19 May 2006

Dr Finlay's Casebook and the mystery of life.

Ok, so, as far as I can tell, my head is working just fine.

A couple or three hours after finishing that teensy beano down the pub, my stomach has decided it's definitely and loudly on strike but the rest of me - yeah, we're on.

Up for anything.

So here is what my head was doing in the pub. Be warned, it plays out like a game of consequences; its in frames, with little jumps in between.

So I wanted to catch my big son before he got my last drink (a double) and ask him to make it a coffee instead.

I stood up. "Oh sweetheart" says I, and three men looked - husband (from the pool table), son, and a very nice young barman/cook/landlord who for some unearthly reason thought I meant him. He even came over to hear me properly.

Much giggling and thanks and apologies and I completely forgot what I wanted son for in the first place whilst the somewhat flustered young man scurried back into the kitchen like a blushing rabbit.

Yeah, ok, but for the purposes of this tale (and my warped reality at the time), rabbits blush. Accept it and move on.

Anyhoo, for some unearthly reason I decided that he was gay. I think it was the charming way he went such a profuse beetroot colour and ran for cover. I went all motherly at him. He couldn't see, he was in the kitchen, but metaphorically and all that. In spirit.

So then - bam - I remember the name of the lady in Dr Finlay's casebook; Janet. This was a puzzle that my subconscious had been working on ever since the grand opening of Big Brother, when Shahbaz entered the house. What with his super effeminate love of knitting and his soft Highlands accent, even before we could recall the lady's name, husband and I were sat in front of the TV cooing "Och, Dr Finlay!" at each other and p****** ourselves laughing.

No dear, try and keep up, that was last night. We were completely sober then. Honest.

Anyway, as the name came to me in what seemed to be a Eureka moment, I decided to tell son, in a voice that would make the actors from Balamory want to heave, that there was a 'Janet' on Big Brother and that 'she' was totally adorable, (sorry, 'toootally adoooorable, Doctor', with a slight squeak to it), even if she was six foot something and adorned with exterior genitalia.

Mine host had chosen that moment to return from the kitchen. He still looked like a rabbit, but more like a disconcerted, slightly nervous rabbit with an upset stomach.

This seemed like the perfect moment to find a sofa and slump into it as gracefully as possible, to concentrate on pretending my lips were stuck together with superglue. It seemed like the sensible thing to do.

George, dear dead George was still on my mind, and we stared at our glasses morosely and agreed that no-one could safely face the concept, at this stage, of having a tipple in his honour. A drink to the dead is always the poison of their choice, which in this case would have meant a single shot of good scotch. No one felt they could safely afford that much stomach lining at this juncture, so it was a sombre and regretful moment, as we should have drunk his health first thing, but when we arrived the purpose had been to calm nerves, not continue the cause.

Big daughter was mentioned, and her dealings with my mother, her gran. I asked big son, on daughter's behalf, how long it takes gran to let go of a 'good idea' once she's come up with it, specifically planned swimming trips and other treats she has suggested to daughter for the next time they are in the same town.

Son, who lodged with her for a while when he fished out of Grimsby said, flatly, "Never" and then it struck me that my mother had always, always portrayed herself as a gumboots girl - no time for nonsensical stuff like frilly emotions; or anything with frills, for that matter. The words 'my mother' and 'pink', for example, had never crossed my mind in a single paragraph, let alone sentence, yet it seemed that her confessions of wishes were all incredibly girly; that there was a feminine woman in there somewhere, that had successfully hidden from me in all my formative years. How do you reconcile a soul that has wishes and dreams and hankerings, with one that barks at her children that 'if you don't have spots or a temperature, there's nothing wrong with you.'? One that seemed somehow superhuman and unstoppable?

I didn't have a childhood so much as emotional bootcamp, which is just as well, because I'd hate to be the simpering type. If we ever hit a battle field, thanks to my mum I'd be the girl with her hand in someone's open wound, holding a heart or a torn jugular to stem the flow, not the one at the back having a very balletic fainting fit at the sight, with far too many medics rushing to see if she was alright.

Me? Resentful of fainting Floras? Never.

