Tag Archives: Emily

My Curly Girl..


Emily is my eldest daughter. I have 3 children, Em, Holly and Callum. I’ve mentioned each of them briefly during odd stories and will write a piece about each of them over time, as they allow me too.

This one, is about Emily.

Em is 21 and currently in her 3rd year at University. Now I’m biased (obviously) but Emily is special. She is the most kindest, caring, patient, person I know. I have no doubt she has gained these attributes from her mum Jane, who I’ve been married to for 23 years and I fortunate to be able to say I love her more each year.

(I know what your thinking – “That’s great, after all that time still feeling like that” – together 25 years this year actually.)

But, I hasten to add, I’m a catch, and she just sank her claws in and wouldn’t fucking  let go…

And then, upon getting married, she suddenly decided that NOW was the time to have children.


I on the other hand, was planning the next 5 years worth of holidays in the sun. That and experimenting with an assortment of factor 2 – 50 tanning lotions and making the gradual transition from speedos to shorts. As it was, Jane became a splendidly and a wonderfully compact pregnant shape in fairly short order.

The whole speedo-to-shorts revolution passed me by. I felt quite cheated. It had all happened without me and speedos were long forgotten by the time I next went abroad some 9 years later.

I must add that during my barren holiday spell Jane became pregnant another 2 times, and each time managed to maintain the same small compact shape with each child. To the point that on each occasion the hospital were sure, that each baby was under-size and there was a problem. All because Jane wasn’t wallowing like a tanker and removing door-frames bodily as she passed through them. There never was a problem and on each birth Jane delivered a healthy 7 1/2, 81/2 and a 9.3lb + size baby.

Emily’s arrival into the world was accompanied on the night by a blaring car alarm that seemed to go off every 10 minutes or so outside Jane’s window. It was like a nails on chalk-board period. I spent the day and evening at the window cursing the multi-tone alarm that continued to raise my already frayed nerves to breaking point. Till finally Net, who Jane shared a house with during her nurse training days, arrived to check up on Jane. Net by this point in their careers had headed into midwifery and was just finishing her shift.

She then went on to tell us how during a manic day, she had spent the shift rushing out to her car because,

“The bloody car alarm had gone stupid and had been going off allllllll day!!”

(Jesus, she doesn’t know how close she came to discovering a vehicle spread across the car-park..)

Then Emily arrived and I was, am, and till my dying day will be.

Utterly besotted.

Even from being tiny, Emily has always been incredibly articulate. I always found it amazing to come home and have a conversation with this tiny little human being, who, was so serious in her discussions. Em has a wonderful empathy with people. I mean she really cares what people think and feel. I think sincerity from a tiny age was just so sweet to come into contact with. The lovely thing about Em is when she turns her attention on you, you know you have her full and complete regard whole your in her company. And you only realize how much notice she’s given you when, a few days later a card will arrive, a card that means what it says, the care and thought that’s gone into the words evident. Or a small parcel of something, just to let you know she listened to what you said and to remind you she loves you and heard you…

I love her for these simple things she does.

When she was born and began to grow, became more vocal and interesting by the day, it became obvious to me I had this small persons welfare and care to try and guide. Hopefully in a direction that made life interesting for her and fun. I loved talking to her because she wanted to know things. She loved stories and I was only to pleased to make up things for her. Because the beauty of it was, She had this wonderful trusting naivety, really believed everything she was told.

The “Happily Ever After”, true faith in life.

I think I got the bigger kick out of just seeing her reaction to what ever I could come up with, or what tale (Lie) I could tell her..

Even meal times weren’t sacred. Its amazing what you can do with a bag of alphabet potato shapes. It was just a good job I’m not dyslexic.

Scans 003

I had a field day.

My God. The power.

I don’t think I’ve ever come across another child who was so patient, or would consider so carefully, what you explained to her, see the common sense of it, accept it and move on. I don’t think I’ve ever, and I really mean EVER seen Emily have a tantrum.

