Brewed by Joby Bottoms

Brewed by Joby Bottoms

A Story by Joby Bottoms

This is an excerpt from my ebook, Brewed. Available here:


An excerpt from Brewed, Copyright Joby Davies 2012, Smashwords Edition. Available at




Mum is morbid. Don’t get me wrong, she knows how to have a good time and is great to have a laugh with; she knows how to take a joke. But she is morbid. She wears a black veil most of the time. I think the neighbor’s cat died and she never quite got over it.


My Mother was born on 10th December 1949. Her name is Mary-Ann, I don’t know what her birth surname is and it’d be too difficult to decipher from her Birth Certificate as its very old and crumpled but her surname now is Sharpe because she married Aubrey John Sharpe in 2007. He was my Step-Father and it pains me to have to write that in the past tense. He died in 2010 and it was the most horrible experience of loss that I’ve had to date. Something that John left behind for us, who I will always treasure and who helps to preserve the memory of him, is his daughter Cara. He gave me a little sister and for this I will always be thankful.


So, John was in hospital about to undergo major surgery to remove a tumor a few years back and on the day of his operation, Mum suddenly developed a bad knee. I had to shift all of my focus onto Mum to make sure that she wasn’t suffering, while she hobbled around Spitalfields Market in London looking at vintage video cassettes of gay porn. She’s a bit odd like that. She’ll always find some humor in a willy or a fart. But the truth is; that’s what I love most about her.


When John had to have a camera put down his throat to diagnose his problem, Mum was heard saying by a relative that she once had a whole film crew rammed down hers. She’s not an unsympathetic person, in fact quite the opposite; she loves a drama and will therefore throw huge amounts of sympathy on to a person in order to amplify everything and make it all the more morbid.


We had a BBQ fairly soon after John had died and Mum announced that she had another funeral to attend. I asked her whose funeral it was and why on earth would she want to attend another one so soon after John’s. She said it was a very close friend’s Mum’s funeral. I asked her what her friend’s name was. She told me it was Jean. I asked her what Jean’s Mum’s name was. She didn’t know. I asked her why she was going to a person’s funeral whose name she didn’t even know. She told me that Jean needed the support. I asked her if Jean’s husband was going. He was. She worked with Jean in a school once so it was really important that she support Jean through this difficult time. I told her that I understood and it was perfectly reasonable that she should go to the funeral of a person whose name she didn’t know in support of a friend who she worked with once, a long time ago. That’s my Mum, always willing to lend a hand to a friend in order to provide a tissue into which the friend can silently weep.


Mum reads the Obituaries. No, worse than that, it’s the first page that she turns to when she picks up the local newspaper. She likes to see if there’s anyone in there that she knows. If she’s lucky enough to find a dead friend, she’ll contact the relatives and arrange to attend the funeral. Most of the time, the dead friend’s relatives don’t even know who she is but they’re usually very happy to see her at the funeral service because her loud crying makes up for the lack of everyone else’s sobs. Only unpopular people advertise their funeral’s in the newspaper so Mum helps to make up the numbers. She’s good like that.


When Mum was struggling for money, I came up with a plan to help her to put a business together. “Mary’s Rent-A-Mourner” was going to be the name of the Company. My friend’s and I devised a price list menu. It went something like this:


·         Funeral attendance (FA) only: 50.00 Pounds

·         FA with silent weeping: 75.00 Pounds

·         FA wearing black veil with gentle sobs: 100.00 Pounds

·         FA with black veil, Victorian Mourning Gown (VMG) and loud cries: 175.00 Pounds

·         FA with black veil, VMG, entrance on black horse, loud cries: 275.00 Pounds

·         FA with black veil, VMG, entrance on black horse and throwing herself on top of coffin in a completely hysterical manner: 400.00 Pounds


Mum was really keen on the idea. She particularly liked the scaled approach in the pricing structure. The thing is she was so busy with her personal funeral schedule that she just couldn’t find the time, so the Company never took off. Still, we’re keeping it on the back-burner for when her hectic schedule dies down.


My Mum is well known throughout my hometown of Southend-on-Sea. We can’t go anywhere without her bumping into someone and stopping for a quick conversation. Shopping takes forever. Whenever I ask her who the person was that she was talking to for half an hour it usually turns out that she’s met them at a funeral. Most of my friend’s know my Mum and her quirky funeral-attending habit. In fact they call me to let me know when someone in their family has passed away so that I can let my Mum know the date of the funeral. I think she’s even been to a few of them. I’ve never really worked out where this morbid trait of my Mother’s comes from and so I’ve given up trying to understand, now I simply going along with it. Actually, I actively encourage it.


To understand a person more explicitly, one has to inevitably delve into the past of that particular person. I wanted to know more about my Mother’s need to have eight children. While looking into her past I was lucky enough to stumble across a theory about what I refer to as her “Strategic Breeding Programme”.


