Alias True went for a walk yesterday, in the amazing sudden sun, and took loads of pics and sent me some (this and the one at the end are examples). All his pics are lovely, he has a good eye. I was totally caught by the blue, just gazing on, forever. The pastel little huts, the scrubby green. That darkish sand. See, I have been feeling very seaside-y this week and last. It’s been creeping up on me.
After those 3 posts on feeling sad and talking about my dad, I felt a bit of blog fatigue. I had tried to make those posts good, and real, and relevant (to myself and whoever else may feel them helpful), and I had to push them out in a very quick time frame because of when I was actually supposed to be on the Eric Maisel blog tour thingy – the last day, the 3rd post day.
So much was I concentrating on this and being quite single minded that I bit into my bagel for lunch on the Wednesday (my last day of any babysitting before the 3rd post had to be up on the Thursday, so I had to write then); and almost didn’t notice the pain when a tooth broke in half and fell out. I did however have to pay attention to the blood dripping on the keyboard…My number one thought was ‘bloody hell, I’m going really well, I don’t have the time or the money to go to the dentist right now! TSK!’ Of course, I did have to go. So I took the Eric Maisel book with me, determined to carry on quote mining as I waited, increasingly jellylike, in the dentists waiting rooms, to be caused pain and financial inconvenience. I felt most existential indeed as they drilled away and rebuilt a bit of the tooth, saying ‘that’ll last you a couple of months, but you really should…’ etc etc. How brave of me to deal immediately with this ‘fact of existence’, and to not shilly shally about because I am phobic about dentists. Bravo, me!
I had a different fact of existence the next day though, a harsher one. Fry visited, at my insistence. He was sposed to come up in the car and bring with him something mum had forgotten when she went back home the day before. I insisted he stay the day and be fed pizza, and hang out with me, as I don’t hardly see him at all now, what with his warehousing jobs, and living so far away. I made us go out in his car because Lil Fluffhead loves cars. So off we went to the enormous nearby Tescos to stock up on Honeynut Cheerios and suchlike. We had a stupid incident in the car park just as we were about to leave, where we were faffing with putting Fluffhead’s pushchair away and fitting it with difficulty in the boot, and I put the car keys down; followed by Fry shutting the boot door and realising we had effectively shut the keys in the car. A good start, really. I had left Fluffhead’s door open, as I wasn’t finished giving him things to nibble on the way home. So I snaked into the back that way and Fry put the back seats down so I could feel about in the boot for where I had dropped the keys. All sorted. He was a bit cross with me. I was contrite and offering of chocolate buttons. All strapped up, off we went again.
On the way out of the only exit, I was chatting away and singing to Fluffhead, and Fry was murmuring about a lorry waiting for us to go, because he’d been there for ages, pausing. ‘Yes, he’s definitely letting us out’, he murmured away to himself. I was conscious of a large beige thing in the side window. ‘Hmmmm,’ I said, vaguely, not a car driver, so only being polite. We turned into the traffic, and within a second, there was quite the most astonishing sound. A grinding of metal, hissing and groaning, right by my right ear. We shunted up onto the pavement, something I didn’t see, only felt, as the minute the noise started – so LOUD – I had closed my eyes completely and was waiting for it to be finished. It’s odd, as I had no consciousness that were having a car crash – only that we were being taken over by a much larger force than us: the metal grinding noise source was definitely in charge of the event.
After another couple of seconds it stopped. Fry was saying ‘oh shit’ very loudly, Fluffhead was crying very loudly and I was turning round to get him, all at once. ‘I can’t get out,’ Fry said, in a voice simultaneously panicked and angry. I then saw the lorry. Completely mashed against the side of us, and Fry’s door bent inward a bit. I turned to my side door and saw that I could open it a couple of inches but only that, as a large lamp post was in the way. Fluffhead roared. It wasn’t clear if he was scared (which you would think), or whether he was simply reacting to our sudden fright (which they do, do small children – they mirror your reactions to things often). Or whether, as I later realised, he was mostly extremely angry that we had stopped, and weren’t moving any more, and he really didn’t understand why – he loves cars like you wouldn’t believe. He fought to get back in it and be strapped into his car seat again.
