ANTONIA ROLLS ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE NEWS. An account of an Artist and Mother in Bognor Regis. Worthwhile, but exhausting, so pour the tea and make yourself comfortable...(this painting is a family portrait, about 2'x 3', oil on wood. It is the Ross Family, each family member with items that describe them best. And at the front, on the grass on the right hand side, is a photo of Grandma, sadly missed.)
I have described my Man Children. I have said I have the heart of an On The Ball Mum etc, and I have said that I love my dreadful boys to bits. There is more though, on being in possession of such volatile Man Babies, there is much more. My Man Baby Volcanoes have kicked off with such ferocity since the last account, that all has changed here. I am Alone Again, Naturally. Read on.
I have brought them, plus the Excellent Daughter, up alone. That was hard work, and I was only a few steps ahead of them at the best of times, and often did not get it right. But somehow, we all got through. Excellent Daughter is now only 20 and has a proper job, an ISA, a pension and is being seconded through college and then we hope, university to become a fully fledged Nurse. A triumph. My mind goes dark when I think of her past and her early teenage years. I expect she is still having nightmares herself. When she was about 11, my sweet little private school baby said "Mummy I would so like to go off the rails. I think I will. I'll start next week if that's OK with you? Hip Hip Hoooraay." How sweet, I thought. She will start using makeup and saying Bloody Hell, how sweet.
What I got after a bit of time and effort, was a rough sleeping, heavy drinking, gang member who looked like she'd been raised in a bog. Hoooraay, I thought. One thing led to another and I moved my family here to Bognor Regis. The children, then 9, 12 and 15 could not forgive me. I moved them all to a backwater where everyone was inbred and had the IQ of an amoeba. And there were no tube trains. We fought and fought, and because life goes on, they all got older and time made them forget a bit, and the food was good, and I am a bit of a walkover, and they could all as one single unit, hate Mummy for what she done to us (unquote).
There have been battles. Steve came and went, he died nearly 3 years ago now (November 29 2007). His time with us was marked by sons and daughter making war, all of them at once, and the involvement of all the wider family who thought the kids had a point. What with me getting a man and all that. Bit tricky. Bit uncalled for.
Alone again is where I find myself today. 14 Year Old Man Child has been in trouble with his Thumping, Punching and Brawling, and I am having to cope with the fallout. He still loves his Mum though, no doubt about that, but more people are now involved with the consequences of his difficulties in seeing who is a person and who is a punchbag. 17 Year Old Man Child is defying the world and setting himself up in a way that means he is absolutely in control. I kissed the top of his spikey head tonight at the station and said Goodbye, and I Love You, and drove back home to Arnold Schwarzzenegar here who is behaving as if someone has stolen his steroids.
And here is the crux. No man can live with me because of my family. Even with the best will in the world, it is not possible. So it looks as if I am Alone Again, and Doomed To Be Forever So. But maybe one day when I am wrinkly and droopy, a daring ex boxer with a Masters in Psychology who has been in a War Zone will take a shine to me and say Ha! Call that a problem! I've seen much worse! and show me his scars. I will be a hardened old battleaxe myself then, and will be able to show him mine, and swap war zone stories and we will make each others hair curl. (If he has any.)
At the moment there is no art. I am not able to get into the studio because there is too much going on in the home. Am I sad? Yes. Oh yes. I am too sad to cry even. But there, my Man Children have to take priority and what I thought I had, twice now, with a nice man to be normal with, is not in my story line. Tonight, I don't mind telling you, I feel more lonely and alone than I have felt ever. Because it is all so impossible, I can't have a Partner. I can't introduce a nice new accountant into the household with Hello Sons, this is Mr Not Very Exciting But Very Nice because he will be met with Hey Mr Not Very Exciting But Very Nice, Have A Knuckle Sandwich BAM and that will only be the beginning.
Until of course my ex Boxer visits my care home. And he is blind in one eye and can't see how old and shabby I have become. "Put my wheelchair next to hers!" he will boom on day one, "she's a Barbie and no mistake!" And the care home will have to put up with us partying till dawn, and climbing out of the windows to make up for all the time we spent being Strong and Single and Tough and Fab.