I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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* One exception: short stories.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Two Cockney sparr'ers

When Ivy died a couple of years ago I knew Dennis wouldn’t live long. They were our neighbours held together by hyphens, Dennis-and-Ivy, a human unit, sharing the same oral history, capable of making me laugh and laugh. Dennis died while we were on holiday and the funeral was on Monday.

John their son talked about the music, starting with Willie Nelson's elegiac Georgia On My Mind. "I didn't think much of country western," John admitted, but Dennis had persuaded him otherwise. With Peggy Lee's Things Are Swingin', also quiet, John had difficulty talking. He still held his handkerchief when I shook his hand. "Dennis’s Cockney mind was too quick for Herefordians," I said. John, who'd never met me, looked up through his tears. "It's funny, he always said they lacked a sense of humour." Maybe. My bet was Dennis's natural wit left them bobbing in his wake.

John's partner, Helen, read out a list: fine dad, played cricket, stubborn, a good union man. That last one made my gut stir. Dennis belonged to an era when unions meant something. I’d forgotten.

I recalled them coming over for Christmas drinks. Dennis was in minesweepers during the war; didn’t exaggerate or undersell what happened; didn’t need to. Funny nevertheless.

Ivy bowled (outdoors, on grass) with great skill, something Dennis took up when cricket and golf were beyond him. "Is he any good," I asked Ivy. She raised her hand and quacked her fingers like a duck's beak. He talked too much.

Never too much, Ivy. I've tried to recall Dennis’s stories but they were born out of character, place and a special form of language, enriched by a groany-wheezy East End accent. I’d risk betraying him. Never mind. He’s joined Ivy now but two bright lights have been  extinguished.

3 comments:

Ellena said...

These two bright lights still glow in your post and will glow for ever in your memory.

Stella said...

I think it is nice that these two have now been immortalized. Every story and every life is remarkable.

Roderick Robinson said...

Ellena: I didn't expect much, if any, response to this but Dennis and Ivy were far too important in my life (and that of VR) to pass on unacknowledged. As one who received a poor formal education I regarded Dennis as a wonderful reassurance. He was exactly ten years older than me, was born of a large family in a very deprived part of London, and if anything received an even worse education, certainly shorter. Yet how my heart lifted whenever we met; immediately I was encouraged to act as his straight man, feeding him some provocative line, knowing the response would be pure gold. And, if Ivy was with him as she mostly was, she would add some form of gilded embellishment. He used to call me Boss but never meaningfully; only because I was much taller than him. It was the only matter in which I was his superior.

Stella: Ah Milady, you do me too much honour. Would that I could have immortalised the pair of them. Dennis's greatest gift to me was to stress that antipathies are the most fruitful basis for wit. There were neighbours he didn't really care for; there'd I'd be, in the street only yards away from said neighbour's house, giggling like a schoolkid as Dennis dismissed the person magisterially, devastatingly and - best of all - concisely. When asked who were my greatest writerly influences I must amend the list: James Joyce, Graham Green. Evelyn Waugh and Dennis.