Festive Motherisms Feat. Nora’s Beauty Regime, Merkins, Real Housewives of New York, and Andy Warhol’s Tote Bag…


It’s November and, after posting something about myself looking like a gimp on Twitter, I had to explain to my mother what a gimp is.

Mum: So, what’s the difference between gimp and Grinch? People calling in on the radio and saying, “I don’t mean to be a Grinch but…” What is this Grinch?

Me: It’s like a modern day Scrooge. Usually, but not always, very different to a gimp.


We’ve just eaten a whole block of stilton and crackers. Adverts for food come on…

Mum: All these adverts telling you to stuff your face while there’s an obesity crisis. It makes me want to make a bowl of gruel and eat it in a ditch!

Me: That block of cheese had nothing to do with it?

Mum: No!


Mum has bought my mother-in-law (who hopefully won’t read this) a book about Covent Garden brothels in the 17th century. I’m having a quick read to see if it’s too inappropriate. (It is. But it’s going anyway.)

Mum: The funniest ones are about merkins.

Me: Who’s “merkins”?

Mum: No, darling, merkins are a fake pubic wig.



The internet gifts us with a surprise advert about the world being run by a paedophile ring.

Me: The world is not only run by lizards, but paedophile lizards…

Mum: If there is anything to get the one eyed ignorant is “pedo”. “PEDO!” off they go grabbing their cutlasses and hacking off anything with a limb.


 We’re driving through one of the local towns in late November…

Me: Ah, I think it’s rather sweet everyone getting their decorations up.

Mum: Me too.

I sit there quietly surprised. Even mother has nothing cynical to say about the innocent display of hope and cheer this year.


The adverts…

Mum: Now, what is it this time: incontinence pads, funerals or food?

Me: Loans.

Mum: Of course!


I have left some plants with my mother while I move to a tiny rock in the sea for the winter. Unfortunately, due to lockdown this is delayed a month. I go to check on the status of one of the plants.

Me: Orange tree’s feeling very dry. Need to water it every couple of days.

Mum (wistfully): I’m an Aquarian; I tend to over water.

Me: Well…you’re not. You need to water this, please.


Once in a while, you are a sucker for click bait. We’re reading about 102 year-old Nora’s beauty regime.

Mum (impersonating Nora): “And I thought it would be nice to enjoy a slower pace of life after the rat race of Reading.”

Me: Every time I hear these stories in papers I can’t help but think of ‘Withnail’ and “Geoff Wode”…

Mum (continues reading aloud, the journalist now): If you didn’t know, you’d never guess she was 102 –she looks like she’s in her early eighties!

We’re both in hysterics

Mum: Oh! Wonderful. You can’t make it up.


Ever since I watched ‘Jaws’ I have been terrified of the shark-less waters off the coast of North Devon. Thanks to climate change, my paranoia is becoming a reality. I read about sharks off the coast of Devon…

Mum: They’re only friendly sharks, basking sharks.

Me: No, they’re blue sharks. “They rarely bite but can kill!”

Mum: Oh well, that’s alright. Let them have a couple tourists—we need some bad press down here!


Mum is giving me an induction to the “Real Housewives of various regions in the US”…

Mum: Now, you only have to watch the last 5 minutes because that’s when they have a humongous argument because they’ve mix their alcohol with their medication.

Me: Which housewives is this?

Mum (with authority): New York, it’s the best. Atlanta and New York are the best. She considers this for a second. And Orange County.


It’s another gross story of corruption in the government in the papers…

Mum: Follow the money…I’ve always said it.

Me: They don’t even bother hiding it any more it just bare faced—

Mum: Thievery.

Me: Yeah. That’s it.


As an Aquarius, mum is racking it up as a personal triumph that Dolly Parton helped fund the vaccine. We both unanimously agree she is a genius. Mum says..

“Dolly, Socrates and Oscar Wilde, always good for a quote.”


I am asking mum if she has a tote bag I can use to go shopping. She brandishes her hideous tote.

 Me: What is this?

Mum: My tote.

Me: Your Co-Op ‘bag for life’?

Mum: Andy Warhol would have had a bag like this.

Me: Probably would’ve, actually.


This was before some tosser hacked mum out of Facebook for stirring a hive of Syd Barrett fanatics and informing them that, actually, rather than a “sex god” he was deeply unwell…

Mum: Guide ropes—they make glow in the dark ones now.

Me: Yes, I know you shared it 6 times already on Facebook.

Mum: I got letters of gratitude!

Me: I hope you’re getting paid the amount of free advertising you’re giving them!


My mother doesn’t like doing anything boring anymore which now includes: bending.

Mum: Please get that sock for me.

Me: Yes, master.


Having experienced an appalling bout of acne in my early 30s, I have utmost sympathy for the people Mum’s reading about with mask acne.

Mum: Mask acne is a new thing.

Me: Macne.

Mum: Oh, that’s good did you make that up?

Me (rather unimpressed with myself): Yeah.

Mum: Write it down.

Me: No, I think someone else will have thought of that already.

Mum: Well, I’ve read a couple of things about this and haven’t seen it.

Me (starting to believe in my new term): Don’t know how they missed it…

Mum: Too obvious, maybe.


We’re talking about how the virus is mutating. Mum is an expert…

“I know so much about this fucking virus I could draw it for you – basically, the spiky bit has changed.”


Now we’re watching Real Housewives of New Jersey, in horror.

Me: How do they find such appalling clothes?

Mum: Money.

Me and Mum (in unison): “Takes a lot of money to look that cheap.”


Mum has been to the library and been told to interact with automated systems and download an “app” by a man standing “a hundred feet away”. She is not happy about it.

“I think, frankly, people don’t observe the existing rules, these very simple rules, so now we have these dementedly complicated regulations– we’re so entangled in regulations nobody knows what they’re doing!”


Talking about the deranged Matt Hancock.

Me: Did you see that clip of him pretending to cry when he was actually laughing?

Mum: No, what was that? His grandfather’s died or something.

Me: No, this was when the vaccine was approved.

Mum: I should think he was laughing, nothing to cry about. What’s there to cry about that?

Me: Relief?

Mum: Oh, right ok. Your life.


I’m doing an online shop for mum during a gale when the phone line goes…

Me: Hello?

Mum: Hello? What happened there?

Me: Wi-Fi cut out.

Mum: I thought you’d been carried away by a cormorant.


I have no idea how we got on this subject but here it is…

Mum: Oh, I love mad rich men.

Me: Who doesn’t.

Mum: Doesn’t what?

Me: Love mad rich men.

Mum: Well, there are people that are mad north, northwest. And there are people like Jeffrey Epstein.

Me: Well I obviously don’t love Jeffrey Epstein, mum, do I?

Mum (not listening, carried away by the winds of Shakespeare): When the wind’s in the east …I can tell a hawk from a handsaw.

Mum and I (in unison): Mmmhmmm!



Merry Christmas one and all. I hope you have a cosy day wherever you are, or aren’t. And Merry Christmas to mum, who is home alone this year, I’m sure looking chic, and hopefully carrying her Co-Op tote.




Motherisms Feat. Sweet Release and Cancelling

Lockdown has been eased. It’s June, or maybe July, it doesn’t matter any more, and we’re heading to a wedding dress fitting. In the car we both get our masks out of our bags and cover our faces. Mum whispers…

“God, I feel like I’m about to rob a bank.”

It’s typical Devon weather and blowing a gale and pissing with rain. I have gone for a bracing walk on the beach regardless, I come back and manage to coax mum out of the car for a brief stroll upon the headland.

Me: It’s good to get out in the elements to remind you you’re alive.

Mum (cowering from the rain-soaked gale): Yes, the elements are all fine it’s the rain I don’t like.

Me: That’s one of the elements.

Mum: I don’t like it.

Someone’s taken off lots of letters from ‘Mole Valley Farmers’ so it’s says ‘Le Valle’ . Mum immediately adopts a French accent…

“Oh zat is wondiful!”

A two year old is pushing a doll in a pram.

Mum: Oh, look so sweet.

I turn and look.

Mum: She’ll be pushing a real one in 10 years.

Me: Mum!

Mum: She will! That’s why I never gave you anything like that. It’s like they’re training these little girls to be carers from a very young age. Give them a space rocket, or a Maserati.

I’m trying to clear up the photos and things on mum’s phone. She hasn’t quite got her head around the technical language yet (although she has recently started referring to herself as “the mother board” having heard someone in a computer shop say it)….

“Well, I’ll just remove everything I don’t want because it’s taking up my doodaas.”

Two minutes in to showing her how to delete the photos she apparently does not know how to take…

Mum: Oh enough, I want old phone.

Me: But you won’t have WhatsApp.

Mum: Don’t care.

Me: But that’s your main form of communication.

Mum: I don’t like how they track everywhere you go, I want an old one. Us old hippies—

Me: Making life difficult for everyone.

We’re watching Judge Judy to get some tips. A man has broken up with his girlfriend but has taken some of the bedding. He is being questioned as to whether he is using a mattress.

Judge Judy: And do you sleep on the mattress she paid for?

Man: It is my primary mattress.

Me: “Primary mattress!”

Mum: Oh! That’s a good one! If you need me I may be contacted on my primary mattress.

I’m doing a shop for mum, there’s some special offers…

Me: Oh, they’re doing 3 for 2 on Nivea?

