A WRITER’S WORK IS NEVER DONE…
My mum, taken years before I was born )possibly 1930s), a black and white picture that I dared to colourise
Just a moment. This isn’t fiction! What’s got into me? What am I doing writing a load of stuff that’s actually based on reality?
Well, I thought I’d let off a bit of gently unscalding steam.
We all have our crosses to bear and mine had its birth a long, long time ago in the late fifties and early sixties.
Mine was a good childhood, albeit not at all wealthy: in fact, my late mother was a widow from the mid-40’s onwards after the smoking (according to her) killed my dad, and the income for widows back then was paltry. There were benefits, but a country still licking its wounds after the second world war couldn’t really afford much.
What follows is my judgement of events. It may (or may not) be actually true, but I believe it.
My mother, Gwen, was prescribed various tablets by her doctor, “for her nerves” she said, and when I got to thinking about it afterwards I realised she had uppers in the mornings to wake her up and downers at night, to help her sleep when all she probably needed was a sympathetic ear. And I seem to recall that the uppers were quite strong.
And this is what made me think that.
When my GCE results came out I reacted by showing my relief and possibly anxiety by going to sleep in the morning as soon as the post brought the dreaded envelope, in the front room, suddenly and unaccountably truly exhausted. I must have been really stressed out by the importance of examinations that I may or may not have failed to pass. And, seeing the state I was in, my mum gave me one of her tablets. Only the one. I can’t remember the conversation, but I do know that tablet worked miracles. I got on my Cyclemaster (a 25cc power-assisted push-bike) to go for a ride, and I rode all day, going from Warwickshire village to Warwickshire village. And I seem to recall I was singing for some of the time. Loud, at the top of my voice, and my voice is no finely tuned musical instrument. Far from it.
That night sleep wouldn’t come for ages, so I read in bed.
And, by dawn, the tablet had worn off and I was back to normal.
And my mum was on those same tablets, bless her, and she had other tablets to reverse the effect at bed time.
They wouldn’t give anyone such strong medication without really good reason these days, and I’m pretty sure that the stresses of relative poverty and bringing up two reasonably well-behaved sons didn’t constitute good enough reason.
The result, though, was that her condition deteriorated until she became as near as damn-it senile. There are quite a few different mental conditions she might have had, but I attribute her almost non-existent mental state to the prescribed tablets. After all, she was only in her fifties and, for years, drugged up to her eye-balls.
Her decline, though, was horrible. I was in my teens when I discovered that she couldn’t cash her widow’s pension because she’d forgotten how to sign her name, and I forged it for her for some time. Then came the instance when a council painter asked her to open the landing window, and that was that. She probably didn’t even understand what she was supposed to be doing when she fell down the stairs and lay, screeching, at the bottom of them.
They switched off the life-support equipment two or three days later.
That was the state she was in, and that the reason why I write my nonsense today. Why I create my imaginary worlds.
You see, I’ve been scared stiff since then of following her down the road to hell, and believe you me, that’s where she was. For the last year or so of her life she was a resident in that Underworld and the blessing was she didn’t really know it.
I decided I must do something positive to retain whatever marbles I was blessed with by my birth, and as I may have some skill when it comes to writing my rubbish, I decided to do just that, from my forties and fifties onwards. No medication, nothing that would soak my personality into itself except for, maybe, the odd glass of something nice in the evening. Just me and, in the earliest days, a typewriter which thankfully was followed, in time, by a steadily improving army of computers.
And that, my friends, is why a writer’s work is never done. At least this one’s isn’t. My marbles have just got to stay where they are!
© Peter Rogerson 15.05.14