Mother India Cafe was queued round the block. Hesitation with the brakes. Where to go now? Quick disappointed rethink and we arranged to meet in the carpark behind Hillhead Underground. The Ashton Lane Ashoka was full too. The Ubiquitous Chip was a no-go for last minute dawdlers. The louche allure of the Lane lit a sudden flare of happiness. We were a laughing lot and for a moment we were sharing this single heart.
The regular busker was playing his soul out on an astonishing, metal Gretsch. The phosphorescent lights bouncing off the silvered brass of its muscular body. Ana was consumed by admiration and envy. But she reached to drop money in soul boy’s guitar case.
We wandered onto Byres Road. ‘Marsala Twist’ said Ana. In fact she had been saying that since we passed Mother India and was pissed off that nobody ever seemed to listen to her. The Twist looked full too – but I’d forgotten about its upstairs room and that’s where we ended up.
It was a good meal. Not because the food was the best we’d ever tasted – though it was fine and tasty enough. More because we got to sit as a family, to share stories and to laugh and slag one another.
Only one missing was Evan – but he’s inherited the Phillips family weak digestion and is still to learn that a night of heavy drinking will knock his stomach flat out. Lew on the other hand – well, he’d apparently been ‘the drunkest person at ‘Deep” (travelling nightclub with regular DJs) – but he’s got a stomach of iron and ate his bodyweight in curry without blinking (I still cannot work out how he maintains the slim muscular physique and bright eyes on his diet of hard work and heavy partying…).
We had 4 hours of relaxed laughing and joking and serious eyed story-telling. This is the consolation of ageing and growing up: that when we get together there is so much to share and to tell. And for the time we’re together we’re back in that family space where we’re fighting for space to be heard and words are a torrential mess; a wonderful wall of sound.
The roads were quiet on the way home. Ana nodded off in the back. Jamie – who’d had a ‘mince and tatties’ curry (Marsala’s nod to Glaswegian cuisine) – silently texted his great girlfriend Erin.
R and I exchanged the odd ‘that’s where that accident was during the week’ or ‘we’ll need to do a food shop tomorrow’ and ‘you got a busy work week ahead’… already moving onto the everydayness.
I know, now, after years of a relentless pointless pursuit of happiness, that if you’re lucky, very lucky, this is life. That you have this comfort of blood and history and love. A community. A sense of belonging. People who care – and even care enough to get angry.
I am lucky.