Chapter 3: Orangeries, Orange Trees And Warrington

The humble Orange. It is inside the humble orange that orange juice is made. Did you know that? Yeah! That’s where it all comes from. Quite amazing really. Quite, really very amazing indeed actually. Other facts about oranges:

  1. Oranges are part of the citrus family of fruit, its mum is a Pomelo and its dad is a Mandarin. It gets its sweetness from the mandarin and its size from the Pomelo (or Momelo, as the orange calls it).
  2. Oranges were Julius Caesar’s favourite fruit and he was actually reaching for one when he was famously stabbed 23 times in the back. Even during the stab attack it is said that he continued to reach for the oranges, craving one last taste of their sweet orangey nectar.
  3. If you put all the Oranges side by side they would build a wall that would devide the world, bringing on us a Third World Fruit War.
  4. It is still sadly unknown whether there are more Oranges or Apples in the world, but it is known that Oranges are never red, unless they have been painted that way.
  5. Michael Jackson once famously tried to stuff his brother Tito full of oranges because he wasn’t allowed to take them onto an aeroplane. Tito was taken to hospital and Michael missed the flight. He asked Tito for the Oranges back which was, of course, medically impossible. Michael Jackson left the Jackson 5 the next day, the two never spoke again.
  6. Oranges can be grown in Orangeries!


Now that is called an Orangery but is not used for actually growing Oranges. The story behind this is interesting: many small Orange producing operations went bust after British War Time leader Winston Churchill branded Oranges the ‘Fruit Of Fascism’ because pictures emerged of Mussolini handing a segment of Orange to Hitler atop the Brandenburg gate. These small operations soon ran out of money and had to abandon their Orangeries. In a piece of beautiful symbolic poetry, asylum seekers fleeing Nazi Germany who had arrived in Britain settled in some of these Orangeries and turned them into homes. After the war years, many choose to stay in their Orangery homes, which are now an accepted and celebrated part of British life.  This means you now see orangeries become a normal domestic dwellings, leading to many of them springing up as homes in their own right or as an alternative to conservatories. Where I live in Warrington Orangeries are ever present, you see them around every corner. It helps us all to remember how close our great nation came to destruction.

The lessons of war are many, the orangeries remind us to not hold prejudice, to accept rather than turn away, to love rather than to hate. It should also be noted though that it was not the oranges fault, they are as much a fruit of democracy as they are a fruit of fascism.…


Chapter 2: Burning Briquettes

On Sunday nights we’d eat together as a family. The time I’d have to be home would shift from 5 to 7, depending on a whole host of factors. Sometimes it seemed to creep in that the actual deal was that we had to come back by six to ‘be on hand’ to help finish off whatever it was they had been up to all morning. This was one of the hardest times to be around dad. He always tried to do too much, he tried to work to much. He did it because he had a nervous energy about him, he did it because he couldn’t still, he did it because he was unfulfilled and to some extent unhappy. He did it because he never got the chance to try to achieve something great, a great thing, something he was convinced he was capable of. And he probably was. But he didn’t get the chance. He got a wife and kids and a family and a very nice house that he had to work inordinately to maintain. And work he did.
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His flaw though was confusing why he was working. He was working this hard because of his feelings about himself and his life and what would constitute success. But he concerned of all of this differently. He would work himself to his wits end, to a point of exhaustion and complete stress, and we would reach this point on Sunday nights, around the time we were meant to be enjoying each others company. He would become the worst company. We’d all be on eggshells, knowing the slightest thing would set him off. Knowing that this wasn’t time for relaxing and enjoying, this was a time for concentrating, focusing, and trying not to put a toe out of line. He’d ruin it, basically. But he could live with that because he was working for us. Look around! Look at the house! Look at what I built today!


The point is, no one ever asked him to do these things. We would have been perfectly happy in a smaller house, if it had been a happier house. It might just be that happiness in the form which can rest and feel contentedness is beyond my father though, which is his sadness to bare far more than it’s mine. Last time I was there he was fitting some new eco burner thing in the garden. I went to join him and he starts ‘The burner is fantastic son, it burns hardwood and peat briquettes as well as wood fuel so we’re getting a delivery in every Sunday afternoon’ then he keeps going and going.


Every Sunday afternoon. Well, that’ll make mum’s Sundays even more fun…



Chapter 1

Dad used to put five sugars in his tea, he’d do it when mum wasn’t watching but when we were. He’d give us a wink and tell us to ‘Shhh!’ every time he put in another scoop. It used to make us laugh. I told that story at dinner recently. Mum said she’d always known, she’d would make sure that the sugar bowl was there for him. Then she started crying.


I haven’t exactly been active recently. I was reading a book called ‘investing in yourself’ in the sexual health clinic waiting room last Tuesday in which it said that your most precious time is the time you spend alone as this is the time where you can step forward and really focus on developing yourself. Recently I’ve been spending all my alone time watching tv series I’ve already seen. In the middle of every episode I become bored and disillusioned with it, but resolve to finish the episode. The end always manages to make me want the next one. I go on knowing that it’s really all no good. I’m going to have to finish every episode there is and then maybe I’ll come out from under the rock. I do like it though, I like being there in that world.


He has so much demand on his time, his life is important. It matters for reasons I know to be precisely meaningless. An obsession with power, influence and legacy which is a joke when actually put up against the mortality it is supposed to combat. His voice is still playing in my head though. I wish to stand and stare people down ‘Do not enter a fight you cannot win Micheal, if you open your war chest I will destroy it, I will destroy you and I will destroy everything you hold dear’ I want to say these things but I have no high pressure situations, no competition in my life. I just make dinner occasionally, so I let it all out there. ‘If you wanted to make Lasagne Charlie that would have been your choice but we are not making Lasagne, you said you didn’t mind and you gave up your right to comment. Now you can silence your hungry mouth and we can continue here as or you can go hungry and wither like the skinny dog you are. Either way, Charles,  the wolves intend to eat’.


Dad used to sit in the bath long past the water had cleared out. He’d sit with his legs over the side, his body squeezed into a ‘U’ shape. Mum would open the door and throw a towel over him through the steam, and when that cleared we’d go in and sit next to him and tell each other stories. When I feel like I’m going to cry, that’s where I go.