Tag Archives: Mother

Looking old

Whenever someone makes a choice I think is boring, or excessively conservative (going home before the pub closes, not doing shots on a school night), I ask them, mockingly, if they are a 50 year old woman.

The trouble is, I do actually know some 50 year old women- my mother, for instance, and her friends and colleagues, none of whom are particularly impressed with being my derisive synecdoche. I tried to remember this when I was talking to my mother yesterday afternoon, telling her that I’d spent 6 days not eating sugar after reading an article that promised me ‘sugar caramelizes the skin cells, and makes one look old.’ While she was too busy snorting with laughter to respond, my little sister pointed out that ‘it was too late for me’, and ate the last crisp.

(I remember the crisp bit clearly, because crisps have no sugar, so I was eating as many as I could at that time).

Looking old is something that concerns me in the same way that bad posture concerns me- when I remember to think about it, it is all-consuming; but most of the time I forget. Except for when people ask me how old I am, which happens more and more (and not just from my snotty little sister, when I ask if we can go get Happy Meals), and always makes me feel slightly panicked, mostly because I’m not 100% sure I’m not a year out. (There’s no real excuse for this, and nothing makes one look older than forgetting how old you are, so I simply plump for a reasonable-sounding number and offer it up with conviction).

Until yesterday I suddenly realized that I’ve been doing it all wrong, and told a man I’d just met that I was 35, with 2 kids. ‘I’m in very good shape,’ I pointed out, helpfully. He nodded approvingly. (Or possibly in alarm, because I really had no good response when he asked me where my children were). It went down so well, in fact, that I’m planning on telling everyone I’m a good 10 years older than I actually am. Soon, I imagine, I’ll be convincing them I’m a 50 year old woman.

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Let’s talk about sex, baby

‘I wonder how hard it is to write a porno?’ I mused at dinner yesterday. Unfortunately, I was unable to hear other people’s responses, because I was too busy internally congratulating myself on my use of ‘hard’. ‘It can’t be that difficult,’ I continued, when my internal monologue had settled down a little. I know a bit about writing about sex.

Writing a sex column requires very few things: an endless supply of names, euphemistic and otherwise, for genitalia, which a former nanny referred to as ‘private parts’, which made my Mother roar with laughter and tell her to stop being so repressed. She did not last long. (With us. As far as I know she is still alive and well); an ability to plunder one’s own most intimate experiences for material, and an anatomically correct artist’s doll.

(Nothing could be more embarrassing then encouraging one’s readers to try the ‘latest position’ only for it to be proven impossible- the blow to one’s credibility would surely prove fatal)

Equally, the very best sex columnists have a keen sense of their own importance- sex being paradoxically vital (and good sex can certainly feel essential) but its absence not being fatal to one’s happiness. I know this for a fact, because the suicide rate amongst nuns is desperately low.

I pointed this out the same dinner party, and the chap next to me helpfully explained that this was because ‘the nuns are all sleeping with one another’, which I thought about whilst waiting for the quinoa, but dismissed by the time the fishcakes arrived as too close to a porno to be realistic.

The veracity of pornos is something that has been troubling me recently, mostly because a very good friend of mine thinks that we should write one. ‘Yes,’ I agreed happily. ‘I have actually already written a few scenes.’ My friend looked at me, completely confused. ‘Ah,’ I explained. ‘An ex suggested we made a video. I was delighted, and spent the next week writing an intricate and plot-driven script for this video. Apparently he had more well, sex, in mind than soliloquies.’

It is uncertain whether my friend still wishes to write this porno with me. Needless to say, I have thundered ahead regardless, and begun writing a script which I think will be a roaring success. I have even this time included some private parts. (Though only in carefully mannequin-posed positions).

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Are you a good toilet lock?

When I was a teenager, my Mother used to come into my bedroom very early in the morning, and whisper questions to me while I was still mostly asleep. Apparently, I answered much more truthfully than later in the day. Dubious parenting methods aside, it seems I haven’t changed much, because I have been dutifully following the advice given to me during an early-morning fitness class. (I started this class tremendously sleepy. I did not finish it in the same condition. Next time I’m doing yoga). “Make sure to drink lots of water,” I was told as I blearily entered the studio. “And replace any lost electrolytes throughout the day.”

