for the Weekly Prompts Weekend Challenge of 27 February 2021, magnificent. Also, I saw that there was a challenge over on MindloveMisery’s Menagerie to come up with a limerick on any subject, so I guess this fits that, too.
A magnificent merchant from Fife, Has gone and run off with my wife, But we’ll see, in divorce court, I’ll make sure she gets nought, But that poor sod’s gonna get life!
I thought about writing a silly limerick, as this is such a good prompt word, but thought I’d try some prose instead.
I’ve never really known divorce. I have friends who are divorced, I have a cousin who is divorced, but I’ve never really seen it close-up. But I thought that, today, I’d post about it, particularly from my parents’ perspective. My parents both died in 2012, but were probably no older than many of you. He was born 1941, she 1944, and under different circumstances, they might still be here. In fact, I still enjoy speaking to my mum’s elder sister to this day.
Divorce was not a word in my parents’ vocabulary. My mum used to moan incessantly at my dad, anout my dad, she would even spend hours alone in a room, shouting (loudly) about my dad. But they stayed together.
After I left home, I presume it continued. From two hundred miles away, she would spend an hour on the phone, complaining about my dad. I used to say, if it was that bad, she should think about getting a divorce (after all, I was no longer a dependent). But she wouldn’t hear of it.
I listened to all of these complaints because I thought that she had nobody else to offload on. A few years later, I was staying with her. Somebody phoned and she spent ages offloading to them – and I realised that, far from being the only person available, my mum would offload on anyone who was prepared to listen.
It was an interesting lesson in people – while I took on board that my mum had a problem, and took the next step of trying to think of a fix, my mum simply wanted to broadcast to people that there was a problem. I’ve found in life that some people can be like that – and I find that their willingness to look for a “fix” governs my own interest in their problem.
But throughout this time, she would not countenance divorce. In fact when I look back at when she seemed happiest, it was when my dad moved into a care home. She was still a “respectable, married woman”, but my dad was not around to bug her.
So, I think she liked the idea of being married (certainly over being divorced) but on the subject of my dad in particular, she might have been more equivocal!
I thought I’d have another bash at KK’s Yard Sale of Thoughts Flashback Track Friday post. The idea is that she picks an old music track that she likes, and then uses that as the theme of something new, and this week she picked a Nina Simone song on the subject of empowerment..
So today, I just fancied a bit of fiction.
She was so afraid. What if Gary was the best she could do?
She looked around her, at the four walls. She had a roof over her head, at least. He did his share; she could not complain. Sure, it’s different when you move in with someone, you can’t have it all your own way. Maybe she just needed to give it a bit longer, and it would feel right?
Plus, there were the benefits of having a man. Of being a part of a couple. The world was designed for couples, she thought. Everybody did everything as a couple – restaurants, movies…
The shrill ring of her phone cut short her daydreaming. “Lisa? It’s Gary. Look, I’m afraid I’m going to be late home again. I had a call from Jason, he said he could put some business my way….” She zoned out. This was the third time this week, if she looked back over a month, she lost count. Twenty minutes, bookending each day, this was all she had with him now. Gary, it seemed, had settled into co-habiting simply fine, in fact his life had changed little since before Lisa had moved in. Still the active social life, but with the added bonus of somebody to warm the bed.
Ten minutes later, another ring, but this time from the convection oven. Supper. She plated her half and left the rest in its foil tray. He could eat that when he came home.
It was gone nine o’clock when Lisa finally heard Gary’s key fumble in the lock. He came in and crashed down on the other chair. Even from ten feet away, she could smell the drink. “Supper ready?” he asked. No, “nice to see you. How was your day?” “It’s in the oven, but it’s probably cold by now.” Gary got up and returned with the tray. Cold or not, Gary was in no mood for waiting.
“How was Jason? Did he have any business for you?” “Oh, Jason was fine. Look, do you mind if we don’t talk about it just now, doll? I’m dog-tired after the day I’ve just had.” In an instant, Lisa saw what the rest of her life would be like.
Thirty minutes later, Gary was snoring gently in the chair. Lisa shook him awake.
“Gary, can you wake up a minute. I think we need to talk.”
