JULIA

I’m late back from my walk cos I met a lady from Croydon. I was walking up the road, over the bridge and she was pulling along a little fat dog, like a larger version of a jack russel; the dog kept looking back at me as I approached. He looked worried. I love to talk to people about their dogs, so I said that he looked worried. Oh she said, I expect he thinks he knows you. She said he was quite old, called Sam and was a rescue dog who’d she’d had for 18 months. I walked on, agreeing that animals were better company than humans as they didn’t answer back…

When I reached my halfway point I met her again coming the other way. I remarked that Sam now probably thought that there were two of me!

Ooh he likes you, they know who they like, don’t they? She said as I stroked him. Do you like animals? Oh yes I said I absolutely love them. Have you got a dog then? No, I said, I’ve got 3 cats but I’d like a dog, but they are a tie. Oh yes, they are, aren’t they, but we do manage to take him away with us – he’s a much travelled dog, aren’t you Sam? But I agree with you about having cats, they are much easier, aren’t they, they can look after themselves. Yes I said, they come and go as they please and if you don’t feed them then they go out anyway and kill something. It turned out she lives in Chedzoy and had walked to Bawdrip cemetery to visit her partner’s mother’s grave.

Slight pause, then, do you have any children? Oh no I said but my partner does. I’ve got the one, she said. I said I was too old, how old are you she enquired, 40 I mouthed. Oh no that’s not too old, you should go for it she said. Well, I didn’t want one for ages, until I was 30 in fact, but then he turned out to be premature you know, only weighed 2 lbs. Of course I wasn’t getting very big, but I didn’t realise you see, but my friend did, cos she’d had 3 children, so she knew you see Jane, but I didn’t. I was full of water and not much else, blown up like the Michelin man. Bit of a shock it all was, having a prem baby; pause. Had a breakdown over it you know. Oh yes. Had to go in hospital for a while. It was the shock you see. Could have lost him quite easily you know. My Peter. I came home and started to make myself very busy, doing the housework and all that. Well I had to have something to do didn’t I, I had to leave Peter behind in the hospital. They were very good to him but it was all too much. Some of the babies died you know, ooh it was awful, they were all surrounded by tubes and all that. Anyway, he didn’t even leave a scar (points to lower tummy) ooh I know I shouldn’t say it but you can’t see a thing

I asked her how they treated her in the psyc hospital. Oh very well Jane, they were very good to me. Very kind. They used to let Peter stay the night and they used to feed him for me. Well he was the highlight of their days, wasn’t he? Well we were all about the same age see Jane? I said I don’t want to be drugged up like, I don’t know what they gave me but it was all right see Jane?

Feeling a bit depressed now actually. Well my mum died a year ago. Oh people say to me, oh well she was old, she got to a good age didn’t she? – but I say fuck it, it doesn’t matter how old she was she was still my mum and now she’s not here any more. They don’t understand, do they Jane?

I’m on medication at the moment. What is it? – seroxact. – Is it helping Jane? Well, sort of. But I think you can get used to it, what do you think Jane, do you think you can get used to it? I thought maybe not but you may need to increase the dose when things get difficult. I am seeing a psychiatrist, but I had to fight for it. I took an overdose see, Jane. Yes I know. But I had to do something to get some help. Who am I seeing? Oh you know the Spanish woman. I’ve had this cold for 3 weeks see Jane and my P says it’s cos I’m very sensitive, you know what I mean? Sometimes I phone the Samaritans, oh they are very helpful, Jane. Someone to listen. No, that’s right, you don’t have to be suicidal to talk to them, but they always have to ask you though, don’t they, just to make sure? Some aren’t as good as others, I know they’re busy, and you wonder whether they are actually listening, don’t you? But they are very good.

People don’t understand though, do they? Well, some of my friends do, some are good. But others…well, they don’t understand, do they? I’ve got this one friend, lives in Epping, got MS, think it’s getting worse – well, all she does is go on about herself. What does she go on about? Oh her kids, you know, she’s got three of them and about how much cooking and housework she has to do all the time… well I tell her, don’t do it, but she doesn’t listen, does she? Just goes on about the same things again and again. Well, her daughter is awful. 27, still lives with her. Alexis. Terrible girl. How often does my friend phone up? Oh about twice a week? And how long is she on for? 50 minutes. No, I said 50 minutes. Yeah I know Jane. Drives me mad. But I feel guilty talking about her like this. But she just goes on. Known her since I was 16. Yes, that’s funny Jane, you saying that’s a long time to be on the phone for. She never shuts up though. My Dave agrees, so it can’t just be me, can it?

He’s a good man. When I left the p hospital my husband divorced me. Yes, I know. His brother died in a motorbike accident. It was my husband’s bike. Well, his brother dies and he says he wants a divorce. People said it was the shock, he’ll come round. But he didn’t. Did me a favour in a way. Well I had to go out and get a solicitor and sort it all out. Anyway, I didn’t let it put me off men. I still liked them you see Jane, I like their company. So I joined some dating agencies. And I met my Dave. He’s had 3. No, not wives Jane – 3 children! I don’t want to marry him though, I’ve done all that, haven’t I? We’re happy as we are. Well we have our ups and downs, but who hasn’t? Well he’s not one to argue anyway, not like my husband, he could get really mad when he wanted to. Also he was useless. Useless at everything. Not like Dave. He couldn’t cook, not even boil a bloody egg! Dave can do everything.

Anyway, I mustn’t keep you. Perhaps I’ll bump into you again Jane. Bye…

JULIA

ApeArt

BAWDRIP, SOMERSET, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

I went out for a walk round the country lanes. I met a lady called Julia and she was very interesting. I rushed back home and tried to write down everything she said and this is an almost word-for-word account. I thought it might make a good monologue for the stage sometime…

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