Mum: No, that could last me into the next life.

Test and track and test and trace or whatever it is isn’t going very well.

“They couldn’t test shit coming off a shovel — although they’re doing much more interesting stuff at the sewage works.”

We’re watching something on TV. A man holds a baby and the baby starts shrieking. Mum sympathises with the baby…

“Yeah man, men are psychos. No really, a lot of them are. I want to marry Willy Nelson, he’s bought up thousands of acres for marijuana farms and raised all these horses… but then I wouldn’t want to live in America, so we’ll have lead separate lives.

An announcement on the radio says they are “thinking of lockdown in Leicester due to a spike in cases…”

Me: Don’t think about it, just do it.

Mum: “He who hesitates is lost.”

Mum is apparently privy to what most people have been up to during lockdown…

“You wouldn’t know it but they’re all in their hot tubs, drinking prosecco and wife swapping with their neighbor.”

Mum’s car needs a new exhaust…

“Tyres and testicles, always expensive one way or the other.”

We’re listening to a woman signing a version of ‘Nessun Dorma’, it’s not very good.

Me: Leave it to Pavarotti, love.

Mum: Is it that woman who couldn’t sing that they made a film about?

Me: I don’t know. Covering my ears. God it’s dreadful.

Mum: Yes, it must be that woman.

Presenter: And that was Aretha Franklin!

Me: What?! She absolutely murdered that.

Mum: Oh dear no, not her finest hour.

It’s the 100th of 5000 wedding dress fittings. Mum huffed and puffed until I agreed to leave the house 45minutes earlier than I calculated was necessary. We have, of course, arrived 45 minutes early.

Me: We’re so early!

Mum: Well, I like to case the joint.

We drive past an old garage that we used to go to in this one horse town. Mum misses the old chap there.

Me: Just say, “Ron’s been on my mind, I was wondering how he is.”

Mum: Yeah, they’ll think I’m a witch.

A clip of a cartoon from my teenage years comes on. It obviously induces vivid flashbacks in mum…

Mum: Oh! Park Life! West Life!

Me: …South Park.

We’re watching the old Glastonburys and there’s some very exciting early ‘00s sort-of techno going down that I think is a bit hardcore rave scene for me. Mum on the other hand…

“Now it’s not Dreadzone is it? I love Dreadzone.”

Mum’s perusing Facebook. Everyone’s putting up photos of them in the ‘70s and now…

Mum: The women are fairing better than the boys.

Me: Do you want to do it?

Mum: No. *Squints at the screen.* Absolutely not.

Still miniscule, Mum has put on weight, as have many other people. Mum is aware it is because she has been eating huge mounds of toast and honey. Everyone else?

“They act like it’s an act of god!”

Mother is weeping at one of Alan Bennett’s tear-jerker ‘Talking Heads’, which I can’t say I thought was up there with his usual brilliance…

Me: Oh god, you’re easy —Bennett’s got your number.

Mum: Oh, anything gets me now.

We decide to flee to Fremmington Quay, I want some cider. I select a fine vintage bottle that is remarkably low priced.

Mum (looking at the elegant bottles I hold): Oh god no! Merry Down!

Me: What?

Mum: I haven’t seen that for 50 years—used to get very pissed on it as teenagers in Cambridge.

Me: It said “vintage”.

Mum: Yes… they’ve intentionally changed the bottle to dupe the next generation.

We’re driving past some new housing estates being built…

“I do hate all this middle-of-the road mock-brutalism”

We buy some veg from one of the farmers, he’s out of runner beans though. There’s three more farmers in this locale to try our luck and mum announces with verve…

“We’re going to visit every emporium to see what they have to offer!”

For the first time since I arrived, someone has indicated which direction they are going to turn their enormous vehicle.

Me: Indication! Signs of life!

Mum: Brain activity is what we’re looking for. There’s plenty of life, it’s brain activity most of them lack.

Getting the train back to Exeter…

Me: God, the train’s £11 for a single, it was £9 last time I was down.

Mum: There’s always an excuse for things to go up, it’s funny there’s never an excuse for them to go down.

Mum and I are gazing at the rising moon, soon to pass behind the beautifully hideous civic center, demonstrating our contradictory outlooks on existence…

Mum: Nothing matters very much.

Me: Or it all matters incredibly.

Mum: But there’s nothing you can do about it.

Me: And that’s what’s so wonderful.

A Tory MP has been done for sexual assault, or rape, or something awful, but they haven’t released his name.

Me: Must have an injunction of some sort.

Mum: There have to be good reasons for an injunction.

Me: Or a good lawyer.

The Canada Geese have returned to the estuary, and they float down the river and rave on the water every night, much to mother’s distress.

“Oh, I do hope they’re not going to have another party tonight. No, really, all that honking all night – too much.”

We’re driving through one of the one horse towns of my childhood that I still cherish. It’s changed, in some ways for the better, in many ways not. I look over at where the cattle market used to be by the swimming pool…

Me: Do they have any cows there anymore?

Mum: No, they don’t like the “animal faeces”. But they let they’re dogs crap everywhere, then they put it in a litter bag and throw it in a tree. What’s that about?!

Mother calls from the other room…

“Dystopia doesn’t suit me. Don’t like the wardrobe for dystopia, doesn’t suit anyone.”

I am explaining about cancelling and cancel culture.

Mum: Cancel me now!

Me: Oh believe me, if this had a big enough audience you’d be cancelled in a heartbeat.

Mum: Fucking great. No platform this bitch!

We overhear a group of avid runners. Some maybe over-avid?

Me, aghast: Did you hear that? She’s run 1400 miles since lockdown.

Mum: Not all at once, surely.

Mum is talking about Bojo’s plans to build a giant erection (bridge) from Scotland to Ireland.

“They’re on drugs.” She narrows her eyes. “I just don’t know what drugs.”

My mother and I thank other people in cars endlessly, even if we have been driven into a ditch, it’s “Thank you!” We smile to someone who has done exactly this and doesn’t even bother to acknowledge our existence. I am insulted. Mum…

“They’re rude, bourgeois people who have come down here to grow begonias.”

I am showing mum some photos from Fremmington Quay. I sneakily took one of her without permission.

“God! Who’s that strange old crone drinking Merry Down?”

Sometimes I get words stuck in my head, and sometimes I’m not even sure what they mean…

Me: What is a ‘contretemps’, an argument?

Mum: Yes, an argument: Contre. Temps.

Me: Just asking. I may know many things but I do not know all things absolutely.

Mum: That’s a surprise.

Me: If I don’t know something I’ll ask.

Mum: No that’s very wise, really. That’s problem with many people, they don’t ask when they don’t know.

We’re watching ‘Jane’, a film about Jane Austen, where there’s lots of glancing across rooms and playing with each other’s hair, but suddenly people are running joyfully down a hill. Mum sighs wistfully at the gleeful runners…

“Oh! How wonderful to be so young you could do such a thing without endangering yourself.”

Genuinely think this might be Merry Down…

Motherisms feat. Corona Virus

I have been paranoid since late January about COVID-19, a virus that sounds like one of the many tediously named planets at the arse-end of the solar system. I remember lying awake at night and saying “this is going to go everywhere.” I was told I was being paranoid. I hoped I was, but I knew I wasn’t. I’d say there’s no consolation in being right all the time, but that just wouldn’t be true.

Time to head down to Devon to see someone else who’s right all the time…

It’s a few weeks ago now, and I’m in London on the phone to mum. This is just as the hand-sanitiser mania peaked, a time that we now look back on wistfully.

Me: We’re going to go to Keats’s house today, can’t imagine it will be very busy so a pretty contamination-free zone.

Mum: Let’s hope his bed’s not still infectious!

There was a time when there were other diseases, apparently…


I’ve just arrived down in Devon after another glorious 6hr National Distress bus trip, this time trying especially hard not to touch anything. Mum has come to meet me off the bus. She’s wearing a cute little outfit that involves a woolly cropped jumper.

Me: I like your little jumper.

Mum: Little!

Me: Yeah?

Mum: This is my big, cosy jumper! I put it on 60° by accident.


Mum wants some of the chocolate cake I’ve saved from the bus journey.

Me: No! We mustn’t co-handle things.

Mum: Co-handle—don’t be so ridiculous.

Me: I’m going to see if it takes off.


We’re doing some work that requires us to drink wine; it seems to have gone directly to mum’s voice box …

Me: Shhhh!

Mum (theatrically): I was taught to project.

Me: You don’t need to project, I’m right here.

Mum: I am a trained actress!


I have just tidied mum’s entire flat, including hoovering. I am packing the vacuum cleaner away, like any saint might…

Me: Well, I’d decontaminate the hoover but I don’t think there’s much chance of you touching it.

Mum: Oh, a joke, at last!


I’m on my phone, probably looking thick. The opening bars of some classical music come on.

Mum: What’s this, Jade?

Me (without looking up): Vaughn Williams.

There’s silence.

Me (to clarify): ‘Lark Ascending.’

Mum looks both annoyed and impressed.

Me: You can’t mess with me!

Mum: No, you can’t. I’d jump on you if you weren’t potentially infections.


We’re talking about local people.

Me: Is this Dave The Wave?

Mum: No, this is Itinerant Dave.


Mum is hip to the groove of technology and is scrolling through the news on her iPad for some goss.

Mum: Madonna’s had to cancel her tour.