Incidentally, I once covered a Nina Simone track as part of a Song Lyric Sunday response. I liked the video especially, it got reworked by Nick Park, of Wallace and Grommit fame. What they do with stop-go just beggars belief.
US football. There’s a scene right at the very start of the movie, The Last Boy Scout, where the running back is rushing, he is about to be tackled, so he pulls out a gun and shoots his would-be tacklers. The point is that the stakes are so high, the guy has blurred the distinction between sport and real-life.
And so it was with the guy I want to talk about today.
When I got into cycling, I was more into doing than watching. I cycled in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, even in Spain. I took my bike with me, wherever I went. But I used to enjoy watching it, too. I watched several Tour of Britain stages, about a half-dozen stages of the world’s leading race, the Tour de France, and visited track cycling events in Belgium.
I was too old, by then, to have idols but one guy stood out above all the others, just for his charisma. You quite naturally wanted him to win.
And win he did! The only time I ever saw him race in the flesh coincided with my very first visit to Le Tour, to see Marco Pantani be crowned the overall race winner, in 1998. Known as Il Pirata, he had already won the Giro (Italy) and here he was, just two months later, winning in Paris too. It was also the first time I went away with Mrs Bump and we stood on the Champs Elysees and cheered. She had no clue about cycling, but was dragged along by the wonderful atmosphere. I had been following the three-week race avidly on TV.
In fact, it was on TV that I watched what I think was Pantani’s greatest win. In 2000, Pantani was forever surrounded in drugs controversy. He had been ejected from one race because of suspicious doping levels (science had not yet caught up with doping), and Pantani generally spent a large amount of time nowhere near his bike. He was considered to be washed-up, eclipsed by the new rising star, Lance Armstrong.
Mont Ventoux is weird. There’s nothing like it. Known just as “the giant”, it is an extinct volcano, down in Provence. It rises, pretty much from sea level, to just shy of 2,000m. Even the professionals, it takes the best part of an hour to climb it, at an average gradient of about 1:8. Very steep, especially considering the distance involved. It’s not the highest mountain, it’s just that it starts so low. It’s a favourite of the Tour. In 2000, ascending Ventoux had come down to a two-horse race, Armstrong versus Pantani. Pantani won, his last big victory. Armstrong, with his eye on the overall title, later said that he had allowed Pantani to win. Only Armstrong knows, but everybody who ever came second could say the same.
Sadly, this was Marco’s last hurrah, and although he raced sporadically until 2003, he never won again. The doping allegations took their toll, he was found guilty of doping by an Italian court – a conviction later quashed, for the simple reason that doping was not yet a crime! The pressure must have been immense, Pantani developed a cocaine habit, and at one point he was admitted to a hospital specialising in the treatment of addictions. In a downward spiral, he was subsequently found dead, from a cocaine overdose in Rimini, on 14 February 2004.
We can look back at Pantani and simply dismiss him as a “doping cheat”, and this was shown years later, in 2013, when the French senate retrospectively tested his samples as part of a larger inquiry into doping. Science, by that time, had caught up. But for me, that doesn’t really matter. All it says is that he was a cheat in an era of cheats. But Marco was the one with the big character, and that will always trump just winning a race. That he came to such a tragic end just adds to his story.
I finished work early today, and I saw KK’s Yard Sale of Thoughts Flashback Track Friday post. The idea is that she picks an old track that she likes, and then uses that as the theme of something new. So, let’s make sure I got this. The song is old, the response is new. I hope so, anyhow. I guess the response can be anything, but I chose a limerick.
In what I’m sure is a nod to the proximity to Valentine’s Day, KK has chosen “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, and puts a couple of decent renditions in her post, including the original. Funny, I never knew that Roberta Flack’s was a cover…
Anyway, with a few minutes to spare, I wrote about the first time I ever saw Mrs Bump’s face. As you can see, this was not exactly love at first sight. We were both way past the time of life where we might be infatuated (and I think that is probably a big reason that we have stayed together), we were both on a night out with work colleagues, and we were both pretty drunk. We did, at least, exchange phone numbers and I called her a few days later to ask her out on a proper date. The rest, as they say, is history.
First time I set eyes on her face, I was on night out from my workplace, She won’t mind if I share I was bit worse for wear, Had to sit on a stool just in case.