Recycled #3: The Marmite Trilogy

Marmite small v106

Image via Wikipedia

An inadvertant excercise in perspective writing


‘I hate it, it’s horrible!’

’There’s nothing wrong with it. Get it down or there’s no afters’

‘But Dad!’

‘Sammy, I’m warning you!’

‘Jason says it’s witches’ poo!’

Samantha!’ (‘Samantha‘– that meant trouble) ’Finish it now or you go to your room with no TV, understand?’

Sammy’s mouth turned down at the edges. Her bottom lip started to protrude and quiver. Her shoulders started to chug up and down and her fists tightened on the Sunday tablecloth. She sucked in a huge breath though distress-flared nostrils and she howled. It was an eyes-screwed-up, face the colour of the abandoned tomato on her plate, turn your lungs inside out kind of howl. Then, from somewhere beneath a tract of pink corrugations, tears of outrage and impotence budded onto whisper blond lashes and hung there as the decibels mounted.

Further down her blotched red face and occupying centre stage in the purple cavern that was her mouth, a piece of marmite sandwich could be seen hanging, unmasticated, upon a tongue that could not shrink away. Marmite was disgusting, it made her teeth curl up, sucked her cheeks dry and smelled like, like…. She couldn’t think what it smelled like because nothing in her world stank like marmite and here it was in her mouth again. Well, a long howl requires an equally long inhalation and this brought some welcome relief.  A tiny crumb, drawn in with the compulsive breath, caused Sammy to cough, splattering the claggy brown muck across the table and into her dad’s tea. Lunch seemed suddenly to be over.


‘I hate it, it’s horrible!’

’There’s nothing wrong with it. Get it down or there’s no afters’

‘But Dad!’

‘Sammy, I’m warning you!’. That’s dad’s Serious Voice but I’m really going for it now.

‘Jason says it’s witches’ poo!’ I pull my best yeuk face and stick my tongue out.

Samantha!’ (Uh-oh) ’Finish it now or you go to your room with no TV, understand?

Right. Now he’s for it. Mum wouldn’t go for this but – I pull my mouth down at the edges, I stick out my bottom lip and make it tremble. Is he looking? Good! Now for the shoulders; up and down, up and down, wobble the lip a bit more and pull at the Sunday tablecloth. I sneak a peek at dad out of the corner of my eye but now he’s doing ignoring; I can tell because he’s staring hard at the football page and he hates football.

‘Sammy, pack it in with the drama queen performance, I’m not impressed!’

Time to bring on the yelling then so I screw up my eyes, open my mouth and howl my hardest and longest. My face should be bright pink by now, I practised this in front of the mirror when  me and Jen played at being babies last week. If squeeze my eyes until it hurts, well, nearly hurts anyway, and think of the time I got grounded for taking a skipping rope to the old quarry on a fishing trip I can make tears. Yes! Now for the sobs; I’m going for broke so I open my mouth and let it out; it’s the loudest wail I can do. Stick my tongue out again with the glob of marmite sandwich stuck on it. Marmite is just gross; it makes my teeth curl up, it sucks my cheeks all dry, and it smells like, like…. Well, I really don’t know what it smells like because nothing else ever could smell like that. Have to breathe in again now and he’s still not looking! It’s a big breath, I bet I was purple, Jen would so not be able to go purple because she’s got asthma so she has to use her puffer all the time. Come to think of it….

Caaaaagh!’  Before I can stop it, there’s a bit of something in my throat and I’ve let out a cough to end all coughs and out goes the claggy, marmitey muck across the table and into dad’s tea. Serves him right. He won’t stare at the football page next time.


‘I hate it, it’s horrible!’

‘There’s nothing wrong with it. Get it down or there’s no afters’

‘But Dad!’

‘Sammy, I’m warning you!’  She’s doing this on purpose so I aim for the Authoritative Father tone; controlled, moderate but firm.

‘Jason says it’s witches’ poo!’

Samantha! Finish it now or you go to your room with no TV, understand?’ Jason must be that precocious little brat with the melodramatic airhead of a mother who thinks she’s an artist. All carefully placed paint splodges and fake distraction, well…

Jeez, now what’s she up to? Any time her mother leaves me in charge, the little blighter ups the ante. Time for the tears… and here they come.