Me: Well she is over 70, isn’t she.

Mum: Oh she’d love you! No, she’s 65.

I burst out laughing.

Me: No she’s not! She’s like 50, mum.

Mum: No she’s not.

Me: Yes she is!


We’re in the car having marched mother to Currys to get a little freezer, because regardless of what the government is saying at this point, I’m telling her she needs to stay in as much as possible. And I am bossy.

Radio: The prime minister has advised the public against taking a cruise if they have flu-like symptoms.

Me: What?

Mum: Did I just hear that right?

Me: I think it basically just said that you shouldn’t take a cruise if you’ve got corona virus.

Mum: Are they joking? That must be a joke. Surely?

Me: No. I think that was Boris Johnson’s advice to the British public, based on science.

Mum: We’re doomed.


Mum’s phone rings. 

Me: Your phone’s ringing.

Mum: Oh, it’s probably a racist trying to sell me something. Ignore it.


I look over at mum typing away with her little wand on her iPad. I notice the keyboard has split in two and is now on either side of the screen.

Me: What’s happened to that?

Mum (proudly): I have been operating it like this for some time.

She continues trying to type something while having to move diagonally across the screen to get from one letter to the next.

Mum: It’s just a slight inconvenience.

I watch her in silence and say nothing.

Mum: Oh bugger, I spelled it wrong.


Someone else has gone skiing and caught the virus.

Me: Skiing, again! Always with the skiing, these guys.

Mum: It will be the rich that get this!

Me: Yes, but then the poor get it. The poor always get it.


We’re having supper. I’ve been busy worrying quietly in my head about my contamination levels and only tune in to the last part of mum’s sentence.

Mum: Andrew, the dirty pervert.

Me: Who’s Andrew?

Mum: Prince Andrew!


We’re in the greengrocers. Mum is talking loudly to everyone, as usual. This time about cruise ships.

Mum: Absolutely disgusting things. Destroying the planet almost single handedly.

Greengrocer: They use fifty gallons a mile.

Me: Really?

Mum: Oh it’s appalling. I think if you go on one of those you deserve the virus.

I am concerned for mother’s safety voicing such views in what is most likely cruise ship territory, but a little old lady with raspberries walks out of the shop giggling.


Mum goes to pick up a fork from the table.

Me: Oh no, don’t, I touched that!

Mum: Ah!

Mum drops the fork and puts her hands to her face in horror.

Mum: Oh no, I touched my face.

Screaming and waving her hands.

Mum: Oh god we’re all going mad.


The news continues its Covid orgy…

Presenter: Britain is the experiencing the worst health crisis in a generation.

Mum: Yeup, and the government are doing fuck nothing.


Mother is looking into the dark chasm (the light’s gone) of the fridge.

Mum: I’ve bought some feta, because feta’s the best thing you can eat.

Me (imagining it contains some magical antibody or mineral): Why is that?

Mum: I just wanted to eat it.


Typically with this visit, conversation has turned towards pandemics and pandemic-related things.

Mum: Ask your father if he’s seen ‘Survivor’. Fantastic television series from the seventies about a pandemic.

Me: Yes, I know, you got it out from the library and watched it with me when I was about thirteen.

Mum: Did I?

Me: Yes.

Mum (reminiscing): ‘Survivor’, yes… I’ve been preparing ever since.

Me: So have I.


I’m back in London now, or in “the firing line” as mum is calling it. I’m on the phone to her and  mum reads me something she has seen…

Mum: Oh, look at this: “Woman discovers she’s been washing hands with block of cheese.”

I spit water everywhere.

Me: Oh shit, I’ve got water all over my computer.

Mum (ignoring me, still deeply involved in the story): In her defence it seems she does keep a bar of yellow unscented soap by the sink.


I am complaining that in North London we are suffering from the side-effects of Boujis stockpilers – can’t get any organic porridge or apple cider vinegar for love nor money, and we’ve run out. What, you’re saying I’m supposed to have toast for breakfast? THERE’S NO BREAD. Meanwhile in Devon, mum can’t get even one lowly packet of paracetamol, forget loo roll…

“No paracetamol anywhere. No peas, nada. Shelves stripped. Where are they putting all this shit? This lot wouldn’t have lasted 5 minutes in “the war” they keep on about.”

Later on in the conversation I’m back to worrying about my parents. I mention my father. Mum reassures me…

“His grandmother was a peasant. So was mine, that’s why we’re so tough. Little strips of leather but we’re well put together.”


Stay safe out there, compadres. And if you’re not worried about yourself, be concerned for others safety and act accordingly. We really are in this together, whether we like it or not. This virus is many things, including a(n unpleasant) reminder that we are each a small part of a whole. What we do and, possibly more importantly, do not do, during this time can save someone’s life.


Screenshot 2020-03-18 at 10.19.31

Alcohol Kills Germs, Pouts Save Face


Motherisms Feat. Memory Lane, Poet Laureates, and The Fiery Pits of Hell …

It’s that time of year again (my birthday), and to my mother’s delight (I’m sure), I imposed myself on her in Devon for a whole week. And we’ve actually even been speaking on the phone before then, which has led to many miscommunications …

I am in the last phase of my Master’s — it turns out it’s a lot of work, who knew? But now it is dissertation season …

Mum: Have you finished your dissertation?
Me: No, I haven’t even started it.

I’m on the phone to mum before her imminent London arrival ..

Me: We bought a nice organic chicken.
Mum: Oh yes, how is she?

(Apparently mum thought I’d said something about one of my friends. I’m not convinced though..)

Mum has now graced London with her presence and is tired of the whole thing by day two.

Me: It’s not just you, London is exhausting.
Mum: No but it’s different. For me it’s that your body is exhausted. You think you’re going somewhere and then another part of you drops off.

Mum’s been staying at my godfather’s in London, who has a very sophisticated TV set up by the sounds of it.

Mum: I pressed a button and then it started asking me hundreds of questions: how many hertz did I want, which of the 500 channels … I pressed some of the buttons and nothing seemed to happen, but I’ve probably launched a missile.

We’re on the leisurely 6 hour bus down from London to Devon together. We’re going through Chelsea, mum is giving me the guided tour of memory lane and is pointing at the roof garden of a flat my godfather rented …

Mum: The summer of Live Aid we were up there, listening to Cheech and Chong.

We’re sort of half-watching ‘Green Mile’ and our attention has drifted back to it momentarily ….

Prisoner (inexplicably) testing the electric chair for someone else and reciting his last wishes (?): Fried chicken dinner with gravy on the tatters and a shit in your hat and have Mae West sit on ma face cus I’m a horny mother fucker.
Police man: Hahahahaha
Tom Hanks: Ahahahaha
Other police man: Hahahaha
Mum: What an extraordinary sense of humour.

I‘ve had a very big job cancel last minute and need to conjure some financial magic. Mum has a suggestion ..

“If you want to raise money just pretend you’re a dog with a problem.”

We’ve been out for a charming day at a stately home like normal people, and even had a cream tea like normal people. Unfortunately we arrived when there were still a lot of other, truly normal, people there. However, we got lost on the guided walk and emerged 3hrs later through the undergrowth, having had to walk around a 10ft high ‘ha ha wall’ (not so funny) and my 73 year-old-mother climb over several fences, and by then everyone else had left …

Mum: That’s why it’s nice to come later in the day not all these people in brightly coloured kagools ruining the view.

We’re walking around the lovely stately home, it’s not too big, it’s not too small. Got a lovely garden, some fields, a stable, a pond, some chandeliers, a William Blake (on loan)…

Me [wistfully]: Yeah I could actually live somewhere like this I think.
Mum: Well, you’ll have to marry some chinless twat.

A Panty liner advert is on TV…

Advert: Women don’t have to be soft and bla bla …
Me: Oh god yes we know, you’re tough and a right old fucking bruiser. Good for you.
Mum: “Even on my period I’ll kill you.”
Advert: ….you can do anything, even if you are woman bla bla bla …
Mum: Oh god who writes this shit!

Mum’s friend has helped her locate a new car, a lovely little (10yr old) VW.

“He’s prouder of this than he his that Mossad wagon of his.”

Brexit news is on, we were never going to be able to avoid it entirely …

Mum: Ahhhh… Let’s see who killed who tonight.

It’s a couple of months ago. Mum has asked to read a poem of mine, I have duly sent it to her and have, after a week, received no feedback. I’m curious …

Me: Did you read my poem?
Mum: No … yes.
Me: Well you can’t have thought much of it if you forgot.
Mum: No, I think I noted its arrival but didn’t read it. I like everything you write.
Me: Ok.
Mum: Carol Anne Duffy’s coming to the end of her term.
Me: Yes, I think unfortunately I’m still a little obscure to become Poet Laureate
Mum: Obscure is so cool.

Mum is a firm believer in watching some good old fashioned mindless television, and then talking over all of it. ‘Bake Off’ is on..

Man making bread: I like a pert bun. *wink wink, nudge nudge*
Me: It always amazes me the amount of innuendo people manage to get into any sentence involving food
Mum: Oh yes it’s probably scripted innuendo now, sort of mandatory.

Mum hasn’t quite worked out how to work her touch screen phone with complete success.

Mum: When you call it says ‘sweep up’, so I sweep, and nothing happens!
Me: I think that’s swipe up mum, just touch it and move your finger up.
Mum: No, it’s sweep!

