It began with a set of three Polaroid photos. Mum held them like playing cards, close to her chest and slightly turned in. Over the top of her hand Mum looked at me with a drunkard's contempt. She looked from cards to me, from me to cards, and then she played.

The first photo was of a middle aged woman laying naked on a double bed with her legs open like she was giving birth. She was a small, stringy, muscular thing with short cropped mousy  hair and a wide grin revealing a top front gold tooth.

   > Who d'ya think took that? Mum asked.

I looked at her blankly, embarrassed. Hesitantly I said, You???

Mum didn't reply. She snatched the photo back and handed me the next one.

In photo two mum had joined the woman on the bed. Now they both lay there, legs parted and overlapping, my mother smoking a fresh cigarette and caught so naturally that death could have been in the frame. It was one of those photos.

   > So who took that one then, smart-arse? She said. I offered no answer.

Mum took photo two and replaced it with photo three. This one was different. It was of a butch looking ginger haired woman, standing in the middle of a room in just a leather jacket with a pair of huge sloppy tits falling out. The woman was squat with fat, dimpled flesh around the thighs and hips. She had a large bushy 60's cunt, and hanging off her left foot was a pair of skimpy white knickers with a crusty yellow discharge sat in the crutch. I'm not sure that's what I was supposed to be focusing on but I couldn't help it. Somehow that stain told me more about what was going on than anything else.

   > That's Sandra, said mum, she took the photos of me and Pat.

I gave the picture back to mum.

   > Well, what d'ya think? She asked
   > Who are they? I answered

Mum looked at me full of some weird omnipresent hate. > My girlfriends, she hissed, WHY!

I didn't answer. There was no answer when mum was poisoned towards life like this. Instead I slowly crept away, praying she wouldn't call me back, off to find my brother and tell him that mum had turned lesbian.

* * *
Over the next weeks, whenever Mum arrived home, she spoke endlessly of Pat. She spoke of how violent Pat was, how she'd go out causing bar-fights and looking for tear-ups with men. She described how Pat would headbutt, punch and glass people, boasting that she was barred from almost every bar in London's Earls Court. .As most fights seemed to have originated over someone eying mum up, Mum appeared proud to have had inspired such protective violence in someone. Then Mum said the weirdest thing. While relating Pat's evening rampages of drink and terror, she mentioned that Pat was Tommy's younger sister.

   > Wolverhampton Tommy? Your boyfriend?  I asked.
   > Well what other fucking Tommy do I know, said Mum.

So it turned out that mum had left brother for sister, and if that wasn't incredible enough things would get a whole lot more fucked up and interwoven still.


   > Ow am yer cock? Heard a lotta 'bowt ya. Yo aw-roight fer a bit'ta TV?

Those were Pat's first words on meeting her in the flesh. She was standing just inside her flat in faded jeans, moccasins, and a transparent white string vest, her nipples playing peek-a-boo through the trestles. She was small and thin but wiry and muscular. She was a kinda  oblong shape,  like she'd been hung out to dry by the shoulders. She flashed me her gold tooth and her brown smokers teeth and I liked her.

In the front room, in a brown armchair, sat Sandra. Though very butch looking she was still the woman of the two. Her blond/ginger hair, short at the back, was styled a bit like a Teddy Boy's and a lot like an OAP's: puffy and highly sprayed. She slouched back in the armchair in a pair of cheap, shapeless, market jeans, her belly spilling over the elasticated waist. She didn't speak, just puffed cigarettes, swallowed beer from the can, and looked ahead like she was pissed of with the space in front of her. In the hallway Mum and Pat were kissing and laughing as if they had a private joke going. Then they trailed off down the hall and the bedroom door slammed close.

