Apart from the news about her mum, the festive season has been good to Frances. We’ve been missing each other for about ten days but today I manage to get her on the phone and she sounds upbeat with real optimism for the new year.
Their small flat in Dunbar Street was ‘invaded’ on Christmas Day by one of her sisters and her five children, a brother and the sister’s boyfriend’s mother. “Then,” Frances tells me, “we all went to see my mum, plus another brother and my other sister. She was well happy.”
“How is your mum?” I ask, trying to imagine the scene around her hospital bed.
“Well, she’s got to have her leg off tomorrow. Serious.”
“Not the whole leg?”
“Hopefully only from below the knee.”
This is the news that the family has not wanted to hear. Previous smaller operations have not been successful. It’s another two months in hospital, Frances says, and a transfer to another hospital for a prosthetic leg after that.
For Frances it means more visiting but, while she stays in Dunbar Street, at least the hospital is relatively close.
“And what did Mia get for Christmas?” I ask, trying to lighten the conversation.
“Clothes, books, a pair of earrings – good ones for when she gets her ears pierced – a toy buggy from my mum, loads really.”
New Year sounds more sedate, certainly not typical for a 17-year-old. “We were here at the flat in Moss Side [Hassan’s place]. We didn’t do anything, just stayed in. Nowhere to go.”
Frances is excited about starting her hair and beauty course on Wednesday. It’ll be two and a half days each week, so this week, because of the holiday she’s only got a half day, 9 until 12.30, which is an easy start.
Seems childcare is not needed as Frances says Hassan will look after Mia on college days. And he will. Hassan, I have seen, is a very capable dad, getting stuck in with the bathing, dressing, feeding and changing with apparent ease.
“So, apart from your mum, everything is going well?”
“Yeah. Mia is getting bigger and cuter every day. Proper gurgling away.” Frances puts Mia to the phone or the phone to Mia and I hear her ‘talking to me’. “She’s laughing now; holds a bottle; sits up even more; rolls over. She’ll be four months in nine days.”
Four months. That means we’re a third of the way through Her First Year. I feel as if I am just starting, getting to know Frances, and Mia, and Hassan… a little. There’s more I want to do. I need to photograph them all outside of Dunbar Street, at Hassan’s at least, where they spend some of the week because of the constraints at the supported accommodation. I could photograph Frances at college now, or travelling to and from.
Expand the story. That’s my new year resolution.