Motherisms feat: Sinatra’s Secret, Corruption, Moomin Butts and Lizzie Borden

It’s Christmas Eve. I’ve just returned to the room after wrapping mum’s presents. It seems mum is worried that I didn’t take long enough …

Mum: The thing is: to give and be giving

Me: Yes mum, don’t worry, I’m giving well this year.

 

As usual, mum has told me all about at least three of my presents within an hour of my arrival …

Mum: It will look great in the flat …

Me: Mum! Don’t tell me, it’s supposed to be a surprise – that’s half the point of presents!

Mum: I’ve been collecting this shit for months.

Apropos of nothing, and almost to herself, mum says ….

“Danny Dyer’s very funny.”

 

We’re watching University Challenge, there is a segment on Shakespeare quotes, which mum is usually very hot on …

Jeremy Paxman: “A calm and still conscience …”

Me: That’s unusual.

Mum: Exactly what I was thinking.

 

 

I am laughing and being young and happy, and evidently quite annoying because mum says …

“I think all young people should be made to wear fat suits so they understand what it’s like getting about when you’re old.”

 

There is a medieval style gold leaf painting of a monk-ish man on the table. I am observing his presence.

Me: Who is he?

Mum: St Nicholas … Do you like him?

Me: Yes he’s like that other dude over there (A minatutre medieval-esque illumination of St Jude rests on the windowsill)

Mum: Yeah, I’ve got dudes everywhere.

 

 

It’s Christmas Eve and the sparkling drinks have begun ..

Me: I’m feeling quite flushed after that!

Mum: Lightweight.

 

Mum left a chocolate walnut for me to eat, I didn’t get round to eating it. It’s later in the evening and she is studying the jar of them now.

Mum: We should do something with the chocolate walnuts.

I’m reminded to turn around and eat mine.

Me: Oh … someone’s eaten mine.

Mum: Yes well, they look like dog poos just lying about.

 

 

‘Would I Lie To You’ comes on , mum is not best pleased …

“Oh no, it’s just a load of people showing off.”

 

Monopoly North Devon edition began on Christmas eve. Mum, having been mightily bankrupted last year in a round of repairs to her many houses and hotels, is just playing the game to accrue as much cash as possible. There is a large, colourful pile of money on her side of the tablecloth.

“Millions! I’ve got millions! I’m the Philip Green of Barnstaple!”

 

I am being a normal girl, just walking around …

Mum: You look like Lizzie Borden.

Me: Who’s she?

Mum: A murderess.

Me: Thanks.

 

Mum is now complimenting me and wants due credit …

Mum: And me, for gestating this thing!

Me: Yes mum, thank you very much for giving birth to me.

Mum: You’re welcome.

 

We’re watching Guys and Dolls, or half-watching while lunch is being prepared saintily by me …

Me: I don’t get the Frank Sinatra thing

Mum: Big dick

Me: Jesus Christ mother.

I quickly cross myself in the hope it will prevent mum from saying anything like that ever again.

Mum: He did! Ava Gardner said it very plainly. Also charm, musical talent and wealth, of course …

 

 

We’re watching Kings College choir, one boy has done a maginificently high-pitch solo number for a while, and now the rest of the choir is joining in …

Me: All the out-of-tuners can come in now

Mum (horrified): Out of tuners, tut tut.

 

 

Mum has bought a decent-sized chicken for us to eat, currently raw she suggests we …

“Instagram it to my followers.”

 

Mum’s first boyfriend is in a film on Christmas Day …

Mum: I gambled with him under the stage for many hours during Julius Caesar.

Me: Gambled what? … Playing what?

Mum: Gambled … it’s an expression.

 

 

I hear things, tinkling things and spoon stirring …

Me: Are you having a brandy coffee?

Mum: Yes.

Me: I knew it!

Mum: You can smell it from 50ft. I’m not trying to get anything past you. There’s a pause. Want one?