I watched Sandra. I couldn't help thinking of those knickers I'd seen in the photograph and the tufts of dimpled fat which were around her hips. In the dead, grey screen of the TV I could see her sour face. She kinda repulsed me, had the same effect that certain dairy products have on me. She was now crushing her beer can as she drank and making me uncomfortable. From the bedroom we could hear mum and Pat. They sounded like they were dreaming and kept hitting up against the wall. After a while the noises stopped and Mum came wandering into the front room. She was wearing the skimpiest of night shirts which only half covered her sex. She walked past us and over to a small cabinet from which she took a bottle of whiskey. As she left she turned her head away from Sandra and gave a theatrical shiver of disgust. Just after that Sandra hurled a half can of beer at the TV, squeezed into a gaudy unfashionable leather jacket and left. It would be nearly a year before I'd see her again, fondling Tommy's crotch in a beer garden as they talked about happiness and marriage. Mum was sat on Pat's knee opposite, looking beautiful but not looking at anyone. Brother and sister, each with the others old flame. Four people. All alcoholics. All desperately miserable. All pretending they were happy. All chasing something. I won't go into explicit details of what would unravel next, though I guess it's obvious. It took place in a grubby bedsit, in a grubby bed, and lasted many months. 

It was during my mothers relationship with Pat that I saw the most overtly sexual behavior of women. Erect cocks had been aplenty, and the male animal with the crazy leer of sexual lust on his face had become something of the norm. I had also seen my mother doing the most explicit things, though without registering any sexual bleep in me. Now I would see third party females partake in the carnal delights of the flesh: Pat eating my mother out in the back of a taxi; covertly masturbating on a bus; walking around in see-thru tops;  going to market in a fur coat and nothing more; relaxing back and pissing from park benches; knickers parted and glimpses of cunt at strange unexpected moments; things which peaked my interest and left a world of random erotic images in my head, some to the point of obsession. Still, for all of that, sex was a very small part of the equation, swamped ten fold by the drinking and violence. Compared to the times legs gave way, stomachs upchucked, beds got soiled and eyes got blackened, fucking was barely registered at all.

 Even when Mum was openly living with Pat, kissing and fondling in public, I never seriously thought of her as a lesbian. I  saw it as a kind of novelty, something outrageous... rode in the slipstream of my mother's audacious front. Sex was one thing but sexuality was something else, and though I knew the names and what they meant I was too young to understand past word and meaning. And if I ever thought that Mum was playing on the fashionable gay or bi-sexual tag of the time, going through a phase of deliberate experimentation, I was wrong. My mother's sexual relationship with Pat was genuine and passionate, and continued over many years, even passing through periods of sobriety. It was an on/off affair, but would ultimately be my mother's most enduring romance of her life.

I suppose the apex and decline of Mum and pat's relationship was Christmas Eve 1989 when Pat tried to strangle my 15 year old sister to death. Rachel had confronted Pat and blamed her for my mother hitting the bottle again and the consequences that would have on everyone. Pat, drunk to high heaven, flew into a murderous rage and got my sister by the throat, throttling her with no intention to stop. It took my mother, brother and I to wrestle Pat to the bed and prise her fingers loose from my sister's neck. After finally succeeding Rachel collapsed to the floor on jelly legs, her eyes bulged and bloodshot, making sounds like a dying pig while scrambling away in horror of what her mother's lover had just done to her. When my sister had recovered enough she wrapped herself up and left the flat, returning to our old home, to her dad, never for us to live together again. The broken family had just split some more.

By 1999, fifteen years after my mother first showing me those Polaroid pictures, the lives within and around them had changed drastically. Tommy was back in Wolverhampton, alone, and no longer speaking to his sister. Sandra had had two kids and now lived the other side of London with no partner. Mum was in a stable, long term relationship and had all but stopped drinking. And Pat had gotten married and was living with her husband in the same flat in Latimer Road. Pat told Mum she had married out of loneliness, that as she was getting older, and the years were beginning to take a toll, she wanted someone to share the life with. It was a convenient, sexless marriage but it worked and gave them both company and support through the illnesses both had picked up from years of alcoholism. Pat had cirrhosis of the liver, and Matt, her husband, suffered from a series of nervous disorders alongside the mild onset of Parkinson's disease.

