Wired support.

Sitting here

in my orange peel recliner (built for good looks and bad backs alike) I percolate and inwardly bubble with empty fire of this second coffee steaming within this freshly brewing new day.

I am waiting for the next installment. The kettle to cool for the phone to call, for that burst of new light upon my parents dance trip and fall within the chaotic rhythms of multi-infarct-come-Alzheimer’s  dementia.

A mixed picture indeed. An avalanche waiting to be side-stepped, to be witnessed on this hands free phone, 250 miles away from her tightly constrained stress and his unsteady brain freed body.

Yesterday, she was able to talk for a few moments. He had slept through the night for the first time in 3 days. She had stayed up, despite her own extreme sleep deprivation, driven to make sure he was still dry, still breathing. That he was resting, breathing, not wet, not………dead.

Still dry, still breathing, still……. not…….. dead.   

Still dry, still not………. breathing, still….. my guilt, still…….. my awful thoughts  that he’s still………not………. dead.

Of course, these thoughts, these fears are unspoken between us. Obtuse and hidden but constantly nagging within the haze of his and hers and my heart.

This wonderful, kind, supportive, generous and knowledgeable man reduced to this…..

This fear of his continued relentless demeaning demise, this disintegration, this nearness to wetness and discarding of all to dust and separation.

All of this oozes through the telephone wire.

All of this and more, spumes into my earpiece and swallows dark lumps into the pit of my soul.

This lack of control, this inability to stop the march of his illness, to be able to support her caring, to know how to discharge my role as distant, eldest son, all this and much much more lodges layers of grey bubbling silt deep into my stomach, rests large lumps of darkness deeper, deeper still….

Still breathing……still waiting to breathe once more…….and much much more….. for freshness and clean clear cut boundaries, for release of pain and deep gulps of air…. and

And I miss the content of her words, her brief  briefing of the past day’s events.

As soon as I notice my drift into the stereoscopic cotton wool of my own self spun anxiousness, I try to  re-waken to her voice,  to clear my eardrums, to be there for her, but I fear I am again too late

‘Got to go darling,’ I hear her say,

‘He’s up again, holding himself. He’s wandering and fiddling and I think he needs the loo, best catch it before it’s too late again…….

Speak tomorrow darling, anytime after 11, hey?’

And now after my own spacious brand of sleeplessness, it is that ‘anytime after 11’ time, it is that tomorrow, it is that pulsing immediacy where and I am once again tragically, pathetically reluctant to pick up and phone home, and so…..

I pour myself into the much easier task of re-boiling the kettle once more.


Emerging within this new day

And so, a different approach to curating this moment by moment life. I write in a soft blur that comes while emerging from an ear ringing, heart pumping early morning meditation.

I have been staying at my parents rented flat over the past weekend. This is a pause before the 200 mile journey back to my own home town, a time to spend reflecting on the experience of writing this blog over the past few months. A time to digest the emotional impact if these past three days.

I would love to taste, to express a more inclusive spontaneous and free-flowing life. Something somehow, more precious, right now.

Maybe this blog can help with my aim of opening my heart to whatever  flowers and withers within my vista.

November and December saw me meet an exhaustion of body spirit and mind that  although well masked, drove grey tiredness into the very centre of my bones. I have not written here during this time.

Sitting here on this first day of 2018, with the starlings and woodpigeon calling from the exposed rafters in  the adjacent, half finished buildings, with my parents asleep and relaxed in their bedroom, with the boats rocking gently in the grey-green marina directly outside this second floor flat window, I can sense a peacefulness tinged with the fizz of apprehension and the unknown.

Will they be able to stay here? Will they be separated by dint of ill health and old age creeping upon them at different rates? Will I be able to live up to my mums expectation of being able to sort out the social work assessment and  unravel the financial implications of increasing care needs?

It seems that my dear step dad will, probably, need residential or nursing care quite soon. Yesterday he could walk and hold a knife and fork and was content to spend hours   sleeping lopsidedly in his old leather chair. The day before he was fighting the wonderful, humble and gentle carer as she tried to wash him and change his pad, he was unable to work out how to unlock his knee joints to sit down and had developed a yellowish-blue tinge that seem ominously, unspokenly sad.

And now, with the scorched grass on the distant mud flats beginning to recover from last nights wind driven bonfire, with the plastic corks and purple glitter, with the party hats and burnt out firework casings absorbing the damp still pavements and walkways, I gaze out beyond these floor-to-ceiling triple glazed upvc windows and wonder what this year has in store.