‘Sammy, pack it in with the drama queen performance, I’m not impressed!’ Ignore her, that’s the strategy. I focus hard on the paper, peering with as much interest as I can muster at the football page. It’s the local derby with photos of milkmen, posties and solicitors hunking about in the mud and striking poses like whatsisname, el Ninho. Or is that a weather feature? Ah, this is more like it – cheerleaders! Some of them are spindly legged adolescents and a few are definitely a little too chubby for the costumes but there at the back, eyes bright as tiny stars in endless heavens and a body made in the same place, is Elena. Elena the exchange student from Venice teaching dance to overweight kids in year eleven. Elena the fabulously opportunistic encounter over shared cigarettes in the dark at the last parents’ evening. Elena my wonderful…

Shit! A glob of something disgusting (marmite sandwich?) has described a short but effective arc across the table from Sammy’s oxygen-deprived mouth and into my tea! Shit shit shit! Witches shit. Evil muck. Maybe Jason was right, the pretentious little prat. I watch as the tea seeps into the newspaper and runs Elena’s exquisite features into a blackened pool of inky obliteration. Something similar happens to my gathering erection. So much for the golden goal.

©suzanne conboy-hill 2010

Mother: More Than Just Neosporin and Band-aids. (via Writing Under Pressure)

Margaret Hill & Kathy Conboy circa 1945

Concert line-up circa 1945. Colour added 2004

Mothers’ Day in the UK was in April so, when the US gets going on theirs, I always think I’ve forgotten and start clicking around the chocolates and Interflora sites. I used to phone but now there is no conversation; just bland scripts or sudden bursts of unaccountable distress. Dementia has stolen the person my mother once was and left behind a husk. Our memories are confined to black and white photos and the oral accounts handed on by earlier generations. These will undoubtedly become fragile and subject to contraction and distortion over the time.

Old age is not always so unkind as to take our personalities, and many of us can expect to live well for very many years. The image we hold of ourselves – the 25 year old we are in our heads – has a much better chance now of being appreciated down the years as the options for recording our lives proliferate. Last night, I was at my niece’s 21st birthday celebration. Not only was it multi generational, with the over 21s and the very over 21s bopping just as hard as the new young adults, every move most likely found its way onto a plethora of digital devices. When consciousness has returned to the owners of the devices, I can expect to find myself tagged on Facebook. In future, we won’t have to recount tales of ‘how it was in my day’; there will be an app for that.

Now take a look at Christi Craig’s inspiring post:

Mother: More Than Just Neosporin and Band-aids. Have you ever looked into your mother’s eyes and seen past the woman who is caregiver, chef, and chauffeur? I have. It was 1986, the year I turned sixteen. That year, my mother threw me a huge birthday party, Fifties style. She bought hoola-hoops and poodle skirts and drove me and my best friend all over downtown Fort Worth in search of records — old 45’s. My best friend  and I fell into each other and giggled, while my mother danced around the … Read More

via Writing Under Pressure

Local elections comedy sketch

A polling station sign in the Jersey general e...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s been polling day here today. Not for national government, but for our local councils. So it’s the time when people who might have been doing quite a good job, get a thorough kicking because of unpopularity at the top. This year, two parties are up for a drubbing because we have a coalition, so if Labour doesn’t do well, Ed Miliband should really pack up and go join his brother in political limbo. We’re also voting this time in our first referendum since 1975. Then, it was about joining or not joining the European Economic Community (we joined). This time it’s about Alternative Voting (AV) as a replacement for the First Past the Post system we’ve had forever. Pretty important stuff.

Our polling station is in the village hall so I took myself off down there late this afternoon and got in the queue. Well, the part up to ‘queue’ is accurate. Actually, the place was deserted apart from two women sitting by the door with clipboards; and three looking like magistrates and sitting at trestle tables opposite a trio of wooden booths. I was tempted to invent a scene in a horror film and shuffle round the walls making starey eyes; or mime elbowing the crowds out of my way, but plumped for one of those walks people do when unexpectedly called to centre stage.

Already somewhat idiosyncratic, this important political procedure – the consultation of the people – was about to become a Two Ronnies sketch. The first woman in the line checked my name and address. Then she said, ‘Do you want to vote in the er …’

‘What, small booth? Annexe?’

‘No, the er …’

‘Main hall? Outside toilet?’

‘No, the er …’

‘Car park?’


Thus was the democratic process initiated. I made my mark on pieces of paper with a stubby pencil on a string. I exited stage left.

So its goodnight from me; and it’s goodnight from him.