I make myself laugh. Yesterday I wrote an email to someone and it made me laugh so much my sternum hurt. And when people laugh at me, I can’t help laughing back. Only the other day, when I was driving Frankie (15 year old granddaughter) she misheard something I had said and repeated it to me. It put me in a very very bad light (really) and her words were slow with amazement and her eyes wide with shock. When I’d worked out what she had misheard and what I had actually said, we laughed so much I had to stop the car in a lay-by and then, when we’d started on our way again, the laughter re-surfaced and I had to stop on the grass verge. Then, when we were on our way yet again, the laughter bubbled up once more (this time definitely Frankie’s fault) and we had to stop for a third time. Laughter can blind you, hurt you, stop you breathing, block your ears, make your nose run. And it’s lovely. Delicious.
George was a terrible giggler. By that I mean that he was a great giggler. I remember walking back to a hotel late one night, just a tiny bit merry, and getting the giggles so badly that we couldn’t get the key in the lock (it wasn’t the booze- honest). So, worried about waking people with our snorting and wailing, we walked around the block. As we got back to the hotel, we started again… so we walked around the block again. This was in Nottingham town centre at about midnight, and a group of young lads was approaching, cocky, boozed up and ready for a fight. They saw the two of us, doubled up, coughing and spluttering, cross legged, and they did a hasty and definite swerve out of our way. I’m not sure now how many times we had to walk around the block.
When Lou was little we were in a two bedroom house in Derby and on occasion, if something had bounced off our funny bone, we would hear an exasperated cry from Lou’s room “Oh, stop laughing, be quiet you two, I’m trying to sleep!”
And I’ve just remembered another time when George and Lou were both helpless with laughter as I howled in pain, the swines;
I don’t have a garden. There’s a tiny , tiny courtyard up some steep steps, and the whole thing is smaller than the average bathroom, which is fitting really as it serves as my dog’s bathroom. It gets hosed down every day and swept occasionally but it’s a boring little square of nothing. The wall on one side is shared with a neighbour and a bramble tumbles down, which is a bit of a nuisance as I can’t reach up to cut it back and I have nowhere to put the clippings even if I could. But today I went out to do the usual hosing chore and look – Look! The brambles have born delicious huge juicy glistening fruit.
What’s that got to do with laughing? As I greedily popped some into my mouth this morning I remembered a day in Derby when we were flat flat broke… the sort of broke that dreads the postman shoving yet another bloomin’ bill through the door, the sort of broke that makes you lie awake at night wondering if your family will be better off without you but with the insurance pay-out. That sort of broke. From our back door we could see great clouds of brambles on a piece of waste land, brambles reaching high into the sky, and this was blackberry time! So there we were, George and Lou and me, picking damn great bucket loads of the things (we got so sick of jams and jelly that we went off blackberries for years) and the first mistake we made was to make it a contest. I don’t think I’m competitive but when it comes to husband and wife contests, it’s no holds barred and I was determined to win.
The second mistake we made was to each have a bucket, a quite big bucket.
Now, my shoulders haven’t worked properly for about 40 years, so even back then I was handicapped, but determined. SO determined. I reached as high as I could without pain and then a bit higher, and then on tiptoe and then… weighed down by the bucket…. I tottered… and I fell slowly and with a long ‘oomph’ of breath mixed with a sort of wail, into the deepest cloud of brambles that man has ever sen.
The pain was real. Agony. Brambles whipped my arms, my legs, they grabbed my clothes, they twisted around my neck…. George and Lou, startled, immediately came to my rescue. It was unfortunate that most of my picked blackberries had been thrust into the air only to fall back onto me and there to burst. I was a gory horror show. And it wasn’t easy to reach me, they were getting sliced and bloodied too – George told Lou to stand back….. Halfway through the very real rescue (it hurt! It really hurt!) both George and Lou started to laugh…. and laugh…. and then to howl… holding onto their sides, clutching their knees, doubled over… total hysteria. And the weird thing is, although I was really in pain, scratched and caught and helpless and bleeding from a thousand tiny pin pricks, I started to laugh too. We finally staggered back to the house, our bones turned to jelly, spattered with blood and blackberry juice, damp-knickered and exhausted…
And now the memory makes me smile.
Laughter. Weird, innit?