Mum's not an easy word for comic Janey

JANEY Godley could have been forgiven if she'd decided to stay mum on the subject of motherhood.

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Janey Godley with comic Mark Nelson and his baby girl Isla
Janey Godley with comic Mark Nelson and his baby girl Isla

After all, in her own admission the lady admits to being 'a totally rubbish mother'.

However, the Calton-born comedian could never be accused of not telling it how is.

Janey's autobiography was a stark revelation of abuse, gun running and familial disputes. So she's not about to operate self-restraint when alking about bringing up baby.

Today, she's in Glasgow's Oran Mor to talk about her upcoming comedy show in which mums and babies are openly invited to the gig.

And it's a perfect opportunity to talk about her less-than-perfect parenting skills.

Although when she shared a few moments with fellow comedian Mark Nelson, who is also appearing on the bill with Janey, and his baby Isa, she did reveal her parenting skills.

The comedian, who now lives in Glasgow's West End, offers up a wry smile as she admits the concept of earth mother was alien to her.

Janey was 25 when her daughter was born.

"I had been married five years," she recalls.

"I hadn't really wanted a baby up until that point. And I didn't think I could cope. At school, I got the class hamster for the weekend and it died.

"But I came off the pill and it happened."

Janey didn't have a great pregnancy. She went into a coma twice and almost died.

"I never smoked, drank or took drugs. So why was it difficult?

"It could have been the abuse I'd suffered as a teenager, it could have been the fear of becoming a mother.

"Maybe I just wasn't ready. And the thought of the hamster kept haunting me. How could I keep a wee human alive? What if I banged her wee heid on a door? What if I let her head flop."

When Ashley was born, Janey's fears increased.

"I came to realise babies are amazing. They won't eat broccoli - but they'll try and drink bleach. If there's a corner on a table they'll try and crack their head on it.

"If there's a wild animal around they'll try and put their head in its mouth. And if there's an open window they'll try and take notes out of your purse and throw them out of it. Or themselves.

"It's like trying to live constantly with a dare devil. You know, Ashley once opened a tumble dryer door, lifted her jumper and put her belly against it. She was Evel Knievel in a frock.

"She was also a champion heid-jammer; in between cupboards, railings, anything. And being a Highlander, she has quite a big heid."

Janey wasn't a natural mum, but being a pub landlady, she had lots of help.

"I was lucky in that Ashley always had about nineteen babysitters. If I wanted to go somewhere there would always be one of the boys in the pub who would take her.

Janey adds, smiling: "Ashley was effectively brought up in a commune in the Calton."

These days these words make for a clarion call to social services. But 30 years ago it was different. There was unconditional trust in friends.

Well, almost unconditional.

"If she were in the pub and a drunk man spoke to her - and of course drunk guys are often affectionate to babies - we taught her to say 'You can speak to me - but you're not allowed to pick me up'.

"And Ashley grew up having great conversations with strangers."

Ashley, who's now a 27 year-old stand-up comedian and writer, was also looked after by her dad.

"He was ahead of his time in that he wanted to spend time with his daughter. Some blokes in the pub would say 'Why does he have the baby?' And I'd say 'Because he fathered it. You don't babysit your own kid, you raise them'.

"And he was a great dad. He loved spending time with Ashley.

"What happened then was the women in the pub would quiz me as to why I was 'letting' my husband look after the baby.

"But I don't think I could have had a kid and stayed in the house. That would have made me insane. I had Ashley on the Saturday and was back behind the bar on the Monday.

"We lived in the flat above the pub and when I was working my husband (whom she won't name) took her."

Janey adds, grinning: "To be honest, I was the one who banged her head off the door and nearly dropped her in the bath. I was never stuck in with the wean. Ever.

Now, mums and their babies are being invited along to Janey's Comedy Festival gig.

"I think it's a very Celtic idea. It used to be that mammys would get together with their pals , the kids sitting on their mother's knees outside the tenements.

"Now, here's a chance for mums to bring the weans and relax. And if there are a few screams in the audience we'll be able to live with that."

Now that Ashley is grown up, does Janey feel she's finally grow into Ma Walton?

"Naw!" she says laughing.

"But we're great pals. She takes the mickey out of me something rotten.

"For example, I'll moan when she's out late at night, on her own, and say 'Who'll protect you when your pulled up a close?' And she'll say 'Get a grip. I'm six feet tall with the right amount of body weight and I'm from Heilan stock. Who's going to attack me?'

"And I think 'You're right enough'."

Families

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