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
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.
Monday 11 August
My monthly visit to Write Out Loud at the art gallery, an open mic poetry night.
The Hub refused to go to A&E.
Tuesday 12 August
Tea and toast with Friend Pam at Olive Café in Edgeley, a joint-church venture which is doing remarkable well.
The Hub refused to go to A&E between his groans. I began to feel a tad irritated.
Wednesday 13 August
The Hub refused to at least visit the doctor but had me feel up his swollen shoulder. I began to plot ways of making his suffering even worse.
Spud went out to a pre-results party with his friends so they could all be nervous together instead of in their separate homes.
Yes, you did that read that right – the arch-atheist Hub and I went to church. New Chapel in Denton where, the Hub had discovered via the magic that is the internet, his great-uncle John Ellor, who died in Egypt in 1918, had his name on the Sunday School Roll of Honour for those who died during the Great War.
A wonderful couple – she works as the church secretary – called Christine and Barry pulled out all of the old records and we found lots of relatives from the Hub’s father’s side – and his grandparents’ 1927 marriage certificate. To actually touch their signatures was emotional even for me, who has no blood connection. It’s the first time the Hub has had a good time in church since he married me 29 years ago.
Ah! Just realised why he’s never been back…
I woke up to hear the Hub creeping downstairs…on his way to A&E to get his swelling checked out. He was in agony and unable to sleep. It was worth going in the middle of the night to avoid the I-told-you-sos, and because it took less than an hour for the Hub to be checked over, x-rayed and told that his scapula might be broken but he was so badly bruised that it was impossible to tell. Take ibuprofen and try not to be too smug in your wife’s face or you might end up back here with a definite broken scapula.
Thursday 14 August
Results day. Spud arrived home exhausted but too excited to sleep; and starving. He had a breakfast of 2 eggs and 3 toast followed by 6 lots of cheese and crackers.
Spud slept all day.
Spud’s friends arrived for drinks-before-the-real-boozing-starts-in-town (Manchester) celebration. We have known most of the boys for the last seven years and they are a lovely lot, so we cracked open a bottle of champagne with them, drinking from paper cups because Spud insisted. Then we went off to bed and they went out about ten p.m.
Friday 15 August
Spud crept in. Spud slept all day.
9:15 a.m. I went out for the day to Llandudno, on the church charabanc.
I went on a boat! A three-year old girl loved it; her older brother screamed the whole time.
I went on the beach as the tide came in. So I wasn’t on the beach for long.
I went on the country’s longest pier – a mile and a half, I think.
I went on the tuppeny slots, just like I did on Welsh holidays as a child.
I discovered you can’t slice a scone without a knife but it tastes just as good when buttered, creamed and jammed with a spoon.
I got home at six-thirty and I was in bed thirty minutes later.*
Saturday 16 August
Tory Boy phoned: I’m at the hospital with suspected appendicitis.
Come back soon for the final, exciting instalment – is Tory Boy fit to burst?
We had a solemn ceremony in this house on Sunday: the first traditional Passing of the Bag.
Tory Boy bought himself a good quality rucksack when he was at high school. By the time he’d finished college, Spud was at high school and needed a good quality rucksack. Tory Boy loaned Spud his, on the condition that it be returned someday. Six years on, that day was Sunday, as Spud had finished high school and Tory Boy was home.
Cue ceremonial music (Celine Dion’s My Bag Will Go On):
Click on the image for source
If you were one part human, two parts something else — another animal, a plant, an inanimate object — what would the other two parts be?
Before I started my weight loss programme (not a diet; I don’t do diets), I was one part human/two parts Maltesers. Now, I am mostly one part human/two parts hungry.
The Hub says I am one part human/two parts vampire i.e. sucked the life right out of him.
Scratch that, he didn’t say anything of the sort. But he did offer to slice me open to find out. Consider me one part grateful/two parts terrified.
Here’s a prompt response I found in my drafts folder:
S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y NIGHT! What’s your favorite way to spend Saturday night?
A movie, a large packet of cheese & onion crisps and a glass or three of JC Le Roux’s La Chanson.
I’m writing this post at seven-thirty on Saturday night, in bed with a hot water bottle. No, the Hub is not giving me the cold shoulder because I was mean about him one too many times (like there’s a limit…); I sneezed today and put out my back. The power of snot.
Talking of my favourite wine, Number One Son bought me a bottle for Mother’s Day. Then helped me drink it.
Now he’s Number Two Son.
Think about an object, an activity, or a cultural phenomenon you really don’t like. Now write a post (tongue in cheek or not — your call!) about why it’s the best thing ever.
Writing responses to WordPress prompts is the best thing ever because it allows me to make fun of the most off-the-wall people on the planet.
No, really. They are as much fun as dieting.
Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?
I think I’d buy the invisibility helmet. I like the idea of walking around scaring people when they see a headless body.
And think of how much weight loss that adds to my non-diet… No one can call me fathead any more!
The friendly, English-speaking extraterrestrial you run into outside your house is asking you to recommend the one book, movie, or song that explains what humans are all about. What do you pick?
Of course, it would be an alien that spoke to my headless body, wouldn’t it? Because it wouldn’t know I was weird.
And the book – as you regular readers must surely know – would have to be Ender’s Game, in which we earthlings kick some alien butt.
Damn aliens, coming over here and stealing all our humanity.
When you do something scary or stressful — bungee jumping, public speaking, etc. — do you prefer to be surrounded by friends or by strangers? Why?
I prefer to be safe in my bedroom, not jumping off or on to platforms, thank you very much.
You are all welcome to crowd in, of course; but I get the window side of the bed.
You’ve been given the superpower to change one law of nature. How do you use it?
Crisps and Maltesers would be one of my five-a-day.
Do you not know me at all, WordPress?
What’s the one guilty pleasure you have that’s so good, you no longer feel guilty about it?
Tormenting WordPress Prompters.
Oh, and breaking wind…there’s no smell, now I eat properly.
What? Nobody comes here for the dainty English refinement – you know that, right?
notices and reflections in ministry
The adventures of little read writing Hood
An Overlooked British Evacuation
Welcome to the Great White North....