Scenes from the Boden catalogue

Someone hell-bent on covering up their drinking habit from their wife has filled my recycle bin with empties. Yeah! I found them yesterday when I couldn’t fit my own shameful stash into the little green box.

They’re definitely not mine; they’re San Miguel bottles and l wouldn’t touch that piss with yours.

That said, it’s been half-term this week, and shorter days coupled with protracted child’s DVD viewing seem to legitimise earlier drinking. I’ll confess I’ve lost track of how much I’ve consumed, what I’ve consumed and where I’ve consumed it. But San Miguel? Hmm.

October half-term always brings out the worst in widowed me.

Kids seem to be running round everywhere shouting for their daddies; and daddies seem to be running round everywhere after their kids. It’s like living out scenes from the Boden catalogue.

I probably wouldn’t have noticed the ubiquity of dad-child interaction before Mark’s death. But these days my eyes appear to be set to Instagram mode, where every scene featuring dad and offspring has a soft-hued, nostalgic edge.

And dads seem to be so much more interactive since Mark died. They’re feeding rabbits at farm parks, whizzing down slides, singing loudest at music groups. They’re taking time to hone their Hallowe’en costumes in order to engage in door-to-door widow-baiting with their apple-cheeked families.

What happened to the good old days of mother as the primary carer? Prior to Mark’s death I rarely saw a dad. Farm parks were the domain of women and cake. Mother’s was the only voice you heard at Joe Jingles. Between Mark and me, I was the one with the repetitive slide-burn.

I swear, it’s enough to turn me to San Miguel. God, perhaps they were my empties after all.

Dave Myers’ hair as a metaphor for bereavement

Dave Myers’ hair isn’t the only tragedy of Saturday nights.article-2438145-185958B600000578-5_634x521

I bumped into a fellow widow in Sainsbury’s earlier (we get around, us widows) and we were discussing one of this blog’s favourite subjects – the tyranny of the weekend.

She agreed that the sagging void represented by the upcoming 48 hours was one of the worst things about finding yourself without a spouse. (That and the fact that your entire world has shrivelled to resemble melting Tupperware.)

A typical Saturday night for me is role-playing Timothy Lumsden with my Mother – but Timothy if he had a mobile phone and a drink problem. In fact, my Mother has been staying with me for a while for reasons I won’t bore you with here, so the Sorry! theme has extended throughout weeknights too.

And Mother has been observing. Clocking. Taking notes.

And she has brought it to my attention (through the medium of furrowed brows and mother-daughter telepathy) that I spend most of my evenings texting people and draining wine. While my daughter wears a groove in the laminate with her scooter.

Having thought about it, this is definitely a post-Mark’s death phenomenon. Endless messaging was not a feature of our evenings as a couple. I don’t even recall what we did in the evenings actually. Just existed, together, I suppose. Then retired to bed with our comics.

Now, I seem to rely on it. Live-streaming the outside world into my lounge has become part of my widow’s safety net. More evidence, if any were needed, of a regression to a sort of petulant grief-induced teenager-dom.

Mother has now moved back into her own house.

But I can still hear the sound of the brows knitting together through the wind…

Shits n’ giggles

Public Toilet

Public Toilet (Photo credit: ilovebutter)

This blog used to be all about shits n’ giggles.

You know; drinking beyond excess. Frolicking with the Plumber like a reckless youth. Buying loads of ‘things’. The comedic potential of dog ownership. A right old barrel o’ laughs.

I’ve noticed, and also had it pointed out, that it’s become increasingly maudlin as time has gone on. I assure you, it ain’t intentional. It seems to be the way grief is leading me. The first few months were like, whoah! What the fuck is going on here? Suddenly, from being in a relationship with the love of my life for ten years, (married for five), I am, for all intents and purposes, single.

What does this mean?

He’s not here, that’s what it means. And I can do whatever, or whomever I want! I don’t have to ‘check’ if I can go out with the girls for a night. I don’t have to ‘run it by Him’ if I want to go away for the weekend. I can sleep with whomever I choose, without explanation. I can spend money on whatever I want, (He never would have agreed to half the shit I’ve bought since He died). I can now make decisions about my daughter’s future singularly, without having to seek a second opinion.

In short, it’s back to ME, ME, ME. Freedom, George Michael-style. (With the exception of that unfortunate public toilet debacle.)

