We’re in my car on the way to Hassan’s mum’s house when I ask Frances if she is doing anything for the Jubilee. Without looking I can tell she is pulling a face. “Who cares that she’s been our Queen for 60 years?”
I ask her about the Olympics, this year’s other big event that we’re all supposed to get behind. Last night on the local TV news there was yet another report on the Olympic Torch being carried from one place to the next with thousands of enthusiastic onlookers waving and cheering. Apparently the torch tour makes the rest of the country feel part of the London-centric Games.
“I’d rather go and watch a carnival,” says Frances.
Ironically it is Frances and millions of others on low incomes who buy the Lottery tickets that support the Games that they cannot afford to enjoy. The poor are paying for the entertainment of the more affluent. There’s a dissertation in there somewhere.
“How’s your mum?” I ask as we cross the A6 through Longsight.
“She’s back home now,” she says. “She had had a small heart attack as they thought”. Her mum has been in and out of hospital for the whole time we have been writing this blog. After a number of operations where her toes, then foot, then lower leg were amputated, she is now waiting to have a prosthetic limb fitted. “They’ve put one of those door entry things on her front door now, so she can just buzz people in.”
I follow Frances’ directions to her mother-in-law’s house and realise she is effectively directing me back home. It turns out that she, Hassan and Mia have been living part of their week only a couple of miles from our house. The semi is a hundred yards up from the Sainsbury’s I use on Saturdays and the Blockbusters I hire our DVDs from. I drive past their front door half a dozen times a week. Parallel lives.
I say hello to Hassan and, after if he is off the phone, introduce myself to one of his brothers, the only other person at home. Hassan tells him who I am and the website is brought up on the computer, by way of explanation.
On the nights they are here the three of them share the downstairs front room. There’s a double mattress on the new wooden floor and not much else.
“I suppose it’s a bit of a pain to keep taking her toys backwards and forwards from one place to the other?” I say to Frances.
“Yeah, it is a bit.”
“Maybe we should mention it on the blog. I bet you’d get some donations.”
I don’t stay long. It’s a shame Hassan’s mum is not here. I would have liked to take a picture of her and Mia . Apparently she checks out the blog from time to time to see the latest photographs of her granddaughter.