A bloodshot view through a puffy eye streaming with tears, usually of laughter, occasionally of anger.
Rather reluctantly, I attended a Mothering Sunday lunch last week. I have nothing against mothers per se, let me be absolutely crystal clear in that respect.
In fact, in idle moments I wonder where would we be without them, I am not as shallow as you might suspect, indeed I have several other existential notions that I muse upon when time allows.
I bit the bullet, I must admit, considerably persuaded by the fact that someone else was picking up the tab, free food and drink, very much reflective of the many years that I spent with my own mother.
The real issue I have is that all these ‘special days’ are rather Johnny come lately events, I Wish I Knew Who My Father Is Day, Second Cousin Twice Removed Day, I Lost 2 Stone In A Day Day (that one is actually an interesting and under appreciated one) and all the other assorted commercial opportunities that spring from a sense of duty or guilt on the part of the consumer.
In bygone days Mothering Sunday required just a bunch of primroses and a phone call, most certainly not necessitating a three course meal with a glass of Prosecco and complementary hand crafted Belgian chocolate seashells.
“Are you well, mother?”
“Yes, I am thank you, the primroses were very nice.”
“I trust father is well?”
“Yes, indeed he is.”
“I’ll speak to you next year mother, all being well, thank you for phoning me.”
Call me a sentimental old so and so but I really looked forward to those annual little chats.
Today the occasion is a veritable cornucopia of gifts, a Britain’s Got Mothers contest. Competitive siblings vie with each other to provide the most astonishing supplication in the hope of receiving the largest part of the inevitable inheritance.
The £50 Waitrose bouquets lose out to a Spa Weekend at Ragdale Hall but are then rapidly trumped by a cruise to Madeira and finally crushed by Nigel’s gift of a Virgin flight into space plus a voucher for 5 years worth of cryogenic storage after mother’s death, a demise which would probably occur naturally during the space flight anyway.
Every family has a Nigel, usually a chancer who now lives in California, has a high powered job in IT requisition, drives a metallic blue Audi RS5 and has a 23 year old Fillipino wife.
To return to my rather more mundane recent event, I was disconcerted to find the meeting point was to be at the local branch of Zizzi, a somewhat bland and unremarkable Italian style pizzeria.
This is an eating house, so undistinguished and dull, that it should be medically prescribed for lowering the blood pressure of the hyperactive or elderly.
“I think we’ll put you on Zizzi for a little while, come back and see me when the Groupon vouchers run out. You can pop your clothes back on now.”
However, a few days before the great day, Zizzi suddenly became the focal point of the world’s media. Due to the monstrous chemical attack by the cowardly Russian regime on a harmless old Soviet spy and his charming daughter, Zizzi was now a symbol of our brave stand against the forces of darkness.
A quick phone call to the other Mother’s day participants ruled out my original notion of our party all wearing “Je suis Zizzi” teeshirts on the day. The idea of us, entering as a group whilst all sporting industrial breathing masks from Screwfix was also a non-runner.
“After all they have been through, that’s just not funny” several fellow diners admonished me. Suitably humbled I finally just went dressed as a regular civilian as did indeed several of the other diners, as far as I could tell.
The meal itself was unremarkable, enlivened only by an arm wrestling contest with someone’s son in law over the final glass of Pinot Grigio from the last remaining bottle.
I conceded just moments before he was about to snap my ulna, no one needs a drink that badly, even on a Sunday in Zizzi.
Otherwise I can report no ill effects other than a mild heartburn from the calzone pollo spinaci, a shot of Mr Gaviscon’s remedial tonic soon put that right and, on retiring that night, I enjoyed a reasonable if spasmodic night’s sleep.
Up to now, I have not received any advice from the state, or its appointed broadcaster, on double bagging or washing my clothing.
Neither do my shoes require incinerating, other than for the normal hygienic process.
My watch, my Prince Albert and my various other body piercings seem likewise to be uncontaminated, in fact, all’s well that ends well.
Same time next year, mothers!
* * *
One of my ex-wives, yes I’ve had a few, a note to younger readers, it’s not big and it’s not clever so just say no, anyway she used to regularly receive fan mail from the infamous hanging judge, Judge Jeffreys.
I honestly don’t know how she managed that, some sort of time tunnel thing I expect, I didn’t really like to ask.
She used to say there were only 3 things the British Justice system needed and those were, deterrent, deterrent and, of course, deterrent.
Her system worked on the American 3 strikes principle, her 3 strikes however were slightly to the right of Rudy Giuliani. The 1st strike, any minor misdemeanour was 12 months, a second minor one was 5 years and the third one was life behind bars.
That was just for minor stuff, drug dealing, assault, knife possession, the sort of stuff we give a Duke of Edinburgh award for nowadays.
She took a much harsher stance on more serious crime, I still don’t like to talk about that publicly, even now.
