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Mark Czanik

My Father Reminds Me of the Importance of Spring

I got up at six and had a bit of a dribble, and then I couldn’t sleep after that, so I went downstairs and watched a bit of News before I came out here. Don’t matter what state this miserable world is in, the garden always make me feel better, even in the autumn when there’s nothing to do but tuck everything in and put it to sleep.

News all the same nowadays. People killing each other one after another. It’s a innocent people who suffer, not a people who put ‘em there in the first place. You see, trouble is people don’t think. If people stopped to think these things wouldn’t happen. The government over there making such a mess of things. Bloody Yankees. I got no patience with these people making their own rule. And our Prime Minister no better. Actual fact, he’s a worse Prime Minister we ever had. It’s diabolical. Absolutely diabolical. I mean, what we doin’? Can you answer me that? I dig into my soul for answers, but I can’t find any. It’s a capitalist system that’s got us in this mess. Everybody always looking out for thereselves. Did you hear what Roy said last night? I had to pull my tail not to say anything. Everyone always want more. You know, things are worse now than ever I remember. Everything gone to Burton. Everything gone to pot. And war is a terrible thing. Terrible thing. I should know, I fought in a revolution. I been there. You know I don’t liked to talk about it. And if they had fought in one they wouldn’t be rushing off to war every five minutes thereselves. They wouldn’t have such a grudge against life.

You know what they used to call me at work? A Peacemaker.  Because I can’t stand to see people fighting. I know I used to be a bit hot-headed in my younger days with my instantaneous temperament. Problem is nobody talk to each other. You see, when I was growing up it wasn’t such a thing as you didn’t bother to talk to everybody. As far as I concerned you have to say a bit more than ‘How d’you do?’ What you goin’ to say then? Eh? I drag a words out of them, look, because I liked to talk to people. I always have. It’s a gift to be able to talk to people. A gift.

I stopped these two beautiful girls in town the other day. They were both smoking. I said, ‘Look, you are beautiful girls. You got beautiful skin. Beautiful lungs. You in the prime of your life. You should try and be a bit more health conscience. Chuck them things away before you end up killing yourself.’

Dora, says I’m gonna get myself thumped one of these days, but only person thumps me is her every time I stop snoring in bed and she think I’m not breathing anymore.

You see my apples trees? Beautiful eaters. Full up with blossoms in the spring. Out of this world. And my grapevine over the pagoda, the way the branches interrupt into each other. Marge gave me that when we moved to this house. I think of her whenever I pass it. Even if she was suspicious of me at first and it take some time for her to accept me, we had many laughing experience over a years. Your mother’s family all a same. Your granddad refused to give Dora her hop picking money if she married me. He thought I would take her away from him, look. But once I took them some firewood or hung a door for them, or fixed a leak in their roof they soon change their tune.

That’s your old kitchen sink down there, look. You see, I tell you everything where it comes from. Your nipper used to sit in that sink when she was a babe. Apple mint growing in it now. Yes, I love coming out here. I don’t want to go on the line all the time. I’m not interested in Google and laptop dancers and what have you. I play a bit of Spider on the tablet, but once I’ve beaten it I come out here to real life.

No, sixty years I been living in this country. Actual fact, if I see any new Hungarians in town I follow them to see if they badmouth the Brits. They don’t know I can understand every word they saying. And if they try to put down this country I tap them on the shoulder and tell it to them straight. I mean, that’s biting the horse that feeds you, don’t you think?

Nobody knows better than me how it hurts not to belong. Loneliness a terrible thing. A terrible thing. A worst thing you can possibly have. But the liver is not the only organ that can heal itself. You have to forget the past. If you can’t forget the past you can’t move forwards. I don’t want to be hiding behind bushes all me life. I want to come out of bushes. I don’t know does it make any sense to you? Do you know when I was courting your mother I used to say to her, ‘Ugy szeretlek teged en kis galambom’, which mean ‘I love you so much my little dove.’ I told her when I proposed to her ‘I want you till the day I die,’ and I still say the same thing now. I’m not mucking about as far as my Misses concerned.

No, God been good to me. I only said your mother yesterday I got three beautiful kids, seven beautiful grandchildren with brains as fresh as daisies, a beautiful house, and a garden that keep me occupied every day. If my mother would be alive today and see everything I got, she would faint before my eyes. She would not believe it. Especially in the spring. She would not believe it. Yes, spring is my time of year. I always said I wanted to die in the spring. When the rosebuds are swelling and poking their noses out and everything just beginning again, that’s when it will be time for me to go.

Mark Czanik is from Hereford and now lives in Bath. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared widely, including Southword, Cyphers, Wasafiri, The Learned Pig, 3AM, Riptide, The Frogmore Papers, and broadcast by BBC Radio 4. He has an MA in Writing from the University of Glamorgan.