Me: Yes please.

 

We’re all tiring a little of monopoly and a couple of brandies (sans coffee) have also been drunk. Mum is counting the spaces …

“Six, seven, eight, nine … I’ve got so bored I’ve forgotten what I was doing.”

 

Mum’s on a butt rant …

“These women! It’s just a succession of arses … ‘so and so “flaunts’ … And you think, “Jesus god, not another arse.” … Huge arses like moomins.”

 

 

Mum’s navigating slowly away from women with enormous arse implants towards sex robots, which seem to have inspired her imagination …

“The human race will die out … Soon they’ll sell sex robots in Argos.

Mum then attempts a teenage boy’s voice …

‘What would you like for Christmas dad? I got you a sex robot.’

Mum then attempts a robot voice …

‘Would you like to masturbate?’ ”

 

 

The Monopoly game-saga continues. We’re listening to some neglected Bob Dylan on Spotify, an ad comes on …

Ad woman: Sky Cinema so you ..

Mum: Go away this woman!

Ad woman: With Sky Cinema …

Mum: NO!! ‘Blood on the Tracks’, man!

 

We have a couple of peaceful rounds and now a new advert is on, the voice overs sound similar ..

Ad woman: Google home hub …

Mum (now shouting): WHO IS THIS WOMAN?

 

 

Mum is insisting we watch Kevin and Perry Go Large …

Mum: How old were you when this came out?

Me: I don’t know, about fourteen.

Mum: That must be why it left such a marked impression on me.

Me (in defence): These guys are a bit older.

Mum: Yes, but there’s and age range of between 14 and 40.

 

 

Mum has been raving about a sword scene in the old ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ since we watched the new one. Now the old one is on and so is the sword scene … I watch as a soldier shows off to his love interest by slashing a sword half an inch from her face, proceeding to run around a hilly outcrop screaming and then charging at her with the lethal blade …

Me: I don’t know, for me that’s a warning sign.

Mum: Yes … It’s not quite how I remember it.

 

We’re … you guessed it, playing Monopoly, the same game, on Boxing Day, three days after we started it, and, you guessed it, mum is still cash rich and land poor …

Me, to myself: Advance to go collect £200…

Mum: Won’t do you any good. The country has been corrupted by speculators, now I’m seeing if it will work for me.

 

 

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Pre and Post-Champagne Family Portrait

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Piece for the New Statesman

Hey gang. I spent an unfortunate amount of time on sex doll/bot forums, and somehow I didn’t lose my sense of humour entirely. Here’s the resulting piece I wrote for the New Statesman …

https://www.newstatesman.com/2018/11/no-bio-wife-will-ever-be-loyal-reddit-sex-robot-forums-radicalising-men

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Motherisms Festive Specialé 2.0

It’s been an interesting year to say the least. But, here we are, mum and I at the end of it, still standing, still talking to each other …

 

 

It’s some time in September and we’re driving down a narrow country lane, Mum pulls in to let a person go past. They manage to raise a finger to thank her but don’t look happy about it. Mum is not impressed …

“God a smile wouldn’t break your face. So miserable all these people, the English take their pleasure sadly.”

 

Mum’s friend owns an excellent Pizza restaurant …

“That pizza oven’s incredible, they can do cremations in the winter when things get slow.”

 

In October Mum and I were in a rather nasty car crash. Mum got sent an awful lot of flowers (I didn’t). Mum’s looking around the room, barely visible through the foliage …

“It’s like a funeral parlour in here … so beautiful.”

