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.

The Auntie Doris Years:1992

image We had my Raymond cremated that June. We had a nice do afterwards in the back room of the Rose and Crown. Unfortunately Knaggs the Butcher wasn’t there to provide the tongue, but I got some from the lad at the local Kwik Save. It might not have been top quality, but it did the job. The family all turned up, and were very nice to me, and we swapped some funny stories about Raymond and the times we had with him. For all his faults, he never did anyone any harm, didn’t Raymond probably not even during the war, when he was supposed to do some harm to the ruddy Germans. That’s how I best remember him, as my little soldier man, dancing with me in the Church Hall as John Gemmill’s band played something that sounded a bit like the music of Glenn Miller.
They let me have his ashes after a few days. I went and got them, but I didn’t have a ruddy clue what to do with them. I kept them on the mantelpiece for a week or so. I even tried talking to them, but it didn’t seem natural to me. I’m not saying that they were worse conversationalists than my Raymond, to be honest, they were pretty much the same. But it still didn’t feel like I was talking to him.
April May came up with the idea that we should take them to Withernsea and sprinkle them around the pleasure gardens. So one morning, her and Cyril and me went up on the service bus one Sunday. I had the urn containing the ashes in a pink carrier bag that said “Fanny” on it. My nephew Michael had given me it. His girlfriend had found it in their gas cupboard. He said it was from a fashion boutique or something. I thought it was a good bag to carry my Raymond’s mortal remains to their final destination in. He would have seen the joke. And in a funny sort of way, it was discreet. No one would have ever suspected what was in that bag.
Any road, when we got to the Pleasure Gardens, they were full of kiddies and young families playing, and it didn’t feel right to be chucking human ashes all over the place. So we had to think again. We thought about throwing them in the sea, but that had kiddies paddling in it an all. In the end, we went for fish and chips on the front, and I emptied him into a litter bin whilst April May and Cyril were queuing up. They were a bit cross with me when they came out with the dinners and found out what I had done, but they soon calmed down. Like I said, it was only ashes. I kept the urn, even though it was only ruddy plastic, and the fanny bag.
As we ate our chips, a little kiddie chucked an ice lolly into the bin on top of Raymond. That attracted some wasps, and we watched them buzz around him. Every so often a gust of wind would send some dust up from the ashes. Some of it would have probably found its way to the pleasure gardens.
After the fish and chips we all went for a game of bingo.
None of us won anything.
Auntie Doris’s Top Pop hit of 1992: “Tom Traubert’s Blues” by Rod Stewart. I never really liked Rod Stewart, but this was a nice melancholy song about a soldier. It fitted my mood.