At the End o’ Me Tether

Lulu was Flo’s mum. Flo was my English foster mum.

Attending North Town Primary School—a fifteen-minute walk from home—I dropped in every Friday afternoon, to visit Lulu from the age of five to eleven.

“Tell Flo I’m at the end o’ me tether.” She would say this every week as she handed me a copy of Bimbo, a comic for kids, and an old penny, probably worth ten cents.

As I sat with her at the dining table, she would abruptly jump up and feed her three cats or potter around her sitting room with her feather duster. Eventually, she would retire to her favourite armchair to await the start of Coronation Street.

Close to ninety, her face leathered and tanned, Lulu reminded me of a ball of crumpled brown paper. She was just as light to hold. Around her, the paint and wallpaper were slowly peeling off, bric-a-brac cluttered every nook and side table, and a pair of startlingly yellow budgerigars brashly chirped on their silver perches.

I last visited Lulu at seventeen. It too happened to be on a Friday, when she would always have a special treat in store for me. As I bowed down to kiss her goodbye, she paused. “ang on a minute,” she said. “I almost forgot.” From a corner of her table, she extracted an age-worn copy of Bimbo and handed it to me. In her other hand, she held out an old penny, superannuated long ago by decimalization. It is the only tangible reminder I have left of her.

“And don’t forget to tell Flo, I’m at the end o’ me tether.”

As I write this remembrance, her words reverberate in my ears… as they have done each day I wake up and give thanks to a family who nurtured and sustained me for so long, when no one else would.

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Written by Emil Rem

An eccentric accountant becomes a writer of eccentric characters, in exotic locales, with each chapter taking us on a trip into the fascinating twisted world of Emil Rem. Born to a close knit middle class Muslim East Indian family in Dar-es-Salam in the 50’s, he is then moved to Maidenhead England at the age of five. The next twenty years are spent shuttling between England and East Africa, wearing a St. Christopher’s cross one minute and attending church, to wearing a green arm band and attending Muslim religious classes in Africa next minute. Moving to Canada, marrying a woman from the Philippines and having two boys only adds further texture to his stories.


At the End o’ Me Tether