Belfast Telegraph

Frances Burscough

My Father’s Day gift that ended all others 

Happy Father’s Day weekend to all the dads out there; I hope you’re all being spoilt rotten by your adoring kids! I’m finally back in Belfast after having spent most of the year so far looking after my 85-year-old dad in England, so I won’t be seeing him this weekend. However, there are seven other offspring to take over where I left off, so he’s in good hands. When I told dad I’d be away for Father’s Day he said: “Well, every day is Father’s Day when you’ve got eight kids caring for you!” Bless him.

Frances Burscough

Notes from my best selling goggle book 

I'm thinking of writing a book. It will be based on actual conversations with my dad Frank over the last year while I've looking after him at the old family home. Just to remind you about Francis Burscough the First; he's an 84-year-old retired dentist. He's a widower (mum died 10 years ago), he's got a bad back and two replacement hips, plus a heart by-pass, so doing anything very active is out of the question. As a result he had to give up two of his favourite activities - playing golf and hill walking - a long time ago. His other favourite activity, drinking whisky, was banned by the doctor because of all the medications he's on. He no longer drives, because he kept forgetting where he'd parked the car and then came home on the bus. As for his memory, well it's getting noticeably shorter every passing day. He's also partly deaf too now, which means that socialising is also a bit of a problem. He does have hearing aids, but he's selective about when he wears them. For example he'll happily put them on when family members come round to visit so he can hear them, but he always "forgets" to put them in when he goes to Mass so he doesn't have to listen to the sermon.

Frances Burscough

A precious memory I will always cherish 

We had a party recently in Preston to celebrate 50 years since the Burscoughs moved into the family homestead on Black Bull Lane. At one stage, 10 of us had lived there simultaneously — mum, dad, John, Louise, Chris, Jim, Me, Marie, Rachel and Lucy — but now it’s just dad (who’s suffering from Alzheimers) and whoever is staying there to look after him. We decided to make it a fancy dress party, and everyone wore something to represent one of the eras we had lived through in those 50 years. I decided to honour a very special era from my childhood. I will call it the Year of the Dove...

It's a real crime how much drama I watch 

Not that I'm a couch-potato or anything, but I've noticed that in the first six weeks of the year there are often so many TV dramas appearing that you could stay up til midnight every night catching up on 'catch-up'. Fortunately with a little bit of jiggery-pokery with the red button on the remote control, the invaluable 'plus one' channels, iPlayer, More4 and Sky Plus it is possible to co-ordinate your recordings so that you have enough time to spread them out over the entire week and to make a cup of cocoa between episodes.

Frances Burscough

US Presidential election: Why I'm rooting for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday 

I'm no expert at American politics. In fact (to use the the state-side vernacular) I know diddly squat about it and the little bit I do know don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. However it is pretty clear for all to see that the Republican candidate is a bewilderingly inarticulate, outrageously offensive, rabble-rousing, hate-mongering, misogynistic megalomaniac who could single-handedly make the United States into a laughing stock and the world a much more dangerous place to live in if he's handed the keys to the White House.

Frances Burscough

Dad's garden calls me for harvest home 

I'm just back from another trip to England to look after my dad, and I could not have picked a better time to be there. Early Autumn,my favourite time of the year. Dad still lives in the home where I grew up - a big, imposing, red brick detached house at the top of a hill on a busy road in Preston, Lancashire. From the outside it looks like a Catholic Parish Hall, mainly because of the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus standing boldly in the front window, arms outstretched as though personally welcoming anyone who walks up the long driveway and encouraging passers-by to pop in and worship.

Frances Burscough

Making life easier for our elderly relatives 

I've been in England all this week, looking after my dad, who's 83 and slowly succumbing to old age. Or, as he puts it, he's "losing his marbles". We first noticed something was up a few years ago when he went into town in the car but then came back on the bus. He'd forgotten where he had parked the car and so he just came home without it. My sister and I spent the rest of that day driving through Preston looking for it, imagining an astronomical parking fee or, even worse, a clamp. Eventually we found it in a church car park and the keys were still in the ignition.

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