything short of war that can bring the British people together right now? The dismantling of the NHS? What?

    • Maybe if we get brexit out of the way, people will think about the other stuff … maybe … It’s all anyone thinks about at the moment. Basically this vote was brexit at all costs.

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