Mother’s Day in Oz, Port Vale and the play-offs and the irony of it all…
Back in the ‘Old Dart the Spring Celebration of ‘Mothering Sunday’ is in March – at least it was when I was a lad.
It’s an old tradition. Just how old I’m not sure. But its basic system of belief goes back to the time in England when the poor worked as servants for the wealthy. As most jobs were located far from their homes servants would live at the houses of their employers. On Mothering Sunday the servants would be allowed to have the day off to return home and spend the day with their mothers.
Many countries celebrate their own Mother’s Day at different times throughout the year. But its modern day ‘international theme’ started in the United States some 130 years ago.
As a boy I would make my way down to Fellbrook Lane, Bucknall where the spring gardens seemed always in full bloom of narcissus, daffodils, crocus, and tulips, plus fox gloves, fuchsias and columbine – to name a few. Sometimes chrysanthemums would make an early appearance.
With my saved-up pennies I would knock on doors and ask if I could buy some flowers freshly cut from their gardens. Some folks would be less than friendly at my approach. But others offered a smile and hospitality of a cup of tea and cake before the master of the house went out to cut some flowers for me – often encouraged by the lady of the house to add a few extra blooms.
With flowers in hand I would hurriedly make my home to give them to my mum. She, in turn, would make a positive fuss of her mother’s day gift by getting out the best of vases in which to display the freshly picked bouquet. Should there be visitors to the house my mum would inform them the origin of such a fine display of blooms.
My lovely mum passed away last September. She reached the fine old age of 102.
In the weeks leading up to Mother’s Day 2004 my super wife had verbally given out to the family enough gift ideas to sink a battleship and, as often is the case, our children and grandchildren would check with yours truly which of those ideas they should buy.
I was not paying attention when our eldest son was asking me about Mother’s Day gifts – being preoccupied with all things Port Vale. In my mind I was thinking of the last two games of the season against Tranmere and Rushden respectively. Would we get the six points? Would they be enough to get us into the play-offs? Oh me, oh my, if only there had been better results in the QPR, Plymouth, Wycombe, Brentford, Peterborough and Chesterfield games my mind would not have been in such torment. As if that wasn’t enough my mind was still turning over the Scarborough debacle and struggle against Ford United.
No, I wasn’t paying attention at all.
‘Dad, dad, what do you think?’ said Paul. ‘What do you think is the best thing to do?’ By now I was looking in the general direction of Paul who had been joined by our eldest granddaughter Samantha. She lives with us and not so long ago spent a year living and working in London. Only my wife and Samantha know how much Port Vale represents and means to me.
“Well, if you want my honest opinion I think the best thing to do is to win the six points and hope other results help us get into the play-offs” I replied.
Samantha started laughing out loud leaving a bemused son staring at me that simply made the scene even more comical for our granddaughter. She gave me one big hug, told me to get back in the programme and, as she was walking back into the house, trailed off with something along the lines of “Your Port Vale soccer team will be okay”. Samantha refuses to call the world game football. To her it’s soccer because our darling granddaughter says there’s only one football code and that’s Australian Rules.
Back in the ‘programme’ and focusing on son’s question I gave him a couple of suggestions including hand and nail creams, chocolates and flowers. But not chrysanthemums. With that Paul said he must be on his way home and I went back to thinking about all things Port Vale with my chain of thought in this matter broken only by my commitment to finish a poem for onevalefan about Leigh Briscoe’s Ford Escort car.
Mother’s Day has come and gone.
Port Vale did get the six points. But we missed out on the play-offs.
Super wife, mum and grandmother had a top day. The Mother’s Day gifts from son and daughter were a Reader’s Digest book on family health and a multi coloured candle in a fancy display case respectively.
Now, when I compare these last two sentences I can’t help but notice the irony of it all for both my beloved Port Vale and my super wife.
Ah well, there’s always next year.
See you later…
May 10, 2004