Thursday, 7 January 2010

The Matchstick Cathedral

“Can’t you stop that? At least for a few minutes while we have our meal?” Susan Pierce’s exasperation was obvious to anyone with half a brain-cell and yet for months, her very intelligent husband had been unaware of it.

“Five minutes more should do it...yes, just got to ease this piece in here...Oh bugger!!”

Susan’s husband David had been making this model out of matchsticks for nearly twelve months and he had very nearly completed it, but the last stages were proving difficult and to say it was becoming an obsession with him would not get you into any trouble with the misdescriptions people.

“David! Now!” Susan dropped his plate on to the table harder than strictly necessary but managed to restrain herself from braining him with it.

“Oh, now look what you made me do! The weather-vane’s crooked!”

“Matches your brain then!” Susan snapped. “Other people have lives, you know? They go out and have fun with their friends. Some even go on foreign holidays.”

“I took you to Bridlington last year...”

“...year before actually...and that’s hardly what you’d call a foreign holiday...”

“’s in Yorkshire...” David didn’t look up from his model.

Susan just threw him a very dark look.


He got up and seated himself at the dining-table.

“What’s this?”

“What’s it look like?”

“I hate lasagne.”

“Hard luck. We like it.”

“I hate lasagne.”

“I hate that model.”

Susan and the two children ate their meal in silence.

“I’ll make myself some beans on toast then.”

“No beans.”

“I’ll make myself egg on toast then.”

“No eggs.” Susan helped herself to more salad and passed the focaccia to the two children.

“Cheese on toast! I know there’s cheese!”

“No bread. And that’s your repertoire exhausted too.”

“Right then!” David stood up. “I’m off to the chippy!”

“Got a plentiful supply of Rennies then?”

“Oh bugger off!!”


Half way down the road David realised he hadn’t brought his wallet. Even if he had been tempted to risk three days worth of heartburn, he had no money.

Finding himself in Primrose Lane, he took a second left into his mother’s road.

“The face is familiar, but I can’t just get the name...” Mary Pierce’s eighty one years hadn’t dulled her wits.

“Okay, okay...” David held his hands up in submission, “any sharper and you’d cut yourself Mum.”

“Is there a particular reason for this visit, or did you just run out of matchsticks?”

“Are you going to carry on like this - shall I just go?”

“Please yourself, lad. I’ve just about got used to your absence - I probably won’t notice. Don’t slam the door on your way out though, that pane you promised to fix ELEVEN MONTHS AGO is about to fall out. I’ve stuck some blu-tack on it.”

David paused. Eleven months? No, it wasn’t that long ago...

“Eleven months.” Mary could always read her son’s mind. “Remember? After the funeral?”

Hell’s bells! She was right! How could he have been

“Insensitive, David. That’s what you’ve become.”

Mary was well aware she was being hard on her son but, she considered, he deserved it. “I’ll put the kettle on. D’you want something to eat?”

How did she do that? David sat in his late father’s chair. “If you’re making something, but don’t go to any trouble.”

If he needed any further evidence that his mother was a witch, then it appeared, on a tray, with a cup of tea, in the form of two, mouth-watering egg-butties. And there were even two Rennies on the side!

“Thanks Mum. No-one makes these like you do.”

“No-one creeps like you do. What’s your problem?”

David knew it was useless to try and hide anything from this old witch so he told her about the state of affairs at home.

“I don’t blame the lass!” Mary was brusque. “If it were me, you wouldn’t get into the bedroom either.”

David looked distinctly sheepish.

“Oh, like that is it? So how long have you been in the spare room?”

“A fortnight.”

“David! That’s ridiculous! And all this over a stupid matchstick model?”

“It’s not quite that simple Mum...”

“Yes it is. You go home and you put it in the bin. You show her you love her! You TELL her you love her! How can anything be more important than the relationship you have with the woman you love, and more importantly, who loves you...?”

“...IT WAS DAD’S!” David jumped up from the chair. Mary looked at him in puzzlement. “David, what do you mean? Your Dad couldn’t see well enough for such things. - you know he had glaucoma...”

“Yes, Mum, I do know that, I used to read the paper to him from cover to cover - remember? The sports pages were his favourite and the gee gees. I also used to shave him and, if you remember, see to a lot of his personal hygiene.”

Well, if you didn’t want to do it, you should have said...” Mary began, hurt at the inference. “I’d have managed somehow...”

“...and hacked his nose off? And the news would have been olds by the time you got through the newspaper! In any case, who said I didn’t want to do it?” David walked over to the window. The garden was not looking it’s best. He’d have to come and sort it.

“I loved Dad and I would have happily done anything for him, but it’s not the same as doing it yourself, is it? Dad hated it. He hated being so dependant and he said to me two days before he died, ‘ Davey lad, you know what I’d have loved to have done before I popped me clogs? Make on of them matchstick models. A cathedral. I couldn’t do them even when I could see! Too damn clumsy!’ and he’d chuckled.”

“So the model’s for your Dad?”

David nodded.

“So why didn’t you tell Susan? She’d have understood then.”

“I don’t know Mum. I don’t even know if I knew it was for him until I just said it.”

Mary put her arms as far around her big handsome son as far as they would go and hugged him.

“You big softie!” He bent down so she could reach to kiss him. “Go home to Susan, lad, and tell her what you just told me. Your Dad loved Susan - so do I for that matter, she’s a good lass and deserves better than she’s had just lately.”

“How do you do it Mum?"

“Do what, lad?”

“Always know the exact right thing to do. You seem to almost read my mind sometimes.”

Oh, just mother’s intuition, lad, nothing more.”

Mary waved him off and when the Rover had turned out of her close, she went to the telephone and dialled.

“Susan? He’s just left. Yes. Egg butties! Just finish the model with him and you’ll be okay, I promise! No, I’ll let him tell you all about it, he needs to. Oh, and Susan? Let him back in the bedroom, love?”

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