Ha! Ha!! Ha!!!
Good morning, dear reader and welcome to the catch-up edition of The morbid adventures of Minge. Unlike Captain Oates, I've returned, although I was some time.
I must say, though, at this point. I'm quite uncomfortable with the grammar there. Captain Oates' famous statement, "I may be some time," has always bothered me. How can a person be time? Was the captain hinting at something, that he was/is some kind of deity? Or maybe a well-loved time traveller with a penchant for Earth and Britain?
My recent video blogging adventures were a fun exercise and I really enjoyed doing it, as did Ian. He was the mind behind the camera; the director, editor and interviewer. One of the questions put to me came from David. He asked me to name my favourite Asian dish and suggested I should be filmed while cooking it. As ever, I'm keen to oblige. You can see the results, my love, in the previous three entries, here, here and here.
Oh, and for my anonymous reader who requested it, here's Mrs McGinty's recipe for Cinder Toffee:
You will need
- 200g caster sugar
- 100g golden syrup
- 40g goats' butter
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- Line a small baking tray (I use an 8" sandwich tin) with parchment paper.
- Place all the ingredients apart from the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda into a heavy bottomed pan. Put on a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Bring to the boil and heat until a teaspoon of the syrup becomes a soft ball when dropped into a cup of cold water (138°c on a sugar thermometer).
- Remove from the heat and add the vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Beat well and watch the toffee mixture foam up.
- Pour into your prepared tray or tin.
- After ten or so minutes, once the toffee has begun to set, score it with a sharp knife into portion sizes according to your personal taste.
- After approximately twenty more minutes, break your cinder toffee along the lines and store in an air tight container where it will remain in good shape for up to ten days.
The first part of the month took Ian and I to London. We stayed there with our fabulous friend Robin who was kind enough to put us up for a long weekend. Pictures of which can be seen here, my lamb. We went the whole hog and did all the things tourists do; a cruise on the Thames, a trip to Buckingham Palace, a wander around Trafalgar Square, took in the neon lights at Piccadilly Circus, explored some galleries, visited St Paul's Cathedral, toured Television Centre, saw some shows and so much more besides. The shows we saw were Les Misérables, Avenue Q and Wicked. I plan to blog about these, at length, later.
Before leaving the topic altogether though, I will say that all three musicals were absolutely fabulous, well produced and provocative. Human (and animal) relationships can be peculair. I'm left wondering if it's true that everyone's a little bit racist (more later), if wickedness is as black and white a situation as it's often painted and who would be the better king of France should the monarchy there be restored? Louis, Henri, Charles or Nicolas? Which man would you chosse, dear reader? Or do you feel a woman would do a better job?
I'm sure, really, that wickedness is indeed not so black and white. There are many shades of grey in the mix, as is proven by my late Father who died on 11th October. He might have been evil personified to my Mother, Mark (my brother) and I, though he obviously wasn't those things to his second wife or she'd have not been able to say these things. Having said that, she was and is able to lie (his family will NOT miss him - see here). Why she'd want to lie, now, though, I'm not sure. If he was cruel to her, she'd have no need to publish such a sickly-sweet goodbye. Perhaps, after meeting her, he'd become too old to fuck around with other women and pick fist-fights with his friends and relatives?
I was lucky and happy to be in Bournemouth for the week following Roy's death. My presence stopped my eldest brother from using my Mum's house as a hotel, accommodating his appearance at his Father's funeral. Cruel of him, I'm sure, to ask (and he did) my Mother for a bed for him and his son while in Bournemouth for the funeral. Does this man have a heart of stone? Like his Father, does he have no conscience? Did he really expect my Mum to give him somewhere to stay so that he could attend the funeral of the man who made her life a living hell? I'm sure there's irony there somewhere, though I don't care to look for or expose it.
I'm sure she was prepared to, but my presence but a bar in his way. He doesn't speak to me since I confronted him about opening personal correspondence between me and his son and questioning his motives in taking my Mother on foreign holidays.
