Literally the best weekend ever. It’s been filled to the brim with life, glamourousity, family, Christmas excitement and a raw reality that keeps all humans balanced.
I tinkered into my weekend after a really busy work week, where I wasn’t ‘Double B’s best life line…
Double B: ‘I have no clue where I am??? There’s a bush, some water and a metal pole. I’m by some nurseries??? Where do I go??’
If you know me, you will know that I have NO SENSE OF DIRECTION. I have no clue where anything is. I can’t walk there. I can’t drive there. I’ll find it in the end, because i’m a natural survivor…Yet let me tell you, it’s a jolly old ball ache. Geography was not my best subject. Luckily, ‘Double B’ is as rubbish at choosing ‘life lines’ as I am and unfortunately called ME, for the answer to her ‘Where am I’ needs.
Me: ‘Don’t get stressed. It’s fine. Calm down. Do you need me to sing to you? Shall I sing to you…I don’t think ya ready, for this jeellly, I don’t think ya ready, for this..’
Double B: ‘There’s a metal pole. I might hit myself with it…Ask Hustle….NOW!!! I’m by some nursery!!!’
Early through the week, ‘Firmonnell’ who is getting thinner and blonder each day and has the most adorable husband ‘Big D,’ who leaves her champagne and fresh cut flowers, before he flies to Barcelona for the weekend with his guy friends, decided to hunt around a building…no…that’s wrong, an ‘ENGINE ROOM’ trying to catch people having sex.
Firmonnell: ‘I don’t know?? It was just in m head. It was creepy. I just couldn’t stop imagining catching people having sex in the engine room???’
Me: ‘What, in that cupboard?’
Fimonnell: ‘NO. The engine ROOM.’
(Cos everybody knows what that is? Lol And one of the beings, that she thought she would find, in her very creative imagination, had just been to Greggs. I saw them with my own very eyes…. So they would definitely be ‘doing it’ with a bacon sandwich in their hand. It’s like the Yorkshire version of ‘Fifty Shades.’ They’ll even stamp ya card afterwards…)
But yes, I rolled into my weekend with beams and smiles, because my Saturday IS ALL about Mummy, Ruby and Junior time. And BOY, did we have a time.
We woke up at the crack of dawn in a fox onesie, a Paw Patrol onesie and one that resembles a Happy Unicorn and within a moments flash, we were showered, changed, (I had a coffee and a Little Mistress faux fur bundled around me,) as we tickled and giggled into a car and *winked* a train into a busy Leeds City Centre.
Believe it or not, neither Ruby nor Junior have ever been on a train before. Well, so they say. Ruby’s actually been on a train to London lots of times. When she tiny and single mummying was hardcore, I used to have to take her with me, with my Mum to appearances and work.
Bottom line, they were both so excited BY LITERALLY EVERYTHING…and it was so sweet because their excitement was infectious. Middle aged ladies and young girls were chatting to them and laughing with them…The train was rammed. It was SO BUSY. But the most lovely lady had saved the children and I seats, just so they could sit down, through all the madness and the bustle. It meant a lot to me. I thanked her profusely.
The rest of the day, (well we were in the City Centre by 10am,) was nothing short of magic. We did everything and anything. We did life. It beamed from us, as we made the city our own. There was buzz in the air. An energy. And as we sauntered through the morning city centre streets of Leeds, Christmas was all around us.
We visited the Candy Mechanics ‘Edible Selfie Station’ where the babies had their faces turned into designer chocolate lollipops, we shopped at Smiggle, we picked out toys, we wrote ‘Dear Santa’ letters, we bought Boba Tea drinks (a Boba tea is one of my favourite non boozy choices, incase you didn’t know) …Our Boba Tea bar of choice was ‘Bubbleology,’ we almost ventured to the cinema, but decided against it, simply because we didn’t want to be stuck inside for hours…and then we grabbed a quick lunch at Yo Sushi. (The one at Trinity Leeds.)
