Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday Live

Heard on my trusty radio this morning an interview about lone twins. In fact, I am a lone twin, as my identical twin sister was born dead. My Mother told the story, though not in great detail, and I understood that my twin was born dead because my Father "knocked (my Mother) from one side of the room to the other" when she was eight months pregnant, killing the baby. Now my Mother could be a drama queen and I have no way of knowing if it is true, but this knowledge just sticks in my head like the first pancake in the pan. I know that my Mother was pregnant with me when they married, and that my paternal Grandmother did not approve. She did not think that my Mother was good enough for her Son, Jasper Stanley. (So what's new?) And I know that they had a very rocky marriage. It wasn't helped by the fact that my Father was an alcoholic (as defined), and a philanderer, and that my Mother, probably as a consequence, was very neurotic and would, today have been considered depressive. It can't have been much fun. And they lived through the 2nd World War. So having one baby born dead when you have only been married six months, and there is a war going on, might have been either a curse or a blessing. Certainly, neither of them ever showed any emotion about it, and since I can't remember the moment when I was told, I seem to have no feelings about it either. (My Sister came along 18 months later, but I don't know if she was made aware of the dead twin, and I don't think we have ever talked about it.) Because of my Parents' various characters and behaviours, we must have had a rather strange upbringing, Sister and I. But of course, we thought it was normal because we had no other experience. I may be wrong, but I don't suppose many other people have the memory of their Father slowly sinking down in his chair at Christmas Dinner until he slid, quietly and drunkenly, under the table. We may have giggled, but that was normal for us. Consequently, there were lots of fights, many of which I remember quite clearly. I recall my Mother throwing the iron at my Father (though I think she missed), and I also vividly remember her hitting him over the head with our frying pan. This was never to be forgotten, because we continued to use the frying pan which had a dent the shape of my Father's head ever after. It was quite funny I suppose, because eggs always slid round the dent and settled into this strange, curved shape. As I tell this little tale, I can see that it might not be everyone's cup of tea, but it has become so much part of the vintage patchwork of my life, that I simply accept it. And anyway, I can't change it.

Going back to the dead twin, I'm aware that I have resisted re-birthing at various times in my life, as a form of therapy, because I have this horror of reliving my birth. Of course this is not an actual memory, but somehow I know that I had to fight my way out into the world, past a dead baby. I don't know how I know this, it's pure instinct. But I have never been sure that I could actually do it again successfully. There is no way that I would put myself in that situation again. What if I didn't make it?

And now for the good news; apparently Doctors have stopped drinking themselves to death. They have come to their collective senses at last,and are taking their own advice about drinking and (hopefully) smoking. That's great news indeed. I do remember reading, about 5 years ago, that Doctors had the lowest life expectancy of any professional group - around 37 years! I thought then, don't ask advice of a Doctor. What does he (or she) know. So have they maybe increased their life expectancy to 40? It would be interesting to know.

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