Accidental cat

I have a cat with an identity problem.

He thinks he’s a dog.

Now I have never owned a cat before him ( Lucifer)

I was working in community mental health I went out one sunny day in May to visit a new patient.

An elderly lady who lived in a first floor flat.

Just her an her cat

We sat and chatted for a few minutes when in comes the cat.

It’s huge and as it sat down it looked like a massive triangular door stop.

Wow I say is the cat pregnant.?

She looks at me like pissed in her teacup!

“No she’s fucking not !” She hisses

“She’s doesn’t go out of the flat!”

Okay okay! 🙈

I make my excuses and leave

“see you tomorrow

I call as I shut the front door

Me and my big mouth.

I vow never to comment again on the fat triangular cat!

The day after I return.

Her mood had to improved she opens the door and I follow her upstairs she’s muttering under her breath and the smell of cat pee is so pugnent I kick myself for presuming the triangle cat has ever been out side.

She stands at the top of the stairs cigarette hanging from her mouth pointing at the bedroom door.

Your fault she says

You cursed me.

I peep around the door there on the floor by a pile of rubbish bags is the much slimmer triangle doorstop cat licking three beautiful kittens

A voice behind me says

I’m drowning them.

Oh no I say I’ll have one and I’ll find homes for the others

She’s still scowling.

I’ll pay for cat food until they can leave their mammy.

And then we can take her to be neutered.

Still she scowls

Let’s go sit down and chat.

We talk about support and help she needs and I feel her soften slightly.

I call to the shop and pick up cat food and litter and a few packets of buiscits

Take photos of the kittens and ring the pdsa to make appointment.

Over the next few weeks we got to know each other better her guard came down as I took her out shopping and to the pub for a surprise birthday lunch.

Eventually the kittens we’re ready to leave Lucifer, Lola and Ragnar

All had forever homes and the triangle cat was neautered!

Just in case she left the flat again!

I took Lucifer home to my canalside cottage.

My first cat ever

My elderly dog saffie adored him he would try to suckle her and she would lick him soon they were best friends.

When saffie and I walked down the canal

Lucifer started to follow

Where saffie went so did our cat…

If a dog barked at saffie this crazy cat would warn it off with a hiss and arched back! They were inseparable.

Last year we lost our saffie she was 14 it broke my heart.

Lucifer pined for her

Every night 7pm stood at the door by saffies lead.

So of course we still go for a canal walk .

I’m sure she about walking with us too.

Me and my beautiful accidental cat 🐈

Bare brick walls & cheese plants (child mental health)

This is a clip from a book I’m writing about a dysfunctional abusive family in the 1970s and child mental health services at that time.

Thankfully now it’s much better.

He sat at a huge oak desk
The wall behind him was bare brick
A modern clinic for 1975..
A cheese less cheese plant as wide as it was tall stood like a gangly guard in the corner
Leaves reaching out like huge ten fingered alien hands
A photograph of the man at the desk with a woman and two children my age smiling at the camera
But in the photograph he wasn’t wearing a suit like he wears when I see him sitting at the desk. He looks different in the photo. Perhaps it’s his twin brother?
I’m holding onto the sides of the blue plastic chair
Swinging my legs.
They don’t touch the ground.
The only sound is the papers he is holding as he reads silently reminding himself of my last appointment.
I count.
The leaves on the cheese plant guard.
Leaning to my left to check around the back.
Fourty two I whisper.
He looks at me over his gold glasses smiles.
“Fourty two? It’s nice to hear you speak.” He says
I feel my face flush.
Nod my head
“Leaves I say on your plant”
Do you like counting?
I nod
‘Inside my head’
I count I sing sometimes I shout but I don’t tell him that.
So he says
“How’s things been at home this week.?”
I’m listening to the breathing behind me and the faint waft of cigarette smoke
I can’t see him but I know he’s there.
His presence is palpable.
He always sits in that chair by the door
Answer the doctor he says in his gruff voice ..
I look at the photograph. On the desk.
His eyes look kind
I look back at him holding his pen and I begin to count the bricks on the wall
Shit I think as I count
Things at home are shit always .
21, 22, 23.
Talk to the Dr the voice behind me says from the chair
Tell the truth .”
I swing my legs..
41,42,43..
She’s shy says the voice again.
Not ten mins before outside in the rain the voice had reminded me to keep my mouth shut.
Mimed turning a key and throwing it away.
“If you tell them ANYTHING the will put me in jail. You will go in a children’s home and you won’t see your mammy again. ”
I looked at the doctor smiled and carried on counting
77,78,79.
Until eventually it was time to go home to my Mam.

