Yesterday, having seen a number of entries in Facebook where people were celebrating the joy of their mothers and the happiness of the day I put an entry of my own lamenting the passing of mine and exhorting folk to treasure what they had. On following reflection I decided to remove it labeling such a point as ill timed and, perhaps, slightly self indulgent. Nonetheless, after a dream I had in which I was getting ready to tell a congregation about my own mother’s influence during her life on this planet I decided to do just that. Being the self-effacing person she was I know she wouldn’t approve. This isn’t the first time in my life that I’m going to be disobedient to her instruction.
Ten years ago Mum passed away- and it wasn’t peacefully. Neither was it a happy release- although I convince myself she is in a better place now.
In 1973, after a long fostering period having been given up after birth, Mum and Dad chose to make me their second adoption. This against a warning from an unnamed source that such adoptions always spelt trouble. What was noticeable during my childhood was how she always stood my corner despite my continuous behavioural issues. Although very passive in nature, I was very hard work with a penchant for deceptive and cunning behaviour. I was a “little rogue with a heart of gold”. Her, perhaps rather subjective, words. Although I fear any exaggerated trace of that precious metal has somewhat eroded in the years since- even if the rogue has since disappeared.
It was the affectionate bond that sealed our relationship. Mum had always stood up for the underdog (although having had the good fortune that befell me in such an adoption my then vulnerable nature still doesn’t seem worthy of that phrase). When I arrived in Brighton I was described as ‘backward’ something that she wasn’t having. I was taught at school and taught at home. The label didn’t last long. Even when one family member, unwittingly within earshot, suggested I was the source of all trauma and discord within the family and that they should “never have had him” she wouldn’t listen. The headmistress in my infant school rarely called Mum to inform her of my regular visits to her office. She knew she couldn’t win.
This was Mum. A selfless individual who knew nothing but kindness and altruism. She, as a childminder, was familiar with youngsters. She did this to ensure that the extra cash that came into the house meant Christmas and holidays. It is a deep source of regret that I didn’t recognise this earlier. But then I guess most of us don’t.
Mum’s attention over time turned to the plight of the elderly. She had been a dedicated church goer all her life, one of the proper faith in action Christian types, and she frequently organised outings and also ran a club for older folk on Fridays at the Holland Road Baptist Church. All this was conducted against a back drop of frequent illness (as Dad’s diaries allude to), agoraphobia (she couldn’t go out on her own) and diabetes. Just for good measure I’ll throw in five miss-carriages over a ten year period and you can see that this selfless image I am creating holds a true likeness. In short she was a credit to this planet and was served a great injustice as reward.
In 2004 Mum showed the first sign of Alzheimers. Dad having kept this from me until it became apparent on the Christmas Day when I turned up and felt a clear indication that something wasn’t right. When Mum sat at the table she looked at me and said “Where’s Mum ?” I looked at Dad and he explained “She says that sometimes”.
What ensued over the next four years was an affliction that causes me to question the purpose of life itself. Mum’s condition deteriorated to the point that she almost became a shell that spoke repetitive and unintelligible words and clearly lived in constant distress. My father, unlike myself, was a constant beacon of shared suffering. One day I asked him how he coped effectively alone in a shared environment with the woman he had loved for over 40 years. “When I took the vows I said till death to us part” he responded. If you’ve got this far just read that again. Can you feel the frisson and the emotions that arise ? Dad and I hadn’t always seen eye to eye. From that moment on we did.
There was talk in the final days of putting Mum into a nursing home for a little while to give Dad some respite. Something that was dismissed out of hand. Dad was going to see this through to the fast end that was approaching.
In early July 2008 Mum caught a chest infection and the option was given to treat or not. “What happens if we don’t treat her ?” I remember asking the doctor late that evening. “She’ll probably slip away quietly during the night” he responded. He had already mentioned that there wasn’t long left and I looked at Dad thinking that it was his decision to make without influence. After all, I had felt cowardice at not being able to handle Mum’s plight and being the anchor I should have been. It wasn’t for me to make the ultimate decision. Dad chose to issue treatment. A recovery occurred but only temporarily.
On the 22nd July I received a call at 7.30 in the morning. I had already had a premonition of the days events that proved correct. Mum had spent her final moments in Dad’s arms and left this rotten existence. She was 73.
