Saturday 10 May 1986. The day my wife was due to give birth to our first child. When Saturday morning arrived I woke up to a bright sunny day in Aberdeen where we lived at the time. I brought Mrs Smith a cup of tea in bed and asked if she was okay. She smiled, thanked me and said she felt fine. ‘That’s good’ I said, ‘Because I’m going to the football’ Pat’s smile faded quicker than a bank manager’s bonus. ‘You mean you’re still going?’ she asked, somewhat incredulously. Time for quick thinking I thought to myself. ‘Well, yes, if you don’t mind. It is Aberdeen Hearts are playing and my mate Graeme is giving me a lift there’ This seemed to placate my wife of less than four years. ‘But what if I need you?’ she asked. This was the tricky bit. ‘Don’t worry, darling,’ I replied, ‘I’ll phone you a couple of times to check how you are’
A couple of things here for younger readers and those who, like Pat, are not in the slightest bit interested in the beautiful game. Firstly, mobile phones were some way off general use in the mid 1980s. Those that were around tended to be used by high-flying business types and were the size of a small mid-terraced house. Therefore, my means of checking if baby Smith was on the way would be by the use of public telephones - call boxes. Secondly, I was factually correct in stating the big game was between Hearts and Aberdeen. And that my mate Graeme, an avid Aberdeen fan, would be driving me there. However, I did omit the fact that as the game was the Scottish Cup final it would be played at Hampden Park, Glasgow - 140 miles away. A fair point, I concede. I looked at it this way. Yes, my wife understandably wanted me to be present at the birth of our first child. As, indeed, did I. Nonetheless, I had to balance this up with the very real possibility that Hearts may never reach another Scottish Cup Final. I had followed the Jam Tarts for eighteen years up to this point and had never had a whiff of success. This chance might never arrive again. Whereas, there was a good chance my wife would have more children. So, off to Glasgow I scampered leaving a less than happy Mrs Smith and an outraged mother-in-law who threatened to decapitate me on my return (a tad harsh in my view)
Hearts lost the final 3-0 and it was a long journey back to Aberdeen in the company of Graeme who in the 1980s was getting used to seeing his team win cup finals. To his credit, he didn’t hang around much after the game and we headed back north in little under three hours. There I found a smouldering Mrs Smith still pregnant....
Saturday 17 May 1986. 3.25pm. Laura, a bouncing baby girl arrived and changed my life forever. It seems like yesterday - now she has three children of her own. The photo above was taken last week to celebrate Laura's daughter - my gorgeous grand-daughter Ava's - first birthday.
Happy 25th birthday Laura. I'm proud of you.
ps thanks to those who have sent their best wishes regarding Mrs Smith's hospital admission last week. Since I last posted she was re-admitted to hospital on Saturday with more chest pains. Curiously, the large amount of tests she has had since going back in have not found anything amiss with her heart, other than it is slightly larger than normal (big-hearted Mrs Smith? Surely some mistake?) She is due to get out of hospital and return home on Wednesday, diagnosis as yet uncertain. It's a strange world we live in.