Sunday, April 01, 2007

Uncle Tommy


20 silent years later, Uncle Tommy eventually said that he was the one who had to identify the body. He said it had turned black…. that’s what happens when you stay in the water for a few days until some unsuspecting lady walking a dog, discovers you.

Then he handed over some old black and white photos of him as a kid and an Easter card I’d made him before he popped his clogs, which he’d kept at his Mum’s house. At some point they said, they’d give me his portable radio.

Moving from Brighton with a young wife and a kid, to a northern ‘flat cap, pigeon keeping’ brewery town called Tadcaster, in the late 70’s on a council house swap is not a good idea, if you’re slightly unhinged and like a bit of a tipple and every third building is a pub.

The letter from the police said that, as soon as we got back from the yearly Dad-less caravan holiday to Filey, Mum had to go and see them.

The doctors said that they had never seen so much alcohol in a body in an autopsy. Then the local papers repeated the same story.

A few weeks after the drowning, the junior school bully came over and said she was sorry that Mr Laud, the form teacher, ‘had said those bad things about your Dad’ on the school day trip by the river earlier. I think that was when the forgetfulness started.

Now it’s all a jumbled up jigsaw of short stories and memories.

… A pissed up walk into the Sunday school hall, half way through a ballet lesson, Abba’s ‘Super Trooper’ playing out of the tape deck, to give the beetroot face teacher a tenner, for making his daughter happy.
… Doing a Dad search and managing to collect 50p from the all the skint blokes he lived with in the workingmen’s house.
… Sneaking through the Vicars secret garden together, to hide in the plants.
… Being given the special task of choosing a bottle of cider for him from The Spar shop on the hill.
… Trying snuff with his schizophrenic Mum, (my Gran), at 5 years old and cider with him at 6 years old.
… His Thursday evenings allocated time for a visit.
… An afternoon of, ‘tell me you love me’, always ending in a refusal.
… Crying together at a late night visit after another month of invisibleness, while Mum was working behind the bar at the British Legion.

The constant disappearing acts when he was alive, led to dreams and wants of discovering that he was actually in prison and not dead after all.

We never found out how or why.

He lasted Two Years in Tad.




Emily Turnbull

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