Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Michael's Awesome Mum episode 1

It may come to the surprise of few who follow my ramblings on a regular basis that my mum is, frankly, awesome. As you might expect from the first woman in her family to go to university, who scored top marks in the wrong exam she once took by accident, and whose Double First came easily, relatively speaking. Not to add her long standing SF geekdom - she wrote her school book project on Wyndham's The Crysalids. Or her wonderful cooking, adored on...about three continents.

Or the fact that, due to her expertise, she can smell someone at the back of a bus smoking some illicit drugs, and tell not only the quality of the drugs, but where they come from.

She's an academic historian, you see, who currently specialises in the adulteration of quinine and like medications in the 19th and 20th Century. This means she gets to go around the world giving conference papers and research for books which she is, to date, the only qualified person in the world to write.

And for perspective, she does all this, despite having been diagnosed with polyneuritis when I was about six. Think arthritis, but of the nerves. When I was six, there was very little known about the illness, so Mum had to take early retirement. She kept going though, and by the late 90s, acupuncture relief was available. This was designed to get sufferers to enjoy a normal life best they could.

Mum's response was to go back to work. And then take on more days. And more classes. And do more research. And wind up back fall time, taking on higher importances jobs by the year.

And she does this all with this stupid illness, having the highest work ethic of anyone I know bar none. My response to a migraine is to curl up in bed! Mums response to losing all feeling in her hand is to travel to Chicago to look at their university records!

Coupling the travails of world class travelling academic, and top class SF geek, Mum has met many famous people, and remains brutally honest about all of them. One trip down South wound up with her hearing the call "Stop that kid" only for a child to dart past her as she was talking to another, swiftly followed by an older woman and an old man struggling to catch the child before it ran out into a vast shopping mall. Between the three, they just about caught the runaway toddler.

Mum was my Mum. The older (than mum) woman was Lis Sladden. The old man was Nick Courtney. And the kid? Sophie Aldred's.

All lovely, charming folk I'm assured.

Oh, and the one mum was talking to at that moment? Someone in full Dalek regalia, who tried to help but was overcome by both his outfit and laughter.

This sort of thing only happens to mum.

So, on a recent trip to the US, she may have topped even that. I can't mind where on her trip it was, but a studio were filming on the campus and as a result,  the library she was working in was closing early. So mum was on her way to the library that morning, when who should she see in a car outside the library, but Samuel L Jackson!

A bit surprised, she said "Goodness, its Samuel L Jackson!"

A passerby woman turned and told her "Nah, it can't be!"

At which point Jackson leaned out of his car window and announced in his unmistakable booming tones  "Fuck right, I'm Samuel L Jackson!" He then gave both of them a big smile.

An American friend has pointed out the unfairness of this, as they live in the US and have never bumped into Jackson.

But that's just what Mum does.