Chapter Twenty

So much has happened since he died and yet I still cannot believe that it was seven years ago……

A former teaching colleague used to update the staffroom with the latest Malapropisms from her husbands place of work. The majority of these howlers were mostly accredited to the office
manager. On one occasion he was tracing the life and career of a soon to be retired
underling – some of it accurate some of it not.But his audience was riveted, waiting for the one word, the one liner that would make the occasion so memorable. They were not to be disappointed……

….‘And that, my friends, is Robert’s career in a nutmeg!’

Uproar, high-fives, raucous laughter ensued. Completely oblivious to the reason for this tumultuous reception the manager retired modestly to his office to bask smugly in the glory of yet another triumphant address to his people. Now that’s called adding a bit of ‘spice’ to an otherwise long and boring speech. I recall this little anecdote for a reason.

It is now 2010AD. I know! What on earth have I been doing since I last sat down at this desk? Well, actually, all of the activities I listed previously PLUS all of the other things that have happened TO me and to those I love.

Here are the events of my life to date ‘in a nutmeg’……..…well, no, actually, I’m not gong to make another list, I’m going to keep these events for a whole new story, for there is too much to tell and a simple list does not suffice. Many remarkable ‘coincidences’ have happened to me and mine over the past eight years – some of which have taken my breath away  but I will relate those another time. This year, on Hugh’s anniversary, I was at his favourite nursery with Anne. A not too  familiar voice called my name. I turned to see Rona smiling broadly at me.

‘How’s that writing coming on?’she asked, not realising that I had indeed followed her advice eight years ago.I tried to explain to her how it had ‘kept me going’. I couldn’t believe that I was able then to introduce her to one of my family and thank her sincerely for her letter. When I told Joe about the meeting he said, ‘Haven’t you been looking for an ending to your story? Surely this is it.’

When I was young, the programme in the cinema ran continuously: Pathe News, Pearl and Dean, images-3.jpgthe ‘B’ movie, ‘Trailers’ and then ‘The Big Picture’ with only a short interval while ‘The Lady with the Tray’ sold her ice cream. (According to my father being able to walk backwards was a pre-requisite of that job!)

Very often we would arrive in the middle of a film which would then mark the time for our departure. It mattered not a jot that the order of viewing consisted of the end of one film, one complete film and then the beginning of the first film. Sheila would insist that we leave the cinema at precisely the moment in the film we had arrived.

‘Come on, this is where we came in!’ she would hiss through the darkness. Of course this command would be ignored until she herself would stand up in frustration thus releasing the seat to spring up squeakily letting us know in no uncertain terms that she had to be obeyed.  The surrounding audience would huff and puff as we struggled past them to the end of the row and, reluctant to take our eyes off the screen, we would make our exit, backwards, (just like the usherette) up the aisle.

‘Why couldn’t we wait till the end ?’ I would ask Sheila miserably.

‘You saw the end at the beginning!!’imgres-2.jpg

My crestfallen face sometimes softened her.

’Look, they fell in love, they got married, The End!’

Or her summary might have been, ’He died, she didn’t, The End.’

When I was young, I accepted these ‘clarifications’ as …. well ….final. Besides Sheila was my big sister and was not to be challenged. Challenging any authority, was at the very least frowned upon (in the case of the Church was considered to be even sinful!)

What I really wanted to ask Sheila was,‘ What happens after ‘The End’?’

I know what her exasperated answer would have been – ‘How would I know!’

We’ve both grown up a lot since the days of the Rex and the Odeon and realise that this life is all about beginnings and endings – some so subtle we barely acknowledge them as such and others so obvious they overwhelm us.

It’s a new day. I sit at the computer and begin to write.

Today began as a ‘glass half empty day’. I felt overwhelmed – weighed down with self pity and a burden of chores  waiting to be done: dusting, washing, hoovering, ironing, shopping …….. oh God, oh God, oh God !! I stop and gaze out of the window for inspiration. The dull, grey outlook exacerbates my mood and I continue to bemoan my lot ……this window needs cleaning, that sill needs dusting ……. those trees need pruning …oh God!! I slump over the desk and come face to envelope with a letter waiting to be answered, pencils begging to be sharpened, documents that should have been filed away ….. God, is there no end to this misery!!          imgres-1.jpg

Misery?? Misery!! I hear the mocking voice in my head. Aren’t you ashamed of  just how pathetic your ’burden’ is? Dusting?! Hoovering?! Washing?! What’s the matter with you? Can’t you wield a duster, push a hoover, load a washing machine?! Aren’t you fortunate that you have stuff to dust, floor coverings to hoover and clothes to wash?! Haven’t you been watching ‘The News’?! Weren’t you crying into your tea and snivelling over your chocolate biscuit during ‘Comic Relief?!……need I say more? Now restart your day by ‘phoning Marjory. Okay? I feel so ashamed that I can’t think of anything to say back to myself. Marjorie suffers from Motor Neurone Disease. Enough said.

So, here I am attempting to finish my story…….. I should perhaps just write…


…and be done with it …. but it isn’t the end….there’s more ….…there’s always more …… so….…… let’s take a new page…..begin again…….and hope…….for the best. x

Maureen McAlinden, April 2011