Decamot of the month

30 Sep 2020-A Mother’s Love

Decamot inspired by the following items: Anglepoise lamp, East Coast, splattered egg, Patrick, air conditioning unit, local gym, Web, alarm system, cowboys, crossword

Patrick was not his birth name. That was given to him by nurses at Epsom District Hospital when he was handed in by a kindly police officer who had found him in a Sainsbury’s carrier bag in the ladies loo at her local gym on Friday 17th March 1995. His name had been Staff Nurse Colleen McCafferty’s idea, it being St Patrick’s Day. The entire maternity unit fell in love with the little bundle of joy and could not imagine what had possessed the mother to abandon him.

DI Shirley Wilson, the police officer who found the baby, led local attempts to find the baby’s mother who must have given birth to her 6lb son only hours before. As she explained on local TV, she thought at first the squeaky noise she heard as she dressed, was coming from the air conditioning unit or even the alarm system and she very nearly didn’t investigate the adjoining cubicle.

Patrick had been wrapped in a fluffy white bath towel which bore the logo of the Royal Automobile Club at Woodcote Park which overlooks Epsom Downs and was only a 10 minute drive away. Set in 350 acres of beautiful Downs countryside, it is one of the world’s foremost private members clubs offering two 18 hole golf courses, four squash courts, a modern gym, restaurant, bars and five star accommodation.

It was one of the first places DI Wilson went in search of clues.

She was given exclusive use of the library; its old leather bound volumes, Christmas compilations of Times crossword puzzles, chandeliers and anglepoise lamps all lending a surreal atmosphere to her methodical interrogation of the staff on duty that day. She felt like Hercule Poirot at the denouement of an Agatha Christie novel.

It was a far cry from the interview room at Epsom Police Station in Church Street with its well-worn Formica table tops and scruffy noticeboards. As she looked over the golf course to the downs beyond, she couldn’t help thinking what mental state Patrick’s mother must have been in to do what she had done. And what about the father? Did he even know he had a son? Or was it his idea to rid himself of the problem?

Sadly, nobody came forward. After another month of appeals there was little else the local constabulary could do so Baby Patrick was placed in the care of the local authorities. He was eventually adopted by Mary and Raymond Kent, a moderately successful theatrical couple in professional repertory circles, who started by fostering him with three other children, two of whom were their own.

The entire family moved to Nottingham when Raymond was appointed artistic director of The Nottingham Playhouse. Patrick Kent was five years old at the time, the youngest of the Kent brood but only by a few months. The Kent’s natural children were twin girls, Maggie and Eve, who were six at the time. Patrick’s brother Austin, who was seven, was adopted at the same time as Patrick having started life in the Kent household as a foster child.

It was almost inevitable that the four children would gravitate to the performing arts with parents whose living came from the theatre. But, as Mary and Raymond were keen to point out to their offspring, “taking acting seriously meant hard work and endless practice – a far cry from playing cowboys and Indians in the back garden.”

The Kents had always intended to sit down with their adopted boys to explain how they came to be adopted in the first place. Human rights legislation over the years had shifted emphasis on to the rights of adopted children to know the identity of their natural parents but Mary and Raymond Kent worried about how to explain that they had some information to give Austin but nothing equivalent for Patrick who was a foundling.

They agonised over when and how to address the issue fearful that adolescent boys were quite capable of inventing a web of half truths to impress their friends; worse still, Patrick’s confidence could easily take a knock just when he was showing some promise as a dancer. Finally, on first January 2006, they called all four siblings together after lunch and sat them down in their dining room to explain.

“Wow! What a story Paddy! And what a scoop for me! Is this the first time you have ever told this story in public?”

“It is indeed!” replied Paddy Kent, better known to his legion of fans around the world, as Spiderman. “I was very lucky to have been adopted by two wonderful human beings who treated us all equally. Although they were in the theatre themselves, they never pushed any of us to follow them, quite the reverse, in fact. My Dad was adamant that luck plays as much a part in success as any other factor, especially in the crazy world of show business. The only caveat he ever suggested was that you should always earn your luck by hard work at the basics i.e. learn your trade.

Getting the title role of Billy Elliot the Musical when it was created for the stage from the film was a stroke of luck but got me noticed and one thing led to another, almost like clockwork; but when Spiderman came along I was thrown into a whole new universe.”

