We talk a lot about jam from time to time in this town. To say something is ‘Jammy’ is to infer that something sweet has happened, though it could also be interpreted as a near-miss.
This is, however, a town of contradictions and dualities – there is, usually a continuum. In this case a continuum of jammy-ness… Which brings us to the other end of the spectrum – a ‘counter-jam’.
‘ D’ya want jam on it?’, is usually sarcastic in tone and usually means…… ‘ You’ve asked for enough already and you are now teetering on the brink of tearing the arse out of things here.‘ Or something like that. There can be a wee menacing edge to it, like, ‘Stop! Any moment now you will tip over into being slap-worthy with your demands…… so a bit of cease and desist might be recommended.’ If you follow my drift.
Today, my younger daughter turns 21. It is inevitable that I begin to re-run the day she was born in my head and to remember things about the time and to take stock of the journey from then to now.
In 1992, there was small indicators of an air of change; little signs of optimism that maybe bringing a child into the world and living in Belfast was not such a bad place to be – it was all relative of course. We accommodated a lot of bad stuff and weren’t able to do all that much to turn it around sometimes – life was lived slipping in small, sweet moments, as and when….
The day my younger daughter was born, I remember it was sunny. It is sunny today too. I remember there were hot air balloons over the city. I know that’s not such a strange or wonderful thing, but it was really new to here then and uplifting, literally; it made us look upwards, it made us breathe in and be in awe, if only just a little bit. It gave us something different to talk about. The alternatives then, were ( also) ‘flegs’, protests, marches, dissent, an uneasy peace and a political situation which was……… volatile, let’s say.
Elsewhere in the world, it was the opening of the Barcelona Olympics. Jimmy Nail had the number 1 hit in the UK with Ain’t No Doubt – a truly terrible pop song, sung miserably, by the miserable Geordie, and it was all about mistrust and betrayal in a relationship…… Hnnnnn.
My baby arrived, quickly (induced because of some complications) in three and a half hours. She arrived at 12.32 pm. Conveniently enough, she was just in time for the mid-wife who worked part-time to deliver her within her shift; the mid-wife rarely got to do that as most labours didn’t conclude within a short shift and she was delighted.
I was at home in my bed on the button of 4.00pm, and in time for the new baby’s older sister to come and be introduced to the sister-baby she said she wanted. Older sister changed her mind soon after and thought that we had had enough of all that and maybe it was time to ‘put that baby in the bin.’ She got over it.
I wanted to make a flag of a mad pink baby-gro and hang it out the bedroom window; so the neighbours would know I’d had a happy departure from my bump and that the said bump had emerged as a little girl person in her own right. She was cute as hell and feisty and unputdownable…… but hey ho, I’m biased; I’m her ma. She’s still cute, feisty and unputdownable – and I’m not just saying that because she is a lot taller than me now.
She is heading out with her friends later. She has just left to head off to her summer job. In a few weeks time she is leaving to spend her third year at university abroad in Sweden. She has friends and is off out doing her own do in the world. That’s sweet.
There are no hot air balloons – that would be ‘jam’ on it, and, on the analogue scale of ‘jammy-to-jam on it.’…………No, I don’t want jam on it. Thanks very much. Things are sweet enough.
Oh…… and altogether now……… “Happy birthday to you…….. etc etc……”