Angela and I met about 19 years ago at the Pantygwydr playgroup, when her second child and my eldest were 18 months old. I am still close to a number of the women I met there and have already described the playgroup in some detail (Louise M, lunch number 16) so I won’t bang on too much, just to say that it was a great place to meet like minded people.
Angela and I realised very quickly that we shared a sense of humour, some strong opinions on how to bring up children (fresh air and vegetables being the leitmotif), the same politics and the same ‘working class made good’ attitude to culture which made it right to listen to both Mozart and The Clash.
We became very close and had a wonderful time walking her lovely dog and entertaining our pre-school age children. We had another child each and then another. And that, sadly, is where it all changed.
This blog is a celebration of life, it’s the story of a birthday party and I am consciously avoiding negative thoughts and memories. Writing positive things about the people I’m lunching with is easy, I wouldn’t be with them if I didn’t like them, but occasionally a negative element arises and until this point I have been deliberately suppressing them.
In this case however, it’s hard to see how that can be avoided. The fact is that Angela’s fourth baby was born with a level of disability so severe that it has made her own and her mother’s life almost impossible. You don’t have to be a parent to know how utterly devastating this was and is.
We chose Pizza Express as it was our restaurant of choice when our kids were small. I had never eaten there until I met Angela and assumed that it was a fast food outlet, supplying huge quantities of saturated fat, sugar and additives. Angela soon put me right and we spent many happy hours in there with our kids and partners. I have since become a complete devotee – when we had our kitchen refitted by Tesco (who knew they did that too?) I got club card points for the entire value whichmeant I got to spend over £1000 in Pizza Express. A few non-believers questioned the achievability of this, no one that knew me well obviously, it was EASY.
Thursday 12 February 2015
Pizza Express, Swansea
Lunch was full of laughter and fun. Something awful happened to Angela and it must have broken her heart, but her disabled daughter has also brought her a great deal of joy, she has three other kids, a life to get on with and any amount of courage.
We spent a lot of time chatting and joking. Our young male waiter looked quite nervous as he approached us, so I suppose we must have been quite noisy. That was certainly always the case in the old days – we were the punk generation and even though we moved on from the dreadful music, we never really lost the attitude.
After lunch we decided that as it was such a lovely day we would pick up Angela’s current dog and take him for a quick walk on the beach. I have always enjoyed walking with Angela’s dogs, she trains them properly and watches the other dogs carefully, so I get all the pleasure of walking with an animal that wants to be there as much as me, but none of the tiresome behavioural stuff that’s so common with badly brought up dogs. Today was no exception. The light was beautiful on the beach and apart from the fact that Tigger just wouldn’t pose for me, it was a perfect dog walk with a nice animal and a lovely old friend.