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 minatutre 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 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.
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 Kings College choir, one boy has done a maginificently 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?
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 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.
Pre and Post-Champagne Family Portrait