Tuesday, August 04, 2015
He is 83 years old and has been the rock of my life.
His twinkly blue eyes, his impatience with things that take too long to happen and his ability to paint unusual water colours are just three of the things my dad imprinted my DNA with.
Jim, my dad. Twice married and twice widowed. Father to four kids one deceased (My eldest brother Jim) Step dad to two, granddad and great grandad and great great grandad to a heap of kids all who are good at unusual water colours - that's my dad.
The Man who always has a clean laundered handkerchief in his pocket (thanks to his ever attentive son in law who cares for him daily, runs his house, washes his clothes and does all his major care needs ).
We are close, always have been.
He was and still is a brilliant grandpa to Ashley my daughter.
He took her holidays, took her swimming, took her to stare at squirrels and helped raise her alongside my beautiful step mum who passed away five years ago.
I called him two years ago from my pals flat in Los Angeles and I heard him having a stroke on the phone. His speech was slurred and his questions were bizarre.
My heart clenched and I had to hang up on him (not sure if that was the last time I would hear his voice) and contact my husband in Glasgow who took him to hospital and sat by his side for 34 hours.
I am blessed with good men in my life.
He recovered. Got more frail. No more would he get off the Glasgow subway tube and meet me at the stairs.
No more would he sit in a cafe with me and flirt with the waitress.
He was too frail , he became housebound.
Now as time has passed he is slowly succumbing to dementia.
The proud, funny and stubborn old bastard who laughed at my filthiest jokes now calls me to ask when he is going home. "You are home dad" I gulp down the phone standing outside a comedy gig at 11pm at night. People around me are happy and laughing and my heart just feels as though it's cracked like a fragile crystal bauble.
"Well if you won't help me, then that's up to you" He shouts, his voice filled with anxiety and he bangs down his phone.
I have never let my dad down before. Now I am letting him down by assuring him he is safe. I blink tears in the street and run to get a cab to his house.
I hug him when I get into his house. He grabs my hand tight and looks into my eyes and says "Am sorry Janey, I hate being a burden, I love you" and then he puts his warm old hand and lays it on the side of my face and kisses my head.
The man who carried me over puddles is back.
"I am off to the fringe for a month dad, please be safe and don't wander outside when am gone I will worry" I say to him.
He smiles and tells me "My legs are fucked, even if I do get outside I can't get far and my son in law will keep an eye on me, get onstage baby it's where you are happy"
Be safe dad. Stay there till I get back. I will be home.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
I remember being normal. I was young and worked in a bar and watched normal people do normal things.
Things like other normal people did. Normal is good, it's a safe place to be. It's the majority.
There were normal people working in normal jobs and who saved up for a yearly holiday and bought washing machines and normal stuff.
We all came from the normal people, we didn't really know people who did anything different. Maybe the guy who lived in the bus shelter and liked to sing in the style of Al Jolson, he was a bit different but nobody wanted to be him. We liked being normal.
Then one night Jerry Sadowitz walked into my bar with brother Jim (who died a few years ago). Sadowitz did comedy.
This was early 80s nobody did shocking comedy about the Hungerford Shooter. He did. It was funny. It wasn't normal.
It was literally hysterical and many people claim to be there that night Sadowitz first played the Weavers Inn.
It became stuff of legend.
They weren't there. I was there and three other people. It was a normal Tuesday.
He was a comedian and a magician, he did amazing stuff and people loved and hated his jokes. Mostly loved.
He went to the Edinburgh Fringe and did a show. Normal people went through to Edinburgh for the day and watched stuff and came home. He stayed there going onstage every night.
Who does that?
Years later I stopped being normal. I gave up normality and became one of those people who check mic's and walk behind the stage and talk to people in charge of venues.
I swapped a yearly holiday and started going for a whole month to someone else's house to stay (which was completely abnormal as I didn't know them) and started getting cold sweats standing onstage saying stuff.
It wasn't normal. I met artists, actors, musicians and people who also never did normal jobs but travelled about the world talking to audiences and making money standing on stage.
Can you imagine walking onstage and seeing your favourite pop star or actor waiting to hear you speak?
It's totally not normal. Billy Connolly watching me onstage as he sits with Ashley sharing a pot of tea will never leave my memory.
My daughter Ashley barely recalls normal. Even at thirteen she went to Edinburgh and stopped being a normal kid and became a comedian.
She never went back to normal. She lived in a world where she understood phrases like 'black out curtains' 'Door splits' '60% in your favour plus a guarantee' and 'green room' that was never ever painted green.