I felt cheated sometimes.

Till the other two came along. And I found that dragging a screaming, floor kicking child by the reins around Sainsburys, wasn’t as funny as it looked when it was someone else dragging their child. And trying negotiating,

“Come on, be good, get up. Soon as we’re done you can have…”

Or calling their bluff and walking away to the end of the aisle to hide and peer round the beans, to wait for the drum of small feet hurtling after you, only to see them either, still face down kicking the floor, or, running off in the other direction like a mini-raging Hulk.

Or finally, counter raging back at them and just dragging them along, till they got fed up of the squealing noise their faces made on the floor and decided to get up.

Only for them to stand stock-still, tip their heads back, let shoulders slump and arms dangle, and bawl in stationary up-right rage mode.

Em just didn’t hit this period. Nor did she hit the terrible teenage years, of uncommunicative, unhelpful surliness. That teenage angst more commonly echoed along the lines of,

“The world is a shit and I hate it and everyone in it (apart from my friends who understand me),”

Just didn’t feature on Emily’s radar.

She passed through it all in a sublimely pleasant way.

Everything she’s gone through to get where she is present day, is just a reflection of her sheer determination to succeed.

Emily is now at Uni in her 3rd year studying Speech Therapy. Its just a good job I don’t have to say the “Therapy” bit because it drives her mad when I can’t quite pronounce the “th” bit clearly, and end up uttering it more with an “f” sound. She tries to make me say it properly, only for me at this point to intentionally exaggerate the pronunciation until she shouts at me and says,

“O sweet baby Jesus! For Gods sake! Its “th!” “th!” Say it with me you bloody half-wit!! “TH!!””

And I momentarily snap to attention like I’ve had a mental slap and something shifts in my brain and I say it.

“Th! Th!! Woohoo! Th! THHHHH!” And almost immediately slump back to the “f” sound.

“Th! Th!! F! F!! F?? Ohhhhhhhh Fffffffuckit!”

And Em shouts despairingly,

OooohhhmmmmyyyyyyyyyGGGGGGOOOOOODDDDDDDD!! Your doing it on bloody purpose!!!!!!!!!!”

It bodes well for some traumatized child who can’t say “Sammy Snake” who she may later treat, that even with a tongue that will flap like a wet towel, they will be able to swear fluently before the end of the 2nd session.

They may not succeed in saying “S”. But they sure as fuck won’t have many “F’s” in their vocabulary either. With Em’s professional acumen and determination, they will be able to say,

“Thammy th’nake you motherthucker.”

And will be nothing but heroic in their achievements in shouting

“Thuuck this for a game of th’oilders!” as they storm out.

I’m just happy she leads a good life with a boyfriend who loves her and who truly cares for her. They’re a great match and work well together and its a reflection of the determination to succeed with their long distant relationship that after 3 years at opposing Uni’s, their still dedicated to each other and support each other, even at the most uncomfortable turn of events..

To the point of, when sitting in a restaurant on holiday and receiving their order, being distressed to find it was something quite inedible. So rather than complain, make a scene,

hurt any body’s feelings,

Vinny kept cramming as much as was humanely possible in his mouth and going to the toilet looking like a manic hamster so he could spit it out so it looked like they had enjoyed the meal…

Finally and on a serious note.

I speak to Em most days just because we can. She loves what she is doing, what she’s working towards. But I think she gets enormous amounts of pleasure out of life in general, either at Uni or at the part time job working in a coffee shop in town and all the people she gets to meet there.

And while she may be away from home leading her own life, she’s never far from my thoughts. None of my children ever are.

And, even though I see her only occasionally, that’s fine.

She’s leading a full and busy life, doing what any parent would want their child to do.

Enjoying it.

I speak to her most days and the days and when I do get to see her, the hug is always worth the wait. Its like having my own personal ray of sunshine that automatically brightens up a day that I didn’t realize was overcast till I saw Emily at that precise moment.

