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._