IT’S ALL ABOUT MAVIS….
I suppose at some point in our lives it would be amazing to think that we had achieved something special, or at the very least to shine a little bit more than the average person for just one day.
I think that is why we often strive to excel in something.
“Mavis you have a happy and generous heart my love, but unless you decide to become a comedian, which mark my words, women don’t do, I fear there is very little you will actually shine at..” Frederick Albert Upton – 12th December 1972
I’ll tell you what, before I go any further why don’t you grab yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, a couple of digestives if you’re not on a diet, make yourself comfortable and I’ll tell you about me. It’ll be nice if you know me better from the beginning…..
I am Mavis Upton; a mum, a daughter, a sister and an ex-wife. I have discreetly waved goodbye to my twenties and have now happily accepted my thirties with not too many tears, tantrums or a trip to the Aesthetically Yours Beauty Salon for fillers, Botox, lash inserts or Super Scouse brows.
I was born sometime during the not so swinging 50’s when fish & chips came wrapped in last weeks’ newspaper and skirts were still worn below the knee. By the time I had reached my first birthday, my mum had already left me in my pram outside Woolworths on two separate occasions.
“…..but Mrs Upton your baby has been here for three hours, we’ve had stray dogs claimed quicker than that” grumbled the local Constable who had been pushing my pram around to stop me from crying for the best part of an hour. Suitably chastised, mum smiled weakly, wiped the snot from my nose, examined the tissue and stuffed it into her pocket.
Although she fervently maintained it wasn’t three hours, I was still abandoned, unclaimed and probably traumatised for life before the age of one.
“…..Mrs Upton this is the third visit Mavis has made here in as many months, can the child not be controlled…?” A fitting tribute from Sister Jacks at the local Cottage Hospital after my three wheel trike hit a wall whilst I was chewing an elastic band causing me to excitedly swallow it. This was followed by two weeks waiting for it to re-appear again, which looking back must have been incredibly gross.
Two weeks later I was back again. This time for a serious, almost life threatening nosebleed after a head on crash into the garage doors when riding on the handlebars of my brothers bone-shaker bike. Admittedly this was aggravated by the fact that I had my right index finger inserted knuckle deep into my left nostril at the time of impact but it did teach me a very valuable lesson for later life…….
………..don’t pick your nose whilst availing yourself of any form of moving transport. It’s not big and it’s certainly not clever.
“….I’m sorry Mrs Upton, if we have to be called out again to Mavis we may have to start charging a fee…” A further tribute from Station Commander Cookson, Fire & Rescue. They had come to my assistance that particular Sunday morning after I fell from a huge tree in the local park. I had hit several branches on the way down, but was saved in my dramatic descent by a particularly robust twig somewhere near the middle.
Even at that tender age, I was mortified to be found dangling upside down by my shorts and pink Minnie Mouse knickers. My humiliation further compounded when I made front page news of our local paper complete with close up photograph and banner headline “Mavis and Minnie Take a Tumble”, in which the first paragraph provided the whole world with my name, age, school and finally my address. I spent three days staring at that photograph, turning it to every angle possible, willing it to become someone else so that I could continue my life of innocence without being known as the ‘Pink Knicker Kid’ for all eternity. Knickers apart, I also had the misfortune to notice that there was nothing attractive about a pudding-bowl haircut when being forced to swing upside down, bright red in the face for the best part of an hour.
“No Mavis, be sensible. I can’t afford Donny Osmond knickers nor can I afford another call out by the Fire Brigade.” Mum scowled as she wiped her hands on the tea towel. “……why can’t you be more like your brother and sister? You push me to the point of exasperation, you really do.”
In June 1962 I kicked my shoe on to the roof of the local Infants School, prompting the Caretaker to climb up in an attempt to retrieve it. I watched as he fell off the step ladders on the descent, fracturing his arm. Looking on with some sympathy as he lay prostrate and groaning on the ground between numbers 3 and 6 on the chalked hopscotch chart, with his arm bent at an impossible angle, I inwardly clapped with glee as all was not lost – he still had my shoe in his outstretched hand when he landed, saving me the inconvenience of having to hop home.
“….if yer think I’m goin’ to work one more day in this place with her….” The Caretakers arthritic bony finger shook as it pointed at me as I tried to hang my head in mock shame, whilst still giggling. “…well I’ll tell yer this fer nothin’ you’d better think again” he growled.
Another fitting tribute. Are you starting to see a bit of a pattern here?
The following month I swung elegantly on a lamppost outside my friends’ house and was knocked down by a passing Bubble Car, driven by Barry Bouffant the hairdresser who lived down the road, only regaining consciousness on my friends red Formica kitchen table. That in itself was a separate trauma; I mean, come on; red Formica!
