A Pregnant Pause – Part 1

It was the beginning of the third week in June in 2015, the weather had been tempestuous, bright sunny intervals, hailstone showers and high winds. You did not know what to wear with the four seasons all in a couple of days. We were off to England, another grandchild imminent. We were booked on the early fast ferry but discovered that it had been cancelled the previous day because of sea conditions. So with plan B in mind we set off early as dawn was about to break on what turned out to be a lovely May morning with a fair westerly wind. Our plan was, if the fast ferry decided to remain in port, they could put us on the earlier and cumbersome Ulysses. Four hours instead of two but at least we would be there.
As it panned out the Jonathan Swift, our boat, was sailing and we had longer to wait at the dockside but that did not matter a jot as we had covered all bases and it suited my modus operandi of better to be early than late. We had a lovely crossing, belting past Ulysses and the Stena Line ferry that had both set off 45 minutes before us. Off the boat at Holyhead and we were in Manchester at 12.30pm ready and willing to partake in a planned Dim Sum lunch with in-laws and large daughter. Delicious and cheap, where else could you feed five people fit to bursting for £60.
Ensconced into plush quarters in kindly in-laws accommodation and after the trials of the day, an early evening was called for and into pit at 8.30pm. Up early on Day 2 to write, breakfast and inevitably go shopping. Whilst spouse dished out the bucks, a flippant few hundred on a fireside mat, I was studiously patient, investing in three pair of socks for £5.  Brunch and off to see 2nd son in his Didsbury hideaway, then back to in-laws for more eats and another early night.
On the baby front, mother had a restless night with promises of labour but to no avail. She remained resting for the day, had food with us in the evening and back to bed. As with all things at the latter end of a  pregnancy, it is a matter of waiting and patience. The child will come in its own good time. So now it is early morning on Day 3, I am writing, everybody else is sleeping but we are all nervously waiting. Yesterday’s forecasts suggested an arrival at anytime which might upset and deny a planned meeting I have this lunchtime with an old jail bird friend.
Poor man, he had been wrongfully accused of harassing Elish Angiolini, one time legal supremo in Scotland but how can you harass an old cow. However under Scottish law anything seems to go. I had been with him 14 months previously when the Sheriff of Aberdeen had sent him on a nine month sabbatical but I had not seen him since his release. He had no weight to lose but under the German queen’s insistence weight was lost but I hoped by now after some months clawing back his dignity he would have regained what Barlinnie had taken away. I was looking forward to meeting the pocket battleship and I am sure that hesitant No 8 grandchild would manage without my help but that did not stop cell phones being charged and anxious looks exchanged.
Manchester for me and disregarding the amount of traffic on the roads has the finest transport infrastructure of any place I know and that includes Dublin with its burgeoning Luas system which in time might well catch up. The tramway system in Manchester developed over the last 13 years has been a godsend, shuttling people around Manchester in quick time along long abandoned railway lines, whilst independent drivers spend hours in traffic. True it becomes hectic in rush hour resembling Tube journeys in London but that inconvenience can be accepted. We are off to central Manchester and it only takes minutes from our south Manchester base. From No 3 daughter’s house to a legal office in town took 20 minutes and no parking worries and all for £2 and in comfort and a chance to see parts of Manchester that were local to me but which I did not know existed. What more could you ask of any transport system, it was excellent.
Business done it was then on to the main purpose of our visit to central metropolis. I had arranged to meet my ex-con mate in the smallest pub in Manchester? Europe? The World? The Circus on Portland Street consists of two snugs and a bar that is 450mm long (18 inches in old money), which is enough for two taps. The gent’s toilet is the biggest room in the house which tells you enough about the drinking habits of its clientele. It is 1.30pm as I push through the door, the place is packed with about half a dozen late lunch hour revellers. My man stood leaning on the few inches of bar talking to this young good looking piece. Now my man is only just post war, WW2 that is, whilst this glamorous companion was of early Premier League days, early twenties at the most. I said nothing and thought that I’d let the conversation answer my queries, at the same time thinking that there was still plenty of life left yet in the old dog. “Paul, this is Ren”. “hello Ren” I said presuming he had called his daughter after his wife, “nice to meet you”. I was confused and then amazed when this exotic beauty turned out to be his 60 year old wife. It shows how well they turn them out in the Philippines these days. Not only her beauty shone through but she had a sense of humour and held her own in every conversation, an all round good egg.
Getting back to the pub, I was pleased to see the real Manchester, the Manchester I loved as a youth was still there, everybody speaking to each other and joining in conversations across two metres of snug. Privacy cannot exist in such a small space, so there we were dipping in and out of various chats and every line a laugh, every utterance a gem. Sadly after a few pints we had to go, hunger was getting the better of us. We bade goodbye to our new old friends and hopped across the road to eat as much as we wanted for £8 in an oriental canteen. It filled the hole produced by abstinence since breakfast, conversation flowed. We had crucified Cameron by the first course, the police, social workers and the general establishment followed. As our hunger dwindled we had removed everybody with a suit from the face of the earth. A really enjoyable anarchic afternoon, we waved our adieus and headed back to the expectant household. No action, we calmed down, had a glass of wine, played for a while with a second row forward who happens to be my nearly three year old grandchild. Bruises swelled and aching limbs arose and off to the tranquillity and comfort of our in-laws abode. They as is their want had gone out for an early evening refreshment, myself and my spouse settled down with our old mates Malbec and Muscat and chewed the cud of the day and awaited the by now refreshed, and chewed the cud some more and so ended Day 3.
At 5.30am on Day 4 I was up and answering an e-mail list as long as my arm, sipped a cup of coffee and wrote this piece and waited whilst mine hostess awoke and provided a sumptuous breakfast. This surely is the life. My task today is to hang a cloths rack from the ceiling of my daughters house to enable her to hang and let dry the copious amounts of washing this new hoped for arrival will engender. Allotted task complete and commissioned by 11.00am and first load of washing now drying as I write. Another reference to the delicious breakfast that set me out on the day, cooked in the main by mine host and completed by mine hostess who insisted on taking over when she felt her high standards were not being maintained. I have to say that these little digs of ours are as good as any five star establishment. What sets it apart are the little tots of splendid whisky and whiskey that seem available 24/7 whether on request or not.

3 thoughts on “A Pregnant Pause – Part 1

  1. Hi Paul. just thought I would touch base, you didn’t make the last ElCC bash, but Skelly tells me that you are going to the Elgin. I look forward to seeing you there. We never really got acquainted as players at ELCC, age difference, playing in different teams etc. But the last time we met. (Llandudno) We seemed to share similar opinions on a few topics which made for good conversation, and good company. I look forward to sharing a good craic next March. Sorry to read about the loss of your guide and mentor from your old school, I survived the same type of good catholic education, a generation earlier than you, at St Gregs. Still got the stripe marks on my arse. One thing I am now grateful for though, at least we both seem to have come away with a command of the written language, English. I am often appalled by the so called, University educated elite, with their lack of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. However, you just keep your bowels open and rotate your crops, It could be a bad winter. See Ya! Dave V

    1. Well Dave, it is nice to see a friend reads my stuff and yes the Elgin beckons. Could not make it this year due to Morocco trip.
      I will enjoy renewing our conversation. Hope you have managed to wean yourself off that plastic smoke stick you were twirling in your fingers last year. See you in ’16.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *