Sunday, December 30, 2007

My First Time

It was 1979, I was just eighteen years old and this was my very first time. People had told me it gets easier the more you do it, but I wasn’t too sure.

But how hard can it be… running a bar on your own?

My boyfriend’s dad George took me down to this old pub he owned in the Calton area of Glasgow. The ancient pub was on the corner of the main London road. It had a huge crumbling brown tenement above it and the walls on the outside of the bar were pretty dire. The whole place looked rundown.

The streets were so dark; there were a few jagged remains of demolished buildings on the other side of the road peering out through the last shafts of the dying sunlight. It was like being in a foreign land.

George took me by the hand into the pub, he opened the door that lead behind the bar, let a blonde woman out and locked me in and said ‘Goodbye’.

I tried to run after him but the wee wooden door was locked and I couldn’t fiddle with it fast enough, I saw him through the pub window. I was shouting “George don’t leave me here” but he carried on walking.

He got into his car with the blonde and drove off.

I slowly looked around the pub.

There were two really old men standing at the long part of the L shaped bar and one big fat hairy arsed biker slumped at the bottom on the counter, fast asleep.
I gulped and smiled.

I didn’t know where anything was, I didn’t know the prices or how to work the till. What the fuck was going on? I was only eighteen years old, I was scared.

The biker slowly raised his head and smiled a big toothless grin and slumped back down again. His enormous baldy head made a scary thump on the bar.

It shook his beer glass that lay next to his head and the liquid went foamy with the vibrations. ‘Well that was one way to get a head on your beer’ I thought to myself.

Just then a loud screech came out of the ceiling and a three legged cat leapt onto the bar and ran up to me, its hobbled gait was really horrifying and it was all scabby and tufty.

“That’s Tripod” said one of the old men “It’s because it only had three legs” then he threw his head back and his big gumsy mouth fell wide open and let rip a big raspy laugh. It sounded like a steam train slowing down in a station as his smoky lungs forced out a noise.

Then the two old men looked at each other, and then looked at me.

“Say press up” the smaller elderly man hissed.

The two old guys had faces like melted buckets, their chins were bent up towards their foreheads, and there were deep wrinkles all over their wizened faces. Neither of them had teeth, nor any facial bones by the looks of it. Soft squishy sock puppet faces, was all they seemed to posses.

“Say PRESS UP” the taller man shouted.

“Press up” I whispered.

The two old men fell to the floor disappearing behind the wooden bar counter. I had to jump up onto the bar to look to the floor to see where they had gone. The three legged cat jumped with me, its tail flicked.

The two old boys were on the floor doing press ups “One Two Three” they were shouting.

I was aghast. They must have been 80 years old a piece, they will die doing press ups!

“Stop!” I shouted.

Just then one of the old guys flopped on the floor and the taller one jumped up to his feet and ran around screaming “I won”

“Now I get a whisky” he yelled as he thumped his grizzly hand on the bar.

The biker lifted up his fat head and whispered “He wins, you have to give him a drink” and slumped back down again.

I gave the old man a whisky. The other elderly bloke was still on the floor; I was hoping he wasn’t dead.

Just then at the other end of the bar the biker sprang to life; he stood up and I noticed he was wearing really tight clothes. Either he was wearing the same clothes since 1975 and grew too fat for them or he just like wearing too tight clothes. His blue tee shirt was right up past his fat belly and his jeans were literally garrotting his waist!

“I am GAY!” he screamed. He threw his beer on the floor, he knocked over a chair and ran for the door, the three legged cat ran after him hissing! He kicked the main bar door open and ran into the street, the cat still in chase with its hobbled run.

At that moment, another scream came from the floor in front of me.

The old man on the floor sprung to his feet and wrestled his elderly mate for the whisky. They punched and struggled and ended up spilling the golden liquid over each other and fell back to the floor. Kicking and spitting at each other.

I was so frightened I didn’t know what to do next….so I ran and grabbed the old pay phone. I pulled a 10 pence piece out of my pocket and quickly called my boyfriend.

“Help! This place is mad!” I screamed as he answered the call.

“Let me guess, did two old boys do press ups and fat biker scream that he was gay?” He asked laughing.

“Yes, how did you know that?” I said.

“That’s ok, that’s a Tuesday” he laughed back “I will be down there in twenty minutes to help before the old boys start drinking petrol and show you their fire eating skills”

That was my first time. People are right; it gets better the more you do it.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Looking back

I have decided to stop smoking and get fit. Yes…I know …it’s that time of the year when we realise that we are going to be fat and old for another year. This time I know I need to do something about it as I am about to turn 47 years old in January.

This is a really important birthday for me as it was the age my mother died at.

She was murdered in 1982 at age 47. Her boyfriend back then was called Peter and he took her a walk along the River Clyde and she never came home, but her body was found floating four days later. He never got charged for her killing but often boasted about doing it to anyone who would listen for many years later.

I thought back then that my mammy was an old woman at 47, I was so young and never realised that one day I would reach that age and now I am about to hit that date- I don’t feel old. So I need to feel better about myself.

My mammy was called Annie, she never got to do or see much in her lifetime. It bugs me and lately I had been feeling very strange about my mammy’s untimely death.

Have I done enough? Would she be proud of me? Would she have loved my book? Would she hate me spilling out the family secrets? Would she read my column in the Scotsman newspaper?
I know she would hate me spilling the big dark secret about her brother David Percy sexually abusing me.

I don’t regret speaking out about the abuse, so she would just have to deal with that one!

I wish she had done more in her life; she never got to fly in a plane. She never got further than Yorkshire on her travels. She never got to stay in a five star hotel or eat in a decent restaurant. She never went into to town and got to buy herself wonderful clothes or decent shoes.

She never had much. Yet she never complained much either. She accepted her poverty and pain the way people like her too often do.
Her life was her lot and she took that on without much comment. We lived in a dirty flat; we were penniless and lived hand to mouth from week to week. Everyone was in much of the same mess.

I always wanted more; I never wanted to live like that. I challenged how we existed and dreamed of a better life. I never once accepted that living in poverty was an acceptable situation. I hated everything my mammy represented- yet I didn’t hate her. I got annoyed that she never wanted more or fought against the shit she lived in.

Maybe she was beaten a long time ago?

I never wanted to raise a child in poverty, or live on benefits. I know that’s its not easy for people to get out of that trap and it can be so bloody difficult to try to, especially when the government make it harder.

My way out was easier, I suppose. I married a man whose father owned bars, so I automatically walked into a career. In actual fact I got paid less than the staff who weren’t family! Work that out! But I stuck that out for 15 years.

I never wanted to be a barmaid. I hated everything about it, but I knew if I worked there I could save up and get my child into a private school. So I shut up and carried on. I saved and saved for years. I never got new furniture or fancy clothes, I never owned jewellery, and I never drove a fancy car.

I saved every penny I could.

I realised whilst writing this that I have achieved something’s I promised myself from way back then. When I was young and living with my mammy, I swore an oath to myself that my child would never worry about the electricity getting cut off, being evicted, being dirty or being poor.

I have achieved all of those things. I am proud of that and I know that my mammy would be proud of that too.

Ashley has never been poor or hungry or dirty. She has always been secure and safe in the knowledge that she would be given shelter, love, confidence and a belief in her.

I did that.

I just wish my mammy was here so I could that for her as well.

I am going to be 47 years old soon and I will be ok.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas is done

Well it was a tiring day for us. I was awoken by at least five calls and ten text messages beeping on my phone. I am not annoyed, I have friends!

I got up and staggered through to the living room half asleep and realised it was 1pm. It was the middle of the bloody day, what is everyone doing still asleep?

Ashley was tucked up tight and husband was snoring. I recalled the days when Ashley was up at 7am to rip open gifts, but now at 21 years old, she no longer needs stuff that much. She knows Santa is the Scottish name for the Visa card.

Ashley finally got up and started preparing dinner, we were eating at 7pm as opposed to lunch, and we don’t eat that early. Husband stayed fast asleep.

Ashley gave me my gifts which included an extensive selection of body scrubbing materials; I may have flaky skin and smell too much if these gifts are any way representative of why gifts are given in the first place.

Husband got his usual favourite DVD’s that Ashley buys him every year.

Husband and I never got each other gifts as we agreed not to in advance.

It was a nice day, husband got out of bed, Ashley’s friends arrived and we all had a big giant feast of a dinner. I am stuffed and I am sure my knickers are about to burst under the strain.

So there we have it another Christmas come and gone.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Christmas Story

We all sat tonight in the flat, me – husband and daughter. The tree is up the gifts are wrapped and Ashley has been boiling apples, pears and some cinnamon cocktail for a compote that she is serving tomorrow. The house really does smell like Christmas.

She is making some elaborate dish involving her famous panna cotta as a dessert and there is beef or lamb in the main course. I am lucky to have such a gifted child.

I washed all the dishes and cleared out the kitchen in preparation.

It reminded me of my first ever Christmas with my husband as a couple. We weren’t married, we were just engaged and it was exciting to be together.

We lived with my old grandfather and his wee kitchen hadn’t seen a Christmas dinner cooked there for many years. I made roast chicken and vegetables.

I had cleared the big table in grand dad’s living room and husband (who was then my 17 year old boyfriend) came through to the small kitchen to get the cutlery. He pulled open the drawer and there was nothing there…not even a teaspoon.

I was baffled, I had just acquired a whole set of good cutlery from boyfriends dad’s local pub that he owned. I had great sharp knives, loads of spoons and a beautiful unusual white handled cutlery service. I started searching the tiny flat for the cutlery and finally asked my granddad if he knew where it may be.

“You’re Auntie Rita may have borrowed some of it” he muttered.

His daughter Rita was my mum’s sister and she lived with her father in law, husband and brother in law not far from our street. I put the oven down low and went running out of the door and headed down to Rita’s flat.

My head was full of questions, what the hell was she thinking of taking my cutlery?
Did she really have my cutlery? Why would granddad say such a thing?

So finally I arrived at Rita’s door and after a good banging she opened it. Her face was surprised but in her right hand she was clutching my entire canteen of cutlery!

“Rita, that’s my cutlery, why do you have every single spoon, fork and knife that I own?” I gasped.

Rita looked at it then said “No they are mine, I got the cutlery as a wedding present” She pointed the clutch of cutlery at me and shouted “This is mine!”

