I’m writing this post in the living-room of our flat in Dundee. We’ve been back home here for over a week due to a cry for help from eldest son George and his partner Fiona who have lost their childcare (Fiona’s Mum) to the wild beauty of Australia and New Zealand. While we would probably prefer to be in Vilanova for the month of March, we are consoled by this extra opportunity to share quality time with grandson Ben and the chance to see the boys for an early spring catch-up.

Such a catch-up took place last night when all four sons came round for beer and curry, a match on the TV and conversations unrestricted by the presence of significant females. I include myself among the quintet of tongues unleashed! We had a cracking good evening while Mary was having fun with her Mum and sisters in Edinburgh (a Mothers’ Day treat). For a change I actually prepared the curries – two chicken Rogan Josh, two chicken Korma and one vegetable Madras – but forgot all about the existence of boil-in-the-bag rice, leading to a minor disaster with the boiled rice, despite extensive rinsing.

The evening consisted of food, drink and each family member in turn asked to report on their previous six months and their hopes for the following six. The five of us told it like it was and we all enjoyed the experience, learning a wee bit more about sons/brothers/Dad. The actual details are of course not for public consumption but I can tell you that I’m very proud of all four of them, just as any father would be.

Last week was pretty much a total blur of picking Ben up and dropping him off at the various groups he attends. He has nursery Monday-Friday from 12.15 until 16.15 but also does kids’ gym on Monday, swimming lesson on Tuesday and two different playgroups Thursday and Friday. It’s an action-packed week which I’m not totally convinced of but Ben seems to be coping well and making progress in all aspects of his development. The only problem is my own energy levels which call for regular down-time and even the odd afternoon nap! I think I’d be struggling without Mary’s help to be honest as we’ve both been weaned off getting up early and having daily schedules to follow.

Evenings have been spent in front of the TV watching football or one of the series we can access on Netflix which Scott subscribes to. Mary and I are presently halfway through series 3 of Spirale, the English title of “Engrenages”, a splendid French police crime drama. It has English sub-titles, but we enjoy trying to follow it without looking at the translation. Scott watches the American political thriller “House of Cards” starring the peerless Kevin Spacey and I must admit I find myself listening in even when I’m not supposed to be. Mary just gave me a belated birthday present of Series 3 of “Game of Thrones” but we’ve promised to be good and keep it for our return to Vilanova.

On the book front I’ve expanded the network of places where “Wee Georgie” is on sale from one to four, adding two supermarkets and one local shop. To-date I’ve shifted 350 of the initial 500 units and have earned about £1000 of my investment back, give or take a few bob. The website is seeing more sales now and that’s where I hope to see progress. I’m doing a book-signing at the Nisa supermarket in the west end next Saturday, the day before Mothers’ Day, but I’ll probably also sign at Waterstones and the Nisa in the east end as well.  When we took Ben to a playgroup in the district of Menzieshill last Thursday, I ended up invited to talk to their Women’s Group and sold another 6 copies of the book. We also had to pop into the Dundee Central Library to give them an invoice for the 20 copies they bought from me. How surprised was I when Shona, the lady in charge, told me that my book was the most borrowed non-fiction title in Dundee last month!

But the really exciting news was when the receptionist at the Menzieshill Community Centre flicked through the copy she’d just bought and announced that she knew Frances McKay, my first girlfriend as mentioned in the chapter entitled “Girls”. I was over the moon when I heard this revelation, especially when I was told she still lives in Dundee. I asked the ladies to put the word out that I’d love to meet up with Frances for a sentimental tea and biscuits and hopefully I’ll get my wish. OMG, I’m excited just thinking about that. I haven’t seen Frances in over 50 years!

I really ought to tell you about the weather. Yes, it’s cold and coats, hats and scarves are pretty much “de rigueur”. And we’ve had snow, not lots and lots of it, but enough to leave us with a Christmas view from the windows of the flat. Meanwhile, we’re told temperatures in Vilanova have soared well into the twenties! Are we jealous? You bet we are! But we are probably feeling like the worst of the winter is over since we’ve begun to notice the odd snowdrop and crocus peeking out from the cold earth.

An old man felt unwell during mass today and I sort of half-know his daughter who was seated next to him. A nurse came to give assistance but I went over to support both him and his daughter as we waited for the medics to arrive. She said he had angina and low blood pressure and he was yawning constantly and trying to fall asleep, so I got him slowly into a conversation on the prospects of Dundee United getting past Celtic later on today. That kept him going until help arrived, but I was amazed at how the people around him kept on standing up and sitting down and singing the hymns and saying the responses out loud while this old man sat among them wondering if his time was coming. It was very surreal, believe me!

Last Wednesday morning, the only morning we didn’t have to take Ben somewhere specific, we drove up to Arbroath with Mary’s Mum to visit my daughter-in-law Eve and my granddaughter Artemis. We had a very pleasant couple of hours watching the two cousins playing and I was especially delighted that my 18-month wee girl called me “Granddad” almost as soon as she set eyes on me. I was welling up, big Softie that I am!

That’s us up-to-date now. Sorry I haven’t included any photos but it just goes to show how we don’t take many shots of “normal life” back here in Dundee. Well, here’s one I took of Artemis up at her house last Wednesday. She’s lovely!

50 shades of Arry!

50 shades of Arry!

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