Unfortunately, I have no idea what electrolytes are, so I have over-compensated by drinking 4 litres of water. Which I’m sure is great, except that I’ve spent most of this morning on the loo. Which has led me to the following conclusions:

1. A toilet should be, like an emergency exit, or the boiling water tap that people seem ferociously keen to install in their kitchen, where a tap suitable for drinking from used to be, immediately identifiable. I do not, when desperate to do a wee, want to agonise over whether I am a cowboy or an indian, or try to desperately decipher how a vaguely anatomically-based abstract relates to myself. Toilets should have either an M or a W, or a stick-figure of a person. (The ones with more complex drawings of women, knitting babygros whilst ironing their own petticoats, confuse me horribly, as I instantly assume they have been exclusively reserved for men who wish to multi-task whilst plotting how best to thwart upcoming sexual harassment suits, and wonder where I am expected to wee).

2. I do not expect toilets to be chaise-longue filled havens, primarily because I have no idea why anyone would choose to linger in a toilet, but recently I have had several space-related accidents. Toilets must, at a minimum, be large enough so that a person can enter them successfully, without placing either themselves or their possessions inside the toilet bowl itself.

3. I am not prudish, and have spent most of the last 2 weeks wandering about our flat in my knickers, to the less-than-delighted notice of my flatmates (I have pointed out several times that I am considerately wearing knickers. This has mostly been met with irritated requests to “wear something else”), but I also believe that it is a very nice thing to be allowed to wee safely, without interruption or intrusion. Therefore I am a firm advocator of locks on toilet doors. Locks which are easy to use, easy to get out of, and make it clear to the person on the other side of the door that this toilet is already occupied. (This would also be a very good adage for relationships. I may quickly change my dating profile: ‘Are you a good toilet lock?’).

4. Toilet paper.

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I will never buy you a Ferrari

I was walking home from dinner with a friend last week when we passed a row of blacked-out Mercedes and a crowd of paparazzi. My friend, who was very chivalrously pushing my bike for me, pointed out that there must be some kind of event happening.

I wasn’t listening, because I was so delighted that my friend was pushing my bike for me. I have noticed increasingly that small acts of kindness have taken on a disproportionate level of gratitude- on the weekend I implored my friend to marry her new boyfriend after he got up from breakfast to fetch me another glass of juice. It’s this kind of weirdness that really prevents me from hiring a butler.

My Mother, betraying her socio-economic class, often tells us that, ‘Anyone can buy you a Ferrari. You want someone who brings you a cup of tea in the morning.’ I hate eating or drinking in bed: I think it’s unhygienic and makes me feel as though I’m a Victorian lady, hidden away from public view because of some vile and unmentionable illness, such as pregnancy.

I am aware that being pregnant is not fatal

Equally, I am delighted by grand gestures: a friend of mine recently traipsed down to the police station to collect my wallet, lost, as far as I can ascertain, because at 4am I threw it, brattishly, into the street. “I am sick of this bullshit,” Another friend recalls me shouting. I think at the time I felt I was making an important comment on rampant capitalism and the growing wage inequality, but it turns out I was just a drunken woman yelling and throwing stuff about like an arse.

So, unlike my Mother, I would be delighted if someone bought me a Ferrari; yet irritatingly I agree, in the main, with what she is saying. It is better to have a thousand small acts of kindness throughout the year than one, solitary grand gesture. Unlike my Mother, however, who thinks that throwing money at relationships is crass and thoughtless, I am motivated by simple economics: a thousand small things are better than one large one.

Which is what I tried, laboriously, to explain to my friend, when he expressed a somewhat insulting disappointment that we had simply eaten dinner together, rather than attending this much-more glamorous event he was now attempting to wheel my bike around. Unfortunately, he didn’t understand at all, and we ended the evening with him explaining firmly but kindly that even if he could, he would never ever buy me a Ferrari.

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Lie to Me

‘I’m popping out to get a packet of tissues,’ My colleague announced to the room. ‘Can I get anyone anything?’ I have been fooled by these innocuous-seeming questions before, so I said politely, ‘No thanks’. (Apparently, people are unwilling, despite their liberal use of the word ‘anything’, to pick up your dry-cleaning, or just ‘pop’ to Selfridges to see if that handbag you saw last week is still there, and possibly now on sale).

