My friend asked if I would write a poem for her lovely website. A mere eight months or so later, I did just that. An ode to my home town, the glorious Barnstaple!
My friend asked if I would write a poem for her lovely website. A mere eight months or so later, I did just that. An ode to my home town, the glorious Barnstaple!
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 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.
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?
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.
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 …
Delighted to have a poem in this beautiful creature.
You can buy a copy here:
Dear little mice,
How are you? Is it sunny where you are? If not I hope you have felt its beams on your skin at least twice this year. (If you haven’t … where are you?? I’d love to hear from anyone living in a cave/centre of the earth.)
So, firstly: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for starting a blog and keeping it running for god knows how many years and gaining your trust and making you believe that there would always be mediocre content at least once a month and then all of a sudden … dropping off the face of the earth.
Secondly: I’m not sorry! Because I have some good things lined-up for all you excellent, strange creatures that follow this blog.
I’m still writing, and I’m writing a lot at the moment. The reason you haven’t seen any of this is because most of that writing is a book — a novel, a book-book. And it turns out writing a good book is actually very hard, even for very arrogant people like me. But I am very happy to tell you that earlier this year it was awarded an Arts Council ‘grant for the arts’. This not only provided some much needed money (for some much needed food), but has also given me confidence that I am hopefully dedicating a large portion of my life to something worthwhile.
Other than that, I am currently studying for my masters and have had the blessings of a couple of other writing contracts that have kept me busy, and quiet. But no longer!
As of Summer 2018, I can confirm more poetry is heading your way (yeah, let those fist bumps lose!), there will be a video with me talking about being a failure at poetry (at some point), there is an article about superstition and assigning meaning to nature in Breathe issue 12 for you to buy, and to the wonderful person who wrote in to tell me they’d dreamt I’d put up another Motherisms, you’ll be delighted to hear one of those is in the pipeline — as is a Fatherisms.
I’m also still wanting to do a collective Motherisms, so please write in with anything wonderful/hilarious or ridiculous your mother might have said and we can make something funny together. Isn’t that nice? ISN’T IT??
Happy Thursday everyone, it’s going to be beautiful (whether you like it or not). x x x
Wrote a piece in Breathe Magazine on how to protect our lovely wildlife this winter, with these CUTE illustrations.
Can buy online here, or in reality in Marks and Spencers, WH Smith and … Wallmart, so I’m told ….
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 …
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 …
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 …
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
Mum: Whatever his name is. …
Me: Harry Potter?
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 …
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.