My mum and the telly

December 27, 2009

Day two of Xmas and I’m lying on the floor of the living room, watching my mother, watching JLS on the telly. They’re doing a musical interlude thing on a Christmas impersonations type program. She’s got control of the remote and has been flicking back and forth between this, a re-run of Morecambe and Wise and something involving Ant and Dec. I think she’s settled on this because the thing involving Morecambe and Wise has finished. I don’t think my mother knows who JLS are. I don’t really know who JLS are. I ask her what she thinks of them. She says she thinks they’re silly and quickly turns the volume down a bit…but she definitely doesn’t turn over. After about a minute they stop singing and the foppish presenter bounces up to do a quick interview. My mother surreptitiously ups the volume again. She appears transfixed.

I’m actually quite enjoying spending time here. I’ve only been at my parents’ for a couple of days, since late on Xmas eve – and at times it hasn’t looked promising – ultimately though, coming home’s always comforting.

I spend time hanging out with my mum. My dad and uncle (who are brothers) hold up in the cooler parts of the bungalow (my mum like heat, they don’t) and either talk about politics, philosophy or religion, or bury themselves in books. About an hour ago I walked past the little conservatory type extension, where they mostly sit, and saw them doing the latter of these activities. It was a bit like quiet time at secondary school, or an upmarket library with private reading booths. My uncle is head librarian at a London library. I suspect he is trying to re-establish some kind of routine.

My mother’s routine is mostly about the telly. Normally, I don’t watch much, so sitting with her while she does makes a change. In a way, it’s also a bit educational. She watches all the news programmes, Corrie, cookery and anything vaguely reality-tv related.

We watch an advert for M & S . My mother points to one of the models. She says: ‘that’s Heather McCarthy. She’s going to be in ‘Dancing on Ice’.’ My mother likes Dancing on Ice. She likes all the dancing programmes.

We watch the 10 o’clock news and when the newscaster says good night, my mother says goodnight back. I’ve seen her do this before and ask her why she does. She doesn’t really know but says that her friend Jill (a pensioner who comes round for coffee every Tuesday) often talks to herself, or to the Lord. My mother is fond of the Lord and very keen on church, but I suppose you get to see who you’re talking to with the telly.

At about 11pm, she turns it off. We have a brief chat about a trip I’m taking to Jamaica. My mother is concerned that I might die in a aeroplane related terrorist attack. There was one on the news earlier. She tells me I mustn’t take any liquids onto the plane.

We have a nice cup of tea and my mother shows me a picture she’s taken on her digital camera. It’s all quite normal really. This watching TV and talking about me dieing, or whether or not I might be trustworthy enough to get cat. We talk for about an hour. It might have been more. We have our disagreements – like when she cites plot lines from Corrie to advise on my love life, but even then, it’s all ok really.

Tomorrow she wants to go to for a walk to Kirby. There’s a nice pub there and she wants to have a glass of mulled wine. I show her (on the digital camera) the photo I’ve taken of my new boots. She tells me I look like a call-girl. I give her a hug. Both my uncle and my dad went to bed hours ago. We’re the only ones up. She takes herself off to bed. I promise to disconnect my computer and turn off all the lights.

Christmas at Home

December 26, 2009

Spending time with my family always makes me question myself. Is it me or them? What I mean is: would other people also find them balmy and teeth grindingly irrititating, or if I had a witness, would they fail to see what all the fuss was about?

Some of the things they do may seem quite benign. For example, my mother’s mispronunciation of words.

“Michael! Lydia! (me and my Uncle Michael are the vegetarians in the house) – on boxing day I’ve got – orbagenes for you.”

My mother pronounces the word ‘orbagenes’ like it is some kind of French delicacy.

My Uncle, who is widely traveled and fond of new things, pauses, mid mouthful of blue mountain coffee (this is a very expensive brand my mother has already explained about in detail and made everyone take a sniff of). My uncle pauses:

“Really?” he says “and what exactly are ‘orbagenes’ ?”

I look at my mother

“You know, Oohbagenes” she says

My uncle looks confused “Do you mean ‘Aubergines’ ?” he says

“Yes, Oohbagenes” she says “I said ‘Orbagenes‘”

My mother continues to pronounce ‘aubergine’ as ‘oohbagene’ or ‘orbagene’ for the next two days. On Boxing Day (this morning) I wake up to find 2 aubergine bakes quietly defrosting on the kitchen sideboard. I know my mother will say it again and again until we have eaten them, and then probably for at least 2 day afterwards, while she continually asks us whether or not we enjoyed them, despite the fact that both me and uncle will tell her immediately after eating them, that they were great.

My mother pronounces ‘Neapolitan Ice cream’ ‘Napoleon Ice cream’ and the name ‘Craig’, ‘Greig’. Craig was the name of the last guy I saw. It is just aswell I am no longer seeing him.

After lunch my father goes for a long walk into the village. My uncle goes with him.

As soon as they leave, my mother turns on all the heating (my father dislikes heat) sprays everything with air freshener and begins to hoover, around me.

She tells me, for the third time in 45 minutes, that I must do my tax return.

Through the noise of intermittent hoovering we hear the phone. It is my cousin Sarah, ringing to say that she will not be able to make it till tomorrow because, owing to Boxing Day, the trains are not running.

My mother believes she is lying.

A bit later my father and uncle Michael return home. My mother and father shout at each other because they can’t locate the cheese and biscuits. Their entire conversation sounds like the chorus from an opera.

My father: ‘Where are the biscuits!’

My mother: ‘Find them for yourself! If Sarah was here! She would say the same!’

In two days time, after I have returned home, I am sure I will return to feeling nostalgic about this period.

I will post more updates.