– from your Dwarf in Norfolk, up to his beard in the swamp.
Apparently Death has been forced to put a sign on his fabled door: “No Hawkers, No Circulars…& above all NO BLOODY RACCOONS!”.
The Raccoon Arms may have closed, the Landlady have pulled her last pint. The last shell shocked Snowflake escorted “b-b-b-but”ing and blubbing, off the premises, the last discarded tin foil hat recycled as an impromptu ashtray outside the door. But mine and thine Hostess is still alive, and to be frank, shows few signs of departing this Vale of Tears anytime too soon (at the moment the smart money is on ‘sometime after an important social commitment in May’).
Her arm has lost its strength and her typing hand its cunning but her intellect and indomitable spirit remain unravished. Pretty much her first question to me as I walked in the door was “have you heard about Kincora?”. Her insight undulled even by amounts of pharmaceutical grade heroin that should require G having an armed police escort when he goes to fill her ‘script.
When I invited myself down to hers for a coffee a few days ago, I confess I wasn’t entirely sure in what state I would find her. I haven’t seen her for a while, since last September I think. I had mental images of her lying propped up in bed wasted and emaciated, Merrick-esque growths and Opium dens. Mental images that weren’t dispelled by G’s greeting me at the door with a cheery: “She’s in the kitchen. She bloody got up today!”.
So with some trepidation I entered the kitchen. They have a open plan sitting room/kitchen arrangement and she was sitting in an armchair by the window that looks out to the garden and G’s workshop, vaping. She had not only managed to get up but had obviously washed and dressed, having ‘thrown on’ clothes in that way only women of class can. Her eyes sparkling, her fur shiny and -although I didn’t check- I assume her snout was moist too. She looked a picture of radiant health and not in that ‘brittle’ ‘brave face’ overlaid way that the dying sometimes seem to manage with super human effort and major chemical assistance. By the way, it seems that isn’t just my impression. She has gotten so sick of people looking at her sideways, snidely thinking ‘benefit cheat’, that she has taken to carrying her last scan results around with her! Years ago I saw a cartoon of the archetypal “memsahib” calmly drinking her cup of Assam whilst thumbing cartridges into a Rigby Nitro Express broken across her lap as the enraged bull elephant bore down on her. Swap that elephant for the cancer, that cup of tea for her vape stick and you’ll have a pretty good idea of how she seemed.
Since closing The Arms she has acquired several new tumours, so many that, as she says, it would be quicker to list the parts of her body that aren’t cancerous (apparently her doctors don’t always ‘get’ her humour: “so I haven’t got breast cancer?”). Most importantly the ‘mets’ haven’t travelled to her brain-something that according to the textbooks they should by now have. Mind you, according to those same medical text books, she should have been dead years ago. Instead her fully unreasonable, and totally unwarranted longevity will mean various text books being revised- so her doctors say. Or as she put it to me on the phone the other afternoon “we’re in Miracle Country here now”.
She’d rung me a few days ago. G, between ferrying cups of tea up to her, had forgotten to put the phone out of reach of her bed I assume. Word to the wise: never let The Raccoon near any form of communication technology – that woman could start wars with an Etch-A-Sketch®. I will however forgive him the oversight as she runs him ragged…and when she isn’t demanding tea and opiate medications brought to her death bed, she has set him to building her an extension so she can sit ‘out’ in her bath chair with her self crocheted blanket warming her knees and the tumours in her thighs. Yes, now she can no longer paint, she has taken up crochet because “it is about the only thing I can do with one hand, although I’m sure you, being male, could think of something else” -you can take the Liverbird out…
So why did she phone me? At the risk of sounding a far better man, and friend, than I am, she rang because she knew I would be overjoyed at her news, that I would be happy for her. And what was this momentous, joyous news? No, her tumours hadn’t gone into spontaneous remission, nor had she been mentioned, yet again, in the dispatches of some learned journal or her blog quoted in open court. MWT hadn’t done penance by crawling on his knees to Jimmy’s grave, scourging himself as he went. Her news was that her daughter Sam had taken a flight and that G had fired up the wherry and was on the way to collect her from the airport.
Arms regulars will know why this news left me somewhere between gobsmacked and cock-a-hoop but for those who don’t know you can read her heart wrenching post about the daughter she had to give up for adoption, the ‘lost’ daughter who later tracked her down and then became estranged again, HERE: http://annaraccoon.co.uk/2016/11/19/confession-time-and-last-writes-sic/
Former barflies will also know that the reason why Anna felt she had to tell the world about her daughter was because it had to come to her furry ears that certain despicable persons, low lifes, were attempting to acquire a copy of Sam’s Birth Certificate with the intent of not only damaging the raccoon’s reputation (not quite sure how they thought that that would, mind you) but with causing pain and distress to various innocent parties. So in order to ‘spike guns’ she decided to bare her soul and wrote that post that, quite genuinely, still haunts me and causes me, gruff old cynical dwarf to tear up.
At the same time other (or perhaps the same?) despicable parties were also hacking the blog and then the Landlady came down with a dose of septicaemia that required two IV pumps, running full time, of the strongest antibiotics known to prevent her from dying. So , with a heavy heart and a deep “feeling of bereavement” [sic] , Anna closed the Arms.
Again former regulars will know all this. What, however, neither they nor I knew (and I had known about Sam for a while) was that Sam had been lurking on the blog for years. For all the above reasons Sam felt compelled to comment on Anna’s final post….and things, for the two of them, went from there and culminated in last weekend’s visit.
So not only did the Trolls and Haters fail to damage Anna as a person, they succeeded in causing a cosmic grade Mother/Child reunion (wasn’t there a song?). The trolls not only didn’t take anything away from her, they gave her the one thing she could never have dreamt to hope for: a chance to say ‘goodbye’ to her daughter! Talk about ‘lame’ trolls -some of them need bloody crutches! There will be garment rendings and gnashings of teeth under some bridges tonight.
For as it sayeth: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death… Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: my cup runneth over.”