Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Listen with Mother


Time to introduce Helen's readers to 'Mother.' Helen's mother is a real character. In her 80's but going very strong. Widow of a farmer and staunch pillar of the Catholic church, attender of weddings, funerals, and othersuch events which require her appearance in her best hat.
Every Sunday they spend the day together and Helen always updates the f.o.t.h.s with an email of events. We love to hear of their goings on. I am sure you will too. This email is from this summer during the Olympic Games.
She calls these epsiodes, 'Listen with Mother' named after a radio show for children which was popular in the UK in the 50's and 60's.
Clippy Mat :-)
Original Message -----
From:Helen
To: Carolyn, Katie, Vee, Pat, Mary
Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 1:57 PM
Subject: Listen with Mother

As these things so often do, my Sundays down at Mam's have fallen into a regular & companionable pattern. I get there about 09.45 with the Sunday papers.

I give Mam the large magazine with the TV listings etc. from Saturday's paper, which she eagerly grabs, turning immediately to the soaps' update page to discover what is going to happen this week in The Archers.* (a radio soap opera which has been running on BBC since the 1950's).

Unfortunately she then proceeds to read this aloud to me, despite my weekly informing her that I don't watch any of the TV soaps and haven't listened to the Archers since I lived at home and it was compulsory listening for her & Dad.

She chooses to ignore this and the fact that by now I am usually struggling helplessly & hopelessly with the tightly sealed protective plastic wrapper with which the colour supplements are bound (it should be noted that this particular newspaper ran a campaign to rid the UK of plastic carrier bags!!)

As I have to use my teeth to get this bliddy thing off I am also often choking at this juncture on a piece of torn-off plastic bag. Eventually, noticing me choking/turning blue she goes off to make me a drink, which she always serves in a huge cup resembling a French style breakfast coffee cup, wide across the top, so it cools quickly, which is great because I don't take any milk (i.e. a helpful coolant). My coffee is always accompanied by a sweet little jug of cold water (just in case I might burn my gob) and whatever little delicacy she has discovered this week (today it was mini gingerbread men - sadly not homemade this time).
Now she gets down to the serious stuff; i.e. what shopping/bus/weather disasters have befallen her this week, plus a lengthy, in-depth update on her sister's health situation. I feign interest while perusing my magazine, with murmurs and head nods at relevant and regular intervals. Then I begin the crossword and make the fatal error of asking for her assistance on a clue I'm stuck on; "Abraham's son - Jacobs father?? "

She's usually good on religious/bible matters but this one stumps her, so off she trundles to her bedroom and after 15-30 mins of rummaging, returns breathless, red-faced and somewhat dishevelled. She now needs to use her inhaler, which is unfortunate cos it makes her gabble like buggery and revs her up a notch from 45 to 78rpm. Then mother proceeds to give me a good half hour's bible lesson/reading as she is shocked that I don't know my Old Testament.

I mollify her by telling her that the young Irish priest who used to give us Religious Instruction at school told us not to bother with the Old Testament cos it was only for *proddies, (non catholics/protestants) and not meant for the minds of good Catholic children!

We did eventually discover the answer to my crossword clue, thankfully. I mention the above because it is a family joke: when stuck for anything, recite Mother's mantra on the subject "Look it up in the dictionary/encyclopaedia/ atlas" or other such tome of reference.

She's right of course, but as cheeky young kids stuck on their homework we found this constantly-used phrase hilarious - such a simple life down on the farm eh!

Then Jonathon arrived and I got the best laugh I've had in ages. It was Fiona's birthday midweek and Mam rang me for her address so she could post off a card. Mam had left this message on my phone and when I rang to give her the info I got her answerphone and taking great care with my pronunciation and diction (or so I thought) I gave the address as # Shape Mews (which I carefully spelled out) Blyth, Northumberland, followed by the postal code.
What Mam heard and put on her envelope was #Shape Views, Five, Knockabout + postcode.
Knockabout?, Knockabout?, I ask you - this from a woman whose eldest daughter & family i.e. yours truly, lived in Blyth, Northumberland for over twenty bliddy years, and whose youngest daughter & family still live in Blyth, Northumberland, and who knows that her grandson & his girlfriend also live in Blyth, Northumberland!!!

Jonathon was laughing so hard he could barely stand as he showed me the envelope, he played back my message on the answerphone to her and there it was, the whole address as clear as anything.

Now I know my voice has been badly altered by the effects of the stroke but I didn't think it was all that bad!! that my own mother doesn't understand me!

While she went off to knock up a batch of Yorkshire puds, we put the Olympics on and started to watch the men's badminton final. Mam stuck her head around the door and asked Jonathon who was in the final? "China and Malaysia." he told her. "Who flung dung against one san shoe who beat wun hung low in the semis."

Quite happy with this info, off she went with a knowledgeable nod of the head while I kicked him under the table for being so cheeky to her & taking the mick. Later she asked me if I didn't fancy taking up badminton again. "What from me *pram?" (*wheelchair) I queried "Well you could go in for the panalgesic games." she told me.

You might think we are a cruel lot having a pop at her little idiosyncrasies like this, but I can assure you that she always joins in, gets the joke and laughs at herself just as loudly as we do!

When Fiona called to collect Jonathon she said that Mam's envelope faux pas had actually cheered up a rather gloomy wet day and that she'd had such a good laugh with her own mother about it and later with Jonathon when he got in from work that it had quite made her birthday a really happy, laughter-filled one.
Now who could ask for more?

4 comments:

wor vron said...

knockabout -thats funny -your Mam sounds a lovely character and your blessed to have her- still making sunday dinners too mmmmm.

Crazy Mo said...

I think we have the same mother, Helen. I can't tell you how many times I heard "Look it up". Which used to drive me nuts. How am I supposed to look up how to spell something if I can't spell it???

Helen said...

Should be a good Sunday lunch tomorrow - its my sons birthday (34) and she'll be making jellies & trifles and cakes for his tea party!! its lovely but sometimes it makes us all want to scream 'I'm not a little kid any more & I don't expect a birthday tea party' She's in her element at the mo tho cos my big brother has been staying with her for a couple of months now - guess that marriage is down the pan!

Clippy Mat said...

looking forward to the update about tomorrow's visit helen.
sorry to hear about your bro tho'. that's too bad.
i bet your mum is enjoying spoiling him though.
:-))