I am going to try and belt this out so, forgive me, if I tend to wander. Funnily enough, I caught the end of Sir Michael Morpurgo – huge fan – on Graham Norton, this morning, and he was asked whether he had any advice for aspiring writers. His reply was simply to get out there, listen to stories, read a lot and to write a little every day so that it becomes natural, like speech. Not his exact words – I was in the bath at the time and had to commit them to memory – but one gets the gist. I like it. Somehow, I feel as though I, now, have his stamp of approval to blether on to my audience of one …
I had a rare vision yesterday: I think one calls it the sun. Hallelujah? Do not be fooled. Yes, that redundant clothes line swung into action and some bedding actually dried in the fresh air; it seemed as though there was hope for that lifeless garden, once more, and perhaps the end of my enforced hibernation was nigh? Don’t be ridiculous! It has been pouring down, incessantly, since the early hours and the whole world seems shrouded in grey once again. Worse, I happened to hear some chap who has successfully predicted the weather, going forward, for the last few years and the long and short of it is … no need to waste money on sun cream this summer; that new roof on Court 1, Wimbledon, will be worth every penny and, seriously, do not mock those who invest hope in the lottery! That little flat nestled close to the Colosseum in Monti is deserving of dreams.
Have I mentioned James Martin before? I know I have threatened my story about him many times but I should, perhaps, offer some background first. I became a great fan in the days of Saturday Kitchen, largely thanks to his sense of humour. Sarcastic and self-deprecating, he has a naturalness about him; add to that his frequent references to his Granny and his Mum and then there is his love of dogs … perfect! He’s only about 10 years younger than me but that’s nothing in this day and age. Finally, I discovered that his dog happened to be a Clumber Spaniel who was the spitting image of our beloved Wilbur. An alignment of the stars, if ever there was one!
Saturday mornings were sacrosanct and respected by all family members. The format of the show was such that two members of the public were invited on every week in response to some grovelling letter and I was confident that I could inveigle such an invitation, at some point, using our Clumber connection. There was just one sticking point for me – there was no way I would wear a name badge! I don’t know whether this is reflective of some childhood trauma but I have an absolute aversion to name badges, lanyards and uniforms, for that matter, other than school. In a world engulfed in the very same, in which the uniform has extended way beyond the office door and in which the individual is all but extinct, it is little wonder that the concept of employment requires a little creativity on my part!
Back to James Martin and the name badges … The show came to an end, sadly, before I penned my winning letter which would have resulted in my being the first badgeless guest but life moves in mysterious ways. James’ popularity with women of a certain age meant that he embarked on a tour of the country with a similar format to the show and, in 2016, my Christmas present from Becca and Manny was two pairs of tickets for the Usher Hall: The Bay City Rollers on Boxing Day and then James Martin a few weeks later. They know me so well.
Nobody should mock the power of nostalgia nor the ability of music to turn back time. For two hours or so, courtesy of the Bay City Rollers, I was back in my bedroom in Lyndhurst with the walls plastered in Donny and my beloved portable red record player. It was 1975 and we did Remember – every lyric. I shared that special evening with my dear old partner in crime, Shona – and Judy Murray, complete in her tartan accessories. Pause to apologise, once more, to Shona for failing to capture she and Woody on camera for evermore … she’ll still be reminding me of that when we’re, both, doolally! No comment.
So, me and James … This time, Manny drew the short straw and was my plus one for the Usher Hall amongst, for some strange reason, throngs of women my age! James Martin plays to it and, of course, was very entertaining and funny, even attempting a little ditty on the guitar as his finale. He has a little boy quality about him which I think explains his appeal. Suffice to say, there was the inevitable crowd waiting for him at the side door as we left but I decided to spare Manny that. We were aware of the Range Rover parked ready for the quick getaway as we walked to Manny’s red Golf, fortuitously, just yards away. As we clambered in, said Range Rover pulled out past us and took a left into the queue of traffic which was at a standstill. Only two cars behind it was, then, that Manny dared me to get out, run forward and give him my number. He knows me so well! I come from a long line of nutty women – on my mother’s side – who were nothing if not characters. Never one to shy away from a dare, I am my mother’s daughter and Manny knew I would be out that door in a flash. Scribbling my name and number on the ticket, if I remember, I ran past the car in front to the Range Rover with its blacked out windows. The back one was slightly down as I knocked and James lifted his head in acknowledgement. I told him we had been at the show and asked if I could pass him something through the window – he took it and I sprinted back to the car. Manny and I laughed ourselves silly and it was an exhilerating end to a great night. Suffice to say, I am still waiting for that call but, in the meantime, Manny and I have had so much fun dining out on that story and I am proud to continue the line of nutty mothers who delight in doing the most ridiculous things to entertain their children. I have always said that I want my epitaph to be ‘At least she was never boring!’. I am nothing if not diligent.
In the wake of Mother’s Day tomorrow – the commerciality of which I abhor – I have found a quote, for my part, considerably more appropriate …
‘Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.’ Sophocles.
This is Trish, signing off.