There is such a thing as ‘Archers Anonymous’, and Mum’s on it …

“Let’s stir the buggers up! My daddy would have loved the internet.”

We’re watching a programme about 1992 as it’s the year mum started building our beloved house that is no longer ours. There’s a segment on ‘Wayne’s World’:

Mum: What’s this?
Me: Wayne’s World
Mum: Hmmm…not sure about this.
Me: No, I think this is right up your street — you liked ‘Dude Where’s My Car’.
Mum: … Yes I did.

The 1992 programme is now talking about Achy Breaky Heart (a song I’ve decided I very much like).

Someone with an angular haircut who thinks they’re very cool and probably into moaning at parties: Line dancing is the spawn of Satan.
Mum: There’s worse things than line dancing
Me: I’d do it.
Mum: I think I would too.
Someone else with angular haircut: It’s all hideous diamanté and frilled skirts.
Cutaway to exactly that.
Me: Looks great, I’m into it.

I leave the room momentarily, then return.

Mum: Oh no, it’s getting a little hitler youth now.
Me: Oh, shame.

All the houses down mum’s road seem to be being repainted (very slowly)…

Mum: I like the colours they’re painting these.
Me: Yes maybe they’ll eventually reach that penis.
Mum: What penis?
Me: The penis that’s been spray painted on someone’s doorway for about fifteen years.
Mum: Oh that penis! Yes, it’ll take a while to get rid of that.

Somehow — how exactly I do not know — mum has signed up to a cat website, she has no particular affection towards cats …

Mum: You’ve got to get me off this cat website.
Me: What cat website?
Mum [genuinely distressed]: I don’t know but they send me hundreds of cats a day, and I don’t know how to stop them!
I’m laughing.
Mum: They keep talking about their “babies”, “this baby”, “my baby”, “your baby” … it’s dangerous: it’s a cat.
Me: Ok. We’ll just unsubscribe you.
Mum, back-tracking: Well, one or two a day, that’s cool, I like animals ..

We’re watching the end of ‘Celebrity Masterchef’. I only recognise Zandra Rhodes, mum is helping me identify one of the other contenders …

Mum: He’s Joey Essex.
Me: Is he.
Mum: Yes he seems rather sweet actually, he just needs watering twice a week and that’s it.

We’re sitting down and ready to get competitive watching ‘University Challenge’….

Me: Jeremy Paxman hasn’t aged at all.
Mum: I was just thinking how much he had.

The students on ‘University Challenge’ are doing their “Hey, I’m James, you might remember me from …” intros and it’s making me cringe.

Mum: I do wish they wouldn’t do this “first name only” thing.
Me: It’s almost like they’re auditioning to be a presenter, it’s horrible.
Mum: It’s because it’s got to be caj. Everything’s got to be caj …. I’m surprised they’re even allowed to compete anymore.

A programme about WWII is on as I’m flicking through the channels…

Mum: Oh no! It’s handsome chaps doing serious stuff — amazing guys.

We have continued flicking, mum now has the remote and has hovered on the ‘Mash Report’…

Me: No.
Mum: Give it a chance, give it five minutes.
Me: No that’s far too long.

4 seconds later …

Mum: Yeup it is.

I’m on the phone to mum with a lovely paper bag full of ingredients for supper …

Me: I’m just walking back through the park from getting mushrooms.
Mum: Be careful foraging.
Me: I haven’t been foraging, I went to the shop!

I don’t know what mum is watching in the other room but I have a feeling it’s ‘Beverly Hills Housewives’ or some variation of because I hear her shouting at the television …

“Kick him to the curb honey!”

Two minutes later….

“He’s a twat get rid of him.”

I am a blessed angel and have cooked and washed up for the sixth night in row and just want to check it’s been recognised …

Me [impersonating mum]: Oh Jade, thank you so much for washing up again, you are a saint. When is your canonisation, please can I attend?
Mum: Yes I’m sure it will be very soon and I’ll be in the fiery pits of hell.
Me: Probably.
Mum: With all my mates.

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Motherisms feat: Sinatra’s Secret, Corruption, Moomin Butts and Lizzie Borden

It’s Christmas Eve. I’ve just returned to the room after wrapping mum’s presents. It seems mum is worried that I didn’t take long enough …

Mum: The thing is: to give and be giving

Me: Yes mum, don’t worry, I’m giving well this year.

As usual, mum has told me all about at least three of my presents within an hour of my arrival …

Mum: It will look great in the flat …

Me: Mum! Don’t tell me, it’s supposed to be a surprise – that’s half the point of presents!

Mum: I’ve been collecting this shit for months.

Apropos of nothing, and almost to herself, mum says ….

“Danny Dyer’s very funny.”

We’re watching University Challenge, there is a segment on Shakespeare quotes, which mum is usually very hot on …

Jeremy Paxman: “A calm and still conscience …”

Me: That’s unusual.

Mum: Exactly what I was thinking.

I am laughing and being young and happy, and evidently quite annoying because mum says …

“I think all young people should be made to wear fat suits so they understand what it’s like getting about when you’re old.”

There is a medieval style gold leaf painting of a monk-ish man on the table. I am observing his presence.

Me: Who is he?

Mum: St Nicholas … Do you like him?

Me: Yes he’s like that other dude over there (A miniature medieval-esque illumination of St Jude rests on the windowsill)

Mum: Yeah, I’ve got dudes everywhere.

It’s Christmas Eve and the sparkling drinks have begun ..

Me: I’m feeling quite flushed after that!

Mum: Lightweight.

Mum left a chocolate walnut for me to eat, I didn’t get round to eating it. It’s later in the evening and she is studying the jar of them now.

Mum: We should do something with the chocolate walnuts.

I’m reminded to turn around and eat mine.

Me: Oh … someone’s eaten mine.

Mum: Yes well, they look like dog poos just lying about.

‘Would I Lie To You’ comes on , mum is not best pleased …

“Oh no, it’s just a load of people showing off.”

‘Monopoly North Devon’ edition began on Christmas Eve. Mum, having been mightily bankrupted last year in a round of repairs to her many houses and hotels, is just playing the game to accrue as much cash as possible. There is a large, colourful pile of money on her side of the tablecloth.

“Millions! I’ve got millions! I’m the Philip Green of Barnstaple!”

I am being a normal girl, just walking around …

Mum: You look like Lizzie Borden.

Me: Who’s she?

Mum: A murderess.

Me: Thanks.

Mum is now complimenting me and wants due credit …

Mum: And me, for gestating this thing!

Me: Yes mum, thank you very much for giving birth to me.

Mum: You’re welcome.

We’re watching Guys and Dolls, or half-watching while lunch is being prepared saintily by me …

Me: I don’t get the Frank Sinatra thing

Mum: Big dick

Me: Jesus Christ, mother.

I quickly cross myself in the hope it will prevent mum from saying anything like that ever again.

Mum: He did! Ava Gardner said it very plainly. Also charm, musical talent and wealth, of course …

We’re watching King’s College choir, one boy has done a magnificently high-pitch solo number for a while, and now the rest of the choir is joining in …

Me: All the out-of-tuners can come in now

Mum (horrified): Out of tuners, tut tut.

Mum has bought a decent-sized chicken for us to eat, currently raw she suggests we …

“Instagram it to my followers.”

Mum’s first boyfriend is in a film on Christmas Day …

Mum: I gambled with him under the stage for many hours during Julius Caesar.

Me: Gambled what? … Playing what?

Mum: Gambled … it’s an expression.

I hear things, tinkling things and spoon stirring …

Me: Are you having a brandy coffee?

Mum: Yes.

Me: I knew it!

Mum: You can smell it from 50ft. I’m not trying to get anything past you. There’s a pause. Want one?

Me: Yes please.


We’re all tiring a little of Monopoly and a couple of brandies (sans coffee) have also been drunk. Mum is counting the spaces …

“Six, seven, eight, nine … I’ve got so bored I’ve forgotten what I was doing.”

Mum’s on a butt rant …

“These women! It’s just a succession of arses … ‘so and so “flaunts’ … And you think, “Jesus god, not another arse.” … Huge arses like moomins.”


Mum’s navigating slowly away from women with enormous arse implants towards sex robots, which seem to have inspired her imagination …

“The human race will die out … Soon they’ll sell sex robots in Argos.

Mum then attempts a teenage boy’s voice …

‘What would you like for Christmas dad? I got you a sex robot.’

Mum then attempts a robot voice …

“‘Would you like to masturbate?’ ”

The Monopoly game-saga continues. We’re listening to some neglected Bob Dylan on Spotify, an ad comes on …

Ad woman: Sky Cinema so you ..

Mum: Go away this woman!

Ad woman: With Sky Cinema …

Mum: NO!! ‘Blood on the Tracks’, man!

We have a couple of peaceful rounds and now a new advert is on, the voice overs sound similar ..

Ad woman: Google home hub …

Mum (now shouting): WHO IS THIS WOMAN?


Mum is insisting we watch Kevin and Perry Go Large …

Mum: How old were you when this came out?

Me: I don’t know, about fourteen.

Mum: That must be why it left such a marked impression on me.

Me (in defence): These guys are a bit older.

Mum: Yes, but there’s and age range of between 14 and 40.

