The home movie

Watched a home movie from 1999 this afternoon. A mate dropped the DVD round a few weeks ago. I treated it as a priceless thing at the time.  Looking at it. Wondering about it. Half remembering those carefree days. Touching the box. Kind of feeling something I couldn’t articulate. Sad, so fucking sad.

I realised we couldn’t play DVDs anymore. Times are a changing.

Last Wednesday

Tom wasn’t well. He wasn’t well earlier in the week. He messaged us about his illness from Sheffield. Rich rang him and said come home. I met him from the station. He wasn’t well.


Our GP surgery wasn’t taking calls for standard appointments. Only emergencies. By early afternoon we called it as an emergency, phoned and re-registered Tom. He got an appointment (with cracking support from the surgery staff), was diagnosed with tonsillitis (in a nano second) and prescribed antibiotics.

Rich and I were due to fly to Oslo for a wedding leaving at 4am the next day. A plan involving my mum walking Bess. Owen and Rosie pitching up early evening for the weekend.

Around 9pm we were in a cab heading to A&E. Something was clearly wrong.

Tom was triaged immediately and had a convoluted 3 way IV gig put in the back of his hand. Diagnosis: quincy. IV steroids and antibiotics started in the inner sanctum of the A&E waiting room. Tears (and terror).


Around 2am a bed was found in the Vascular Ward on the West Wing of the hospital. A long, long walk, Tom and drip wheeled in a chair by a kind and sensitive guy. Bed in a ward/room with two other patients. A youngish guy opposite. And much, older guy next to him.

Rich went home. I sat next to Tom.

Such a long night. Punctured with crying, bell ringing and help seeking noises. The pretty much one nurse run ragged. Sad, dark sadness. Tom slept on and off with a snaggy snore punctured by terrifying silences. Brief whispered convos in the darkness. The odd chuckle.

I went to toilet about 3am.

“Hey, you can’t stay here,” said a new nurse in the brightly lit corridor. “It’s a men’s ward. They sometimes walk round with their tadgers out.”

I ain’t fucking going anywhere.

Rich came back after dawn and Tom was moved to the GP referral unit gig by an equally kind porter. There followed a day of exemplary attention, action, IV bag switching, care and kindness. A sackful of prescribed medication/mouthwash packed and delivered hours before the last bag of antibiotics had discharged its duty. Tom discharged two hours earlier than expected giving him time to watch the Liverpool match.

We went home and hung out.


A new return ticket to Oslo was organised by the kindest of kind friends. Rich stayed at home. I set off for Heathrow in the morning. At Terminal 5 I waved goodbye to the cheerful driver unloading cases. At check-in I felt oddly light.

“I left my case on the bus…?” I said to the man standing next to me.

I rang Rosie.

Help. Love action.

“Wait at the bus stop. The bus should do a loop back from the central bus station or your case will be in Cowley to collect next week.”

45 minutes later the bus returned.

“What were you thinking?!” said the driver, pulling out my case.



At home with Tom. And his playstation. We were able to watch the home movie.

Beautiful, beautiful footage of our beautiful boy. His curiosity and absorption in the spaces. Like the little kid in the photo above, running down the slope. With joy. Surrounded by people who loved him. There was even a clip of the ‘What a Wonderful World’ school play.

Love, love and laughter.


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