Friday, 22 April 2011

Ooh La La.

I have been called a lot of names over the years. ‘Fat Cow’ springs to mind. It is therefore hard to accept this new moniker of ‘Angel’ which does not sit at all comfortably upon my shoulders. Surely the definition of angel is a celestial being put on earth as God’s messenger. Pure and perfect. Divine. Spiritual. Superior to man in power and intelligence. Anyone who knows me well would read the preceding words and laugh. Uproariously.
The more I think of it, the name Angel Band has a certain je ne c’est quoi to it, alas I cannot claim it as my own as I am as flawed and as imperfect as every other human being on this earth. Hubby and I haven’t even done anything particularly kind, in fact as functioning members of the human race, I consider looking out for our fellow humans as a moral obligation. It is the right thing to do. It is as simple as that. And so the situation is this, a mum at my children’s school died last month. We weren’t best friends, but I liked her. She was very young and had four lovely children: a baby, a boy of 6 and a girl of 7 and a lovely lad of 17. They have different fathers and have thus all gone their separate ways, all except the 17 year old, who has no relationship with his father and, given his age - social services in their infinite wisdom, deem a grieving schoolboy of 17 needing the comfort, love and security of a big family, superfluous and so the lad has found himself, homeless.
Actually, I think that I can count the seconds of how long he was literally without four walls and a roof, around 180, or however long it was for his belongings to be driven from his old address to ours. The rest of the time was spent setting up his room for him, unpacking and plugging in his lovely telly. His mother had splashed out, with weeks to live, I guess you would. Given the trauma he has suffered over the past few weeks, losing his mum, his siblings, his home and a lot of his ‘stuff’, he is bearing up extremely well. I am proud of my children and my other lost boy for having welcomed him with open arms and treating him like a well used piece of furniture – albeit one that needs a little TLC, lest any more stuffing fall out.
I like to think that having him live with us has given him a chance. A chance to save his soul. God knows how embittered and angry he might have become if, when he needed to be shown comfort and human compassion most in his life, he’d been shunned. What gives me the greatest comfort is hoping that by holding out the hand of friendship, it has made him realise that the world is not such a bad place, and that he will grow up a fine young man and in turn do his bit. Lead by example, I was always told, although when one’s daughters strut around in high heels and make-up, that particular idiom does not work necessarily work in one’s favour.
And so that’s where we’re at, a great big family ever more like the Waltons than before. The house is filthy, the washing is piling up, ironing is now a number of items folded; food is served as though in a canteen, conversation is loud and opinions are vehement and emphatic. Nothing new in other words.
Getting out, I must admit, when Hubby wants me suited and booted by a certain time, is more of a challenge. Supper takes some planning. There are, depending on the menu, a lot of vegetables to peel, meat to cook, pasta to boil and bread to butter. My tea bag consumption has, since October, increased almost one hundred fold. A packet of biscuits lasts no more than 5 minutes, a tray of yogurts is eaten at one sitting and cocoa-cola is rationed, along with orange juice.
“There’s plenty of water in the tap”, I say, echoing my mother.
Of course, when one is in a rush because one’s husband wants you to look vaguely presentable, garlic butter has the habit of stymieing your efforts and last night was no exception. Lasagne, salad and garlic bread were the dish du jour, but as I retrieved the bread from the oven, the butter ran off the baking tray, down my sleeve and into my bra. It was hot. It was smelly. All I needed was a Gauloises hanging from the corner of my mouth and a jaunty beret atop my head and I would have looked and smelt, stereo-typically Francais.
Hubby was incensed, “For Pete’s sake Alice, there are four perfectly able bodied teenagers in this house. Two of them are legally men. Couldn’t you have delegated just this once?”
I ran upstairs whipping off my top and oily bra as I went. Luckily, as all the kids were chowing down, all were spared that sight. I mopped and scrubbed away at my skin until it was raw. I bent my head down towards my cleavage and sniffed heartily. Damn. I still smelt like a sodding salad. I threw on a clean bra and different shirt and all the time Hubby was roaring at me. It was a very fancy occasion, we couldn’t be late. I slipped my feet into killer shoes and for good measure, liberally sprayed some perfume over the offending odour. Hyper-ventilating, I ran downstairs and into Hubby’s arms.
“Dear God Alice, you smell like a French prostitute”.
“I most sincerely hope that you are not speaking from experience”, I replied loftily as I made my way to a waiting car.

1 comment:

DL said...

Laughed out loud (literally).

And I would agree with all those who are heaping praise on you, for coming to someone's rescue in his hour of need.

I also share your sentiments about Social Services.

All the best,
D. x