“Rita, they are white handled, I got them from the bar my boyfriend’s dad owns, they are mine and you know it, we are sitting up there without a fucking spoon to stir our tea, and your dad can’t eat his Christmas dinner with his fingers can he?” I shouted back.

She just held out the cutlery to me, shoved them into my hand and slammed the door!

I laughed my ass off and ran back to the flat to explain the mystery of the missing forks.

My boyfriend was bamboozled as to what kind of family he was marrying into, who are these people that steal each others cutlery on Christmas Day?

We sat in our bedroom with dinner on our knees, granddad was drunk as usual and I didn’t want to eat with him.
We were so happy, just him and me eating a hot chicken dinner on Christmas day.

Sometimes when you have so little in life you appreciate it more. I seem to have everything I need today, but something is lost along the way.

I miss the hungry years.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Queue Nazi

Standing in the bank, I got pissed off at the size of the queue. The bank was crowded. In front of me was a really wee old lady, she was wearing a wee pink woolly hat and leaning on a stick. We had about nine people to go in front and I decided to tell the wee old woman to sit down.

“You go sit in a seat and I will hold your place for you” I assured her, she thanked me and hobbled off to the seating area.

The queue started to gather up behind me. Then finally it was my turn, which technically is the old lady’s turn so I turned round and shouted “Hey there! come on it’s your turn”

The old woman got up smiling and headed towards me when a fat woman in a big furry hat and woolly scarf poked me in the back and barked “Actually that’s queue jumping”

“No, I held her place because I was being nice, I let her sit down and I held her position” I snapped back “Oh and by the way never poke me in the back again”

“Well technically she isn’t actually in the queue” the fat middle class posh accent argued back. The old lady staggered off to the teller looking quite distressed at the situation.

“Ok, technically you don’t have a conscience, what are you the queue Nazi? The woman is old and infirm, I let her sit down… what part of this are you not getting fatty? I shouted.

“I am of Jewish decent and I find that comment offensive” she smugly quipped.

“Well technically we are all of Jewish descent, Jesus was a Jew and we are all his children so unless you are claiming to be actually Jewish then deal with it, and as far as I know Jewish people are either Jews or not, there is never really a half way declaration on that situation. And I still think you are a queue Nazi, so shut up fatty you are annoying people because I helped an old lady” I shouted.

The bank tellers were watching the situation develop, the other people in the queue were tutting and making exasperated noises, either at me or at the fat furry woman, I didn’t know or care.

Then it was my turn and I was being served and at that point the wee old lady with a stick came over to me and thanked me for my help, she then turned to the Queue Nazi and said with the most polite voice I have ever heard “You my dear are an affront to human nature, this lady is a good Samaritan, you are a bad spiteful unhappy woman and your hat looks like a cat” and off she went with her stick!

I laughed out loud. The Queue Nazi stood there embarrassed and everyone smiled as the old lady walked slowly to the automatic doors. She went through them, turned and waved at me through the plate glass windows.

I waved back and stuck my tongue out at the Queue Nazi and left the bank as well.
A good day all round as far as I am concerned.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas is coming

I finally got my Christmas tree up. Husband did drag it out of the cupboard and huffily dumped it on the carpet. I clapped my hands, I love my tree…he hates it.
Husband has an aversion to all things Christmassy and it annoys me to death. I felt like getting a bobble from the tree and shoving it down his throat.

I am not really prepared for the ‘big day’ as Ashley is in charge of the food and I am in charge of the presents. Ashley is getting a new computer and she has decided not to buy it till January as she will get more for her cash. Husband and I have declared a no present zone, he won’t buy me and I won’t buy him …anything.

I don’t need anything and don’t want it either. It’s a waste of cash.

So only my mum and dad are getting a gift this year.

I can’t believe it’s another year already. It seems like last month Ashley was singing in the school choir. Standing in her lovely green uniform and singing carols, me with a wee tear in my eye... Where did the time go?

Life goes too fast for me…I will 47 soon. The age my mother died at.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Spa Daze!

My best mate Monica showed me a brochure for a very expensive spa in Central London. I don’t fancy it, but I didn’t tell her that as she was so excited. I have no intention of paying £250 to wear someone else’s over sized towelling bath robe, and to let some skinny chic throw hot stones at me or rub oils into my scalp.

The salon is based on the smells and texture of Bali and to be honest it would be cheaper to go actually go to Bali.
I have never really been a big fan of the Spa, I hate the fact you have get undressed in a wee bamboo sheeted room and let some demented female pummel your back. You then leave the place and hit the streets with a greasy back and a sticky scalp, all whilst smelling of bergamot.

It’s a big con and men don’t fall for it for one real reason – a woman rubbing their naked skin is foreplay to them.

They fail to grasp the nature of stimulated lymph nodes and end up with an unwanted embarrassing erection whilst a young sexy female is pouring warm oil over their torso and I don’t blame them.

Men aren’t used to being naked and getting stroked without some sort of sexual payoff at the end of it. There is a reason that most brothels are based in massage parlours!

I sometimes feel some women like a warm near naked massage as some form of human contact, maybe they need to feel touched. Although the premise isn’t actually erotic it does fulfil some emptiness in their sexual lives somewhere.

I am not spending cash on a spa, I am going to ask my husband to massage me and if he gets horny and wants sex as we do this…then that’s a result in my books. At least his bathrobe is clean and I can fall asleep straight afterwards!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My Favourite Christmas

Is it an age thing? Or does everyone hate shopping at this time of year? I get hot, sweaty and really annoyed at people who bang about and whack me with their heavy shopping bags. They ignore all politeness and manners; they shove, push and just rudely batter each other in the quest to get some shitty stuff at Christmas.

The shite Christmas songs wail annoyingly over every stores loudspeaker, there are kids running wildly or whingeing endlessly as I try to figure out what to buy for my husband.

I am starting to hate Christmas. That’s a bad sign, I am old and grumpy.

One of my favourite Christmas’s was in 1989. Ashley was three years old and at that age where she so believed in Santa and we owned a pub in Glasgow’s East End.

The pub was all dressed up with decorations and a big tree set in the middle of the bar. Ashley had made her own wee decorations, a Santa made of cotton wool and a body of red cardboard. It stood pride of place at the top of the tree.

We had planned a big Christmas dinner in the flat as the pub closed on a Sunday between 2pm and 6.30pm back in those days. It was the licensing laws and Christmas day fell on a Sunday that year.

We had my cousin Sammy, his girlfriend Pauline, husband’s cousin Stevie, our mate Andy, the barman Wullie, his girlfriend Michelle and their son Robert all coming for lunch.

I hade never cooked for so many people and I was so excited.

Andy decided he didn’t want turkey and requested lasagne, Ashley was a vegetarian and she was getting a special meal of vegetables in filo pastry and I was getting nervous!

My cousin Sammy had set the table and kept Ashley occupied, she was so happy playing with all her toys that she got that morning. Being three was great for her, all the people in the bar adored her and with a big family she got so much presents it’s was over whelming to be honest. I have a video of her opening her presents that morning and she burst into tears! There was just so much stuff.

She was exhausted opening gifts; she was deluged with Playmobil toys which were her favourites. She also got a dolls house and all the little people to go with it and just was just some of the gifts. It seemed a toy shop had been emptied and transferred its stock to our living room floor.

The day went great though, Sammy managed to help run the bar and clear my living room of furniture, whilst checking on the dinner with me. Sammy and I had been raised together; he was more like a younger brother than a cousin.

His parents were dead, his father killed himself under a train in 1980 and his mother killed herself with pills in 1983, and my mum had been murdered in 1982.
Sammy and I had been through such crap in our young lives, and we huddled together like a wee family. He had lived with me since he was 18 years old and before that we had lived together as kids. I loved him and he was so good with Ashley, he adored her and she truly loved her Uncle Sammy.

He would pick her up and she would wrap her legs around him and cuddle into him tight till she fell asleep on his shoulder. Sammy would simply carry her around and refuse to put her in her cot, he loved holding her. Sometimes he would just wrap a blanket around her body and keep her with him till he finally had to get her into bed.

That Christmas was great, we ordered some really fancy Champagne and set the table perfectly. All the guests arrived and the whole dinner went great, I was exhausted and we knew we had to open the pub back up at 6.30pm that night.

Everyone had a great time and although the house looked trashed we all agreed it was a great time.

Sammy cleared up for me and got Ashley to bed as husband and I went down to open up the bar again for the late shift. The place was busy as hell and I wanted to go upstairs and play with my daughter but work came first as always.
I knew Sammy would be good with her, they would watch a video, she would get her bath and he would have her tucked up for us coming up after 11pm shutting time.

We came up after midnight as it was hard getting rid of the late night revellers. Sammy was lying in bed with Ashley, both of them fast asleep; all her toys were spread out on the carpet. The dolls house was laid out perfectly, the mummy and daddy standing beside the two wee children, the furniture all neatly arranged.

I looked at Sammy asleep and smiled; he had obviously created his own wee perfect family in the dolls house. A family he never managed to create or enjoy in real life.

Sammy is no longer with us.
I had lost touch with him after we left the bar in 1994. We never spoke for years and the next time I saw him was in a coffin.

He had started taking heroin in 1992 and eventually took some contaminated heroin the summer of 2000, he died days later.
I hated his heroin habit but assumed he would live long enough to get clean.

I miss him, but still can see his happy face on that video; I watch him as he is carrying Ashley on his hip and dancing her around the room as she squeals with happiness.

“Sammy, I am going to dance like this with you when we get married” Ashley can be heard shouting over the music.

“You can’t marry me, I am your uncle and you are a Princess” he laughs back.

“But I love you Sammy” she pouts.

“I love you too, now sing for me” he laughs as he swings her round and her blonde hair flies behind her, her legs firmly on his hips and his arms holding her tight.

I freeze the video at that moment and stare at his face. It looks sad, and I never noticed that before, he was always sad somewhere inside.

At least he was loved. I miss him and that will always be my favourite Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Am Exhausted

Leeds was lovely, but I am glad to be home. I have a sore throat and chesty cough and feel like shit. I had to get up today and drag my carcass awake. I managed to fix my hair nice and get my entire make up done as I was going to STV to do a comedy thing to camera. I felt like sleeping all day and ignoring my career and fuck TV shows. But I was good and did it, my body feels awful.

Baby Abi, (she isn’t a baby anymore she is four years old) came over and sat and watched Ratatouille the latest Pixar movie and loved every minute of it. I then put up the ironing board, covered it and let her paint for ages. She loves painting and the ironing board is perfect for adjusting to her height.