 

Mum makes no apologies for being a big fan of Real Housewives (of New York, Beverly Hills … and wherever else these women live). She is setting the scene for me …

Mum: These poor men must get confused – all the women look the same. ‘Was she my wife? Or was she?’
Me: She seems like the smart one.
Mum: Yeah she’s the surgeon … her and her husband. He does all their work, so you don’t want to upset him too much.
Me: You can tell how much work she’s had done because her neck’s red with blood and there’s nothing in her face.
Mum: Oh yeah, the amount if work these women have had done! They’ve had their faces done, their fannies rearranged …

 

We’re watching Paddington Bear, who arrives in London and lands the most beautiful home, just like that …

Paddington Bear: I feel quite at home in Windsor Gardens!
Me: I bet you do you lucky sod.
Paddington is not representing the reality of living in London, and is skipping about with glee …
Mum: Might have made a serious mistake here.

(Actually turns out to be a lovely little film.)

 

Mum has discovered Marks and Spencer’s do bread and butter pudding, this has proved dangerous …
“I’m addicted to bread and butter pudding, the woman at the check out has started to notice. She said, “I started getting like this, but it was with the jam rolly polly.”

 

It’s Halloween and we’re in Barnstaple late at night walking back from the cinema, everyone is dressed as slutty zombies, zombies, pirates, slutty pirates and slutty cats. I see mum observing the revellers with suspicion …

Me: It’s Halloween.
Mum: Oh that’s what that is.

 

Mum’s wistfully looking out the window over the river …

“Wouldn’t it be nice if it were attractive people sitting on the wall.”

 

It’s time to squabble over what we should watch. Mum wants to watch something about forensic murders, life is stressful at the moment, and I’d like something a little more cheerful ..

Mum: Forensics is fascinating
Me: Yes it is, but isn’t there anything with a bit more joi de vivre?
Mum: Joi de Vivre … ok.
Mum puts something on, I can tell immediately it’s a television drama as someone is shouting at someone else.
Me: Not sure about this mum.
Mum: It’s supposed to be very good.
Me: Yeah but it’s not ‘joi de vivre’ is it?
Mum: No, it’s hard hitting drama about crack addiction in 1980s.

 

I am tinkling away on the guitar, I have improved, slightly over the last year or so …
Mum: You should write songs
Me: I should but I won’t.
Mum: Your guitar playing is getting quite good
Me: It is, but I can’t bare to be under appreciated about anything else
Mum (with sarcastic melodrama): Oh dear, couldn’t you?

 

It’s nearly supper time and there’s a strange noise coming from the kitchen, a low droning sound …

Me: What is that?
Mum: The chicken tikka masala.
Mum thinks twice about this and goes into the kitchen to double check it is the meal making this noise …
Mum: Oh god no it’s Bartok! Jesus Christ, at this time of night?

 

Mother is very up to date, she will soon be micro dosing daily and using a new crypto currency she calls …

“Bit con”

 

It’s two days before Christmas and I have deigned to grace mother with my presence, we are discussing the many treats we have, and what we don’t have …
Mum: We don’t have mince pies, you don’t like Mince pies do you.
Me: Yeah, but I don’t mind if we don’t have them.
Mum: Well we can always go to M+S and do the vulture’s dash tomorrow.

 

It’s Christmas Eve and continuing my grandmother’s tradition we are allowed to open a little present this evening. I unwrap a beautifully packaged present to reveal … a tube of effervescent Vitamin C.

Me: Oh lovely, thanks very much.
Mum: No darling look inside.
I do look inside and to my relief see a mascara.
Me: Oh excellent!
Mum: Took the vitamin c very graciously

I fail to take my two thermals vests and thermal tights quite as graciously.

 

David Attenborough is on in the background, again ….

“Kind of taken over from God now, Attenborough. We’ll have Attenborough carols next.”

 

Mum’s listing what we have to eat …

Mum: Bananas, brandy butter, brandy cream, hummus, dips ..
Me (trying to join in): Chips and dips …
My American terminology gets lots in translation.
Mum: No, no chips if you want chips you can lightly roast some potato skins.

