So, I just spent a long weekend back in the Green County. My family from La Spente were up in Royston Vasey as well. I have a lot to write about, I suspect most of you are going to skim at most so I’ve divided it up into neatly labelled sections:
Going back to The Green County on the train is something that I love, and not just because I enjoy trains, the scenery, once you get out of Manchester is glorious. To be honest I even enjoy the route into Manchester, theres something I love about the layers and levels of cities, Manchester especially. The windows and windows in the brickwork that looks straight out of Lowry even on a fine day; the canal that at once runs under the bridges and over the roads and between the rail tracks and the walls, the new developments that, because of the angle you see them from the train are up against the old and fading adverts from twenty years or so ago, peeling paint and sparkling glass.
Of course once you’re out of Lancaster then you get to cross moors and pennines and on until you’re into pleasant English fields topped over by gorse and heather and real land. Then the sky really opens out and presses onto the land, suddenly everything is flat and the fields go on forever, outlined by dykes and ditches and canals. I could never live in the Green County but Larkin resounds in my head and for a few moments it almost feels as though I’m coming home. Then I start sneezing and I wish that I really was going home, back to the Jellicle Cat.
Lancashire, Cumbria, I like it here, Lancaster’s pretty and small enough for a rural girl like me not to want to kill myself and it’s near enough to real land that I can find sheep skulls easily enough. Now I sound like Rat – if I start drying small rodents and mammals in the backyard someone stop me?
I have no idea how to explain my family, I mean the French part. They aren’t actually related to me, I always used to describe them as kind of like my French family but that always used to confuse people. Whenever I say Twinning though people only seem to know Twinning Associations as being to do with town councils and sod all else or else just really bizarre set ups that do visits for a few years and thereafter arrange school exchange programs. Royston Vasey and La Spente aren’t like that. In Japan it was always easiest to explain, pretty much everyone in Japan understands the concept of the host family and in Japan you might do it for a week or a few months but that means you’re still sending Christmas cards thirty years later. So all I had to do in Japan was say my french brother and everyone understood what I meant. Now I’m back and the concept of my french sister/brother/mother/father has everyone confused again. The relationship is like that of cousins rather than sisters and brothers in anycase, we’ve seen each other every year like clockwork for the past (officially twenty so in reality that means) twenty twoish years. Quick rundown then: theres Mum, Dad, the Princess and her boyfriend the Honorary Bitch and me (and my boyfriend The Jellicle Cat), on the French side theres GSOH, Le Musician, Ma Souer and her boyfriend Le Geek, Ma Frere and his girlfriend Flower and they’re… well family, just not actually related and French. My French family is so much quicker.
The Weekend’s Activities
I was met at the station by Dad, Ma Soeur, Le Geek and Le Musician. Conversation in the car home was somewhat stilted as they told me all about riding in planes during the day – all at once in French, English and the everpresent Franglais and I struggled not to listen in Japanese. I was quite glad to see Flower and Mon Frere, GSOH and of course my Mum when I got home, theres something easy to place about that lot (even Flower and Le Geek who are, relatively speaking, new) drinking in the kitchen. I put up the tent in the back garden with GSOH and Le Musician (Mum and Dad both thinking I was mad) and then came in for a little aperetif…oh yes, I was back in Royston Vasey. The Princess and Honorary Bitch turned up later that night on the back of Honorary Bitch’s motorbike.
At some point that night I introduced Mum to one of The Blue Cat’s drinks, she liked it right up to the point when I told her I’d mixed her beloved cointreau with creme de menthe…the homemade version. It definately has more oomph than The Blue Cat’s normal version.
The next day it was up early to my favourite museum trip from childhood, and also (since it was her choice) Ma Soeur’s, which is to say Beamish. Steam Engines! I rode on a replica of Stephenson’s ROCKET!!! (I can practically hear FJ saying ‘Back in your box Suzanne’) It was a lot of fun and there was a fish supper when we got back to Royston. Saturday had a Treasure Hunt around the village and then a trip to Scunny Steelworks which included a ride on another Steam Train!