I have two days off before I head off to London. I am attending Christmas parties all this week, I have one tomorrow in Glasgow, then another on Thursday, one in London on Friday, another in London on Saturday and finally another one in London on Monday! I will party-ed out.

I am not very good at parties, I don’t really socialise well. I know I should but I am shit at it. You would think someone who talks for a living would be fun, but not me. I get insecure at parties and the more insecure I get the more inappropriate I become.

For instance, once at a party I got so shy and strange I asked a woman if she really wanted to be married to the stupid husband she introduced me to. Then I laughed out loud when her husband told me she was infertile, I didn’t mean to laugh but it was so insensitive of him to tell me and I got awkward and giggled.

I hope I behave better this year. I am going to brush up on my socialising skills.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Rainy days do get me down

I am still in Leeds. Life was in turmoil yesterday. My brother Jim now lives in Essex with his daughter and five lovely grand kids and I go a call saying he had taken ill. Jim is a complex person but I adore him, regular readers of this blog will know that Jim has come through various drug problems, living with HIV and more recently he survived cancer.

Those worried I am spilling my brothers secrets on this blog will be heartened to know he gave me the say-so to tell all, otherwise I would not say anything!
He is my beloved big brother!

Anyway it seems he was very ill and I wasn’t totally sure why. His daughter had been given conflicting news from the emergency docs at Colchester Hospital and I needed to find out personally.

I called the hospital a few times and luckily managed to talk to a Scottish nurse! She was very friendly and helpful and called me back with Jim’s exact location in the hospital and the number to speak to the doc treating him.

It seems he has pneumonia and some other infection. I was worried he was dying and would have to cancel my comedy gigs in Leeds and dash to London, but the news was good. He was stable.

I called back a few hours later for an update and a wee Liverpudlian nurse said “he is still in a coma and there is no response”

“When did my brother go into a coma?” I screamed alarmed.

“Erm….sorry I have got the wrong notes, I am really sorry” she pleaded “Let me find your brothers notes”

After my heart beat normally I found out Jim is still stable and being treated for the chest infection.

My mate John Fleming drove down to Colchester on my behalf and visited him and gave me the news. I have been onstage every night and have been rather worried, so John is a great mate for doing that.

So far Jim is ok and continues to get better daily.

So husband and I got up today and despite the rain we set off for Otley. It’s a small market town outside Leeds and home to Mr Chippendale (not the sexy dancer but the famous cabinet and furniture maker).

The rain pounded down, we arrived to a small village flooded with water with puddles that could easily handle a small canoe if we so felt like it. I tried to look at the wonderful charming street scenes but the fact that my trousers were flapping and soaked irritated me.

Then Ashley our daughter called.

“Dad!” she screamed.

Husbands face became ashen. I stared at him, my heart stopped, the rain soaked my head, and splashes from cars soaked me as I stood stock still trying to decipher the look in husbands face. I wanted to rip the phone from his ear and find out what was happening to my precious child.

“Are you ok? Are you bleeding?” he asked as the rain muffled his words.

My legs shook- what the fuck was going on? He directed me to a bar off the main road and we both walked inside, him with phone still clamped to his ear. I wanted that phone NOW…I need to know what is wrong with Ashley and he was talking too slow and not giving me any indication, why did she want to talk to him? Why not me? I talk faster and process information quicker…

Husband finally passed the phone to me.

“Mum, I fell down the tube station in those evil brown lesbian looking sports shoes you bought me last year” she sobbed, she was really crying, big gulping sobs came through the ear piece.

“Baby, are you ok? Are you cut? Are you injured? Burn the lesbian shoes, through them out the window, talk to me!” I spoke quickly, I almost lactated and had a breast leak, I haven’t heard her cry like that since she fell off her scooter in 1994.

Husband was shaking his head and patting my shoulder, and trying to communicate something to me, but it was distracting me from my daughter’s pain.

“I really want my dad to come home, I miss him and no one is here when I fall” she squeaked…she sounded like she was five years old. “I don’t know why I am so upset, I really miss my daddy”

She almost hyperventilated on the phone and as I stood in front of a big crackling fire in a tiny wee bar in Otley surrounded by locals staring at me as I shouted about throwing lesbian shoes out of a window, I continued to get her breathe slowly. People stared more, like I was trying to help deliver a child over the phone.

That was until I added.

“Breathe slowly, now hold it and breathe again, not too fast, take it slowly, now grab one lesbian sports shoe and throw it right into the road from the windows in the front” I spoke slowly and clearly.

Husband giggled and ordered tea.

Ashley finally calmed down, I finally calmed down, I hung up the phone and watched loads of wee old men stare suspiciously at me. I didn’t care, my daughter was scared and hurt and it’s my job to fix that shit.

“She is upset, tired and fell and misses her dad” husband spoke as he pored tea into a cup for me. We both sat there in the wee bar in wet clothes and decided to head back to Leeds as the day was complete wash out.

We got back to the car and…it would not start!

The rain lashed, it sounded like pebbles being battered off the roof and the fucking car refused to start.

I sat with wet legs, wet head and freezing hands. Husband called the AA and gripped the wheel in anger; he hates the frustrating feeling of things not working properly.
I knew Ashley missing him was upsetting him and he felt annoyed he wasn’t there for her when she needed him.

Finally the AA turned up, fixed the starter thingy and we drove back to Leeds in silence. I watched his face, his jaw was stiff and he was grinding his teeth. The rain slashed continually.

“I miss her” he spoke.

“I miss her too, she is ok, you know, she needs to accept shit happens and she needs to know she will get over it, she really wants you home, but that doesn’t make you a bad dad for not being there, how do you think I feel? She doesn’t really miss me” I said.

“You have been travelling since she was eight, I was always there for her” he said.

“That sounds like I was never there for her, am I a bad mother?” my heart sank.

“No, you are a working mother, that’s a good thing; I am a dad, that’s a different thing”

We drove in silence, both of us trying to work out how to be a good parent, yet earn a living. I knew Ashley was having a bad day and would come through it all. She isn’t that weak or needy, she just must be feeling down, she is strong like me.

The phone rang again, it was Ashley. My heart missed a beat as I pressed the button and heard her shout “Guess what? It’s snowing here in Glasgow! Wow, mum I am so happy, I need to go my as mates are here and we are going to a party tonight, sorry I upset you, I just missed dad. I threw the shoes away…Love you mum” and she hung up.

Being a mum and dad is fucking scary.

Being a sister is scary.

Being a comic is easy, am back onstage in Leeds tonight. Life is ok.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Working Class Leeds

I love Leeds, I am here for a week performing comedy at Jongleurs and the place is awesome. Very cosmopolitan, sassy and certainly a jewel in the north, but and I say BUT very hesitantly.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the working class, real Northerners, the Alan Bates type characters who are the solid bread and butter pudding of these people, you hang out at the outdoor side of Leeds Market.

There is a shoddy mish mash of stalls selling cheap stretchy pants, misaligned underwear and Knick-Knack-a- roonys, the likes of what people like me would balk at. Plastic clocks painted in cheap gold varnish, retarded looking Georgian ladies parading as figurines made of plaster of Paris and painted with colours than you can lick off.

There is a concrete parapet where the ‘interesting people’ hang out. I always make an effort to be there and watch them, not out of any perverse voyeurism, but because they are genuinely fascinating.

I sat down on one of the many metal benches that line the concrete shelter with my polystyrene cup of searing hot tea and sipped away happily. Sat beside me was a huge fat woman, she was wearing a tent like pink cotton coat and had a bright floral scarf tied around her big head and it knotted beneath one of her many chins.

At her leg was a huge multi coloured nylon bag that was bulging at the seams.

“It’s a pissing carry on this Christmas shopping isn’t it? I mean I ordered a side table out of Argos two months ago and they told me it was out of stock, so this lady called me and told me they would send a pissing cheque I said ‘A pissing cheque? That no good to me my young lady, I aint got the money to go into town to cash the pissing cheque’ then I got into town and pissing Argos told me the bloody table was now in stock and they were delivering that pissing day!” her words came out in a torrent.

I made apologetic noises and sipped my boiling tea; she carried on “Have you seen these?”

She bent down into her big bag and pulled out what I assumed was a tarpaulin, she unfolded the material and I recognised that they were in fact a big pair of black Lycra knickers. She pulled them to full stretch and I gawped and gasped “Oh my God they are the biggest knickers I have ever seen”

“Yeah they will fit my pissing big arse” she giggled.

“Or a ship” I added. She laughed a throaty laugh and we sat chatting some more.

Then along at the next bench I watched what I can only assume was a family of seven people of various ages and sizes.

All but one of the group was sitting down. I assumed this was the mother. She was a giant woman, her thighs spread over the entire bench and her girth took up the whole space. She had on a blue coat and a blue dress, her bare mottled legs were massive and her ankles were bulging. I couldn’t stop staring at her feet.

These feet were firmly strapped down by the industrially thick brown leather straps of her sandals, the density of which could hold down a big top carnival tent or secure ships to a harbour midst a squalling storm. Swollen burgeoning flesh popped through the spaces between the leather, like water balloons being squeezed between toddler’s fingers. Her fat ankles spilled over on their own flesh and doubled up as the leg met the foot. I wondered how she managed to walk.

Surrounding her was the family. There were prams with squealing babies and toddlers who ran around the group.

I genuinely had trouble trying to work out who were the men and which were the women. The entire group had short ‘bingo’ haircuts and they all had a big blotch of bleach apparently combed through the hair. Like someone had found a big tub of peroxide and they had experimented on each other and all enjoyed and celebrated the results!

Yellow-white short spiky hair was everywhere. They all had smallish heads, no necks and their bodies just got bigger and rounder as your eye went down, like Weebles, no distinguishable waists, hips or boobs…just rounded people with yellow-ish hair. All dressed in grey, black and blue sports wear.

Though I assume none of them were joggers or sprinters.

This was a sexless look and it was very popular, even the young teenager amongst them was dressed in this acrylic nightmare with yellow-ish hair. No one had dared to stray from the fashion, I looked at the babies in the numerous prams and wondered how long it would be before the peroxide would be slapped on its wee head!

The group was loud with laughter, they chased each other around, they smoked, they swore loudly and they were affectionate with babies. Then they all moved off. I watched the big fat mother struggle to get off the bench and waddle off towards the bus stop near the market.

