My Mother’s Voice

Alzheimer’s being the conniving thieving bitch that  it is, my mother wasn’t herself in the final years of her life. The  woman I visited in the Alzheimer’s special care unit was a stranger wearing my mother’s skin but not much else, like the invasion of the body snatchers had taken place, month after month beneath the surface, until one day we looked and the woman we knew was gone, replaced by some alien being. An imposter. Intruder alert. Intruder alert. She died back in 2012. Don’t worry; I won’t be getting maudlin on you.  My real mother–not that stranger in a wheel chair, head nodding on her shoulder–is who I want to think about today.  My real mother —Enid Maude Good nee Hayden, a prim, old-fashioned name, perhaps the only thing about her I didn’t love— was British-born and had a lovely London lilt to her voice her whole life even though she left England in the mid-1950’s. I suppose at thirty, her vocal patterns were already frozen in place.  Sounding like a cross between

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A 'Clippie' on a Double Decker bus by day, diving from bombs by night


Mum (Enid Maude Hayden) was born in 1925; a teenager in World War II. This picture was taken before she started coloring her hair. At sixteen she worked as a "clippie" on the double-decker buses in London. 

Running up and down the bus stairs, punching tickets. She used to tell her brothers, Robin and Peter (Don was away at the war)
 "Who's got the best legs on the street and why have I?"


 Running up and down those stairs all day; no wonder!
These were the times when London was being bombed, and she would take the train to London to meet some Yank she'd met and have to run home in the dark because of the lights out cerfew. They had a Morrison bed in the living room and she had to dash to it more than once - a steel cage contraption with a mattress inside. Often, as this picture shows, they used the top surface for a table.

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