Mum is the eldest of eight children and was expected to assist in raising her younger siblings. I think her Mum, (my Nan) had something like eight children by ten different men; God rest her soul. Nan died on the same day as Osama Bin Laden in fact. I hope for his sake that their paths didn’t cross on his way down because she definitely would have had a few harsh words to deliver to him. Strangely Mum may not be able to attend Nan’s funeral as she’s going to Tunisia for a holiday.


Anyway, in a similar fashion to her Mum, my Mum gave birth to her children in blocks. She started off with Teresa, Peter and John; they form Block 1. Then there was a little gap before Donna and Michael; they form Block 2. After another little respite came myself, Nathaniel and finally William; we form Block 3. Blocks 1 and 2 were old enough to assist in raising Block 3 due to the age gap. We call this period of time “The Brown Nightie Years”. This was when Mum unofficially retired from raising children. Most of her time was spent lying in bed in the “Middle Room” downstairs with a bad back, wearing her rather unflattering brown nightdress, eating sugar and banana sandwiches. My goodness, what a lush she was. Food would be delivered to her and all household chores would be completed by the children in Blocks 1 and 2. Block 3 children, I’m afraid to say, got off lightly as we were too young to assist in a productive capacity.


Unluckily for my Mum her Breeding Strategy wasn’t without its hitches. The age gap between the Blocks of children were a little too big which inevitably meant that Blocks 1 and 2 left home before Block 3 had reached an age where they could look after themselves. This was the time when Mum was forced out of retirement. She didn’t mind though, her back was better by then and bananas had become too expensive.


With only three children in tow, my Mum was kindly requested by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council to move into a smaller house, one that didn’t have the same damp problems, which meant our clothes smelled nice. And this is when Mum met John and learnt all about horses, riding not gambling. This proved incredibly useful to my Mother as this later enabled her to offer a “Funeral Attendance, entrance on black horse.”


Mum has chilled out somewhat over the years. She’s quite happy sitting by the front room window patiently waiting for a hearse to drive pass so that she can quickly throw on her funeral clobber and join the procession. This is in conjunction with occasional trips to Mecca. Mecca is a bingo hall. Mum loves a game of bingo and I have to admit that I have accompanied her a few times. I too love a bit of bingo.


As I’ve grown older I’ve often taken a look at myself and wondered what personality traits of my parents I may have inherited. Everyone does it. Most of the time people try not to be like their parents. My Father, for all of his faults, was a very good writer and speaker. I like to think that I have inherited this gene, along with the “big nose gene” which is something that I can’t do a lot about unfortunately. When it comes to my Mother I’ve had to really think hard about what part of her is instilled in me. I like a little light gossip and an occasional game of bingo, as does my Mum. Other than this, I’d struggled to ascertain what it is about her that’s similar to me, until a few months ago that is. I picked up the free local newspaper. I tend not to read the local newspapers but on this occasion I didn’t have a book, so I took it to the toilet with me for a light read. And the first page I turned to? The Obituaries.


I live abroad now but I make sure that I phone my Mum regularly for a catch-up, you know the type of call, “Hi Mum, been a little while, how’s things? Been up to much?” you get the gist. Mum has a peculiar habit when she answers the telephone; she starts off in a really upbeat tone. As soon as she knows it’s one of her children calling though, the tone drops, it becomes very grave and serious and before you can get the “been up to much?” bit in, she announces something along these lines; “Oh Joby, you never guess what’s happened?” there is no need to answer at this point, a pause is simply enough for my Mum to continue, “well, Margery at number 65 has had a fall and she landed funny, I mean she’s alright and everything, apart from some bruising to her ankle, but she fell on top of her cat. The cat died Joby. How awful? She’s had that cat for nineteen years; it was like a child to her. We’re going to have a service for her in the garden. Margery’s been kind enough to invite me. I’m going to take some sausage rolls along for the Wake!”

© 2013 Joby Bottoms

Author's Note

Joby Bottoms
This is an excerpt from my ebook, Brewed available at All reviews welcome.

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Featured Review

I enjoyed the story. I like to read views of life and people. Funny how each of us are odd in our own way. I like the mother. She is a energetic and strong character for the story. Thank you for the outstanding tale.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Joby Bottoms

10 Years Ago

Thank you for your review, it's greatly appreciated. The story is actually a chapter from my book ca.. read more


I enjoyed the story. I like to read views of life and people. Funny how each of us are odd in our own way. I like the mother. She is a energetic and strong character for the story. Thank you for the outstanding tale.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Joby Bottoms

10 Years Ago

Thank you for your review, it's greatly appreciated. The story is actually a chapter from my book ca.. read more

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Added on May 15, 2013
Last Updated on May 15, 2013
Tags: romance, loss, travel, comedy, inspiration, relationships, family, self discovery, england, biography, london, humour, italy, tennessee, jamaica, tea, essex, sri lanka, southend


Joby Bottoms
Joby Bottoms

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What about you? You're the most important person so only ask me after you've asked about yourself. If you're satisfied with your answers about yourself and if you are still genuinely interested in me,.. more..