The Tao of John Wayne

My mother adored John Wayne. My enduring memories of her are watching old JW movies, in black and white of course (because back then there was no colour tv!), on Saturday afternoons. We’d rush off during the ad breaks to make a cuppa and snuggle back down on the sofa together to watch him rescue everyone and be declared a bona fide hero.

John Wayne - my mother's all-time hero
John Wayne – my mother’s all-time hero

She could pretty much quote them all word-perfectly and used to irritate me senseless by exclaiming about the names of her now deceased screen idols … ‘Oooh, Richard Wydmark, he was my favourite!’ or ‘Oooh, Montgomery Clift! He’s dead now of course’ or ‘Oh, my! Marlene Deitrich! Now there was a lady!’ which would be accompanied by an obligatory full body wiggle that no twelve-year-old should ever witness their mother attempting. Brr! The memory gives me shivers!

He was, I’ve since discovered, full of wisdoms and witticism that I never imagined he was capable of when I was but a wee one. The most famous one being, of course, ‘Get off ‘a your horse an’ drink your milk’, which (if I’m not mistaken) he drawled at Jimmy Stewart in the 1962 film ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ – needless to say, it was one of my mum’s favourites.

I invoke this memory today because I’ve been drinking my milk for the past couple of weeks and it’s maybe time I got back ON my horse, of course.

I’ve been writing this blog for about four months now and a couple of weeks ago my muse (for want of a better word) went AWOL. I found myself calling up the screen with my last post provocatively taunting me, staring blankly at the page and having not one thing in my head to write about. No, really.

Not a single cohesive thought.

Which is kind of odd for me – I never shut up usually. I have something to say about pretty much everything. Mrs G was how my students knew me at school and they naively thought that stood for Mrs Gregory, when in fact, as all who know me even slightly can attest to, it actually stands for Mrs Gobby. (NB: For all my US readers – ‘Gobby’ is an English colloquialism meaning ‘mouthy’, ‘rather impolite’, ‘speaking your mind’ or alternatively, ‘full of shit’). I’m OK with that. It’s who I am I guess, although I do try not to be unkind or unpleasantly rude, unless the situation really calls for it.  Shrinking Violets are not what comes to mind when people think of me I suspect.

So, at first I thought it was just my marbles I’d lost – you may remember this is something that frequently happens to me and I just put out an APB for them and they usually turn up under a choc-chip cookie or something. I like it when I find them in the cookie-dough ice-cream best though 🙂

Who, What, When, Where, Why and How - the 5 W's and a H.
Who, What, When, Where, Why and How – the 5 W’s and a H.

But this was serious. No lost marbles. This was a case of a missing identity… (cue crashing music ‘Dah, dah, DAAAAHH!’). As I used to say to children when story-writing… remember the five wuh’s and a huh!





(probably most importantly in this case…) Who?

and the huh… How?

What was missing? Well, that was the easy one – my ability to reflect on my life was the what, clearly. When did it go missing? Also pretty easy… it was just after I tried to take some photos and realised I didn’t understand the question…

Where? Well, that too was self-explanatory – I hadn’t stepped foot outside for about a week (really!) so it can only have gone missing here in this house…

Why? Now, that was a vexing question. Although, now I see it in glorious technicolour, there’s a bit of a clue in the answer to the ‘where’ question…

Who? Here’s the nub of the problem – if I haven’t anything to say, then who the hell am I and what have I done with me? Someone call the police! I’ve been kidnapped by my own psyche, dammit!

At this point, I realised I was pretty darned scared that no-one had even noticed I was MIA and that’s when I wrote this poem:









Too small to see















(And some of you might wonder where my son gets the Drama Queen genes from!)

SimplesAnd finally, How? As Aleksander the Meerkat would say… ‘Simples!’

When I let myself get lost, as I did a couple of weeks ago; when I forget who the hell I am and allow myself to wallow in a mire of Scrabble with Strangers (and a couple of real-life buddies) and Bejeweled Blitz (even if I did manage to pass Jeff Anderson on the Leaderboard!) to avoid having to look for a purpose, then it’s no wonder I forgot to go outside and smell the fresh air and breathe some reality.

It’s a damn good job I have gorgeous family people to knock hard on my shell and drag me out, kicking and screaming if necessary (although this time, I emerged pretty quietly!) into the light. As Wayne also said – ‘Courage is being scared to death and then saddling up anyway’. I found a tiny modicum of courage to get out of my shell. it really was so worth it.

If I reach the point where the irony of my children and grandchildren, dressed in cow, dragon and wolf ‘onesies’ whilst conversing with a herd of beautiful brown cows atop the Yorkshire Wolds in the evening sunshine, doesn’t make me pee myself with laughter, someone please shoot me! I leave you with this image (thanks kids!) – I hope it entertains you all as much as it does me.

Cows, dragon and wolf give advice to the herd...
Cows, dragon and wolf give advice to the herd…

One Reply to “The Tao of John Wayne”

  1. I’ve been asked to explain the presence of the cows and dragon on the hillside… which really defies explanation I think! However, for those who are unfamiliar with the ‘Onesie’ phenomenon, here goes…
    For some reason (I suspect to try to cheer me a little) my daughter decided that our walk up on the hill opposite our house would be infinitely improved by the wearing of the ‘onesies’.
    It’s a bit of a craze here in the UK – everyone’s wearing them, mostly for costume parties or just for generally keeping warm – they are really toastie and, most crucially for me at any rate, comfortable!
    The ‘Onesie’ is (somewhat self-explanatory really) an all-in-one garment, rather like a baby’s sleep-suit, often with feet and hand-coverings incorporated into the design. Although it is possible to find plain onesies, in simple colour schemes, most often they come in the form of some disguise, such as an animal, super-hero or legendary historical figure.
    My daughter bought herself a cow onesie, along with a wolf and a monkey suit for her two oldest children a couple of weeks ago. We all rolled around laughing when she held a fashion parade on Skype one Sunday afternoon. My dear husband, upon seeing me giggling for all I was worth decided that it would be a good idea to purchase some for ourselves and surprise them all when they arrived to visit at the weekend.
    So, on Saturday morning, once everyone was out of bed and convening in the Family Room for breakfast, my FAB hubby, our neanderthol teenage son and myself sneaked off to change into our onesies – mine is the cow, Mark was the dragon and Toby has a Count Dracula version. Tremendous giggling ensued. It’s the tiny dragon wings that do it for me!
    And then came the decision to go out for a late afternoon walk up onto the hill – wearing onesies seemed like such a cool idea! How hilarious it was when it came to getting out of the car in their costumes… all three of my very ‘cool’ children looked at each other with great trepidation. Then they threw caution to the wind and stepped out into the evening sunshine – after all there would be very few human observers on this short stroll around the hillside. Just a herd of inquisitive brown cows.
    Truly, it was a surreal sight to see my daughter, mother of my four grandchildren, accompanied by her two siblings, ridiculously attired in cow and dragon onesies, addressing the herd earnestly urging them to live long and happy lives.
    Yep. My kids are fantastic.


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