“Yes, but the prisons are full, where will we put all those people, sweetie pie?” I asked apprehensively during debate.
“BUILD MORE PRISONS!” she responded, “Stop paying for ballet lessons for one legged Bulgarian lesbians and build more fucking prisons.”
Based on the principle that most crimes in any city are caused by the same few reprehensible groups of deadbeats and that draconian deterrent is a very powerful tool she reckoned virtually all preplanned crime would not exist in the space of 5 years.
This would indeed ‘encourage the others’ and I still can’t argue with one syllable even today as she knows where I live.
Whilst there is still no discernible difference in penal punishment today, she eventually left with a bass player in a somewhat mediocre top 40 covers band and shortly after that happy event I met a buxom tantric hippy, so at least that part worked out fine and dandy.
* * *
I rather like the idea of our fearless, intrepid Met Police chief as a Mickey Spillane character. Cressida Dick was the youngest daughter of a senior Balliol College, Oxford tutor father and an Oxford historian mother.
Cressida was educated at her father’s college Balliol, that must have been a rigorous and probing interview, before going totally maverick with additional studies at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. She then worked in the harsh twilight world of accountancy before finally joining the ‘persons in blue’.
Her life experience so closely parallels the life of the famous Spillane fictional creation Mike Hammer, a brutal and cynical tough New York private eye, a former WW2 Pacific theatre veteran whose violent retribution to perps left little to the imagination.
I felt they were almost joined at the hip so I can never resist a Cressida / Spillane parody. I feel one coming on now.
Cressida lit up another Lucky and drew the smoke deep into her lungs, she gazed up as the nicotine cloud spiraled and turned blue under the harsh fluorescent light in the interview room.
She was already on her third pack of Luckies that day and she longed for just a couple of shots of Jim Beam at Kelly’s bar, just a couple of shots and some time to forget it all, she just wanted this day over.
Every single day was like walking through a sewer, an endless, dark and dirty sewer. A couple of Bourbons and then a long, hot shower would perhaps wash away at least today’s dirt.
She had earlier interviewed the suspect in the cells, a pasty faced punk wearing a faded smiley face teeshirt.
“You know what you did greaseball, look at me when I’m talking to you, you piece of slime.”
He gazed up at her, a defiant look in his eyes but then she hit him, she hit him in the gut and she hit him hard, he hadn’t expected that.
Her four hard extended fingers hit him in the gut and he puked.
The Balliol four finger shovel still worked she thought to herself as he lay on the floor of the cell, gasping for air.
She crushed out another Lucky with the heel of her boot, crushed it on the cold stone floor of his cell and then slowly she went back upstairs.
Back in the interview room the victim was curled up in a chair, she got him a coffee from the Costa dispenser and pulled her chair up close to him. The poor son of a bitch was still shaking from his ordeal, she had seen this so often in this kind of case, she lowered her voice.
“So you say Mr Ackbar, in your statement, that one of this group of men looked at you a bit funny and he was eating something from Greggs. Could it have been a ham sandwich, maybe a BLT, perhaps it was just a sausage roll?” She was improvising on pork based snacks, just hoping something would connect with this wreck of humanity that sat only a couple of feet away from her.
At first Ackbar avoided her gaze but then, very slowly, she could see his eyes moisten as finally he nodded in the affirmative.
“It was bacon roll, he bad man, he look at me funny.”
“OK Jenkins, go downstairs and book this hombre, this is Pork Products 1, he’s going down for a very long time, I hope he knows all the steps to the shower soap song.”
The streets would be safe for one more night but just for how long?
There are a million hate crimes in the big city and this has been only one of them.
* * *
Life during wartime? This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around.
How we laughed, back in 1979, at the irrational lyrics of a dystopian future that David Byrne had imagined. Well, we’re not laughing now.
I don’t think that ever in my lifetime have I felt such a disconnect with the State, felt its heavy hand on my shoulder so much and been so aware of its prying eyes. I now know that these people are working slowly to unravel our liberties piece by piece.
Heard of a van that is loaded with weapons,
Packed up and ready to go
The sound of gunfire, off in the distance,
I’m getting used to it now
You oughta know not to stand by the window
Somebody see you up there
I got some groceries, some peanut butter,
To last a couple of days
We got computers, we’re tapping phone lines,
I know that that ain’t allowed
I changed my hairstyle, so many times now,
I don’t know what I look like!
Just a few random lines from this paranoid opus but is it all really so paranoid now?
I always imagined some future conflict would be with an outside force, some militarised nation bent on our destruction. I never, for a moment, thought the enemy would be within.
Life during wartime? Are we there yet, you bet your sweet bippy we are.
Burned all my notebooks, what good are notebooks?
They won’t help me survive
My chest is aching, burns like a furnace,
The burning keeps me alive.
© Viciousbutfair 2018