Ripples Following Ripples ~ COLLISION-COURSE
baggage was so heavy ~ my days of traveling light
are long-gone ~ that I expected to have to pay excess-baggage
charges at the airport, but they let me go, and I
was on my way to Malaysia again. DV picked me up,
and once more I had a nice time in Malacca. Before
I flew on to England, I bought a new laptop, having
given my old one to Hung’s son, Hai;
they don’t last long, especially with the amount
of use I give them. I also got a new digital camera.
Unwilling to take another chance with my baggage at
K.L. airport ~ especially with the extra things I’d
acquired ~ I sent a box of it off by sea-mail; it
arrived months later.
The KLM flight from K.L. to Amsterdam was very cramped,
and I needed to go, but hung on until we got there,
then went quickly to relieve myself. The connecting-flight
to Manchester was much better, and of course, brief.
This time in England, however, although it started
off alright, was to turn into a disaster, and it pains
me to have to write about it, but if I don’t,
my story will be incomplete.
Glen wasn’t happy that Karin had got back with
her stud again and was once more pregnant, but just
had to accept it as a fait accompli.
Karin didn’t care what anyone else thought,
and did just whatever she felt like doing.
I plunged into my work around the place, and did numerous
things that I’d not planned to do. I’d
long-noticed that while doing one job, other jobs
presented themselves to be done; it was as if I went
looking for work. Over the years I’d been going
there, I had completely reshaped the back-yard and
Then came my nemesis: Glen’s 16-year-old grandson
~ her eld-est daughter’s son ~ for a weekend,
his name was Wilky (short for Wilkinson), and I got
a taste of what to expect some weeks hence, when,
upon leaving high-school, he would come to stay with
Glen in order to attend an agricultural-college nearby
(his home was maybe 150 kms away). He’d been
a nice young kid, but was certainly not a nice teenager.
Now, I’m not the easiest person to live with,
and am ready to admit this, but I was quite prepared
to be friendly with him, and indeed, had looked forward
to his short visit, and tried to make conversation
with him; all I got in return were monosyllabic answers
or grunts. Well, many teen-agers are like that, I
know, but that is not an excuse.
Glen had spoiled her kids, and I saw her repeating
it with this brat. She could see that I wasn’t
impressed with him during that initial visit, and
said, “I don’t want any trouble when he
comes to stay,” as if she expected me to initiate
Well, his parents brought him, with all his stuff,
and he soon had a part-time job on a farm somewhere.
I must be fair and say this about him: he wasn’t
lazy, but was a good worker ~ although only for his
own sake. He would come home stinking of manure, but
often went days without showering; fortunately, because
the weather permitted, he'd made a den in the unused
garage where he slept with the dog, so his stink remained
there, but when he did come through the house
to shower, the smell was awful. Then, he would leave
his dirty clothes on the bathroom floor for Glen to
pick up, and left the bath-mat soggy; his parents
had obviously not made a very good job in their upbringing
He fixed speakers up and played rap-music at such
a volume that it could be heard far down the street.
He had a scooter, on which to commute to work and
so on, but it sounded like a chain-saw as he roared
up and down the driveway at any time of the day and
night, clearly showing utter disregard for others.
The neighbors on one side couldn’t have been
quieter, but those on the other side were just the
opposite, often holding late-night parties with blaring
karaoke music and using bad language, even though
they had young kids of their own. Other neighbors
finally united and lodged a complaint against them,
and they were ordered to tone things down. We
also used to complain about them, but with this kid
on his chain-saw, we’d lost the moral
high-ground, and had no right to say anything more.
I told Glen to tell him about this, but it was a long
time before she did; she was afraid of offending him
and that he might leave her.
Things came to a head one night, and there was an
explosion, for which I held Glen responsible, as I’d
told her it was coming, and she should have seen it
herself and done something to prevent it. We were
all sitting in the lounge, and she said: "Go
on, plug in" ~ meaning his laptop, which was
beside him on the sofa. To do so, however, he would
have had to take the cable from my laptop and plug
it in his own, as he had done several times after
I'd gone to bed, but left it in his instead of plugging
it back in mine. Twice, she said it, as he hesitated,
knowing he should ask me, but un-willing to do so.