Words are powerful

My out look on life is for the best part always positive.

The power of positive thought and putting things out there to the universe has always been at my core.

Words are so very powerful I have never understood people who are constantly negative if you can’t say something nice shut the f@@k up (quote from my Nan) who was without doubt a wise old northern soul who was a million times wiser than Google.

Anyway it’s very rare that I visit my home town

I have relations there whom I have been estranged from for many years 30 plus.

Believe me I wish things were different but I accept that no matter how hard I try some things just can’t be fixed.

I have a dream sometimes where I am with a particular family member and we are having lunch in a cafe laughing and chatting and everything is as it should be.

It’s so vivid when I wake it’s completely real.

Like the dreams when we loose a loved one when we wake thinking they are still with us. Then we remember and it’s feeling that loss all over again.

You get the picture.

Well anyway I used to believe that maybe in time things would be different but they are not

I went back there. To my home town to see some old friends stay with then for a few nights.

One of my friends own a hair salon. She is a beautiful soul a fabulous hairdresser and if she can help or listen to a client she will.

After chatting one evening she tells me that this particular family member has been into the salon.

She sets the scene

“She’s just so rude” she says.

To all the staff. She’s always the same.

“She sits whilst having her hair cut and bitches about everyone and everything.

Then as she’s leaving she holds open the door and shouts over to my friend

“You know our Joolz,,,

Yes she says

She the precedes to say some awful and terrible things about me and my children.

For all in the salon to hear.

My friend asks her

Why are you saying this?

What do you want me to do with it?

“Tell her she says. I don’t care.

Then off she goes.

I laugh for a minute when I’m told. Nothing she says surprises me but this latest nugget was priceless. What goes on in her head I say.

My friend goes on.

“Joolz I said to my staff how are these two women related I’ll never know.

They are so different.”

I just know that’s how she is.

I don’t try to get into her head. It’s pointless.

To work out why she’s says such terrible and hurtful things.

Because only she knows or maybe she doesn’t.

I resolved along time ago that she won’t hurt me.

But hearing the things she says does hurt, On the drive home I could feel my anxiety level rise. Anger. I stopped on the Moors and allowed myself to feel it all

Recognising that’s the reason why I don’t go back home very often.

The truth is I accept that my dream of us together drinking tea and laughing is just that. A dream

I wake and loose her all over again.

I know she still after all these years is toxic.

But I still wish she wasn’t.

I know there is a lesson somewhere, hers and mine but I’m struggling to find it.

So I’m back home in Wales and I wish her well.

But that tiny peice of me in between dreams still wishes it could be different.

Maybe in another lifetime.

Mental Health Crisis

Psychosis, psychics, self harm, bi polar, scizophrenia , personality disorder,
Melting pot acute ward where there is no pecking order.
Underpaid over worked staff juggle back to back cefn coed hospital disorder
Meds trolleys doles out pills but they can’t numb the pain
Discharge sheets and promises of Oh! you won’t see me on this ward again.
Visitors checked for meow meow speed and weed
For untreated drug habits that the valium can’t feed
Drinks machine spews watery hot chocolate to visiting kids
Mam will be home soon
Mental health part of a broken system no way to live.
Talking therapies please.. your having a joke
ask your consultant again
But his eyes tell a tale of a NHS beyond broke
We are luckier than some views over Swansea bay
Other are shipping off to bridgend
There has to be another way
Cefn coed the big hotel on the hill
Looking over Swansea
Big red bricked Welsh dragon watching out for the vunerable bekoning them inside it’s walls there are beds to fill.