Mum’s desire to make a difference, to care, and to place others before her, had always trumped any such personal affliction. This is rare testimony. One that is difficult to live up to and a source of crushing sadness to me in many a small hour. If I had recognised then what I recognise now I feel that such pain wouldn’t haunt me.
But this is the point, isn’t it? And the advent of Mother’s Day only goes to amplify it to the point that it needs recognition at a deeper level.
There is a harsh lesson that I have learnt and I would wish to spare others. This is the knowledge that mother’s will always do the best job they know how, make honest mistakes, love you despite, and leave you feeling proud. But sometimes the clatter of cultural madness we find ourselves in gives rise to an unintended ignorance. And for some the realisation comes too late. Like it did for me.
Whatever you take from this just remember Dad’s words and think about take note of my regret. I just wanted to say something even if it doesn’t make sense. I miss my Mum like all hell- just like all those opportunities to give more back than I did.
I’m rooted to my shore –you’re calling to me, I can’t hear What you’ve said….The time is passing by – wheels in eyes -lead me to your door.
When I was young I’d listen to the radio- all the songs I loved so well would invite us to begin the dance. We were young and we knew, and our eyes were alive. There with the beat of the rain on the leaves Suitcases of memories will never disappear
There’s a battle ahead, Who’s gonna tell you when it’s too late?
Some dance to remember… some dance to forget….In a matter of time, it would slip from my mind. Don’t dream it’s over. I’m going to dream you right into my life.
And every little thing only time will tell- but I keep asking myself why. Nothing stays the same.
Reaching out for the other side, the world that you love to behold cannot hold you anymore
I heard the mission bell… I feel a shiver run up my spine. If you could only see through my eyes.
You can’t go on thinking nothing’s wrong.
Davy won’t be home tonight
Same Sex Parenting- And Why I Got Annoyed.
Living in Brighton it’s easy to sense that the whole planet doesn’t give a damn about anything in particular. Nothing really matters- do what you like- just don’t hurt anyone. I often assume that even people who are unsure about a new liberal order simply choose to let things just pass by them.
For that reason I could face charges of ignorant innocence. Today was just such an event. Some would wrongly assume that a football forum is frequented by the more bullish and Neanderthal members of our society- that said, in some cases they may be right. The Brighton board, North Stand Chat, is one of the largest in the country and, for the most part, is quite a rational, if heated, talk shop on a wide range of subjects. Only a small percentage of its inhabitants struggle with rational discourse and tend to rather stick out.
I knew Tom Daley’s announcement of pending fatherhood would make it to the board at some stage and was a little shocked, although I shouldn’t have been surprised, by the opening gambit.
The first post read:
‘There is no way gay people should be permitted to have children by whatever bizarre means they acquire them. The incontrovertible fact is that it takes a male and a female to produce babies. If you don’t wish to participate in that activity because you prefer your own sex, then hard bloody luck. Guess what? No babies. Can’t have it both ways. Heterosexual … OK- you can have kids. Homosexual … sorry, you can’t.
‘And the guy isn’t his “husband”, he’s his gay partner’
There was something quite jaw dropping about the anger within this post- more than its content. This is what disturbed me the most. I know some people oppose same sex adoption, as an example, but there is capacity for reason. Such views oppose my ethics but fail to ignite my wrath. For what it’s worth my initial response was the following:
‘A good friend of mine has two mothers from birth.
‘She’s happy, balanced, heterosexual, and displays more social awareness than the grubby hands that started this thread.’
I returned to be more conciliatory if just as blunt:
‘Knowing two people with same sex parents, who are now grown up and very happy- and with one of them being a close friend- I’ve let this thread wind me up too much. So I’ll issue my last point.
‘I believe, and know from testimony, that all a baby is interested in is survival. That is ensured through the love and support of its parent(s). The baby has no concept on those parents biology and even less interest. It will grow up caring little for it. Until…
‘There comes a day when questions get asked and slurs get made. They could get bullied, taunted, made to feel different. (I know it happened to my friend many years back). But the problem is that they don’t understand why. They have done nothing wrong- and neither have their parents.
‘So what does this tell us? It says that the real issue at hand here is not the circumstances of birth and nurture but the opposition to it. So by opposing it the whole concept of same sex parenting is called into question by virtue of the attitudes towards it and not the fact.