But actually. Erm. I don’t like it. The ‘fun’ is over.

You can come back now, love…Love? Love?

Him and her


This is Him, and her.

Hello. I’m having a glass of Rioja at the end of one of those ‘Oh sweet Satan’s ball-sack, I’m a TERRIBLE mother’ days. Will you join me?

I have had the emotional resilience of Wensleydale cheese today (crumbly, for all you non-Northern-English people). And I’ve been unable to toughen myself up.

And my child has both a) witnessed it and b) had to stay at my Mother’s whilst I spent time collapsing on the bed at home. It sounds melodramatic, but I swear, today, I’ve not even been able to THINK about, you know, Him, without going all Wensleydale.

I don’t know why it hits you like this. Anyone? Anyone?

If I’d even tried to compose a post earlier I wouldn’t have had the energy to press the buttons on the keyboard. Fortunately, Rioja has the same effect on me as spinach has on Popeye – it makes me strong to the finich.

It’s the school holidays and I’m up to my ears with the sound of kids shouting for their daddies. I’m sick of people rambling on about going on holiday together. I’m weary of people complaining about the forthcoming fortnight they’re going to have to endure with their husband and kids. I’d sell a kidney for the chance of a holiday with just Him and her.

“Are you cryin’?” My daughter asked me, as tears powered down my cheeks.


“‘Cos you miss Daddy?”

“U”- snort- “Huh”

She doesn’t say anymore than that these days. She just goes and gets a length of toilet paper from the bathroom and clumsily tries to stop the flow.

And I thought to myself today – with no level of profundity whatsoever – I thought, nothing really matters. Nothing.

All I want is you, Buble. Can you hear me?

It’s better than drinking alone

English: KitKat chunky. Français : Barre de Ki...

English: KitKat chunky. Français : Barre de KitKat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OK so starter for ten: The following lyric is from which song?

‘They’re sharing a drink they call loneliness / But it’s better than drinking alone…’

Answer at end of post. Scroll down there now if you can’t be arsed with a squiffy widow’s random ruminations on above quote.

In fact, my daughter, aged 5, selected this CD today out of a collection of thousands. (Mine amount to around twenty, the rest were His). We listened to it in the car and I was struck by the lyric, as I have been struck by many a song lyric since M died.

This tune involves barflies congregating around a piano, conjoined in mutual melancholia. It’s also a song about drinking, which has become as much a feature of my life as brushing my teeth and a morning brew.

The thing is – everyone is going through their own shit. I’ve lost my husband, I’m never going to see Him again. This has become my life and my eternal sorrow.

But I have come to recognise that my loss is relative to what everyone else is going through. People are fielding blows of their own. One friend has just found out her sister has cancer. Another’s boyfriend is on bail. Someone else is facing redundancy. My Dad visits my Grandpa in the care home every single day in bewilderment that the formidable character he knew and loved is now solely preoccupied by Kit-Kats.

We all invariably end up in the pub discussing and sharing our woes.

But it’s better than drinking alone, right?

An Argument for Staying Drunk

"The Hangover" (Portrait of Suzanne ...

“The Hangover” (Portrait of Suzanne Valadon) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Which joy-killing bastard invented hangovers?

Drinking is one of my favourite pastimes, one of life’s great pleasures, yet for some reason I am punished for it, horribly, the morning after.

Actually, I rarely suffer from them anymore (presumably my body has acclimatised to its post-spousal-death increased alcoholic intake), but today I genuinely considered asking the emergency services to come and administer something to make it all stop.

The usual alcohol-induced physiological atrocities were present, but I found that in addition to the sweating, the loose bowel and the retching, I was gripped with terror about the fate of my husband. In my paranoid, palpitating state, the fact that He was no longer alive seemed even more absurd, more obscene, more unbearable. I had to repeat the mantra, ‘M is dead’ in my head in order to believe that it had really happened.

I lay on the sofa while Saint Dick van Dyke entertained my daughter (by virtue of appearing in one of the longest, most convoluted children’s films of all time, he provided me with an extra three hours in which to get my shit together), but I could neither close my eyes nor keep them open, so I held them at a squint whilst I contemplated the fact that He had really gone.

M was the type of person you wanted around on a hangover. He took no pleasure in making smug jibes if I’d over-imbibed. Instead, He’d make me a bacon butty, give me a paracetamol and rub my feet.