 

It’s just gone Twelve in the morning of Christmas Eve, we’re discussing what we could possibly drink at this hour, mum is holding a minute glass filled with transparent liquid …

Mum: Gin.
Me: Mulled wine.
Mum: Mulled wine will make you sleepy, micro-dose with this, incredibly expensive stuff, won it in the raffle … this will get you going.
Me: Maybe later, I’m not sure in quite ready for neat gin.

 

Mum is worried we are being taken over by our robot overlords but can’t remember their names ..

Mum: All this stuff is spying on you, that bloody Celsy …
Me: Alexa.

 

For now mum can’t drive and she’s bored, so she’s thinking about joining a political party, any political party …

Mum: I’ll be a liberal and a communist.
Me: You can’t pick both, you have to be loyal to your party if you actually want to effect some change.
Mum: I don’t know which party I’m going to chose yet, and anyway I’m just agitating I think effecting change is a little ambitious

 

We are trying to plan our evening’s televisual entertainment, mum has her favourite show on the brain …

Mum: You can watch Dennis Potter
Me: Who?
Mum: Whatever his name is. …
Me: Harry Potter?
Mum: Yes.
Me: Is that on now is it?
Mum: Real housewives?
Me: No, Harry Potter!
Mum: No, later.

 

I have made a comprise and agreed to watch Real Housewives provided I get to watch Harry Potter, without complaints. Mum studies the men on the television and announces …

“This must be an old one all the husbands have left now.”

 

Mum bought me ‘Monoploly, North Devon Edition’ for Christmas, which comes as a surprise as the last time we played it I was 8 and had what a believe is a called an ‘episode’ – I was not born a good loser, it came with practice …

Me: Shall we play monopoly then?
Mum: Yeup. Made sure there’s a taser behind the sofa.

 

We’re on our wildly exciting Christmas walk, mum shouts excitedly over the roaring gale …

“Oh look, rabbit poo!”

 

Mum and I returning from our delightfully bleak and drizzly Christmas walk along the estuary and are walking down a little brambled road near the Rugby club, covered in litter. We are tutting furiously at the rubbish. Mum names the culprits …

“Rugger buggers.”

 

We’ve had a phone call from family in Japan and Mum is whimsically entertaining going to visit on her air miles, but appears to have a price on her head …
“Ah, but I’d be within range of Kim Jong Un.”

 

Mum comes in, puts 15th century convent maestro Hildegard von Bingham on the CD player, and then leaves. I am left to eat chicken sandwich alone in a fantastically ominous atmosphere.

 

It’s Boxing Day and we’re playing monopoly again, mum is on a losing streak after a night of winning the previous evening (and gracious losing on my part), I have landed on ‘Verity’, one of her less-expensive properties. Mum is disappointed …

“Verity … a cheap tart, £8.’

 

Poor mum was walking home with a very heavy pineapple from her friend’s and it left her unbalanced in wet conditions and she slipped over on the pavement. Displaying her excellent character, she has not held a grudge against the pineapple and is eating it with zeal …

Mum: It was lovely of Michael Jackson to give her so many pineapples.
Me: Michael Jackson?!
Mum: It’s his name, must be very annoying, his parents should have thought of that.

 

We’re watching the weather forecast for excitement. The skies are black, rain is attacking the windows and it’s a howling gale outside.

Weather Woman: … as storm Dylan comes in from the west.
Mum: With storm Cohen close behind.

 

It’s Boxing Day and I ask mum if she wants a chicken sandwich (the highlight of Christmas for me) …
“No bread for me – enough trans fats man … The countdown to starvation begins.”

 

I have just bankrupted mum for the third time this evening and the fourth time in her life, someone in a drama on television is saying that their mother couldn’t afford a bus ticket.

“If the mother can’t afford bus ticket she shouldn’t play monopoly then.’

 

Mum is decimating the chicken I thought I had already stripped in preparation for making chicken soup, she calls in from the kitchen:

Mum: Whole other meal on here.
Me: I’ll have another chicken sandwich tomorrow then …
I think for a second and try and count how many days it’s been since Christmas, possibly two hundred, I can’t be sure ….Is the chicken still ok to eat tomorrow?
Mum: You’ll find out.