It was the end of a hairdressing career in Mayfair for Barry. This event was so traumatic it left him with an uncontrollable tremor in his scissor hand. After several uneven fringe cuts, he announced his retirement in the Hairdressers Journal.
“It is with great sadness I am retiring from the hairdressing circuit. This is wholly due to one Mavis Upton. I cannot offer anything further due to ongoing legal matters with my Solicitors and the Upton family.”
I thought it was rather lovely of him to mention me.
Between the ages of five and twelve years I ballet danced, tap danced and sang dreadfully, adored art, learnt how to darn a sock and fell in love with ALL four of The Beatles. I bought Donny Osmonds ‘Puppy Love’ from Woolworths and this time remembered to take myself home just in case Mum forgot again.
A few months later, Donny Osmond and his puppies forgotten, I saved up and bought Alice Cooper’s ‘Schools Out’ as an act of rebellion and being grown up.
“Absolutely not Mavis, hand it over. I will not have you listening to this type of music….it’s degenerate. Whoever heard of a man called Alice?”
“Aww jeez Mum….”
“Don’t you jeez me or I’ll wash your mouth out with soap……”
Grabbing my prized 45 rpm single from me, mum disappeared into the kitchen leaving me to wonder how exciting being a degenerate would be – whatever one of them was!
After a week of searching for Alice, I found it stuck behind the tea caddy on the kitchen window. It had warped and melted in the sun. I cried at my loss and suddenly didn’t feel so rebellious or grown up anymore.
As the years passed I moved on from The Beatles to David Essex and David Bowie and truly fell in lust and love for the very first time with Graham, a boy from down the road, whilst listening to Barry White. This was a long lasting relationship which resulted in the ceremonial cutting of a sixpence in half as a token of our undying love for each other.
Walking me home one night, we stopped in the darkened back jigger. Flexing his fingers as though he was about to play a fancy little Minuet on the piano, the love of my life nervously leant towards me, flushed with impending excitement. As one eye settled on my chest, the other eye began to involuntarily wink.
“Mavis…ummm, errr can I….err…oh dear maybe not….oh God….it’s just that they are rather magnificent…” he murmured.
Blushing furiously, I pushed his hand away. “Absolutely not, we haven’t got that far in Reproductive Science yet; you never know what’ll happen if you touch them you idiot!”
Resigned to the moment, he was content with a bit of French Kissing which although terribly exhilarating, resulted in me rushing to the local Chemists the following day to frantically thumb through an information booklet whilst hiding behind the extra-large incontinence pants and castor oil.
By paragraph 3 I was relieved to find that swapping spit couldn’t make me pregnant, or give me acne, athletes’ foot or a hairy tongue. I did notice however that I had developed hairy legs but this may have been just an unlucky coincidence.
The ‘long lasting’ part of this relationship was to end in heartbreak with me staring out of the bedroom window, crying and snotting into my hankie whilst listening to Nilsson’s ‘Without You’. I dramatically mourned a love lost for several weeks…… and half a bloody sixpence I couldn’t spend!
As luck would have it, just when it mattered most, I suddenly developed that obligatory plumpness you get in your mid-teens. After endless diets and drinking gallons of P.L.J. Juice as recommended in the JACKIE magazine, that almost stripped the lining from my stomach, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t actually fat, I was just too short for my weight.
“If you hang on the back of a door by your fingers, it stretches your spine and makes you taller, you know.”
That pearl of wisdom came from my best mate, Corrine. At 5’9” she clearly had never had to consider door hanging herself. Unless she had and the 5’9” was the result.
Excited, I gave it a go.
Needless to say it didn’t work but it did give me an extra trip to the Cottage Hospital when Mum didn’t see me hanging on the inside and banged the door shut on my fingers – three bloody agonising times before she realised why it wouldn’t close.
By the age of eighteen although my waist and curvy butt got smaller, I developed to an immense extent on the front bumper section and had what could only be classed in simple terms as humongous boobs.
“I think you really do need to consider some sort of special harness for them Mavis” Corrine had happily imparted with a smirk.
Yeah, thanks Corrine, 5’9” and a pert 34C. Remind me again why you’re my best mate.
In desperation, I purchased a new to the women’s market Minimiser Bra in a beautiful shade of turquoise blue and was fooled into thinking it was the answer to my prayers. All I can say is they have to go somewhere, either under your armpits or pushed down to become an extra spare tyre around your middle, which then gets stuffed in to the high waistband of your 1970’s navy blue Crimplene Oxford Bag trousers.
