The Auntie Doris Years:1993

image Whenever there’s a burial, there’s a birth. That’s what my mother used to say any road. ‘Course, she never understood about population explosions and stuff like that, but any road, there was a bit of truth in what she said. It wasn’t long after My Raymond died that April May’s daughter, Pam, had a daughter of her own, Louise. And then, in ’93, shortly after they found Raymond’s brother John, dead on the couch, surrounded by empty cans of strong lager, empty paracetamol packets and filthy magazines, our Michael’s girlfriend had another one. And they called him John. Which was a bit perverse in my opinion. I didn’t see anything wrong with Raymond. “Ohh it’s not after uncle John” he said to me, all sincerity and smiles, “it’s after the king!” I didn’t think much to that idea either, we all know what happened to him – poisoned by a disgruntled monk! Besides, knowing our Michael, he was more likely to have named the lad after Johnny Ruddy Rotten or somebody. Never mind. The next generation was here to stay, even as the old one was dying off.
When I was really young, it seemed like the old people that I knew had always been old. I had never known them any different. My Grandparents had always been bent, wrinkled and slow. They had always had watery eyes and smelled a bit funny. It was too difficult to imagine otherwise. Now I was old, wrinkled and bent, I probably had watery eyes and smelled a bit funny too, if the truth be known. But I enjoyed being around those kiddies. And I knew that I hadn’t got all that long left, and that, like the old people I knew in my youth, I would not see them at any other stage in their lives apart from childhood. (I now know that I knew wrong, because if can still watch them grow, and get involved to a certain extent, from the other side, but that’s beside the point) they would always be children to me. And that affected how I dealt with kiddies in general. I could sneak them sweets, and swear at them under my breath. If it turned them into foul mouthed grown ups with bad teeth, it was no skin off my nose. Besides, if that was a good enough adulthood for me, it was good enough for them. I most kiddies turned their noses up at barley sugars any road, probably because they didn’t come in bright packaging with a cartoon character off the telly on it. Louise and John were too young for sweets anyway. So I just contented myself with cuddling them, poking them with my bony old fingers and calling them little buggers. Looking at them now, I don’t think that I did them all that much harm.
I never spent too long with them though. I was finding it hard to catch my breath most of the time, and i couldn’t stay out long without having to go home for a lie down.
Besides, I had my little Mademoiselle Tuppence to think about. I used to leave her at home when I went visiting, because she wasn’t all that good with kiddies. “You can come over if you like” my Michael used to say, ” but don’t go getting your Tuppence out and frightening the kids.” So I used to wait until I got home, then lie on the bed and give her a good stroking.
Auntie Doris’s top pop hit of 1993: “Young at Heart” by the Bluebells. It sounded good. But I don’t think I was young at heart any more by then. I was tired. And I was happy to leave youthfulness to young people. The buggers.

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