Somebody went to hospital twenty-five years ago and all they brought back was this lousy mountain man.
Happy birthday, Hairy Boy.
Love you xx
Spud is nineteen today. Happy birthday, my little potato cake.
He got there despite all the roasting I’ve given him, half-baked parent that I am. To be fair, though, I never beet him; and I yam a loving mother to my sweet potato.
He’s a chip off the old block because he’s a Golden Wonder to me, and never grates my nerves, fries my beans or sets me boiling. I’ve done my best to raise a good crop and he hasn’t given me any hasselback, despite the many downright hash browns I’ve made. We’ve had a lot of fun and latke, that’s for sure; though I sometimes leave him steaming, but that’s no skin off my nose. Still, I don’t want to be peeling him off the walls. He is my King Edward, after all; and he who pays the Maris Piper calls the tune.
Well, I’d better go – I hear him gnocching but he can’t come in because I’m typing this. I don’t want him stewing; that will leave me having to sauté him out and it is his birthday.
Happy birthday, my darling little tater tot. Here’s a birthday mashup for you:
The above video shows snippets of the Cabaret cast in rehearsal. As Spud had no dancing to do – to his immense relief – there’s only a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of him.
A lovely email from a friend reminded me that I have been pretty quiet of late (the Hub has just fallen out with that particular friend; I can’t think why). I must remember to change my encouraging subscriber tag line from Try to keep up; I talk a lot to Try to remember me; I forget to blog.
I’ve been busy with one thing and another, this and that, bits ‘n’ pieces, the usual. I hope that clears things up?
I did take time out from my busy schedule to visit Spud in Sheffield and watch him in Cabaret. Naturally, he was wonderful. The whole show was, especially the three leads, including Sergio Filipe as the Emcee, who had better legs, lines and moves than any of the girls. And I say that without any bias, because you know I never boast about my children or their friends.
And I managed to type that whole paragraph with a straight face.
If you don’t believe me about how great he/it was, you can read two reviews:
This is from a student paper, lb, which says that
Alex Cosgriff as Cliff Bradshaw and Tori Klays as Sally Bowles gave fine performances as the lead couple. Cosgriff’s journey from awkward enjoyment to disillusionment felt perfectly natural…
And this from a Sheffield paper, The Star:
CSUPAS have produced a terrific rendition of Joe Masteroff’s original 1966 Broadway production.
Alex Cosgriff plays shy novelist, Clifford Bradshaw. He arrives in 1930s Berlin and soon finds himself falling in love with Sally Bowles, an English singer at the Kit Kat Klub.
We get a pleasant surprise when the reticent Clifford duets with Sally later in Perfectly Marvellous and reveals a great singing voice.
Now do you believe me?
Spud sent me the links with the following excited message:
My first review that wasn’t written by my Mum!
Like I’d ever be biased.
As I type this, Spud is appearing in a student production of Cabaret, as Cliff Bradshaw (the love interest – they do know he was my baby just two months ago, hey?).
The trailer above is from that production, but features only the Emcee (they do know that Spud is in it as well, hey?).
The video below is from another production, and is not Spud. I include it to show you the song he’ll be singing:
But I prefer this version:
This is absolutely true.
But, as I have mentioned, truth is relative…
Spud went off to Sheffield University on Sunday. It’s forty minutes away by train; nearly three hours in a car when there’s no direct motorway, you have to trek through the Pennines, and there’s a big event on. It took two hours to travel two miles at one point.
I have two children, both sons. For all of the similarities they have, I might as well have a dragon and an iguana: they’re both lizards but you wouldn’t let one of them near your princess or the other your salad.
On their respective first days at university, one child kicked us out the minute the car was empty; the other encouraged us to do his unpacking for him.
One boy enjoyed Freshers’ Week so much, he made a point of going back early in his subsequent years; the other had decided by Tuesday night that he’s not a party-party-party kinda guy.
One son was irritated by the amount of food I insisted he take; the other was irritated that I had only packed enough for one term.