The pure and utter absolute excitement on their faces, as sushi and sashimi plated delights, sloooooooowly, glided past them on the magical electronical conveyor belt, as they chatted to the chef was…it was just so fulfilling. (So, I celebrated with a wine. 😉 ) We were treated really well in there and I appreciated that. Ruby tried a little bit of everything. She has an exquisite palette for a six year old. She adores sushi on the whole… Junior chose the closest thing he could get to fish fingers and chips, by picking out the fish tempura and Japanese salted fries. Lol
Junior: ‘I think I prefer the chips at Mcdonalds..’
But we had a blast. It was amazing.
At that point, we were meant to go home. But I guess, home wasn’t ready for us JUST yet, as we found ourselves hand in hand, walking up to Millennium Square, to the German Market, to celebrate Christmas. Ruby was armed with warm roasted chestnuts and Junior with a cup of sweetcorn. It was so busy, we even got lost. Lol. (Told you i’m rubbish at directions.) I had to call Pete (Ruby’s Dad) to tell me the quickest route to Millennium square. Lol
Pete: ‘Where are you?’
Me: ‘By the Victoria Quarter. I’m passing Harvey Nic’s and Louis Vuitton is on my right. Do I just..’
Pete: ’…Walk straight up and turn left at the cross road. It’s behind The Light. As if Ruby’s agreed to walk that far. Lol’
And with a blink, we were there, immersed in the magic of a Christmas wonderful land, with fairground rides, mulled wine cabins, hand made Christmas gifts, giant snow globes, merriment, warm fires and just life at it’s finest. Everyone there seemed to be having the most wonderful time…so we went with the mode and embraced it. We went on rides. I did mulled wine, they did hot chocolates, we rescued Rudolph…I don’t think they could believe their little Christmas eyes?
It was a swirl of utter merriment. They threw their heads back with laughter. We chatted to pretty much everyone. We sang. We danced down the street. We won teddies. It was almost like everyone around us had committed to having a ‘good time.’ Even the security guard winked at Junior, and told him that his ear piece and walkie talkie was his direct line to Santa. Lol.
He just gazed at him, with his mouth wide open and is face filled with glee. I’ll always remember that face, because one day he won’t be four anymore. He’ll be a grown ass man. But no matter how old he gets…i’ll always be able to see that face in him.
It was still day time, but the air was getting nippier and the day was beginning to turn to night…so I thought i better get them home, even though it was early. Ruby’s nose had turned pink with fun and the open air and they were both still so excited that they needed a lull, a calm, a peace, to warmly settle down to. We were skipping all the way back to the train station. I had bags full of all sorts and they both had giant rainbow slinky’s in their hands, that they had just won on ‘Hook a duck.’
Ruby: ‘MUM! YOU’RE NOT HELPING ME HOOK IT!!!!’
Junior: ‘I can’t hooker it!!’
The streets were now the busiest streets in all the land…People bustled past, with bags of shopping galore. Leeds was now ALIVE.
The streets were filled with posh couples, teens, students, business men, hip hop clicks, buskers….families…the lot! It was MADNESS!! Delight had fizzled from the air and ‘BUSY’ had taken over. I had all the bags over my wrists, as I held the kids hands tightly and guided them through the crowds….We were gonna go to Gino’s for tea, but I just needed to get them home…
Then Ruby stopped….
It was like we had been hurtling through the crowds at a hundred miles an hour, just going with the flow of the bustle, trying to get to the end of the tunnel. She ‘emergency braked’ me.
Me: ‘What’s the matter?’
Ruby: ‘I’ve just got some change left from Hook a Duck…Shall I go give it to that guy?’
(She looks behind us to show me a gentleman, who was sat on the pavement asking for change, with an empty Greggs cup in front of him.)
Junior was already pulling his way towards the guy. (He’s a wild one is Junior. He’ll always do what he wants. Ruby…no she’s older… will always ask.)
Me: ‘Yeah! Absolutely! That’s a great idea. Let’s go see him.’
And we did. We walked back to him, with smiles and a warmth and as he looked up at us, he beamed.
‘Hi, I’m Chrissie…’
‘I’m Ruby. What’s your name?’
She looked straight into his eyes, grabbed his hand and placed £2.70 in it.