Candy Flowers smiled across the studio at her guest and brought the live session to an end in her usual way.

“This is Candy Flowers for Heart of The Nation thanking you all for listening … social media is already in overdrive … so heartfelt thanks to the one and only Paddy Kent for sharing his secrets with us today.”

Candy reached across the desk and clasped Paddy by the hand.

“A million thanks again Paddy, that was amazing. There are not many superstars out there who would spend an hour on hospital radio”

“No problem” he replied and made his way to the exit where he had a car waiting to take him to a BBC studio to record an edition of The Graham Norton Show, all part of the promo for the latest Spiderman sequel.

Two days later his agent called and told him that a Samantha Booth had contacted him from Redhill District Hospital requesting an opportunity of a meeting as she thought she had information that fitted his story from the Candy Flowers Show on National Hospital Radio which she had heard whilst at work.

A week later, Paddy and Samantha sat opposite each other in a side room at the Prince Akatori Hotel, a discrete Japanese owned boutique Hotel near Marble Arch. Samantha was clearly overawed by her surroundings. It was the first time she had been to the West End. Paddy could see she was nervous but did his best to get her to relax. An abstract picture on the wall featuring yellow acrylic paint entitled ‘Calm Day’ gave him an opportunity

“I think a better title might be Splattered Egg, don’t you Samantha or do you prefer Sam?” he said with a smile.

“Everyone calls me Sammy” she said relaxing “And thanks for seeing me, you must get thousands of fans pestering you all the time?”

“It certainly goes with the territory” he said laughing “But we couldn’t make movies at all if it weren’t for the fans. So tell me about Epsom District Hospital where I was born”

“Where to start” said Sammy hesitating.

“Start from the beginning has always been my motto although plenty of directors prefer to work backwards I have to say” said Paddy, laughing again

“Well, here goes” she replied “I believe it was my mother who gave you your name” she announced in a confident tone. “She was Colleen McCafferty then but changed to Booth when she married my Dad a couple of years after naming you. I came along shortly after that and they had two more kids so now there are three of us. I followed Mum into nursing, but my brother and sister are at university, one is studying medicine, the other is hoping to become a lawyer.”

“Does your Mum know you are here Sammy?”

“Sadly, Mum passed away last year with the big C, but Dad knows I’m here and would be happy to verify what I am about to tell you”

“I’m very sorry to hear about your Mum” Paddy said sympathetically “It must have been very hard on you as a family. What does your Dad do for a living?”

“He is a bus driver with London Transport” replied Sammy “He loves the job as it gives him time for his real passion which is football. He coaches a local team.”

“So please continue with your story of how your Mum came to be involved in all this”

“A month before she died she called all of us together as she wanted to “get something off her conscience” as she put it. Dad knew what was coming of course, but we weren’t even born when you were handed in to the maternity unit. Although it was a big story at the time and Mum became a local celebrity for a week, the story quickly faded from public view, with no social media in those days to fan the flames of publicity.”

“So what was on her conscience may I ask?” said Paddy quietly, noticing that Sammy was struggling to hold back a tear.

“Well, incredible as it may seem, Mum kept hold of the Sainsbury carrier bag thinking the police might want it for some reason but after two months, the case was officially closed. Two months after that she took the bag home and was hanging it in the hall cupboard when she noticed a lottery ticket inside. It was dated 13th March 1995 but due for the Saturday night event on BBC TV the following day. It was clear to her that your mother had deliberately put it in there, so she did some checking with Camelot and guess what? It had won but was listed as unclaimed”

“That’s amazing” said Paddy “So what happened next?”

“You have 180 days to claim the money so Mum used most of the time trying to find out what had happened to you, but adoption societies were very cagey in those days and she kept coming up against a bureaucratic brick wall. With time running out, she claimed the money for herself thinking that she could continue the search later. She set up a bank deposit account with Barclays and transferred the money to it. She has never touched it but wanted us to know all about it if she didn’t pull through”

Now Sammy couldn’t hold back the tears. Paddy put his arm around her shoulder and waited for her to recover.

“I’m sorry Paddy” she said eventually “ I was doing so well up to that point wasn’t I? It’s just that my Mum was a very special human being.”

