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Dean Whitbread 2013

Dean Whitbread 2020

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Written on May 26, 2005, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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“Kimmy, I’m talking to her, I’m telling her what she did is wrong, and there’s no need to hit her!”

An exasperated response on a 7.30am sunny street corner by a large determined woman, who every day walks like a Mama Duck with her three school-uniformed girl ducklings down the Holloway Road. Usually she marches at a regular pace, too slow for the oldest, the youngest putting on spurts of speed every ten paces to keep up. The middle child does ok, for a change, in this walk-to-school sibling set up. This morning was clearly not a good morning.

I have often caught her interrogatory glance as I stroll by on my return from the station in leather jacket and shades – she always keeps her face set but she is for some reason curious about me and often clocks me from afar, only averting her scrutiny when I come within range of a few paces. Perhaps she is severely myopic, although she doesn’t look it. I sometimes wonder whether I should one day acknowledge the thousand times we have passed by over the last three years.

“Good morning, madam, girls, and congratulations! Today is the One Thousandth Time we have walked within inches of each other saying absolutely nothing!”

With a flamboyant flourish I would then pull out from my pocket a large printed and embossed certificate, I would place a fabulous medal on a bright blue ribbon around her neck, I would, if the going was good, even give her a dry peck on the cheek, standing back afterwards to beam broadly, encouraging the girls to congratulate their mother on her success. “Well done!” I would raise and deepen my voice for appropriate emphasis, hand out small posies of flowers for the girls, and as bystanders at the bus stop looked on, draw them into appreciation of the moment.

“This woman,” I would state grandly, “manages that most difficult of tasks, day after day, without recognition, and without profit.” Pausing to let that sink in, I would reduce my volume just enough to keep it above the traffic noise. “She provides breakfast. She delivers safely to school, and brings home at the end of the day. She prevents violence, dispenses justice, and copes with injury and bilious vomit. And yet….”

Here a pause, allowing the gravity of the moment to assume Greek tragedy proportions.

“And yet…” allowing the voice to soften and show compassion, implying just a hint of the human struggle we all experience, “We haven’t a clue who she is.”

Signalling for the playback to begin, as violins and brass ascend around us, I would bring the event to a stunning climax. “It gives me the greatest pleasure to present whoever this woman is with a Medal and Certificate of Excellence in Urban Behaviour, First Class, No Holds Barred. May God Bless her and all who stare back at her.”

Tears, cheers, the bus queue applauding, shopkeepers out on the step, smiling. Mama Duck experiencing the joy of recognition with the shock of exposure. Strangers moved to approach and shake her hand. Triumphant, I would withdraw unnoticed, leaving Kimmy proud, the little one thrilled but slightly lost, and the middle one wondering about the effects of sibling rivalry on her ability to work well in groups and her future employment prospects.

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This thing has 4 Comments

  1. transience
    Posted 27 May, 2005 at 12:18 am | Permalink

    i wander what kind of mothering strategies i would employ if ever something like having children happened to me.

  2. miranda pooflaps
    Posted 27 May, 2005 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    i would have slapped her, twice, hard, and said “this is how domestic brutality is supposed to work”

  3. Blog ho
    Posted 27 May, 2005 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    hehe. miranda. funny.

    this was clever, deek. i liked it for the truth..and the description of the walking mannerisms.

  4. Laurie
    Posted 28 May, 2005 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    You must speak to her. Maybe it’s because I’m from The South and from Texas, but anyone crossing paths for such a long time should be on, at the very least, politely nodding, if not speaking, terms. Buy her and her three ducklings carnations and take it from there. One day, you might even be able to actually present here with her well deserved certificate.

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