Alcohol anesthetises against the sharper jags of grief, but lack of it the next morning brings reality into starker relief.

Abstention is not currently an option. Perhaps the answer is to stay drunk…

Menace to sobriety

Three days off the booze!

Enough to make me realise that sobriety has absolutely no redeeming features whatsoever, except to allow you to announce Three days off the booze! smugly in the faces of your hung-over friends.sobriety%20freeway%20exit

So far it’s caused insomnia (probably due to the fact that I’m so bored in the evenings I just go to bed), which in turn causes me to lie there thinking about M, which in turn makes me feel hopelessly empty and sad.

It’s caused almost complete cessation of my studies, as only a mind numbed by alcohol can begin to contemplate the bullshit contained within academic textbooks.

I don’t feel any better physically, emotionally or creatively. So what’s the point?

I went off it because of a bowel-loosening piece of propaganda I read in the doctor’s earlier this week. It stated that by regularly exceeding the advised 21 units of alcohol per week for a woman, I was almost certainly going to contract a hideous, if not terminal disease. In fact, as a long-term abuser, it was a foregone conclusion.

I totted up my weekly unit consumption according to their calculation of 10 units equalling one bottle of wine. You do the maths.

Immediately after M died, I was positively encouraged to get shit-faced – and the earlier in the day the better. Red wine for breakfast? Why not? After all, I deserved it! Now, 16 months on, it seems there’s less of an excuse.

My abstention ends tonight, however. I am visiting a friend for the weekend and we have to get drunk because it’s Father’s Day on Sunday and how can I possibly cope with that when I’m sober?

Any excuse…

Two fatal errors

English: cigarette butts

English: cigarette butts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The family weekend at my Dad’s was unusual in two respects – there were no arguments and I was first to bed. Granted, we’d been drinking since lunchtime, but I pride myself on normally being the penultimate one to stagger up the wooden hill at these events – Dad is always last on the pretext of ‘locking up’, which is shorthand for a whisky nightcap. (Gotcha!)

This time, however, I was tucked up by eleven, shedding fat mascara tears onto the pillow. It was my sister-in-law’s fault. She has the misfortune of being a good listener and a pragmatist, and also had a soft spot for M, all of which combine to make her a lamb to the slaughter in the face of my mental state.

She made two fatal errors. Earlier in the day, she mentioned Him in conversation. No-one EVER mentions Him. Indeed, she went so far as to reminisce about a time when He was alive. Then, much later, she invited me outside for a cigarette and put an arm around my shoulder. Consequently, she bore the brunt of an emotional eruption of seismic proportions. She stood, helpless against the onslaught and said, finally;

“I’ll dispose of the fag ends. At least it’s one thing I can do to help you.”

I’ve been weepy for days, so it was perhaps inevitable that a sun-soaked, booze-fuelled family gathering without my beloved family member was going to be tough. And the reality is, there’s nothing anyone can do. Except dispose of the fag ends.

Inverse proportionality: bereavement and wine

English: Alan Carr at The British Comedy Award...

English: Alan Carr at The British Comedy Awards 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My relationship with alcohol since losing M reminds me of the joke my Dad tells:
Fred: I drink to forget.

Jim: Forget what?

Fred: …I’ve forgotten.

Someone, somewhere, must have done a study into the relationship between alcohol consumption and bereavement. The level of shit one is going through at any given time is inversely proportional to the amount of wine drunk, and the sudden loss of a soul mate must be up there with the worst of the shit. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been an enthusiastic booze-guzzler (it’s genetic), but a bottle a night doesn’t now seem to touch the sides.

School pick-up comes around and I feel my taste buds agitating for the Rioja which I know is sitting on the kitchen bench back home. I do, however, wait until 5pm to start drinking – any earlier would seem indecent, especially on a weeknight. Perhaps even more indecent is the televisual viewing legacy I face the next day – I turn the box on and find the last channel it was tuned into was QVC. Or worse still, the one showing Alan Carr.

Drinking doesn’t make me forget, but it releases endorphins which make me believe I can cope with the enormity of the loss. Oddly, wine consumption brings a clarity of thought which is absent during the day. By morning though, I’ve forgotten what I was so clear about the night before and find myself referring to this blog to find out what the fuck I’m on about.