Saturday night was the big party, it’s officially been twenty years so there were announcements and presents and dancing. Looks like Tall Guy’s cheesy covers band is pretty good, when they did Tom Jones I wished I’d had a clean pair of knickers in my bag to chuck at the stage (and no, I’m not going to throw the pair I’m wearing at them, my Mother would never live it down, clean ones she could cope with). At least I got to dance on a Saturday night…the party was exactly the same as the ones I remember right at the start. I’m glad I was just visiting, it’s the same feeling I get sometimes around LURPs, the shivering, quivering, queasiness of reliability..ok, ok I’ll leave my insecurities for the next section.
Me and Mum danced till the band stopped playing around midnight…yeah Royston is even smaller town than Lancs…by an hour.
Sunday we were up for five so that la famille could be back on a bus by six…yick. Too early. Then I was on a train and headed home with plants from Mum and pate from Dad.
So, my relationship with my family is not great but I wouldn’t say it was bad either. It’s pretty normal all things considered. I just, find it difficult to cope with people over long periods of time. I guess my family bare the brunt of that because they’ve been around the longest. I’m not the easiest person in the world to be around and I never have been, even when I was a kid I was difficult.
I think the basis for my Dad’s relationship with me is that basically he wants to be proud of me, hell it’d be nice from this side too. Of course this has to contend with the fact that I’ve been a fairly consistent embarrassment to him since I was a kid. If you’re a Physics teacher the last thing you want is for your daughter to do the school newspaper’s horoscopes. So we keep on going, not exactly forgiving each other, more just ignoring the complete incomprehension and frustration on each side hoping that eventually I’ll get things right and he can actually have something that I’ve done to find worth boasting about. Which is why we can’t live with each other, we natter on the phone in a friendly fashion and all is well, just don’t send me back to Royston where things are cramped as hell and I end up walking out on my own rather than doing the family quality time thing that all the people with really good family relationships do.
Mum has to be one of the more chilled people I’ve met and I like her snap assessments of my friends much more than the Princess’s who tends to assume that the more I like a person the more they’re going to tear me up. Of course the Princess does have a certain amount of evidence for this but she has at least stopped threatening my lovers with physical violence. I like the way that you can’t surprise Mum, she knows people and she likes the more interesting ones. Of course I wish I could just natter to her but she’s always made it perfectly clear that there are some things about my life that she just doesn’t want to hear, and nope it’s not just all the sex stuff either. That way she can pretend I do fun and happy things and nothing in anyway dangerous or wrong. We used to have some honest conversations back when I was in my teens, we both enjoy saunas and swimming (and spas – can’t wait for summer!) and I always try and tell her as much as possible about my life, avoiding the topics she doesn’t want to hear. Hence me telling her about stalking FJ and Mother-In-Law up CP. I’d like her to know something about me. Hell I’d like them both to know something about me, I’ve even waved this blog at them but they don’t want to know and I guess it’s back to me having that blind spot over what people want to hear about and what they don’t. I think a lot of my friends will get where my family come from over that one better than me.
The Princess and I do get on, pretty damn well actually. Theres something about siblings, when you’re growing up it’s you and them against ‘the enemy’ (the grown-ups obviously) and that sometimes lasts I guess. We have our coded conversations and she gets on pretty well with my friends, better than I do really. The thing I take away from going home is, how bloody awkward I am, how difficult I am to be around and how easily I make the simplest situation complicated and annoying. It makes me laugh how people who don’t know me tell me I can fit in anywhere, it’s something that goes down well with friends of friends at totally random parties and then I get back in Royston and I’m back to being the annoying seven year old I always was.
It says something that the way I dealt with my family and expected difficulties explaining my job situation by dressing in the same style I did when I was sixteen and living in a tent in the back garden for three days.
Still a Mish and it looks like Mishes really don’t change.
Just, gotta get this thing done. Keep a promise to my sister and eventually I’ll sleep when I’m dead. Theres far too much to do before then for things like sleep.