by Charlotte Evans
Queen of small talk. Brummie through and through. I write about her without realising it: the glamour, soft skin with violet spots on her calves beneath stockings, chip fat bubbling in the fryer, wedding rings, the tip of a cigarette ignited with her Union Jack lighter. Born into another life she would have been an actress on the big screen, double-jointed past nineteen. Able to leave a half-read book lying around the house as a child without her father throwing it in the bin. Performing on the stage instead of mopping it clean.
When I think of her I think of potato peelings ribboning into the sink, of perfume, beetroot sandwiches, magazine horoscopes, the Gemini twins, the flowery front garden of her ex-council house. How I told her once on a whim as a little girl that I liked pin badges and she collected them for me in handfuls. I still have some of them: British Heart Foundation, World’s Best Grandad, Children in Need.
Friday nights spent at Yardley Wood Social Club. Saturdays reserved for us. Sundays at Cat’s Protection. A bacon sandwich or plate of cheese on toast forced upon anyone who sat down for long enough in her living room. Even when the tax collector came knocking, so the story goes.
“When I think of her I think of potato peelings ribboning into the sink, of perfume, beetroot sandwiches, magazine horoscopes, the Gemini twins, the flowery front garden of her ex-council house”
When I think of her I think of the mourners standing at the back of the church, spilling out into the graveyard. Of We’ll Meet Again, (don’t know where, don’t know when). How even when I was riddled with nits she let me rest my infested head against her while we watched TV. Goodnight Mister Tom on video (the scary bit fast-forwarded at ten times the speed), Noddy Live, Fly Away Home. Talcum powder. Shards of banana toffee. Victory rolls. Arthur. The bed she shared with her siblings as a child.
The game where me and Laura were evacuees and she ran a fish and chip shop. First and last one on the dance floor. Life and soul. Washing the pollution off a handful of blackberries in the kitchen sink. The soft lilt of her voice when she told us: ‘It takes all sorts to make a world.’ When she was younger than I am now she joined the Land Army and befriended a prisoner of war. He called her Hitler’s Secret Weapon after observing her farming skills. City girl.
When I think of her I think of five foot nothing, waving a cigarette, coaxing a cuddle out of Mr Blobby. Highly flammable. She finds her way in to the centre of things still. Always at the core, in life and afterwards.
I write about her without realising; she finds her way into the ink of my biro and tap dances across the page.
Charlotte Evans | @charlierosereads
Charlotte is a receptionist at a trade union in Birmingham. She graduated from Falmouth University in 2018 with a Creative Writing degree and has recently finished her second draft of a novel. Her main areas of interest are childhood and family relationships.