There are many things I can thank my mother for; having an opinion on everything and voicing it, being able to juggle family and a career and a love of demos.
My Mother on the other hand, didn't love a demo, she just quietly yet ferociously defended equality and fought for her staff to be paid the same as the male staff and staged a walk out to support her demand for equal pay and equal rights three years before the whole Dagenham strike - my Mum is epic.
My mother loved a good demo. I found a photo taken in the 1960’s of her waving a ban the bomb placard at a CND (campaign for nuclear disarmament) rally. She was of course at the front looking like someone you wouldn’t want to mess with and indeed you’d be correct. My mother didn’t become head of fifth year at a massive post industrial comprehensive school in Bolton in the 1980’s by being a pushover.
My mother right in the thick of it in the 1960’s
She took my older brother and I on various CND marches, the most famous of which was the big one in London in the late 80’s. The Prestwich branch of CND managed to hop on a chartered train from Manchester and gather themselves together in small, but quite loud and drunk group in London and march purposefully, if not a little unsteadily through the streets with the thousands of other people who had joined in.
My abiding memory as a ten year old was seeing The Jam play live and listen to Bruce Kent speak. I think Tony Benn was there too, but we were eating a burger by then so I’d lost interest.
I think that burgers have always been more interesting than Tony Benn...
Today, I mounted on the ever ready Svetlana, my trusty electric bike of German origin and pedalled my way to the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. The irony of it being built next to the Queen’s Holyrood Palace has never been lost on me.
The demo was focused on getting our human rights back after lockdown, something I’m keen to make sure happens and to allow our kids to go to school without being muzzled or told they can’t hug.
That‘s not the point of me telling you about this. We all have our own opinions on the last thirteen months and I’m delighted we do and delighted we’re allowed to express them freely.
No, the point of me telling you, is that despite decades of fighting it, I am all too aware how much like my mother I am becoming. She was a bit arty, a bit argumentative, a bit of a book worm and loved to demonstrate against the established view. I do wonder how she would have reacted to events in the last year had she been alive. I’ll never know, but I suspect she’d have taken whatever path seemed to be the less trodden and least popular. I have inherited all of these traits, which is why I’m unemployable and friends with Pip.
A BIT argumentative?
Mum and Dad - their wedding day, they divorced when I was one. Domesticity was not for her....
You look very like her Bec
Pip and I both decided we couldn’t give a fuck who’d paid for Boris’s wallpaper or where he bought it from. We’ll leave that to the mainstream to think about. What we care about is going on our next trek.
It turns out that Pip is enormously relieved that the Nepal trip has been rescheduled yet again. We were going to be going in September, but it’s now looking like next April.
Pip confessed the other evening on our WhatsApp video call to not wanting to go and muttered something about there being snow and people who might irritate her on the trip. The lack of easy access to Jack Daniels, oxygen and a five star hotel was seemingly also playing on her mind.
And some weirdo on that seminar you forced me to attend that kept droning on about snow leopards....still not sure if this an euphemism or not....plus if 'Gav' had mentioned the delicate balance between ecology and tourism again I would have been forced to stab him. I just couldn’t have spent half an hour with the boring twat never mind 16 days
We decided we wouldn’t go after all. Pip then suggested we go and visit her brother in Australia and do a big campervan road trip across Australia studiously avoiding anything that might want to poison us.
I whole heartedly agreed as I do love a campervan centred adventure. I’ve never been fussed about going to Australia, but the thought of exploring in a campervan was too overwhelming to decline.
After we had agreed our cunning plan, I spent the next few days mulling over my decision. I realised that for some strange reason, I did still want to spend sixteen days in the middle of nowhere in Nepal with nothing but a few yaks, some tents and prayer flags for company. Where does this burning desire to be uncomfortable, sore and yaks come from? In the absence of any idea, I have decided to blame my mother.
Its the desire for spiritual enlightenment! Personally I don‘t wish to be enlightened and certainly not without Jack Daniels half way up a hill accompanied by a Yak and it ;lasting for 16 days.
From a very young age, she took my brother and I on holidays which involved no heating, no electricity and no running water in the middle of nowhere and I loved it. My brother hated it and is still arguably scarred for life as his idea of roughing it is a four star instead of a five star hotel.
I agree with him. a flushing toilet of some description is a must.
So, I have decided to go to Nepal without Pip. I will definitely go to Australia with her because quite frankly I wouldn’t trust her to not marry a sheep station owner and disappear off the face of the earth in some kind of Ayers Rock Bermuda Triangle drama. Besides, with my now infamous sense of direction, she’s going to need me as her co-pilot slash navigator.
There is something confusing about that sentence - Dear Reader I leave up to you to work out what it is....
I can have two trips of a lifetime. In fact, there are no rules as to how many trips of a lifetime a single person is allowed, so I’m just going to do as many as I can until such time someone taps me on the shoulder and tells me I’ve had my quota.
I definitely get that from my mother, in the last year she was alive, she managed to get to Paxos, Venice, The Eden Project in Cornwall and Morecambe - I have no idea why Morecombe was on her bucket list.
My mum visiting the statue of Eric Morecombe in Morecombe
In the spirit of not giving a fuck, I shall do trekking in Nepal, camper vanning in Oz and possibly some kind of South American gaucho type horsey thing at some point. I’ve decided not to wait for time during later retirement years, but to seize the opportunities when I can because quite frankly, life is way too short to sit about on your backside doing nothing. In that respect and many others, I can finally say I’m proud to be a bit like my mother - don’t tell anyone though.
Im also thinking of booking a week in a campervan in this country as well. Bring the dog! Oh, and have just booked Horse riding lessons - this should be hilarious as I haven’t been on a horse for about 3000 years (ish)
Pip‘s coming up soon and we’ll be trekking in the Pentland hills, I’m taking bets now on how many actual hills I can get her to walk up......
As long as its not raining all will be well.