It’s the Fresher Publishing Prizewinners Ceremony this Thursday evening (19th) and so me and the Hubs are wending our way down to sunny Bournemouth tomorrow for 2 days of sun and fun and clapping and ‘networking’ (zoikes). I’m not excited, though, mainly because I’m an anxious traveller and I’d rather not go anywhere unless I can really help it – but the Girl persuaded me this might be a good opportunity to meet kinfolk – writing kinfolk – and so we’re booked and we’re off. I don’t expect to win anything because I have an *egg-and-spoon mentality – but I’m quite certain I will come home with a raging headache and all my limbs tensed with … well, tension. I shall probably then sleep until the following Thursday.
The last time I went to Bournemouth was about 17 years ago. The Girl (that’s her on my lap there) and I had accompanied her dad (my ex) who was attending a weekend conference in one of the hotels and so we’d gone along with him to meet up with my parents whilst he enjoyed his lectures.
Judging by the jumpers, the weather can’t have been that good, and I remember a distinct lack of holidaygoers – anywhere: on the beach and in the gardens (the shops were busy but then they could’ve been locals). In most of the photos, the Girl is wearing her wellies on the sand so that must’ve been damp as well. I can’t remember what we talked about; insignificant stuff concerning the weather and relatives perhaps – there was never anything interesting to talk about where mum and dad were concerned. Which is a shame in hindsight because less than a year later mum would be dead. We had the opportunity to talk about so many things but before we appreciated it, we’d run out of time.
Although even if we had known that mum was carrying around inside her head a tumour the size of half her brain (it only became apparent when it began to affect her motor functions) I rather doubt we’d have said anything particularly deep or meaningful to one another anyway – mine and mum’s relationship just wasn’t like that.
She was one of those 50s women who did things by the book and made sure everything was kept at arm’s’ length just in case it went wrong; so she couldn’t be held accountable for it I think – but sadly this included my brother and I. We weren’t hugged (unless we attempted it in our older years and even then our hugs weren’t reciprocated) we weren’t ever told we were loved (unless it was followed by a ‘But you can’t…..’) and I don’t ever remember mum or dad sitting beside us and reading with us or talking to us. The only time I ever felt close to one of them was if I was allowed to stand and watch – don’t touch! – them doing whatever it was they were occupied with… cooking (mum) or decorating (dad).
It was a peculiar household and one that I never thought was different to anyone else’s until I started visiting the houses of other friends where there were easy hugs and kisses and laughs and teases and a great deal of colourful messes – and then I found I missed my growing up in a way I couldn’t properly verbalise. I think that was when I started writing. In earnest. About how I felt (because I couldn’t talk to my parents) about who I thought I was (jury’s still out on that one) and who I thought I might want to be (ditto).
The greatest gift my parents – especially my mother – gave me, was the realisation that there was no way on earth I’d bring my child/ren up the way they had. I was going to kiss and laugh and hug and roll about in paint with them; I was going to run and skip and fall over and play with their friends; I was going to watch them cook, watch them make stuff and break stuff and not scold them; I was going to be there when they cried and hold their hand even if they didn’t want me to; **I was going to sit beside them when their boyfriend broke up with them and I was going to hold their hair back whilst they vomitted down the neighbour’s toilet. And one day I might even become their best friend and not simply somebody they felt obliged to go and visit because they felt it their duty to do so.
And I achieved all this. So perhaps I’ve got a bit more determination in me than I (or others) ever gave me credit for.
* I nearly won an egg and spoon race once when I was about 6. I was leading, and when my dad shouted ‘come on, you’re winning!’ I didn’t believe him and so I turned round to see if this was true, and tripped over, coming precisely nowhere. I know. 😦
** Not things I’d decided I’d do beforehand but things I’m so grateful that I got to share in actuality. 🙂