Only a few weeks later I found myself reporting to the world that my wonderful Minimiser had tragically departed this life.
After giving it a good scrub in the kitchen sink for a night out with the girls, it needed to dry quickly. No central heating in those days, so I had a bright idea of stuffing it under the grill of the cooker.
Turning the dial up to 6, I promptly forgot about it and went to wallow in the bath and shave my hairy legs. What seemed like minutes later, I heard mum’s high pitched voice gravitating up the stairs.
“Think your bra’s ready Mave!”
I jumped out of the bath and opened the door to be met with dense smoke on the landing. After nearly an hour of toasting my wonderful Minimiser had burst into flames to become an offering to the Mammary Gods. All that was left of my expensive purchase were two wires, a stringy bit of melted turquoise in the grill pan and an extremely uncomfortable evening with an unholstered set of nellies that kept knocking the drinks off the table in the pub.
After wasting three Bacardi & Cokes, two pints of bitter and a Babycham, I made a decision to save for my ‘Diddybooby Fund’ to pay for a reduction at Doctor Blenkinsop’s Internationally Renowned Clinic in Accrington.
Unfortunately I got a bit side tracked and raided the account to pay for a holiday to Ibiza. There I learnt that maybe my ample melons weren’t such a curse after all and I came to accept them as part of my life, so long as I didn’t run, jump or lean forward too quickly as any one of those actions would render me back in the Cottage Hospital.
To this day my ‘Diddybooby Fund’ still stands at a rock solid £3.46 pence, a Spanish peseta, two buttons and an elastic band.
Between the age of seventeen and twenty five I managed to have a successful career in plumbing, the watery tap kind, not gynaecology or urology, get married and get pregnant, all in that order. This was much to the relief of Mum who had frequently threatened me with death or banishment if the latter had manifested itself before the white dress and wedding breakfast.
And so, it was with much relief that in the early hours of a very warm August morning, my beautiful daughter decided it was time to make an appearance. Hubby pulled up outside in his bright yellow Bedford works van as I stood panting on the doorstep wearing what could only be described as a two man tent; with the men, sleeping bags and rucksacks still in it!
Opening the passenger door I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Jeez, couldn’t you have cleaned it out a bit before I got in”
Hubby rolled his eyes and just shrugged.
Kicking the chip wrappers, cigarette butts and his collection of cassette tapes featuring the Rolling Stones and the much sought after K-Tel compilations to one side in between contractions, I heaved my bulk into the front seat.
“Bloody hell Mavis, watch what your sitting on, it’s me latest Cliff Richard single.”
Grunting through another contraction, I glared at him. “I’m sure Cliff couldn’t give two bloody hoots if I suffocated him with both ass cheeks, just get me to be bloody hospital….NOW!!”
Forty five minutes later, after much unladylike swearing and no pain relief whatsoever I heard her first cry as the midwife wrapped up my little pink bundle.
“You have a daughter Mavis, a gorgeous daughter”
Looking down on this beautiful, tiny miracle I knew in that instance that my life would never be the same again. Kissing her forehead and breathing in her baby smell, I felt my heart would burst with a new found love. “Welcome to the world little one, I’m your mummy.”
And with that my little miracle let out the biggest fart I’d ever heard, smiled contentedly and went back to sleep.
It only took me three weeks to actually end up committing the ultimate in child neglect just as my mum had done all those years ago outside Woolworths. Two miles from home, driving over the ‘humpy bridge’ I did my mummy impression as the car lurched forward over the crest and dropped down again.
“Oooh little bumps for little girls” I simpered whilst half turning to look at the back seat. To my eternal horror it was empty – apart from Humphrey the Hippo, who was nodding his head and glaring at me in a most disgusted and accusing manner.
I panicked as the realisation hit me. I had actually gone one better than my Mum.
I had left MY daughter at home…….
……..on the coffee table!
Sadly, although nothing to do with me leaving our new born baby abandoned in her carrycot on a £14.99 MFI coffee table, my marriage was not to last and I soon found myself alone with Ella, living a contented, simple life in our seaside cottage with our kitten who is quite simply called Cat.
So there we are. The life and times of Mavis Upton, an ordinary, accident prone but happy girl with several testimonials from the Police, Fire Service, National Health and the general working sector…..
…. and a Mum who didn’t quite know what to do with me apart from two episodes of futile abandonment.
(C) 2016 Gina Kirkham
Mavis will be happily recounting more stories in Spring 2017 in her book, Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Polyester Thong to be published by URBANE PUBLICATIONS 😊