One lad didn’t call home for the first three months and when he did, made Marcel Marceau look like a gossip; the other has called home every day, because he knows we want to hear about all of the interesting things he’s doing.
Spud called today to tell us about meeting his tutor – he and Spud are the only males in a gaggle of girls. They discussed the psychology of favourite biscuits for thirty minutes. Looks like it’s going to be an interesting course.
He has signed up for various societies – dramatic, musical theatre, singing…oh, and the psychology society (‘Psychos’) as an afterthought, though he didn’t pay for a three-year membership in case he’s too busy to go because he’s rehearsing.
He mentioned that he had chips on the way home last night. A small chippy owned by Sean Bean’s family offered free vouchers for chips, paid for by Sean Bean. Yorkshiremen are renowned for being careful with their money but he obviously broke the stereotype.
I hope Spud gets talent spotted at one of his societies, moves to Hollywood, and pals up with his chip donor so I can finally ask the questions which have niggled me for years: who on earth named Sean Bean? And why isn’t his name pronounced Shorn Born or Sheen Been?
I’m missing my baby. I missed my other baby when he first left home; but then he kept coming back between moves, leaving more of his stuff each time. I don’t have space to miss him at the moment: it’s taken up with boxes of clothes (a lot), books (a library) and Yu-Gi-Oh cards (some children never grow up). The youngest child has made up for that by taking only what he thought he might need with him (not much); leaving what he wanted to hold on to but which was not essential for uni (even less); and chucking the rest (making a butter mountain look positively frugal).
So, with all of these differences, was my reaction the same to their leaving?
No, it wasn’t.
With Tory Boy, I was caught up in his excitement and it was only when we said goodbye that I surprised everyone – not least, myself – when I burst into tears.
With Spud, I was tearful all week but didn’t sob (much) at our goodbye because I had become so crippled by holding it all in. Of course, he didn’t see the tears flow in the car on the way home, having abandoned me for student dissipation.
The boys do have some similarities. Tory Boy phoned on Sunday night and we had a conversation that I could have had with either one of them after an upsetting day:
Tory Boy: I was worried about you; I wanted to know if you’re okay?
Mum: I’m fine, thank you, sweetie. Managing, anyway.
Tory Boy. Good, good…so: did you cry more for him or me?
Two daft moments from yesterday
I woke up at three in the morning last night and saw the hall lamp was on which meant that Spud was still out and hadn’t let me know he’d be back so late.
My text: Where are you?!!
Spud’s reply: In Tory Boy’s room.
Tory Boy was asking me about Holy Communion and I told him about the time I influenced a vicar.
She always used a piece of bread from her latest open loaf at home for the communion bread and, discussing it one day, I mentioned that I loved it when she used the occasional bun because of the symbolism of its wholeness/completeness/the actual breaking of bread, and so on. She didn’t say anything but she must have liked the idea because after that, she always used a bun at communion.
Tory Boy: So what you’re saying is, your vicar thought the bun was the best thing since sliced bread?
Sunday 17 August
The Hub’s scapula was badly bruised but not broken, but he found it difficult to drive. Tory Boy was taken into hospital on Saturday evening; I was on the first train next morning to Lancaster. Which means I caught the bus because they were doing maintenance work on the tracks. Didn’t they know I was in a hurry?
Tory Girl was making her way up to Lancaster from Darn Sarf, booking in at a Lancaster Travel Lodge on the way (hooray for wifi). The train took five hours but it was worth the wait – she brought him a dinosaur sticker book, a Ninja Turtles notebook, a Spiderman pencil set and the Sunday Telegraph. She knows him well. She promised, if he was good and didn’t complain about the nurses’ needles, that she would buy him some Lego next day. She made good on her promise, and threw in a dinosaur teddy for good measure.
