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What the hell, Polly?
Somebody that I have known (not literally, of course) for a while is a British singer called Polly Scattergood.
She is the fluffy blonde who doesn't want to be touched:
I have put direct YouTube links under the embeds for those using RISC OS where the embedded videos are not supported.
I heard that song on a streaming station about a decade ago and found it on YouTube. It is oddly quirky, and I really like Polly's accent. It sort of reminds me of when I was young - I'm not that great at pinpointing accents, but I'd go for East Sussex, Kent, or Essex. Certainly, "the south east".
I was mowing the other day, and this song turned up in the "random play anything" selection (it's a bit jarring to have Ana Belén followed by Nightwish followed by Enya, but hey...), so I just thought I'd take a look on YouTube and see what else she has done. But getting a playlist on YouTube when you don't want to use the YouTube app is not so simple, so I remembered that I had Amazon Music which offered two albums to Prime subscribers (but you need to sign up for her latest, so back to YouTube...).
There's a touch of Kate Bush here, although in Polly's defence she hasn't quite reached the level of singing about a nuclear blast from the perspective of an unborn fœtus, performing in a giant plastic womb with cling-film umbilical cord, and no, I'm not joking!
Anyway. What the hell, Polly?
In amongst a great number of quirky and eccentric songs, four in particular stood out. I don't know the history behind them, but I do feel as if these songs were pretty much narrating my life in the latter half of 2019.
Which, should be taken as a warning - if you are happy and having a good day, do not continue reading.
Still here? Okay then...
Endless waiting rooms
The staring at the walls, the ceiling, the avoiding looking at others. It wasn't me, I wasn't the one that was poorly. But when you're waiting for someone you love to come from the CT-PET scan after an hour and a half and it's been three hours, you can't help but feel a little jittery.
Ditto waiting rooms for the treatments after having visited the oncologist, who gave the good news that was "you're still alive". All the other news? Not so good.
The line that really gets me here is the random "I'm hungry." thrown in. I get that. I get the whole thing where you pretty much put your own life on hold because the person who is ill is depending on you. I can eat later. Or never. It doesn't matter. This matters.
There's also something geekily beautiful about the simplicity of the video that allows you to better appreciate the song's message.
That final visit in the respite centre
Mom didn't want me to see her in hospital. She didn't like to be seen in that way, which probably isn't a surprise given her attitude was to get up and get on with life as soon as possible. She was out walking Wawa with crutches so shortly after her leg operation that the doctor was surprised. But mom wasn't one for "being ill". It took a lot to knock her down.
So I finally got her to agree to a visit with Alison on a Wednesday. I had a list of things that I was supposed to bring, a list that probably would have been more useful had we known before she departed in the ambulance. I know she was having difficulty concentrating, we both put this down to the morphine-based painkillers.
So I got a "Colour with Mum" book and a set of felt tips. Something we could do together that didn't require much thinking. Colour in stuff, talk, ask her what weird sorts of food they had (I believe duck and deer were both on the menu, as well as fish I've never heard of).
But when I got there, I knew the score immediately from my time working as a Care Assistant in nursing homes in England. Some things are always the same. The little foam mouth swabs. The horrific fright hair as the nurses feel it is easier to brush the hair back away from the face rather than however the person normally has it. And, of course, the whole sunken face thing and the raspy breathing.
Mom was physically there, she was technically alive. But I don't think any part of what made her "her" remained. It was just a body without it's inhabitant. A shell without the ghost.
All that remained was to wait.
Another 48 hours.
There's so much emotion in this song. And so much truth as well. Running on autopilot, bouncing between feeling everything and nothing at all...
And the thing about me is that I am generally "the emotionless". I didn't cry during the funeral, or the days around. I surprised most of my bosses by going to work, where I had the same "somewhat bored" expression that I always wear. I sought solace in music, having pretty much swapped perky J-Pop for the likes of ShadowIcon (who never made The End sound more inviting and welcome than it does in their song End of Days).
Going and sitting in that little room at the morgue, the one with the soft piano music, dim lighting, and fake flowerless plants. Artwork of fields at sunset. Subtle "the end" messages all around.
