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 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.
Mum: Now, what is it this time: incontinence pads, funerals or food?
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—
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.
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?
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?
Mum: Oh, right ok. Your life.
I’m doing an online shop for mum during a gale when the phone line goes…
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.