Mum has been raving about a romantic sword scene in the old ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ since we watched the new one. Now the old one is on and so is the sword scene … I watch as a soldier shows off to his love interest by slashing a sword half an inch from her face, proceeding to run around a hilly outcrop screaming and then charging at her with the lethal blade …

Me: I don’t know, for me that’s a warning sign.

Mum: Yes … It’s not quite how I remember it.

We’re … you guessed it, playing Monopoly, the same game, on Boxing Day, three days after we started it, and, you guessed it, mum is still cash rich and land poor …

Me, to myself: Advance to go collect £200…

Mum: Won’t do you any good. The country has been corrupted by speculators, now I’m seeing if it will work for me.

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Pre and Post-Champagne Family Portrait

Motherisms Feat. Football, Time Travel, and Woke-ness

It’s been another turbulent few months of political unrest and all signs are pointing towards the End Times. Mum and I have been dealing with the often-disturbing nature of reality the only way we know how: talk about it.

Wimbledon’s started and mum’s usually quite on it, like the horses. So, looking for an easy punt, I decide to see who’s hot this year.

Me: Who’s going to win?
Mum: Don’t know.
Me: Why not?
Mum: Not on it.
Me: Why? Haven’t you been watching?
Mum: No, I’d have had to watch all of Queens and I started watching Poirot.

I’m down in Devon having run myself into the ground again. I emerge from my cave after a late night arriving from London looking feral and ravenous.

Mum: Bread?
Me: No, no bread. I ate a lot of bread yesterday. More vitamins, please – I need to be treated like a very ill athlete.
Mum: When have I ever treated you as anything else?

We’re listening to the news, which should just be re-named ‘Brexit’ …

Mum: I don’t imagine Brexit will affect writers.
Me: No, we’re hiding safely below the poverty line.

(Of course, it absolutely will.)

We’re having a very literary discussion as usual, and mum is telling me what she’s reading at the moment …

Mum: The Evil U Give.
Me: The Hate U Give.
Mum: The Hate U Give …Yes.
Me: Ok, nice. I don’t like the title but I’m sure it’s very good.
Mum: Oh it is.
Me: Everyone’s reading it, it’s a very woke book.
Mum: Oh is it?
Me: Yes.
Mum: I’m reading a woke book?
Me: Yes.
Mum: Oh, how wonderful.
There’s a pause and then …
Mum: What is this ‘woke’?
I think how to explain it ..
Mum: What’s the opposite of woke?
Me: Un-woke.
Mum (with usual wistfulness): Maybe I am dreaming.
Me: No mum, you don’t want to be un-woke, that means you’re a racist.
Mum: Oh fuck. Ok. Well, I’ve always been woke … Like, awakened? Sounds very religious.
Me: Yes, I don’t know the etymology but it’s akin to enlightenment … but with a more political emphasis.
Mum: Right, very interesting, ‘woke’ …

Mum’s listening to The Archers …

“Nothing stops for The Archers, it will be going on when dinosaurs come back.”

We’re talking about my imminent trip to Cardiff, and my more imminent trip to the Ladies Pond …

Mum: Have you got good gear to go in?
Me: Not really, no. But it doesn’t really matter what I’m wearing, I’ll just get in the water.
Mum: No for Cardiff, you Twit.

Even during the jubilance of the World Cup, spending a lot of time alone can make you very irritable. And sometimes people are just irritating.

Me: I’m finding everyone very irritating today.
Mum: Watch the football and relax – I hope it won’t be too exciting for me.
She thinks for a second and comes up with a cunning plan …
Mum: I’ll take another beta blocker.

We’re talking about other people’s holidays and mum says decisively …

“The only travel I’m interested in is time travel.”

Mum is regaling me with more tales of my baby acting days*, the salad days, when we could afford salad …

Mum: You used to get money for every audition.
Me: That’s good.
Mum: Yeah, you paid a few gas bills.

* Find me on the cover of ‘Mother and Baby’ and several stunning nappy adverts.

Mum is jolly annoyed that after joining the Lib Dems she has found them to be rather un-radical, they’re all rather old, and they haven’t implemented any of her very excellent ideas. She huffs …

“There aren’t enough young members … I’m bored of the Lib Dem’s now, they’ve bored me. I’m joining the National Front like everybody else.”

(She is, of course, joking … Just in case you lost your sense of humour.)

Mum’s up in London and I’m cooking stir fry, we’re celebrating some exam results and have had a couple of glasses of prosecco. She starts confessing all her secrets …

Mum: Lauren Goodyear …
I look at her blankly.
Me: I don’t know who she is.
Mum: I’m absolutely fascinated by her. I think it’s the closest to fandom I’ve ever come … She’s back with her boyfriend, and the teeth!
Me: Who is he?
Mum: I have no idea. You couldn’t understand what he was saying because of these enormous white teeth.
I’m laughing.
Mum: I laugh not … It’s frightening.

Mum has now eaten the aforementioned stir fry and says ….

“You’re a good cook. But you must take your B12.”

We’ve heard through the grapevine that something has gone wrong at one of the local holiday cottages, apparently guests are very angry. Mum supposes …

“They’re probably going to smear poison on the doorknobs.”

We’ve discussed everything on the planet and now we’ve arrived at a nasty little life form …

Mum: I want Philip Green in jail.
Me: You’ll be lucky.
Mum: You’d be surprised, people are angry.
Me: He’s an awful human being but he wasn’t one of the rudest people I met.
Mum: Really? You were appalled the day you said, “I’ve just met the most revoltingly rude fat old man.” He leant over you while you were talking to Ronnie Wood.
Me: Oh yeah, I forgot. I was thinking of the Harrod’s dude. No, Philip Green was incredibly rude.

This was before mum was kicked off Facebook – probably for sharing too many articles about LSD trials – and she’s reading something very interesting about our star signs …

Mum: ‘Who’s your worst enemy?’ Oh this will be a laugh …
She clicks on the next slide.
Me (a Virgo): Oh dear.
Mum: Virgos are logical and analytical, while Aquarius creative and impulsive – but both can be stubborn and aggressive.
Me: Well, I think we’ve done quite well.
Mum: My parents were both virgos, I’ve always liked virgos.
Me: But are you sure they liked you?

We’re ending another delightful phone conversation and mum parts with …

“Well I’m going to go and be woke in Barnstaple and check everyone else is being woke.”


Motherisms Festive Specialé 2.0

It’s been an interesting year to say the least. But, here we are, mum and I at the end of it, still standing, still talking to each other …

It’s some time in September and we’re driving down a narrow country lane, Mum pulls in to let a person go past. They manage to raise a finger to thank her but don’t look happy about it. Mum is not impressed …

“God a smile wouldn’t break your face. So miserable all these people, the English take their pleasure sadly.”

Mum’s friend owns an excellent Pizza restaurant …

“That pizza oven’s incredible, they can do cremations in the winter when things get slow.”

In October Mum and I were in a rather nasty car crash. Mum got sent an awful lot of flowers (I didn’t). Mum’s looking around the room, barely visible through the foliage …

“It’s like a funeral parlour in here … so beautiful.”

Mum makes no apologies for being a big fan of Real Housewives (of New York, Beverly Hills … and wherever else these women live). She is setting the scene for me …

Mum: These poor men must get confused – all the women look the same. ‘Was she my wife? Or was she?’
Me: She seems like the smart one.
Mum: Yeah she’s the surgeon … her and her husband. He does all their work, so you don’t want to upset him too much.
Me: You can tell how much work she’s had done because her neck’s red with blood and there’s nothing in her face.
Mum: Oh yeah, the amount if work these women have had done! They’ve had their faces done, their fannies rearranged …

We’re watching Paddington Bear, who arrives in London and lands the most beautiful home, just like that …

Paddington Bear: I feel quite at home in Windsor Gardens!
Me: I bet you do you lucky sod.
Paddington is not representing the reality of living in London, and is skipping about with glee …
Mum: Might have made a serious mistake here.

(Actually turns out to be a lovely little film.)

Mum has discovered Marks and Spencer’s do bread and butter pudding, this has proved dangerous …
“I’m addicted to bread and butter pudding, the woman at the check out has started to notice. She said, “I started getting like this, but it was with the jam rolly polly.”

It’s Halloween and we’re in Barnstaple late at night walking back from the cinema, everyone is dressed as slutty zombies, zombies, pirates, slutty pirates and slutty cats. I see mum observing the revellers with suspicion …

Me: It’s Halloween.
Mum: Oh that’s what that is.

Mum’s wistfully looking out the window over the river …

“Wouldn’t it be nice if it were attractive people sitting on the wall.”

It’s time to squabble over what we should watch. Mum wants to watch something about forensic murders, life is stressful at the moment, and I’d like something a little more cheerful ..

Mum: Forensics is fascinating
Me: Yes it is, but isn’t there anything with a bit more joi de vivre?
Mum: Joi de Vivre … ok.
Mum puts something on, I can tell immediately it’s a television drama as someone is shouting at someone else.
Me: Not sure about this mum.
Mum: It’s supposed to be very good.
Me: Yeah but it’s not ‘joi de vivre’ is it?
Mum: No, it’s hard hitting drama about crack addiction in 1980s.

I am tinkling away on the guitar, I have improved, slightly over the last year or so …
Mum: You should write songs
Me: I should but I won’t.
Mum: Your guitar playing is getting quite good
Me: It is, but I can’t bare to be under appreciated about anything else
Mum (with sarcastic melodrama): Oh dear, couldn’t you?