It was Matt who called out the blue one day and told Mum that Pat was ill and she should come and visit her. When Mum arrived Pat was wrapped up on the sofa and looking extremely poorly. She was still recognizable, only now her hair was completely grey and she was thin and frail in a way she never was before. She still breathed neat whiskey fumes, and still sucked in her cigarettes through half clenched eyes, but the passion of hope and life were gone and now she smoked and drank to die, not as a rebellious act of living. She was jaundiced and emotional and on seeing Mum she broke down and sobbed like a child, clinging on to a memory of what had been. Mum, although not ill, had put on weight and the booze had affected her skin and lapped away at her beauty. There were no words, just two people holding each other while commiserating the death of beauty and health and the end of those faraway and bright wild times.

When Pat had recovered her Northern steel she poured a whiskey and lit another cigarette and told us how her liver had deteriorated further and probably wouldn't last the year. After everything I was still fond of Pat and to see her tendered by mortality endeared me to her further. She wasn't hard; she wasn't vicious; she wasn't a drunk. Now, she was just scared, and we're all that. That day passed like the clocks had been turned back. For a while Mum and Pat talked and reminisced and even spat hate against people like they used to. By the time we were fixing to leave Pat seemed to have sprung back to life and was as sprightly and as light as she ever was. She'd been granted one more day of health and spent it with the love of her life. 

Two weeks later, in the early morning, the city damp from overnight rain, the phone rang and it was Pat. She was panicked and scared and said that she had woke up and the entire right side of her body had turned dark brown and her liver was swollen like a football. She said she'd phoned an ambulance as she didn't want to wake Matt who had been working night shifts. Matt would not work that night. At just gone 3 PM Pat was pronounced dead and another little door was closed on history. My mother didn't cry, not openly anyway. She was just silent, thinking and knowing that her time, all our time, was coming very soon.


  1. Wow Shane, again such horrid beauty. This time you managed to illicit tears, not easily done. You always manage to take me right down those roads with you.

  2. hey ya Carrion Doll... this life throws up the most repulsive and then beautiful things. I think anyone who's been in a war will marvel at how body parts can be strewn around and then the most beautiful sunset goes down on it. Hope ya tears have dried... life's a little blurry through wet eyes. X

  3. Anonymous10/31/2012

    YOU WATCHED MURDER, RAPE, AND INCEST, cause that's what you said. You watched it. Sick.

    1. I did Anon, and I'm very proud of it. My only regret is that is wasn't the incest, rape and murder of you.

      I maybe sick, but you're an idiot and that's incurable. X

  4. Anonymous11/01/2012

    Anonymous you are a nob!!

    great piece as ever Shane


    1. Hey Simon... Isthat the same Simon from Waiting for John? Common name so probably not, but a part of me hopes it is...

      Thanks Anyway... X

    2. Hey shane, yeah thats me

      i do like your writing, im forever checking for your blogs for new posts

      take it easy


  5. yet another brilliant post. there is sadness and compassion at the most unexpected moments. i've read nothing else like it. cool new look, i hope it still displays properly on mobiles because thats what i use to visit mostly. Daz

    1. Hey Darren, Oh, I think it should be fine on mobile devices. I've set it so it should work ok. The only prob I have when viewing it on mine is that the titles are pictures I make on Photoshop and they remain the same size on my mobile and don't work at all. Let me know if you have any probs (though I don't think you should).

      Compasssion... nice choice of words. I feel it as I write. There's something even in the most animal of us which isn't evil. The only real evil I know is when religion is in peoples heads and acts. Those people terrify me. They hate you in exchange for eternal life. And if they sometimes give beggers money it is only because they think it'll benefit them come judgement day. But if their text said beggers should be stabbed in the liver, that this was the way to salvation, they'd just as quickly do that. But the people I write about are not religious. Who after 40 years of this kind of living would really believe in a God? X


"You'll destroy me too," she said, "I think I want to die."
- - -

Make a little history and leave what words you have.. X