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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Throwback Thursday: The Boy Who Took Out His Eye [memoir]

Last week’s Ben Ghazi hearing put Tripoli, Libya on the tip of my tongue and the forefront of my mind. Today’s #TBT post is a piece about the time I spent there as a small child in the 1950’s. It was first published in 1993 in one of those local freebies, the throwaway newspapers you used to find tossed on your front walkway. And I was thrilled to make it into its pages.

That’s me on the back of the camel, 
cowering behind my big brother Russell 



The Arab Boy Who Took Out His Eye


When I was five years old we lived in Tripoli, Libya just outside Wheelus Air Force Base. We weren't military, we weren't even American but my father, formerly with British Intelligence had been hired to infiltrate the PX as a manager and investigate the cause of the store's outstanding financial losses. My dad was a great manager, in fact he was responsible for bringing the hoola hoop to North Africa, holding a big promotional party with hoola hoop demonstrations, clowns, balloons and lemonade in the parking lot.

And he found the embezzler too, a good friend of his, he was sorry to say. Back then, (it was 1958) the base boasted one of the largest airplane hangars in the world and we went to a giant Halloween party in it. I went as Minnie Mouse; my tin foil tail trailing behind me and eventually tearing free. The older boys next door dressed up as women with huge breasts fashioned from pillows and great big red lips. I think my brother was jealous because he had played it safe and just done himself up as a hobo. He was a fine tramp though with his burnt corked face and sweet blue eyes gleaming.

Read the rest of the story [The Arab Boy who Took Out his Eye]

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