I finished my tea, stubbed out my cigarette and headed off to the flat I am staying in here in Leeds.

Leeds is full if amazing characters and I love it.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Norfolk and past times

I flew into Norwich on Monday from Glasgow. The flight was great and on arrival at Norwich airport there was a white BMW mini bus ready to take me to the hotel in Titchwell, just as the BBC ordered. I was doing ‘Just a Minute’ radio show in Kings Lynn and staying in the lovely Titchwell Manor.

The white mini bus had a driver who looked about 12 years old and assured me the journey would be fine; as my mate John told me the roads between Norwich and Norfolk are notoriously arduous.

The road twisted and turned and I sat there bumping along, glad that I had two ovaries and two kidneys as my internal organs were slowly being mangled and mashed on the journey.

We had been on the road an hour before the child driver admitted we were lost.

“Do you have a map?” I asked him.

“No, I entered the postcode into my Sat Nav, but according to this we are here, now I have realised the whole area has the same postcode” he mumbled.

“Ok, let’s find a bar or garage or somewhere we can get directions” I took charge.

We drove through small villages that although beautiful looked totally abandoned, farm houses with no people, streets with no cars, stone built manor homes with nothing but ghosts to tend the gardens. I was getting really frustrated; neither of us could get a signal on his radio or our own phones. We were in 1879.

We drove up a gravely drive to an ancient looking mansion, there was no one there.

“We are back in time, I will get put into service and have to pluck chickens and you will become a chimney sweep, this is Bleak House” I laughed, he drove off and we managed to find three more villages with no people or animals, or shops or ANYTHING to indicate life in Norfolk.

Finally we must have driven through some Delorean Time Shift as we saw a garage up ahead and it had real live people in it. They pointed us in the direction of Titchwell and off we set.

The poor driver was aghast at his taxi skills and I was too tired to fight.

But Titchwell Manor was worth the wait. Honestly it is awesome. The main hotel has lovely big coal fires and set in rugged Norfolk landscape and the rooms are wonderfully small wooden cabins. The floors are wooden, painted in cream with pale green cool walls all with a huge wooden bed filling the centre of the room. Whoever designed these rooms knew what they were doing; the peacefulness is reflected in every aspect of the d├ęcor. A big deep bath, cool shiny metal taps, and light flows in from the huge patio windows that over look the farm land outside. I was amazed at the distinct lack of noise.
It was so quiet I have discovered I may have tinnitus; there is a slow deep ringing in my ears that I have never heard before, as I have never been anywhere this quiet in my life. I could hear my kidneys working….I could hear my eyes blink!

I have noises in my head!

I saw a squirrel walk up to my window. I lay on the big white bed and watched it scrabble about, it stopped and clawed at its own bottom and not only did I see it - I HEARD it….that’s how quiet it is. You can hear squirrels scratch their own ass in silent Norfolk.

Then radio show went really well, ‘Just a Minute’ is the scariest radio show in the world. You have to talk for a whole minute really fast and not deviate, or repeat or hesitate…and it has millions of fans and listeners. It can be so frightening, but you have to go with flow and be funny as well. Nicholas Parsons who hosts the show is just a wonderful wit and I adore him.

Next day I caught the train to London where I was doing a gig for Scotscare at the Caledonian Club in Belgravia.

That show was slightly odd as most of the people who turned up were really old and very posh, BUT they were an awesome crowd and I relaxed into it….it ended up a great show.

I caught up with Monica my best mate, we chatted and ate crisps and talk shit for hours. That’s what best pals do.

Soon it was time to get on a flight home, but why the fuck do I always book an early flight? I had to get up at 7am and get taxied to Stanstead Airport, I was so tired, I had a period from hell, and my womb was trying to implode. It felt like three wee angry terriers were fighting over a biscuit in my uterus.

I arrived home to a clean warm bed, two painkillers and a great sleep before I had to get up and go perform in Edinburgh Jongleurs.

Sorry I was late with this blog, but life is mental.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Things happen to Me

Things happen to me. I went to my local late night Asian shop to get milk and fags at 2am. This is normal for me and I love it when it’s quiet.

Anyway when I arrived there were two police officers, one a woman and one a man. The shop was empty except two members of staff who were chatting to the two officers. I heard the woman police officer say to the counter assistant “Did you see the man who had the dog that bit my colleague?” The Asian man then walked with her up the back of the shop to get some privacy.

I thought to myself “Shit I missed a dog biting a policeman my timing really sucks”

Then I picked up some chocolate and headed for the counter where Mohamed 2 was standing, he walked away from the officer and started bagging my goods.

“Hey Mohamed Two, how are you? I have been in Canada did you miss me?” I said.

“Yes Janey, did you do some shows?” he asked with a smile. The policeman at the counter was getting agitated.

“Excuse me, but we are trying to conduct an investigation here could you please get on with your purchases” he snapped and then added “And that’s racist calling him Mohamed Two”

“Listen up Mr Policeman, I want to have my full late night shopping retail experience, we always chat and if you need to make a full investigation then shut the shop, and by the way he is Mohamed Two, the other guy is Mohamed one and his dad is Mohamed three, I am Janey One and my daughter is Janey two and my husband is Janey three, so suck that”

Mohamed laughed “She is right I am number two, we call my cousin Mohamed Plus One”

“I need to question him and you chatting will distract him” the copper insisted.

“Why is he a goldfish? Does he have retentive memory problems?” I asked.

“Look I could give you a warning about obstructing a police investigation” he snapped.

“Well now that you have warned me that you are about to warn me, it’s kind of lost its threat don’t you think?” I laughed.

The policeman glared at me, Mohamed packed my bag and took my cash, I turned to the policeman and said “I wish I had seen the dog biting your colleague”

The policeman said “Why so you could laugh?”

“No, so I could give you a really descriptive account of what happened, I am a stand up comic and I am great at watching things and describing them, like I will about this incident between us tonight, you should read my blog, its on my website, you are officially today’s blog, so thanks for that” then I left the shop giggling and Mohamed Two shouted goodbye.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dead Cat

There is nothing better than getting into your own bed with your favourite pillow and cuddling into it. The familiar smell of your own bedroom is great and hearing Ashley banging doors as she gets up for Uni was even wonderful. I missed my home and am glad to be home from Canada.

When I arrive home from a trip I always do a quick check. I walked around the house to look for deformities.

There is a burnt out blackened saucepan that as yet has to explained, there are black splash marks on my kitchen ceiling that Ashley vehemently denies are there, she tells me I am seeing things. The sofa has a strange dull stain on it and the clothes drying rack refuses to stand up as one of its legs are broken.

The bathroom has no soap and there are four tubes of toothpaste in various states of squeezed-ness (if that’s a word?) and my towels are all damp and I have 17 towels. Can they all be wet at the same time? What happened when I was gone?

I will never know because my daughter has decided I need ask no questions as no answers will be forthcoming.

Life goes on; at least she is alive and well.

I brought home season 5 of 24 and season 7 of Gilmore Girls and I sat up last night watching too much telly. I slept till 4pm today and felt drugged and dizzy. It’s not jetlag, it’s me being too bloody stupid and staying up too late.

I have good news though, my all time favourite BBC Radio 4 show ‘Just A Minute’ has asked me to be a panel guest again, I will be on the show on the 26th November recording. I love the show and have been on it twice before. I am excited.

Then on 28th November I will on at the Scotscare gig here at the details on their website
it’s a wonderful charity so please support it if you can.

Am off to work out why there is strange dead cat smell coming from the cupboard under the sink, Ashley denies that she can smell it, but it is there.

I suppose the welcome home banner she made on the back of my mobile phone bills wasn’t a great idea but at least the thought was there.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I love Toronto

I love Toronto…the people are quirky, funny and almost rude but in a nice way.

Husband and I have been slightly stressed due to the nature of the gigs over here, but all in all it’s been good. Some gigs are way out of town and he ends up sitting in the apartment – he does go out as well and unlike me has made loads of friends.

Normally he isn’t chatty but his ‘Talking’ gene has kicked in and I went with him to a local bar and a small group of people cheered and welcomed him in. I thought for an awful moment they had mistaken him for someone else…but no…they all knew him.

I was the stranger now. He had been in there during the week and made load of buddies, I was awestruck, as this is the man that takes two years to get to know you before he will use your first name in public! Then he will probably not speak to you again for another two years!

“Hey big man, how’s things? Is this your wife?” a big square jawed Canadian bloke hugged him like they were family.

“Hey everyone this is Janey my wife” my husband yelled to the gathered smiling crowd.

I have honestly never in my life heard him say to anyone ‘This is my wife’ I was stunned. He normally introduces me as ‘Janey, Ashley’s mum’

Now I was finally his wife after 27 years of marriage.

Other people around the bar came up to shake his hand and to welcome me.

I stood there quietly as I watched him hug and shake hands…who the fuck has stolen my quiet husband and replaced him with the bloke from the TV hit show ‘Cheers’?

Did he also have a song? Would he pick up a violin and start a concerto? I didn’t know as anything was possible now.

“The usual?” a pretty dark haired barmaid asked him.

The fucking USUAL? What the hell is going on…I am the POPULAR one, I am ‘Fun Janey’ he is dull quiet muttering man. He doesn’t make eye contact and hates strangers talking to him!

Where did this man come from?

I felt disenfranchised, how dare he become interesting without me being there to make it possible?

I sat quiet and watched him talk to the guys and I never uttered a word. We had now changed personalities, but I felt if I spoke, I would break the spell.

Later on he explained that since my autobiography had become so popular in the UK, and since my profile had been on the up- his personality had become compromised and in the UK everyone knew him through me or associated to me.
So he had no identity in the UK, here in Canada, no one knew him or me that much and he finally could be himself.

I wasn’t sure if I liked it, but it was fun while it lasted and no doubt when we hit home he will be silent BOB again.
I will miss the Chatty Husband.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Well we flew to Toronto, Zoom airlines are really cool, nothing special but you really do get nice service. I managed to get three seats to myself and slept a bit on route.

Husband and I landed in Toronto and by some shitty luck, the comedy promoter managed to misjudge our arrival time and we sat in Toronto airport for nearly two hours. You see we didn’t actually know what hotel we had been booked into and the lack of information was making me mental.
I had deliberately left my mobile back in the UK as it causes issues and too much cash trying to use it abroad. Anyway the comedy promoter would not answer his mobile despite me calling 8 times…to cut a long story short we got a cab into downtown Toronto and checked into a hotel.

