We’re getting there. Death is a complicated business and particularly when mum wants to stay in the house and we need to sort out her finances so that she can. I’ve learnt an awful lot about the process of dealing with a death, and mostly I’ve found everyone to be as helpful as they can be. Except HSBC this morning:
‘Hello, my name is Roland Ladley. I’m phoning about the account details I have entered. The account belonged to my dad who passed away last week.’
‘Sure. Can I speak to him please?’
And then, as with every other organisation I’ve spoken to I got passed to a bereavement section where the wait to chat to a talking head took forever, whilst the most obsequious music droned on. I’m glad there were no sharp objects nearby, otherwise dad may have got unexpected company. Of course the bereavement department can’t make any decisions, they can only cancel dad’s stuff (even though I had been told they could) … so, to amend standing orders I was passed back to a new talking head, who wasn’t in the same country, at which point we had to go through the whole security process again. Mum, on stand-by to say that I could talk on her behalf, couldn’t understand the non-UK resident and so we spent an age getting through the necessary protocols. Eventually …
It’s been ok, overall. Mum, bless her, has her ups and downs. C has been brilliant with her, considering how mum can be. Me, I’m normally steady-eddie, but when mum was obstinately stood in the middle of the road this morning in Clacton, with the neon man clearly blinking red-not-green, and she wouldn’t budge … and I was on the phone to the solicitors who wanted to write two letters not one, I did raise my voice.
Of course we’re in Essex. Which is like living in a reality TV show – all the time. Everything is slightly overdone. The accents. The waistlines. The foul language. The cars. The breasts – which, clearly, I’m not complaining about.
The Essex coastline is particularly poor. Jaywick (just down from Clacton), a town built on a salt marsh and made up exclusively of single-brick-skinned caravan-sized holiday homes which, over time, have morphed into residential areas, is the poorest community in England. Clacton is where the East End come on holiday once Southend is full; it’s all pier and candyfloss and not much else. Sure, further north towards Suffolk, Walton-on-the-Naze is more upmarket – but it very quickly becomes Suffolk (I’m pretty sure it wishes it was in Suffolk). But, aside from the expletives, I have encountered nothing more than acts of kindness. The woman in front of mum today in Morrisons wanted mum to use her points card as she didn’t have one. A bloke hit me on the head with a mattress at the dump the other day and couldn’t apologise enough.
Of course, I shouldn’t be surprised. I soldiered with Essex boys, and C looked after their blue-rinsed wives, for 25 years. They are the salt of the earth. And would do anything for you. But, for the wary, the accent is threatening, like living with a couple of thousand gangsters. Inevitably, Essex has its share of gangsters. But so does Bristol – it’s just that their suits are sharper.
I think that’s enough from me. I could go down a political rabbit hole, but I do not have the energy. I have to say that if I were PM I wouldn’t have gone walking in Wales for Easter. I would have stayed in London and got Brexit sorted. But if the leader of the free world can golf in Mar-a-Lago at the same time that he’s proclaiming a national emergency on the US’s southern border, then she’s hardly got a model to follow.
Home tomorrow and back in early May to help mum through the funeral … which we have just about sorted. We’re walking out of the family crem service to King of the Road, which couldn’t be more Essex. Well done dad.
[We’re holding a Thanksgiving Service in Great Bentley parish church on Tuesday 7th May at 11.30 if anyone is interested.]