My Mum and the Caravan – Part One – A Party is Promised!
More tales of Mum from the attic of my mind…yes I have remembered another one! These tales do not follow any chronological order as this goes back to when I was about thirteen or fourteen. To any reader that may not be familiar with the My Mum series of incidents from my childhood, I think I should point out that my Mum, God rest her soul, was a touch eccentric and liable to do strange things. As a mother, though loving, she was undoubtedly inclined towards the whacky both in her sense of dress and in buying the most inappropriate things, such as a cocktail cabinet, when we had scarcely enough to eat. That said, Mum had given me the idea that I could have a party and invite all my friends. Well, I had never had such a thing, in fact, nor had any of my friends so I didn’t feel too disgruntled by this. However, if I was going to be the first of our gang to have a party that would give me a great deal of street cred, or so I thought? I would be a leader not a follower! Obviously I would have to pay some attention to domestic arrangements at home but I felt I was up to the task.
First off, if I gave the place a bit of a clean up and tried to let some light in by pulling back the curtains that would, I thought, make a big difference. However, I didn’t allow for the fact that our curtains had developed a stubborn streak and absolutely refused to be pulled in any direction. Okay, so it looked as if I’d lost the first battle but I had no intention of losing the war.
No, the curtains were just a minor setback but I would not allow one defeat to stop me from cleaning up and I soon found a broom that someone had carelessly left lying around and I swept up all the debris, I won’t say dirt because what I swept up was rather large to be classified as dirt comprising as it did of shoes, a couple of lumps of coal, a plate or two and something I couldn’t identify. Anyway, I had collected all the detritus - good word for a thirteen year old, don’t you think - into a nice neat pile in the passage, we didn’t go in for halls in those days, then I opened the door to what was euphemistically called the Larder, which I believe is a place where other people keep their food. Not in our house!
In our house the ‘Larder’ was the last resting place for everything that didn’t fall into any other category so there were all sorts, ranging from an old sock, looking for a companion in its twilight years, to my unused PE Kit, unused due to my undergarments not being suitable to be seen in daylight hours, and finally to a forgotten social worker, in fact, anything. Anyway, the ‘Larder’ provided the perfect resting place for my pile of collected detritus. Now I’ve found this word I don’t want to part with it. Some people keep animals as pets I keep words, well, for a start they need less exercise and they cost very little to feed as they only eat imagination and they get very little of that if being fed by me.
I digress but the reader will have got the general idea by now, cleaning up was proving to be rather more difficult than first anticipated. Having opened the Larder door, the Social worker was now clamouring to come out, saying she had a family to go to but I soon pushed her back in. I didn’t want my friends to know we were in need of a social worker. Besides if I let her out then before too long the place would be over run with inhabitants from the ‘Larder!’ and at that time there were no traps on the market that one could purchase and the council didn’t employ a ‘Larder’ inhabitant catcher, as they said that it didn’t fall within the remit of environmental health or its equivalent at the time!
But still, undaunted, I carried on trying to make our house look like the houses all my friends lived in. A project doomed to failure from the start but I was still young enough to be optimistically inclined to the view that I could make our front room look almost normal and that, in the kitchen department, I could hide all the unwashed cooking utensils somewhere. When I say hide I think it might be more accurate if I said buried, yes, that would be a good plan. No one need ever know that Mum did most of what she laughingly called cooking in the pot of last resort because, being cast iron it was so heavy, it was always the only one that was clean. When I say clean…Mum didn’t wash it up she just gave it a bit of a rub with a ball of wire wool that she kept for the purpose as it was very effective at taking off the top layer of rust! I think, perhaps, it is superfluous to mention that we children never suffered from an iron deficiency!
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was still in the process of Operation Clean Up when Mum broke it to me. There was to be no party. Apparently parties required food and food required money of which Mum was not in possession. I was distraught! How could I tell my friends after I had made such a big deal about me being the first and only person to have a party? My street cred would sink below where it had previously been and that was at ground level but after this it would surely drop down to the level of a sewer.
So, I begged, I cried, I stamped my feet, I refused to go to Mass on Sunday but then, when that didn’t have the desired effect, I switched tactics. I promised to go to Confession; I vowed to go to Mass every day, three times a day if it meant I could have the party. I said I would clean all the pots in the sink. What am I saying? What I meant was I would dig them back up again. I even said I would sort through everything in the “Larder!” But no, to paraphrase a protest song “Mum would not be Moved!” So with heavy heart I knew I had no choice but to tell my friends that the eagerly awaited party was off.
I leave it to you, the reader, to imagine my embarrassment. I was a laughing stock. Then I was accused of being a liar and that there was never going to be a party…that it was all a figment of my imagination. Figment, my word, not theirs, another one of my pets, very affectionate, and, according to my friends, at least, it liked its food being fed only on a diet of my imagination. Then, when I was at my lowest ebb and beneath contempt as far as my friends were concerned, my moment of epiphany arrived! Yes, and not a moment too soon, I might add. Something that was so big it was nothing short of Miraculous! Yes, I say again, Miraculous!
TO BE CONTINUED