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.
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 🙂
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!)
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.