posted on October 23, 2009 at 2:34 am

my mother joyce is 81 years old today
she was born in london a long time ago
one of 8 kids
her mother n father working class strugglers
she spent much of her childhood vaguely embroiled in ww2
getting bombed and hiding out in the underground or in shelters
her dad was a bit of a leftie
and her mum was puffing on cigs as she made the dinner
the kids ‘ad a bath once a week n all shared the bathwater
they all slept in the same bed too except the biggest 2
joyce was third
not a good position to be in i guess
better to be oldest or youngest
my mum was quite a good sort
sometimes i get shocked seeing pictures of her i havent seen before
you can easily imagine why my dad fell for her
she is so thoroughly english
she could live in australia or india or iceland for a hundred years
and she would remain staunchly herself
she would not pick up an accent or change her anglocentric worldview
as opposed to me
who is so changeable and wanting to be whatever i’m not
my mother doesnt change
she bears good fortune and grief stoically
thats what happens when you spend your early days in a war
you toughen up
you dont sweat the small stuff
and you get a bit of a distance too maybe
i tell you this
i never saw my mother gain or lose weight
her hairstyle didnt change much over the years
and the blonde turned to a lovely ash silver almost imperceptibly
she always had a load of energy
and she still does except her dodgy knee has slowed her down
but she still hops around
bombarding you with loads of confusing choices
ie me n the fambley drop in on her
joyce : what do you lot want for lunch…..?
us : oh anything…what you got….?
joyce : but its too late for lunch
us : why cant we have lunch
joyce : well sonny jim, you should have gotten here earlier…
us : well can we have dinner…?
joyce : its too early for dinner son, dont be silly
us : well ok…we wont have anything…
joyce : but you must be hungry…!
us : then lets have lunch…..
joyce : well you should have come earlier then…
now my mum n dad were married for eight years before i arrived
so no one accuse em of a shotgun wedding please (not like aunty X!)
and i dont think they were expecting me to be me
and i think i was a hard child to like
i am still hard to like
despite being vaguely goodlooking n talented
you might assume this makes people like you
but it doesnt
there is an inherent selfishness
an almost cultivated stupidity combined with flashes of brilliance
an embarrassing lack of social skills (asbergers lite perhaps)
i still dont know what to do with people
i didnt know what to do with my parents
and they werent sure what to do with me
you see it was peace time
and we migrated to australia
thus accidentally denying me the chance of being a much bigger rockstar
had i remained in england
where i wouldnt have kicked against so many pricks
and i wouldnt be compared to geezers i preceded by years
they wanted to emigrate from cold bombed britain
either canada or australia
both woulda had pros n cons for me
i guess i could have been a half canadian bloke without much trouble
we come here
dad does well coz hes a charmer with the cockney malarkey down pat
and the aussies used to be impressed with poms n yanks
they still are a bit…its true…not all poms n yanks natch
but if youre a classy pom or yank in australia you gotta foot up
anyway i turned out to be cheeky
not nice cheeky neither
i had a big rude mouth and i opened it a real lot
i pissed off all my dad n mums brothers n sisters that were here in aust
and then pissed off all their other friends n rellies
my mum did not namby pamby me much n all that
neither was she cruel or hard
but she was stern
and she had that true grit to back it up
much more afraid of her than my dad
my mother didnt really have much of a philosophy
about raising kids
a wallop if needed
a good dressing down frequently
a bit frosty if you played up
she was pretty even handed
she didnt really seem that jazzed about being a mother really
i always felt that my mother could have dedicated herself to a career
like being a librarian or something
she never would have missed having a husband or kids
she always seems to have a detachment
she never worries too much
she never counts her chickens
she just kinda gets on with it without any soap opera
my mum was a good tennis player
even tho she was often attacked leaving the tennis court
by our very own boxer dog, lionel
who had a strange fetish of hanging round the tennis court
and nipping womens backsides as they went in n out
anyway when she retired she become a state champion bowler
with many cups n trophies till her knee stopped her playing
i dont think my mother double guesses herself too much
which is one of my faults
in that she is like eve
they just do things and thats it
whereas me n say aurora
we always talking ourselves out of things
my mother was never phased that much by my ups n downs
she didnt change her attitude to me when i got lucky in show biz
it was business as usual for her and thank god
i wouldnt impress her much if i won the gold whatnot or whatever
shes like a constant in my life
no matter what joyce is joyce
and she cant n wont change
whether youre some bigshot manager
or some humble fan looking for an autograph
joyce will be the same
a few years back she wrote an amazing book
the tale of the old iron pot
my brother john helped her immensely in getting it published
it is quite an eye opener n should be rated AO for the language
tho my mother herself rarely swears …she quotes others freely
yes it is a great read
i’m not in it all that much
just towards the end
but wow it was an entertaining
if sometimes ever so slightly farfetched book
so thats a talent i inherit from her
and i hope i inherit her longevity and her energy
and i wish i could have her cool detachment from highs n lows
anyway 81 aint a bad innings
and i’m glad i had a mother who treated me fair n square
she let me be most of the time
my parents forced no manifesto on me
other than their intrinsic englishness
i was free to become me n luckily
the times permitted such a selfish luxury
because at the age i was discovering trex
my father was killing geezers in europe
so you can imagine it was a bit different for them
i love my mother
shes a real brick as they used to say
and i am thankful to her
she did what she could with me
and it all turned out ok
(in the end)

43 Responses to “happy birthday joyce bennett 81 today and mother of perhaps (arguably) one of the best lyricists(of his type) in the (southern hemisphere) world!!”

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