The Makings of Mia Pleasure, nee Mia Brigshaw, nee (nee?) Karen Brigshaw…
The following occurred during Mia’s ‘formative years,’ and concerns the girl formerly known as Karen Brigshaw:
At a certain age, hard to be specific, Karen suffered a harsh life-lesson. She’d have been the sort of age where she’d started growing away from her parents, emotionally, but still at an age where seeing one’s parent/s (either one or the other, or both) suffer an act that left said parent/s feeling humiliated and broken was enough to shake the very ground beneath her feet. Karen had been sitting at the dining table, doing her homework, whilst listening to the radio, as her mum pottered around the kitchen making tea (dinner) for her dad, when the familiar scrape of the front door key in the latch sounded her dad’s arrival home from work.
Not that this was anything for Karen to feel either excited, or worried about, because Mr. Brigshaw was neither a talkative man, nor was he an emotional man. Most entrances followed the same pattern. Mr. Brigshaw kicks off his boots in the porch, where they’ll stay until the following morning, before popping his head round the door to call a quick ‘hello’ to ‘the Mrs.’ If Karen’s at the table, or on the couch, he’ll give her a quick nod of the head as acknowledgment of her presence, if not, he’ll knock on her bedroom door and shout ‘hello,’ before taking his customary shower. Mr. Brigshaw does not enter Karen’s room – ever.
On this particular day, however, something else transpired. The clunk of Mr. Brigshaw’s boots on the terracotta-tiled-surface of the porch was not followed by his head popping round the door. Karen, slightly confused by this as two full minutes had passed and Mr. Brigshaw had still not popped his head round the door, called through to her mum who was still in the kitchen, and who was singing along to a song that made Mrs. Brigshaw feel like a teenager again, informing her of Mr. Brigshaw’s arrival home. The family routine was such that any deviation caused alarm and anxiety.
Mrs. Brigshaw came through from the kitchen, running her hand across Karen’s shoulders as she passed, and walked towards the living room door. She hesitated for a moment before glancing a smile at Karen, an unconvincing smile, and pulling the handle to reveal a front door that had not been closed properly, and a pair of feet that lay motionless, preventing Mrs. Brigshaw from closing said door. Karen heard the low, whispered boom of her dad’s voice, indicating he was conscious and that he hadn’t collapsed or anything (probably just sitting on the stairs), and the falsely cheery pitch of her mother’s bird-like response.
Some while later, Mrs. Brigshaw had managed to encourage Mr. Brigshaw into the living room and into ‘his’ seat, something he’d never normally do until he’d been for his customary post-work shower. Lots of ‘cock’ and ‘love’ ensued – what is meant by this is that Karen’s mum, Mrs. Brigshaw, used lots of soothing reassurances that are specific to the geographical location: “yull-bi-orreet, cock”; “irrell-bi-orreet, love”; “see-iffit-waynt, cock”; “tha-nays-tha-will, love” (stuff like that, always followed by an obligatory ‘cock’ or ‘love’).
Karen sat at the table during all of this, not wishing to move, be seen, nor heard. She made as if she was still concentrating on her homework, but she wasn’t. She listened but felt awkward as if she was prying on business that she had no right prying on. She heard the telephone go, its shrill bell intensifying the feeling that something was not quite right in the room – the telephone was never left unanswered. Mrs. Brigshaw, sensing that she had to take charge of the situation, heightened the falsely cheery pitch to an almost fevered level of pseudo-normality, and persuaded Mr. Brigshaw to go on about his showering ritual and to come back down the stairs afterwards, all washed and shaved and feeling right as rain: “goo-on, gerronup, thall fill reet when thas bin-an-bin-furra-wosh”.
Mrs. Brigshaw watched Mr. Brigshaw head out of the living room, and then she spun on the delicate heel of her mule slipper and sped back towards the kitchen to finish making tea (dinner). As she passed Karen, stroking her hand across Karen’s shoulder in the opposite direction this time, she whispered three words (possibly four depending on how one views contraction via apostrophe use):
“Thirron-straakk” (“They’re on strike”)