Else where.

Else where.

There are worse things than death

I kept a diary so that I will be able to look back on it in my declining years and know that there are worse things than death.

I get up at eight. From the landing I hear this conversation coming from the kitchen:
My Auntie Eileen: Did I tell you I found that bra?
My mother: Which bra?
MAE: The one I’m wearing.
Mum: Were you wearing it when you found it?
MAE: Aye.
Mum: Now isn’t that lucky?
I turn around and go back to bed.

Today we visit my lovely godmother, three uncles and 16 cousins, and finish off with a trip to the giant Matalan that has just opened. Alas, after 90 minutes, my mother and aunt are no closer to pinpointing its location.
I said, “Why don’t you put your reading glasses on? Or the light?” They refuse. This is because they believe that eyesight, like intelligence and height, is a matter of will power. They decide that a gin or six will strengthen their resolve, and that’s the end of today’s travel plans.

We go to Barton Grange to buy sticky toffee pudding and see the urinals. The former is delicious, the latter lie somewhere  between insanity and genius. They are ceramic creations in the shape of giant hothouse blooms set low down against the wall so that little lads are encouraged to “water the flowers”. Suddenly my mood changes. Sweet hysteria wraps me in her warm embrace and I find myself laughing all the way home.

Today we set off for another set of cousins who will accompany us to Matalan. In the car, we play I Spy. “Something beginning with G,” I say. “Caterpillars!” cries three-year-old David ecstatically. His six-year-old sister shakes her head wearily. “He’s daft as a brush,” she says. When we leave the shop, he starts to cry because he can’t take the trolley home. “What did I tell you?” his sister says. “Daft as a brush.”

Speaking of daft as a brush, today’s the day we go to Clitheroe to see my Great Aunt Aggie. My Great Aunt Aggie has the largest collection of tea towels in the north-west, thinks her teeth will go soft if she watches ITV and spends her entire pension on lottery tickets every week. Octogenarians, their catheters and emergency oxygen cylinders, are jammed into every nook and cranny of her tiny apartment competing for the chance to win a cruet set. I wish I were joking. On the way back, I demand and get a consolatory half-hour in Clitheroe Books. While I am paging through a lovely secondhand book, I hear the sound of gentle weeping. It takes a moment before I realise it is me.

The Guardian

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