It’s nearly supper time and there’s a strange noise coming from the kitchen, a low droning sound …

Me: What is that?
Mum: The chicken tikka masala.
Mum thinks twice about this and goes into the kitchen to double check it is the meal making this noise …
Mum: Oh god no it’s Bartok! Jesus Christ, at this time of night?

Mother is very up to date, she will soon be micro dosing daily and using a new crypto currency she calls …

“Bit con”

It’s two days before Christmas and I have deigned to grace mother with my presence, we are discussing the many treats we have, and what we don’t have …
Mum: We don’t have mince pies, you don’t like Mince pies do you.
Me: Yeah, but I don’t mind if we don’t have them.
Mum: Well we can always go to M+S and do the vulture’s dash tomorrow.

It’s Christmas Eve and continuing my grandmother’s tradition we are allowed to open a little present this evening. I unwrap a beautifully packaged present to reveal … a tube of effervescent Vitamin C.

Me: Oh lovely, thanks very much.
Mum: No darling look inside.
I do look inside and to my relief see a mascara.
Me: Oh excellent!
Mum: Took the vitamin c very graciously

I fail to take my two thermals vests and thermal tights quite as graciously.

David Attenborough is on in the background, again ….

“Kind of taken over from God now, Attenborough. We’ll have Attenborough carols next.”

Mum’s listing what we have to eat …

Mum: Bananas, brandy butter, brandy cream, hummus, dips ..
Me (trying to join in): Chips and dips …
My American terminology gets lots in translation.
Mum: No, no chips if you want chips you can lightly roast some potato skins.

It’s just gone Twelve in the morning of Christmas Eve, we’re discussing what we could possibly drink at this hour, mum is holding a minute glass filled with transparent liquid …

Mum: Gin.
Me: Mulled wine.
Mum: Mulled wine will make you sleepy, micro-dose with this, incredibly expensive stuff, won it in the raffle … this will get you going.
Me: Maybe later, I’m not sure in quite ready for neat gin.

Mum is worried we are being taken over by our robot overlords but can’t remember their names ..

Mum: All this stuff is spying on you, that bloody Celsy …
Me: Alexa.

For now mum can’t drive and she’s bored, so she’s thinking about joining a political party, any political party …

Mum: I’ll be a liberal and a communist.
Me: You can’t pick both, you have to be loyal to your party if you actually want to effect some change.
Mum: I don’t know which party I’m going to chose yet, and anyway I’m just agitating I think effecting change is a little ambitious

We are trying to plan our evening’s televisual entertainment, mum has her favourite show on the brain …

Mum: You can watch Dennis Potter
Me: Who?
Mum: Whatever his name is. …
Me: Harry Potter?
Mum: Yes.
Me: Is that on now is it?
Mum: Real housewives?
Me: No, Harry Potter!
Mum: No, later.

I have made a compromise and agreed to watch Real Housewives provided I get to watch Harry Potter, without complaints. Mum studies the men on the television and announces …

“This must be an old one all the husbands have left now.”

Mum bought me ‘Monopoly, North Devon Edition’ for Christmas, which comes as a surprise as the last time we played it I was 8 and had what a believe is a called an ‘episode’ – I was not born a good loser, it came with practice …

Me: Shall we play monopoly then?
Mum: Yeup. Made sure there’s a taser behind the sofa.

We’re on our wildly exciting Christmas walk, mum shouts excitedly over the roaring gale …

“Oh look, rabbit poo!”

Mum and I returning from our delightfully bleak and drizzly Christmas walk along the estuary and are walking down a little brambled road near the Rugby club, covered in litter. We are tutting furiously at the rubbish. Mum names the culprits …

“Rugger buggers.”

We’ve had a phone call from family in Japan and Mum is whimsically entertaining going to visit on her air miles, but appears to have a price on her head …
“Ah, but I’d be within range of Kim Jong Un.”

Mum comes in, puts 15th century convent maestro Hildegard von Bingham on the CD player, and then leaves. I am left to eat chicken sandwich alone in a fantastically ominous atmosphere.

It’s Boxing Day and we’re playing monopoly again, mum is on a losing streak after a night of winning the previous evening (and gracious losing on my part), I have landed on ‘Verity’, one of her less-expensive properties. Mum is disappointed …

“Verity … a cheap tart, £8.’

Poor mum was walking home with a very heavy pineapple from her friend’s and it left her unbalanced in wet conditions and she slipped over on the pavement. Displaying her excellent character, she has not held a grudge against the pineapple and is eating it with zeal …

Mum: It was lovely of Michael Jackson to give her so many pineapples.
Me: Michael Jackson?!
Mum: It’s his name, must be very annoying, his parents should have thought of that.

We’re watching the weather forecast for excitement. The skies are black, rain is attacking the windows and it’s a howling gale outside.

Weather Woman: … as storm Dylan comes in from the west.
Mum: With storm Cohen close behind.

It’s Boxing Day and I ask mum if she wants a chicken sandwich (the highlight of Christmas for me) …
“No bread for me – enough trans fats man … The countdown to starvation begins.”

I have just bankrupted mum for the third time this evening and the fourth time in her life, someone in a drama on television is saying that their mother couldn’t afford a bus ticket.

“If the mother can’t afford bus ticket she shouldn’t play monopoly then.’

Mum is decimating the chicken I thought I had already stripped in preparation for making chicken soup, she calls in from the kitchen:

Mum: Whole other meal on here.
Me: I’ll have another chicken sandwich tomorrow then …
I think for a second and try and count how many days it’s been since Christmas, possibly two hundred, I can’t be sure ….Is the chicken still ok to eat tomorrow?
Mum: You’ll find out.

(I ate it and I’m still alive so I guess it was.)

Mum’s looking in the fridge and telling me what we have a lot of …
“Things you can eat freely: Bread and butter pudding.”

Happy New Year! And if you have a Motherism (or two) you would like to share do send them in (anonymously if you don’t want to get in trouble). I will be compiling a collected Motherisms soon! Send them to jadeangelesfitton@gmail.com.

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Motherisms: Festive Specialé

I would be a scrooge to allow the festive season to pass without some of these. So, it’s the run-up to Christmas …

Mum: I always think of you when I see Centre Point …
Me: Why?
Mum: Because when you were 3, we were making a rare trip down Oxford Street and you pointed at Centre Point and said, ‘Who lives there?’ I told you no one did and then we chased some homeless people around with sandwiches for a while, and then you said, ‘Why don’t they just put all the homeless people on the big tall tower?’ And I had to explain capitalism to you at a very early age ….
There’s a pause.
Mum: … though actually it did end up a homeless charity.

We’re leaving mum’s enclosure. She’s turning the car round and has slightly misjudged it, meaning we have to go over the curb. Mum, very sweetly, as if she is talking to a horse says ….

“Goooood car …. That’s it … Over the pavement ….”

Mum’s asking me who someone is on ‘who do you think you are’ I know who it is but I dislike the fact I know who half of these people are so much I’m refusing to cooperate …

Mum: Is this Cheryl Cole?
Me: I don’t know …
Mum looks at TV times …
Mum: Yes, it is Cheryl Cole.
I don’t look up.
Mum: Hello??
Me: Yes, good we’ve established that. My interest level remains the same.
Mum: Oh I am SO sorry to disturb you!

Mum’s come round for another Christmas at the Cratchit’s. She’s admiring the tree my friend and I decorated …

Mum: Oh it does look rather good you know Jade …
Me: There’s more fake presents on the tree than real ones under it.
Mum: That’s usually the case.

We’re watching TV, mum is describing a scene, I think, rather abstractly …

Mum: Like an Escher sketch
I assume mum thinks the etch a sketch is French, which I don’t believe it is, and don’t like it with a French accent, so correct her …
Me: ETCH A sketch
Mum: No. Escher, the painter …
Me: Ohhhh okay.
Mum rolls her eyes and mutters something about the money wasted on my education.

I’m at mum’s and am so looking forward to eating something I haven’t cooked for myself …

Mum: Supper’s ready!
Me: Yum what are we having?
Mum: A variation on gruel.
Me: Oh. Cool …

I have no idea where this came from, but she suddenly comes out with …

“I should like to be an Internet crime wave.”

Driving in Devon, as with anywhere in the world, is exciting. People make it exciting thanks to human error, I imagine when we have robots it will be more exciting because the cars will just drive us straight off the face of the earth. But for now, someone else has failed to indicate when going round the roundabout …

Me: Indicator would have been good.
Mum: It’s a sign of weakness. We’re going by the will of Allah here …

We walk into mum’s flat and it’s like the Queen’s mailsack has been poured on the floor, thousands of cards litter the carpet ….
Me: Woah ..
Mum: Oh god. I keep getting all these cards and I don’t know who any of them are from …. dear people. So sweet.

We’ve started buying our Christmas decorations from charity shops and if you don’t use the same ones every year so should you but whatever I’m not here to lecture (one day I will be). Anyway, mum is describing some of the lights she was demonstrated …

“Then they got out these very dubious blue fairy lights … made the whole place look like a police station.”

We’re at some red traffic lights, mum wants to turn right, the guy opposite wants to turn right as well, mum is creeping towards the line, eyeing the red light and nudging the accelerator.

Me: Er …. Mum, are you racing?
The light turns amber and mum speeds left, effortlessly thanking the man opposite as we screech into the distance …
Mum: Well someone has to act decisively, and my acceleration is usually faster than theirs.