Over active mind.

Inside my head is where they rush.

Demanding to know

What was the name of the hand cream used by my mam when I was a kid

In a green tub, remember it had a tight lid?

It smelled of earth and was greasy too.

And if penguins had feet not flippers would they need shoes?

What was the name of the lad at school?

42 years ago the one who.broke all off the rules

Do I have a pen? I forgot to write

The recipe for curry Mike asked me for it, you know mam the one that I like..

Did I turn off the light the one in the yard?

What was the name of the film. with bridges that Clint Eastwood stared?

Is there palm oil in the vegan buscuits I bought?

Is that the cat banging the flap with a mouse that she’s caught?

Did I remember to shut down the damper on the coal fire?

If this rain doesn’t stop soon the river will get higher.

My hubby can sleep on an old washing line.

I might as well get up it’s almost quarter to five!

I wish I could banish the thoughts in my head

Or leave them downstairs with the cat.

While I sneak off to bed.

Mam. Market stalls and Pippa

 

 

market

pippa

1973. Age 8

Although Mam is ill she works cleaning three mornings a week for Mrs Cook. She says she has ‘No bloody choice if we want food in the cupboards as well as home brew she has to clean’

She has done this for as long as I can remember.

Mrs cook and her husband Norman live in a big posh house on Rain Rd facing the crematorium. Its two bus rides to get there and its like another world.

A huge semi detached house with a double garage bigger than our house. I love the smell when we walk through the front door Mam says its clean washing smell but i think it smells of happiness because that’s what Mrs cook is happy. She is a big lady she is always pleased to see me. Everything about her is just lovely.

We stand together in the huge leaaded bay window polishing brass ornaments watching the big black cars go down the long driveway to the crem sometimes we see smoke coming from the chimney. There goes another one she laughs. When it’s my turn they won’t need a car they can carry me across the road! I wish she wouldn’t say that I dont ever want her to die.

She and her husband own a string of butcher’s shops and a factory across town they have posh cars an E type jaguar I love and they had motorbikes huge ones that their son rode at the Isle of Man T.T. races when we polish the brass we polish the cups that he has won. But for all the money and money they are as down to earth as anyone.

Mam would go to do her weekly shop in the market she trapses across town for the cheapest of everything. Lennon’s supermarket then to Mrs cooks butchers Next door to the butcher is Jim Chorley’s toy shop.

It is packed with every toy imaginable. So whilst Mam stands at the counter getting her half a pound order. Half pound of stew, half pound bacon, half pound braising steak. I press my nose on the window of the toy stall working my way around the stall making a list in my head of all the things I’d like bikes and prams hanging from the ceiling. Action man, pop and spud guns, spinning tops, hoopla hoops, Spiro graphs, Lego, mechano.

I love this stall and stand there as long as possible picking what I want for Christmas or birthday or whatever is next. Then I see it, a Pippa doll, everyone in school has them apart from me and Wendy, they are on the telly I stand there singing the advert from telly in my head where ever you go Pippa goes too!

I don’t ask for it because I know what the answer will be. I am jolted back to the real world by Mrs Cook’s arms around me from behind. Hugging me smelling of clean cotton overall and fresh meat.

’Now then my little shy girl she smiles what you looking at?’ I smile and pointed through the glass at the Pippa doll.

‘What’s her name?’ I feel my face flush. ‘Come on tell Dolly! Whisper in my ear no one will hear.’ She bends down next to me. ‘Pippa’ I whispered. I hear Mam sigh behind me ‘she doesn’t need it don’t be bloody cheeky you!’ shes saying. I look down at the floor. ‘She’s never cheeky are you my doll,’ Cupping my face in her hands I love her smile and twinkling blue eyes.

‘Come on then!’ She says taking me by the hand. I look back at Mam shaking her head as we disappear into the Aladdin’s cave of Jim Corley’s toy stall.

Mrs. Cook asks the lady for the Pippa doll. ‘And some clothes,’ wow clothes as well.