(I ate it and I’m still alive so I guess it was.)

 

Mum’s looking in the fridge and telling me what we have a lot of …
“Things you can eat freely: Bread and butter pudding.”

 

Happy New Year! And if you have a Motherism (or two) you would like to share do send them in (anonymously if you don’t want to get in trouble). I will be compiling a collected Motherisms soon! Send them to jadeangelesfitton@gmail.com.

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Motherisms: Feat. Summer, Groccles and Full Moon In Aquarius …

 

It’s summer in North Devon. The swifts and swallows have arrived, as have approximately 9 million caravans and wankers with weekend surfboards. All the roads are blocked, there’s rubbish (and even worse, people) all over the beach and everything suddenly gets more expensive. Fortunately it’s the most beautiful place … in North Devon, and I’m still near mum ….

 

I like art, I really like old art, and I really like silly jokes. Mum also likes all these things …

Me: Go on ‘classical art memes’ ….
Mum: What is a meme?
Me: I don’t really know … it’s just a meme.
Mum: “It’s just a meme.” Even I know it’s a meme. I still don’t know what it is.
Me: Well it turns out I don’t know either.
Mum: I’ve got memes, I’ve a cloud, I’ve got blue teeth …
Me: Yeah.

 

It’s summer in North Devon and if you’re not 6th generation Devon or a friend of ours, mum doesn’t want you here.

Me: How was your day?
Mum: Swimming pool full of tossers

 

I have a tendency to leave electric cables to my appliances behind, so do other people, all people younger than mum apparently ..

“You young people always leaving your wires behind, wankers.”

 

I’ve gone round to mums and am enjoying a nice glass of wine as I watch the seagulls fly past the window in the late-evening light. Then I notice something strange on the windowsill …

Me: Mum, why is there an enormous knife here?
Mum: I don’t know.

 

Writing is a constant battle with my brain. If I spend too long looking at words, I become unsure how they could possibly be spelled like they are. The newest in this collection of words is ‘blood’ …

Me: Blood, it’s not said how it’s spelled at all .. “blud it’s bloooood…”
Mum: YES, bloed … sounds Dutch …I should’ve known that from all my Scandy-noirs
Me: All that bloed
Mum: Lots of bloed.

 

We’re watching a video where dead bodies get turned into rocks – mum is a sucker for all new carbon-neutral ways of disposing of herself ….

Narrator: Then put them in liquid nitrogen to distract …
Mum: … Your victim
I watch on horrified as a human is turned into ice-dirt and then compressed into a block …
Mum: Looks expensive.
They’re now being ground up into a brown-orange powder …
Narrator: … freeze dried …
Mum: Then they put you in a curry.

 

Mum wants to do something complicated with her television and I’m not in the mood to do it.

Mum: Well, you need useful boys for things like these anyway.
Me: I’m pretty useful for a girl …
Mum: Yes, sure, yes, no you are quite.

 

It’s early august and it’s pissing with rain ….

Mum: Moody weather …
Me: Yeah take that tourists.
Mum: They don’t care they’ll go back and fiddle with their tablets … hopefully one day they can just come here virtually.

 

Night tubes going and it’s the hottest story I’ve got hold of that day ..

Me: First night tube in London ..
Mum: Oh … right … in London …
Me: Yes. Not a huge event but does make a big difference.
Mum: Yes some where for the homeless to sleep, poor bastards I bet they’re relived.

 

Mum’s an Aquarius in the world of horoscopes, and vehemently believes in all their (positive) traits. This information will be important in a second …

Mum: Full moon yesterday …
There have been quite a lot of full moons recently it seems and I don’t react.
Mum: … In Aquarius.
I see now this one’s important.
Me: Oh right …
Mum: Probably why I’m so tired.
Me: Yeah that must’ve taken it out of you .