I hadn’t turned my tv on for over and month and had been some new age preacher talking about how much I hated it and couldn’t watch it anymore because of the adverts bla bla bla … when it came to Christmas, I really fancied watching some TV. Turned it on to watch the Snowman and … No. The TV now does not work. So it’s Christmas day and we’re about four hours in to the Sopranos ….

Mum: Oh, San Pellegrino. The best water there is.
Me: Yeah .. there’s a lot of product placement in this.
There’s a few more cutaways to characters, usually sitting behind the Pellegrino bottle …
Mum: The Pellegrino’s going to get a credit.

I’ve cut a mountain of brussles sprouts, there are two of us eating …

Me: Enough brussles sprouts now, surely?
Mum: Dear god yes.
Me: I’ve given myself RSI again
Mum: Well that was stupid.

Mum can recite massive chunks of Shakespeare, and general poems ‘and shit’. She’s quoting something over in the corner, I’m trying to engage and be a conversationalist while doing a hundred other things ….

Mum: … child Harold un to the high towered king …
Me: Right, yes. Harold wanted Jesus dead because he’d heard a prophecy about a new king …
Mum: That was Herod not Harold, dear god. It’s a poem by Byron called Children Harold’s pilgrimage, look it up.
Me: Ok, I will.
(I haven’t. But I will.)

(I will be in trouble for revealing this but) Mum has bought the Daily Mail for the television time thing …

Mum: No one believes me but on Saturdays it really does have the best TV time thing .. it has all the numbers of the channels, everything …
Me: I believe you.
Mum: And actually, I console myself whenever I buy it that if it weren’t for the Daily Mail they would never have caught those bastards in the Steven Lawrence case.
Me: Well, good … really good … strange that though …
Mum: Very strange for such a racist paper.

Hell froze over and Mum said something nice to me ….

Mum: …. Really, I mean it. I’m not just buttering you up.
Me: Well I know that, you’ve never buttered me up, ever ….
Mum: I didn’t grow up with buttering up, you’ve got to actually do something to get buttered up in my books. People getting buttered up left right and centre nowadays, it’s not healthy.

We’re watching the carols at Kings College. Mum’s from Cambridge and is crying within the first bar of the little angel’s mouth opening, mum gushes …

“Stone masons knew what they were doing back then … Venice is beautiful and the buildings are beautiful but I’ll take Kings College every time.”

Well it’s Christmas Eve, so we should probably talk about how cold it was in the 1940s and 50s ….

Mum: … you don’t understand how cold it was.
Me: Yes I do I used to live in a warehouse.
Mum: Well then yes you’ve got the gist if it.
I don’t think mum’s got the gist of quite how cold the warehouse was compared to the 1950s chill …
Me: I had to walk across a roof in December to get to showers.
Mum: What?! You didn’t tell me that at the time …
There’s a pause.
Mum: Jade?
I drink some champagne and stay quiet …

Mum is watching something, or reading something, I’ve been cooking and can’t really hear what’s going on but it’s obviously some rally cry as I hear her shout over …

“I’d have you … you’re good in a scrap.”

Mum and I both love Alan Bennet. He’s reading his dairies and we both think he is looking great for 81. Mum is maybe more vocal about her love for Alan Bennet though (please note: we’ve had 2 bottles of prosecco or some sparkling shit because prosecco’s poisoning the Italians or something) …

Mum: Just watch him. This, now this, is a wonderful lovely man. Brrriliant, brilliant writer …
It cuts away to Alan Bennet in a room with a nice wall-hanging behind him …
Mum: Lovely, lovely tagine hanging behind him …
There’s a pause as my brain slowly whirrs into action …
Mum: Not tagine
Me: Do you mean rug?
Mum: Prayer mat
I’m in hysterics. Mum looks away for a second and I start typing notes on my phone …
Me: DON’T YOU DARE! I’ll start my own blog with all the stupid shit you say.
I continue to type, giggling at my naughtiness ..
Mum: Tripping Over Whippets, you wonna watch yourself.

Mum is fascinated by Kanye West and the wife, I’ve started quite enjoying constructing conspiracy theories with mum about them. I see she has turned to a page with his crazed face on it …

Me: What’s the goss with Kanye then?
Mum: He’s in psychiatric care.
Me: Few years too late.
Mum: That jewellery heist was a bit suspect — he’s got financial problems … Big bum has been in seclusion.
Me: Good.

Mum’s on the computer which is always dangerous.

Mum: People keep inviting me to Linkedin but don’t know what it is.
Me: No, no one does. I can’t waste my time talking about it honestly it’s so boring and useless …
Mum: No don’t. I’m so over it I’ve done it already.

I’ve put on some Boubacar Traoré ….

Mum: Who’s this?
Me: Can’t remember his name, akin to …
Me and Mum: Ali fucker Tori
Mum: Is he Malian?
Me: Maybe …
Mum: Amazing music scene in Mali. But they’re all fleeing because of ISIS, but it was amazing in the 70s — peaceful festivals in the desert with camels, no one beheading anyone …
Me: Sounds perfect.
Mum: It was.

We’re going to go for a Boxing Day walk. Mum has brought round her ancient Hunter wellies …

Mum: Had these for fifteen years now, it was an anarchistic statement: pink wellies, I just thought you can’t get any more stupid than pink wellies. Then every twat got them ..
Me: I like the colour they’ve gone now … a weird whitey colour …
Mum:Yes I look as if I should be in an operating theatre.

I have six mountains of books I’ve never read. Mum’s going through them …

Mum:Read this Peter Ackroyde?
Me: I’ve read bits of it it’s a fucking huge book. It’s good though.
Mum: Right …
Me: What? I don’t have time to read a book from cover to cover, I dip in and out ..
Mum: I see … Just dip in and out. Read a couple of chapters from the middle of Middlemarch (she’s obviously seen it by the bath), couple of chapters of Albion …
Me: Yeah, basically.
Mum: It’s the death of literature.
Me: Whatever ….
A few minutes later …
Mum: Dances With Wolves is on later have you seen that?
Me: Uh … yeah I think so, bits of it definitely. I’d like to watch it again though, I can’t really remember it …
Mum: Just dipped in and out of it …

I am eating. Mum has been thinking and announces …

“I need to talk to Steven Hawking … just to say, ‘Hi … we’re all going to get better.”

Happy Hjksdabd;liwdbefa;f (whatever we’re saying nowadays). xxxx

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Motherisms: Feat. Summer, Groccles and Full Moon In Aquarius …

It’s summer in North Devon. The swifts and swallows have arrived, as have approximately 9 million caravans and wankers with weekend surfboards. All the roads are blocked, there’s rubbish (and even worse, people) all over the beach and everything suddenly gets more expensive. Fortunately it’s the most beautiful place … in North Devon, and I’m still near mum ….

I like art, I really like old art, and I really like silly jokes. Mum also likes all these things …

Me: Go on ‘classical art memes’ ….
Mum: What is a meme?
Me: I don’t really know … it’s just a meme.
Mum: “It’s just a meme.” Even I know it’s a meme. I still don’t know what it is.
Me: Well it turns out I don’t know either.
Mum: I’ve got memes, I’ve a cloud, I’ve got blue teeth …
Me: Yeah.

It’s summer in North Devon and if you’re not 6th generation Devon or a friend of ours, mum doesn’t want you here.

Me: How was your day?
Mum: Swimming pool full of tossers

I have a tendency to leave electric cables to my appliances behind, so do other people, all people younger than mum apparently ..

“You young people always leaving your wires behind, wankers.”

I’ve gone round to mums and am enjoying a nice glass of wine as I watch the seagulls fly past the window in the late-evening light. Then I notice something strange on the windowsill …

Me: Mum, why is there an enormous knife here?
Mum: I don’t know.

Writing is a constant battle with my brain. If I spend too long looking at words, I become unsure how they could possibly be spelled like they are. The newest in this collection of words is ‘blood’ …

Me: Blood, it’s not said how it’s spelled at all .. “blud it’s bloooood…”
Mum: YES, bloed … sounds Dutch …I should’ve known that from all my Scandy-noirs
Me: All that bloed
Mum: Lots of bloed.

We’re watching a video where dead bodies get turned into rocks – mum is a sucker for all new carbon-neutral ways of disposing of herself ….

Narrator: Then put them in liquid nitrogen to distract …
Mum: … Your victim
I watch on horrified as a human is turned into ice-dirt and then compressed into a block …
Mum: Looks expensive.
They’re now being ground up into a brown-orange powder …
Narrator: … freeze dried …
Mum: Then they put you in a curry.

Mum wants to do something complicated with her television and I’m not in the mood to do it.

Mum: Well, you need useful boys for things like these anyway.
Me: I’m pretty useful for a girl …
Mum: Yes, sure, yes, no you are quite.

It’s early august and it’s pissing with rain ….

Mum: Moody weather …
Me: Yeah take that tourists.
Mum: They don’t care they’ll go back and fiddle with their tablets … hopefully one day they can just come here virtually.

Night tubes going and it’s the hottest story I’ve got hold of that day ..

Me: First night tube in London ..
Mum: Oh … right … in London …
Me: Yes. Not a huge event but does make a big difference.
Mum: Yes some where for the homeless to sleep, poor bastards I bet they’re relived.

