Thursday, 10 April 2008

"1p for a hover and 2p for a sit"

I`m on the bus going to town, an old fella with silver hair is on the seat in front, there`s a money spider merrily making a web across the strands in a triangle shape from the top of his head to a stray hair behind his ear. 20 minutes into the journey, I can`t take my eyes from the busy little creature, he moves his hand to scratch his head, and I have to stop myself from shouting "No!" He doesn`t harm Incy, my mobile rings and its friend D, she`s heading for B`s cafe. When I look back to check the progress of the web, spidys gone, oh, no.... then crawling around on the crown, I spy him, he`s abandoned his work, then it`s time to alight, I`m not destined to know the outcome of his fate, if he manages to hold on till the old fella goes to bed, he could be pancake.

At Laboca, D is looking forward to her holiday near the Zambeze River, they will be visiting a private game reserve, she informs me that they will have to be up and ready by 5.00am and asks

"Can`t we go somewhere where the animals have a lie in?"

She asks how our parrot Chico is doing, I tell her that he can now copy my husband`s snoring, farting and the signature tune to Coronation Street.

The book club members arrive, it is S`s Alabastar wedding anniversary, 37 years. We have been married 35 years, but I haven`t a clue what that is. Our new book is The Story of My Father by Sue Miller. I visit the toilet, B hammers on the door and shouts

" Hoy, you haven`t paid, I want 1p for a hover and 2p for a sit."

I sample B`s delicious home made soup, we ask eachother questions about the last book My Sister`s Keeper and discuss the ethics of designer babies, ones that are specifically conceived to maintain the health of a sick sibling, and also stem cell research. C is feeling groggy and feels as though she is aboard a ship, we offer to take the books back for her afterwards. D visits the toilet before we leave and B ushers all of us out and pulls down the shutters to the cafe to give her a fright.

We go on to meet another friend at the Centurion, have another coffee, until 6.20 when we carry on to the Lit and Phil for the open mic session. I read some of my poems and we hear a great selection from other members, a fabulous old mariner called Jack Paperman is reading his poems of the sea, what a character, I hope that he comes back. I told him that my Grandfather had been a mariner also, sailing from Falmouth in 1901 aboard the SS Waft, he is going to look through his records. I imagine that he would have a house full of collections.

On the bus coming back home, there are two drunks (At 8.30pm!!!!!! only in Newcastle) both are having conversations very loudly on their mobiles, one of them is saying f*** alot and the other is repeating each word he says about 6 times very rapidly " He`s a scaffolder, a scaffolder, is he a scaffolder man, I`m sure he`s a scaffolder, Duncan, he`s called Duncan, Duncan man, yeah, Duncan, he`s a scaffolder." As I get up to leave the bus I notice that they are actually twin brothers, they finish their conversations together then start talking to eachother, It`s a wonder to me how they don`t knock eachother out with the fumes.

I`m just in time to watch the programme on Stephen Wiltshire using pen and ink to create the London landscape, I saw him on TV when he was a child, he loved to sketch buildings then, but he has moved on to lithographs, oils, pastels, different mediums and shows work in his own gallery. He is autistic and has to have his meals etc at set times, he reminded me of my Dad who had Aspergers, he died 2 years ago this May, what a character he was, always collecting things and inventing new contraptions, I`m sure that he would have been interested in this programme, his favourites were Countdown and anything on animals or the second world war.

This photo shows some of his mates, either looking fed up or miserable, which you would expect, but Dad loved the regimental nature of the army Mam always used to say

"Look at the way he lines everything up on the table like a regiment of soldiers"

He admitted to me when he was 80 that my Nana used to send him letters from home, none of which he ever read, I wonder what his fellow soldiers made of that, they must have depended on letters from home to get them through the horrors they must have witnessed, and in a way, Dad`s syndrome would have been some kind of shield to what was going on around him. He spoke of his van, which he loved to ride around in when he was in Hanover, Oh what a lovely war.

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