Sunday, June 14, 2015

Angus

Angus, the boy who loved food


Once upon a time, dear Laurel, in the beautiful but crowded city of Glasgow, Scotland, lived a Dad, a Mum and their eight children.  Their family name was McKinnon, but by the late 1800’s there were so many McKinnons in Scotland that they were referred to as the Old and Young McKinnons.  Eventually, the family name became Young and there was no way to change it back after the computers took over.

But that is another story.

Back to the Young Family – and their eight children.  They lived in Glasgow, a city known for its rain and clouds -and a band that Abuela used to like, called the Bay City Rollers.  I keep getting distracted. 

The Youngs had eight kids and lived in a cramped apartment, next to the MacFarlans and MacFies who also had a lot of children.  They played in the streets with sticks and balls, and the kids knew who their friends were; the kids knew who their enemies were.  The apartments were on a street of four-storey tenement blocks, which were very high and very poor at the same time.  Pa Young actually helped build apartments just like them, as he was very gifted at laying concrete brick and worked alongside friends.   

On  some days, in just the right light, the clouds would separate and the Young children would stand on the balcony and look into the distance, where the green hills were spotted with white purple heather and sheep feeding in flocks.   The Young children asked their parents if it would be possible if they might one day visit the hills and touch a sheep, but Pa and Ma would not make promises they could not keep.

With eight children, there was plenty of hunger but not a lot of food.   Ma used to take in other people’s laundry, and wash it by hand for extra money when things were very bad.  Pa would always find out she was doing this and hang his head, ashamed that he could not make enough money to support his family.  He finally told her: “Margaret, do not exhaust yourself! You have eight children, ranging from eighteen to five years old!”  Pa would shake his head and look at the children, who would pretend not to hear the conversation. 

“I wish I could say that I can keep up,” Ma would say, wringing her hands.  “The children need to eat.  I wish I could say I gave birth to children who didn’t like food, but they all love it so.”  

“And the youngest of all our children loves it the most,” Pa said, looking over at Angus, a mass of curls, freckles and short pants.

It was true.  The Young children loved food and ate anything that was available to eat.  Alex, George and Michael were the fastest of the eaters, devouring their food and then watching their siblings eat.  Since Angus was the youngest of the Youngs, his mother always took pity on him and tried not to deprive him of any morsel.  Many times, he ate the fatty portions of meat, or the gristled part of the steak, only because he was the last plate served. 

“One day,” Angus thought to himself, “I will eat to my heart’s content!” 

The dreams of food followed him to school, and he tried to concentrate on his studies, but never could. 

When Angus was eight, Pa Young made an announcement to the family: they were moving to Australia.

“I have an opportunity to work there,” he said.  The Young children watched him, doubtful that the move could be good.

“Do I have to move?” Alex, the eldest, asked him.  “I’ll be eighteen in a few weeks.”

Ma Young gasped and clutched her hand to her chest.  “My son!” she cried.  Pa rose to his feet and walked back and forth on the worn carpet. 

“You want to stay here?” Pa asked Alex as the other Young children watched.  “Go ahead.  Good bloody luck!”

It was a painful move, and Alex did indeed stay in Scotland.  It took Ma five hours to stop crying on the plane, and the only reason she did was that she went to sleep.  Angus sat next to her and watched as she faded off, tears streaming down her cheeks at the thought of leaving her son behind.  Once he was sure Ma was asleep, Angus took the uneaten food from her tray and ate it.  He was sure Ma would not notice.

Lauren, so many things happen for a reason, and I am sure that Alex was very pleased that he stayed behind in Glasgow, even though his family was half a world away.  He eventually moved to London to start his own rock and roll band, one he called Grapefruit.  Believe it or not, they were fabulous and wildly successful.  Almost as talented as those Bay City Rollers that Abuela told you about earlier.

Alex made enough money to send his parents some,  and they were so delighted that they split it seven ways and gave it to the children.  Angus, who by that time was fifteen years old, took his share of the money and bought an old guitar, a Gibson with devil horns on it.  When he brought it home, Ma forbade him to bring it into the house and warned him not to start a rock band like his brother. 

So, Angus put that guitar down and studied hard to become a chef because he liked food so much.

Wait a second… that’s not true.  Angus brought the guitar inside and learned to play and became a band leader, just like his brother.  Only the band HE started became wildly famous, and Abuela used to listen to their music, too.  Alright, I’ll be honest.  Sometimes I still listen to their music – it’s a little wild, but what can you expect from the youngest of eight children who had to fight for their food?

I guess I can say that Angus still loves food – and he doesn’t drink alcohol, which surprises people.  He’s actually still in that band - and wears his school uniform when he is on stage.  Don’t believe me?  Ask your parents.

I love you, granddaughter.  Remember that the baby of the family always carries such special talent.  Let your light shine!

Angus Young of AC/DC
Public Domain Image