Things I didn’t know about mother. (Part 25)

29 09 2012

I knew even before we took off that this was going to be an eventful flight. The omens were there from the minute mother tried to fasten half a seat belt from a vacant seat into half of her seat belt – veins bulging, eyes popping, as mother nearly succeeded in bending metal until a late arriving passenger pointed out her mistake. Any effort on my part to keep a low profile was seriously impaired when mother showered at least three passengers with peanuts fired off from a snack size bag burst completely down the middle. It’s very difficult to clean up peanuts in economy class unless of course you are a contortionist, so we didn’t try. Unfortunately this caused one of the cabin crew to skate from first class down to the rear end of the aircraft in record time, causing one of the passengers to ask if there was an emergency. With apologies made and earphones purchased I shrank back into my undersized seat and tried to immerse myself into  ‘Mr Poppers Penguins’, shown on a screen tilted towards me by the passenger in front of us. It wasn’t long before mother was tapping me on the shoulder mouthing that she couldn’t hear anything. Leaning across I followed mothers head phone lead down to her arm rest and discovered that she had pushed the connector into a random crevice. Anyway once mother had been properly connected I managed to enjoy almost twenty minutes of movie watching in relative peace. That is until mother starting laughing. The first time I remember mother laughing in public was in a cinema showing ‘What’s Up Doc?’ Mother would laugh, and less than half a second later the whole audience would laugh, and so it continued throughout the entire film. I could never quite figure out if it was because mother saw the joke coming before every body else did, or whether every one else was laughing at mother laughing. She does after all have a very infectious laugh. Anyway this time the only person laughing was mother, not sure about what, who became so hot and bothered that she decided to switch the air vents on, pressing the ‘Service’ button instead. Within seconds cabin crew arrived with a moist towel in a pair of tongs, one waving it in front of mothers nose as if in an attempt to calm her down by hypnotising her, while the other one tried to flatten it across mothers scarlet face. By this time the passenger to the right of mother had left his seat, we assumed to go to the toilet, but he never did return. I nervously eyed up all the emergency escape exits to see if any had been opened, while mother took advantage of the situation and pocketed the missing passengers unopened bag of Penn State pretzels. “They’ll help to keep my energy levels up while we wait to go through customs”. “A good idea” I said, “But this time I’m opening the bag”.



Things I didn’t know about my mother. (Part 24)

23 09 2012

Although mother’s car is over eight years old she still takes a pride in its appearance. It’s an Audi Green VW Polo complete with radio, air vents and a nodding dog on the back window shelf. Just a shame that when ever mother parks the car some where, someone decides to put a dent in it – or scrape the bumper or scratch the paint work. A couple of times mother has returned to find a note lodged between the wind screen wiper and the wind screen informing mother that some one has seen some one else damage her car. They just never leave any information or details that could be of any use to an insurance company. But as mother says “At least some one saw it happen”. Just recently mother zipped into a space in a supermarket car park only to be shunted not once, but three times by a big black 4X4 that was busy reversing. A rather puzzled woman stepped out of the said jeep only to ask mother where she’d come from. Mother replied, “From a place where you obviously haven’t been yet.” “And where is that?” “Specsavers.” Eventually insurance details were exchanged but mother decided not to pursue the claim as she couldn’t be bothered with all the fuss. She wouldn’t allow us to pursue it either so we didn’t. Talking about being bothered I remember another time when mother parked her car around the back of a cinema in Bromley, oblivious to the ‘Authorised parking with permits only’ sign. When she returned she found her car wedged between two metal street bollards, one at the front and one at the back. Feeling flustered mother looked around, and then looked up to see four construction workers grinning like Cheshire cats. They did at least lift mothers car back out from between the metal bollards again. Mother now has a rusting hole in her rear bumper, a rippled effect on the passenger and driver’s door, and a bent car radio antenna which only receives Radio Pakistan or extended versions of Church of England sermons. Oh yes and the nodding dog has long since lost its head. But at least mother has the maximum possible no claims bonus. We are certain because we found the documents in the airing cupboard last week. And whilst cleaning out the fridge yesterday we found the missing nodding dogs head under the peas in the freezer compartment. I know. Don’t ask!

Things I didn’t know about my mother. (Part 23)

18 09 2012

Mother belongs to a generation where she only had one partner- my dad – and even though he passed away nearly fourteen years ago now I’m still convinced she would feel disloyal or unfaithful in some way if she even entertained the thought of another partner. Not that she has lacked admirers. There was Harry, Dax Wax hair, a paunch framed by a waistcoat, who took a shine to her – and even though mother was flattered by the attention she received initially, quickly began hiding when she sensed that he might be becoming a bit too amorous. Door bells unanswered, letters not replied to. But persistent he was, even going as far as to emptying a box of chocolates through the letter box when he discovered that the box itself wouldn’t go through. Unaware mother opened the front door and trampled coffee creams all the way into the living room.Even after mother had read the little gift card that came through with them, stained with strawberry fondant, she remained unmoved, declaring him to be a bit odd. ‘He’s a playboy, constantly chasing woman and not knowing what to do with them when he catches them’. Anyway needless to say the lack of attention meant that he did eventually disappear from the scene, leaving mother I suspect, a little sadder for the lack of admiration. Complicated? Who am I to say, but loyal to my father mother most certainly was and is to this very day. A trailer park owner once took a shine to her as well, repeatedly saying ‘Wow’ when she wound down the rented car window to ask him for directions. I do believe she blushed slightly before re-establishing her composure, but the sparkle in her eyes remained for the rest of the day and indeed for the rest of the holiday. That brief flurry of romance is still often fondly recalled by her. More recently I’ve noticed that when mother is not being admired by other men she tends to remind me of how many people say how young she looks for her age, especially when we are going out. I then reaffirm with a nod and a couple of additional compliments, she then smiles, does a double take in the mirror, and I start breathing normally again, reminding her at the same time to wear her silver grey raincoat which really compliments her eyes. With a final dab of powder, mother not me, we are then ready for a night out on the tiles, which usually consists of pub food, jazz music, an Irish coffee and whispered conversations about girls displaying tomorrows washing tonight and how they fail to leave anything to the imagination. ‘How things have changed’.