At this, fed-up with his attitude, I said, "If
he asks first". Instead of encouraging him to
do so, however, Glen came to his defense and said:
"How petty! We'll buy you a cable tomor-row."
I then reminded her that he doesn't speak to me, and
asked her why she'd not spoken to him about this,
as she'd agreed to do so the week before when we’d
argued about it. Unable to avoid it, she did ask,
upon which he said: "I do talk to you".
"When?" I said.
"I spoke to you yesterday," he said, “when
you came back from the dentist's". He remembered,
you see ~ and I did ~ as it was a one-off event; he
certainly didn't speak to me when he came in that
evening. It is only common courtesy to greet people,
isn't it? I wasn't being petty. I told Glen she thinks
the sun shines out of his butt, and she agreed she
did, saying she loved him to bits; but this was indulgence,
not love, and is exactly the way she spoiled her kids
before. I don't know if he was a mamma's boy, but
he certainly seemed to be a nana's boy; if he came
home and found her not in, he immediately zoomed off
on his scooter to look for her at Karin's; he couldn't
bear to be there when she wasn’t.
Now, when we go to stay with other people, we feel
our way and adjust to the situation there, speaking
to everyone politely and in a friendly way, no? Not
this kid; from the very beginning, he set himself
on a collision-course with me. I don’t know
if he was sim-ply rude or had taken an immediate personal
dislike to me, or what, but he hardly uttered a word
to me. I couldn’t think of any-thing I’d
done that might have accounted for his bad-manners,
but Glen doted on him and took his side totally. I
saw clearly from this that she had a way of avoiding
problems by sweeping them under the carpet instead
of dealing with them. She could easily have told him
~ and should have ~ to at least greet me
whenever he came in; after all, this is British custom,
too. The next day, I explained to her the error she’d
made, and begrudgingly, she apologized, but it didn’t
solve the problem, which continued.
I also told her that he might have learned many things
from me, but so biased had she become that she said
sneeringly, “Like what?” I knew then that
it was all over, and began to make plans to leave,
but this took quite some time.
One day, I’d been out on my bike and came home
with a flat tire. Fixing it, I found a tack in it,
but thought I’d picked it up on the road somewhere.
A few days later, there was another tack in my tire,
and still I thought it might have come from the road;
maybe some monkey-boy had maliciously scattered them.
When I went out again, I paid special attention to
the roads on my route, but there was no sign of tacks.
The third time it happened, I became suspicious; these
tacks had come from somewhere nearer home. I said
to Glen, “Have you been sticking tacks
in my tires?”
“I have not,” she said, indignantly. “Why
would I do that?”
“I didn’t think you would,” I said,
“but someone has.” I don’t know
if she saw my point, or if her love refused to allow
her to think it of him. Before I left, there was a
fourth tack in my tire.
I sold the new printer-scanner I’d bought, and
a circular-saw, but gave clothes and the many books
I’d collected to a charity-shop, and in the
end, unable to sell my bike, I gave that, too. I mailed
a large parcel of stuff back to Malacca, to await
Two days before I was to fly out to Turkey, Sheila
called with the news that mum had died. I was upstairs
in my room, and Glen came to tell me, sobbing, with
tears on her face. I sat in medita-tion for a while,
but having had years to prepare for this, didn’t
feel sad; actually, I was relieved that she’d
been released from her ruined body. She was almost
93. (Sheila saw to the funeral arrangements, and Anita
hypocritically gave the eulogy. Her body was cremated,
and Sheila later sent the ashes to Glen, to be scattered
at the place where mum had been born).
Later, an argument developed over mum’s death,
and quickly turned to dad. I’d not realized
before just how badly Glen had felt about him. She
dredged up things from many years in the past that
she’d kept in the back of her mind. I told her
that I’d made my peace with dad before he died,
and was happy about that; she hadn’t, and it
was too late now, and she was left with so much hatred,
for that is what came out in her words and on her
face. I let her go on, as I could see that nothing
I could say would have any effect other than add fuel
to the flames. She then said, “I know I’ll
never see you again,” and she was probably right,
as I can think of no reason whatsoever to return to