Tory Boy had been admitted to hospital on the Saturday evening but it was Monday afternoon before he had his appendectomy – car accidents and other emergencies kept bumping him down the list. I didn’t mind that, but I didn’t like that he wasn’t fed for 48 hours. I suppose it helps the NHS catering budget to starve the patients. They wouldn’t feed him because they believed he’d be next to be operated upon; but people kept crashing their cars. It didn’t help that Tory Boy wasn’t in dreadful pain. If it wasn’t for his rising temperature and pulse rate, you’d never have known he was one internal explosion away from writhing on the ground in agony.
I didn’t starve, of course: I had a surprisingly tasty lasagne in the inappropriately named Skylight Restaurant; which was in the basement.
Monday 18 August
The surgeon finally whipped out TB’s appendix around 2:30pm. He said it was full of pus, septic, gangrenous and as close to bursting as he’d ever seen without actually bursting. How Tory Boy hadn’t been screaming for 24 hours was beyond his understanding. My boy, the medical conundrum. Typical of a child who failed the HEAF test because he had the tuberculosis antibodies already, despite never having been inoculated. His brother is the same – he also failed the HEAF test for the same reason; plus had his appendix out at eleven. Spud is currently winning the battle of the freaks, however, because he had Shingles at age nine.
Weirdly, neither of them have ever broken any bones.
Tuesday 19 August
While all of this was going on, Spud was preparing to leave for the Leeds music festival. The five day trip was his main gift from us for his 18th birthday (back in January). There was a lot of last minute shopping for camping equipment, etc. I helped him pack on Tuesday evening; which is to say, I packed his bag on Tuesday evening: the child was prepared to survive on one packet of biscuits and ten litres of alcohol for almost a week, yet couldn’t pack a towel without his mother’s help.
Tory Boy was supposed to have been at a job interview Darn Sarf in the afternoon, but he had to cancel, for obvious reasons.
Wednesday 20 August
Tory Boy was released, after a flurry of texts and calls to say, I’m coming out – I’m not coming out – I’m allowed home today – No I’m not…. There was some dispute; but they must have needed the bed because they let him go. I was on the train – a real train this time – as soon as he texted, I’ve got the drugs.
I brought him back by train (the Hub’s shoulder is going to take some time to heal – I hurt mine in January and it finally stopped aching around the beginning of August). He went straight to bed as soon as we got in. He lives in Lancaster but he needed his mother to look after him during his recuperation.
Friday 22 August
Tory Girl came for the weekend. Tory Boy began to feel better.
Tory Boy no longer needed his mother. Sigh.
Monday 25 August
Exactly one week since his operation, Tory Boy was on the train with Tory Girl, travelling five hours Darn Sarf and five hours back (without her), for the rescheduled job interview.
Spud came home, starving and stinking; not too drunk, but full of stories which can’t be repeated in a family blog. Come visit us, however, and I’ll happily allow him to share.
Tuesday 23 August
Tory Boy got the job!
So that’s been my week (or two). We are still busy, however, because Spud is rehearsing for The Tree of War, a play funded by the council and written by a poet vicar and a music student. Details here. Spud plays young Bert.
He is also packing up for university. Or he would be, if he wasn’t spending all of his time rehearsing. It’s going to be a last minute job; I know it.
Tory Boy went up to Lancaster at the end of last week to pack up his lodgings, came back to Stockport and went straight to hospital because he had some complications after his op. I didn’t need a medical degree to know that they were caused by over-exertion. They didn’t keep him in but he is on strict instructions to rest this week. Apart from a couple of excursions to the shops, he is resting. He needs to leave here next week to start his new job and move in with Tory Girl – as soon as they find a flat. What it is to be young and heedless.
Apart from this weekend’s performances, Spud is also doing a poetry reading with me in 12 days. We’ll start rehearsing that next week. Then we dump him and his stuff at Sheffield University at the end of the month – and I can start breathing again.
mainly poetry, also quilts, pictures, life-writing and the occasional short story.
Where is the heart of Stockport?
notices and reflections in ministry
The adventures of little read writing Hood
An Overlooked British Evacuation