Things I didn’t know about my mother. (Part 22)

12 09 2012

Sometimes I’ll receive short sharp emails from mother. For Example ‘Rob Brydon on tonight, BBC2, 10 pm, Love Mum xx’. The problem is that by the time I’ve read the email the programme is long finished. But her intentions are good, guiding me towards what she thinks I will enjoy, and in return I try to do the same. ‘Mrs Biggs, 9pm, ITV one, love son xxxx’. One of the things I have learnt over the years though is never to call mother while Coronation Street is on – any other programme fine, just not this one. She simply won’t answer the phone. It could be urgent, but nothing is more urgent than catching up on what is going on in the street. No need for me to send her an email reminding her that it’s on. With regards TV updates via email I remember one Christmas I received an email insisting that I watch a programme about all the shows shown through out the years. I never received an answer as to why, so didn’t dare miss it just in case mother had been a member of the audience. (She is well known for being a member of the audience for some of her favourite shows). Anyway if I’m honest I found the programme quite boring and checked back with mother after it had finished to find out why she thought I should have watched it. It turned out she had recommended the wrong show. But what we both will miss are the emails back and forth about the Olympics and the Paralympics. Like many others we have both been inspired by the determination of all the athletes, the joy, the tears – the living proof that if you want something bad enough and are willing to work hard enough for it you can achieve it, whoever you are. As a result I’m now walking into town instead of taking the car and mother is now heavily committed to mobility exercises. I’ve just sent her an email informing her that a new pair of joggers is in the post. I’ve also enclosed a message stating ‘It’s never too late to be what you might have been’.

Things I didn’t know about my mother. (Part 21)

10 09 2012

According to mother her Sainsbury’s Nectar loyalty card looks very similar to the card she uses to collect her pension. In fact she’s even tried to use it for that purpose in the past. And likewise she has handed her pension card in to the girl at the Sainsbury’s check out in order to have her loyalty points credited to it. But unlike the post office the girl in Sainsbury’s always reminds mother to remove her bank card at the end of a transaction. If they’d done that in the post office mother wouldn’t have had to go without her pension for three weeks. Anyway mothers new pension card eventually arrived and off we went to collect mothers accumulated retirement contribution pot. I waited in the car and soon mother returned clutching a fistful of notes- a look of relief smoothed across her forehead. When we arrived back home, to celebrate we transported tea to a sunny spot in mothers luscious garden, dunked Rich Teas into the poppy decorated mugs, then leaned back into our candy striped sun chairs. Second’s later mother bolted upright and, acting out her best Victor Meldrew impersonation exclaimed “I don’t believe it… I’ve gone and left my pension card in the post office again!” We did hurry back to reclaim it before it fell into less than honest hands, but alas the post office had closed for lunch. Or so we thought. When we tried again later we discovered that they had closed for the rest of the day as well, leaving mother to worry about her lost pension card until late the next morning. But as a good friend of mine once said, ‘Never be in a hurry to get rid of the worries you know because they will only be replaced by worries you are not yet familiar with’.

Things I didn’t know about my mother. (Part 20)

2 09 2012

I always know when mother is in a bad mood. Like the time when I stood beside the open car door in order to let her in and mother walked round to the other side, struggled to pull the car door open and then plonked herself right in the middle of the rear seat with her handbag occupying the space where I intended to sit. Then there was the time when I received a text from mother asking me to send on her mobile number, which I did in haste. No niceties, just the number. Back came the reply ‘Txs’ again with no niceties. Clearly mother was put out by the fact I hadn’t included ‘love from’ followed by loads of kisses. But what really seems to annoy mother is when we are out walking. Sometimes I’ll surge ahead just to make sure we are heading in the right direction but also to save mother from any wasted footsteps if we are not. As a form of protest at leaving her alone, mother will have inevitably disappeared by the time I come back for her and then I end up wasting loads of footsteps trying to find her. Once she emerged from an alley way accompanied by six beer swilling alcoholics. I’d only left her for a minute! Another time she emerged from a police car accompanied by a police officer wearing a frown of ‘How could you desert your mother?’ But what I really find odd is when I turn around just to make sure that mother is keeping up with me and then she turns around, either to check that her imaginary friend is still following her, or perhaps to ensure that she is not being followed by alcoholics or police officers. There have even been times when I’ve turned around, mother has turned around, the person behind her has turned around, and so on and so forth all the way down the street. But out walking with mother is never dull. I’ve witnessed mother waving at people that were waving at somebody else, and just last week I saw mother turn to talk to someone who she thought was talking to her but was in fact chatting to someone else on an iPhone. Unperturbed mother continued to talk to her until, frustrated by the intrusion; the iPhone user wrenched the phone from her ear and said. ’I wasn’t talking to you’. To which mother replied ‘Charming I’m sure’.

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