“I said mama we’re all crayzee now.” SLADE.
In fairness to Mum, she never turned up to visit me unannounced. Once in a blue moon she would ask to drop by and I would spend a week cleaning up, hiding a million things, including the fact that my boyfriend was living with me. And sometimes a number of other strange people at any given time, most of them with aliases. (Pedro and Budgie? Yeah, I’m talking about you.)
I said never, it would be more correct to say once, she did. It was early evening and a group of us were hanging out, smoking and listening to music. We were expecting another couple of friends, and had not yet been busted, so were not as paranoid as we would be in the future.
There was a knock at the door. I got up and went to open it. Mum was standing there. I panicked, surely turned white, said wait a minute and slammed the door. Right in her face.
“Clean all this shit up!” I yelled at everyone “and hide”. You have never seen a bunch of stoners move so fast. I could hear loud banging on the front door. Bang, bang, bang, CRASH.
Mum, and those who knew her will surely remember this, wore a ring on every finger, on some she had two. I particularly remember a bishop’s ring on her pointer, with a stone the size of an small egg in it, and a half sovereign mounted in a setting that had the ring standing about half a cm above the finger that she wore it on. The other eight, were bits and bobs. Yes, eight, her thumbs had rings too.
We had an old door with a stained-glass window in it. Mum’s thumping on the door smashed two pieces of the glass out, and she seized the moment. Putting her fist straight through the gaps, she opened the door from the inside.
She walked into the empty living room, windows open, music playing and a still warm bong in the middle of the table. My boyfriend sat on the sofa sketching on his drawing block, a picture of innocence.
Now that I am a mother myself, I can only imagine that she was as scared as me. How on earth could I have know that at the time? I told her that I was so surprised to see her, and so ashamed at how messy my flat was, that I could only think of keeping her out until I could tidy it up. She asked me what the pipe thing was, and I explained it was from the guy next door who smoked Turkish tobacco. Luckily I did not have to come up with a reason for the five people hiding in the bedroom, clutching rolling papers and album covers. She did not find them.
Mum was a fireball. The kindest person you could meet, but also (seemingly) the scariest. She stuck to her religious values so fiercely it felt like she was not able to accept things that fell outside of that zone. I know now of course that it was her way of protecting and forgiving herself from her own past; falling pregnant with me out of wedlock, being adopted and not finding out about it until she was about to marry my father, a severe nervous breakdown when she was just 25 ….
For many years after the fist through the window episode I thought I had successfully gotten away with hiding my life from my mother, and that she was in a way naive. Maybe she was, I don’t know. She never asked, and I never told her.
It was those fierce religious values that gave me a foundation strong enough to save my life.
CQ of APJ
This was the same apartment that I had my first bust in, as told in my first Strange Tales. You would think I would quite simply have just not ever opened the door. But you live and learn. As we moved onto other flats, we started to have coded rings (no pun intended) and knocks. One learns.