The hotel didn’t look good, but we were tired and frazzled and plotting ways to kill the bloke who didn’t manage to pick us up at the airport and sometimes when you spend ages thinking of ways to kill people it can tire you out. I opted for hanging him naked near wolverines and husband went for stabbing major organs with a blunt stick…but the slow method…as opposed to the quick stabby death.

Anyway the hotel bedroom smelled like the place truckers kill hookers on a regular basis. I was so tired I no longer cared if there was a dead woman in the bath…I needed to sleep. Meanwhile, still no news from the man who was supposed to organise our hotel and trip!

Husband and I finally slept and got up the next day. We were sticky, confused and angry and to make matters worse I woke up with swollen glands. I didn’t know the day was about to get worse.

We finally made contact with the mysterious man who was organising our accommodation and we arranged to meet. My throat felt like dogs bollocks had been stuffed down there and husband was so stressed that one of his eyes went numb.

We noticed that there were serviced apartments in downtown Toronto and I called the company. They arranged for me to go to check out the flat, so we ran through the rain and met with the concierge. The apartment was really lovely and we were very pleased. I called the lady and she told me that I had to get in a cab and go 15 miles up the road to her office to pay for the flat as it was so last minute.

Husband went back to hotel to get luggage and wait for me, I jumped into a cab and headed to the company that owned the flat. So far so good.

The lady behind the counter explained that my American Express card had refused to work. I sighed…exhausted and about to cry. I called Amex back in the UK and after clearing all the security issues the man asked why I was calling.

Me-“well my card is being refused”

Him- “Well that’s because you are in Toronto, did you tell Amex you would be going to Canada?”
Me- “No I didn’t bother phoning my credit card company and explaining my diary to them because they are not my parents and I never knew I had to inform them of my movements”

Him- “well, now we know you are there, we will allow the card to work”

Me-“Thanks for that you utter cunt”

Him- “Sorry I thought you called me a bad word there Miss Godley”

Me…I hung up, I was too tired to fight. My throat hurt and I managed to get everything organised and headed out to catch a cab and head back to the apartment where husband would be waiting.

The cab outside was parked and the driver was standing outside the car and looking at his watch.
“Is that the cab for Godley?” I asked him.

“Yes, but my cab is broke and it takes three more minutes for the electrics to work, I promise, then you can get in and we can head off” he simply said.

So there I was, stressed and pressed for time yet staring at a cab with a small Asian man at my side. Finally he ‘felt’ the cab would work and we both got into it; he reversed out of the car park and crashed into a bollard. Metal crushed and wheels screeched. My neck jerked and I just silently giggled.

I sat there and stared at the ceiling of the car and secretly wondered if I had killed a gypsy in my past that had lead to all this bad luck.

“I am sorry, now we go” he shouted and sped off towards the apartment.

The car was making strange grinding noises and I fully expected it to collapse in a heap and dump me on a busy freeway in Toronto.

But it didn’t and I managed to get back to a frantic husband who was worried sick about how long I had been gone. We did finally get into the flat and it is wonderful and clean, we finally did meet the comedy promoter who had an explanation for his absence. All is good. My throat hurts but all is well.

I am performing in Toronto this week, go check the website.


Well we flew to Toronto, Zoom airlines are really cool, nothing special but you really do get nice service. I managed to get three seats to myself and slept a bit on route.

Husband and I landed in Toronto and by some shitty luck, the comedy promoter managed to misjudge our arrival time and we sat in Toronto airport for nearly two hours. You see we didn’t actually know what hotel we had been booked into and the lack of information was making me mental.
I had deliberately left my mobile back in the UK as it causes issues and too much cash trying to use it abroad. Anyway the comedy promoter would not answer his mobile despite me calling 8 times…to cut a long story short we got a cab into downtown Toronto and checked into a hotel.

The hotel didn’t look good, but we were tired and frazzled and plotting ways to kill the bloke who didn’t manage to pick us up at the airport and sometimes when you spend ages thinking of ways to kill people it can tire you out. I opted for hanging him naked near wolverines and husband went for stabbing major organs with a blunt stick…but the slow method…as opposed to the quick stabby death.

Anyway the hotel bedroom smelled like the place truckers kill hookers on a regular basis. I was so tired I no longer cared if there was a dead woman in the bath…I needed to sleep. Meanwhile, still no news from the man who was supposed to organise our hotel and trip!

Husband and I finally slept and got up the next day. We were sticky, confused and angry and to make matters worse I woke up with swollen glands. I didn’t know the day was about to get worse.

We finally made contact with the mysterious man who was organising our accommodation and we arranged to meet. My throat felt like dogs bollocks had been stuffed down there and husband was so stressed that one of his eyes went numb.

We noticed that there were serviced apartments in downtown Toronto and I called the company. They arranged for me to go to check out the flat, so we ran through the rain and met with the concierge. The apartment was really lovely and we were very pleased. I called the lady and she told me that I had to get in a cab and go 15 miles up the road to her office to pay for the flat as it was so last minute.

Husband went back to hotel to get luggage and wait for me, I jumped into a cab and headed to the company that owned the flat. So far so good.

The lady behind the counter explained that my American Express card had refused to work. I sighed…exhausted and about to cry. I called Amex back in the UK and after clearing all the security issues the man asked why I was calling.

Me-“well my card is being refused”

Him- “Well that’s because you are in Toronto, did you tell Amex you would be going to Canada?”
Me- “No I didn’t bother phoning my credit card company and explaining my diary to them because they are not my parents and I never knew I had to inform them of my movements”

Him- “well, now we know you are there, we will allow the card to work”

Me-“Thanks for that you utter cunt”

Him- “Sorry I thought you called me a bad word there Miss Godley”

Me…I hung up, I was too tired to fight. My throat hurt and I managed to get everything organised and headed out to catch a cab and head back to the apartment where husband would be waiting.

The cab outside was parked and the driver was standing outside the car and looking at his watch.
“Is that the cab for Godley?” I asked him.

“Yes, but my cab is broke and it takes three more minutes for the electrics to work, I promise, then you can get in and we can head off” he simply said.

So there I was, stressed and pressed for time yet staring at a cab with a small Asian man at my side. Finally he ‘felt’ the cab would work and we both got into it; he reversed out of the car park and crashed into a bollard. Metal crushed and wheels screeched. My neck jerked and I just silently giggled.

I sat there and stared at the ceiling of the car and secretly wondered if I had killed a gypsy in my past that had lead to all this bad luck.

“I am sorry, now we go” he shouted and sped off towards the apartment.

The car was making strange grinding noises and I fully expected it to collapse in a heap and dump me on a busy freeway in Toronto.

But it didn’t and I managed to get back to a frantic husband who was worried sick about how long I had been gone. We did finally get into the flat and it is wonderful and clean, we finally did meet the comedy promoter who had an explanation for his absence. All is good. My throat hurts but all is well.

I am performing in Toronto this week, go check the website.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Toronto here I come

On Sunday the 11th November I am off to do comedy at the Toronto Comedy festival. I fly into Glasgow on Sunday morning from Bristol and then go home for an hour to swap cases and then head out to Toronto at 3pm that day!

So I am quite excited and can’t wait to get there and do the shows. Do come along to the gigs that will be listed on my website on the gigs page.

Toronto is an exciting city and I can’t wait to see the place, am hoping those lovely Canadian people enjoy my comedy.
Ashley gets to enjoy the house all to her self and I am sure she has a few parties planned. She had been sick for the past few months and the doc thought it may have been glandular fever, but luckily it turned out to be just a virus.

My poor wee baby has been ill…I will miss her.

We will see….speak soon.

Friday, November 09, 2007


My daughter has finally found a guy she fancies, but she is tortured. Every time he joins her conversation she inadvertently says things like ‘Bum rape’ ‘Castration’ and ‘tampons’ even if these subjects are not even relevant to the chat she will manage to say them out loud when ever he is near. It is some kind of Emotional Tourette’s Syndrome and she hates her life.

“Mum he came over to us in the bar last week and sat down, we were all talking about cowboy films and he was eagerly talking about his favourite movie, we made eye contact and for some reason I blurted out something about the homo erotic messages in western movies and he got up and walked away, what is wrong with me?” she pleaded.

She is like me; I suffer from inappropriate chit chat when stressed. I am the woman who blurted out at a funeral of a dear old friend “That’s a shame she died just when she paid for new false teeth” The assembled mourners stared at me in disgust.

My poor child will have to get to grips with talking about stuff that she may not like to attract a man that she is fond of and learn to shut up about subject matter that can shock guys. Or she can try to find a man that loves her whacky off beat sense of humour and enjoys her crazy whimsical trips of the imagination.

Meanwhile I am in Bristol doing stand up at Jongleurs. The city is awesome and I do love a wee city with a river running through it…the funny news is. At the comedy club I was standing at the door chatting to the staff, when a blonde woman came up and said “Can I bring my mate in for free, I am the MC for tonight, I am Janey Godley”

The manager looked at me and I looked at my fake person and I asked her “Really? You are Janey Godley, wow; we have been waiting on her all night”

The ‘Tall Me’ stood there brazen faced and said “Actually can we just cut the crap, is this how you treat a female comedienne?”

I laughed and finally said “Ok cut the shit, I would never say that”

She stared at me and still tried to push past the door man.

“I am Janey Godley” I declared and laughed when her face fell.

She carried on with her story and shouted “I am Janey Godley”

I then stood tall and shouted “I am Spartacus”

She then ran off down the street dragging her drunken man pal with her.

I wish she had stayed; I would have put her on stage and introduced her as Janey Godley. Its cool being tall and blonde but its something else being funny!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I am finally Home

I am finally home….well at least for a wee while. I was in London and my laptop was so screwed up my blog suffered. I do love London though trying to do comedy with fireworks banging in the background was eternally annoying. I went up to Oxford to perform comedy and met up with Rose Gentle. Rose is from Glasgow and was at the death inquest of her son.

She is the mother of Gordon Gentle who died at age 19 years old in Iraq when a road side bomb killed him. The UK armed services failed to provide the necessary equipment to detect landmines. To make matters worse, it was the Iraq people who took Gordon to hospital not our own Armed Services, the Iraq doctors tried to keep him alive as the army took to long to get to his damaged body. He died.

