Mother (Episode 37)

10 09 2016

umbrellaWe watched a car try to parallel park at least six times before it eventually gave up and sped away. It all happened in front of us, seated on comfy chairs under a canopy in front of mother’s favourite café. ‘There’s enough room there to park a truck’, mother exclaimed before taking a second bite of her toasted tea cake.

This is mother’s favourite spot because as she says it is a great place for people watching. And it is.

A sudden gust of wind turns a well-dressed man’s umbrella inside out. We look down, mother at her tea cake, me at the swirling crème on my café espresso.

Another conversation creeps into our consciousness from a woman seated nearby who is complaining about dating sites. ‘Complete waste of time… or else these men need glasses when describing themselves. And a tape measure … since when did five foot five become six feet one.’

I ask how mother met my father. It was in a ballroom in Streatham. He’d approached her and she’d announced that she wasn’t dancing at the moment. But he didn’t give up and asked if he could walk her home. She’d replied ‘If you like’. And according to my mother he frequently reminded her of the occasion. She’d obviously deflated his ego.

We look out towards the street again and watch a woman with a pram collide with a man on his iPhone. The iPhone escapes his hand and lands in the pram – his determination to retrieve it meeting with the toddler’s determination not to let it go. The mother helps, and the man carries on with his conversation unperturbed. The toddler then screams and throws his toys out of the buggy.

Mother tuts and pushes her empty plate away. She exclaims that all this noise is giving her headache. So we leave and head off to the pharmacy from some tablets, but just as we cross its threshold numerous bottles of shampoo crash to the floor, slide into the aisle, a few stopping at my feet. (More a case of feet and boulders than Head and Shoulders). The sales assistant looks at me, I look at my mother, and she looks behind her.

Consumed with unwarranted guilt we leave, and decide it is time to head home – mother needs a rest. And I do too. Street life can be pretty tiring.

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