Friday, 21 February 2014

what's in a face

So I am sitting by a hospital bed with a cup of dark liquid feeling like something out of ‘Mash’ while some dark haired man who looks nothing like Alan Alder is explaining to me something about x-rays, clips, pins and the like. And when I heard the word reconstruction, I nearly fainted. As he picked up my cup from the floor he said with a trying to be helpful look.

‘Reconstruction at his age could be a positive thing’

I was desperately trying to understand what they were going to do to my Rodger; ‘will he ever be able to walk with a toga again?’ I finally muttered.

Not that there has been anything happening for awhile in that department. But still looking at his limp moustache just now I would have given anything to be able to feel the brush of it against my cheek.

I stared at my paper cup all crumpled and still dripping in my hand and wondered why the non Alan Alda didn’t just bugger off and stop poking about my other half in a manner that made me feel invisible.

Maybe it’s because the camouflage was missing; people never react positively to a woman the wrong side of 50 'something'; not without camouflage that is.

‘You need to sign here Mrs’ said the not Alan Alder nurse...’and hear and hear.’

‘What for?’


‘For what? What you going to doing to my Rodger?’

‘Permission to do whatever is necessary.’

Not really wanting to know what the ‘whatever’ was I looked the young man straight into the eye with an ‘I’m not so invisible now’ look.

‘What's my signature got to do with the whatever’s?’ I finally said, (I waited for him to crumble).

He handed me a pen and crossed his arms with a poor imitation of intimidation.

I signed Nefertiti- N. NEFERTITI in my usually large artistic swiggles and he looked at it.

'What the hell is that for a name?'

He obviously knew nothing about art or culture let alone the seductive nature of a belly dancing women. But then he wasn't from Glasgow or any part of Europe, he had the sort of accent that made Liverpool people sound like they are well educated.

‘Nefertiti is that a type of coffee?’ he finally said.

‘No it is MY name.’ I said.


‘Do you not get much education in Australia?’

‘New Zealand actually and you need to sign your proper name not something from a tattoo shop’.

I drew my 5 foot nothing frame up to an intimidating stance, i.e. stood up and crossed my arms. And threw the so called nurse my best steely glare...

‘That has been my proper name from the moment these precious thighs have been entertaining audiences; and well before you were old enough to pull a syringe. And let me tell you I have been entertaining the public with the same name and Rodger right by my side (pause for effect) well before you were munching on you milky bars. And do you know what?

(he let out a sigh.)

‘This here Rodger was switching CDs faster than you could pull a trolley down those corridors.’

He looked unimpressed.

‘And Nefertiti has been my name ever since.’

He looked at the paper, looked at his colleague, looked at his watch and mumbles something very ‘native’ probably requiring the accompaniment of a didgeridoo to do justice, and then walked off.

I fancied making some comment about charkas and rugby and decided not...Rodger was squeezing my hand. He had been lying motionless for a while but was now beginning to groan in pain.

He was laying on one of those stretchers with his face to the side twitching with a breath befitting a walrus ...which is what comes from playing with a shed early in the morning without a decent bacon roll in side you. And what becomes of a man obsessive and vegan and my Rodger is nothing if not obsessed.

Rodger has become obsessed about his shed and the locking of it, obsessed about what went inside his stomach and obsessed about me minding my own business.

His had begun to quiver and held my hand tighter. They had cut up his corduroy trousers which were now hanging limply down the side of the trolley liked a used tissue along with one of his legs. The other was twisted to the side looking uncomfortable with a swollen ankle.

The curtains swished opened and another nurse entered in sort of green pyjamas outfit with Sister Fewchuck written on his chest, and I wondered if there were any locals at all in the hospital. He was smaller than me and walked like a dancer who wore dresses a lot. If it wasn’t for the hair peeking out of his top I never would of know HIM to be a HIM.