 

Mum is not enjoying getting old, there is way less partying and way more hip replacements than she’d envisaged …

Mum: Getting old is so boring.
Me: Well you’re going to have to find ways to preoccupy yourself.
Mum: No it’s not that it’s that your body stops working.
Me: Well Steven Hawkings hasn’t had the privilege of a fully-functioning body for the majority of his life – don’t hear him complaining he’s bored.
Mum: Well, I’m sorry I’m not Steven Hawkings!!

 

We’re observing the woman who’s supposed to have a shit-tonne of testosterone, she’s about to race or has just raced maybe. Either way, she’s standing around looking powerful …

Mum: I wouldn’t take her on would you?
Me: Yeah, I would. I’m scrappy .
Mum: Yes … You’ve got to get that under control.

 

I work quite hard, not that hard, but quite hard. Mum thinks this deserves a reward when I see her, it’s wine and I’m not in the mood but have struggled through one heavy glass of red …

Me: Why did you give me more wine?
Mum: Because it’s you’re day off
Me: It’s not my day off.
Mum: Well, have another anyway. You’re a laugh when you’re drunk.

(I drink the second and am a right laugh.)

 

Mum’s showing me some pictures of Evelyn Waugh or someone like that in the buff …

Me: Oh yes right …
Mum: During his gay period.
Me: Nice shining bottom.
Mum: It is isn’t it. Everyone at Oxford in the ‘30s was gay … And a communist.

 

We’re watching the gymnastics. I am in tears at the magnificence of it. Mum says …

“They look like little fairies but they’ve got thighs like truck drivers – so bloody strong ..”

 

It’s later on in the evening of gymnastics and I’m now drunk floor watching a routine …

Me: I could do that
Mum: Yeah right. Competitive or what!
I watch a pathetic double-backflip-quadruple-somersault-tummy-tuck-splits …
Me: No probs.
Commentator: Not the most difficult routine we’ll see tonight.
Mum: No jade could do it.

 

It’s dessert time, I’ve given up sugar because I have a tendency to eat enormous bars of chocolate daily, and there’s no one to tell me not to; but now I am my own parent. Mum brandishes something from the fridge …

Mum: 0% fat yoghurt.
Me: I don’t care about fat it’s sugar in supposed to not be eating.
Me: Well, it’s got absolutely nothing in it, do you want it or not? I’d get it while you can.

 

There are an awful lot of people in the village I live in, thousands of them, all with thousands of miniature versions of themselves …

“There’s too much breeding going on, too many kids. About 1 or two kids, great, but why do you want all these extraneous ones? The earth’s resources are not infinite.”

 

It’s later on in the Evelyn Waugh evening and mum’s driving me home. I’ve recently found out after 20 years of thinking I was too tall to be a jockey, that actually, I’m not.

Me: Lexxi’s boyfriend said I’m the right height … Grampa said I was too tall but I’m exactly the right height.
Mum: I’m surprised Grandpa didn’t say it was because you were a woman.
Me: Oh maybe that’s what he was saying .
Mum: I think he might’ve just generally been horrified you wanted to be a jockey.
A few minutes later ….
Me: Wasn’t Grandpa at Oxford in the ’30s?
Mum: Yes he was …

 

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Michael Goragg

I am forcing myself to write more often; because I am a kind woman, I am not forcing you to read.  But with looming prospects of a proper job and with nothing else to do but worry about all the proper jobs I might actually get, I am squeezing out whatever is at hand, today it’s a short story. Or as much of a short story as I can be bothered to write while feeling like I’ve accomplished something, and knowing it is better than yesterday’s. Tomorrow, tomorrow it will be nothing I’d have thought …

