Monday, 12 July 2010

One of the Worst Birthdays of My Life.

So hence, there may be some amusement and interest in reading the tales of my woes and heartaches. An edited account, followed by some randomness.

I wrenched myself away from a vision of sweet sleepiness at six am on the dot, and drove down the length of the country in record time, pulled into temporary 'home' for a quick pot of espresso, then out to the shops, bread, butcher's (funny, forgotten how to buy meat, bought too much belly pork), packed everything I thought myself and the boys would need (did I forget to say we were going camping?), then leapt into the car and drove over to the bloody mother-in-law's, to be confronted with enough bags and shit to sustain Napoleon's army into Russia and back. As I had clearly specified in quasi-legalese the need for only one change of clothes, a raincoat each, and some plates, I have to confess to letting a 'remark' slip to the MIL. She querulously replied that "There are three of them you know..." to which I retorted that I firstly could count, and secondly that I had met them before, and bundled them into the car after discarding three-quarters of the bags, and sped off with nary a backwards glance. Then drove two hours across the country this time, over hill and dale, river and afon, through the ruddiest agricultural lanes deeply cleft between heavy hedges, etc, inhabited by red-necked people driving red tractors at every blind bend (yes, this is Herefordshire).

So camped, and a lovely quiet campsite it was too. Boys started fighting as I put up the tent. Took them for a walk to wear off their energy. Found a pub (shut, more's the pity). Walked/carried them back. Set them gathering firewood. After an hour of that, I set them guarding each other and quickly found enough for the evening. Cue fire, spit-roasted gobbets of pig, warm cider slurped from the bottle, and reasonably well-content children when - bang! bang! zap! stab! prang! - spit spit bleargh! DIE DIE DIE DAMN YOU YOU FUCKING WASP YELLOW BLACK STRIPED CUNT OF A ... etc. Yes, stung three or four times on the tongue, and the gum, and the lip on its final exit before I manfully and hysterically slew it in a passion.

It hurt somewhat. Luckily I'm not allergic to the horrible wee blighters, but it felt like a spike had gone through my tongue and RH upper and lower molars, and out of the back of my neck, which simultaneously felt as if a clumsy mason had been practicing swinging a lumphammer against it. There must be a nerve there, or something. Also the tip of my tongue, which was worst affected, being employed in the frantic expulsion process, started leaking a weird slime. Most vexing.

The evening went downhill from there. All the boys cried together, except Nye, who was asleep. I don't know how it started. I just couldn't keep it together. It probably was a good thing, all told, more helpful than our bright and stilted politeness and guardedness of the last two months, with them not knowing what or why. Eventually I rallied the troops: "Is this supposed to be a birthday party, or what?!!" which made them laugh, and we waded a couple of hundred yards of the stream, even Nye, who'd woken by then, though it came up to his neck.

Poor Nye. For some reason I suddenly had this doubt that I was his father. I don't know where it came from. It makes me sick to even think that I had this thought. I couldn't recognise any of my family in his face. And knowing past duplicities, I immediately started working out the dates of conception, and remembered that I was very surprised at the time that he was conceived when he was supposed to have been, etc. But then I remembered that who the fuck cares? I'm still his Daddy.

Later, I was sat by the last of the fire, under plops of rain, listening to the pre-sleep grunts and shufflings of the boys, drinking yogi licorice tea by the gallon. But I still felt like howling my guts out to the gathering clouds. The boys were so sweet, so understanding, and worst of all for me, so complicit.

*


The worm of doubt: squash it and it still nibbles your core. Faggots like two half-rotten bull's balls in gravy, and very tasty they were too I thought, eating them, as we paused for lunch while slowly made our way back across Herefordshire the next day. Tired from the night of wasp-induced toothache, neckache, headache, four bodies lying twisted together under three sleeping bags - a paucity of bedclothes, while outside the wind rattled and spat through the branches and the deafening spatter of the rain implicating its vipurative intent within my eardrums.

Why am I suddenly assailed by conjunctions of dates, doubts, inexplicable behaviours? A mismatch of recognisable features. I hate myself for having even thought it. Even if it was true, I'd not deny my daddyhood. But it isn't true. It's all in my head.

Love and guilt: when I am with the children I love being with them so much, their smell, all all my senses are filled with them, and it makes me unbearably sad for the times together missed, and the times to come to be missed too. Every hint of fucked-up-ness, contrariness, bad-behaviour is now tainted with guilt - is our splitting to blame? Are we damaging them? More than we were when fighting together? I try to be happy in their company, but the two older boys know that is a lie. That is why they seemed relieved when I cried with them, for them. I think they were reassured that because Daddy is so sad not being with them the rest of the time, ergo he does still love them, after all.

I gave the boys licorice tea. They loved it. I said jokingly: "Don't tell your mother. She doesn't like it." The first thing middle boy said on his return to her was: "We had licorice tea - it was yummy!" She replied that she likes it too, but hard to find in supermarkets. An old photograph I took of her, when she was seventeen. She is giving me a black, blank stare.

Two modes of being: life begins anew - Now! - everything is a new beginning. The other, full of regret and doubt for what has passed. One must hang on to the first, hopeful mode, or else go mad. But when the feeling that all new beginnings are the same as what has passed, or that the fresh air of change is frozen in a stale stasis like a trapped fart or when one finds oneself hoping listlessly for death to creep up softly behind you, then there is nothing to do but give a great stretch, oink like a boar, shriek like a bat, leap like an ape, force one's exhausted mind and body to scamper in the ratwheel, onwards, onwards - to keep going to avoid something bad, continual movement to escape the tentacles of the pit... then always make sure one can oil the bearings of the wheel: one doesn't want them to seize and catch fire. But with what should I oil them, dear Lila, dear Lila? What substance suits? What is the sensible lubrication? Alcohol works for a while at least, of course, though it corrodes the very bearings it smooths. The slick wonder of sex; the soporific quality of strong coffee; foodstuffs of many sorts; but yogic breathing is fine in principle, but bores the wheel. What on earth am I blathering about? Shut up! Enough! Shhhhhhh!

4 comments:

la said...

Ye Gads, I had my own fleeting feeling of paranoia at the repeated mentions of liquorice tea!

Other than that... I wish I could write something helpful or reassuring here, but fuck it nothing's coming. So [help] and [reassurance] That's the best I can do, I'm sorry x

tweednut said...

Not undeserved paranoia either, la. She wasn't (what is the word?) enamoured of you either. Nor Diff when she came over at new year (no lico ref). But it was just coincidence your gift turned up in the post on the same day as another person who brought some too.

Thanks anyway. x

la said...

Ah well, I'll say this: she may not have been enamoured of me, but she treated me very kindly.

Can't sleep, so baking. As you do.

Hope you're feeling better, less swollen etc. x

Crazy Nurse said...

Is it wrong that you being stung by wasps
inside your mouth makes me chuckle? Hell, if it had been me I would probably of cried; but I do find amusement in the mental image of you leaping around swearing :-)

Crazy Nurse
xXx