Six degrees of desolation


On top of my mantle shelf I have a silvered old army photo, shimmering like dew  between green glass, hidden behind later digital additions to my Mower family archive. It is of a grand-father I never knew, a man that my dad hardly knew either. He has kindly eyes and my overlarge nose.

He is to me a fatigued silvering ghost, merely a man whose urge to serve became his untimely watery grave, and more so than this, he has over the years, become an intimate deeply seated sliver of the ‘untarnished mirror in which Eternal images constantly dwell.’

Did he, did this figment of my lineage, manage to free himself from the confines of that landing craft? Or were you, Mr Mower Snr, shredded by shrapnel upon that fateful World War 11 Anzio beach? Or were you merely mown down in the waters before your feet hit the rocks and sand?

April 5th 1944. Shot. How many times I do not know, but Dead, you were most definitely shot dead only three days after my father’s second birthday.

When was it written that that swim was to be your drowning last?

How long did you believe the offensive lies, how long before salt brine and Italian sand mixed with you and your blooded brothers in arms?

William Edward Mower: Wiltshire Regiment. My unknown grandad, ripped from this world aged 31. Permanently stripped from kith and kin on that April day. Sacrificed to be dug deep, alongside 2,025 other souls whose eyes and mouths and flesh were raked with bullets and mortar and then scraped upon sand to be disappeared within the regimental lines of Italian marble and stinking mud.

I know the facts that came after you, but none about you as a living breathing man.

I see a digital copy of a grave stone that says ‘In ever loving memory of a dear husband and daddy, we loved him so dearly.’ Such tender words concocted by my grandma, not so long before she quickly remarried and birthed two new additions to her three grieving sons, who in turn became uncles and aunties who gave cousins aplenty, that in between the funerals are largely invisible to me.

But what emotion for the loss of William Mower can there really be inside of me? What connection can I have to the history of a name which, until my late teens, I never even knew existed. What connection to a name I never saw in the flesh?

To a name as distant to me as the non-related:

William Henry Mower: a Deck hand, lost at sea aged 23 on November 3, 1914. A ‘Drifter, husband and much-loved son’, a body never found, a name among 36,068 etched into marble plaques at Tower Hill.


William Charles Henry Mower, a Lance Seargent, dead to this world on May 18, 1915 aged but 24, but one of the 13,482 dead and deeply lost in the rows of Le Touret Memorial, in the Pas de Calais cemetery.


William Mower, you, a Private Royal Scot dying from unrecorded events within the 13th Battalion on the 11th day of May, 1916. You with no middle name and no age to die. You, also snuffed out to lay with another 20,661 in another memorial in the offending death sprawl of Pas de Calais cemetery.


William Percy Elves Mower, a Light Railway Sapper of the Royal Engineers who died 18 July 1917, aged 25, ‘One of the dearest, one of the best, now in Gods keeping, Safe at rest,’ buried with 10,120 more in West Vlaanderen, Belgium.


William Harry Mower, the Sick berth steward, aged 33 whose family paid 3 ½ d per word to change your profession to Royal Navy Petty Officer, to honour your July 9th death, re-chiselling new words sometime after your 1918 demise. New words to weather upon a headstone to cover your bones while buried at home in Norwich. You too a William Mower long dead and buried with 533 of your fellow wartime casualties.


You six: carrying the same name but not necessarily the same blood-line as I.

You six: nestled beneath the sod and stone with 80,884 other disparate desperate souls.

You 80,890 dead: mere fragments of the millions upon millions destroyed, maimed and grieved during wartimes aplenty.

You: countless human beings blooded together into State sponsored graves by Governing bodies who charged families for headstone inscriptions, no doubt as some form of balm for officially guiding sons and daughters, husbands and wives, into a kill and be killed vortex of mad desolation.

You: countless endless mass of disappeared flesh and bone, Should I stand to honour you upon this upcoming eleventh hour, of the eleventh month of our yearly gathering of collective despair?

Should I stand to grieve for an unknown intimate family member? Should I hang my head for all courageous cadavers ever unseen?

Should I stand to say, ‘Shame on you, you insatiable wasteful warring whoring Nation States?’

Should I stand to say, ‘There but for the grace of God go I?’

Yes, this year I think the answers ‘Yes.’

This year, with renewed hope, with white and red poppies held aloft, I will in silence make my stand.


Disconnecting love

My dearest step dad sleeps and barely speaks.

My tired mother has shrunken further into the role of carer.

