This morning I looked out of my window. Properly looked out, not a peek or a 2 second glance or a white van vigil, I did a proper stand-there-and-SEE look. And what I saw is SNOW. And it reminded me of meine Mami so I thought that seeing as I’m thinking about her today, I might as well tell you a bit about her.
Shortly after my dear dead Daddy died meine Mami upped sticks and left England for a little wander round the world. She’s still wandering and the last I heard she’s somewhere in India, living in a hut on a hill with a guru Yogi who millions of people worship from far and wide – well, good luck to her, I say, she’s living the youth she missed out on. She and dear dead Daddy married young, she was only 16 when she had my brother and she spent all of her young years looking after the three of us. She deserves some happiness and freedom, god knows I wish I had some too. The only thing that worries me is that when she decides to come back she’ll have changed from being meine Mami into being someone else, a stranger, a WOMAN.
Meine Mami was the best mutter in the world when we were young. In most ways. Some things weren’t so good, like the communication problem between her and the rest of England – she only spoke a smattering of English and we didn’t speak any German but she refused to teach us, getting angry when we tried, pointing at us and shouting ‘Englander! Englander! neine Deutsch in zis haus!’ I say she shouted at us, she didn’t really, it was just that her voice ranged about 600 decibels higher than the rest of the human race so it seemed as though she was shouting but she wasn’t – you knew about it when she did. The call for mealtimes shook the house ‘NOW ZAUZAGE. NOW ZAUERKRAUT. NOW HERR KIPLING’S EXZEEDINGLY GUT CAKEZ.’ Every day when she came to pick us up from school she’d stand at the school gates and call ‘SCOTT-EEE, DOTT-EEE, LOTT-EEE, HERE AM MUTTER, HERE AM MUTTER,‘ every day, every single sheissey day of my school years, louder and louder as I slunk further and further down in my seat. The whole school could hear her. She thought it was the best school in the world, all that hilarious laughter coming from it at the end of each day. She didn’t realise they were laughing at US. And I didn’t have the heart to tell her, or the words, come to that.
Going shopping with her was just as bad. We’d trot off down to the market every Saturday morning, me and Scotty and Lottie running in front, looking for a hiding place that we knew wasn’t there. We could never outrun her, her stride was equal to ten of our steps. Most of the stall-holders knew us so that was all right, they’d have her fruit and veg bagged up ready and waiting and all she had to do was pay. But if a new stall appeared her eyes would light up and she’d march over, ‘SCOTT-EE, DOTT-EE, LOTT-EE, FIZH UND CHIPZ,’ or ‘SOHN TROUZERZ, SCOTT-EE’ or ‘TROCHTER BUMNICKERZ, DOTT-EE UND LOTT-EE. RED VUNS, BLUE VUNS, PINK VUNS, VHITE VUNS,‘ and she’d hold up every pair of knickers in our size to select which she wanted to buy. And the stallholder would tell her the price, ‘Three quid, love.’ And off she went, ‘NEINE, NEINE. AM PAY ZWEI PUNDZ, ZWEI PUNDZ, DU ARSCHGEIGE, ZWEI PUNDZ,’ and she’d stand there, unmoving, till the stallholder took the two pounds just to make her go away.
No, I’m sorry, I can’t do this, I can’t write about her any more. I’d planned on writing all day, nice things about her, twee little stories of when Scotty, Lottie and me were young but I can’t remember any and now I’m wondering if there were any to remember in the first place because every single thing I think of is not good and I don’t know why. Seeing the snow outside this morning – I must have hallucinated the rosy glow of nostalgia because I used to dread the snow coming – when it did she’d stand at the school gates calling for us while she threw snowballs at the school windows and at the other parents and at any teachers who dared to step outside to ask her to stop. She’d throw and call and laugh and throw some more and Scotty, Lotty and me would have to wait outside the empty school when everyone else had gone home because dear dead Daddy was working, but before he came to collect us he went down to the police station to pay her bail and drop her off home to get the tea on.
I’m going to have to stop now and have a little lie down.