Strange, all of it, ‘cos I didn’t feel scared. I felt immediate, that’s all. The lorry driver appeared in front of us: an initially scary figure, a young man with an ‘oh for fecks sake!’ angry expression, and a knitted hat pulled down low on his brow. (He actually turned out to be a total sweetie, he was from Rumania, and working to send money home to his family there, he was kind and concerned.) I gestured to him that we couldn’t get out, and could he go round and open Fluffhead’s door and get him out. He saw immediately the need, and very quickly got Fluffhead out. I didn’t establish it, but he must have had children; or taken great care of his siblings or somesuch, as the man was a natural with children: the way he instantly grasped and confidently soothed Fluffhead, who though mightily surprised to be suddenly held by a stranger, looked at him and judged him ok, and though he carried on yelling at the mightiest of roary volume, did not also struggle.
I managed to snake out through the back (an odd hark back to not 10 minutes previous, when I had been squirming in the back for the keys). Fry did the same, and then went round the bit where the car was melded to the lorry and gestured at it, almost in tears. That may sound dumb, as in we were all fine; but he works minimum wage jobs – that car is how he earns his living and gets to the remote places he works in the countryside, where he lives. Places the buses don’t go. He was looking at the end of his income. And it has worked out that way. He has lost all his jobs. The car is history, what with one side being mashed in, and Fry only being able to afford Third Party insurance; he’s a minimum wager.
The lorry driver gave me Fluffhead and moved the lorry, which occasioned another shunting of the car, and another loud grinding sound. The wheel on the drivers side fell off, with all its concomitant bits. The wheel on the passenger side at the front practically did the same, being so ground into the kerb that it had bent double. Lots of other bits of metal littered the pavement and the road. A rather wonderful man from Lithuania came over at this point, and offered me some of his energy drink, I forget which one. This nameless person hung about for a good half hour, giving me a pen, some paper (sad excuse for a writer I am – I couldn’t find any paper and my only pen didn’t work…), and loads of moral support. He just stood about in case of need and made encouraging faces at me a lot. He had hardly any English, but the man was kind and reassuring. He took off his jacket and draped it over Fluffhead, who shrugged it off as it smelt of Not Us, and he was a bit freaked out. He stopped his wailing pretty soon, as I hugged him loads and didn’t put him down, and kissed him and rocked him and spoke in a normal voice to Fry and everyone else. As I calmed; he calmed. Soon I got Fry to get the pushchair out of the boot, and I strapped him in to that, so I could have free arms (Fluffhead, at two years and three months, is a heavy bean now).
And that’s that really. We stood about for 2 hours whilst it got increasingly cold, an hour waiting for the police to come (the car had created an obstruction in rush hour traffic, just at the only exit point of the Tescos), and then another hour trying to get insurance details from the lorry drivers company. This was all complicated by his being an agency employee, not a permanent member of staff. At one point I asked him what he thought had happened. He said he had let a woman out before us, but hadn’t seen us. He said he was sorry. I said we were sorry too. We don’t remember a woman before us. But it doesn’t matter in that the insurance company, well into its own faffing now, says that bar any CCTV footage within the lorry (apparently a lot of them have CCTV now, in case of accidents), Fry will get the blame as he was the one turning into traffic, and regardless of how long the lorry driver paused.
Fact of the matter was, we were all fine; Fry’s livelihood has vanished and there isn’t another one on the horizon, he’s back on Jobseekers and ‘he’s rather down’ is an understatement. I wasn’t capable of any objective or existential or any kind of balanced thinking about all this for a few days. Along with my blog fatigue from those articles, I suddenly had absolutely nothing to say. I was a bit obsessed with trying to help Fry. I felt massively guilty for getting him to visit me, and being the cause of the outing that lost him his jobs. With no money to give him, no car to lend him, no contacts with which to get him another job/s, or the possibility of any, I ended up being on a mission to find the car itself. The police had towed it away (as Fry’s insurers were helpfully closed when we called them at 5.30 p.m. that day to arrange for a tow), and seemed remarkably unable to tell us where they had put it. After 4 days, I succeeded, and with a flourish gave Fry the number of the towing company who were storing it. (Turns out these people have a wonderful scam running where they charge you double whatever the police said the tow would cost, plus £20 per day storage for the car. They say when you call that they can’t take payment over the phone, only in person. If you crash out of your area and have gone home, and then have to pay train fees to come up; it starts to cost. They also say the bill is in the post. Of course, it doesn’t come. These £20s are building up from the moment they get the car, so they can busily not send you the bill for a month, by which time – it would be over a thousand pounds…Anyway: you tell them of this iniquity, and they say your other choice is to sign the car over to the Metropolitan Police, for scrap. Then you pay no tow, no fees at all. They give you quite the proposition. It’s no option at all, unless the car is a limo and really worth saving. If you’re a minimum wager – it’s really no choice at all. This is all legal, amazingly. So I found the car, only for more frustration, followed by Fry’s losing it anyway.)
