My usual Facebook fodder is football and politics'Don’t get me wrong. I work, play with my girls, watch football, have the occasional glass of wine. I posted a few of them on Facebook, with a tearful commentary.That was a really strange thing for me to do — to open myself up so completely to my social media friends. My girlfriend of 17 years has often told me that I’m a closed, private person.On one of my many football-related visits to our local hospital’s A&E department over the next few years, a doctor asked me if I was related to Nurse Connolly.I said ‘Yes’ and what he said next plumped me up with pride.We spent nearly every minute of every day together before I started school.Then, she took a job as a care assistant at the hospital next door to my primary school and adjusted her shifts so she could collect me each day.He may have lived in our house, but only really as an occasionally violent lodger.
Mum was not just my only line of defence against my violent dad, my protector if you will, she also performed both parental roles in my upbringing. The loss of such a pivotal figure in your life is surely bound to make things come undone.
‘She’s better, cleverer and more clued up than most of the doctors here — she would have been a great doctor herself.’These were some of the happiest days of her life, though the shadow of her husband’s malevolence could sometimes obscured her joy; he was jealous and scornful of her career.
Though I must have been aware that Mum didn’t much like my father, she didn’t talk about it until they retired to Ireland in the late Eighties.
On this occasion, at our home in South London, I remember running up to the top of the stairs in my rage at some insignificant slight. Paul with his twin daughters Leila (left) and Caitlin (right).
Mum appeared at the bottom of the stairs smiling and put her arms out, inviting a swift rapprochement. But instead of being hurt by my outburst, Mum softened her demeanour still further, extended her arms once again and said: ‘Come on, lovie, come down and give me a cuddle.’Even now, more than 40 years later, I can still feel that overwhelming urge to race down the stairs into her arms. He said: 'At my lowest ebb, I sometimes feel as though I’ve been cut adrift, as if I’m no longer tethered to the world, that even having a lovely girlfriend and twin daughters can’t compensate for the absence of the one person in the world who loved me unconditionally'What isn’t lost is the feeling of regret, of wishing I’d run down the stairs to be held by her when she asked me to.