Rose has taken on the might of the army and was in fine spirits when we met up. She has battled with the government over the last four years to get justice for her boy. Rose tells me that Gordon loved being a soldier, but the army failed to give him equipment that would have saved his life and that’s the issue she deals with. They have now made ten amendments alone to the uniform after Rose drew attention to the issue, and on the day Gordon died, mobile units like his were quickly fitted with the life saving technology four hours after Gordon drew his last breath. It seems paper work got lost and that’s why his mobile unit went out into the firing line without proper armour and equipment, yet they are still trying to figure out who never sent a letter to inform the crew to collect the vital supplies in mine sweeping.

“Rose, but don’t you think people would say that your son became a soldier and maybe you can’t complain if he died in action, isn’t that what he signed up for?” I asked her.

“Janey if your daughter was a window cleaner and they gave her a broken ladder to stand on and she fell a great height you would demand safer equipment for her wouldn’t you?” she answered “I loved my son being a soldier and was eternally proud of him, but even soldiers need safety equipment to do the job that is asked of them” she added.

She is right of course.

Meanwhile back in Glasgow my daughter is having a big fight at her University. It seems the lecturer that is supposed to be teaching her screenplay writing and film making is hardly ever at class and Ashley as student rep has had to stand up for everyone. She is currently in battles with the University and is appalled at the standards of education that are directed at her class, she pointed out that even though she is a third year student she still hasn’t been shown how to work a camera and hates the thought that she will be leave Uni with a degree but will have no real experience.

The upshot is she has been teaching herself camera work and passing the notes onto her the second year students, my best mate John Fleming kindly gave Ashley a great bag of books on film making and at the last meeting with the dean of the Uni she pointed out that the books she was given have actually been more informative than the lectures from the absent tutor.

I am glad she can fight for her rights, too many people get scared and step back from confrontation…not my child though and I am proud of her.

It seems our children have to fight for their rights, some depend on authority to provide and when they are let down, it can be devastating, at least my wee girl is alive to tell the tale of her disappointment in the government, Gordon Gentle will have to depend on the strength of his feisty mum to make his point as he died protecting the rights of others.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

London Blog

I am sorry I have been missing in action yet again…I am in London and the web has been slightly dodgy. I am in an amazing apartment thanks to the people at Crown lawn who always make me feel like a princess, which is nice. I do love this part of London, I am in Kensington/Chelsea and not far from the world famous galleries like Natural History Museum, Victoria and Albert museum and exhibition centre’s like the one at Earls Court.

There are wonderful wee restaurants locally and a nice wee bit called little France…and well yes…its al French! I love it.

The weather is bright and breezy and the gigs are going great. I am on Woman’s hour on BBC radio 4 this Friday.

This feels less of a blog and more of a ‘Letter to my Mummy’ kind of style today isn’t it? Sorry am groggy and tired and stayed up too late and travelled on too many trains and buses and stood on too many stages and I am tired!

Today I am off to Oxford to do a gig there and I do adore Oxford, so beautiful and stunning looking, I am excited.

Husband is here with me but we haven’t seen much of each other as I am always out working and he hangs out near the apartment. I come home late at night, tired and missing Ashley and him at times.
He is slightly grumpy because the TV we have here does not have extensive TV channels and it makes him insane as he is spoiled with our TV back in Glasgow which has loads of channels to choose from.

But like all things…we have to prevail.

I had some meeting this week with TV people, nothing I can confirm or write home about yet…but will let you know if it all works out.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Why do we Hate?

I am off to London this weekend, just for a week of gigs down south. I am looking forward to it, I do love London.
There is a distinct anti- English feeling sometimes in Scotland; people can very rude about southern cousins. Some people say to me “That’s a shame you have to go to England to work, poor you, they are bastards” and I reply “You are a racist fucked up nutter now leave me alone!”

It can work both ways, especially with the likes of Kelvin MacKenzie the ex-editor on The Sun newspaper.

He relishes in his anti –Scottish speeches which he does in the press and TV.

Mr MacKenzie said on BBC show Question Time: "Scotland believes not in entrepreneurialism like in London and the South East, the reality is that the Scots enjoy spending it, they do not enjoy creating it, which is the opposite of down in the South."

It seems people in London shout out in the street to him “Go Kelvin, keep telling those Scots to fuck off”.

If people shouted out “Go on tell those Pakistani’s to Fuck off Kelvin” he would be charged for citing racial hatred, and quite rightly so! But it seems ok to hate the Scots; but not all English people treat us this way.

As I say it can work both ways and there is deep undercurrent of anti-Englishness even in comedy clubs in Scotland. I hate it when Scottish MC’s feel the need to tell an audience that the next act up is ‘English’…some people boo and that’s awful. There is no point to explaining their nationality in some disparaging way and offenders of this hate crime need to pulled off stage by the promoter, as far as I am concerned.

I have never had anti- Scottish feelings when I am performing in England, sometimes there are a few boo’s when there happens to be a significant football match concerning Scotland that day…football often brings hatred into a situation. There has never been anything really obnoxious hurled at me about my nationality.

Hating a country because they are not your country or because they are a country beside your country…its just mental especially as we are supposed to be British!

It’s the same with cities, Glaswegians are supposed to hate people from Edinburgh, and vice versa…I don’t really understand it, then it comes down to streets, people from one street being territorial about some other street next to it…what the fuck is that about?

Gangs all stabbing each other because their post code is slightly different, meanwhile the houses they live in are rented and at any minute they could get evicted and move to another street…then start all over again…wondering what to do with the tattoo that says ‘Smith Street Gang Rules’ on their arms!

I don’t have a conclusion to all of this as I am now slightly bewildered and am off to tattoo ‘I love Scotland and other countries, even ones in Communist run countries’ on my leg. That should take up some time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Kill the PC

I stared at the blank screen on my laptop, it blinked and effectively died, right there in front of me. A tight pain went in my chest, but then it blinked back on and I quickly saved loads of my files and emailed them to myself. Then I killed the pc by turning it off, I knew it would never come back on.

Thank fuck all my emails and videos are stored online, no more shit OUTLOOK EXPRESS to make life feel like it ran down a drain, I love my BT Yahoo…whooo hooo!
I took the dead laptop back to the shop where after a fight about my ability to claim the insurance (which resembled that scene with Al Pacino in Scarface when he snorts too much coke and goes on a killing spree or that famous scene in Ben Hur when Charlton Heston races a chariot and horses amidst blood and death).

The whole store came to a stand still as I had what I suspect to be -my first ever hormonal menopausal flush, I sweated, screamed and even threw myself on the floor.

After a quiet lull the manager assured me it would be fixed within 24 hours for free.

I am beginning to like this menopausal thing, fuck I must have looked scary, husband (who was standing outside) said he could hear my incredibly funny insults come through the front doors as they swished open and shut as customers came in and out of the store.

He also added that when I left the place I looked like one of those women from the TV hit show TENKO, all dishevelled and traumatised.

Luckily the PC was restored and returned to me, I love it….it looks better and runs faster than a cute kid being chased by Michael Jackson.

Now all I have to deal with is menopausal things.

From the beginning of the year, I had a situation where if I coughed some pee came out, how awful is that? The last thing I need is to smell of piss.

You hit 46 and suddenly your pelvic floor muscles decide to go south. So to remedy the situation I have been doing a rigorous exercise plan of pelvic floor training. Now my muscles and pelvic floor are as strong and tight as a kettle drum. I even tried it out by coughing…nope no pee there! I may open beer bottles with my vag as a new party trick.

I think husband may be impressed…

Monday, October 22, 2007

Aberdeen & Wombles

I had a hectic weekend. I went up to Aberdeen as I was performing my one woman comedy show at The Lemon Tree club/theatre which is an awesome space to do comedy in. I got an early train up and checked into a hotel just on the outskirts of the main city centre as I figured that would be quiet. No it wasn’t quiet, as I checked in there was a huge big Cockney accented family form London all screaming and fighting with each other at 11 am in the morning.

There were kids, mums, dads, fat women, baldy fat men, skinny screeching young women, spiky haired drunk loud young men ... all having a big barney in the main reception.
They were running in and out of the hotels main bar, sloshing beer and vodka around in glasses as they took part in the debacle, (they didn’t dare leave their drinks unattended, incase someone else downed it).

“Nice!” I thought to myself as I now imagined my quiet Friday afternoon spent by the swimming pool will no longer exist.

I went into the main bar/restaurant to get lunch, the hotel was quiet secluded and I don’t drive, so I thought a swim then lunch should be a good set up for my show that night.

I managed to sit through eating fish and chips whilst the din of Cockney screamers went on, apparently they were all attending a family wedding at the hotel he next day.
I am sure it was lavish classy affair that I would have to miss as I left for Glasgow the next day.

Despite the noise and madness I made it to The Lemon Tree that night and the show went great, I did one hour and forty-five minutes onstage! I had great fun and the audience were lovely.

I slept well that night and travelled home the next day by train, watching the beautiful Scottish countryside show off its spectacular autumn display from the train window.

Saturday night in Glasgow I was lying in bed trying to sleep about 1am, but there was noise beneath the windows and I couldn’t quite work out what was going on. I leaned up and open my window and looked down and there was a young man pulling stuff out of my garbage bins, I am three floors up bit the noise was really loud as he pulled stuff onto the concrete. He leaned down and started picking stuff out of my refuse collection and was shoving it into a bag.

I know that people can steal your identity by collecting your paper bills and info, but we shred everything and recycle all our shredded paper, so that wasn’t concerning me. What did bother me was the sheer amount of noise and mess he was creating.

He moved on and started in the bin shelter across at the next flats. He was like a mad dog pulling rubbish out and throwing it over his shoulder and scurrying through all the discarded refuse that had been tied up in bags and was now scattered all over the car park.

I decided to call the police, either he was a mental patient who really needed help or he was the worst and most indiscreet identity thief in Scotland.

I sat at my window and watched the police car arrive. Now I don’t like the police and hate calling them on anyone, but I started to have real concerns about this young guy, he was manic in his search and the noise was getting the neighbours at their windows.

The police simply brought him out of the bin shelter and chatted to him; they then put him in the back of the police car and shut the door as they went into the bin shelter.

They searched the big bag he had full of stuff. I hung out of my window and shouted down “Is there any paperwork in that bag?”

The young police man shouted up “No, it’s just all rubbish to be honest, I think he has mental problems”

“Or maybe he is a Womble” I shouted back down and the policeman laughed and waved as he drove off with the poor guy.