When her teen pals were off to Ibiza for summer hols....she was organising flyering teams, helping the Underbelly guys in the press office and directing a play we wrote in my living room.
At 16 she was interviewing Russell Brand and Ricky Gervais and getting Meryl Streep mixed up with Glen Close in a dark alleyway on the Cowgate. Poor Meryl Streep her son was in an Underbelly show and Ashley was to get a quote from her on camera....I often wonder what she thought of the tall Scottish teenager who asked her if she has spotted Glen Close.
My husband was never really normal, he quite happily upsticks and moved house for a month every year as he has some gypsy in his blood. He knew the words 'put up' and 'pull down' having been in a caravan carnival family before.
I love being a comedian.
I recall the thrill of standing in a room being nervous with a famous person off the telly being nervous with me. The normal people never see that.
So yet again we are off to Edinburgh Fringe.
Ashley and I both have shows.
We will do stuff normal mum and daughter's don't do.
Like help each other get our room ready for a show.
Like move into the 18th temporary house of our life.
Watch each other onstage and organise each other's press release and record our weekly award winning 'only mum and daughter' comedy podcast.
In fact I have just realised.
We are normal...you guys who come to the festival and pay for tickets...that's abnormal you know why?
Our shows are Free!
See you in August.
Ashley Storrie is at 6.15pm and am at 7.45pm at Counting House.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Five kids and she lives three floors up in a Glasgow tenement.
The old toilet on the landing is shared between three families, so that's 24 people with one cold, spider ridden Victorian loo with a flaky wall and a big key with a never ending queue and no sink to wash your hands.
Some keep it clean, some shit on the floor. Life in a tenement.
She can't leave the pram downstairs, so she makes the four toddlers hold hands and promise to walk slowly up in front and not to drag each other. She keeps an eye on them nervously as the wee one is not great at stairs.
She bumps the big pram up all the stairs, it wakes the baby. The baby is screaming. Two kids need a pee. The toilet is being used. She promises they can use the potty when she bumps up the pram.
The toddler wets himself. The potatoes under the pram fall out due to the bumping and she sighs.
She will need to send one small kid down to pick them up and hope he doesn't run off as she has to calm the baby, change a toddler, get the kids sat down and start peeling the potatoes for dinner.
The kids finally all get into the one bedroom flat. The baby is teething, they put her in the recess bed behind the curtain, that mammy alternates between watching the potatoes boil, keeping an eye on the sausages in the oven and making sure her two year old doesn't drown in the sink as she washes him one handed as she holds back a toddler from the oven.
She needs to drain the potatoes, she can't as the kids are getting washed in the sink.
The baby wakes up and all the kids need the toilet at the same time. They all take turns of the potty, and as the potatoes sit going mushy in the pan and the baby screams and the kid pees in the sink, the mammy holds in a scream.
She gets them all fed. She starts boiling water for the dishes as she has no hot running water, no washing machine and a two ring cooker with an oven. She sometimes heats up the kettle on the coal fire.
Her man comes home from work. He needs the dishes out of the sink and the hot water for a wash. The dishes go on the floor the toddlers start playing with greasy plates and knives as she soothes the baby and prises cutlery from sticky babies hands.
The kids all need washed again. She wipes them down, serves her man his tea, as she walks about with four toddlers in one room and baby on her hip.
They all need the toilet and she runs down the landing with four kids following her holding the greasy cutlery yet again and her with a full chamber pot and a screaming baby with some ripped up paper to wipe bottoms.
She makes the kids sing songs in the landing as she waits for the loo to get empty and starts the sluicing and letting the kids use the toilet. Two scream as they see a spider and she needs to change the baby.
She goes back into the flat, he has finished dinner.
She puts on more hot water to wash the dishes and to wipe the kids again.
Her man goes to the pub as he has been working all day.
She changes the baby, wipes down the toddlers and has to wait till they are all asleep before she washes herself and can manage to have a pee.
She hangs up the wet nappy's the clothes and the towels over the cooker tucks four kids into one bed and takes the baby through to the bedroom and when her man finally comes home drunk and falls asleep, she gets to breathe out.
The baby wakes up and her husband needs a pee. She is exhausted as she has to get up at 6am and take all the kids to her mammy's house so she can go clean the big houses till tea time.
She can't get decent wages because she has an Irish accent and she wonders if one day Irish immigrants will be able to get a fair days work.
She hopes her kids get a decent education and maybe one day they will have an inside toilet and hot water.
Good on all the wee Glasgow granny's and great granny's who worked and raised kids in the toughest of times.