She passes me the little doll it will fit in my pocket, and then she asks me which of the two sets of clothes I want. A pink suit or a red dress and boots I stand there staring! ‘Oh we’ll have them both!’ Says Mrs Cook

She pulls some money from her overall pocket pays the lady and passed the clothes to me. ‘Thank you’ I whispered, she wrapped me in a huge hug ‘your welcome doll,’ and she kisses me on the cheek.

And with a cheery wave she goes back on the stall to cheerfully banter with another customer. Me and Mam walk out of the market towards the bus stop Mam giving me a telling off telling me she’d told me before about asking for stuff when Mrs Cook was about.

I dont answer i’m too busy pulling Pippa out of her box! We sit on the back of the fifty five bus Mam chats to a lady from the top shops and I singing to myself dressing Pippa in her new red dress and boots. Before I know it Mam is ringing the bell and steering me down the bus with my hood its zip pinching into my neck. ‘Ouch Mam’

I hold onto the bars with one hand and hold Pippa with the other. The bus stops at the end of the street as we walked down I can see our next door neighbor Mrs Lewis is brushing the pavement outside our house.

I run down to show her my new doll. I sit on her step as she sweeps the pavement. She leans on the brush smiling at me.

‘What have you got there then chick’ she asks in her lovely cockney accent.

I hold out Pippa. She takes her from me stroking her hair; ‘well she’s almost as pretty as you!’

I smiled up at her. Mam catches me up wheezing and puffing on her inhaler. Shes always had a ‘bad chest but I look after her when shes not well.

‘Do you want to come and help me later when our Fred gets home?’ I’ll give you a shout and we can go clean his coach.’ Fred drives coaches taking people on holidays when he is home the coach would be parked across the street.

I looked at Mam ‘don’t you look at me she says back ask your bloody Dad!’

’Wont he be in the pub?’ Mrs. Lewis laughs. Mam scowls.

‘You know one day your going to answer me with your mouth instead of those big brown eyes! Fred will give you a knock soon.

True to her word after tea there was a knock at the door its Fred.

‘Come on then I hear you’re the new coach cleaner!’

‘ Go on then’ laughs Mam.

Fred holds my hand and we cross the road to his big blue coach. Pippa is safely sitting in my pocket. We clamber up the steps onto the coach Mrs. Lewis is at the back picking up pop cans and sweet papers loudly cursing school kids.

‘Come on then don’t just stand there! You can fit under these seats much easier than me.’‘ She hasn’t got a fat arse like you’ Fred laughs. Handing me a plastic bag. I crawl in and out of the seats picking up papers, cans and a couple of magazines. Fred follows me with a brush and a mop

By the time I get to the front of the coach I’m covered in dust and my knees are black! I sit in the driver’s seat putting my new doll Pippa by the windscreen swinging my legs pretending to drive. Across the street the front door bangs and Dad here striding down the path rollie in his hand smart jacket on. I watch him walk towards the coach.

He strides over stands by the door, ‘Look at me Dad I’m driving,’

‘Driving be buggered your bloody rotten dirty!’

‘ Sorry. Have you seen my new doll Pippa like my friends in school!’

‘ Yes! I’ve seen her. Bloody ruined you are.’

’She’s a good little help’ said Fred carrying the rubbish bags off the coach.

‘Going down the club Jimmy?’

‘ Aye for an hour you watch yourself crossing the bloody road and behave yourself for your mammy!’

‘ I’ll walk her over now’ says Mrs Lewis wiping her hands on her apron then taking my hand and helping me down the steps. Dad bends down for a kiss. ‘See you later think on now be a good girl.’ I will Dad I promise.

‘See you in the morning cock. Remember he winks!’ he squeezes my hand three times. I squeezed him back. That is his secret. Three times means I love you. See you later he says. I feel sick I hope not.

He stands finishing his cig while Fred locks up the bus. As we walked over to our house Mrs. Lewis mutters about men i don’t think she likes my Dad much.