Now, the next 20 minutes of life, were the most MOVING minutes for me EVER, to the point where I actually filled up with tears and sat down, on the pavement next to John, to chat.
During these 20 MINUTES, I was the PROUDEST MOTHER ON THIS ENTIRE EARTH. Words cannot even describe to you, how proud I was of my children. I filled up because I couldn’t express how I felt at the time. It was that overwhelming.
Me: ‘I’m sorry i’m crying.’
Ruby: ‘She never cries…’
Here’s snippets of our 20 minutes. There is the heaviest bustle on the Leeds streets. I’m not sat on the pavement with bags of shopping around me, next to John, who is homeless and Ruby and Junior are stood directly in front of him chatting to him….The moment was so magical that the city bustle blurred into the background, almost as if we were cut away in our own little bubble.
Junior: ‘Why dya need money?
John: ‘For food and to buy things that’ll keep me warm.’
Ruby: ‘Are you homeless?’
Junior: ‘But why don’t you have a box?’
John: ‘Haha. Aww…I don’t have a box.’
Ruby: ‘Where have you got that bag from?’
John: ‘I bought it, with the money people gave me.. It’s got a change of clothes in it..’
Ruby: ‘Have you seen what we’ve won on Hook a Duck??’
Junior: ‘I can’t work mine.’
John, who is beaming with smiles at this point and probably one of the most eloquent speakers, I had spoken to in weeks, gently looks at Junior and puts out his hand, to see if he’d like help, with his Slinky.
John: ‘I used to have one when I was a kid. You know, if you put them at the top of the stairs, they tumble down them.’
He took Juniors hands and he showed him how to balance the slinky. They were all laughing and filled with an absolute comfort.
Junior: ‘Why don’t you just phone you’re mum? Whenever i’m in trouble. I just get my mum.’
John: ‘My Mum didn’t want me home. That’s why i’m out here. You have a lovely Mum.’
Then he began to explain homelessness to them. I watched him talk to my children and the way he told them the story was beautiful, because it was real, yet he acknowledged that they were six and four and therefore delivered it to them, in an almost ‘fairytale’ fashion. It was so moving.
They asked questions about his life, where he sleeps, how he ended up on the streets, what will make him better…all sorts… There was a dignity to John. He never felt sorry for himself. He told them the facts, then showed them the facts….
And as the children stood to one side, (and do know that my kids are used to walking into places and having everyone fuss over them,) he started to ask the busy people passing by, who were inches away from him… for change.
Junior watched EVERY SINGLE PERSON walk straight by John. He watched every single human, not even turn to look towards him. He watched grown mummies and daddies, pull their children away from him and he watched people look towards John, yet pretend he wasn’t even there.
Now, I know my son and he was astonished. He looked uncomfortable. He didn’t even know what to think? He had no clue why everyone was ignoring him. It really made him FEEL. His eyes told a story, in that moment.
Junior: ‘You’re not saying it loud enough. Look. Watch.’
And Junior starts pointing at random people and aggressively shouting,
‘MONEY PLEASE!!!! YOU! MONEY!!’
People looked…. and everyone walked on by.
The kids are now sat around him and merrily playing with their rainbow slinkies, like the happiest children in the world.
I began talking to John. He asked me about my life and I asked him about his….
So John was newly homeless. He was clean. He was dressed normally. He used to have a full time job, that he lost because the company he worked for went under. He survived with what money he had saved, but couldn’t get another job and missed two payments of rent. The apartment complex that he used to live in…is BOUJI.
He got evicted and had to move back in with his parents. His parents are heavily religious, and didn’t agree with the way he had been living his life….so kicked him out onto the streets. They don’t speak to him. They have nothing to do with him.
Two missing pay cheques changed his LIFE.
Everyone walked past this man like he was invisible. Like he wasn’t even human, wasn’t even there. Not one person in that 20 minutes through him a penny, a look or a smile. John has a DEGREE. He’s expressive. He’s speaks so eloquently. He’s well mannered. He an intellect. He so emotionally and mentally sound that he looked at me and said,
‘Don’t worry. I’m fine. I really am. I know this city like the back of my hand. I’m just learning a new version of it. 🙂 Once I get a job. I’ll be able to turn it all around. I’ll do it. I’m not meant to be here. It’s just circumstance.’