Womble’s were animated characters on UK telly back in the 1970’s, they wore big furry suits, looked like bears and they collected rubbish from other people’s bins and from local parks to recycle. They were a big family of Wombles and the kids who watched it loved their nice wee moral stories about not throwing away good working stuff and that recycling was the way forward. The Wombles were very advanced for their time!

I think I just got a Womble put in a police cell…shame on me.
Joking aside, I hope the poor guy gets himself sorted; a mental illness where you are compelled to root through rubbish bins cannot be good for your health.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A real ghost story

This really happened, I have spent years thinking about it and every time I recall it, it makes me feel creepy, scared and sad.

Back in 1985 I was pregnant and very ill. I developed some weird sickness that meant I could not hold down any food during the pregnancy and I almost had to consider terminating the baby. Luckily I didn’t and my daughter came through the foetal trauma and is wonderful.

Anyway, the night I want to talk about happened one early evening when I had such a big argument with my husband. I really wasn’t fit for fighting or walking out to the dusky streets in a strop – but I did it anyway. It was something I did quite a lot in those days. I just simply walked out.

My husband had pissed me off beyond belief and as it was such a hot summer night I decided to walk along by the River Clyde.

I didn’t really like the river as my mother had been thrown in its murky water years before and had died that spring night of 1982 at the hands of her violent boyfriend.

I always felt odd looking at the dirty water, as I often pictured her rotting corpse floating about amongst the reeds. I do have a very vivid imagination but what happened that summer night of 1985 will stay with me till I die.

I had walked right down to the dockside. It used to be a busy industrial place but, now that the shipyards had closed down, it was just a dirty broken place where old drunks hung out on the rusting decks and corroded pontoons that used to serve the giant ships.

It started to get dark and the summer sun had dipped beyond the massive metal bridges on the river and left a strange red striped pattern on the flat water near the old shipyard. Minutes later, the whole area went dark as the sun slipped of to the West. There were not many street lights down at the dockside. The local council had tried to make the place look presentable by planting loads of trees, hedges and thick bushes but that only served to hide rabbits and a few city foxes that would raid the bins.

I sat down feeling nauseous on a bench that had green crackled paint and deep gouges of graffiti cut into it, making the seat scratchy and uncomfortable, but I needed a rest.

I watched the water move slowly, my eyes trying to focus into the darkness. There were some pools of light from the orange street lamps that lit up various spots along the water side, but only sporadically as many of the lights were broken.

Empty beer cans and fag ends littered the pathways illuminated in the freakish-looking orange light, bushes rustled and I could hear moans coming from various points along the walkway from drunks who had taken refuge amongst the undergrowth.
I didn’t feel unsafe or scared. This was my city and drunks aren’t always dangerous. Most are just friendly and like a chat. We owned a bar at that time and drunks were my constant companions. I knew how to handle them.

Behind me, I heard the foliage move; twigs were being broken underfoot. I turned to see who was coming behind me but, in the darkness, it was hard to see what was there. I assumed it was a fox and dismissed it. I sat there fighting the need to vomit.

The noise stopped and I focussed back on the river, sitting there in my own thoughts again. Still feeling angry and sick at the same time, I went over the fight with my husband in my head. We never stopped fighting. We always argued. And, now that I was pregnant, I wondered what the hell I was going to do with my life. I got lost in my thoughts…and just then I felt someone brush past me from behind. It was a slight feeling, as if my hair was being touched and my neck was slowly getting warm.

I got startled and turned round.

There was no-one there, yet I could hear movement around me. I stood up and saw something… just out of the corner of my vision. It was like a very small person or a child crouching down and running into the deep bushes beside the bench.

I wondered who the hell would have a child out at this time of night and why the hell it was running into the thick hedges. I looked around for an adult who might have been with the toddler, but there was no-one around.

“Hello!” I shouted in the direction of the bushes, but no sound came back.

My stomach flipped at that point and I threw up on the path, just retched and watched as yellow bile splattered all over the gravelly ground. I was used to the burning yellow liquid that often came up from my throat without warning. I hated this pregnancy.

My eyes smarted and I sat back down. I forgot about the child in the bushes and held onto my tummy. My forehead was clammy and I really wanted to go to bed now. I decided to get up and head for home.

I walked a few steps and heard more movement amongst the greenery. This time I stopped and looked behind me along the darkened pathway. Nothing was there. I spun round and looked ahead… No-one was on the walkway that I could see. I looked towards the river and nothing moved. I stood on tiptoes and tried to peer over the bushes towards the deserted streets that lined the docks… Nothing…No sound of cars or people…that I could hear anyway.

I stood for a few moments and I heard a child cry out. This alarmed me, so I leaned down to where I thought the noise was coming from and there, amongst the dense leaves, I could see a small dark-haired child crouched down on his haunches. I could only see the top of the child’s head.

“Hello, are you OK?” I spoke quietly.

It must be a lost kid…One of these drunks has brought a kid down here and it’s got lost, was all I could think.

The head moved, the face came up and there sat a dirty wee round faced boy.

His eyes looked very dark and his skin was dirty. I couldn’t quite see his features, it was so dark. He stood up and he was about three feet tall and with one filthy hand he beckoned me to follow him into the hedges.

I knew I couldn’t go in with him as the bushes were too thick and there was no way I could get my body in between the labyrinth of branches.

“Are you OK?” I repeated. He looked at me and put out both of his hands. He outstretched to me and I put out my arms to help him out of the tall, thick hedge. He stopped halfway, so I leaned forward to get him and encourage him to come out. Just then, I looked at his face and he was looking past me, as if there was someone behind me. I immediately looked round and there stood a tall man, watching us.

I suddenly got scared and stepped back onto the path to face him. He was drunk and holding a can of beer.

“Are you OK, missus?” he asked me.

His breath could have stripped paint.

The sheer smell of booze made me want to retch again.

“Is this your child?” I snapped at him and pointed into the bushes. How dare he stand there and watch me try to get this scared kid and not help, I thought to myself.

I never took my eyes off him, just in case he did turn nasty.

It was a dark, isolated place and I was there with a small child in the bushes. Not an ideal situation.

“No, I don’t have any kids, missus,” he answered and then added: “Are you OK? You were falling into the bushes.”

I turned to see if the child was OK and not scared of the drunken man, but there was no-one there. He must have disappeared under the branches, I thought to myself.

“Hello there! Are you OK?” I shouted out to the kid.

“There isn’t anyone there,” the man said.

“Yes there is: it was a wee boy and I was trying to help him out,” I answered angrily.

The drunk man stepped back and looked at me, then laughed: “You were standing there on your own; you had your arms out and you were falling into the bushes.”

“I wasn’t falling! I was helping out a wee boy,” I spat at him. “And you scared him!”

I started to think I was going mad. The man kept trying to assure me I had been standing there alone. He was drunk. What the hell did he know? My stomach heaved and I vomited again in front of the tall, smelly man.

He reached over and patted my back: “You don’t look well, take a seat.” He spoke with genuine concern.

I sat down and wiped my mouth. “Look, I am telling you there was child in those bushes and he was coming out and then you came along.” I spoke quietly as I clutched my stomach.

At that moment, the bushes rustled again and out stepped the wee boy. His dark hair and dirty clothes were now clearer to see. He had no shoes on and his skinny legs were all scraped and bloody looking. The boy simply looked at us both and walked away towards the docks. The man gasped and put his beer can down. We both got up to follow the boy but within seconds he was gone. He simply vanished into the darkness. He wasn’t on the pathway at all. We both turned on our heels and peered into the dimly-lit dockside in every direction.

We both called out into the dockside. We walked up and down a few yards in opposite directions, passing each other on the dense dark gravel path, both wildly looking about for the small boy.

He was nowhere to be seen. I sat down, exhausted, and put my head in my hands.

“You saw him, right?”

I needed reassurance that he, too, had watched a child disappear. It wasn’t just me. And I wasn’t pregnant and insane.

“Aye, I did see him. He was about five years old, eh? He didn’t have any shoes on, did he?” The man spoke with both arms outstretched, looking as bewildered as I felt.

Out of the dense darkness, two men started walking towards us. They were slightly stumbling and drunk-looking. One was carrying a plastic bag with clinking bottles of Buckfast wine. I could see the familiar gold bottle tops peep out of the carrier bag. This wine was popular with hardened drinkers in Glasgow; it was cheap and very potent. The other man had thick bushy unkempt hair and he was swigging beer from a can with every step he took.

“How you doing, Frank?” asked the taller of the two drunk men to the man who was standing with me.

“Bobby, did you see a wee boy in his bare feet run towards you?” Frank, my new friend, asked.

“No, why the fuck would a wee boy be out this late in bare feet, Frank?” Bobby asked. “It’s almost three in the morning.”

The Bushy haired man slumped onto the bench. He was more inebriated than I initially suspected.

The man on the bench spoke quietly: “It’s the wee black faced boy, he is a ghost. He comes out in the night. A few of us have seen him in the bushes and he always tries to get you in there. Nobody believed me when I saw him. He just runs about in his bare feet then disappears.”

We all turned to stare at him.

“That’s crap!” I shouted. “We both saw him and he was a real boy!” I was annoyed at myself for standing on the dirty dockside arguing with drunk men about ghosts. What the hell was I doing here?

“I am off,” I said. “I have had enough. Thanks for helping me, Frank.”

I gathered up my bag and headed along towards the dimly-lit roadside where I could maybe catch a cab back to the East End.

I didn’t bother to look back. I no longer cared about some mysterious wee boy. I ignored the men who were debating ghosts and wee black boys. My head was spinning, I felt sick and I was physically exhausted now.

I spotted a taxi in the distance on the lonely road with its orange light breaking the darkness. Thank goodness, I thought, I spend enough time with drunk men in that bloody bar. What the hell am I doing out this late? My husband will be worried and I need my bed.

The cab stopped, let me in the comfy warm back seat and did a U-turn to take me back along the road. I sat down, enveloped in the heat, and looked out towards the River Clyde. I could see the silhouette of Frank, Bobby and the other drunk man standing beyond the hedges as the taxi prepared to head off.

Just then, at the bottom of the bushes something caught my eye. I tried to focus as the taxi was moving off and there I saw a wee dirty faced boy crouched down low and waving at me. He smiled, his teeth so bright against the grubby skin of his face. Then he just faded back amongst the leaves. Right in front of my eyes, he just disappeared.

