Mother’s Day

“Mum was led into the courtroom.

It was a grand room and people were sitting in the pews staring at her intently as she walked in. Some murmured things under the breath, but mum couldn’t hear what they were saying.

She was wearing her best shoes, and they were making an annoying clicking sound for every step she took.

She couldn’t see her mum, but Mum hoped she would be allowed to sit next to her.

“We have to ask you a few important questions” they had said. “It’s about your mum and her students”.

They said that it was important that Mum told the truth.

“Your mummy is in a lot of trouble Anna” they said.

Mum was getting more and more nervous. The courtroom was packed. She recognised some of the villagers from home, but most were unfamiliar, unfriendly faces.

She was ushered to the front on the courtroom before the judge. He was an old stern looking man who didn’t look up at her once.

Her new best shoes were hurting her toes and she wished she hadn’t worn them. Auntie had said not to wear them.

Mum suddenly sees her and cries out.

Her mum is standing to her right side on a make shift raised part of the courtroom, flanked by two secret police officers. Her hands are tied behind her back. Her hair is tied back in a neat bun and she’s wearing a soft grey suit. Her eyes are heavy, she looks tired but she’s smiling at Mum. “I love you” she mouths to Mum.

“Silence in the courtroom” the judge shouts, his voice echoing throughout the room.

Mum is trying to fight back her tears. They are stinging her eyes.

Her shoes are hurting her toes.

“No crying” they had said. “The judge doesn’t like crying”.

Mum doesn’t want to get her mum into trouble. She mustn’t cry.

They ask a lot of questions. “Had she seen her mum outside of school with the students?” “Is your mum interested in Politics?” “Is your mum an anti-communist?”

Mum answered no to of their questions. She kept her eyes firmly on her Mum who was smiling back at her throughout. “Keep looking at me” mum whispered.

She looks tired, mum thought. She wished she could hug her and Mum would tell all would be okay and that they could finally go home…”

My mum Anna was put on the stand to testify against my Granny Helena when she was six years old. This was post war Poland and anyone who was deemed “anti-communist” or “anti-establishment” was punished heavily.

Helena was a teacher and had allowed her 17 year old students to use her classroom to meet and discuss politics.

A right we take for granted.

Helena was a WW2 Hero and it was seen as an embarrassment that she had allowed these boys to foster anti communistic ideas and a “free” Poland. As such, the government would have to set an example…

Helena was sentenced to prison for 8 years and the boys were sentenced to 4-12 years.

This year on Mother’s Day I feel incredibly proud and humbled to celebrate two extraordinary and brave women – my mum Anna and grandmother Helena. ❤️

Love, Jess

It takes a Village

This is a still from a film Brooks worked on recently called Cold Hands.

It’s written and directed by Mac Carr, shot in beautiful Falmouth, Cornwall. 

Brooks’ portrayal in the film really is stunning, and I hope you get a chance to see it. I’m a little biased, of course, but it really is a fantastic film. 

Being cast in films and TV projects means that sometimes he has to be away filming for lengths of time – either in the UK or abroad.

His jobs are often fun, sometimes crazy and intense, at times weird and unexpected. 

He can tell you all about that time he arrived in the Ukraine on a grey winter’s day to film an advert and he was picked up at the airport by a proper James Bond caricature villain. 

This man was huge. A good 2 meters and 2m wide. (Okay. No. But he was huge) 

He was standing in the arrivals foyer with a note that said Brooks in large letters. Brooks walked up to him and said cheerfully that he was Brooks. The man didn’t respond, but rather looked at him in complete silence. Then he simply gestured for Brooks to start walking. 

The James Bond villain walked him, in silence, to the car park where he gestured for Brooks to get in the back of a huge black Mercedes (- villain). 

There was a bullet proofed window between him and the driver (- villain) and the man drove him, in silence, all the way to the centre of the town to a manicure salon (er… – villain?) and then later the hotel.  (- villain).  Again, all in silence. 

Brooks rang me so many times that night. To make sure the kids and I were okay of course. 

Although we’re obviously overjoyed when he gets a job, because it’s his passion in life and he works so hard, it’s tough when he goes away, not only from a logistical point of view. 

Anyone with kids will tell you that it’s not an easy feat to look after kids on your own and three of them? 

Well, let me tell you – it’s a completely different ball game altogether. 

It’s the Big League people. 

This house runs a military camp. 

Everything is ready and set out the night before. 

The kids know the drill. When daddy is away, they must help mummy more at home.  When daddy is away, mummy turns into a drill sergeant. 

The food for the week is prepped and ready. The school bags are ready for school, their water bottles, packed lunches done, books, after school and club stuff sorted, tennis lessons, guitar and piano lessons, Taekwondo, football and swimming and Lord knows what else – all of it has to be ready and organised.  Mine and the kids’ clothes are ready and laid out ready for the week. We arrange play dates, we head to the library and go to the park after school.

Sounds fun yes, but it’s exhausting. 

If you’re on your own you don’t really get a break either. My kids have never been great sleepers and so they tend to be up a few times every night. 

I also sometimes get a bit scared. It’s a big house and I’m forever grateful for my dog’s presence – just in case. 

Gorgeous Friends

It also reminds me how lucky I am to have the best of friends.  My friends will offer to give the kids a ride to and back from school, have them over for play dates – you name it. 

Especially if you’re an immigrant like myself and my family are miles and miles away. My in laws are incredibly supportive as well, and will always help when Brooks is away. 

There’s a saying isn’t there. It takes a village and never was a truer word spoken.