Tolkein and trophies.
I’ve written the first To Do list and I’ve batted away the first emails but, as I start a new week, I can’t help wondering how last week might affect it.
I’ve mused many times about how strangely Silly tends to rub shoulders with Serious – and this week had them quietly sashaying together for sure. It saw both of my parents called into hospital unexpectedly at either end of it, while Caroline and I found ourselves sitting in a VIP area of an awards ceremony in the middle of it.
Dad called early on Sunday morning sounding uncharacteristically worried.
“We’re in trouble,” he said quietly. Quietly is always worse. Mum had woken up with some kind of bad reaction to something and was looking very odd; “Can you come over?” he said.
With the industrial cocktail of medication they’re on between them, it’s impossible to know what might be liable to react with what in their groaning pills cabinet, but this looked like some kind of allergic response; Mum was clearly anxious about what had confronted her in the mirror that morning. As I opened the car door to take her to the out-of-hours GP at the hospital, I could tell, however, that she was almost as anxious about leaving Dad to worry about her.
Dad’s health over the last fifteen years has been a complicated folder of doctors’ notes. Any one of his deteriorating conditions would be trial enough, but this formally active, kinetic man has been steady tied down with complications and random health discoveries. I won’t list them here, but we try to laugh about how ridiculous it sounds when you do.
Thankfully, his sense of humour is one organ that’s still functioning, though it’s taken a beating.
Caroline stayed with him that morning and was the perfect soothing company, while I tried to distract Mum in the terrible tedium of an unexpected medical waiting room with stories about the casting for the new Star Trek movie and the timeless joy of reading The Lord Of The Rings. Mum is still gutted that she had no idea Tolkein spent the last three years of his life right here in Bouremouth, during the first three years of mine. A literary hero, just across town; I think she’d have forced her way through his front door and had him bless my forehead if she’d known.
Two hours of trivia calmed down her allergic reaction. Her breathing never seemed to be threatened, thankfully, and by the time we saw the doctor she seemed herself again. Turned out to be the antibiotics she’d been taking for something else. A slowly growing relief on a Sunday morning, but it would need more tests for other health matters and these were potentially serious developments for her.
But not for today. We went home. We finished the dinner and relaxed together, all in one piece. Then Dad said to me: “Are you doing anything Friday?”
“I don’t know.” I said.
“Only, it’s the one day next week that your mother and I aren’t have hospital tests somewhere, so we’re looking for some good ideas to make the most of the time off.”
The middle.I looked at the clock and hmmmed. If I was going to go, I’d really have to go now.
I looked at the mobile and wondered about calling Mike again. In the middle of trying to sign off a particularly large print job to be delivered overseas, I’d agreed to pop up into London to catch up with Mike at a little music event thing that he’d been involved with. Doing so, though, would also afford me the chance to have a drink with good chum Julian, who was not only account handling said large print job’s client, but who was and is also kindly offering my wife some regular accommodation in the capital; he and Angela have been lovely about looking after her. The idea was that I could show off the shiny new brochures to him, share a little tangential banter without having to explain to to anyone else, and then wander across Milly bridge to meet Mike in Oxford Circus afterwards. Later on, Caroline could join us there after her studies and we could all get a late-night falafel from some Obese By 2050:SIgn Up Here takeaway. Good plan.
Well, it went according to plan but with a bit I hadn’t expected. I picked up the mobile that afternoon and called Mike and basically said: “I’m up to my eyeballs, do I really need to meet you tonight?” You know, subtle and friendly like. He paused and said: “Mate, I think you should be at AKA tonight.”
London looks at its best at twilight. The river looks almost planned, although as we’ve long known and as Caroline is learning in detail, we shouldn’t be so cavalier with such a silly notion. Still, it’s relative calm put me in a good mood as I tubed up to Holborn and wandered in search of this little bar or whatever called AKA. “Two blokes and a dog” I said to myself; “if there’s that many people in the audience, we’ll up to par, I think.”
There was, as I rounded the corner off Drury Lane, a queue of queuers and a small throng of hangers-on outside AKA. People with clip boards on the door; a throb of noise inside. I joined the queue and found myelf at the front of it suddenly.
“Name?” the lady asked.
“Tim Peach” I said, “from, er, Momotimo.”
She scanned the sheet and then brightened quickly.
“Oh, right – come on in.”
In was a wall of hairy young musos. A typical wall of humanity at the bar; another queue of fancy-dressed hopefuls up the stairs to the VIP area. What was it – could I put my finger on it? – an actual atmosphere of sorts. I checked the phone and scanned for Mike but no contact. So I bought a San Miguel and wandered around wherever I could actually move, feeling a little like someone’s dad.
“Welcome!” boofed the PA after a while, dimming the music.
“Welcome to the Glasswerk New Music Awards 2007.”
