All my life I have wanted to write. You know that. You bought me my first ever typewriter for my 18th birthday. It was the last present you got me. You gave me my love of words and inadvertently my need to set stuff down in words. Words empower me. They let me control things. I can say anything. I can make anything happen.
Only I can’t. Over the years I’ve become a technical writer. I can report things. I can analyse things. But I cannot make things up.
I think that is because before I can tell an untrue story, I need to tell a true one. Mine. And the bit of mine that is also yours.
And I’m not engaging in some kind of reverse arrogance when I say what that would turn out to be is a misery memoir. Of the worst kind. Where nothing is tragic enough, where nothing is so terrible that you can’t see a way through, but where the author is telling it like its a constant living hell. And that’s not the story I want to tell.
The most fundamental and important relationship I have ever had was with you. Dad died when I was under two years old and I grew up with you, your dad, (my grandad Peter) and her, then later with my stepfather Ken. You died when I was 18, and we never spoke as adults.
There is so much I never said to you and so much I didn’t understand. I want to get to know you again. To have you back by my side. And the best thing I can do is write to you.
A lot happened. A lot of hard stuff, stuff you learn not to talk about. I like to think if my you had lived though that by now, we’d have talked about it. And I’d have understood more. And what’s more I wouldn’t have all this stuff jamming up my head. I know a lot of people tell me they can’t have this sort of conversation with their mothers. And I get that. Its sad and rotten and must be so frustrating. But I know if you were alive these are the conversations we’d have had. You were always pretty cool.
The first thing you might notice is that the years don’t quite work. My chronology is fucked. My life falls into some fairly straightforward temporal spaces – before Dad died – before you married Ken – before John arrived – before you died – after you died – after I married Vincent – before I left Vincent – before she was arrested – before the trial – after the trial.
I struggle to get things in date order and to place them right in the story of my life. That would be another great big block to writing a “misery memoir”. How could I give anything an order if I can’t remember the dates or even years where stuff happened? So for now its just you and me, and its not just misery.
I think perhaps in time the dates will fall into place. I also think in some ways its less the order as it happened than the order as I recall it that’s important. I also know if I was having these conversations you, you’d know, just as I do, when these things happened – and you wouldn’t get hung up on that.
You’ll also find the tenses slip. They do and I’m inclined not to fix that. Its the nature of memory that some of it is striking, vivid, unbound by time. For me some of this is still happening now, other stuff is under cobwebs behind a memory of the cover of Smash Hits in 1980.
I hope you can bear with me while I go over our life together. I also want to tell you what’s happened since you died, and why perhaps its taken me so long to get back to you.
So pour yourself a whiskey and light a cigarette. I can smell the Max Factor make up on your cheek and hear the silver bangles on your wrists. Lets talk.