It took a few days to get all this squared in my head. (Fry still isn’t square at all, but obviously not; he’s a lot more affected by it, than me.) For a while there, I went into a nice cottony vacuum (when I wasn’t being very irritable). I looked out of the window when Fluffhead slept and just observed the clouds and the rain (what a lot of rain we are having, for a month now – definitely the Biblical 40 days and 40 nights period has been passed…). For a couple of days I had constant odd flashback like experiences, where it felt like every second I was still in the car, still hearing that grinding sound, feeling the shunt. Constant replay. Then that started to fade. The other day I went back to the Tescos and looked at the place where we crashed. I found a bit of the broken wing mirror on the ground and brought it home. I felt sorry for the car, all hurt and then suddenly abandoned, and not farewell-ed properly. (Yes, you know me; I think everything is alive, including man-made things – why wouldn’t they be?)
I don’t have any great message of coping as a result of this post, by the way. That’s not the way this story segment goes. It’s just some things happening. That’s it. They happened. After a while, I felt a bit better about them; partly because I am trying to think clearly, and partly purely because they are further away. And because Fluffhead is fine. Fry is very not fine in one way, and fine in another. In the here to not feel fine way.
After a while, I was seized by a fit of…relaxation. I finished my Bardic Grade, for OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, a UK Druidry org, on the web here), and passed a point where something I had been doing for 3 years ended. (It has been the only course about anything I have actively doing since Fluffhead's birth.) I had thought that the Bardic Grade would never be over, and had become cross with it many times. But as I sent in the Review, and realised I was done, I had one of those odd moments where things shift and you realise you actually learnt a lot. I am waiting for info about the Ovate Grade to come now, to see if I will go on and do that (if I can afford it, I will.) That, coupled with the fact I had no intention of blogging for a bit, meant I was free in the moments I got, to relax. I found 3 amazing channels on Youtube, where some lovely people have uploaded their entire collections of hard to find late 70’s and early 80’s horror films, of cinema and TV. I found another of Hindu chants. I drifted off.
I rediscovered my collections (I am a one for collecting this and that in an unashamedly nerdy way) of UK Girls 70’s and 80’s Annuals and Summer Specials and comics. I started re-reading my Misty’s. My Tammy’s. My Jinty’s. I slipped into these simpler worlds. I had a really strong sensation of being on a beach, in the late 70’s, on a large li-lo, sucking on a Strawberry Mivvi ice-lolly, and listening the gulls in the distance overhead. Getting snatches of my dad’s tobacco smoke wafting past, its sweetness mixed with Malibu sun cream and coconut smells. The flap of the windbreak, since when was it not gusty on the beaches? The yells of small children paddling. The sun on the page making it difficult for me to read, even with sunglasses on. Feeling myself quite the little woman (about 10!). Wearing a very natty little brown bikini with gingham lacy trim. Mum constantly covering up my legs in case I burned (as I did tend to do). Dogs running past, kicking up sand; it sticking to my arms, where I had always rubbed in too much cream. Me watching the sand on my arms, its glinting golden quality. Mum saying she’ll go to get tea, do I want to come. And sometimes, I remember, I would leap up, brush myself off, and put my little orange frilled skirt on, and my flip flops (I can’t walk in them anymore, don’t know when I lost the knack), and take her hand and shuffle off with her, through the sand, so warm and dry and lovely. Shushing shushing, like the waves. And other times, I would say no, and flop over and feel the air on my now sweaty stomach, and watch the clouds in the sky. My dad would read to me, something from the book he was reading, or I’d hear the flint of his lighter going, as I closed my eyes, and allowed myself to drift. Gulls, children shrieking, bags zipped, unzipped, the waves in the distance…
And that feeling has stayed with me. The spaciousness of that time, and that place. An archetypal English type beach is where I am. So peaceful. I will stay here a bit.
 It should be noted that I broke the tooth at 3 – by 4.30 I was at the dentists in town; the NHS is not to be sneered at – it cost be £17.50 I didn’t have, but it could have been a shiteload worse. Apparently I need a crown, but I really don’t have the money for that; plus: one gold gangsta style tooth is quite enough for me to be going on with. I’ll need a fake diamond in it, really, if I get another…just so I can mock myself in the mirror, correctly.)