Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Viking invasion

The parallels between the Viking invasion of northern England and our own are striking. We just have different weapons (Vikings - rape, pillage, razed earth, giant axes; us - ceaseless bickering, spiky plastic novelties, rampant consumerism, desire to be waited on hand and foot). The resident population is seriously weakened by our onslaught. As I type, prog rock step dad is brushing sticky black playdoh off the floor in a saintly fashion as Lashes commandeers all his wooden clothes pegs for an elaborate craft project.





However, none of us is called Frigga.

Whether I look like this after 4 days of stupid clock change child-infested mornings, no hair straighteners or cosmetics is less clear.

I really wanted a Viking beard for Halloween but have not thus far managed to find one. You can't even mention horned helmets (Victorian construct! No basis in fact!) around here without getting smote by a broadsword. The insistence on historical accuracy at the expense of stupid fun is most tedious.

Teasing prog rock step dad continues to provide cheap laughs however. We are trying to persuade him that his spartan self-sufficiency skills will make him an ideal guru for the post-financial apocalypse world.

"You can be the new Martha Stewart!" I enthuse. "You could have a ten minute daily podcast where you show people vital new self-sufficient skills, like repairing punctures, darning, making your own pizza from scratch and making soup from boiled dishcloths!"

"Who is Martha Stewart?"

"Never mind, you are way better than her anyway. Can I be your manager? What other skills do you have?"

"He sews patches on his jeans" interjects the Space Cadette. "And stews fruit. And makes his own falafels. Whilst reading aloud from Le Monde Diplomatique. Oh, and do you remember when he gave my piglet a total skin transplant with new pink felt? It took him weeks."

"I think you need to learn to weave. Could you learn to weave? Maybe weave some Russian poetry onto a sampler or something?"

"We'll have to make sure they never see the terrible red pub carpet.

That would destroy your credibility totally."

"Unless perhaps you dyed it yourself with beetroot. Did you?"

"You women are so bossy" he says looking hunted and skulks off to conjugate some German irregular verbs.

It is wonderfully comforting to be back here, pretending to be 14 again. I never eat as much, laugh as much, drink as much tea or lie around and do nothing as much as I do here. With all three of us on psychiatric medication, Prog Rock Step Dad battling chronic fatigue and the Space Cadette coughing like a nineteenth century consumptive, it feels a bit like sheltered housing, but in such a soothing way. Will anywhere ever feel as much like home as this place? There's still a groove in the kitchen wall where I used to curl myself against the radiator. I know every creaking floorboard and every light switch. I could walk around the whole town, let alone the house, with my eyes closed.

It's a truism to say it isn't the same without my mum. Of course it isn't. She died five years ago this week - this time five years ago we were just embarking on a sickening rollercoaster and I feel like we're only just starting to slow down. There is a massive hole where she should be. She would not approve of that carpet. Or the taps in the bathroom, or Prog Rock Step Dad's demented approach to hanging pictures, though I think she would like the new curtains. I hate that she never met Fingers. I hate everything about her being dead and I don't accept it at all. But I love what the six of us have made since she died. Space Cadette, Prog Rock Step Dad, me and the CFO and the boys. We bicker, and sulk and moan and drive each other crazy; we drink tea and wine and eat crisps and laugh until we ache all over.We're tied to each other with all the tangled bonds of love and grief and responsibility and shared history and stupid, stupid jokes. It's proper family. She should be here to see that, but given she isn't, it's a pretty fantastic legacy.


kelly said...

She'd be very proud. Enjoy!

hairyfarmerfamily said...

I'm just the same in my parent's house. I know every inch of the place - and it's wonderful to see my own youngster merrily clambering up the stairs that I flounced up in a huff so many times. I'm exceedingly lucky to have both my Mum & Dad still there to coo over their grandchild.

Um, about the Vikings. No fun at a party, by the sound of it.

Dani said...

I understand those feeling so well. It will be 9 years in February since my Mum died and I still waver between hoping she'd be pleased by the antics of the stepfather, siblings and my mob and fury that my babies never got to meet her, or her them.

On a happier note, thanks for the little parcel. Chocolate could not have arrived at a better time and was truly delicious. I would have fed it to Eddie but he is a genital-less knitted draught excluder so that would have been wasteful.

Léonie said...

I love reading about your family. I think your Mum would be proud as well, although perhaps you might be right about that carpet. It looks distressingly new.

I am worried by the assertion that the Vikings did not really have horned helmets. My life-perception has been altered and I am not sure I like it.

Completely Alienne said...

Is making pizza from scratch and stewing fruit bad? You have me worried now.

I agree your mum would be proud of her family. I know what you mean. My dad died 21 years ago and I can still feel his presence when I go back to my Mum's house. My husband died a year ago and the girls and I still talk about him as if he were here; and I know he would be so proud of the way they are growing up. Stay strong and keep the memories.

peevish said...

I love this post. And I'd like to see a photo of your stepdad, tho' I don't know if he would allow it.

Am I the only one who likes the red carpet on the stairs? It looks a bit theatrical. If I lived there, I'd forever be Norma Desmond descending those stairs for my close-up.

Potty Mummy said...

Ummm - you've got a little something on your chin in that photo...

And are you trying to tell me that Hagar the Horrible is not the real McCoy?

Pearl said...

I just love your writing.

As for Vikings not having horned helmets? A construct of the liberal mainstream media.

That's only part-way funny if you're a U.S. citizen...


Mr Farty said...

Is that Jaffa Cakes? I don't think I've seen that kind of packaging before.

And Vikings totally had horns, I saw it in a documentary so it must be true.

Jaywalker said...

HFF - dude, the amount I know about vikings after today, none of that surprised me. Did YOU know, however, that only men wore pink. And that combs were the ultimate viking status symbol? Or that they had intestinal parasites that sometimes popped out of the sides of their EYES? Sorry, it's been festering in my brain since this morning and I had to exorcise the horror.

Dani - Yay! Give Eddie a stroke for me.

Leonie - I know! Terrible. The blondeness was due to using horses wee to kill their lice too. I am a fount of viking knowledge tonight aren't I?

CA - Not bad, just - all at once? In a single day? Whilst reading Pushkin and making bats ears from a pair of socks for Lashes?

Peevish - I could perhaps get him to pose with the bats ears. They are amazing.

Mr F - They probably don't have them up in the frozen northlands, do they? Poor you. Going to check out the horns now..

Pearl - It's a conspiracy.

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