Michael Goragg

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On a small farm in Devon an even smaller herd of sheep lived, and routinely died.
In 209 million bc Devon had “actually been a part of Gondwana” and situated “somewhere around the equator,” so Michael Goragg’s girlfriend at college had told him. She had also told him 9/11 was an “inside job” and that “we all grow gills in the womb so fish-humans living at the bottom of Atlantis was really more likely that not”.
This year of Our Lord, 2013 (Our Lord had been cracking through the years recently) Devon was firmly in place between Cornwall and Dorset, and Michael Goragg had 23 sheep, all of which had lineage on the farm dating back to 1586.
The Goraggs had always prided themselves on the lineage of their sheep and at not having to join the others at the rowdy sheep auctions in town. This pride and respect for the Goraggs was limited to the family, as the rest of the farmers didn’t take the Goraggs seriously, and hadn’t since Giles Goragg – Michael’s father – sold the last of the heifers back in 1983. Since then, the family had lived off the land more than the few remaining animals; they converted the barns and let them out for more than they needed to comfortably survive; slaughtering lambs every autumn to ensure a new car every other year. In 2009 Michael Goragg, still under vague supervision from his father Giles Goragg (who lived like a fat Miss Havisham in the extension off the old manor house), had had a wind turbine installed on his land, and now received an extra £10,000 a year to watch the thing, like a giant rosary cross spin, spin and spin – or, as was often the case, stand petrified in the shallow breeze that slid through the hills.

Still, the energy that it refused to convert was of little concern to Michael, as long as it stayed standing, kept paying; the white façade was more than welcome. They were to build a nuclear power plant about 70 miles east, but Michael had bigger things on his mind. Last week he had paid two young teenage boys from the village of Down Martin – about 2 ¾ miles from the farm – to sheer his sheep for him. Feigning too many responsibilities to do it himself (Michael had shorn sheep as a child and knew that at least 3 sheep per herd would have maggots, which involved a rather gruesome ceremony of scooping and washing and retching) he had told Giles Goragg it was part of a local apprenticeship scheme. Giles didn’t believe him but now drank Fosters out of the can and ate Battenberg for breakfast. He had lost the will to keep his mind in check when Mandy Goragg died and had no intention of finding it again, in case he found all the pain.
So, the two young ‘farmhands’ as Michael bequeathed them, much to their amusement, had set about sheering his sheep. Under his instruction for the first 7, but for the other 16 Michael was in the house under the white strobe lights “making tea”. When they’d finished the two ‘farmhands’ came to Michael’s door saying they were done, the sheep were in the top field and could they have their money. Michael laughed loudly which alarmed them a little, and coaxed them out the door where the notes could exchange hands without Giles Goragg finding out. Deep down Michael knew he was fooling no one, had he accepted this reality life would’ve been easier for him, but he didn’t like who he was in reality, so he kept pretending, only half-fooling himself and weirding out everyone else in the process.
For the next few days Michael carried on as normal, he fed the sheep, then did as little as he could for the rest of the day while pretending to be busy. This would involve being irritable around a computer, which Giles Goragg didn’t quite have the knack of yet, so had no idea the myriad things Michael could be doing while shouting that he was “emailing the council regarding the wind turbine”, always. He was always emailing the council regarding the wind turbine.
This time what Michael had actually been doing on the computer was booking himself on the London Marathon. He had seen pictures of men he’d gone to school with finishing the marathon earlier in the year; they had always had something Michael hadn’t, but Michael could have that – the London Marathon, and then maybe no one would notice Michael didn’t shine like the others.
These images combined with isolation and a feeling of complete insignificance – exacerbated by exploring the expansive universe of the internet from his kitchen table – took Michael down a wormhole self-pity and reproach, at the end of which was a mirage of glory and fulfilment. A vision. He would be fulfilled. He would be released from the fear that pulled away at him in the breaths between the chattering of Jeremy Vine and Simon Mayo. He would start training next week. Tomorrow he would buy new trainers and a lot of whey protein. He would get a personal trainer.
“Oh!” Michael jumped up and clapped his hand over his mouth. There was someone on the radio talking about having run the London Marathon; how strange. Almost like it was meant to be or something. Michael could be as good as someone on the radio now – another accolade to distinguish himself with down the pub. His friends wish he’d just give up and rest in who he was – lazy, self-involved, massively insecure but nice enough, nicer still if he could accept who he was and stop trying to be something more. None of them told him this though of course, so, they were blissfully unaware that while they carried on with their lives until their next pint with Michael Goragg, he would be spending his time conjuring stories of coincidence and significance and why it was so special for him to do the marathon. Aunty June had died of something once, he was sure. He’d find out what that was and say he was running for that. Then it couldn’t be about him, or no one could say it was, to his face anyway and that was all he was interested in. His back was puckered with other people’s words.

