Bereavement, Metaphysical, Thoughtful

Supernatural Elements of Pheasant Plucking – Really

There is no pleasant way to pluck a pheasant, the pheasant pluckers agreed.

‘You put the wing tips under your feet, so, and hold the feet in your hands, so, and you just pull, hellish hard,’ the domino players were discussing novel ways to disassociate the tasty bird from its feathers.

It’s quick, but messy.’

Ah, but if you get the knack you can disembowel it all in one movement, have a look on You Tube,’ — unlikely things you hear in a Welsh pub.

‘Layered with sausage meat and bacon and wrapped in foil and baked in the oven, that’s how I like it.’

And so, last night, I went to sleep thinking of the first time I tasted it – pheasant —  picked from the dried-out carcass of the left-over roast bird that invariably sat in my ex-father-in-law’s  massive but largely empty fridge, next to a half pint of dodgy milk and the stale eggs that made us ill, in the days before he re-married, when all there was to eat in the old patriarch’s brightly lit kitchen in the dead of night was the remains of his Sunday lunch and hard baked water biscuits; a Sunday roast, no veg or trimmings, but a roast nevertheless, is the benchmark of a proper home-life.  There was sometimes roast rib of beef, tender, pink and delicious, served with salt and there was always whisky and Canada Dry, whatever time of day or night that we arrived.

Last night I had a dream; other people’s dreams are very boring, but it illustrates something, something quite important that we all know but which I have rarely felt. 

Pop, he of the Sunday roast who has been dead for years and anyway long estranged from me by circumstances, visited me – a visitation.  He walked down our lane weaving through the puddles, in a tweed suit and a beige waistcoat (he usually wore a cardigan) but the buttons were still straining.  The wind lifted a layer of his unruly frizzy hair, darkened and restrained by repeated applications of Brylcream.  His small feet (size 7) wore good leather shoes, shiny and very stylish with leather tassels on the laces and he guffawed when he trod in horse manure which is odd as we do not have a horse.  He rebuked me for my directions; everyone gets lost when they visit us.

That’s all.

Afterlife is what I’m writing about.  Heaven, if you like.  Ghosts.   You can fill in the details but I woke with the glow of affectionate recall (Pop wouldn’t do love).  But there he was.

Thoughtful, Uncategorized

On your own at Christmas?

Husband, pillar of the church, run off with the Sunday-school teacher?  Partner of twenty years gone and died on you, after harrowing illness, leaving you bereft and penny-less?  Wife of even longer, your right-hand and practice manager (married to the job, not you, apparently), upped and off on the day you retired?  Daddy/ Mummy just gone to have some me-time — but what about me?  Gone to live with your grown-up daughter and her family’s just fallen apart?

That’s who we all were that first Christmas, the first Christmas after Armageddon, our own personal Armageddons — so what could we do?

As it approached we all knew that it would be terrible, that Day so laced with expectation and us with our open sores.

323feat Chris Tree

For the first time we realised that there were people who were alone, not freaks but people like us.  Not all strictly alone;  some had children, but all were bereft, abandoned.  We felt bad that we’d never thought of them before — you see good things do come out of bad.

On Christmas Day four women, all supreme in their own kitchens, their own Christmases, stood stirring around the central hob, with no vying for dominance, we stirred as one. Tom attended the Turkey and the children watched their new almost grown-up friend, almost a cousin, eat fire in the garden and had goes on his unicycle and tried their new diabolos and blew bubbles that made rainbows  in the winter sunshine.  When the sprouts boiled over we laughed until the tears ran down our faces,  it was the first time that had happened to me (the tears of joy, I mean) for years and years but, you know, it was to happen more and more.

After lunch, we lolled on the sofas and on cushions on the floor to watch the Queen’s speech, in the euphoria of full stomachs and alcohol, moulded to each other, inspecting singed hair and smelling slightly of paraffin, in comfortable congestion, like a pride of circus lions.

That was how we had our best-ever Christmas.