'He all prepped and ready to rock and roll' said Sister Fewchuck. ’Now you have to let us do what we have to do'

'You not going anywhere near his ...' I motioned to the 'Jewel's' as he liked to call them.

'It's his ankle and his wrist Mrs' he looked at his clip board 'err Nefertiti... oh and his shoulder’s a bit wonky and I see oh dear the hip as well …..hmmm but no groin has been mentioned.' He flashed his white teeth at me and ‘swished’ the curtain apart to allow the porter to take my man away.

I watched as they wheeled him away like last night’s take away.

My Rodger who has never had a day’s illness; who is as flexible as rubber; whose hips roll with the ease of oil on greaseproof; who is so pliable he makes Mr Tantric 'Sting’ look like an aging stick insect was being wheeled away from me like a piece of meat on a supermarket trolley. I felt weak and looked about the emergency room full of strangers.

Where was Shifty when you need him?

Sunday, 19 January 2014

thank you

It was on Christmas Eve at The Argyll when I first saw her perform and it was something I will never forget. It was the old folk’s Christmas ‘Do’ a yearly tradition and this year they were all promised something special.

Shifty was pouring the drinks, Archie was on the accordion and Hector was playing the fiddle. Every year on the promise of free drink and turkey they played,and every year after said free drink and turkey they were asked to stop.

‘Hold on to your hats, and grab your glasses for this will be a bumpy ride Shouted Shifty ‘Tonight is a night of Eastern Promise And a night you will remember with pride.’

‘Not Jock on spoons again’ says old Ethel whose hearing aid was whistling louder than a microphone.

‘No’ shouted Shifty, ‘Jocks’ spoons are in the dishwasher. It’s an extra special surprise and you’ll never guess what... not in a million years. ‘Do you like surprises?’ he yelled. And waited for a response; when none came he poured another round and motioned for Archie to continue.

‘I said do you like to be surprised’ he yelled again.

‘Not before the Pudding’ muttered Ethel.

And then the music started as Rodger entered the bar. He was pulling a large plum pudding balanced preciously on a hospital trolley. It wheels squeaked and wobbled almost putting up a fight. Ethel silently stared. The music was nothing like anything I had heard before and hopefully I will never hear again. If you thought bag pipes where sore on the ears then think again, this music makes a cat’s howl sound like a harp, the howl of a baby like a lullaby and nail on a blackboard like the delight twinkle of a wind chimes.

Rodger positioned the plum pudding in the middle of the floor and then we watched, not quite sure what to say as he poured a bottle of brandy over it. A few coughed, the fumes where strong, some muttered at the wastage. But when Rodger lit the pudding there were gasps from us all and a few ‘oh for god sakes’ at the rear. There was a bit of scream and some feeble punching from inside, smoke filled the room and some yelled for a fire extinguisher but Ethel a woman who had fought in the war (Vietnam) knew what to do. And with a pot of brandy cream and jug of cider Ethyl surprised us all.

And then, there she was bursting, punching her way out of soggy paper pud while trying to hang onto her seven veils of gold and red. Nefertiti rose from the ashes spat out a few raisins and said...

‘I am Nefertiti’s get ready to watch me roar. I am a Goddess, and a woman, that you cannot ignore.’

She stood readjusted her headdress and waited for a response.

When none came she motioned for Rodger to light the candle on her headdress which sparked and spluttered before fizzling out, like the slow deflating of a tyre on a nail. Nefertiti the true professional that she was clung on to her veils and jumped into the splits, causing a few in the audience to winch. But before they could blink she was up stripping off her seven veils while handing out Turkish delights...from a variety of crevices.

Shifty’s dog who had never utter a noise for years had started howling from the music and then made a dive for one of the veils. Nefertiti armed with her sequinned padded bra and Boot’s spray on suntan had, in the past performed front of workmen, hen nights and even a punk band; whether they liked it or not. She had arrived at venues where they took one look at her and forgot the booking.

She was a dancer who meant business and a dog was not going to put her off.