Kerry Hudson (2024) Newborn Running away, Breaking from the past, Building a new family.

Kerry Hudson makes the personal universal. She’s forty and having a baby in a maternity hospital in Prague, while the country, indeed the world has shut down due to the Covid 19 virus. She has a section and a wee boy who is perfect in every way. Her partner, Peter is waiting for her and they take their baby back to their rented apartment in the city centre. End of story.

That’s the newborn part. Kerry Hudson doesn’t usually do happy endings. Which I appreciate. Nothing spoils my day more than some middle-class turnip wandering off and living a Mills and Boon, happy-ever-after ending.

There’s also the sudden Russian invasion of Ukraine. And a Czech response that shames Britain.  Kerry also offers her home to a refugee. Well, refugees, if you include a cat and dog.   

She was worried that although she’s mastered the C-section shuffle, the Slovak language remains beyond her. Baby Sammy and her are healthy enough candidates for early discharge, but she’ll accidentally ‘fuck it all up’.  

Despite being an award-winning writer, her carefully constructed world will unravel. All the carefully propped up ladders in her life will give way. She’ll be found out. Her fall will be unbroken. There will be no more Little House on the Prairie kind of life, or move inside the bright primary colours of Sesame Street, she watched on the telly as a kid. Reality will be what she knew and come to expect. She is reminded of this by a well-wishing fan and acquaintance from her early life in Torry, Aberdeen. (I’ve been to a few of the pubs near the Harbour).

She’s in her rented flat, holding a baby that gives her life purpose and joy, holding photos from her past. Her mother was beautiful, but not a mother. She’d leave Kerry as a package behind any door with whoever was available for days at a time. Her father was double her mum’s age, but not a father. An alcoholic, needy soul, with mental-health issues.

Philip Larkin nails it in This Be the Verse:

They fuck you up your mum and dad.

‘Your parents they fuck you up,

“They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.”

Kerry Hudson’s personality, her personal reality of rape, assault and abuse, are captured in those photos. And in a story her older cousin reminds her, when like so many other working-class babies, her mother was cleaning her in the kitchen sink.

Your mum was washing you in the sink while talking. You started crying, maybe with getting soap in your eyes. She issued a parade ground-type        BE QUIET! And you stopped crying. I was struck by your expression. I thought – This little child is AWARE.’

This reminds me of the orphaned children of Romania after the execution of the Ceaușescus. Wee babies who didn’t bother crying. Self-aware enough to know if they cried nobody would come to comfort them.

Kerry Hudson would not let her own fucked-up past fuck up Sammy’s future. Post-natal depression, the baby blues, sleeps deprivation. A potent enough cocktail to destroy any relationship. Peter was in the firing line. Kerry was in the firing line too. Too exhausted to care. We know where this is going…Shit a happy ending of sorts. At least it’s not Byres-fucking-Road. Read on.