Me: ‘You know tough times are just temporary right? And that tough people are forever…I’ve been exactly where you are! I don’t know what I can even do to help you? How will I ever find you again? Like, do you sit here often, or? I won’t even be able to contact you? I don’t even know how…’
John: ‘How did you get out of it??? Infact, I can tell you how to can help me….All I’ve been wanting to know FOR AGES and I hope you don’t mind me asking, is what time it is and what day it is…?’
Ruby: ‘John. Y’know, if you go down there a bit, there’s swings and wine and stuff…It’s Christmas…’
I pull my phone out…
Me: ‘It’s 2.49pm…and It’s Saturday. It’s November the 18th.’
He looked me directly in the eyes and HE began to fill up. That meant so much to him. It was crazy.
John: ‘I used to be so scheduled. I used to moan about it all the time. I have no clue where i’m gonna go or what i’m gonna do, but just knowing what time it is and what day it is feels good…’
That was it then…I could’ve burst into tears, but I didn’t.
Ruby: ‘Do us a video mum!!!’
Me: ‘I’m a blogger. Do you mind if we take your picture and post it…’
John: ‘Gosh, yeah, course you can. The fact that anyone would even ask to take my picture, has made me feel ten feet tall. Lol.’
(He straighten his hair a bit. 🙂 )
The kids loved him, chatted to him more, they played with the flipping slinkies endlessly and it soon began to get really nippy. The air was cold! Really cold.
Me: ‘I’m gonna have to get the kids back home now.’
John: ‘It was lovely meeting you Chrissie.’
Me: ‘ Y’know…I walked straight past you. Ruby stopped me to and asked if she could give you change.’
John: ‘It’s what happened next that mattered….You’re such a great family.’
Junior: ‘I love you John.’
(Junior hugs him.)
Ruby: ‘Me Too’
(Ruby dives on him and hugs him too…)
We gather up our bags and as I walk away with the babies holding onto each hand, I look back at him before I leave and simply say,
‘Look after yourself mate…’
He smiles as we walk away….
Then as life goes on, the bustle got heavier….John went back to asking for change and we managed to get caught up and rammed into a giant gang of ‘Furries’ all high fiving Junior as they passed..
Junior: ‘Whoa!!! What’s going on?? What is this place?’
Me: ‘Let’s get home kids!’
As some of you will know. Last night, I posted the pictures of my day on Facebook… I posted the pictures that Ruby & Junior had taken with John. I was DEFINITELY a PROUD PROUD Mum, but I didn’t think too much of posting the pics? I do it all the time…
All my inboxes filled up within seconds. People were making comments. My phone was ringing and this was as my website email was pinging away…MADLY.
The majority of the comments, I’d say 80 percent of them where filled with love, glistened in a positive warmth, dashed with kind words and support from my friends…
Then 10 percent of them were EVIL. I got called a ‘Bad Mum.‘ A ‘Stupid fucking mum.’ I got called an ‘Attention whore.’ I got called ‘fake.‘ I got called an ‘Idiot.’ People were really rude to me. People shouted at me online for letting my children hug a homeless person, because he was unwashed? Some people tried to turn the moment into a some kind of ‘Wunna stunt…’
And in that moment, I realized how narrow minded and judgmental people still were. It shocked me. I’m not by any means naive. I’m sassy. I didn’t think I would have to explain the actual situation to grown adults or justify it to fools. You should be ashamed of yourself for not being able to feel or see compassion. It makes you blind. It makes YOU the problem.
I didn’t at all, FOR ONE SECOND think that posting photos of Ruby & Junior hugging John would cause such an alarm? However, i’m concentrating on the positive responses, because unlike the weird 10 percent…I’m not an idiot.
So what I’ll say is that I am thoroughly grateful to all of you who stuck up for Wunna Land, voiced your opinion and showed the kids some love. They deserved it. ALL of you! It means a lot. (Kate you were awesome.) The support is always wonderful. That 80 percent of you ARE THE PERCENT that make a difference.