Twenty six years ago tomorrow, in a Bedfordshire hospital maternity ward, my second offspring made a surprise appearance. To clarify, when I say surprise I’m referring to the fact my new-born daughter Rachel was born a week early – Not my wife Karen hadn’t realised she was pregnant.
An observation I can relay with certainty as 7-8 months earlier, while walking our goldfish Harry around Luton’s Stockwood Park, Karen excitedly informed me “Gary, we’ll soon be hearing the patter of tiny feet…… I’ll be particularly surprised if it arrives a week early.”
Deeming it improbable she meant she’d made plans we were going to watch jockey Frankie Dettori run the London Marathon, I guessed at that point my betrothed was pregnant with our second child.
Preparing for our wee arrival (still Rachel, not Frankie Dettori) was a challenging time in the Strachan household. Karen, cruelly blighted by a pregnancy craving of shouting the words “Stop mentioning how bloated I look, Gary!” – A cruel affliction which sporadically still affects my spouse to this day.
Concerned for her welfare, my wife’s GP wrote Karen a prescription in a bid to negate this rare form of Tourettes. It wasn’t a medical script, moreover a sheet of A4 paper bearing the words ‘Would you please just leave home, Gary!’
Laughing off the GP’s words as a joke, to my wife’s’ ‘delight’ I remained chez Strachan in situ. Refusing to yield even when the hate mail from the General Medical Council (GMC) started – This despite a second sheet of A4 paper arriving with similar words to the first only with the word ‘leave’ replaced by the brisker alternative of ‘f*** off’.
Anyway, in early spring in 1993, Rachel arrived at a Bedfordshire hospital, after a mercifully short labour*** for her mum. Our daughter making history by becoming the first baby born in the UK to be delivered clad in lederhosen. Apart from in Austria, a hitherto unknown phenomenon in the field of obstetrics.
*** – I wanted to get home to watch ‘Trisha’ on ITV.
As her father, I’d like to think my youngest offspring’s first 26 years have been predominantly enjoyable times for the young Yorkshire lass. A time incorporating world travel, experiencing numerous adrenalin inducing activities and development of a potato crisp phobia.
The latter legacy an affliction previously unheard of in our clan – Seemingly ruling out the root cause as a defective snack phobia gene within our family’s lineage….. That being said, though, her great aunt Edna always looked uneasy when in close vicinity to pork scratchings.
As I pen these unreliable memories celebrating Rach’s twenty six summers on this mortal coil, she is currently residing in Canada. The land of the maple leaf her genial host over the previous two years, during which time she’s resided in the beautiful provinces of Alberta or British Columbia.
Her sojourn Canada-side allowing her the opportunity to experience the effect of real cold temperatures. Winter coldness as low as -30C; significantly harsher than the namby-pamby lows of -2 C which ordinarily send us Brits into a disorganised flap.
Rachel’s working break ends next month, when she plans to return to Blighty. No doubt armed to the teeth with a treasure trove of life memories, epically colourful yarns and a bunch of versatile moose recipes.
I can’t put into words how much I’ve missed Rach during the two years she’s resided across the pond. My arguments with her mum never reach the fulfilment levels of a full-bloodied verbal ruckus with my youngster offspring. This mischief making deliberately manufactured by yours truly to drawing a tetchy response from my daughter.
Behaviour that’s caused my son Jonny to rule out joining me on April’s journey south to pick up his sister from Gatwick. My boy concluding he’d rather put out a fire with his backside than spend a four hour car journey with me antagonising his jet lagged sister. Which is understandable I suppose.
As with her brother, I’m proud of how Rachel’s turned out in adulthood. Maturing into a woman of humanity, humour, brightness, bravery and independence, Karen and I haven’t done too bad a job raising our youngest.
Twenty six years ago tomorrow my little girl made her inaugural existential appearance. Along with her brother’s birthdate, it remains without doubt the greatest day of my life.