What To Do When You’re Going Bonkers: Part Historic

We began cleaning the house, carefully taking every room apart and then restoring it. It’s thrown up some hidden gems – a packet of Hoola Hoops with a sell-by date of 2006 fr’instance. And it’s shown up my inner lawyer when I held up a rather sad looking piece of tupperware and offered a ‘we need to take a view on keeping this’. Much hilarity…

Today though a shoe box emerged from a cupboard with a torn envelope in it.

Inside same was a treasure trove of old correspondence, namely the letters I wrote to my parents between going to Uni in 1975 and getting too pretentious for such things – mostly the point at which I could afford a phone in 1984.

I pulled out one at random. 22nd March 1979, when I’d just started training as a lawyer in London’s West End. I’d become an articled clerk, a form of barely paid-for servitude. I shared this…

‘The office now I’ve settled into the routine a bit is rather a hit and miss affair with the most incredibly unco-ordinated filing system considering the importance of the documents and deeds in their charge though I’m reliably informed that when “one knows the system it is easier to work” – that I doubt. [Note my tendency back then for too long sentences] You’d need to have an Einsteinian brain to determine some of the puzzles thrown up by it.’

Later, I revealed it had been raining a lot.

‘Thus [yes, really I wrote this to my parents!] I thought, last Friday I’d purchase an umbrella. Well, sporting my new brolly I made my way to Tower Hill to deliver some documents. Having entered the office and been introduced to the person to whom [you’d better believe the To Whom] delivery was to made I tried to collapse my brolly completely to save clutter. Unfortunately, the new fangled weapon I had was operated by a powerful spring. Well, in collapsing the brolly the clip that holds the brolly in place broke and the dammed thing sprung open between my legs nearly causing a nasty accident much to my disgust and the recipient’s amusement.’

I did well to put the envelope to one side and continue only to uncover my diary for the period between June 2009 and July 2010. I opened it at random. July 20th 2009. I’m sitting at the cricket and the game is so engrossing I’ve become fascinated by the weather, especially the clouds. I penned this little poem

Mother of pearl clouds

Dipped in ash

Flat-bottomed dollops

Of thick white cream

Floating in a Wedgwood bowl

Scratched with scourers

Puffy remnants of nuclear war

Left-overs from a stuffed toy convention.

A blinding torch, a tube of power

Sears the shadows to the floor

Soft hues dazzled away

Forcing contrasts of dark and light

Keeping the sombre, heightening the fresh.

I seemed to be in the mood for poetry, albeit in a less than tolerant state of mind on the next Friday, the 24th July 2009 when I flew out of Gatwick to Frankfurt.


No bottled water

That gel is too much

100 ml of deodorant per person

Remove your shoes

Take out your mind and

Pop it in the plastic tray

And place it on the belt

With your belt

And belt up.

Open your bag

Open your arms

Open your mouth

And you’ll get to lie on the floor

While the biggest lie of all

Is it makes the slightest


And then I turned to 5th January 2010 and was brought up short by this entry

Feeling pretty bloody low – mum is really bad – a glance before I’m hurried out tells me all I need to know about her condition. The doctor this morning, or was it the nurse? – reported her kidneys were’t working even though they’d managed to get the blood pressure up to a level which they were happy with. As I explained to Linda I lay in bed last night having the most disturbing thoughts – all after her death, imagining it – but what all those practical matters fail to deal with are the emotional losses, the void of having no parents – maybe she will pull through. She’s always been tenacious and stoic but at 84, having been battling illness for some weeks…

The ink changes and then this

I’ve just seen a doctor – the critical care consultant. In summary

She has a failing heart – very large and erratic (hence the warfarin and atrial fibrillation

She had a perforated duodenal ulcer – to repair it was a relatively simple procedure, but it asked a lot of mum’s system esp her heart to increase the blood flow to cope with the post op stresses

Which puts pressure on her kidneys, which in turn aren’t good. One has already failed so she’s coping with one anyway and the good one has now stopped through lack of blood and the stress. Without that no urine is being passed and so the toxins are building up in her body.

At her age and with these complications dialysis isn’t an option.

Therefore if the kidney doesn’t start in a week she’ll lapse from the coma she’s in and eventually die. If the kidneys begin to work she will gradually recover.

But behind it all she still has a blocked bladder restricting the passage of the urine – for which she never had the operation she needed and now can’t – and without it she will continue to experience the half life state she lapsed into recently.

I wrote more, detailing the options, the steps, the maybes and the what-have-yous. I can remember that kind thoughtful honest professional, helping me come to terms with what was inevitable. I felt a desperate urge to write it all down once he’d gone, so I didn’t forget it as I knew I would. I finished that entry with this..

And all I think about are practicalities – which will happen all the time. So mordant, so morbid, so moribund

And that made me think of those deaths we have reported every night while I prattle on about cleaning… each one coping as I had to, each regretful, annoyed, wondering at one’s own response. At least I got to see her…

She died peacefully two days later on 7th January 2010.

I’d better go back to my cleaning…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. 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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29 Responses to What To Do When You’re Going Bonkers: Part Historic

  1. Ritu says:

    What a find…
    Your writing style us innate in you!
    And how emotional to turn to that entry about your mother.
    Hugs 🤗🤗🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s such a thing to watch a parent die – but at this end of life I’ve come to it’s see a more natural process than being a parent watching your child die. Diaries are marvelous for sorting through all the practicalities. the emotions of the time and looking back to see how we handled/didn’t handle it….. I’m still keeping one – and just a couple of nights ago sat and followed my process of becoming aware of Covid19 – it was a pretty abrupt transition from no notice, to disbelief. to lock down!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Darlene says:

    These letters would make some good blog posts or even a book! This lockdown is not all bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. All of us who have lost our parents have shared the same feelings. Those feelings make me still want to say I’m sorry for your loss. I’m sorry for mine as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a full post, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. JT Twissel says:

    Cleaning and sorting documents from the past can bring forth a lot of emotions. We’ve also spent this time also sorting through boxes of old documents and pictures.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love that you have all those old letters and poems–and the emotions that come with rediscovering them. Got to say, I’m not able to get past your writing “Thus” in a letter to your parents. Then, I find myself writing “indeed” on social media–the equivalent maybe.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Elizabeth says:

    A very moving glimpse back to the time your mother was failing. I found a diary from my grandmother a few years back where she had written on the day my grandfather died, “I don’t know how I will live without him.” I had no idea of the depth of her love for him since she was very reserved. Your children will some day treasure seeing the depth of your love for your mom.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. willowdot21 says:

    This letters Geoff , history your history. I can empathize with your feelings then…. Similar to when my mum died. These times now, this Covid is robbing my hubby of what we had. We could visit we could touch we could be there. Hubby’s Mum a couple of weeks off of 100 is in hospital lost to delerium, we cannot visit we cannot touch. I am glad I am cataloguing these days. As you did 💜

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jennie says:

    Just wonderful, Geoff. What a treasure you found.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. George says:

    A profoundly moving post, Geoff. Thank you for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Widdershins says:

    Having the past come up unexpectedly like that must’ve been hard … ten years isn’t so long for grief.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh, Geoff.

    And such interesting correspondence. Look where you’ve gone with writing since!


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