Apprenticed to my Mother: the book

Regular readers will recognise the heading. Last year I decided to pull together a memoir of my time with my mother, post dad. I’ve now finished it and it’s in for editing. This post, like so many, comes with a request. Are there readers out there, memoir writers or others, who’d like to beta read for me? I would be very grateful if there were. Of course, as with all such requests if you want a similar help from me you’ll only have to ask. It’s not a long book but one that will be precious to me. To help you on your way, I’ve set out the introduction to give you a flavour. Many thanks in advance.

I have many memories of my parents, always together, well apart from the walks I undertook with Dad. And then he was gone and we had to cope with an absence; more to the point I had to cope with Mum. I was forty-nine and she… she wouldn’t want me to tell you.

If you had asked me up to that point to describe Mum it would have been clichéd: kind, funny, dutiful, family-orientated. But it would have lacked real depth, without nuance. Too black and white. With Dad, it would have been different. I knew him well, his many facets and foibles by the time he died.

What I didn’t realise – I don’t think either of us did – was that I was – maybe we were – about to undertake yet another education, with the specialist subject being my Mother.

This book is the story of that education. It is not a chronological history; indeed, there’s little logic to it because there was no planning, nothing linear about how it unfolded. It is only in retrospect that I realised the indelible imprint Mum was, belatedly leaving on me. And as I reflected, I came to view other incidents, from an earlier time, in new ways. I’ve included some of those too, towards the end. It helps complete the picture of a woman of her time and of no time. She was unique – but aren’t we all? However, within this picture of a charming, contrary, compassionate, curmudgeonly, caring parent, there is something universal, something from which we can all learn. That, I hope, is how you will find this book.

Necessarily, there is a fair bit about Dad too, and the rest of my family. With Dad, I have tried to round him out by including some of his poetry. A lot of it, I read for the first time after he died; he barred anyone but Mum from seeing it in his lifetime. Mum, however, was so very proud of it and him that this tribute to her would fail if I didn’t do some justice to him and his skills, too. I hope you enjoy them.

My parents were married for some fifty-three years; it should have been longer. I’ve often wondered at the gap between their first date, in the of autumn 1944 and their nuptials in March 1952. The War and Dad’s service in Palestine kept them apart for three of those years but they spent the best part of four years, having corresponded assiduously in his absence in the Middle East, avoiding what I think all their friends and family would have assumed was inevitable.

It is not as if they had some libertarian objection to the institution of marriage. Far from it. Nor was it money, I think. They’re weren’t flush but they both worked and there was always some help from Mum’s mum, my Gran. Reading some letters Dad wrote to Mum while away, in 1947/48, I would say he was very keen to ‘get spliced’. I’m left to conclude that Mum decided the time wasn’t ripe during those four years until, at last, it was. Though the eventual decision to wed would, I’m pretty certain, have been seen by all as prompted by Dad, I’m equally certain that he waited until Mum made it clear he could proceed.

This neatly encapsulates their marriage: on the one hand, Mum made sure no one ever pricked that bubble of masculine authority that Dad needed to feel whole, to be the man he aspired to be; at the same time, they both understood where the power resided, when it came to any crunch and it never needed articulating. A marriage of equals, in many ways, but the casting vote clearly resided with the mysterious feminine.

And then Dad died, in March 2005. I suppose we all expected there to be some changes, now she could, overtly at last, be in charge. The only problem with that was that Mum didn’t want things to change. It is only looking back that I realise what she wanted most was someone to continue to play his role; maybe that way she could pretend, to some degree at least, that he was still there, still the figurehead, acting as her spokesperson in life.

That is why I became apprenticed to my mother. She had a lot to teach me.

For those reading this memoire I must explain that I am reluctant to expose my lovely living family to any more scrutiny than is necessary in order to tell Mum’s and, to an extent, Dad’s story. So, you will meet, variously, the Textiliste, the Lawyer, the Vet, the Archaeologist and others. You will work out who is who soon enough I am certain.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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43 Responses to Apprenticed to my Mother: the book

  1. Mary Smith says:

    Oh, fantastic news. I’m looking forward to this coming out. You are way ahead of me, as my Goldfish memoir is still nowhere near the editing stage!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jesska says:

    What do you want your beta readers to do? Spelling mistakes and full stops, or structure and ideas?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sue Vincent says:

    I am so pleased to see that you are putting this one out, Geoff. You know I have loved reading these tales.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ritu says:

    I’d be honoured to help His Geoffleship but you need to instruct me as to What a beta reader does? Is it give you feedback on the story and structure? 📚🤓

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’d like to help, Geoff, memoirs etc being much more my thing! Your writing about them has gained in insight as you’ve gone on 🙂


  6. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Geoff Le Pard popped in to the Meet and Greet this morning and left a link to his latest post.. He is writing a memoir of his time with his mother, following the loss of his father. He shares an introduction to the memoir but also has a request for beta readers, hopefully other memoir writers.. If you can step in and help then read the post and then contact Geoff direct. thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lovely Geoff… I am sure it will be entertaining and will remind all of us who have had the company of mothers, post fathers, of mysteries to be discovered.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I would definitely be willing to read and give feedback. I too wrote a memoir, currently in the ongoing editing phase, about my father who died when I was 15 (June 18, 1996). It would mean a lot for you to read mine as well. Let me know the steps to this. I have two blogs, the first was me writing my story, little by little, about my father: Hope to hear from you! ~Anne

    Liked by 1 person

  9. willowdot21 says:

    I have loved this story from the first time you posted it. I have always encouraged you to make it a book. I would love to help if I can I have no qualifications but I am here and I can read and write a review. So pleased that you are doing this wonderful book! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  10. dgkaye says:

    Looks like a wonderful and heartfelt read Geoff. Seems you have a lot of takers already but I’d be happy to read and review for you if you’d like. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think this book sounds wonderful, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A great introduction to what will be a delightful book

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Apprenticed to my Mother: the book – Geoff Le Pard | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

  14. judithhb says:

    In an email I offered to be a Beta reader but I see you have been overwhelmed with such offers. So I woould be happy to read and review for you if this helps.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. JT Twissel says:

    I love your stories about your mom and dad. I know what you mean about not wanting to expose your family – it’s a struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Norah says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading the stories of you apprenticed to your mum, and this introduction is priceless, Geoff. What a wonderful tribute to your parents – both, as you say, but especially your Mum. I’ll put the final copy on my reading list when it is released. I’m pleased to see you have so many offers from potential beta readers. I notice a couple of new covers in your sidebar, including a new cover for Life in a Grain of Sand. I like the style of this one and the matching Flash title. I’m sorry I missed your announcement of these. My reading time has dwindled this past year. I try to keep up as much as I can, but missed these. Best wishes with this latest book, as well as all the others, of course. Happy 2018!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This makes me so happy, Geoff. I’m smiling. Thrilled you’re putting this together and getting it out into the world. It’s on my TBR list and will get it as soon as it’s out or available for pre-order. Can’t wait to see the cover, too. Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Geoff, I think you are brave to write this kind of book. (I’ve tried to do a personal story, in many different setups and forms, and I can’t do it.) I’m sure yours is a wonderful and touching story. Wishing you huge success with it. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

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