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!
Me:….ok…..

 

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 re-painted (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 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 comprise 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 ‘Monoploly, 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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Ministry of Stories, Penguin and Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls ….

I was lucky enough to help out with this wonderful workshop at the Ministry of Stories in Hoxton with PenguinRandomHouse where Elena Favilli, co-author of Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls inspired the youngsters to write their own rebel stories and Channel 4 News got in on the action ❤️ IT WAS SO GREAT.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk/media/news/2017/december/london-schoolchildren-inspired-to-write-their-own-goodnight-stor/

 

Pregnant Witness

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There are two guys fighting on the street.
One is in a car
mouthing off,
revving,
head twisted back,
one hand on the wheel —
the other, I assume, is on the hand break.
The second man pursues the creeping vehicle up the hill,
speaking in tongues.
The first talks in spits and swerves his wheels.
I can’t hear what they are saying;
I’m sure it’s very important
but I am watching the pregnant witness
who looks out the window opposite.
Glasses on, she can see their very animated picture,
but she opens the window to better hear the drama
because her life is empty of it.
There is no darkness in her
refurbished house in leafy suburbia.
I would like a life like that
but I’ve too many shades on me, it would seem,
a spinning prism is my diadem.
So I’ll watch the pregnant witness
watching the two men screaming on the streets;
she’ll get some junk mail later
and that’ll be as bad as it gets.

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Photo: Martin Parr

Fancy A Little Guerilla Poetry Warfare In The Morning?

Back in the old days, when things weren’t immediate — when news didn’t travel at lightspeed and creations were nurtured in a bubble of time — things were said to happen in ‘the space of Pater Noster’, the space of God.

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Over the next 10 days (I started at 5am yesterday) I will be gracing my favourite streets in London — mostly ones I have lived on over the years — with a little surprise through the letterbox. The aim of the surprise is to serve as a bubble, a space in time between the bills and bank statements, where nothing is asked of you. At worst it makes excellent recycling material; at best it might add a little magic to your day — if you receieve one, whether you like or dislike, please get in touch (contact details on its reverse). x x x