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…

Long-Overdue Update

Dear little mice,

How are you? Is it sunny where you are? If not I hope you have felt its beams on your skin at least twice this year. (If you haven’t … where are you?? I’d love to hear from anyone living in a cave/centre of the earth.)

So, firstly: I’m sorry. I’m sorry for starting a blog and keeping it running for god knows how many years and gaining your trust and making you believe that there would always be mediocre content at least once a month and then all of a sudden … dropping off the face of the earth.

Secondly: I’m not sorry! Because I have some good things lined-up for all you excellent, strange creatures that follow this blog.

I’m still writing, and I’m writing a lot at the moment. The reason you haven’t seen any of this is because most of that writing is a book — a novel, a book-book. And it turns out writing a good book is actually very hard, even for very arrogant people like me. But I am very happy to tell you that earlier this year it was awarded an Arts Council ‘grant for the arts’. This not only provided some much needed money (for some much needed food), but has also given me confidence that I am hopefully dedicating a large portion of my life to something worthwhile.

Other than that, I am currently studying for my masters and have had the blessings of a couple of other writing contracts that have kept me busy, and quiet. But no longer!

As of Summer 2018, I can confirm more poetry is heading your way (yeah, let those fist bumps lose!), there will be a video with me talking about being a failure at poetry (at some point), there is an article about superstition and assigning meaning to nature in Breathe issue 12 for you to buy, and to the wonderful person who wrote in to tell me they’d dreamt I’d put up another Motherisms, you’ll be delighted to hear one of those is in the pipeline — as is a Fatherisms.

I’m also still wanting to do a collective Motherisms, so please write in with anything wonderful/hilarious or ridiculous your mother might have said and we can make something funny together. Isn’t that nice? ISN’T IT??


Pics: Alexandra Waespi

Happy Thursday everyone, it’s going to be beautiful (whether you like it or not). x x x