Brighton Rock Not

The wind is up again. Gusty gusts that make the trees hummmmm.
I posted off Susie Pearls book to a friend, it is the best gift to anybody who wants to rearrange their life. I sent it from the little sub-post office on Green Lanes behind my house. The new post mistress is Indian with a great taste in jewellery. We had a chat and she popped the parcel in the sack.
It’s nearly difficult to type as my eye is now watering – well it has been ever since it started but some days its worse than others – today its watering out of sympathy for me.
I drove to Brighton to have my hair cut. The Barry says I look younger than ever I think I look like an old lady who has put a stocking over her head. There are no photos to prove it.

I crossed the road from the hair salon and bought myself a pair of pink thermal socks in the sale. My feet were freezing. I very nearly couldn’t get my trainers over them but with a little tug here and there I managed. I had to tie the laces really loose.
I then took back a set of lights to BLACKOUT a really lovely little shop in the Lanes. l bought them for the dawter for Christmas but since she has the hearing of a hound, she could hear the whistling of the electricity going through them. They gave me a credit note.
Then I walked back through the Lanes to get to the raw food cafe near the sea but it was pre-prepped salads and horrible dressings so I sauntered into THE MOCK TUTRLE tea rooms to test out their wares.
Its lovely.
I have got a torn off napkin with all my notes on but its downstairs so you’ll have to make do with my memory. There were 7 brass switches next to the door. A dresser with 48 teapots, and nearly a hundred plates – all willow pattern – hanging on the walls, jars of Mock Turtle jams:black berry, black cherry, black currant, strawberry and apricot, were on shelves next to the teapots, coffee jugs, sugar bowls and milk jugs, all willow pattern. I was surrounded by Chinese bridges and weeping willows as well as a Mount Fuji of Japanese tourists. Seven tables with lots of chairs filled the room. I overheard the young woman to my left saying that it was nicer downstairs. I didn’t look, although I did marvel at the way the waitresses ran up and down the steps with their trays of tea and cakes, toast and scones and patterned pots. A huge table, set under the plates and teapots, laid with every conceivable cake and biscuit you could want, taunted, tempted and enticed. But I resisted. The waitress was Slovakian whilst the chef was hidden behind the till.
I ordered an omelette with salad and a pot of Rooibosh tea.
The tea came in a little teapot accompanied by a tea strainer in its own souvenir dish from somewhere in Wales, and a bone china cup and saucer. The omelette was too oily but the service made up for it.
The Japanese tourists, they must have something in their handbook about going into the MOCK TURTLE, ordered green tea and asked for more time to make out the menu.
Apparently the MT is famous for its Welsh Rarebit, may be thats why the tea strainers saucer was from somewhere in Wales.
Having drunk my way through three tea cups of Rooibosh and earwigged the conversation of the two young women who joined me at my table, I paid the bill and left. The rain was just starting.
The Willow pattern was still in my head as I walked past the pier, I have my Bubbas willow pattern plates on my dresser.
When I arrived at 11.30 a gang of lads were removing the Christmas Tree, the dead christmas lights trailing over the damp pier, there’s something too gloomy about a damp pier in January with not a Brighton Rock in sight. It was too Graham Greene for my liking. An empty pier with no doughnuts or candy floss. By the time it got to three the tree had been dismantled and the lights were packed away, nobody was around and the rain starting coming down sideways.
The Channel was the colour of sandstone. The pebbles had little groups of Lowry men walking into the wind.
My little red car was parked just up from Brighton’s Laser Clinic. My landmark for the day. I had fifteen minutes left on my parking ticket so I took everything slowly. Driving past The Royal Crescent with Laurence Olivier’s plaque, I missed Burlington street, my mothers turning, so had to do a big u-turn in the failing light.
There was a parking space. I punched the four digit code into the box on the wall and let myself in.
My mother was sitting forlornly on a chair in the entrance hall. A glass in her hand. she had been admitted to hospital yesterday at 3.45 but they had let her out. Couldn’t do anything for her.
My mother was sad, angry, confused, miserable, ill. We walked back to her room she didn’t know where she was. I showed her the new clothes I had bought her. She was less than impressed, by the trousers, tops, my hair, the room, the hanging pictures, her life.
They brought her in tea and cake whilst I attempted to sew labels on her new clothes. I felt like I had when the girl was little and I had to sew labels on her school uniform. I was a lousy seamstress then. This time I could hardly see the eye hole in the needle and could barely make a knot in the end of the thread. Miss Foulger, at school, taught us never to make a knot but to sew over at the beginning and end of a garment. Stuff Miss Foulger she hated me and said I was the worst pupil she had ever had. If she could have seen me stitching my mothers blouses she would have put me on permanent detention.
My mother started whimpering. I laid down my sewing and helped her change into her nightdress. I finally got her into bed, the first time she has laid down since November 18th. I am told its normal for the elderly to hate their beds – worried they may never wake up.
I left my mother in the hands of two nurses and cried all the way to the traffic lights; the rain, the tears and my smearing windscreen wipers made me a driving hazard so I put the radio on and blew my nose.
The Steven Lawrence Trial had me shouting at the wireless.
I got home to Gods Gift and the Girl both anxious about me. I had forgotten to take my phone with me. I had countless missed calls and they were just getting ready to send out a search party.
It’s now 1.30a.m. and I can’t sleep.
The old mans off for a costume fitting tomorrow for a film he’s doing, the girls asleep doing her last leg in retail before she moves back to London to resume her real life without debt, and I’m sitting here half dressed wondering why the end of my mothers life has to be so painful.
If I had unlimited funds I would have her with me with a private nurse and life going on outside her window, I would not put her in a home where other old people make her feel even older than she is, I would not have her being looked after by people who care but not like me. I am in the middle of an emotional tussle and the gusting wind outside the window does not help. It sounds like its blowing raspberries at me.

4 thoughts on “Brighton Rock Not”

  1. You conjure the atmosphere of a grey, tired and rainy January better than anyone I’ve ever read. I keep saying it, I know, but you keep proving it. You’re damn good, Jeni.
    I wish I could help. I really do but no matter who’s with you or who’s helping, when it comes right down to it you’re on your own, aren’t you? The shattering reality of helplessness is sickening. The end of my Ma’s life was in hospital. The one thing she feared more than anything. However much I’d done for her in the previous 7 years of caring was irrelevant. At least to me.
    Lifes a bit crappy from time to time, isn’t it? Thats why you have a daughter you adore and Gods gift. Say it in jest, but thats what he sounds like from your words.
    Battle on, girl.

  2. The wind: the worst aspect of weather ever, closely followed by windy rain … it always makes me miserable so current weather is vile. It additionally burdens your feelings of loving sorrow, frustration and guilt regarding dearest Renee.
    Dear girl – know you are loved. L xxx

  3. Awww Jeni how sad for you, sorry its like that and you feel so sad. Sending a Hug its all we can do at these times is hug each other x

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