Mum said there are two kinds of women, lions and mice. Its just that, looking back, it seems that society never gave room for a woman to be both capable (strong, fiery, passionate etc etc) and also interested in, say, doing things in girly pairs, or shopping for beauty treatments. So I never saw that side to her. Maybe she was too busy to see it for herself, either.

I am so, so sorry to take you on a supercharged run around the houses in the telling of this. All these truths about my mum came to me in a split second. It was one of those drinker's revelations that happen in a blink and then take three hours to explain.

So where was I.

Oh yes: QED my mother is the reason I have such an affinity for and strong parenting instinct towards gay men.

I mean it's obvious.

No? Oh Okay then.

See, barring minor details like being female and straight, I am a gay man and so is my mum. We are each a screaming contradiction between nature and nurture, a bundle of sensitivities, hopes and dreams wrapped up in a package that society sees (and we ourselves see) as impermeable, practical, functional. We feel we have a set of standards to uphold and a nature that can only emerge under set and prearranged conditions.

We are the keepers of secrets, the people in permanent uniform for the sake of our own sense of dignity and propriety.

So maybe that's all bullshit, but any inner child, screwed up as he or she may be, has a hard time hearing rational argument, so at least until after the hang-over, that's where mine is at.

Except it explains why I want to be every gay boy's auntie and why when I see a transvestite on the bus I want to hug her for her brass neck and offer to go out shopping for eyeshadows and shoes.

When he was alive, George was so misinformed about such things that he and his wife boycotted Brighton, for genuine fear that they might catch AIDs from the chinaware if they stopped anywhere for coffee. It made them the prisoners, nobody else, but I had to wonder whether George, from a higher, freed perspective, might now approve of the way my mind was working.

Or maybe he just couldn't have given a tuppenny fart, either way.


zilla said...

Hilarious. I do love a good post-funeral cocktail party, and this takes the cake.

I snorted loudly when I read "we should have drunk his health first thing." Does one really do that, drink health of the recently departed?

I can't imagine anyone disapproving of the way your mind works.

Cheryl said...

In answer to your question - yes - especially first drink after the funeral, and, if close to them, on their birthday or the anniversary of the death.
For example my Dad (bless him for his timing) passed on Fathers Day. The event floats each year here, like Easter, but my own sense of right means I have a small can of Newcastle Brown Ale in his name every Fathers Day, rather than on the proper date.

And you didnt need/want to know that, did you.

I'm beginning to think a pint of water might be sensible........

Stegbeetle said...

A pint of water after drinking is always a good idea but as it's Friday night don't worry about it. Have another drink!
Glad you gave your friend an appropriate send-off and enjoyed yourself as much as is possible under the circumstances.
I think I hear George chuckling...

zilla said...

It's a lovely tradition, but one more question: If daddy liked rot-gut McMaster's Scotch, is it poor form to substitute something that at least does not burn like gasoline as it goes down?

fineartist said...

I do love the way your mind works. Thoroughly entertaining, and visually told. I love it when my mind can see it like a movie.

I am still grappling with the correlations here. You and your mom are gay men, okay. Who feel compelled to parent/nurture gay men.

I’m thankful it is getting easier for strong women and gay men to live in this world….thanks be to God/Goddess.

What would have been called a tomboy could now be called a gay man trapped in a woman’s bod? I think I’m beginning to see it.

But you know, the only time I ever really enjoy a shopping trip--loathe shopping--is when I go with my Dino. He’s a make up artist and hair designer, and he knows how to shop, he makes me feel beautiful, oh hell I’m a gay man in a woman’s bod too, and my gay friend teaches me how to feel pretty. Okay so I am the daughter of a gay man, basically.

Loved this.
Xxx, Lo

Cheryl said...

Excepting, Dear Lori, that neither you nor I are tomboys.

We're so flaming feminine girly girly, that its packed away down deep in order to get on with life and present a face that copes with the mess while others crumble. Thats what I meant!

Jo said...

"Except it explains why I want to be every gay boy's auntie and why when I see a transvestite on the bus I want to hug her for her brass neck and offer to go out shopping for eyeshadows and shoes."

You just send me the bus timetable Cheryl. I'm coming over!!!


PS You do write so evocatively hon :-)

zilla said...

I just came by again to reread the words "tuppenny fart." :-D

Badaunt said...

Thank you for a rollercoaster of a read. That was brilliant.