Maddy has just completed her drama course. The graduation ceremony with parents and grandparent has come and gone.
The reality of jobs and income hasn’t been forgotten but the numbers don’t lie. As the last bit of rent in Glasgow is paid and the money for the mad week in Spain (with all five friends) has registered fully on card and account she feels it.
They are here for two weeks. In a shopping centre that makes Kafka’s dreams look like paradise. Brutal, grey concrete with pound shops and empty units in the lower end like decayed teeth in a shopping mall’s wide mouth.
She is the foil to Andy’s ‘Game Master’ as they entice families and shoppers with families to join in their madcap competitions and sketches next to the small café (closed) platform and its open space.
They have an inflatable ‘ring’ and welcome arch as well as real sand for their stage.
Andy is brilliant. He was a car mechanic in the East End of Glasgow before hearing the call of thespian angels. Tall, lanky and from an Indian family he is fun, protective and can reel the punters in.
The third day a young mother with a one year old and a three old comes down. Her long black hair seems more lively and voluminous than herself. Her lovely edge of the hand floral tattoo contrasts with the drawn face and tired green eyes. Her mouth never wavers upwards.
Maddy takes both away-pushing buggy and holding the other’s hand while Andy orchestrates the ordered chaos.
As they hush and freeze for the punchline (and loud bang) to happen her phone goes.
‘Ay, tonight…I can phone. I will have to get some credit on the phone. And my mum has promised to give a bit toward some bits for Natalie’s starting the Nursery.’
The finale and bow-relayed on a wee screen to the audience outside causes a small ripple of applause. Children are reunited and some parents look both relieved and happier than when they started.
Maddy listens to what Mummy says as she clears the sweat on this hot, hot day which is so un-Scottish as to be positively alien.
‘…Daddy is still away for that work for a long time, now. We can phone him later and tell him what a wee star you were,’ she says.
The young mother turns and with a thin arm and very slender wrist takes Natalie’s hand.
Maddie wonders if they will see them tomorrow or another day and heads to the Newsagent for something to drink. She passes the jewellers shop and the stall in the walkway selling mobile phone covers.