Auntie Doris’s Road to Publication #6: Misty Water-Coloured Memories


It’s not until you do something like actually start writing your ruddy memoirs that you realise that there are a lot of absolutely unbelievable things in your life that you have never really thought about, or that you have taken for granted, because you have believed them for so long. The thing is, that there is a reason that some of those things are unbelievable. And the reason is because they probably never happened.

Memory is a funny thing. They say that when you get old, your memory starts to play tricks on you. But I’m not so sure that your memory isn’t playing tricks on you all your life. It’s just that when you get old, the tricks become a lot bigger.

My Uncle Lionel died at the in 1987. In his final years, his memory had him believing all kinds of nonsense. Half the time he thought that it was still the 1920s and he was a young man working as a motor mechanic for Rolls Royce. He used to get into a panic every morning when he noticed the time and believed that he was late for work. You could get him to snap out of it by pointing out that he was in his late eighties, and he didn’t have to go to work because he was retired. He would smile and relax and go back to snoozing in his armchair. But woe betide you if you reminded him that he had never been a motor mechanic anywhere, and that he had never even learned to drive a car, and that for most of his working life he was an odd job man at a sewage processing plant. He wasn’t having any of that, and he might get so cross about you putting such ideas into his head that he would give you a clip around the ear. Or worse. He once got my sister Pearl’s husband George into a headlock. He was surprisingly strong for a man of his age, and he didn’t let go until George’s body went limp.

Any road. I’m not talking about stuff like that, I’m talking about remembering the details; Names, Dates, Ages, Maybe even who said what to who and when they said it. Think back to a conversation you had ten years ago. How clearly can you remember it? Where were you? Who else was there? Who said what? What were they wearing? Are you sure that you really experienced it the way you remember? Are you  sure that you really experienced it at all?

Ruddy Nora. Some conversations I had with my Raymond, he couldn’t even remember the details of them even ten minutes later, let alone ten years. He would swear blind that I sent him to the shop to buy a large roll of greaseproof paper, when I had sent him for a jar of piccalilli. What on Earth would I have wanted a roll of greaseproof paper that big for anyway? Apart from to hit him on the ruddy head with for bringing the wrong thing!

Then again. Did I ask him for greaseproof paper after all? One of us must have had a trick played on us by our memory. Or maybe both of us did. We can’t both have been right unless there was a rift in the fabric of the multiverse and two parallel universes (call them the piccalilli universe and the greaseproof paper universe, if you will) somehow  got mixed up. I suppose that’s possible in an infinite multiverse. I wonder what the other Doris did with my piccalilli.

You might think that it might all become clear on the other side, that your memory would return to full strength and it would all come flooding back in. In Technicolor or something. But it doesn’t. In many ways you are no wiser than you were before you passed over.

I’m not sure what happened to Uncle Lionel. Perhaps he got swapped with some other Uncle Lionel from a parallel universe, who did actually work for Rolls Royce and was pleased to recover his real memories after suffering a sewage works delusion for his final few years. I really don’t know. It’s making my ruddy head spin just thinking about it.

Any road, if you want to know, I have edited my memoirs up to about 1911, which is more than my ruddy useless nephew did in the four weeks previous. Not bad going seeing as I wasn’t born until 1914.

I still haven’t heard from the Oxford University Press though. The ignorant So and Sos


The Auntie Doris Years: 1995

daisy-logoIt was a ruddy funny thing. At first I put it down to all the little kiddies in the family making me feel broody. But you shouldn’t get broody at 81. I couldn’t deny it though. My bosoms were getting bigger. I told myself not to be so soft. I enjoyed having kiddies in the family. I had always enjoyed being around kiddies. But it was way too late for me now.
And then they started leaking. It looked like milk! I didn’t know what to think. Leaky milk bottles… At my age!
I hadn’t been feeling all that good, so I went to see the doctor. He prodded and poked them a bit, and then he telephoned the ruddy hospital and got me an appointment. He got it pretty sharpish an’all. It was only a few days before I had them prodding and poking and taking x-ray photographs of me without my bra on into the bargain.
I didn’t understand it. I had always been in decent health. I had always looked after myself. Yes I enjoyed a few ciggies and a glass of sherry but who didn’t? I know that I had been feeling run down lately, but I was 81. That was understandable. Along with the belly ache and the diarrhoea, I wouldn’t have thought that was out of the ordinary, particularly as I liked to have a fish shop tea now and again. Although I hadn’t had one in a while. But that was only because I hadn’t been really hungry.
Any road, they told me that I would have to go into hospital for a bit while they did some more tests and see if they could sort me out. Told me to go home and pack my nightie and a few bits and pieces and wait for them to phone. It shouldn’t be long before they had a bed ready, they said.
So I did as I was told. I called in on April May on the way back, and told her all about it, and she helped me sort a little suitcase out. That was good of her because I was really tired. It had been a long day.
They rang the next morning and I went in. They had a bed ready for me on a ward with some other old girls, who looked the worse for wear. I remember wondering why they had put me in with that lot, because they looked properly ill. But by then I was beginning to realise that I wasn’t really all that good myself.
Its funny, but when you go into hospital, you sort of become ill because of where you are. Outside, its all focused on getting on with it and being well, ignoring aches and pains as best as you can. In hospital, its more about wallowing in it. Everyone wants to know about your aches and pains. You are your aches and pains. Before I knew where I was, I felt as badly as the other old lasses. And them doctors prodding and poking and dripping ruddy stuff into me didn’t help. After a while, they had to give me a little thing over my face to breathe through, and then they wired up my front bottom so I didn’t even have to get out of bed to have a wee.
It was nice of people to come around with their grapes and lucazade, but best of all was having April May there holding my hand, and talking softly about old times. She was 60 now. My little Shirley Temple, 60!
I remember one afternoon the Salvation Army or some ruddy lot came in and started singing Christmas Carols. What the Ruddy Hell they wanted to do that for the Lord alone knows. It was still summer. Or was it? I couldn’t keep track. It was hot enough any road. It was a good thing that they kept giving me water to drink.
It was all very confusing… Was April May my sister? Was she my daughter? Did it ruddy well matter? She was holding my hand, and that was nice. And they were singing “Once in Royal David’s City” or some such ruddy nonsense. And then she wasn’t holding my hand any more. She wasn’t even there any more. But My Mother was. And next to her was my sister Pearl.
“Hello Doris,” Mother said. “Welcome to the other side…”

To donate to the Daisy Appeal a medical charity which helps people who live in the area where Auntie Doris came from – Please click here

A song from 1995 “You are Not Alone” by Michael Jackson. – Remember that…