Have You Put The Irish Lottery On, Mags?

My dad underwent a lengthy operation on Wednesday. For confidentially reasons, I’m not going to elaborate on the actual procedure undertaken; unless you’re prepared to buy me a pint, in which case my discretion can go bollocks.

He’s been a real trooper throughout this challenging stay, in particular with his attempts at suppressing his occasionally overbearing OCD. Apart from asking the surgeon “Can you remind my wife to put the Irish lottery on?” immediately prior to undergoing general anaesthetic, he has thus far managed this tic admirably.

Evidently, his first words to the recovery room nurse post-op were “Do you know if my wife put the Irish lottery on, love?”, but I’ll incorporate that in with his request to the surgeon pre-op as only one instance of OCD.


Yesterday, when my mum and I went to visit him he looked remarkably well. Especially when you take into account he’d undergone six hours of surgery the previous day. Not to mention the overnight angst of not knowing whether my mum had bought Wednesday night’s Irish lottery tickets.

He’s ordinarily a mellow and undemonstrative chap, but was understandably tired and a little cantankerous yesterday morning.

Witnessing his surgery stitches, I was in awe at how meticulously they’d been embroidered; it was precision needlework akin to that of The Bayeux Tapestry. It lacked the colour bequeathed by the Battle of Hastings depiction, however, there was a section of the stitching that resembled the stricken King Harold in 1066.

My dad (Malcolm) is in his 80s now, which raised the risk level of his operation, but thus far he’s dealt with his circumstances with the resolve of a significantly younger man. Admittedly, a spring chicken with an Irish lottery obsession, but the family applaud his stoicism nevertheless.

My mum (Maggie) has also exhibited great strength during the time of her husband’s illness. He has been very poorly at times and in lots of discomfort, but she has tenaciously dealt with all resultant imposters with great resolve.

Our parents have been married nearly 57 years, but that doesn’t stop Maggie still making time every day to whisper those four special words to my pater, “Malcolm, your flies open!”

They have both been superb parents, giving unconditional love, support, warmth, humour and stability to their three offspring. My brother Ian, sister Helen and I never did without anything, however we weren’t what you would call a well-off family.

It has to be said, though, finances in chez Strachan diminished dramatically when the chuffing Irish lottery started up!….. It also wasn’t helped by my dad’s indecent exposure fines for inadvertently walking around with his flies open.

Living in 1970s northern England, I was raised in an era when possessions weren’t the status extension people misguidedly believe they are today. There were no gadgets/devices to speak of in that decade. Being well off was having a dining table big enough to cater for a green baize Subbuteo pitch, along with affording a good quality glue to fix the little plastic players you regularly leant on.

Our dining table wasn’t big enough to be the venue of Subbuteo games, so we played it on the carpet. We could afford a good quality glue, though, which was lucky as playing the game on the floor brought into play an additional breakage risk. That of damaging the plastic players by kneeling on them, as well as those we ‘injured’ with an errant elbow.

I’m not scheduled to visit my dad in hospital today. My mum and family friend Jo will be Mally’s LGI Friday guests. Our Ian and Helen are on the unofficial visitation rota for tomorrow, when no doubt the first thing our pater will ask is “Do you know if your mum has put Saturday’s Irish lottery on?!”

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