Sunday, 9 February 2014

21 Years a Mum


Next Tuesday my son celebrates his 21st birthday.  However, because he will be at university, we celebrated the event a little earlier – rather noisily it has to be said.  A visit to our favourite Italian restaurant, bottles of wine, good food, birthday cake and raucous singing.  My daughter took lots of pictures, and moments were turned into picture memories to be mulled over at some point in the future.  Twenty-one is a blissful age.  You are truly an adult.  People take you more seriously.  You have your looks, youth and a bit of wisdom in your back pocket.  There is a feeling that the world is literally your oyster and that the future is yours to carve out as you desire.
          Well, that’s how it seems to me when I look back with rose-tinted specs on being twenty-one.  The actual reality is that you are usually broke!  My son is a dental student.  He lives on a tight budget in digs with other students, and budgets his social life via Wowcher deals.  Unlike my son, I didn’t go to university.  I was working, but still broke.  This is because I’d bought my first home – a one bedroomed apartment, and a greater proportion of my salary went on a mortgage and putting petrol in an ancient Morris Minor.  Back then my social life would revolve around a neighbour having an Avon party and wondering if enough money could be scraped together to order a red nail polish.  It’s only now, so many years on, that I look back on that time and realize they were such happy, carefree days.  I am sure my son too will one day look back on his student days in exactly the same way.
          ‘Believe you me, Mum, I won’t,’ said Robbie.  ‘I can’t wait to be able to afford a place without a resident mouse, damp on the walls, and a plonker in the flat below playing his base at three in the morning.’
          My son and his flat mates were very tired after listening to the last musical session.  Mr Plonker had finally hit the pillow at six in the morning.  As Robbie and his pals wearily filed past the downstairs apartment, one of the students paused.
          ‘Hang on a minute, there’s something we should do.’
          With a great deal of whispers, giggles and snorts, revenge took place by taking it in turns to lean on Mr Plonker’s doorbell.  There then followed a mad scramble out the main door before they were caught.
          And THAT is the very sort of my memory my son will one day hazily recall with great fondness and say, ‘Do you remember…?’
          Which reminds me.  There was a Scottish student, Donald McDonald, who went to study at an English university.  He lived in the halls of residence with the other students.  After a month, his mother came to visit.  ‘How are you finding the English students, Donald?’ she asked.  ‘Mother,’ he replied, ‘they are such terrible, noisy people.  The one on that side keeps banging his head on the wall and won’t stop. The one on the other side screams and screams all night.’  ‘Oh, Donald!  You poor thing!  How do you manage to put up with your awful English neighbours?’  ‘Mother, I do nothing.  I just ignore them.  I just stay here quietly, playing my bagpipes.’

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