Sunday, March 26, 2017

Mother's Day

We never really bought into the whole Mother’s Day/Father’s Day thing in our house. My dad used to label it “American bollocks”, suspicious of the capitalist consumerism at the root of the whole affair. I just happened to see somewhere on social media today that it was Mother’s Day in England. It was always a bit hard to keep up with after I moved to Sweden since it’s celebrated at a completely different time of year over here. That was always my rock solid excuse every time I missed sending a card, although I always called home to wish my parents all the best and tell them I loved them when the big day arrived, admittedly after having received a heads up from my sister via text message the week before. It wasn’t really a big deal in my eyes. I told my parents I loved them every time I called home.

As much as I agreed with dad that the whole charade of spending money on presents and cards was consumerist nonsense I have to admit that I felt racked with guilt the one year I missed calling home to my mum to wish her happy Mother’s Day. I’d been on tour in Europe for about five weeks, and this was long before the days of having a mobile phone on tour, and when I found a phone box this one random day my mum told me that she’d been pretty sad that I hadn’t called on Mothering Sunday. Conflicting any sort of sadness upon my mum was always enough to fill me with terrific anxiety. It’s still something that rankles me today, thinking back on it. Even more so now that she’s gone.

Seeing that it was that day today got me to thinking about my mum, not that she’s ever far from my thoughts. Every time our daughter Polly develops some trait, says something funny or enters a new period in her life, I think about my mum and wish more than anything that she was here to see it. She only had the last ten months of her life with Polly, and even then not as much of that time as she would have dreamed of since we lived in different countries. But I know she adored her. She was a pretty amazing woman. Sure, she drove me mad with certain quirks of hers, she could be proper crackers at times, the Beaver gene my dad called it, but she was an incredibly loving person and she cherished her family. And I always cherished the love she had for me.

Today got me to thinking of one of my favourite ever memories of my mum. It was 2001 and Speedhorn were about to release The Gush single. The record label were giving it the full whack, putting everything behind it. Our manager Bianchi seemed to see it as some sort of personal crusade to get the single into the UK top forty charts. We would surely have been the least commercial band ever to break into the big league, at least at that point in time. With the upcoming Ozzfest show on the horizon the label saw it as the perfect opportunity to take the band to the next level. Thing is, I hated that fucking song, or at least the version of it I felt we were being coerced into releasing. Young and naive I guess. Anyway, as said the label were going all out. And I was miserable.

It was my birthday and I was deeply in love with my future wife. It was that time where everything is magic and excruciatingly painful all at once. I hadn’t made the move to Sweden yet so Jen and I were still living in a long distance relationship. We’d planned for her to come over to the UK and we were going to spend a few days together in London around my birthday before I had to go back out on tour again. We toured pretty much constantly then. Jen had bought her flights and everything was set and then the label told me that Tony and I were going on a fucking press jaunt up in Scotland to promote the single. I tried everything to get out of it but to no avail. Again, young and naive and bowing to pressure, Jen and I cancelled our plans and I headed up to Scotland to do radio interviews all day, to promote a single I had no heart in whatsoever. It felt like the worst birthday ever. I know, first world problems. Either way, I was fucking gutted.

Our dear friend and co-manager Andrew Carter was along for the trip with us and I have to give it to him, he tried everything to cheer me up. After a day of driving around to different radio stations in Glasgow and Edinburgh we finished the night off with a drink before heading back to the hotel. I had tried to put a brave face on it but I was always useless at hiding my feelings. I missed Jen in that intense way only a new love can punish you with. The fact that it was my birthday and I wanted to be with her just amplified everything. Carter, love him, tried his best. He treated me to a twenty five year old single malt from his favourite whisky bar in Edinburgh. How I despise myself now for not devouring that dram with the respect it deserved. And then out of the blue Carter turned to me, “Come on buddy, let’s get you back home to Corby”. He told me he could see how I was suffering and he called and rearranged the short flight back to London for that same evening. I can soundly say that I’d never felt so happy to travel back to Corby. If I couldn’t be with girlfriend on my birthday at least I could be with my mum.

I called home to my parents and told them I'd be back earlier than expected. It was already late, dad was just heading to bed and mum was already off. She always loved her bed. I told them that I’d make the last train home back from London to Corby that night and I’d see them in the morning. All of sudden things didn’t feel so bad. When I got through the door of my parents house at about one am I was shocked to find my mum stood in the kitchen in her night robe waiting for me. She was stood there with a birthday cake. She’d gotten out of bed and baked it in the middle of the night. I was absolutely floored.

My mum was a wonderful human being. She was taken away from me and my family far, far too early. I think about her and miss her dearly every single day. Unfortunately I don’t have a God, I don’t believe that there is another place waiting for us afterwards. She’s just gone. What’s left of her lives in me, my sister, my dad and everyone else who knew and loved her. And of those there were many.

By the way, The Gush made it to number forty seven in the charts. Close but no cigar. That’s life I guess.

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