‘So basically, YOU are the reason why it may not work, YOU are the reason that some get bullied and YOU are the reason why healthy and balanced individuals may be caused to doubt themselves.
‘My words sound harsh and I do not wish to make slight of your character on the basis of a simple ignorant viewpoint.
‘Perhaps if you met my friend you would understand. But you wouldn’t be in for a comfortable time. When you challenge a person’s right to exist, and meet their soft reasoning in person, it can be rather humbling’
Now, late in the evening, writing today’s entry I am wondering why another person’s view made me rather angry. I don’t normally get wound up for long. My initial response is not normally to attack a person in character.
The reason I became angry was two-fold. Firstly, and the easiest to diagnose, was that I have a friend with same sex parents who has grew up like any other child. But secondly, and more interestingly, my nest had been disturbed. Here I am, in this open-minded and engaging utopia, and someone seems to have stolen the flowers from my hair.
As I retire tonight it is the thought that society is full of contrasts and opposing ideologies that challenges me. As much as, like many, I surround myself with like minded folk it becomes easy to lose touch. For example, I thought that the UK would remain in the European Union because so many people I knew were voting as such.
I guess this is the danger of social media. One creates a collage of homogeneous patterns of thought and behaviour then reacts when this is blotted. Perhaps I am too insular and uncompromising.
Then perhaps I had every right to be fucked off.
Technology has taken over from the Almighty. Or so it sometimes seems. Communications that we once believed efficient were, it seems, fractured and most inefficient. Certainly these days we can save someone’s life simply with a call from the gadget in our hand. I did once ask my Dad how emergency services were contacted in the event of emergency in his day. It was a long run to the nearest phone.
The thing I mourn is the loss of simplicity. Lets not pretend things are worse. They are not. But I wonder how much we have at our finger tips is of proper use. The hours I have spent looking at useless crap online I’m sure could have been better deployed elsewhere. As regards social media, I often wonder if it really connects us or drives us apart. “I’ll text you” is a phrase I commonly here. It’s like the phone, once an avenue to the outside world- and pure human contact is an intrusion and invasion. It’s as if we don’t really want to talk to each other. I ring my Dad every night- I’m so glad he doesn’t understand mobiles.
So what would happen if everything was taken away from us? What would we miss the most?
I rarely watch television unless there is something I specifically want to see. It is never ‘on in the background’. However from a young age the radio has been my comfort, my solace, a permanent companion. And so it remains.
I was given a small transistor at about the age of eight. It was often on. Especially late in the evening under the covers when the parents were in bed. The evening football commentary, those treasured European nights, will forever be etched in my heart. I wrote a specific piece about that a few years back (see below). I confess to watching football on the television now but always seem to go back to the radio. It’s in my DNA- a rebellion or so to speak. It will never change.
This evening I was being lazy. There were things to do. As soon as the radio went on progress was made. I don’t know why that is. The answer may lay in the visits to see my father. It’s the same at the family home. I would imagine that my Dad, now alone, experiences intense feelings of isolation at times. Somehow he doesn’t seem to show it when the tranny is on. It’s like a soul mate of the ages. There for you, committed, and without judgement. And so it will remain.
It doesn’t take a great deal to please me although this can mean a sense of injustice when someone who doesn’t demand much is let down by uncompromising variables. Today was nearly such an occasion.
I work in the harbour at Portslade- four miles from the flat in Queens Park. I love my job, working for a conservation charity, and I have to really as the remuneration is certainly not sufficient to get one out of bed in the morning with a spring in the step. I’ve often said that I would rather do without fortune in life if I could simply be happy with the task that is set me. So I cannot complain. When one is employed in what is a largely voluntary sector it has to be remembered that full time occupation is something to be seen as a privilege. And it is. I am gainfully employed among good folk in what is probably the best job I have ever had. I’m more than happy to trade a couple of foreign holidays a year for the lack of dread that a Monday morning brings.
Following on from that is my view of the working rat race. No more epitomised by anything other than a long bus ride home where most folk look like they are sentenced to the journey. Such misery lends my environmentally tuned character to depressive thoughts. So I walk home each night simply to avoid it. And what a joy this often is.