On this morning though, when he went to feed the sheep, as he tipped the feed in the trough, dodging the stinging nettles and thistles that jostled for his attention; he noticed one of his sheep hadn’t been sheered. As it trotted closer Michael realised that actually, no, he had been sheered, but only his face. The sheep’s visage was completely bald, grade 0, beyond army cut. Michael was so shocked he laughed, then he noticed there were no nicks on the sheep’s face, and slightly resented the boy’s dexterity. As the sheep timidly drew up to the trough, without the hair covering him up, Michael was sure he could see shame, or embarrassment – it was hard to tell which one, it being a sheep.
Inside the farmhouse he called “the boys”, stripped of their respective title of ‘farmhand’, but neither answered. Michael left what he felt were a couple of stern voicemails and expected a swift response. He imagined he struck quite an intimidating figure to two jobless young teenagers, and in fact everyone he deemed to be lower down the money rung than him. He was wrong.
Michael hadn’t realised until too late in life that one does have something to prove, at least to other people. So now all his last-ditch attempts, though triumphs to him, were just trinkets for his conversations with others, that they would forget and then pretend to remember a few years later when they were drunk. Michael couldn’t quite see who he was.
The next day as he fed the sheep he watched the one with the shaved face, his bare features a mark of disrespect, against him. Him! Michael Sinjon Goragg!
He quickly forgot the cross the sheep had to bare and instead martyred himself – why had they not replied to him? Why were they even daring to disrespect him? Had they no respect? Or just none for him? Which was it for fucks sake?
He could hire a hit man. Check out the deep web …
No, not yet.

Over the next few days Michael drove around Down Martin looking for the boys, not knowing what he would do if he found them but imagining various violent incidents in which he would be the victor. Meanwhile Giles Goragg had been surveying his livestock when he noticed one of his sheep had been left unshorn. He took it upon himself to sheer it and so stored another ounce of resentment for his son in his Adam’s apple, to help him swallow the Fosters that he would drink to forget him. Michael was a wet blanket, the soggy end of the line.

Oblivious, Michael sat in a lay-by and watched the grey submerge the sky. As he watched a flock of crows scatter from one of the wintering trees, he thought of the bird lore someone had taught him long before and wondered what it meant; according to his phone they were flying from the …. East … North. Yeah, the North.
Maybe something horrible, maybe the sheep’s face was just the beginning? All the things he had done. Where would it end? Human sacrifice?
At the end.
As wing mirrors broke, new phones came out and offers for the land came in, Michael forgot about the sheep and his vendetta, the mortal threat he might be in, the curse he might be under. Life moved on. The bridge in his fathers mind eventually collapsed and blended drink and dementia together. Michael put him in a home that he had no plans to visit – “it’s not like he would remember it anyway”.
He had all the sheep slaughtered, ending their line in 2014, the products of 468 years of inbreeding gone in a lorry one October morning. Then he put a games room where his father had lived.

At night Michael would watch the wind turbine and convince himself he was a pioneer of progress. Plans to divvy up all the land would let him live comfortably for the rest of his life and Michael didn’t think past that. He wondered if he had things like arthritis or diabetes, but smothered greater fears, and with them the face of his bald sheep and how it had made him feel.

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