Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Divine intervention?

I don’t know what compelled me to check the electoral register a few months ago. A hunch? A feeling? Divine intervention? Yes you can now consider me a total fruitcake but I believe in life after death, Karma, whatever you wish to call it.
But it was there I discovered my husbands ex wife had sold her house and intended moving without notifying my husband at all.
Suddenly everything fell into place. Having to drop Christmas presents and Easter gifts for his daughter in the car park of a local pub was not, as his ex wife suggested, to save his daughter more upset. It was to stop him going to her home and seeing the ‘For sale’ sign erected in her front garden.

I have my experiences, things that cannot be explained. Seeing ‘things’ that I know are not there. For example. I lost my dog. I don’t mean I couldn’t find her she died. I was devastated; she was my one true friend. At the same time I had a cat, a black and white moggy called Chester. He hated my dog and would corner her, back arched, fur fluffed out, hissing at a pathetic cowering dog twice his size. She was a total wimp but I loved her. Several months after my loss, I thought I was getting over her. While talking on the telephone one afternoon, Chester was going absolutely berserk in the kitchen. He was hissing, fur fluffed up, back arched. And then I saw it, a mid sized black dog standing inside looking out through my patio doors. Of course I questioned how a dog had managed to get into my home. The doors were shut; there was no way it could have come in. So I finished my conversation and as I turned to replace the receiver and head to the door, the dog had vanished. I searched the whole house for the dog but nothing. Had Chester not acted in the strange way, I really thought I had imagined it. I know I didn’t.

I remember the meeting with Maureen like it happened yesterday just before my first marriage ended. On driving to her home images of Romany women with rugged hands laden with gold rings and bangles distracted my concentration. I was surprised to encounter a modest semi-detached house with heavy lace curtains at the windows. Even more of a surprise was to be greeted by the woman herself. The smartly dressed middle-aged woman greeted me with a wide smile. She had a round, friendly face and even friendlier eyes, quite a normal looking woman with a tangled mop of brown hair. I suppose I expected her to have a scarf tied around her head gazing into a crystal ball or something; typical image of a clairvoyant. She offered a cup of tea and a biscuit but I declined. The aroma of orange and lavender filled the room and a small water fountain bubbling on the table, seemed odd but added a tranquil mood to the room. Evidently water is a good spiritual conductor, so if you need to have a good natter with the dearly departed, have a soak in the bath.

I remember the conversation well as I sat to the side of her in her back room.
‘Okay, let’s see what we’ve got shall us?’ she said.
I remember watching Maureen curiously as she placed some bright coloured cards randomly in front of her on the table.
‘There’s been a death dear, not a physical one, an emotional one. Are you divorced?’ I was startled by the question and immediately felt for the gold band still firmly on my left hand.
‘Ah, but the marriage is over yes? It’s dead.’

‘Yes I suppose you could say that.’ I replied.
‘ Well you have a decision to make m’dear,’ continued Maureen, ‘Leave him and be free, or remain caged for the rest of your life.’
I remember feeling an immense sadness and must have looked sad to Maureen as she suddenly grabbed my hand.

‘ This card here,’ and she tapped it lightly with her finger. ‘You see the sword? When this card appears it represents not just physical strength but the ability to cope and win through in the end. The Strength card signifies triumph over most things; challenges you may face, even defending yourself against jealousy, ignorance and domination. It warns of missed opportunities and not to give up. You have the strength, you must use it.’

She told me of a special little girl who I assumed would be my stepdaughter but she told me it was my own child. At that time there was no way I was having any more children but as it is now, I have my young daughter who was 2 in March. She mentioned a church but not a wedding, and the name Mary. I happen to live opposite a church quite bizarrely called St Mary’s.

There were many things she told me the weirdest was she saw something published. Perhaps it is this Blog and my need to share it with everyone.
One last thing, she asked me who Richard was. At the time I could not think, but one day it came to me. I used to call my husband my Richard Gere. Not that he looks anything like him but they share the same grey hair and distinguishing qualities Gere depicted in Pretty Woman. Not the corporate raider but the romantic character that hung out of a sunroof brandishing his umbrella like a sword shouting ‘Princess Vivienne.’ Like Richard Gere rescued Julia Roberts, my husband rescued me too, except my white limousine, was a long based transit van!

Home Sweet Home.

The view of the Dales has always captivated me. I love Yorkshire; it has become home and is a long, long way away from Bristol, the place I grew up, a place that held countless, unpleasant memories for me.
Yorkshire's gentle sloping hills give way to feelings of serenity for me. I love those undulating hills; the tiny stone back-to-back cottages with black slate roofs that nestle among tall oak trees, barely visible, now June is here. The Wild Cherry trees shed their blossom like wedding confetti thrown in celebration caused by each gentle gust of the warm breeze. The tips of the Silver Birch sway rhythmically, their slender branches reach out to finger the airs tender surge.

I often loose myself in the view. The hills, trees and stone cottages being a stark but welcome contrast to the industrial buildings so commonly depicted in Lowry’s finest art work. Keighley, my local Town, disperses itself at the foot of the valley.

The home I share with my husband and family sits comfortably on the opposite side of the dale in a peaceful, sleepy village among a mixture of old and new built dwellings. Cottages without garages cause the local inhabitants to park their vehicles along the winding country roads that lazily follow the contours of the hills. Impatient drivers honk their horns at slow moving tractors laden with hay that move their load from one field to the other.

I love the Yorkshire people, not the image I once conjured of men in string vests wearing knotted hankies or flat capped individuals brandishing giant black puddings shouting, ‘eh by gum.' They are a gentle, straight-talking breed with a lazy endearing dialect; pure folk with 'nout taken out. When I collect my eldest daughter from school, I observe the Yorkshire mothers who collect their own offspring. Women of all shapes and sizes, some large who bellow like market traders on Grimsby dock, some small who refrain from drawing attention to themselves whilst trying to retain some decorum grappling with their spawn by the scruff of their necks.
Both types of women preserve deep family values, making sure a plate is empty before moving on to pudding and if they are still hungry, fill up on bread!

Honesty, integrity and understanding the value of money, a lesson I too have learned. Southerners like myself, tend to be a little more reserved less welcoming and a little suspicious of strangers. They prefer to stand back and observe often-giving rise to the feeling of scrutiny to a newcomer. They tend to judge their book by its cover rather than taking their time and gently warming to its pages and reading a while. Me? I am an immigrant, a southern lass having now acquired a little Yorksher grit, or in English terms, a no-nonsense and never say die spirit whether in business, sport or facing a crisis!
Unlike my love for Yorkshire, my body has grown to dislike it and having no self-control has decided to head south. Yes the once slender size ten has given way to a voluptuous squeeze-in-my-jeans size twelve with post childbirth humps and bumps popping out exactly where I don't want them too. My husband loves my curves and so does my daughter.
‘I love you mummy, you’re not fat you’re beautiful.’
I wish I could share my daughter’s biased opinion.