I clambered on the taxi seat, turning around and kneeling, looking backwards in case he reappeared.

I never saw him again. I went home and dragged my sorry sick body into bed. Husband lay holding me tight. He had been walking the streets looking for me and had been frantic. We promised never to argue again.

But I wasn’t really listening. I was lying in the darkness of my bedroom still seeing in my mind’s eye the wee black-faced boy who lived in the bushes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ashley got drunk

The other night Ashley came home late from University, she was roaring drunk.
She had been out with some guys from class and drank Tequila.
I was sitting happily watching TV and the giant stumbling daughter from hell arrived. She banged every door in the house and started speaking very posh, which is a sure sign of being drunk “Mama, I am in the hall and I am absolutely tip top” she shouted in some mock middle class accent.

Not only was she drunk but she was speaking like Hugh Grant.

“Great” I said sarcastically to husband who smiled and gestured his acceptance of the situation by spreading open his arms and saying “Well she is 21 years old”.

Ashley threw herself onto the sofa, reeking of smelly alcohol and proceeded to eat the baked potato leftovers that were lying on my plate. She dropped potato all down her legs and I demanded she get to bed.

She laughed like a manic and headed off to her room, making enough noise to wake up the entire block of flats. She knocked over the drying frame which was full of wet washing, so my damp jumper landed in the recycling box amongst the sticky plastic pop bottles.

She fell asleep. I kept her door open so I could check she wasn’t going to choke on her vomit, as this haunts me, I knew a few people who died of this when I was young.

Next morning I was awoken by the sound of her retching into a plastic bucket I had placed beside her bed.

“Mum!” she cried through the vomiting noises. I went into her room and she was laying half out the bed, damp with sweat and trying to tie up her masses of dark hair that were threatening to land amongst the yellow bile in the bucket.

I did the good mummy thing and held up her hair and sponged her back with a cold cloth and she retched up more yellow stuff.

“I am sorry mum” she mumbled as her body heaved over and over to get a teaspoonful of yellow bile out of her alcohol poisoned stomach.

I spent most of the day checking her, sponging her, washing out a vomitty bucket and encouraging her to sip some water that bounced straight back up out of her trampoline like dodgy tummy.

By teatime she was starting to come round, her body had sweated and vomited out most of the Tequila and she managed to keep down a glass of water.

“I am never getting drunk again” she declared, her white face and huge hollow eyes looked like she meant it. Probably she will, but I hope she never gets that sick again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Asians in Scotland and Racism

I was gigging with a lovely Asian comic, Inder Manocha. He is an amazing comic and wonderful man and when we spoke backstage about Asians and Scottish people’s attitude towards them it made me recall when I was young.
I lived in Shettleston in Glasgow’s East End and in the 1960s, we had many small Asian shops but no Asians actually lived there, they only worked in the area. There was a small shop at the end of the street and they were a lovely family. Aslam was the father and he had a wee boy called Khalid and he was my friend. Back then people in Glasgow were racist by nature; they would often look down on Asians and be openly racist.
My mammy was friends with many of the Asian shopkeepers as she ran so much credit and debt through her own poverty and relied on the shopkeepers good nature, yet she would still call them ‘Paki’s’ to me, I hated that she did this.

Anyway Khalid and I used to play outside at football and if we ever kicked the ball and it hit some man Khalid was always incredibly polite and shout “Sorry Sir” and apologise profusely and that would annoy me. He was being so subservient to these men who would shout “Fucking watch it Paki” and I would hate them for their rudeness.

One time I felt so sorry for Khalid as he seemed lonely and not many people played with him I invited him up to my house to play and he quickly said “No”.

“Why won’t you come? Are you not allowed?” I asked, I was worried he thought he may not be treated properly or was mistrustful.

“You have nits and lice that’s what my dad told me and I am not really allowed to play with you” he replied. I was taken aback as I always thought he was slightly disadvantaged and wouldn’t mind and because I was white, everything about my poverty would be overlooked because he was Asian and needed all the friends he could get! I was aghast! I was being typically racist, as I was taught to be by my peers and never thought to look past it all, but I was only nine years old.

Weeks later we met up and he was carrying a bag with photos in to take to his grand mother.
He showed me a photo of him in his school uniform. It was a posh looking uniform and he was standing beside a mansion.

“It that your school?” I asked.
“No that’s my house” he simply replied. You see, most of the Asians in Glasgow were really hard working and quite rich, they worked in the poor areas but the lived in amazing houses on the other side of the city and drove fancy cars, yet Glaswegians would always look down on them as if they were better because their skin was white!

Glasgow has changed though racism still exists; people seem to be less accepting of other cultures since 9/11 and the rise of radical Muslims. I hope it changes. I wonder how my old mate Khalid is now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Baby Abi and Autumn Leaves

Went over to see my favourite wee great-niece Abi, her wee sister Julia and big brother Shawn, they are so cute. Shawn is ten, Abi is four and wee Julia is one year old now and is almost walking about. They are the kids of my niece Ann Margaret.

Abi is the funniest wee human being in the world and features on my videos, etc.

I walked into the hall and their nasty grumpy cat ‘Squeak’ wrapped itself around my leg and purred loudly. This is highly unusual as Squeak is an evil grouchy cat that hates everyone and everything except shitting and eating.

“Why is the cat nice?” I asked Abi, as Squeak shoved its ass right up my leg, I suppose I should have guessed.

“Well mummy says Squeak wants a man cat to kiss it so they can have kittens and when she is like this, she gets all cuddly, but only her bottom likes cuddles coz her head still bites you” Abi explained to me. It was clear to see that the evil cat was on the heat and was all horny; I was disgusted at her blatant sexual advances and tried to shake her off my leg.

I went through to the living room and wee Julia was standing holding onto a table, doing the wobbly leg dance and scaring the beejebus out of me as she almost knocked her eye on the corner of the sharp edges. I hate this baby stage when wee babies are practically suicidal and constantly crack their heads on floors and other household objects. Why can’t we just wrap them up in bubble-wrap until they are three years old?

I walked out of the room for a minute and came back in to see Julia being ass rubbed by the evil cat, I yelped out loud as Julia appeared to be sticking pretend play money up the end that the cat was shoving in her face, the cat looked pleased and Julia was amazed that the cat was letting her near without trying to scratch her big blue eyes out.

“Oh dear, I think plastic money has been shoved into the cats nana, Julia has been sitting with her on the floor and that’s what it looked like she was doing…I am sorry” I explained to the baby’s mum Ann Margaret.

“Oh Shit, get her back from Paris Hilton the cat” Ann Margaret screamed and washed the baby’s hands and prised the plastic coins out of her wee chubby tight fist.

I got Abi dressed and took her out a walk to the local park. The sun was shining so bright and we both took our coats off and put them in the buggy. I decided to bring the baby’s buggy so Abi could get a wee push in it, she had to become a big girl at three years old when Julia was born, but she loves a push in the stroller occasionally.

The trees in the park were so beautiful with their autumn leaves all fluttering down and making a gorgeous carpet of red and gold on the pathways.

“Look Aunty Janey, the leaves are so pretty, lets collect some and make an autumn picture with glue when we get home” Abi gasped as she leapt from the stroller and started picking up armfuls of crispy leaves.

She stopped every second to show me yet another leaf, “Look at this one, it’s so beautiful, feel it Aunty Janey” she held out yet another red leaf with awe and wonderment, like she had just discovered leaves for the very first time.

Her wee face was a picture; she truly loves nature and flowers. We approached the lake and she leaned round in the stroller to look up at me and shouted “Remember I fell in the lake last time it was summer?”

“Yes, I do remember, you scared the hell out of us all, why did you fall in?” I asked.

“Well, I thought I was at the side and then I looked down and just fell over and my head went in first and the water tasted like fish” her wee cute face and lispy mouth were so animated, she has amazing big brown eyes and the curliest hair, she is stunningly cute is our Abi.

“Well I am glad you were ok” I told her and we pushed onto the swing park.

Just then a squirrel ran in front of us and stopped dead in our path, its bushy fine tail twitched and it looked at Abi. “Hello wee squirrel, come here so I can see your cute wee face and give you a kiss” Abi beckoned the wee animal, but is scampered into the bushes.

“You can’t touch squirrels Abi, they have sharp claws” I explained.

“I know but their wee faces are my favourite faces on anything, they have really cute faces, not like swans they have angry faces and mice have sharp faces, ducks have silly faces and pigeons have cheeky faces, but squirrels have the nicest faces and I just want to kiss them” she told me in one big long torrent of a sentence.

You forget how toddlers explain every emotion and theory that they have very openly, its so refreshing to be with her, she tells you everything, she feels, smells sees and hears each and every moment it happens. Kids have a running commentary of their landscape and feelings!

We finally made it home and Abi took the leaves upstairs to show her mum every leaf separately and explained the exact spot where we found each leaf, poor Ann Margaret was exhausted. Abi talks more than me.

Then Shawn arrived from school, wee baby Julia’s whole face lit up when she saw her big brother come into the room, she immediately dropped everything she was trying to shove into her mouth and threw up both arms at him.

Shawn, with all the expertise of being a big brother who has already nursed two babies younger than him, scooped her up and held her tight. Julia snuggled into his neck and sucked her thumb contentedly and closed her big eyes.

She promptly fell asleep as Shawn walked around the living room picking things up with his other hand; it’s amazing to see how deft he is with her. He sat down and settled her into the crook of his wee ten year old arms and kissed her head as she sucked away at her thumb snoozing. He pushed his spectacles up on his nose and cuddled her as he watched kids TV and stroked the baby’s head. He was completely nonplussed at having a kid sleep on him as he fiddled with the remote control and continued gently stroking the baby, like he was born to nurture.

Abi clambered over Shawn, she too is his baby sister and demanded his attention, he simply opened up his other arm and let Abi snuggle in there as he watched cartoons and kissed the two wee girls heads. He looked like a wee man sitting there, it doesn’t seem that long ago I was bottle feeding him and pushing him in the pram. He has grown up so quick since the girls arrived.

It makes you feel old watching them all grow up so quickly.

I had a great day in the sunshine, but have to reminiscing about babies as it makes me broody, Ann Margaret always laughs when I say this and promises to give me all three of her kids for a week and see how that sorts my broody hormones out.

I would have them in a minute, but not the hormonal cat- that she can keep.