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It’s Flog-it Tuesday!

I know many bloggers use their platform to sell stuff. This is because they have a ‘lifestyle’. Having a lifestyle means that you make charming purchases in order to surround yourself with items which ensure you are being ‘the best version of yourself’.

I can’t flog my lifestyle to you because all I buy is wine, fags and cheap jumpers and surround myself only with badly brought up children and piles of debt.

But I simply MUST bring to your consumer-aware eyes the cottage wot I did stay in last week. As you know, I went there to write a book; to dig for memories and excavate them, to brush them off and catalogue them. Those memories are all I have left of my mum and my job was to line them all up and decide which ones I need you to read, which ones will help you to understand her and me and maybe you, which ones will bring her to life.

On the morning of day three, she showed up. Not like a vision or any kind of tangible presence, separate from me. But she was there, a more complete Mum than I had ever let myself remember. I could see her, could hear her voice again and cast her in long-forgotten, happy scenes.

Wirksworth was the location for this resurrection; a village in the Peak District in Derbyshire, cut into the hills and surrounded by quarries and mines. The cottage itself had been a doss house; the miners would lurch up to the village at the end of the day and into the pubs, then at closing time, paralytic, they’d stagger up the hill to my cottage for water, a hosing-down and to be tied up by rope overnight to sleep it off before being released in the morning to go back to the quarry. A kind of slavery.

I’ve always believed my mum was one drink away from the proverbial doss house, from the park bench. She avoided it because of class and status, but only just. Had there been a doss house in our village in 1989 she’d have found her people there, and also would never have allowed herself entrance.

I didn’t see any mortal miners while I was there. Wirksworth village is now furnished with boutiques, cafes and bars, not that I went to any of them. The moment I stepped into ‘The Wee House on the Hill’, I unpacked my mining tools (laptop, old photos, her diaries) and got to work, sitting at the table in the cosy kitchen:

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Coffee and sandwiches were only ever inches away:

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Fags were taken just outside, along with the view:

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Sleep was deep in clean cotton sheets:

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As I packed up to leave, I felt a jab of pain: when I go, will I leave her behind? Have I got to say goodbye again? Closing the door was weepy.

Gwyneth and youngest were driving ahead of me having come for my final night. After losing them in traffic, early in the journey, I pulled up to a junction in Matlock and found myself behind them. When youngest realised I was there on this strange road he’d never been on before, he opened his window and waved like mad at his mum, miraculously appeared behind him.

After that we drove back to Manchester in tandem. This was annoying as I didn’t want to be spotted smoking in my car, but every delicious glimpse of youngest’s face in the wing mirror of Gwyneth’s car was a reminder that this is my lucky life now, with my family leading me home.

So, if you fancy a few days of solitude in order to exhume the dead (and who wouldn’t fancy THAT?) or if you want to behave like a normal person and have lovely walks, long lunches and shopping mooches, I highly recommend the ‘Wee House’. You can check it out here but please don’t book it for October half-term as I plan to return then for the edit, after which I can begin to flog the only thing I have that I hope you might want: ME BOOK!

P.s. Mum did come home with me. She’s alive in the laptop, in the book…I can meet her there whenever I want…