Personally what I get from having such a caring relationship with Em, is simply that.

A caring, really caring sincere relationship.

See, I know I’m amazingly fortunate to have this young lady in my life, and to be able to spend time with this person. Because she always lightens my heart every, every time I set eyes on her again.

What I hope is, that I’ve in some way inspired her to try things in life. To believe in herself, and, although its hard at the best of times, never to doubt herself or fear a challenge but to be brave enough to rise and meet it head on.

Because if there’s one thing that I’m certain Emily knows and will never doubt.

It’s that her Dad knows there’s no limit to what she can achieve and he’ll always be there when she needs him most.

me and emmy
I don’t think I’ve ever had any doubts about My Curly Girl.

So, it must be true.

The Rapid Red Machine

(For Emily, Callum and Holpol)

Having recently written Ice Cream Lies it opened up all sorts of memories. The trouble is, writing just enough of that story, without losing myself reminiscing and heading off into 5 others…

The whole of my growing childhood and family life was, I found, quite wonderful. My mum and dad just seemed to be full of boundless fun and energy. I loved hearing tales from my dad. Of where he had worked over the years, and of the trials and often hilarious situations he found himself in. Or his own childhood which seemed so much more exciting.

I find it a sad fact that as society volume has increased over the years, traffic, population etc,  it’s  been reflected in the reduced freedom of kids growing up from younger ages.

I know I was even more careful with my own kids when they were small and restricted their movement even more. Traffic volume alone  was a deciding factor  for me to make that impact on their lives.

I was lucky enough to spend most of my early adult life, first serving my time as an apprentice joiner under, then working along side my dad. It wasn’t always sweetness and light of course, but on the whole  we laughed an awful lot.

When he died in ’99 it was a terrible and sudden shock that someone so vital in my life, could disappear so immediately and permanently.

I have to say, I still miss him terribly, still have those choking moments, and I still think about him every day.

What I grew to find though was, he’s still there in many ways.

(Although, he’s currently in France these days since Kerry shipped his urn over, which I’m sure he won’t mind)

He left behind so many memories, so many tales for my brother, sister, mum and probably all the people he impacted upon to recall him by.

But what always sticks in my mind when I think about him is a mischievous aura about him. A twinkle in the eye and that smile he had. He had a way of folding his arms. Tucking his hands under his armpits. Like he was too excited, and was desperately trying to hold in the enthusiasm for whatever tale or wind up he was in the process of sharing, without giving away the punch line. And while he was doing this he would be rocking backwards and forwards on his feet.

dad bransby

It makes me literally grin, to think about it even now.

So, What I don’t want you to think is, this is some sad morbid tale. Its not. It an explanation towards the laugh out loud moments I’ve had as a child with my parents. And how its made me approach my own children growing up.

I take enormous amounts of pleasure in making my children laugh. Again telling a tale on the spur of the moment, or recounting something that made me laugh as a child. It’s the scrappy, dirty bits in life that children love to hear about. Or the romantic possibilities that life may hold for them.

I’m a firm believer in keeping children, well, children. Shielding them as far as possible from the sometimes terrible nature of life. I don’t want them going to bed, worrying about global warming. Because everything is so literal with kids growing up. They have no concept of time. They think if they hear something will happen in 3 million years, it probably means a week on Wednesday at 9.30am.

I wanted them to dress up, and Play. Have an imagination, listen to them laugh, un-encumbered by stresses and pressures that adults place upon themselves.

A child can’t hide disappointment or upset and it’s broadcast loud and clear in their eyes. But so is excitement and laughter, and my children may not know it, but its always been an important part of my life to see those emotions shining in they’re eyes.

So, I would tell fibs and make up stories all the time. Anything to keep that naivety and simple pleasure alive for them in a tale.

My son Callum, played football from a young age (He’s 17 now and still at it) and en route to training I would tell him about Brown Bear, who lived locally.(We live in Manchester UK…)

Brown Bear loved curry. It entailed farting. Callum loved it.

