The Chews and Spews of Wallis Eates

Doing stuff with memories


Recently shortlisted for the Myriad Editions First Graphic Novel Competition 2014, ‘Mumoirs’ is a work in progress graphic memoir about growing up a single child to an unmarried mother in the 1980s.

I’ll have a ‘P’ please, Mum

Multiple Choice, Subtractions and Estimates

Light on the Subject

"Light years are all about how long it takes for light to travel," said mum in what could have been any year from when I could hear to present, as she told me about Space, planets, the moon’s orbit and how a day never went by when she was a kid without scrubbing the house and getting a clip round the earhole…

…and kings and queens - especially Tudor times - and how she cut the toes off her shoes one morning at school because she’d grown out of them and then later tried to strangle herself with a scarf so she wouldn’t get punished…

…and all the rationing they did in the war and what happened to the Jews and how whenever her mum gave her anything her step-mother immediately took it away…

…and lots of other stories for me to think about when I went to bed that faced the wall where the light came in from the hall and stopped just after the photo of my mum as a little girl, and silhouetted my Sindy dolly house that she’d worked so hard to get for me.

The Future’s so Bright

I was so excited to get home - the Resident’s Association were having a meeting round OUR flat.  Company!  Oh, the conversations I was going to have!

They were meeting to get the scruffy old lady and her weird daughter out of the basement flat because they were a show-up.

"You don’t want to be in there while the meeting’s on," said mum in 1987.  "I’ll come and get yer when that bit’s over and everyone’s having tea and cake."

Oh goody, I thought and went in my room to get ready.  I put on some music, my stonewashed jeans and my trendy reversible jumper.

I’m guessing, but I daresay that while I waited, I looked at my fangs a few times…

…tried all the different coloured rings for my watch…

…and stood looking at the door getting increasingly anxious the more I heard it all going on and on and on…(for more on Ralph Macchio and other crushes see here)

I peeked my head out the door and saw my mum.  “Mum!”

"I thought you were coming in," she said.  "You were going to come and get me!"  I replied. "Well, everyone’s going now, there’s still one or two left…"  "But my eyes are all tear stained!" "Well leave it then, it’s not very exciting, you not been missing much."

I remembered that when one of the neighbours died of Leukemia his widow wore sunglasses to cover her tear stained eyes.

Stared Out

There was nothing going on down Cornwallis Avenue (Jolene from Fleeting Faces lived in that top right flat opposite, by the way)

So I went back to my book.

Till something caught my eye.

It was my mum, looking at me.

"I’ve been watching you for ages - all in your own little world, you were," she didn’t say in 1990. 

Instead, she just carried on looking at me.

For ages.

I can’t remember how it ended.  I think I just got up and left.

Portrait, 1983

The Rainbow Man

"Bye then," said mum in 1984. "See you next month."

"Cheerio," said the man.

"Who was that?!" I cried.

"That was The Rainbow Man," mum replied.

"The Rainbow Man," she explained further, "is the man I pay my money to so that if anything happens to me, there’s money there for my funeral."

"It’s not life insurance, it’s life assurance,” she continued as, somewhere in my mind, rainbows became but the dispensers of red tape leading inevitably to a pot of greeny-grey filled, with mum-death.

The Sweet Tooth

"How’s your tooth?" asked mum in 1983.

"Shtill wobbly," I replied.

"There’s something nice for you on the table," said mum when we got home.

A toffee apple.  Of course.  Happened every time.

Clipped Wings

"Nature’s cruel," ranted mum in 1990 after watching a programme about a chrysalis that never became a butterfly.

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