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No December is complete without at least one bout of colds/fevers and a round of the norovirus. We had the cold in the lead-up to Christmas so it was only a matter of time. There we were, heading out on New Year’s Eve to George Michael’s house, as you do, with only son in the far back, daughters two and three occupying the middle area and my mum in the front. My partner was in Catalunya and daughter one was at home after several nights out celebrating being 18. Daughters two and three are big George fans, particularly daughter two who is currently reading his biography. We had the GM CD on. The car is still without heating so it was slightly misting up en route. We opened the windows. It began to rain, very, very hard. The windscreen wipers were working ten to the dozen. Just as we turned the corner towards Seven Sisters a strange noise came from the back of the car. It was only son being sick. Oh dear. Fortunately, he had a handy plastic bag. I pulled in.
Daughter two is norovirus phobic. She jumped out the car with her hand over her mouth and persuaded my mum to swap places with her. We were nearer our destination than our home so we decided to continue. Only son said he was fine. I convinced myself it was just a regular sore tummy and not the norovirus. Other people were not so sure. Daughter two sat with the window wide open. Her sister in the middle had her window fully down too. Fortunately, the rain was lightening up by this point. We stopped in Holloway Road which is home to a vegan cafe, but it had just closed so we continued to Highgate. Only son had perked up and had rung his sister at home and told her about his sickness in great detail. By the time we got to Highgate it was dark, given that it takes on average until 2.30pm to get teenagers etc out the door in the holiday period.
The square opposite George Michael’s house was glistening with decorations, candles and lights. There were lots of fresh flowers and flags from all round the world. We noticed a couple of signed guitars and there were hundreds of photos of George. The whole place was a bit of a mud-fest though, probably because so many people had visited it since the anniversary of his death. Only son was in the car with my mum. Daughter three was edging around the mud, fearful of damaging her new [second hand] trainers. Daughter three was intent on reading every message. We looked up. George Michael’s house was opposite. Every window was lit up with a star in it. It was very quiet in the square. Some other people passed by like shadows and stood silently outside George Michael’s house.
I went back to the car to swap places with my mum. She got out the car holding another plastic bag. Oh dear. Only son definitely had the norovirus.
My mum does not know much about George Michael so daughter two and I filled her in on the journey back. The conversation turned to HIV. My mum was a social worker who worked with people with HIV. I did some volunteering with the Terrence Higgins Trust and with an AIDS organisation near my home back in the 80s/early 90s. We talked about the people we had known, the awfulness of all those who had been lost, particularly those who were so young. We spoke about those who had cared for them, the sense of community, how in bleak times you often see the best of people.
The journey back passed off uneventfully. As soon as we arrived home daughters two and three hightailed it to their rooms as only son lay down with a bucket on the sofa. We watched a film and by 9pm I managed to get him into my bed. Daughter three was on her phone in her room and daughter two was holding a seance for George Michael, as you do. Daughter one was slightly regretting her decision not to go to a New Year’s Eve party.
Only woke up a few times to be sick, but by 11.30pm he had conked out so we were able to see the New Year in with some charades and a round of pick up sticks. Happy 2018.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.