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MARY-JANE DUNCAN: My life is quite simply this ridiculous

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Does anyone know who I approach about making my life into a sitcom?

Preferably not one of those awful reality shows as I don’t want to actually be in it myself. I maintain my face remains only suitable for radio and my potty mouth only appropriate for the edited, written word. Netflix? Amazon? A show like Shitts Creek or Modern Family? I believe, in our current situation, and thanks to the past few years, we have more than enough material to run for about eight or nine seasons easily. Maybe I should investigate doing a podcast. I’ll need someone younger than me to explain how those work.

I am always exceptionally touched, and flattered, when people are kind enough to say they not only read but enjoy this column leading me to blush and talk ‘at’ them too much. I don’t adequately know how to show my gratitude and silences make me uncomfortable. It always makes me laugh, however, when they ask where I get my ideas from.

Let me explain this very plainly as it’s effortless to answer. My life is quite simply this ridiculous.

staff shortages
Mary-Jane Duncan.

I may well be married to the best man in the world. We may live with my life limiting diagnosis, and its every day consequences, but have jointly chosen to treat it as a chronic illness just to be slotted in. Together we may have the best children in the world. Some of you may disagree, which I’d expect, but to us, they are fabulous. Kind.  Funny. Considerate. Generous. Feisty. Hard working. Loving. Everything, and more, we could have hoped for as parents. Even when they’re being utter Bams, I cannot help but be a little proud of their attitude. They can’t really be blamed for landing this close to the tree they fell from can they?

No regrets

I have been fortunate to live my dream with our wee caff. We have met some amazing people, been given some fantastic opportunities and our amazing staff are like family.  As I sit in the corner writing this column, I still smile in recollection at all the brilliant times had here, even if I am tired. Tired to the point where I now spend time wondering what age do you add those rails beside the toilet to help you get up – is it 45? I feel like it’s 45.

Do I regret a moment of it? No. Imagine being fortunate enough to have helped people become teachers, social workers, forensic scientists, counsellors, dentists (to name but a few) just by supporting them through their studies. Or teaching youngsters new skills and how to have confidence in their talent and abilities. We marvel at some becoming parents, have attended weddings, share in their joy, and support them through any hard times. It really has been our absolute privilege.

This column was intended to be full of Easter antics and joy. To include chocolate induced comas, movie marathons and long beach walks with the dogs. Instead, Easter has snuck past in a haze of stour, chocolate (always chocolate) and poorly bairns.  Hardly a hallmark occasion but when did Easter become the new Christmas? Did I miss a memo?

Kitschbake cake counter getting a refurb.


Instead, school holidays were spent in a whirlwind of repairs and refurbs. Thankfully the lads were great. They tolerated my absent mindedness, indecision, and general lack of knowledge with good grace and humour. They discovered more things requiring repair as the job evolved but ploughed on allowing us to reopen for weekend trading. We might have been a bit ‘Basil Fawlty’ trying to find everything was but at least we were open!

Lads from the Good Joinery Company.

The electrician unplugged the phones and we forgot to put them back on – for two days we had blissful silence right up until I opened my emails to find an inbox full of enquiries because ‘they couldn’t get through on the phone’ oops! You’re probably all too young for this but remember when people made a lot of phone calls? To a single line that everyone in the house shared. Picking it up to answer, not knowing if it was your Dad’s boss, your best friend or that lad you fancied (it was NEVER that lad)? Sheer chaos.  But something I wouldn’t mind going back to every now and then.

Plumber Doug ‘Helmsworth’ Fulton.