“She sounds just like my Mum and Dad” he concurred. “So what did you do with the money in the end?”

“Nothing at all” replied Sammy “We think Mum was keeping it for you which is why I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the Hospital Podcast”

Paddy Kent was now moved to tears himself at the selfless generosity of Sammy’s mother. It was several minutes before he could ask the obvious question

“That’s unbelievable Sammy, but how much are we talking about?”

“The last time Dad checked, the original prize money plus the interest accumulated to date had reached a little over £1 million!”

“What!” exclaimed Paddy “I couldn’t possibly accept that amount of money!”

***************************************************************************

Maria Castello sat quietly composing herself next to the confession booth at the Church of Santa Catalina in Valencia on the Spanish east coast. She leant forward resting her chin on her clasped hands. She crossed herself and whispered through the mesh which separated her from Father Pedro Callas

“Bless me father for I have sinned, but it has been some time that I sought God’s forgiveness”

Father Pedro, sensing an unusually troubled penitent, immediately sought to create a receptive atmosphere by saying .. “Bless you my child, fear not, I am hear to help you absolve yourself in the eyes of God. tell me how you have sinned.

“I gave birth to a baby boy when I was seventeen years old, but I gave him away.

“You gave him away?”

“Yes father, I wrapped him in a bath towel and left him where I knew he would be found”

“Were you married at the time?”

“No Father but I have since married the boy’s father and we have lived a Christian life ever since here in Valencia”

“Where were you when the child was conceived and born?”

“In England father. I was working as a chamber maid and my future husband worked at a laundry. We panicked when we realised what we had done but, as the Church teaches us, we did not want an abortion which would have been an even greater sin. The shame that my sinful act would bring on my family was too much to bear, so we did what we thought was the best for the child”

There was a prolonged silence as Father Pedro Callas contemplated his response.

“It was a wicked thing that you did my child, but you have suffered enough so please recite the act of contrition for me

“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, and I detest all my sins because of your just punishment, but most of all because they offend you, my God, Who are all good and deserving of my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.”

Father Pedro concluded the formal confession with

“God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself, and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins.

Through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace. And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

Martin Castello-Browne was waiting for his wife at the 10 bedroom boutique hotel they ran on the shore road overlooking the Mediterranean. They had completed their university course at Wimbledon College of Technology in 2000, a year after marrying at Marylebone Registry Office. Maria’s family were not best pleased, but they were fully reconciled when they met Martin who was clearly in love with their daughter.

Maria’s father was a prominent lawyer in Barcelona and lent them the deposit to buy the hotel which had been in a sorry state. It was now thriving, and all could see what a dynamic couple they had become. Much to Maria’s mother’s consternation, no children had arrived by 2020 although she did have ten grandchildren curtesy of her three other children.

She was fond of consoling herself with the thought that ‘God will bless them in his own good time.’

***************************************************************************

The specialist cancer wing at Epsom District Hospital was opened in June 2020 by Paddy Kent and Sammy Booth with maximum publicity. It was featured on all the main news programmes as part of Sammy and Paddy’s plan to try and flush out his natural mother should she still be alive. The Colleen McCafferty wing was financed by an initial grant of £3 million and the source of the funds was made clear. A donation from the Booth family which had been made possible by the lottery win was matched by another of equal amount by Patrick Kent.

Such was Spiderman’s worldwide popularity; the story led every news bulletin imaginable and dominated the social media space for the next two weeks. Martin and Maria Costello-Browne were relaxing at home with a glass of El Bombero 2019 when the item first appeared on Spanish television. They could not believe their ears or their eyes as they realised that Paddy Kent was in fact their own son. Breaking into floods of tears they hugged each other whilst celebrating the success of their decision.

It was a heady combination of instant intoxication and utter relief that they had done the right thing twenty five years earlier. They both resolved not to get in touch with their son whose adopted parents had been so brilliant in bringing him up. They could see nothing positive from any contact, however tempting it would be. Maria had some misgivings but decided that news of her son’s survival and success was sufficient reward.

“One small reservation Maria” said Martin gently

“Yes my love?” she replied

“You never told me about the lottery ticket”

“Well” replied Maria, tears of joy streaming down her face, “A wife is entitled to keep some secrets from her husband. And besides, I couldn’t leave it to God alone”