Buried in a Biscuit Tin
Background: Harry is a Yorkshireman, reflecting on his family’s misfortune.
HARRY: We’ve always been an unfortunate family.
It started when my dad were killed in t’war. Well we say it was during the war. It makes his death less embarrassing. He actually died when he stepped on a leftover landmine on a visit to Flanders fields. The called him ‘the last casualty’ I prefer to think of him as: ‘the last calamity.’
It didn’t get much better though; my son was blown up too. He was an ‘explosives enthusiast’ or a ‘daft sod’ as I called him. Apparently, they found parts of him in Wigan, they mailed his finger back with a little note: “We believe this belongs to you.”
We collected what we could, we had to bury him in a biscuit tin. The dog ran off with his leg, the little twat.
My poor mam didn’t fare much better. After what happened with dad, she married a Russian bloke. He seemed nice enough at first but he turned out to be a drug smuggler, my mam served 12 years in a Venezuelan prison for smuggling after he hid some ‘product’ in her case, she never forgave him.
When she got pardoned after the Foreign secretary intervened, she came back home, she were a lot quieter after she came out. She had a far-away look in her eyes, as if she’d seen stuff she’d rather not have.
Eventually she moved on, and married a local farmer. Old Tom was half-blind, which was good news for the sheep he was supposed to be castrating, but not good news for Mam when he shot her, thinking her to be a fox. To be fair to Old Tom, she was wearing a fur coat. It could have been one of those mutant immigrant foxes you read about in The Daily Mail.
The final insult came when we lost out dog, Scruff. He was an active thing was Scruff, used to love chasing bunnies on the fields, one day he chased one too far though, onto the train tracks in fact. We ended up having to bury him in a smaller biscuit tin, next to my Son. I wouldn’t have minded but the train was five minutes late.
My Son’s a Doctor…
Some background: Mavis is a dementia sufferer, living in a care home, whose children rarely visit her.
MAVIS: My son’s a doctor, you know. I think he still is anyway. He hasn’t been to see me in a while, but he’s a busy man you see. I think he’s a children’s doctor, whatever you call them.
I always knew he’d end up as a doctor when he was younger. Me and my husband, God rest his soul, always said that. “He’ll be a Doctor one day, you mark my words.” I remember him saying that one day from behind his newspaper. He was always reading that newspaper was my Frank. One day he fell asleep reading that paper, and I knew he was asleep because he was snoring! I dared to turn the TV over and he was suddenly awake! “I were watching that!” He said, you’d think I’d broken our best China crockery the way he was going on!
Where was I? Oh yes, my son, who’s a doctor, I knew he’d be a doctor ever since he did that operation on his little sister, now what’s her name again? Oh, I am awful, anyway he reckoned she’d fallen and broken her leg, so he played doctor and his teddy, Lucy was his nurse. She laid there and screamed and screamed, it turned out she really had broken her leg, he’d pushed her too hard on the swings. Four hours we were waiting in A&E.
Sometimes, when he’s not too busy he comes by to see me. He’ll always bring chocolates and tell me he’ll visit more. Trouble is, I always forget when he visits and I usually give the chocolates to the nurses, they’re always on their feet, poor things.
When my Derek was alive, we’d have never dreamed either of us would end up in a place like this. 54 years we were married, and never a crossed word between us. Except that time, I taped over the cup final with that nights Coronation Street, then there were several crossed words, but I don’t count that. You don’t remember the arguments you see, when you lose someone, you’re incapable. Your brain will only let you remember the good stuff. Until you get like me and you start to forget that.
Sometimes I’ll sit and think, when I’m gone, would I have left enough good stuff to remember? Will my children really remember me? Or are we forgotten as easily as we forget the bad things in life? I’d like to think I’ve lived enough of life to at least hope people will have good words to say about me when I’m gone, but who has time to sit and remember the dead when there’s so much living to be done? I’ve always said to my son, the doctor, just get on with it Son, you’re a short time living and a long time dead, don’t waste your short time caught up with the dead.
It’s been nice to sit and talk, I hope I haven’t talked your ear off, my Frank used to say that a lot, I never really know when to stop.
My Son’s a doctor, you know…