Saturday, August 29

Scrabble & Bad Weather

IT IS DIFFICULT for an Englishman or woman to not speak tirelessly about the weather, such is our preoccupation with it. All week – a week I had taken off for my birthday, to avoid the bother of work – it rained. At certain times it seemed that it would never cease raining. All over the landscape, immediately bleak, fell a heavy rain. With all the pressure I felt to stay sane, I struggled against the weather. The weather hounded me like a devil! However, contradictory to the rain, I felt most positive. What kind of bastard was I if I could not ignore the August weather of this blasted isle. The activities of my birthday were rearranged around the weather, which my mother predicted, down to the second the sky would turn, a great skill, and we were seated in the restaurant as the outside became dark & wet.
Why, it was my mother, I owed it all to her.
She returned to work the day after my birthday, came home around one and asked if I wished to go for lunch. We sat in a café as … you know, I told you it did not stop! The café was overrun with women lunching. On the menu a peculiar item attracted my attention: croque-monsieur. I would have that, and she too. A glass of prosecco, a couple of beers for myself, mineral water, two coffees. We talked & talked. It was so lovely. In the evening we sat down for a game of scrabble. We drank – she more prosecco, and myself more beer. We spoke of many things, not lingering in silence – unless we were considering the word we were going to play – but enjoying each other’s company in the otherwise empty house, silent & content.
The next day I arose late, after drinking into the early hours, and she suggested we go for a walk. The beach was busy for the airshow that had begun a four-day spate of activities around C—n. All down the length of the sand meets sea huddled resolute holiday-makers, resting on deckchairs, wrapped in blankets, with flasks of tea, chatting, laughing, and calling their dogs back. There was no sun, just grey and wind, but they stayed fast. In the pub was another family: parents, son & his partner. The son asked his father—‘You gonna get the drinks in, boy?’ He kept repeating it—‘You gonna get the drinks in, boy?’ When the father got up to the bar, the son started to sing aloud; he turned round—‘Oi, you shut up!’ The mother & partner talked and looked at their phones. The drinks & empty glasses piled up on their table. Two old women sat there chain-smoking and facing the direction of the gust, the direction of the pier, the faint sparkle of the planes as they spiralled in the air. Sitting there, the two of us, I was very happy, feeling something for my mother I had not before. Although I could always have been accused of being a ‘mummy’s boy’ – something that angered my ex somewhat – the love I feel for her these days is not one I am used to, as I find her, within the spectrum of my affection, leaning from mother to friend. In the evening we resumed our drinking and our games of scrabble.
Occasionally I will slip, referring to C—n as ‘home’, then I correct myself. Lounging on the sofa with my parents as we watch a film I am comforted by a homeliness most familiar, but I have another home, and I call that home, too. How strange it is for me, resting in the bed at night and smelling the scent of my youth on the sheets I am lying in!
Now I am back in London, away from them. My mother said good-by awkwardly so that it dented me. I watched them off down the corridor and then – o! – the emptiness of the flat. I am here now, my other home. I miss my mother, of course I do, but she is faraway, and it is best not to dwell upon that.

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