“We’re celebrating all types of music tonight, the brightest and best – with me, some bloke from Fame Academy or somesuch, and him, a bloke from Actual Band, Terravision.”
These aren’t his words verbatim, you understand, but gist enough.
I found Mike downstairs somewhere, out of signal range. We chatted as the ceremony began overhead. Cheers, bumps of sudden music, then quiet, then applause; someone was evidently receiving something for something.
After a while, we decided to wander upstairs again into the back of the crowd. As I rounded the bar, a sea of backs to me, I saw something odd. My band’s name across the large screen at the front. Now, when I say ‘band’ I don’t mean ‘band’ because I have no band, and when I say ‘my band’s name’ I don’t mean that either because they hadn’t spelled it right. But I’m pretty sure they meant me in some guise.
“Is he here?” said the PA. “Is Mom Timo here?”
I paused. Then found myself raising my beer bottle and calling forth from the back in my best stentorian tones: “Yes! He’s here. Halloo! I’m here…”
The crowd parted. They just moved aside and I found myself down the front all of a sudden, San Miguel in one hand, trophy in the other and a copy of Jerome K Jerome still in my pocket. Camera rolled.
“Say something good” said the bloke from Terravision with a smile. Or was it the other bloke?
I approached the mic. “Er, gosh.” I began confidently. “Er, blimey. I don’t know – you pop into Town for a little light dinner, maybe take in a show or something, then someone hands you an award for something.”
A sea of quiet faces. Rock and roll events –not the place for gentlemanly wit and whimsy.
“Thank you anyway. Can I get this gift-wrapped?” I turned and asked as the Get Off music faded up. I looked at the plaque: ‘Best Dance Act – Mom Timo’.
So, by the time Caroline hauled her massive Life In One Bag through the door of the VIP area upstairs, squeezing past back-combed teenagers and surly middle-aged music types, I’d already been cosying on a couch with a shiny lady from Avenue 11 Entertainment TV, trying to explain what this award would do for me. “I’ll let you know, just as soon as I discover what this award I’m holding actually is” I tried not to say through a five-minute smile.
Something to do with Momo’s place on a music website. Though I suspect my good friend Mike had a fair deal to do with this, the fact remains that Britain’s most unpromoted Electro Pop outift now has a gong. Or at least, Momo:timo is looking after it until Mom Timo appears to collect it.
The end – of the week.
Coming back from a printers on Friday, I received a call from Caroline.
“It’s Dad. He sounded pretty shaken up. The doctor called him and told him to get to A&E; straight away; they think they’ve found a clot on his lung.”
So, what do you do? You make some calls before you can get anywhere and work out what’s going on. Back in the studio I spoke with Melly and she said Mum and Dad had already gone to the hospital. Dad was fine really – this was perhaps a precautionary thing by the doctor. She seemed okay.
I wrapped up a few things and, after hearing no news, went down to Casualty to see if I could find them.
Waiting around is the hardest thing in a hospital. It was clearly hard on Mum especially and by the time Dad’s blood test results came through, the magical blood test machine had managed to fail the samples – so they’d need to take more. It was obvious that Dad would be in at least over night and that there was nothing to be done there in Acute Admissions. On another day, I might ponder what kind of admission might be desperate/illegal/embarrassing enough to be termed ‘acute’ – “OkayIadmitit! I’m not really a doctor’ for example. And for similar issues of tone and gravitas while my father lies in hospital, I’ll not explore the idea of ever visiting the Discharge Lounge just down the corridor.
As things stood, he was tired and unsure but immediately okay. I spoke with the reception nurse and ascertained the procedures lining up ahead of Dad and it was clear he’d be there for a while. She suggested what I’d been thinking – take Mum home.
Saturday rolled round and it sounded as if Dad had slept fine and been finally seen by a few people. That morning they seemed to think he had a small clot on his lung that might be dispelled by drugs. Better than the GP had imagined.
However, I spoke with him on the phone that afternoon and they’d changed their thoughts.
“We, ah. We, er – don’t know. Could be a, er, thing. We think.” they apparently said. Dad seemed concerned again, but reasonably okay. More waiting.
We went in that evening and he was still reasonably okay. Moved to a bed with a working TV. But it was clear he was finally giving in to the emotional weight of it all. My poor dad just feels like we’d most of us feel – useless. And unsure of what to expect. But we left him looking forward to the rugby final and praising the kindness of the nurses as he always does.
Sunday was more waiting without news. No one working any machines on a Sunday, of course. I found myself asleep on the sofa in front of Star Trek or my layout pad or Jerome K Jerome for most of the day. Caroline continued to work all hours on her college project. Somebody should really come in and do our washing up for us.
Today? Awaiting the news from Dad’s tests. I’ll be popping in after lunch. Will he be coming home or staying in? Who knows. But I do suspect I’ll be re-writing my To Do lists a fair bit this week.