My wee girl hopes heaven has a smoking section so her gran can have a cigarette

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Covid regulations meant we didn’t bother with the traditional purvey but it would have been a stoater.

Forget sausage rolls, sandwiches and cakes… after my mum’s funeral last week, I was planning Birdseye potato waffles, Findus crispy pancakes and McCain’s micro chips.

We lost my mum just before Christmas – exactly a week after the passing of my dear father-in-law John – and that fabulous feast would have been a fitting tribute to a terrific mammy who, well, wasn’t quite so terrific in the kitchen.

Don’t know if this is just a Scottish trait but – as my wee sister will testify – if we told my mum we’d enjoyed our dinner, she’d dish up exactly the same thing four days a week for the next five years.

And that’s exactly what I recall eating every night when I came in from high school – a combo of waffles, crispy pancakes and microwaved chips.

Wee Isa was a bit of an innovator, though. The first housewife in Motherwell to master feng shui, I reckon.

A home-bird all her days (the wee hurl in the Co-op car last Thursday from the bottom of her street to the crematorium was the furthest she’d been in years), she kept her house immaculate and – is this another Scottish trait? – her No1 hobby was rearranging the furniture in the living room.

Every. Single. Sunday.



Tam Cowan

In any given month, I don’t think I watched Scotsport or Cartoon Cavalcade from the same spot twice.

Honestly, folks, the first time I saw Poltergeist, I thought it was a documentary about my maw’s hoose.

She also put in a fair shift as a cleaner at the local bookies and I fondly remember the little perks of her job. At school, let’s just say me and my sister’s pens and pencils were always half the size of everyone else’s…

Nothing scared my mum (she had a regular square-go with a big brute of a dug from three doors up that used to terrorise the weans when they returned from school)… except thunder and lightning.

That’s when she’d hide herself in the hall cupboard.

And it was years before one of her pals pointed out: “Isa, you do know that’s where all the electricity boxes are, don’t you?”

My mum loved her music, she loved her snooker and – oh boy – she loved her Lambert & Butler. Indeed, when my wife broke the sad news about Granny Isa to my wee girl, we tried to comfort her by saying Papa John would be waiting for her in heaven.

Sophie thought for a moment and said: “I hope there’s a smoking section so granny can go for a fag.”

But I’ll leave the last word to my mum.

A couple of years ago, I popped over to her house to dig out a tartan suit that had been in my old bedroom wardrobe since the 1998 World Cup – the last time I’d worn it.

After trying it on, I went back downstairs to show Isa.

“Well, what do you reckon?” I said. “I got this nearly 20 years ago and it still fits.”

Without looking up, she took a puff of her fag and said: “That’s cos you were a fat lump back then as well.” (And I can assure you she didn’t say “lump”…)

Thanks for everything, mum.





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