‘Oh, yes please,’ One of my other colleagues piped up. ‘Some nurofen.’ Caringly (it’s pretty boring in the office- I am trying out some new personas), I asked her if she had a headache. My colleague gave me the type of stricken look one would expect in response to an request for a large loan, or a small organ donation.

‘No,’ She replied finally. Completely baffled, I spent the next 30 minutes thinking about what other, secret uses she could have for nurofen.

Unable to come up with a satisfactory answer, I began to wish she had simply lied, and said she had a headache. There are many other situations where I wish people had lied:

1. ‘Is this a suitable dress?’ I asked, as I entered a friend’s party. ‘Not really,’ She replied.

2. ‘Did you see my solo?’ I asked my Mother, after my prep school play. ‘No,’ She replied cheerfully. ‘I was having a drink with your Father. Never mind, there will be others. (There were not. Although, having drunkenly performed this solo at a Hen Party this weekend, it is probably for the best).

3. ‘Have you eaten my chocolate puddings?’ I asked my little sister recently. ‘Yes,’ She replied, looking me up and down. ‘I really didn’t think you needed them.’

4. ‘Would it be OK if I joined you for dinner?’ I asked my little sister, before the chocolate pudding incident. ‘I’d really prefer if you didn’t,’ She replied.

5. ‘I have such a funny story,’ I told my Mother recently. ‘Oh darling,’ She replied. ‘I very much doubt that.’

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If it is hot, wear short sleeves

Just got a little email from my friend: Lucy, if it is cold wear long sleeves. If it is hot, wear short sleeves.

Which is actually bizarrely helpful, because I currently am completely baffled about what to wear, and have spent most of this week complaining about being too hot, whilst living under the ominous shadow of ‘It getting cold’.

I spoke to my Mother briefly about the problem. ‘I don’t know what coat to wear,’ I complained. ‘Or do I even need a coat?’ My Mother was unable to help, because she was entirely preoccupied with her own problem. ‘Do you remember that nice girl you were at school with? Her big sister came into the office today. She’s 30! She’s getting married!’ She told me.

I stayed silent, because the ‘Everyone except you is getting married’ conversation really required no input from me whatsoever, and had recently been accompanied by little helpful texts from my Mother, encouraging me to ‘go out with someone quite ugly’ or to ‘lower your standards’. (Which I actually didn’t mind receiving at all, until I noticed that my little sister’s texts said things like, ‘Do not settle’ and ‘You are wonderful’). ‘I’m so old,’ my Mother wailed. ‘Can you believe it? I’m old.’

I didn’t really know what to say, because I have been sending my Mother little texts reminding her that the best days are behind her for months now, so I quietly waited for her to stop talking, so I could ask about my coat-dilemma again. Only she didn’t stop, so I had to firmly interrupt, and helpfully point out:

‘Mum. If you are young, wear short sleeves. If you are old, wear long sleeves.’ Which I think she also found helpful, because she stopped talking to stare at me in admiration. (Well, it was either that or some sort of age-related disorder, but I’m taking admiration).

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My Mother and Other Animals

My Mother has recently asked me if I want to take part in a Gorilla Run- a 7km Fun Run done whilst wearing a gorilla suit.

There are several things wrong with this. The first is that my Mother is the type of woman who swims with her hair never ever touching the water, and her very expensive sunglasses firmly in place. She once got off a transatlantic flight and went straight to her beauticians. She is not the type of lady who would like to run about wearing a gorilla suit.

Looking more carefully at the Gorilla Run website, I noticed that it was a Fun Run in aid of conserving mountain gorillas, a species ‘on the verge of extinction’. I do not wish to paint my Mother in an unflattering light, but as a person whose hatred of animals has no bounds, I fear she may in fact be on the side of extinction.

I looked once again at the email my Mother had sent me and my siblings: ‘Anyone want to do this?’ it asks. I fear that this is in fact some sort of test, and sadly both me and my sister, thrilled at the idea of ‘a gorilla suit of your own which you get to keep’, have certainly failed.

In other news, if you see any lone, disorientated Gorillas running about London, please ignore Zoo warnings and Do Feed The Animals. (I’m pretty sure this is the end of popping over to Mum’s for home-cooked meals and free toothpaste).

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