Tuesday, November 01, 2022

ABBA, without mum

In October we went to London to visit Marcel and Milly (and their flatmate, Anton). It had been on our to-do list since they moved there at the beginning of Covid, but for the first year after the pandemic began the world was a bit mad. Denmark did so much better than the UK during the pandemic, the kids all visited me here rather than there whenever possible and I only ventured to the UK to visit mum, not London. The following summer I had a breast operation so couldn't fly until autumn when we needed to go see mum. And by that Xmas mum's quick illness and death meant everyone in the family meeting several times in Glasgow instead of London, once again.

This time last year ABBA had just announced their Voyage Abbatar concert. I knew Marcel lived there, so if I could get to whole family there, we could go. With this in mind I decided it was the obvious Xmas present for the eight of us. I spent ages toying with whether or not to buy mum a ticket for her Xmas too, given she liked ABBA and concerts and it was definitely going to be a show to remember. I put it in the bigger picture of a week in London. Obviously I would not hire a car on a city break, so it would have meant getting her to London, then many buses and tubes all around and probably an airbed at Marcel's. Eventually I concluded that it probably would be too much for someone who would be 78, so didn't get her a ticket. In the back of my mind, I was still tossing up whether to make a separate trip to Marcel's just with mum for maybe a weekend, especially as she had made an annual trip to see him in Edinburgh after he moved there in 2015. She loved being nosey about where he was living and taking him out for a couple of drinks in town and he loved the street cred afforded to him by taking his granny and her pal Joyce on a pub crawl once a year. Mum would have loved to see her first grandchild buy his first house. 

When I booked those tickets the week before Xmas for October 2022, it didn't even cross my mind that she would be dead within two months and all my mental logistics about how to get her to London would be in vain.

So, last week was the concert. I definitely got a wee bit twitchy in the last few days in the run up to it. NOTHING was going to come between me and my trip to see ABBA. When I fell off my ladder a month ago I had decided I was going even if I was on crutches!

ABBA had come to Glasgow in 1979, hence the 'I was sick and tired of everything, when I called you last night from Glasgow' lyrics used in Super Trouper. I was 11 years old at the time and it was long before the Internet. To buy tickets, you had to phone the venue and book them. I was so terrified on missing out, that although I was a painfully shy, phone-phobic child, I rang up only to be told the tickets would not be on sale till the following week. When I rang back the following week, the concert was sold out and I collapsed in a heap on sobs and didn't stop crying for a month... in fact I didn't get over it till last Monday, at the age of 54!

On arrival last Monday, with my husband, my five kids, my daughter-in-law, her mother and her auntie, I was 11 years old again. All the hurt from November 1979 was finally laid to rest. In the queue to go in my darling boy bought me a T-shirt that I was too tight-fisted to buy myself. He sensed how to please his 11 year old mummy on the night! I guess if you work in London banking, concert merch is more affordable! In the foyer many, many people my age wandered around, often accompanied by friends or their kids... so many of the 11 year olds from the 70s. There were people dressed in well-known ABBA costumes, such as the blue and yellow cat T-shirts or the outfits used in the 1979 tour. There were people in 60s flower power dresses, there were sequins, sparkles, platform boots, bearded men in blonde Agnetha wigs, camp, loud, happy people hand in hand, all sorts of exuberance. It was just perfect!

The show was absolutely magical, the sound system perfection. They were so real I could believe I was finally there in the room listening to them sing to me and speak to me. Although we were in the seating rather than the dance floor, everyone was on their feet for the greatest of their hits singing and dancing along. I won't go into details about the content in case anyone is planning on going, but I will say that if you are an ABBA fan, you have to go, no ifs no buts, sell your house if you need to! And I was right, mum would have loved it.😒

I have now vowed to myself, though might not yet have mentioned it to the rest of the family, that I intend to go every time I visit Marcel and Milly. And if anyone is desperate to go but has no one to accompany them, gimme a shout!


Greenhouse hell

I'm slowly developing a loathing of greenhouses.

It started in 2009... interesting he didn't buy one in all the years we lived together but waited till we were married to get one. I wonder if he was waiting till I'd signed on the dotted line, making escape harder πŸ€”.

Yes, in 2009, my beloved other half bought a wee lean-to for our Newton Mearns house. At first I was quite excited, having grown cherry tomatoes in the window of my west end flat and even having bought myself one of those little plastic zipped bags back when I was with my first husband.

I imagined juicy tomatoes galore. 

The model he chose was the masochistic greenhouse model. Every piece of glass was different, all with number codes in the tens of thousands and no pieces of the frames were repeated. The 50 page instruction book nearly beat Thomas, despite his 12-year university education! In a final gasp at putting the bastard together we laid every pane on the lawn and penciled each number on a post-it and stuck it to it. We spent two days working out which piece went where, only to finally realise that glass left on a lawn in June leads to scorched grass that takes a whole season to grow back! I wrote up the whole saga at the time.

I vowed back then never to let him near a greenhouse purchase site again, but 13 years is long enough that I dropped my guard momentarily and suddenly this enormous pallet of metal and polycarbonate was delivered to the middle of my driveway a few months ago.

For some reason, Thomas waited till the weather got autumnal before suddenly deciding it was now the optimal time to build the bugger.

Give him his due, he did 85% of it himself, coming in again and again covered in mud, looking exhausted, but the last 4 days he's needed help. The last 4 days I've had a stinking cold and zero desire to be outside holding massive sheets of polycarbonate while he drills and screws. Suddenly all the kids had other places to be or were simply 'washing their hair' that day and I was 'it'!

Not only did he overrun the weekend, but he needed to take a day of his annual leave to finish it. He'd got it into his head that some storm that was meant to be coming today or tomorrow would see it destroyed, upended and flown off to Oz or similar if all the walls and doors weren't on. I was dubious, but given manual jobs aren't something Thomas is a greater finisher of, I played along, rather than ending up with half a greenhouse for the best part of the next decade.

I came home from my evening class yesterday to find he still wasn't finished so had put up floodlighting. Lucky me! Such bright floodlighting it turns out, that you couldn't even see the frame when you walk eye-first into it😠. We were out till after 10pm in the cold screwing tiny little screws into the frame at ground level lying in the mud, following instructions which were helpfully only written in Cyrillic. Thomas loves a challenge.

The bastard had the cheek to finish up the evening with 'Remind me if I ever have to assemble another greenhouse, that it is best done in summer!' I retorted 'Remind me if you ever have to assemble another greenhouse to find myself another husband!' 

I have since threatened him with ending up under the patio if he even thinks of buying another one, so hopefully my greenhouse days are now over as I am way too old for crawling around in the mud looking for small nuts and bolts.

He still has the door to put on, but found a work-around last night around midnight when it became obvious he wasn't going to get it completely sewn up before the storm. I fear it may end up looking like that for the rest of the winter! Why finish a job 100% if you can leave it 98% done after all?!