Till Brown Bear farted his head cleeeean off.

But then his brother, Black Bear came on the scene. He also liked curry in copious amounts.

You can see where this is going.

This kept him entertained to and from training. These days he has his headphones on while I talk at him.

In retrospect this was his story. His sisters are going to be furious.

(Whichever one of you reads this first, your my fave.)

Which leads me to keeping them entertained. I love my children. More than they could ever imagine. I have loved all the wind ups I have played out over the years with them.

I used to have a car. An old Volkswagen Pole (estate). It was my dad’s previously and I bought it off him when he bought a new car. Tiny little thing. Like a lawn mower with a boot. Or “Trunk” if your’e an American struggling along with the mother language. When the kids were growing up my wife, a nurse, worked nights, so she could be with them during the day while I was at work. Or be free to pick them up from school. She would drop them at my parents and then head off to work. I would collect them on my way home from work and take them home. Two car family.

I would collect them in my Polo which, became more car seat than car, by the time I strapped them all in. One would be in the front and the other two would be back seat. The car took on a life of its own and instead of being a crappy little hair dryer, became,

The Rapid Red Machine.

It be came “Rapid” because any speed over 12 mph sounded like it was doing 300. And as you accelerated it just sounded faster, till we were actually driving along and warp speed 54. We left Captain Kirk on the Enterprise eating our dust. Spocks eyebrows would have been at Emperor Ming height. (See –Dust Mote’s)

Emily would be sat front seat legs swinging like she was going to kick the dashboard to death.

As we drove to and thro each evening the car just got better. It developed “abilities”.

It had a flying button and a height dial.

(This was the de-mister for the rear window, which lit up when you pressed it, and the air blower 1-4 whose blowing noise increased in power and volume as you turned it up)

So we would be driving along and I’d look at Emily, Callum or Holly, whoever was in the front seat and say,

“Should we fly?”

“Oh yeahhhhhhhhhh!!!” (Emily/Callum)

“Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (breath) Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!” (Holly)

So I’d press the button to start the hover mode.

“Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah!!” (Emily/Callum)

“Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (breath) Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! (Holly)

“I’m turning it to one!”


“We’re off the ground!!!!!”

Emily and Callum looked like epilectics in their bids lean over and try to press noses against the windows. Desperate to see exactly how high we were. But strapped into their car seats, they weren’t going far.

Holpol had pulled her bib over her face by this point, which only muffled the wail of dismay slightly.

I’m going up to 2!!

The exertions of Emily and Callum increased to match the blower volume. Obviously, we were higher already.

“Mmmmmnnnnnnnnnooooooooooarrrrrrrrmmmmmm!!!” (Holly)

‘I’m going straight to 4!!!!! We’re going right up to the stars now!!!”

Thank god Callum and Holly were still in nappy’s.

I think Emily just managed to control her excitement, although the legs were banging away like hydraulic drills, and her head was actually turning round like something from the Exorcist.

“We’re at 4!!!! We’re realllly high now! Wooooooooooooooo!”

“Hahahahahahahahahahhahaahhahahaa! WOOOOOOOOO!!! (Emily/Callum)

“OMFG!!!! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr (Breath) Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! (Holly)

Then passes out from lack of oxygen.

When she finally comes round, we had to tell her we had landed and were driving home normally now. The hyperventilating breaths finally calmed down as she slowly relaxed against the disappointment radiating from Emily and Callum.

Then, I asked,

“Should we go a Secret Way home???”

This entailed turning up a street before our own, going round the block and coming in from a different direction.

“Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!” (Emily/Callum)

“I fuckin Hate you!!!! I’m never going to see my mum againnnnnnnnnnn!!! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr – (Pass out again)

( She was only 3 and a half. Bless. She must have been knackered.)

So, finally, I just wanted to end this on.

Thank you Dad. For everything. I love you forever and I never forget.


I miss you always.

Finally, finally…Just to remember what you achieved..