This one is usually referred to by his two ‘first’ name initials: GM. He has two ‘first’ names because his father registered him incorrectly on his birth certificate. Rather than call him his ‘second’ name it was decided to call him ‘both’ to avoid confusion at his schools in the future. He is currently at university in South Wales ‘doing’ a Creative Sound and Music degree. This largely involves being able to argue that any sound can constitute ‘music’ if it is intended and you can ‘hear it in your head’. This costs me a lot of money and he will be in huge debt when he eventually leaves to pursue a career in floating around doing anything which pays ‘money’ accepted by Tesco and all good food stores whilst knowing a lot of stuff to do with sounds.
Sickening slim and pretty. Likes to present herself as a ‘dumb blonde’ whilst dying her hair darker shades of plastic reddish red and varying degrees of purple to brownish-black. Works part-time at weekends in clothes chain. Spends one day a week at a riding centre for the disabled. Is also a dinner lady at my school after an appeal from an Assistant Headteacher for more help at lunchtimes co-inciding with me having to do the housework for two consecutive weekends. She earned the nickname ‘Needles’ from an elderly member of the family who spotted that she was actually ‘sharp as’ despite all her efforts to present herself to the contrary. She recently attained a Grade A for her Speaking and Listening unit in A Level Welsh – this has impressed me beyond anything ever accomplished by any member of my family.
After an accident in 2003 now lives in a bungalow adapted for the disabled in a small town in Mid-Wales. A wheel-chair user who is not allowed to make himself a cup of tea because boiling a kettle of water is a Health and Safety issue, he bombs around the locale in a four x four. His favourite meal is grilled bacon and mushroom gravy which I deliver to him every half-term in bulk. He has recently threatened Armageddon on the local old folk’s home for offering chicken as part of his meals-on-wheels deal. Knows all the tv channels by their Sky channel number.
It’s been a harsh year. Sad things have happened. Some could say ‘bad things’. Lots of little things and some not so little. It’s NYE and E. is at ‘home’ with Mr Well-Fit (my name for the new boyfriend more than hers) and GM is out and about. He has ‘defted’ his mates for ‘some girls’. 🙂 And I am at home – with my dogs and the fish. And Graham Norton. And Mark Walberg. And Kelly Jones on youtube. Apparently on my own, but actually have never felt so un-alone. And my dad is strangely the one person on my mind. Not the daughter who has left home, not the son who is out and about. My dad. ‘Cos I love my dad. I’m a ‘daddy’s girl’. Always have been and always will be. It’s why I have no problem with my own daughter being a daddy’s girl after all this time. I get being a daddy’s girl.
My dad is extremely good-looking. Chiselled cheek bones and a strong nose and jaw-line. Clint Eastwood. Which is why I think Clint Eastwood is the best looking man ever: he looks like my dad. No man loves a girl like her dad loves her. It is the love you’re forever searching to replace .. boyfriends, husbands – even sons. But no-one loves a little girl like her dad does. And no little girl ever loves and trusts and respects and is so in awe of any other man as much as her dad. Well, if he’s been half-decent. And my dad has been more than half-decent. He’s the benchmark for all other men I’ve ever meet.
My dad is not academic or intellectual. He doesn’t read books and can’t even follow the plot of even simple narratives in films. He doesn’t care much for music or art, and knows nothing of the theatre. Actually he suspects all ‘artists’, including his own grandson, of being ‘gay’ … in the effeminate way, rather than a sexual one. He’s a ‘petrolhead’ – a biker. A proper one – not a pseudo road-racer idiot, a proper mud-track, machine and man against the sod and the mud and the incline and the ‘others’ …
He’s ploughed up, literally, half of Mid-Wales, most of it at ridiculous angles no-one else had the balls to walk never mind get behind the steering wheel of a Ford County tractor circa 1970 to drive up and down. With bits tied on with binder twine and others hanging on in there having been banged and battered into God-knows what positions and angels through sheer brute force and man’s will against machine and metal. Hundreds of hours driving up and down hills pitched at nerve wracking angels, hundreds of hours of loneliness, and hunger, and tiredness … because in the morning it would be a school bus run, and later in the evening an animal-food stuff trip to Bristol hauling for the local animal provision merchant. Sometimes up to 20 hours a day. For weeks. And then weeks of flu. Wiping out weeks of wages and winding up mountains of debt like some sick clockwork toy.
And then even more hours of helping. If you’ve got a problem, who do you call? R. M. aka Morgan of Wales. When my mum died in February 1986, the coldest winter on record since 1939, every family for dozens of miles still sent a representative. I remember the stunning line of miles and miles of tall men and short men draped in dark, heavy over coats trudging up a short but sharp hill to the church. Few stayed for the ‘tea’ afterwards: it was simply too cold in a thin village hall offering a few white bread ham sandwiches and weak tea when the wind outside was cutting through the whole valley like a hot knife through butter. But is was testament to how heartfelt was the hurt and the respect for R and Rene, every family for miles remembering how one or the other had gone out of their way to help with small and big problems when no-one else could be found even mildly interested.
Not that my dad has always been predictable and pliable. He upset a few, physically and literally removing dogs and horses from their owners who were abusing them. It was not uncommon to be told to not go into this shed or that: the animal wasn’t to be disturbed yet – but it was never long before ‘the animal’ was totally compliant and adoring of my dad and safe for us to play with. Dogs, horses, sheep (his ladies) all have been under his spell – Dr Dolittle for real. Which is why when MY Starsky was the first horse to ever prefer me to him I fell so absolutely and totally in love with him! Perhaps if I’d loved my husband this much, I wouldn’t have ended up divorced. Oh well.
My dad is rubbish at DIY – doesn’t get computers and can’t cook anything more complicated that warming soup – tinned. But his values are the mainstay of our family: help others, love animals, never lie – the truth is never more shameful than being caught in a lie, and oh, yeah, help others- leave things, places and if possible, people, in a better condition than you found them.
And that’s what me and my kids do: we love animals, respect and care for the environment – for our planet. We help people – dropping bombs and screwing up all over the place but at least trying. And as a teacher, a police officer, a musician or whatever role we are in that day or however my kids eventually end up, that’s what we do and will always do, me and my kids – we at least try to leave things and people in a better state than we found them. It is the Morgan Of Wales Way.
The Brother is a mysterious and alien creature in many ways. He bears many family traits such as never being wrong and has the ‘most stressful’ job there is: he is a plasterer. He has three daughters: a 14 year old doing her GCSEs, a 10 year old who has a tendency to point out the blatantly obvious that others avoid verbalising and a 5 year old that is far too clever.
Despite not liking each other very much, I love my brother and he loves me. This can be very stressful sometimes but also creates scenarios of great hilarity to outside observers – many of which will be included in up-dates as we go.
Dec 2012 – Brother is currently in Australia – or somewhere between here and there. When he gets back we have been forecast snow. So after a month in the sun he will return to go sledging. This is not fair. E. agrees with me. We are not being childish.
Jan 2013. Brother is back from Australia. He has brought me Irish whisky from LA. (And a pair of kangaroo ‘nuts’.) My whisky bar now looks like a geography lesson – Knob Creek from his Scottish trip; Penderyn from Wales and now Bush Mills from the Australian adventure. Yes, it does sound like he is a right globe trotter while I stay at home and get pissed a lot.