The beach path is a simple delight- especially when sparse. I find myself lost in dreamy thought or by another splendid playlist from Spotify. Or both. The best time for walking is in spring and autumn if a person wishes splendid isolation. The only accompaniment being the committed jogger and the dutiful dog walker. In summer it can just be too busy and in winter perhaps a bit cold. Although the extra layers compensate for this and all I need to look for is a freezing wind or rain which can sometimes spell cancellation. Something I am desperate to avoid when there is much to mull over.
Tonight the Met Office suggested freezing showers around the time I was due to leave. Low and behold one squally effort arrived on cue. I was determined to ride it out although walking in it was never an option.
As I left the office so the rain abated. A quick step to the harbours edge indicated clear skies backing up and the resistance to an easy option of becoming a conforming passenger on another claustrophobic shoebox was averted. Very few were on the path tonight and the walk was once again a musical joy.
I realise how important and special such time is. Whilst, these days, I spend much of my time alone it is not something that invites loneliness often. I’ve always been that way. Nature is my favourite companion, which has cause friction is some of my personal relationships, but that is who I am. I cannot be at my best for someone else unless I am in tune with my surroundings. I people like me are (un)affectionately known as tree-huggers.
On the downside, as a result of a little recent emotional upheaval, the fags have entered the house. I guess we all have our vices but having successfully banished them for six weeks I know it can be done. It’s a question of summoning the will power and convincing myself that my brain is fooled to think that such habit has any real enjoyment. I’ll get there. Tomorrow. Or the next day.
|Jones G||Black R||3||129||Ifield||30-Apr|
|Barber W||Crathern L||5||*150||Arundel||14-May|
|Wheatley S||Barber W||2||129||St Peters||9-Jul|
|Jones G||Naidu R||3||146||Amigos||7-Oct|
|Barber W||102||St Peters||9-Jul|
|Wheatley S||100||St Peters||9-Jul|
|Five Wicket Hauls||Analysis||Opponent||Date|
|Naidu R||6-0-19-5||Zambuca Tigers||16-Jul|
|Batting (8 Innings)|
|Bowling (40 overs)|
This year’s Southwick Wanderers AGM will take place on Sunday 12th November 2017 at 4pm.
The venue is:
Steyning Community Football Club
Shooting Field, Steyning, BN44 3RX
Please arrive in time for a prompt start.
Any specific items for the agenda can be sent to Ian Fennell by email at:
The season averages are currently being worked on.
The options for voting on awards will follow soon.
Please do your best to attend. This is your club. Have your say.
Any outstanding subscriptions for this season need to be paid for voting rights.
The weather having relented, Thursday provided the first opportunity for some proper bat ‘n’ ball. And indeed all who attended were given an opportunity to get involved. The afternoon’s fare took the shape of a twenty over game in which ten on each side were to bowl a couple of overs each and a batsman was to return to the hutch upon reaching 25 and only return to the field once all others had either been dismissed or retired in the same way.
This format, though admirable, was to be Wanderers Achilles heal. Still, a match that includes everyone and is played in a spirit of both entertainment and competitiveness rightly dwarfs such analysis. Luke went out to attend the toss and, of course, Brittany used the result’s natural default to make a choice of batting first….
Brittany’s early efforts were hampered by a slow and long outfield that wasn’t being addressed by any aerial routing. Taylor Sombrero, Lord Sponge and Mr Lincoln were three of the opening four bowlers and went for less than ten runs each. The run rate gathered pace, however, once The Author was forced to bowl and others, although far more capable these days, entered the fray too. Batsmen Scanlon and Morgan retired at the 25 threshold and Mr Snelling, in his new part time bating role, tucked into some dangerous Fennell leg side long hops to ceremoniously join the retirees.
A left field record was probably broken by The Author in this innings which ended on 149 with Baker Joe the pick of the bowlers at 2-12. The most unfortunate, and most affable, batsman Valace was bowled by a Fennell delivery that actually pitched and did so in line. Whilst Peter may be able to cite shock as the cause of the castle this meant that a Fennell wicket appeared in the Wanderers score book for the first time in 19 years (May 1998). Probably the longest distant between wickets.
|Britanny All Stars|
|1||Valace P||b||Fennell I||16|
|5||Akroyd W||c||Naidu R||b||Baker J||22|
|6||Cox D||Not Out||11|
|7||Ward J||b||Baker J||2|
|8||Heard D||Not Out||10|
|Fall Of Wickets||45, 126, 132|
Nibbles were had in between innings. Not perhaps the original intention, but as Mr Slaymaker had made the effort to bring food in the previous day it was decided best not let it go to waste. Alas Master Wilson wasn’t present to give it full homage.
