Sunday, 6 March 2016

Mother's Day

In the midst of the first wave HIV epidemic we created a home for people living with, battered by and otherwise fucked by that virus.

One of them was Anna. She was married to a Ugandan diplomat but fled that marriage for reasons you may imagine.

She came to live with us in Bethnal Green and filled the house with stinking cheese and a vegetable so noxious my memory has erased its name.

For months she talked about returning to Uganda to claim her daughter and bring her to live with us. We, white gay and lesbian folks, would pat her on the head and say "Yes dear, Of course you will."  We thought that would make her feel better.

One day, and I still have no idea how, she caught a plane to Uganda. Three weeks later we received an airmail letter (for those of you reading this in the digital age - airmail letters are light blue, terribly thin and have stamps stuck on them) telling us which plane we should meet at Heathrow.

A desperately sick Anna emerged from the plane clutching a daughter. Anna was admitted to hospital within 24 hours and we were left with the daughter. She was six years old, flooded the bathroom, spoke no English and, shall we say, challenged our household.

We rose to the challenge, got her into school and somehow persuaded the "authorities" that our home was a safe home for a child.

After a while Anna became well enough to leave hospital and come home. In due course the "authorities" found her a flat in south London and she went there to live with her daughter until she died. She died on the day of Derek Jarman's funeral. I got drunk and was arrested outside Parliament later that night and charged with causing a riot after the House of Commons rejected an equal age of consent. (Not a day to forget.)

The picture you see is her daughter, Claudia, holding her daughter. Claudia, 30,  is now living a successful and happy life in London bringing up her daughter.

The picture you see represents the thing I have done in my life that I am most proud of.

So far.

Happy Mother's Day.