25. It’s not unusual, how could it be its me


Thomas John Woodward and the Facehugger from the Alien sci-fi horror franchise would on the face of it have absolutely nothing in common. One has entertained millions and sold over one hundred million records while the other has scared the willies out of millions and made many millions more at the box office. Little was I to know that I would be the missing link to bring them together.

The Cooking Pot centre is a day centre situated in north London that has been serving its community for over thirty years. As part of Black History month they were focussing on health issues and they had asked for a volunteer to come and deliver a talk on prostate cancer to their members. It was not too far to get to and I thought that it would be worthwhile, so I asked to deliver the presentation.

Due to transport issues I got there with fifteen minutes to spare which had me worried initially as I hate being late and I would need a little time to set up my presentation equipment. I signed in when I arrived and was introduced to the centre manager, Imram. I need not have worried about the time that I got there as they asked me to delay the start as they were expecting more members. While I was waiting for the others to arrive, I joined the members that were already seated for lunch.

There were about eight members seated eating their lunches in various stages of completion with slightly more members sitting around the room. I sat with Imram and exchanged small talk about the centre. I would estimate the whole centre took up the space of a third of a five aside football pitch and the main room which we were in was about forty feet square. The kitchen and seating area took up about a third of the room space and the seating was neatly arranged around the walls. The chairs  were the deceptively heavy, high backed, blue vinyl covered chairs with the brown wooden arms that you see in hospitals by the bed for guests.

There were about six members in the room in the kitchen area, three men and three women. The ages ranged from late forties to the oldest person that I would speak to later, ‘boss mum’, who was eighty six years old. All but one of the members were black. We established that I could not use the presentation equipment that they had so I was just going to freestyle from my presentation script. We were now forty five minutes over the agreed start time and only an additional two members had turned up. In total there were now eight men and twelve women.

I introduced myself and began my talk. One middle aged woman to my left was already asleep. One of the women to my right was still having a full blown and loud conversation to the woman next to her. I decided I was just going to carry on and figured eventually she would stop talking long enough to realise that I had started.

She didn’t.

Boss mum who was sitting to my right shouted over to her to ‘hush’ as I was speaking. The talking woman stopped instantly her bottom lip quivered, and her face turned to thunder. Boss mum had spoken and she silently acknowledged it. I continued to talk and within two minutes the talking woman was fast asleep. Not a gentle sleep but one that was so deep she would be lucky not to get the last rights and bagged up.

I was getting to the half way stage of my talk and I now had the grand total of three members fast asleep. I tried not to take it personally and carried on as you do. The woman that was on the business end of the talking woman told me and the room her story. Her husband was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and he came over from the Caribbean for treatment. He got treatment and he was in remission and lived for another sixteen years. He died on news year day of last year but she was very grateful of the additional years.

I thanked her for her story carried on talking and noticed another female member had nodded off. The guys had at least asked a few questions, which I had answered and continued talking. One of the ladies got up and slowly headed towards the door which was about twenty five yards away to my left. As she crossed the centre of the room she suddenly changed direction and came straight towards me instead.

The facehugger in the Alien films is a parasitoid; its only purpose is to make contact with the host’s mouth for the implantation process by gripping its legs around the victim’s head and wrapping its tail around the host’s neck. Joel had learnt that when pops enacted his version he could not free his head from the playful grip. His head was perfectly small enough to accommodate a decent hold. Eventually he would get all girly on me and shout for one of the girls to come and free him. Then it would be a toss up between him jumping up and down and telling me “more, more” or him loudly running a mile.

Quote: Thomas John Woodward or to use his more famous stage name – Sir Tom Jones recently proved he’s still a Sex Bomb at 74 when the stage was filled with knickers as he returned to perform in Wales for the first time in nearly a decade. The Welsh crooner played his first gig on the Green Green Grass of Home for nine years at Chepstow Racecourse, where hoards of screaming women hurled their underwear at him. One of the 10,000 fans at the outdoor concert told the Daily Mirror: “We throw the pants to show we still think he’s a sex bomb in his seventies.”

The woman continued her slow walk towards me, like slow motion but in real time. With her moving  directly in front of me I was still talking but moving my head either side of her impending figure. I wondered when she was going to veer off towards the door.

Yeah, keep wondering.

She eventually reached out for my right hand and took it. Maybe she was just going and wanted to shake it, to thank me for coming. Fair enough, that would be a nice gesture. Albeit slap in the middle of my presentation.

As we know, why on earth would I get the simple option.

She didn’t let go of my hand. In fact, she gripped it like someone was going to take the last chicken bone off her plate and slowly tugged on it.

I am still giving my presentation through all of this.

I then thought she wanted to whisper something in my ear. Then, as it does in Ellisville, it slowly dawned on me.

She was pulling me in for the kiss. A big wet geriatric kiss. Is there a better sort?

I managed to get a well rehearsed facehugger hold on my elderly groupie with about a foot to spare. I had Joel to thank for the perfection of my swift art.

Boss mum shouted out ”Gwen stop that”.

Really? Everybody including myself is so calm.

I shot a look over to Imran. He shot back a look of terror and embarrassment neatly blended together. To be fair he and his assistant moved in very swiftly like formula one pit stop crew to save me.

Tom Jones gets the adoring fans, millions in the bank and the swooning. I get someone’s great grandmother moving in sloth like for a wet one. I had not dropped a word in my presentation. If we never had anything else in common for those few moments we were both unshakable professionals.

While Imram and his assistant guided back a giggling Gwen to her chair I finished off my presentation. One of the members woke up and promptly walked out. The others thanked me for coming and the elderly elephant in the room called Gwen was never mentioned. I was a seasoned professional now. Talking mum’s chair was empty so I had thankfully not created another more tragic precedent. Gwen was still giddily smiling away in her chair. As long as it wasn’t ‘what could have been’ all good then.

Is was not until later I would question why no-one was shocked. All part of the territory, I guess.

I started to give out the leaflets that I had with me. The woman next to boss mum said that this was boss mum’s first day back since her son passed. I said sorry but there was a lot more to the story.

Boss mum said that she had buried her husband, brother and her son all to prostate cancer. She buried her son just over a week ago. He had spent a lot of time looking after her that he forgot to look after himself. She was crying under her glasses, the tears collecting in one of the bottom rims. She said that she was so happy and glad that I had come today because she did not know what to say to her grandchildren and great grandchildren but now she did.

I stood speechless for a moment trying to take in what I had given her. It was a very humble moment.

I talk to help and this was ample reward.

She then loudly announced she needed to go for a pee and off she went.

That will break the moment then.

I packed up and said my goodbyes. As I passed the open disabled toilet door, Imram was being quizzed by boss mum as she was asking him to have a look at the colour of her pee.

Another job well done.

Off to the green, green, grass of home.






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