‘ Ale and bloody fags!’ She stands at the gate while I knock on the door. Mam opens it ‘Look at the bloody state of you lady!’ ‘Sorry’ I hear Mrs. Lewis say behind me. she pushed a twenty pence into my hand. ‘ Go get in the bloody bath its run for you.’ I run upstairs into the bathroom undressed and jump into the warm water. The landing window is open and I can hear Mam still talking to Mrs. Lewis. I wash quickly then lay back and put my head under the water I can hear my heart beating. Its the school holidays now maybe Mam will let me sit up later? I pull the plug and wrap myself in the towel. Mam has left on the sink. My hair is all wet but I pull on my red slacks blue night dress and socks. Jump down each stair. Mam is sitting in the living room watching TV and knitting. ‘Where’s Dad gone Mam?’ ‘Now where do you bloody think? Down the bloody pub! He’ll be back when he’s run out of money. Drunken pig! He should bloody move in there!’

‘ What you knitting Mam?

A cardigan. For you!’

‘Can you teach me to knit?’

‘ Your bloody kitty pawed! I cant teach you’.

‘My sister was left handed and she can’t knit either!’ she continued.

‘ Can I stay up with you Mam there’s no school in the morning?’

Mam looked up from her knitting. ‘What the bloody hell have you got on? Get them bloody slacks off!’

‘ But I like wearing pants in bed Mam!’ then if the monster comes I can run fast and Its cold in my room!’ ‘You look a bloody state no more talk of monsters and its summer’

I sit on the sofa cross my legs under me and put a cushion over my trousers.

Lady jumps up beside me.

‘Get that bloody dog down.’

Lady pushs against me and we sit there together united!

‘I bloody give up!’

‘There is something bloody wrong with you.’

‘You can take them off before you get in the bed.’

’Go make me a cup of tea and you can stay down for a bit.’

I jump up running into the kitchen lady close at my heels.

Pull out the big box of matches and lite the kettle.

Wash Mam’s cup and put tea in the pot.

I quickly made a cup of tea and pour some milk into a cup for me, pouring some into a little into a dish for lady.

.’Shhh! Don’t tell Mam’

She looks up at me lapping the milk and I’m sure she knows what I say to her.

I carry Mam’s tea in put it next to her on the Cornish sit down with my milk.

Lady pushs the door and jumped back up beside me.

I lean over the sofa and picked up my book. Then snuggle down with lady. I turned the page and before long I;m lost with Peter Pan and Wendy.

Mam sips the hot tea looks over at us and shakes her head. she shakes her head a lot.

‘Okay you lie on there and read .Let me watch are you being served.’

Mam sits knitting I drink my milk and lie on the sofa with lady. I fall fast asleep with my book Mam shakes me telling me its time for bed.

‘ Come on get up. Your Dad will be in soon.’

‘Come on up the bloody dancers.’

I get up and sit on the stairs waiting for Mam to let lady back in.

Its raining she comes back shaking herself and runs upstairs before me. I shut the bedroom door, as Mam shouts ‘Don’t let that bloody dog on the bed!’ ‘I wont! Night Mam.’

‘ And take them bloody slacks off!’

‘ I have Mam’

I lie sliding into bed. Lady jumps up and settles by my belly.

As soon as she lies beside me I fell warm and safe. Me lady and Pippa.

If any monsters come Lady wont let them in she will bark and growl and wake Mammy up.

In a flash – I’m back

Sometimes I’m still there.

Suddenly.

Unexpectedly

Without warning.

A smell, a taste, a song.

Catapulted at the speed of light.

Flick of a switch.

A blink of an eye

A tactile cine film begins.

It’s running inside my head in high definition

I’m suspended in time.

Back in time.

A prism of light of dark of terror.

A different dimension a parallel world.

It will always be there never very far away.

Operating on a different frequency

Like an old valve radio slightly out of tune.

Then that something, anything turns the knob,

Adjusts that channel pulls the two dimensions together

Past and present become one

Jolting me back into the nightmare

Silently I’m screaming but I know that no one can hear me.