Wanderers replied at blistering pace. Ronnie and The Big Bear opened and, in a reversal of the previous innings, it was the opening five bowlers who took a clubbing. With the top five being initially placed in the score-book it was suggested that the rest may not be need- especially as the 50 came up in only the fifth over. Ooops….
You see, as I said earlier, everyone gets a game. And, in a strong sense, we get a better look at relative strength. Alas, on this afternoon, the robust top order of Wanderers made way for a soft, well, rather squidgy, underbelly.
The Big Bear and Ronnie were retired to the hutch. Baker Joe made 16 (including a rare six) and Mr Lincoln rolled back the years wielding the bat like a caveman’s club. Unfortunately, batsmen six to eleven could not even muster a retirement score between them, using up the overs in the process. Thus only 39 runs came off the final ten overs. With the order ran through Ronnie came to crease again needing to clear the boundary every ball for the match to be won. The reality was, through steady bowling, and clear all round ability, Brittany added cricket to their skittles success with a 19 run win.
A special mention here must go the Slaymaker. Wanderers current holder of the bowling trophy shone at the death. Four miserly wickets in two overs. His uncomplicated slow medium pace hitting the deck and forcing batsman to improvise, or in this case implode… A special mention to the other Peter for some competent keeping.
|3||Baker J||b||Cox D||16|
|4||Smith L*||Run Out||7|
|6||Johnson M (wk)||c||Snelling L (wk)||b||Slaymaker P||9|
|7||Fennell I||st||Snelling L (wk)||b||Valace P||4|
|8||Wadey D||lbw||b||Slaymaker P||5|
|9||Walker A||b||Slaymaker P||0|
|10||Salerno T||Not Out||4|
|11||Barrs K||c||Cox J||b||Slaymaker P||0|
Another day of fun and much merriment was nicely topped up with a couple of brews and a meal at The Duke. Lovely stuff.
The British summer, having decided that BREXIT means BREXIT, greeted our French friends last week with a first cricketing day of climatic misery. After all, a morning of dry weather with a depression moving in from the west- just in time for cricket- is the lot of a Sunday journeyman in these parts. Having realised that most of our guests were English anyway, and the West Indian among them would also be familiar with rain too, it eventually decided to try the tactic of turning dry instead. We were quite happy with that- and so was anyone else tasked with the job of tea preparation.
The festivities had started in the Duke of York Inn at Sayers Common- although The Author, unfamiliar with such a setting, had missed the jollities thinking that a watering hole with such a grand old title could only exist in an urban scrawl and got ready for an evening out in Brighton. It seems that, however irregular my appearance during, a season will always have a Fennell story attached somewhere.
As Wanderers and the Brittany All Stars (some folk troubled when spelling the region of our southerly neighbours) made there way to the ground for the first match ominous clouds hung overhead. Muggy and dark an hour before play was due to start, it was soon raining heavily. The track at Sayers Common, in common with most clay soil in Mid-Sussex, holds water like a grudge and play was thus called off very quickly.
So what to do. Well, the starts of Brittany seemed less bothered by this eventuality as they were mostly still in the pub. And why not ? So accepting the weather’s poor judgement of inconvenience, a spontaneous and happy gathering was had. But there was not be an ending there. With an evening table booked at the Plough in Pyecombe a few hours were yet to be had. So a small convoy of cars made is way to Henfield for the first and unofficial challenge of the tour. A game of Skittles…
The teams were evenly divided according to, well, which cricket team they played for. The Slaymaker representing France. In fact, the games were billed as England v France- although it may well have been San Marino v France such was the thumping Wanderers took. French Dave (every team should have a ‘Dave’) and Mr Snelling were the pick of the overseas bunch. Six strikes were to be had on the french side with only Lord Sponge responding for the home team.
So Wanderers first match had ended in defeat without so much as a ball being bowled. But no-one seemed too fussed as some attendees then made there way to Pyecombe for a splendid evening meal.