4. The Home Help: You Gave Me A Mountain

INTERVIEWER’S NOTES LINDA’S BIRTHDAY
They enter the pub in dribs and drabs. They look at one another as if surprised. As if each have led separate lives for the last few months. They greet me as a stranger. I have not seen them for a month or two myself.

LINDA TO INTERVIEWER

When Ben’s old enough I’d like to sell up. Sell this house and use the money on a trip around the world. Would you come with me, darling?

INTERVIEWER NOTES

I heave the speakers through the pub door and onto their stands. There is no Buff. Neil plugs in the appropriate leads. He plays Neil Diamonds ‘America’ to test the sound levels. He does not check the sound is right with the group. He has a beard.

KATH TO GROUP

The group’s dead. I said at the wedding you’d all leave me, and I was right.

INTERVIEWERS NOTES LINDAS BIRTHDAY

Neil is getting a beer belly and his notes keep failing.
He sang Linda’s favourite song. ‘You gave me a mountain.’ by Marty Robbins.

Born in the heat of the desert My mother died giving me life.

 Deprived of the love of a father,

blamed for the loss of his wife.

The rest of the group joined in with Linda for the chorus:

This time, Lord you gave me a mountain to climb A mountain that I can never climb.
It isn’t a hill airy longer.
You gave me a mountain this time.

WEDDING GUESTS CONVERSATION

– You know the first dream Martha had about her son Lozzy’s death had a talking dog in it.
– A dog!
– Ay and it were called Death.
– Death.

NEIL
I’m sorry lad for having a go at thee. I know, now Linda’s had a word, that you can be trusted.
I’ve heard the aggro and hassle she gets from Buff. You can’t trust him, you know. He’s even tried it on with me. I couldn’t laugh at him, kid, but I came close, and we always thought he had such a good heart, you know.

WEDDING GUESTS CONVERSATION


– And it were going to tell her how Lozzy died, but she woke up.
– Is this supposed to help us cope with Ernest’s death? ‘Cos it aint.

MAGGIE TO INTERVIEWER

I don’t want Linda under Kath, like me, love. She’s got to get some other life.
Kath took me in after my last husband left me for dead.
Kath couldn’t do without me. I’m’ The One Who Did’ for her: washing-up, washing, cleaning her house, cooking her meals.
She’s mostly on the phone organising Charity events for poor sods like the one who suffered from leukaemia, remember, she asked us to go at the wedding. Anyroad she also takes in troubled young ‘uns. She used to record other acts with Buffs video camera and send them to television and radio. But now-she’s seen Buff’s true colours she’s caught betwixt and between.
I’ve got a large family. Three teenage daughters with husbands and children all in and out of our house. I’ve got five other children as well. I couldn’t cope with Kath and The Family. I thought I could. lowe Kath a lot for bringing me back from a brink. But I’ll never tell her it’s too much, even when she don’t visit me when I’m ill. I was wasting away but she still kept ringing, asking me to do stuff for her.
I don’t believe in Linda’s God. I can get out of this myself. I admire Linda. I love her as a friend. She’s someone I can talk to. She’s cleverer than I am. More intelligent. Education’s not for me – All that bookwork, I can’t concentrate for long. I’m only a housewife.
Linda and myself have false teeth. Our real ones were knocked out. You can guess by whom.

LINDA TO INTERVIEWER

I’ve missed my period for a few weeks, kid.
If I get a child I won’t abort it. You’re going to think I’m crazy, mad or summat, love. You won’t tell anybody, will you? Promise me! I had an abortion after Ben. The baby we were going to call Scott appeared to me in a dream and asked me “Why didn’t you want me?”
I couldn’t answer him. That’s why.
The problem might be my age, I know. It happens in your Forties. The change. Of life, love. You wouldn’t understand would you? I thought not, kid.

WEDDING GUESTS’CONVERSATION

– Marthas never going to come out of herself while she’s still grieving over Lozzy’s death. And then her husband Arthur weren’t no help, dying too. Would you credit it!
– We all have a time to go, ~
– Ay. When it’s gone its gone. History.
– Live for the present. Bloody useless dwelling on past,
– Ay don’t make a mountain out on a molehill. ‘Notherpint to wash sorrow down?

INTERVIEWER~ NOTES LINDA’S BIRTHDAY

You know Lord I’ve been in a prison for something I’ve never done.
It’s been one hill after another
And I’ve climbed them all one by one.
The rest of the group joined in with Linda for the chorus.’
This time, Lord you gave me a mountain to climb A mountain that I can never climb.
It isn’t a hill any longer.
You gave me a mountain this time.

LINDA TO INTERVIEWER

I’m working now, you know. Making umbrellas in this sewing factory. My first husband got sick of Child Support on his back, so he drives me up there. Luckily, they’d just laid off a lass. I promised myself I’d never be in one of them factories again, kid.
It’s given me back my dignity.
Don’t get an ore than on Social, though. They’re a good crowd, the lasses.

Kath arranged this Do, and now she’s asking us to pay for the sandwiches! I’m sick of this group. Neil always sings the same songs. Same people, same places. 1 don’t ask for much. A bit of variety, that’s all. I’ll still keep in touch with Maggie. We have a lot in common. False teeth for one.

INTERVIEWERS NOTES

Neil sings The Best’ by Tina Turner. None of the women get up and hold hands and dance to it as they used to.
Linda tells me Neil and Kerry are divorcing. Maggie has a new boyfriend, so she can no longer spend as much time with Kath and her house as she used to.
Linda’s toldMaggie ‘Be careful.’
And Maggie’s told Linda I will never trust another man again. No worries.’

LINDA TO INTERVIEWER


Linda dressed in a new cream jacket with her ubiquitous black leggings crosses her legs away from me when she sits down. She has bought her own hill! lager.
I’m trying to stop smoking and cut down on the drink. I’ve started putting too much weight on. Look, a tyre .
. Kath’s not really clairvoyant, you know. She changes her opinions of people. Tells me they’re the one for me, then when I meet her next she’s telling me ‘I should-watch him. He’s-no-good for you.’
Some of the lasses at work go to rock concerts and discos. My kind of night out. They hold intelligent conversations, you know. Talking about what’s happening with the Bosnian refugees. Talking about issues in the news. Stuff like that.
I’m taking an 0′ level at college. What course? psychology.
It’s bad of me, I know, but I been reading my Bible lately. He wont be pleased with me, will he?

INTERVIEWERS NOTES LINDA’S BIRTHDAY

My woman got tired of the heartache Tired of the grief and the strife. So tired of working for nothing. Just tired of being my wife.
The rest of the group joined with Linda for the chorus:
This time, Lord you gave me a mountain to climb A mountain that I can never climb.
It isn’t a hill any longer.
You gave me a mountain this time.

LINDA TO INTERVIEWER

I agree with you. Everyone in the group has limited horizons. Maggie is just happy to go out drinking and dancing and a bit of sex here and there. Buff always repeats himself and is very immature. Kath is too taken up in herself to be interested in anyone else. 0, dont get me wrong. I know I wouldn’t be the way I am now if it weren’t for them. They brought me out of myself. I was quiet as a mouse. Like you, now. They learned me not to care what other people think.

LINDAS CONVERSATION WITH MAGGIE

LINDA: At least Kath’s not going ‘Shush, while turns on.
MAGGIE: hush, while turns on
I believe in respect and good manners.

Both women collapse into laughter

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