Mum’s an Aquarius in the world of horoscopes, and vehemently believes in all their (positive) traits. This information will be important in a second …

Mum: Full moon yesterday …
There have been quite a lot of full moons recently it seems and I don’t react.
Mum: … In Aquarius.
I see now this one’s important.
Me: Oh right …
Mum: Probably why I’m so tired.
Me: Yeah that must’ve taken it out of you .

Mum is not enjoying getting old, there is way less partying and way more hip replacements than she’d envisaged …

Mum: Getting old is so boring.
Me: Well you’re going to have to find ways to preoccupy yourself.
Mum: No it’s not that it’s that your body stops working.
Me: Well Steven Hawkings hasn’t had the privilege of a fully-functioning body for the majority of his life – don’t hear him complaining he’s bored.
Mum: Well, I’m sorry I’m not Steven Hawkings!!

We’re observing the woman who’s supposed to have a shit-tonne of testosterone, she’s about to race or has just raced maybe. Either way, she’s standing around looking powerful …

Mum: I wouldn’t take her on would you?
Me: Yeah, I would. I’m scrappy .
Mum: Yes … You’ve got to get that under control.

I work quite hard, not that hard, but quite hard. Mum thinks this deserves a reward when I see her, it’s wine and I’m not in the mood but have struggled through one heavy glass of red …

Me: Why did you give me more wine?
Mum: Because it’s you’re day off
Me: It’s not my day off.
Mum: Well, have another anyway. You’re a laugh when you’re drunk.

(I drink the second and am a right laugh.)

Mum’s showing me some pictures of Evelyn Waugh or someone like that in the buff …

Me: Oh yes right …
Mum: During his gay period.
Me: Nice shining bottom.
Mum: It is isn’t it. Everyone at Oxford in the ‘30s was gay … And a communist.

We’re watching the gymnastics. I am in tears at the magnificence of it. Mum says …

“They look like little fairies but they’ve got thighs like truck drivers – so bloody strong ..”

It’s later on in the evening of gymnastics and I’m now drunk floor watching a routine …

Me: I could do that
Mum: Yeah right. Competitive or what!
I watch a pathetic double-backflip-quadruple-somersault-tummy-tuck-splits …
Me: No probs.
Commentator: Not the most difficult routine we’ll see tonight.
Mum: No jade could do it.

It’s dessert time, I’ve given up sugar because I have a tendency to eat enormous bars of chocolate daily, and there’s no one to tell me not to; but now I am my own parent. Mum brandishes something from the fridge …

Mum: 0% fat yoghurt.
Me: I don’t care about fat it’s sugar in supposed to not be eating.
Me: Well, it’s got absolutely nothing in it, do you want it or not? I’d get it while you can.

There are an awful lot of people in the village I live in, thousands of them, all with thousands of miniature versions of themselves …

“There’s too much breeding going on, too many kids. About 1 or two kids, great, but why do you want all these extraneous ones? The earth’s resources are not infinite.”

It’s later on in the Evelyn Waugh evening and mum’s driving me home. I’ve recently found out after 20 years of thinking I was too tall to be a jockey, that actually, I’m not.

Me: Lexxi’s boyfriend said I’m the right height … Grampa said I was too tall but I’m exactly the right height.
Mum: I’m surprised Grandpa didn’t say it was because you were a woman.
Me: Oh maybe that’s what he was saying .
Mum: I think he might’ve just generally been horrified you wanted to be a jockey.
A few minutes later ….
Me: Wasn’t Grandpa at Oxford in the ’30s?
Mum: Yes he was …

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Motherisms Feat. Politics, Driving and Poets …

I’m still at close proximity to Mum. Which means I just can’t help interacting with her …

Someone’s on TV massaging a piece of pork with the sort of sensuality I am yet to express to another human, and telling us to buy it …

Me: They never advertise organic vegetables …
Mum: They shouldn’t need to.
Me: No. But they do …
Mum: The world is over populated, let them poison themselves. Carry on I say!

Mum is talking about the recent presidential visit ….

“Did you see Obama get off the plane? God, he just looked so cool. And then you had our leader, looking like a puffy twat.”

Mum’s come round and we’re going through the papers. We’ve reached the horoscopes …

Mum: Oh your stars are good, they’re saying you’re entering a new period in your life.

Me: Thank god. The last 15 years were shit.

Mum is being organised and writing a list, or a note … something. She’s wearing glasses, she has a pen, she’s told me to shut up; it’s important.

Mum: What’s the date?
Me: 29th
Mum: Of what?
Me: …. Really?

We drive past two men in black suits walking down one of the rougher, deserted back streets in town …

Mum: Debt collectors
Me: The Matrix

Mum is up to date with American politics and she is angry about it. I have just been lamenting Bernie Sanders (WHY!!! A BIRD LANDED ON HIS PODIUM WHILE HE WAS TALKING ABOUT BIRDS, PEOPLE.) mum’s moved on to Trump …

“The trailer trash masses of America will vote trump, and there’s a lot of them. They breed like rabbits and have no more intelligence.”

I’m learning to drive and I want to treat it like riding a robot horse. Currently I’m about to do a pretty-much vertical hill start as one of the L plates had flown off.

Me: I want to do some rally driving after I pass my test …
Mum: Well, there we go …

A second later …

Mum: Let’s not run before we can walk. Let’s just get up this hill please.

Donovan is in the papers. Mum loves Donavan so much. But neither of us can avoid the fact he looks a bit like a Buddhist Edith Piaf. Or as mum puts it …

“It looks like he’s transing.”

Mum is reminding me I must watch Hollow Crown again, or that’s what she’s trying to tell me.

Mum: You must watch Game of Thrones.
Me: Game of Thrones?
Mum: No, Hollow Crown. Same thing.
Me: It’s really not. You haven’t seen Game of Thrones.
Mum: Have you?
Me: One episode.
Mum: Everyone keeps banging on about it, I might see what all the fuss is about.
Me: I really wouldn’t bother. Honestly. It’s just a bit boring more than anything else.
Mum: Ok I won’t bother then. I never liked the Hobbit anyway.
Me: This isn’t The Hobbit either, The Hobbit is good! Well, Lord of the Rings is.
Mum: Yeah … all those Tolkien stories.
Me: They’re tales of moral fortitude!
Mum: Tales of moral turpitude by the sounds of it …

I’ve just returned form London, mum’s come to pick me up from the train station like a delightful “taxi service”. The radio’s on, mum’s obviously feeling classy as it’s classical.

Mum: Do you know what this piece of music is?

It’s like University Challenge all over again …

Me: Gnossienne no.1 by Eric Satie.
Mum: Very good
Me: I can play this shit.
Mum: Hm.

I’ve never delved deep into the world of psychedelics, but I’m fascinated by it. It’s also pricked mum’s ears …

Mum: They’re doing medical studies with LCD for depression.
Me: Yeah I know ..
Mum: You heard the programme?
Me: No, I read Timothy Leary ..
Mum: Ah right. Yes, well, they’re testing psychedelics on anxiety …
Me: I’m going on the trial.
Mum: I want to too.
Me: Well let’s get in the trial then!

(We forgot and failed miserably at getting on the trial.)

We’re trying to change channels but for some reason nothing’s happening. Some car programme with celebrities on it (not Top Gear) is on …

Mum: I’ve always liked Johnny Vegas …
Me: Me too but that’s Louis Walsh.

I am in Spain. I have just posted an article about Tracey Emin marrying a stone. My mum follows the website and, according to this text, clearly forgets I write the content …

Me: I know mumma I wrote that article xxx

We have successfully arranged the day ahead and we’re feeling good about it. Mum’s feeling really good …

“I am the mistress of logistics. If Napoleon had had me, he’d have won.”

Mum’s come round. I’ve spent days, nay, weeks alone and am starting to resemble the hermit farmer on the Fast Show, who comes out of his shed once a week and says, “This week, I have mostly been eating old pie.”

Mum: Oh there’s that pillow I was looking for! What’s it doing here?
Me: I slept on the sofa last night.
Mum: Why?
Me: It was Friday night and that was the most reckless thing I could do.

I don’t know what I’ve done. But it’s obviously good, as on the drive home mum comes out with …

Mum: You’ve turned into a very nice young woman.
Me: Oh, good.
Mum: I was bit worried about you for a few years there …
Me: Ok …
Mum: But you’ve pulled through nicely. I’m very proud of you.
Me: That’s a relief …

We’re going to someone’s birthday …

Mum: I’m relying on you to be the glamour end.
Me: Oh …
Mum: Just … brush your hair or something …

Gossip straight of the press …

Mum: Did you hear about Mariah Carey’s husband giving her 10,000 roses for Valentine’s?
Me: No … How did she get through the door?
Mum: I don’t know! It must’ve looked like a funeral parlour in there …

I’ve discovered there is a place of great literary interest very near by …

Me: We must go to Porlock soon. Shelley was there, he had a dream and was interrupted while writing into a poem ….
Mum: No he didn’t. It was Coleridge.
Me: It was Shelley!
Mum: I bet you it’s Coleridge.
Me: Ok, I wouldn’t put money on it.
Mum: No. But it’s a bet.
Me: I have to wait until I get 3G.
Mum: When do you get 3G?
Me: In a bit …
Mum: What is 3G?

(It was Coleridge. And the poem if you’re interested, was Kublah Khan.)

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Halloween 1999-Style