I wondered if, even though we weren't attending the funeral, we'd be sad and melancholy on the day or open a bottle of champagne. As it was, I'm currently taking anti-biotics for yet another chest and sinus infection so champagne would have been off the menu. Come the 18th October, we'd kind of almost fogotten what was going on until people started turning up at home, wondering how my Mum was. The only person not to come or call on the telephone was my eldest brother, Ken.
We were neither happy nor sad about his death or funeral, though I will admit to being sad about him in general ever since hearing of his death.
As hinted at before, he wasn't utterly wicked. The movie made of his life would be littered with violence and abuse, both of the physical and emotional sort. However, there would be the odd happy scene. I remember him yodeling in the Alps, drawing with me at the kitchen table, showing me how to saw oak and taking me to a restaurant for the very first time at six or seven years of age.
I used to wonder and think that perhaps he wasn't so terrible after all, though I soon changed my mind when I saw the looks on the faces of the people in whom I was able to confide. Good people don't systematically abuse their families on more levels than I knew existed. Good people don't sleep with their wife's family. Good people don't serially cheat on their partners. Good people dont beat their children to a pulp.
He was an actor, too. On divorcing, friends of my parents couldn't believe such a couple could or would ever part.
"But Roy's such a great bloke..."
He could charm the birds out of the trees, buy gifts for his friends' children and be the life and soul of any party. Birds may have been charmed, but we were repulsed. Any Christmas presents, shoes or school uniforms were paid for by the money my Mother earned cleaning during the evenings. In my Mother's words, usual gatherings of my immediate family were given, "...the golden silence treatment..." by my Father.
"Be quiet, I'm watching telly."
"Go outside and play and stop bothering me."
He's been a major topic of conversation for many years. I really wonder, now, how we'll fill those gaps in conversation. I'm sure, with things more cheerful.
He may have gone and this will do many of us some good, but what will not go are the memories. His snarling face. His awful temper. His fist. His flying kicks.
On some level, his wild behaviour was never as difficult for me to cope with as it was for Mum and to a certain extent, Mark. Apparently, he got worse as time went on. The violence and screaming was normal to me. For Mark, weekly beatings and slanging matches became a daily occurrence. For Mum, a lady who grew up in a home free from hostility and full of love and gay times, her married life must have been an absolute nightmare. Like a story from a soap opera which builds and builds over a few weeks, Mum's life descended into reasoned anarchy over thirty or so years; an anarchy which, however she's tried, she's been unable to recover from since the old man left us cold an penniless in 1981.
I'm still undecided if I'm happy or sad. I can't generalise, though, and find being black and white quite difficult. I suppose I feel grey. I have decided on two things, though. I shall write a memoir in two parts:
My Father and other monsters
I remember Mama
I plan on starting next week. Any tips will be gratefully received.
Bournemouth wasn't all doom and gloom, of course. The highlight was spending time with my Mum at and outwith the bingo, my wonderful niece (see evidence of that here, here, here and here), other family members and friends.
Following on from my evening watching Avenue Q, two conversations made me ponder more about the racism issue. Auntie Lil said that Britons are able to be so openly and unapologetically racist because we've never lost a war in modern times and that military superiority implies cultural superiority. No-one in Germany could get away with doing the Nazi salute or calling anyone a money-grabbing Jew. However, people in Britain are called Wogs, Spics, Yids, Pakis and Wops with no-one batting an eyelid.
With my Mother complaining about the number of Poles and East Europeans in the country, my American sister-in-law piped up with a reason why she doesn't want her daughter to learn Spanish. My sister-in-law is fabulous, though a little naive and easily led. She told me how her Father, a Methodist pastor had told her how copious amounts of Mexicans were flooding the United States of America with their extended families, taking from the state without putting anything into the economy and refusing to learn English. Strange for a man of God to have not heard of the story of the good Samaritan.
Always unresolved... I still imagine a world full of good people, though I wonder if it will only ever exist in my imagination. My Mother was grateful, I'm sure, for the home the UK gave her when the German army invaded her home island in 1940. Native Americans - did they complain about white settlers taking and not giving or not learning Adai, Coosan, Tunica or similar?
Will history always repeat itself? Until we learn from it?
You may say that I'm a dreamer (some say I am), but I'm not the only one.