A Week in the Life of Mrs Hyde

Thursday 4 October
Ten grisly prunes, black and syrupy, glower at me across the breakfast table, where they nestle threateningly on a bed of All Bran. Mil’s Inherited Digestive Condition, which relies heavily on dairy and chocolate has come back to bite her with an eye-wateringly high cholesterol reading and something that Mil refers to as a ‘sore tum’, so poor Mil has been forced to swap all things creamy and chocolaty for a low-fat, high fibre diet. Alas, Mil’s Inherited Digestive Condition stubbornly rejects our healthy puds, such as stewed apple, but she has taken to tinned and dried fruits in a big way. A very big way. Tom and I both recognise that she’s trying but it’s not quite going in the right direction. ‘Where will it all end?’ says Tom, shaking his head. One thing is certain: and the answer, as Bob Dylan would say, is blowin’ in the wind.

It’s my Rose’s birthday today. She’s out in the big wide world enjoying her first ‘proper’ job but on this day, I miss her. I make a tentative reference to the events of twenty-two years ago when I left for hospital in the wee small hours with my Dad telling me how much he was looking to hearing about his next granddaughter’s arrival before breakfast (yeah, fat chance, Dad – seventeen and a half hours later, eh?). I don’t get any further because Mil counters with, ‘Oh, well I remember when Tom was born…’ alas, this a story I have heard so many times I could tell it myself.
You weren’t allowed to go home for Christmas
‘We weren’t allowed to go home for Christmas.’
And all the girls cried.
‘And all the girls cried.’
And so it goes. More fool me for firing up another game of ‘The Good Old Days’ – a variation on the theme of ‘Life Before Chris’.

Friday 5 October
It’s a glorious, west Wales day. I stand on the long sandy beach at St David’s where the waves sparkle under a clear blue sky scored only by the jet stream of a passing plane.
‘Next stop New York’ says Tom and I think of Frances and the busy, city life she describes with such serenity and composure. We head for the refectory at St David’s cathedral for lunch, which is complete chaos. By the time we have found something we can all eat and then queued to pay (surely there must be a better way than standing in line with plates of rapidly cooling food?) I have completely lost the will to protest when a plate of salad turns up instead of the salmon sandwich I ordered.

Sunday 7 October
‘Hello? Hello? Does my voice still work?’ Just it’s so hard to find a topic of conversation that refers to anything post 1994 that I’m beginning to wonder. At least there’s plenty of rugby on the telly, thank goodness.

Monday 8 October
Mil and Dil’s train departs and I can see that Tom has a lump in his throat. I’m torn between feeling guilty that I can’t be a bigger person and rise above all the references to the past and feeling mad at being isolated and hurt. Biting my tongue all week hasn’t done me any good. You know those interviews when folks are asked to say what their most unpleasant trait is, well mine is sarcasm. My ability to come out with something deeply cutting surprises even me; after the initial rush of ‘There! Take that!’ I almost instantly regret what I’ve said but of course it’s too late then so we drive back in silence the air almost solid with unspoken thoughts. Back home we go our separate ways, Tom to the boatyard and me to play loud nasty music by rude bad boys. Our trial separation doesn’t work; we have an almighty row and slink off to bed.

Tuesday 9 October
We make up. Tom cooks a wonderful meal for me. Peace – for now!

And finally…
I have been delighted to receive an award from Little Brown Dog which will sit here until next week – thank you so much LBD! However, having begun to feel very uneasy about the whole awards thing and after reading a wise comment from Kittyb, I’ve decided to remove them from my blog thereafter. No offence to anyone, it’s just that there are so many good writers out there who deserve recognition in different ways.

Hwyl fawr
The painting is 'The Fox' by Tom Tomos (you have to look very carefully to see how it got its title!).


Anonymous said…
Making up is definitely the fun part, sometimes worth falling out for.

Crystal xx
Posie Rosie said…
Loved reading about Mil, I forgot to tell you that my mum's REAL name is Mrs Hyde...I was of course a Miss Hyde, so I always grin when you reveal some of your Mrs Hyde...nothing like the real thing of course!
You said I have an award, wow thanks, I was feeling ever so left out of the whole awards thing, have never received one before. What were Kitty B's wise comments? I missed those.
Casdok said…
Happy birthday to Rosie.
And congratulations on the award!!
Milla said…
I can't work out why it's a fox, but it's still good. What a knackering sounding week you've had. Was feeling exhausted on my own account and now more so. Other people's relatives are wearing, particularly if involving prunes and guilt.
elizabethm said…
families can be so hard can't they? we had my FIL (whom i love dearly) here on sunday for his 89th birthday lunch. he comes accompanied by SIL who is very unwell and a struggle. i feel bad saying that when her life is so tough. always a relief when she goes. do my very best to love the man, love the family.
glad you made up.
Suffolkmum said…
Ooh I felt that tension. I also resort to biting sarcasm - I guess it's not clever, but I do do it well! Poor you. At least the visit is over, and you and Tom made up.
I bet you really felt like getting on with your re write with the prunes glaring at you! Right...deep breath...they've gone, no more prunes, bum on seat and get typing....are they coming back for Christmas?....ducking here even though I must be 90 miles away!
Zen de calme as my frnech friend says.. oh sod it have a drink dear you need it!!!
ChrisH said…
Thanks all, feeling a right moany old wotsit now i've got it off my chest - painting is so called because a fox walked over it when it was drying outside and left little black pawprints across it.
Lane said…
Sarcasm is an art form Chris. Don't stifle it too much as you never know when you might need it:-)

Glad you made up...and he cooks *sigh*

ps Good old Mr Dylan has a line for everything;-)
Another stonking painting too:-)
Preseli Mags said…
Happy birthday to your Rose! I hope she has a good day.

I loved the description of Mil's dietary habits! I don't think I'll ever look at a prune in quite the same way again.

I hope you've got back to some peace and quiet now, and banished the glowering prunes!

xx PM
Flowerpot said…
I'm currently not speaking to Hmself after he failed to give me an Important Phone Message about work tomorrow. I'm still fuming.....
LittleBrownDog said…
Wish I could come up with the cutting comments at the time - they always seem to occur to me a couple of hours later (which is perhaps just as well, as you say). Difficult things, families - especially other people's. Much as I find my mother trying, I always get a bit snappy when H voices what I've been thinking all along. And, for what it's worth, I think you're absolutely right about the awards thing - I think I'll do the same thing. I've been feeling uneasy about it ever since last week. After all, who am I to give out an award, anyway? Beautifully written, as ever, Chris.

PS Could you tell me again where you got your thermometer thingy from? I know you told me a while ago, but I didn't do anything about it at the time and now I just can't seem to put my hands on it. (Story of my life...)
sally's chateau said…
I know exactly how you feel, your blog made me wince in a couple of places !! xx
Flowerpot said…
PS Chris, am most intrigued by the comment from Kittyb - what was it? I too feel a bit uneasy about awards...
It can be so difficult with some families Chris, I was fortunate to having a most wonderful MIL, but never did see "eye to eye" with my FIL, his loss I think.

Glad to know you have made up with Tom, and congratulations on your Award Chris.

Milkmaid said…
Fish and Family both start to smell after 3 days according to a friend of mine, My Ma's eating habits has me in despair after two hours so well done you, Thanks for the award, not sure of your unease, but I too don't think my writing is that great, yours BTW is
Pondside said…
Well you made it through the visit and you're out the other side. Will they come back anytime soon?

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