Talking to the funeral organisers, picking a coffin. How deep do I want the hole dug? That is a time when being emotionless is good, or I might have told him exactly what I thought of that question. I think he noticed my lack of response so he clarified that he meant was it for just her, or would it be "a family plot". I guess other people have had that reaction...
The funeral parlour and the funeral
If you thought that last song was emotional, I really suggest you get a soothing cup of tea and sit down.
Then poke the 'Play' icon.
Devastatingly beautiful, and it speaks for itself.
And... life goes on
The stages of grief are:
- Shock and denial
The denial was when mom was living with me, all the pretending that things weren't as bad as they were. The shock? That Wednesday visit. When what I hoped wasn't so very clearly was.
- Pain and guilt
Of course. Thankfully as a hardcore introvert, suddenly being alone in the middle of nowhere didn't mess me up. But there was plenty of "shoulda, coulda, woulda", all of which counted for exactly bugger all. Too late, far too late.
- Anger and bargaining
I think I mostly missed this stage. I believe that the "creator" and life force on Earth is the Earth itself (as the largest living organism), and there's not a lot of point in shouting at rocks. Also, getting angry wasn't going to be useful. I could, if I wanted, throw every plate in the house. I could lob the pickaxe through the window. I could kick the cat. But all that would result in is a hell of a mess to clean up and deep scratch marks. She's dead, she's not coming back. There's no point in getting angry. What's done is done.
Likewise, bargaining? Bargaining with who, and for what? I suppose it might make some sort of sense if you have a God to shout at and attempt to reason with. I don't pin my hopes on mythology.
There's always been a touch of this in my life - I mean, if I die at the same age mom died, then that is closer to me now than was the release of the RiscPC, or the initial broadcast of My So-Called Life. I have less than a quarter of a century to go.
But, on the other hand, the only time you really know that you have an expiry date is when a doctor mentions the big C word. Mom, upon learning, hoped that she would have five more years. As things progressed, she revised that down to two. In reality, she got a little over one (or one and a half if you count the end).
Me? It's unspecified. I might die at 71. I might die at 91. Or I might be wiped out by a truck on the way to work tomorrow. So I'm not going to lose sleep over it.
What does concern me is that I like to believe that there is some sort of purpose behind all of this. I mean, what's the point of living if it is without purpose?
It's just... I'm fast approaching a half century of life, and I still haven't figured that out yet.
- The upward turn
I suppose this started last year with sorting out the bramble mess. I've never really been one for doing "gardening". However in the past year and a half emails have gone unanswered, things "on the computer" have not been done. I have still programmed, but at times when I've not been outside doing stuff. Like over the winter holiday. If I program or debug or whatever any more, expect that to be during cold or wet weather. Otherwise, I'm going to be doing stuff around here. Inside, not so much. Outside, so very much. Things have changed.
- Reconstruction and working through
I'm not sure how this is different to the previous point, so just repeat the entire previous paragraph.
- Acceptance and hope
Summed up as "life goes on". Succinct, but also exactly as many words as necessary to express the concept.
And this final song, in Polly's atypical style, sums up the final point. The continuing, the hope, the after. The "sweet rotting memories" (they do, don't they?). The title, Nitrogen Pink, I think refers to Nitrogen mustard. This is a compound originally intended for chemical warfare that, these days, finds service as a chemotherapy treatment (and if that doesn't get a "WTF?!" reaction out of you, nothing will). I find it interesting the whole load of Wednesdays. Most of mom's scans and all of the chemo sessions were on Wednesday. Is that, like, global chemo day or something?
I love the layering of this song.
Yup, we ended all that on a happy note. ☺
It's a shame that Polly is not better known. I guess it's just easier to market some stupid clichéd love song than something with any actual emotion in it...
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|Gavin Wraith, 5th April 2021, 19:34|
I wonder if her father is called Brian? It was a Brian Scattergood who first ported Gofer to the Archimedes.
|VinceH, 6th April 2021, 23:41|
A very quick search says her father is/was an actor. I haven't found his name, but based on her age and when he was active, my guess is Colin Scattergood: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2448843/
I'd never heard of Polly Scattergood before reading this post, but based on the embedded videos, which I like a lot, I've lined up her first album for my next order.
(Felicity? Marte? Find out!)
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Last read at 21:12 on 2022/08/12.
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