It is indeed a painful joy to visit them this week.

Only four months ago I was shaken by a decline, that now seems like a time of erudite conversation.

After that visit I wrote the following:


Edward and Mrs Jones

He gently asks his wife of 31 years

‘excuse me

but do I have a bed for tonight?’

No longer sharing evening TV

dinner soaps

picking at his food with bare fingers

he smiles at her or

un-certainly launches a friendly face in

that direction.

‘Do you remember who I am?’ asks

my mother

that she, that other sitting

and eating there

all by herself in the distance.

‘Yes, I think I do’

and they return smiles within a

pause of concerned and bemused


Looking above his half rim specs

‘I think,’ he says

‘a long time ago

we probably

had sex


‘Oh good God’

silently with pierced heart my

mother tries to start, to start,

to restart them both.

Showing him a recent

anniversary card upon the table

‘there, there,

there,’ she says

‘look at it then,

it says grandma and dad, step-dad,

father and mum,


31 years gone by,

see, that’s you and

that’s me.’


‘Oh yes,’ he says

‘um yes

very nice indeed


very pleasant.’

And brushing the embossed lettering

he says,

‘hard with things on it.’


‘Yes my love it’s our anniversary

card,’ she says, ‘remember?’


And after staring into the far

cornicing for another split second of

for ever, he adds

‘excuse me’

placing the card to one side

‘but I must go now,


looking for a bed



‘Yes, ok Ed let’s go do that’

and Mrs Jones stands taller than she

has been all day.


‘Come along then my soldier,’

he hears that other person say

‘let’s go wash your face and brush

your teeth hmmm?

before I have to send you on your



‘Yes,’ he says, beaming within her

sing song voice

‘I used to put happy on my…

here,’ he says rubbing bristles and


‘yes put happy

happy, and go out, out’

Eds points to a place beyond joint

pain and yellowed teeth.

‘Are you talking about aftershave my


‘Yes, happy,’ and reach, reach

reaching to stroke her face

‘happy, on here.’

‘Yes, yes my dear,

I remember that too, but

your breath stinks, so

it’s off to the bathroom

and then beddy-byes for you



Remembering my little nana


Crotchets and quavers clipped and piled high in an over spilling bun escape

in sun baked wisps. They lightly caress  pink dry skin, soft and smooth

to the touch.


Her eyes, washed out in blueness, sparkle when she laughs

and offer 40 watts when she does not.


While  eye-lashes hide twenty-four seven,  eye brows that met long ago

have been pencilled and plucked into surprised submission.


They work in tandem with thin white lips that gently form and reform

as she listens, as she microscopically shapes and reshapes  the words

in other people’s speech.


Her quick smile is my full stop.  She’s engrossed, bursting, ready and primed

to hear about the green-eyed alligator I discovered in the back garden.

For me to tell, to embellish upon facts that will never quite



She Ooo’s  in my mid-sentence and her face tends towards the conical.


Her ears hang like pork chops, all flaccid and flexed on a left lobe tug of



I want to pinch her fleshy nostrils, pinch and release

her yellow worms,  pinch and release  and watch as they

wriggle free from their black-head bed. As they come rest upon

my finger nail.


The base of her neck is sacred; Yardley, Ponds, and misshapen bone.


Light down at the side and under her chin can be caught by the sun

but not by the tweezers. Last night one morphed into a spider’s leg,

it gripped close to the flesh and hurt upon nursing extraction.

It left behind watery eyes and a fresh red bump covered in beige.


When unobserved she sags, pink gravitates to grey and sadness

overwhelms her surprise. It nestles into well-trodden paths,

drawing tiredness and damp to the surface.

Meeting my un-metered form



Mists hide your contours within my tired mind.

Big fists smoothed into soft crossed painter’s palms,  tenderised by formaldehyde and time long gone from indistinctly grey days of soul stoop carcassing, plumbing fingers in the frozenness of Barrett Homes, to solder on with septic chores for family woe that ripped your flesh down to the bone.

Pathetically, I edge away from the now and from late of you.

From the laying still, still laying there, a body sunk within the folds of your first and last light grey suit, avoiding the strangest taste and semblance upon half remembrance of lips too prominent and skin too old to.

Diagonally, upon one knee I squint upon the maleness of my ancestry.

On crow’s feet and disbelief I try to catch a breath, to reach beyond this, dis-ease-full-ness, to casket grip my way towards something even, as yet, cannot and will not be connected even unevenly to heaps of bones and sombre slips of workmanship within this cold un-metered room.