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Friday, February 10th

February 10, 2017

I was going to do this morning’s writing by hand in my moleskin journal. The writing would get done, but not for posting on-line. Why? Because I’ve been reminded there be dragons.

I didn’t see them coming. I mean, there I was, in the morning, patting myself on the back for putting my mental health first by refusing any involvement in the next play. There I was waxing lyrical about solitude. I thought I felt pretty good. I went online to post my entry, then I went to Facebook to play my Scrabble moves. I should have shut the computer down then, but instead I went to the Guardian website to check out the news. Then I went back to Facebook to see if there were any more moves to play. There weren’t. I should have shut the computer down then, but I didn’t. I went back to the Guardian site and did some crossword puzzles. (They’re pretty safe, right?) Then I went back to Facebook. Still no Scrabble moves to play. Then, before I knew it, I was on the stupid fucking spider solitaire page. (Yes, yes, it didn’t happen like magic. I got me there.) Okay, I said. Just one game. Oh, ha, bloody ha. Fucking dragons.

I wasn’t planning to write this by hand in my journal because I was ashamed to admit to you, dear reader, that I’d had a relapse, but because I was afraid it would happen again. I simply wasn’t going to turn the computer on today. But how long can that last? (And what if there is an email I really need to see?)  What we (I) need here is some bloody discipline.

So, here I am at the keyboard with nothing in particular to say or report. Well, that’s not quite true.

Turns out my sneaky island friend, who stumbled across the black dog diary, has put his wife onto it. She’s a bit of a wiz at online genealogy and other historical research. Loves doing it. When I saw them the other day, she told me I could track down and get copies of my mother’s service record. (She thought I’d be interested as I’d said, when writing about Mum, that I had no idea what she’d actually done during her time in the Canadian air force.) She then went beavering into her computer and came up with the name of the ship Mum and her family sailed on when they emigrated to Canada during the Depression. (The Letitia, which is pretty damn funny, because there’s a Letitia mentioned in my play.) If her research is correct – and given the passenger manifest she found with all their names on it, this appears likely – it seems the family’s move to Canada was earlier than I’d always thought. It’s sweet of her to dig all this up for me, but, sadly, these are not the questions I most want answered and those answers cannot be found on the internet.

No amount of internet research can tell me how Mum could possibly have ever thought I would think less of her if I’d known about the baby she gave up for adoption? What did happen to George (assuming the couple who took him away from the Clapton maternity hospital kept that name)? Did he ever know he was adopted? Did he ever begin a fruitless search to track down his birth mother? Not even Mum could answer those questions.

And what about the bastard who abandoned her with bastard me in her belly? I know three things about him. His name was John, he was a solicitor and he made her laugh. I always thought that at some point when I was older we’d eventually discuss him over a bottle of wine. Then Mum had a stroke when I was still in my early twenties. She recovered fairly well, but after that, not wanting to distress her in any way, I never again asked her about him.

After her death, I did ask my aunt Jess. I figured if Mum had confided in anyone, it would have been her favourite sister. So I told Jess what I knew: a solicitor named John. Turned out that if I knew that much, I knew more than anyone else in the family. Mum had been incredibly closed mouth about her perfidious paramour.

She had one photo of him – a small one kept in a locket. From an early age (when I thought he was long dead) I was allowed to see this photo. I still have it, although I haven’t looked at it for a long time. Old friends, who knew Mum when I was in my teens, say I look like her now. Perhaps there is some resemblance, but it is easy to see who I really take after, if you look at that photo: John the solicitor. Whatever else there ever was to know about him died many years ago with Mum.

These are the questions no internet search will ever answer. Perhaps, if I make it to that cosmic cocktail party, I’ll get the answers.

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