Tuesday, 13 November 2012
Coming up the Down Side
Mum and I flew back to England before the coppers knew I had left and so I dodged my day in court. My sister Helen met us at Heathrow and drove us home to Norwich but only after many hugs and kisses for Mum and I. Once home Mum began opening her mail and walked around her home and garden making sure everything was as she left it. I unpacked my case in my old bedroom at the back of the house and looked out of the window surveying the territory that was so familiar, certain that I did not want to be here and pissed off. Over the coming days I joined both a Doctors and a Dental surgery and re-acquainted myself with Rick and Patrick Holmes and the guys down at the Community centre. One more Adrian Murphy, that reliable and great family friend, offered me work painting for him with his crew of toothless and hairless wonders and oddballs. I was not happy to be industrial decorating again but got on with it as I was not prepared to sit around on the dole and Mum needed money from me to pay my way. Mum settled back into life remarkably quickly and was soon out and about, going to her singles club, meeting friends in town at the Castle Hotel and generally getting on with her life as she had left it over two months ago. I was bumbling along head down, until quite unexpectedly I bumped into Gary Pye, an old friend of my brother Richard. It’s odd how friendships re-emerge after years and carry on as though we’ve seen each other only last week and not years ago. Gary was the late 1970"s disco king when we were at school and he and Richard introduced me to their friends at the Roman Catholic Cathedral Disco. Not a religious occasion of any sorts only that the disco was held at the next-door Hall. It was here in the late 1970’s that Richard perfected his northern Soul dance that would have graced Wigan Casino and Gary became our hero for his ability to perform summersaults and the splits, mid-routine.
One afternoon I showed up at Gary’s parents house where he was working on a Volkswagen Beetle in the driveway. He stopped work and led me into the sitting room where perched on the edge of the couch was Liz, a petite, pretty, busty brunette with a great laugh and great eyes. Not that I noticed of course, being nonchalant I’d like to think, but more likely totally blind to the fact that she as later told to me by Gary, was immediately very interested in getting to know me. We sat drinking tea and chatting away until Gary disappeared outside to carry on working on her (the Beetle) car and Liz and I continued our conversation. Gary called me later that day wanting to know whether I liked Liz and would I like to take her out? Of course I said and that evening Liz collected me in her Beetle and out we went; out being as far as her flat a mile away where we drank a bottle of wine and then explored one another for the next eight hours. And there I stayed apart from odd nights spent at home with Liz and I getting to know one another in the Biblical sense.
I did not want a serious relationship and that was despite my brother Mark, who having met Liz one Saturday morning at Mum’s house saying, “Who is that Jonathan? She’s bloody knock out mate!” I told him I was not interested in a relationship and he said, “You're bloody mental pal”. And do you know what? I probably was. But not because I did not want to get serious with Liz, moreover because I was starting to get depressed, seriously depressed. I started playing hard to find and I am sorry about that but my head was full of crap thoughts about my life, as on the outside was this ‘dude’, always up for a laugh, a friendly open person; never had any problems did Jonathan. But hidden away on the inside my head felt like it was starting to fall apart. My head was 'literally' falling apart as well, starting with an itchy scalp that eventually erupted into sores under my hair that I’d scratch as they'd drive me mad with pain and soreness and then they would bleed. I was forever washing my hair and wondering what was wrong. “You’ve got Shingles,” said Mum when I showed her my head. “What is shingles?” I asked. “It’s the same as chicken pox in a way, it can be very painful though” she said. Not exactly plenty of tea and sympathy from Mum!
I had not worked it out; I had still not got my head around why I was becoming more and more angry, more frustrated with my life and feeling as though the world was closing in on me. I started picking up on stuff that Mum did and starting arguments with her over crappy little things. I would mope around the house moaning and whinging about life and how shit it was until eventually one afternoon when I was in the garden and Mum came out to tend her flowers and she started to nag at me for being miserable. My head was driving me mad with the pain and I was getting terrible headaches and pain in my shoulders and neck. She told me to "stop moaning and do something about it". “There is nothing to do about it, because it is about nothing, I have nothing” I shouted at her. “You’re being stupid, bloody ridiculous,” she shouted back. “I had a life in America, I had an apartment, earned great money, had my friends, my girlfriend” my voice trailing off. Then she said something that I will remember forever.
“That apartment? It wasn’t anything special, your so called friends haven’t called to speak to since you left and you had nothing of any value there and as for your girlfriend, you were sleeping with any girl you could get your hands on. You had nothing there!” Her voice had steadily risen to a shout and she looked at me with real anger in her eyes. “But it was my life! Can’t you see that it was my life and its gone, I can’t go back because I’ll get arrested as soon as I set foot in California and its all because I was getting your medicine!” I shouted at her with tears streaming down my face. In truth I was afraid to leave her side in case she died in my absence. “So its my fault is it? Perhaps I should have died there and you would still have your life, is that it?” she shouted back. For all that I loved her, Mum could say the most incredibly cruel things and whilst you may consider that she was being honest, I did not need honesty right then. “No! You don’t understand, you just don’t get it!” How do you explain when it sounds so selfish, so self-centred?
I took myself off to the doctor’s surgery and broke down in his consulting room. He inspected my head and said I definitely had Shingles caused by stress, that my scalp would be scarred and I needed to stop using perfumed shampoos and had to use medicated ones instead or some such advice. He prescribed anti-depressants and we moved on to discussing my backache. He examined my neck and shoulders and said that the stress was the cause of the pain in there but he would organise an appointment with the Orthopaedic Consultants at the hospital about the lower back pain and sciatica that was starting to flair up. At home I found Mum in her chair watching daytime TV; her legs curled underneath her, a cup of coffee on the arm of the chair, the Daily Mirror at her side. Pretty much how anyone who knew her would expect to find her, either that or sat at the kitchen table completing the Bingo in the newspaper. “What are you doing here?” she said. “I live here?” I replied. “I didn’t think this house was good enough for you” she sneered. I walked upstairs to my room and stayed there for the remainder for that day. I think that Mum couldn’t stand weakness in men. My father had been a strong person and managed everything for her when he was alive except for the kids and the shopping. Over the next few weeks as I recovered I resolved to get on with things as there was no way back. I presumed by now I’d be a wanted criminal in American!
I was still searching for a “proper” job trawling the press for one that was at least interesting and that paid well. An vacancy for a “Stained Glass Overlay Technician” caught my eye. This consisted of placing a paper pattern behind a sheet of glass pre-cut to fit in a door or window frame and then laying over lead to re-produce the pattern. Roses, Swallows and Butterfly designs were popular as were Georgian diamond shapes. What’s more the money was great and I sailed the interview into a job where my fellow employees did not resemble rejects from Zombie casting central! My brother Richard had a house to let a few miles from the factory and said I could lease that, so I now had a nice 2-bedroom home, a good job and splashed out on a white Volkswagen Sirocco as well, on higher purchase of course. The rent was well within my means as were the payments on the car; my clubbing and clothes budget were not too high and so I was at last functioning as a member of society, paying my taxes. What of my mental health you ask? It's amazing what a little self belief, support from friends and some anti-depressants can do. Once I had moved out from under Mum’s roof and had begun earning money and settling into a steady lifestyle, my shingles cleared up, I reduced and soon stopped taking the meds. Life was slowly on the up..............
Written and Posted by Jonathan Weaver