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Blog : Posts tagged with 'The Mother' : Page 1

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Obituary

In which the cat, finally, is not going to return


The phone rang on Saturday morning, and The Mother was on the end. “I’ve got some bad news,” she said.

As a conversation opener, it’s not exactly ideal; but it is, at least, straight to the point. “What is it?”

“The cat’s died.”

The cat has been in The Parents’ care for the past 18 months or so, ever since we moved down to Bristol. Nevertheless, he was still always My Cat, and there was always the thought that one day he might move back in with us, once we had a house in a cat-friendly area (check) and cat-flap-friendly doors (uncheck).

Cat at Christmas

My dad found him, on Saturday morning, stretched out dead just inside the cat flap. No signs of injury. The night before, he’d been happy, relaxed and purring; the parents did not try to find out why he had died. He was about a month or so short of his tenth birthday.

Sad to think that I’ll never again be woken by him climbing on top of me and miaowing. He was, I always thought, an unusually intelligent cat: it’s hard to be sure, but I’m confident he understood at least five or six words of English, and when he was a bit younger he regularly wanted to play fetch. He also managed to survive three months living wild, a few years back, after The Mother lost him en route to the vet. Maybe there will be other cats one day, but they’re all distinct.

In a few months time, I might suggest to The Parents that they take on a rescue cat, because I’m sure The Mother is going to miss having him around the house. For now, though, I’ll content myself with getting annoyed at the random neighbourhood cats that dig up our back garden; and remember lying back in bed stroking one cat in particular.

Cat

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Nationality

In which the family seem foreign


My parents are not Norwegian. They’re English, have hardly ever left England, don’t speak any languages other than English. Until last week, my mother hadn’t had a foreign holiday for 35 years, and my dad had never had one at all.

Now, often, you can look at someone, and spot their nationality. It happened to me in Paris the other month: I only had to go up to someone and say “Um … bonjour?” and I’d get: “Hello, can I help you.” Sometimes the hello came first, so I’m sure it wasn’t just the accent or the awkward pause. I’d assume that the same would apply to the parents too, as they’ve hardly ever left Britain.

But no: they set off for their first foreign holiday together after 30 years married, and they get on the ferry to Norway. They arrive at the ferry terminal in Newcastle, where you’d think the staff would be used to spotting the difference between Norwegian and English people. All of a sudden, everyone, even the English terminal staff, automatically assume they’re Norwegian. Getting on the ship, they’re being greeted: “hello … hello … hello …” – then as soon as The Mother appears on the gangplank, the greeter switches to Norwegian.* Why, she has no clue. Apparently, people from Norway, people from Newcastle, people who meet a lot of Norwegians, automatically assume my mother is one too. Strange.

(and on their return, they brought me a giant sausage. Which appears to be Danish. But that’s a blog for another day, when I’m not too lazy to get the camera out to shoot a picture of it)

* Whether Bokmål or Nynorsk, I don’t know – as the parents don’t actually know any Norwegian of either sort beyond “Does anyone know where the toilets are?” they didn’t appreciate the subtlety – never mind the subtler still differences between spoken and written languages.

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A failure of logic

In which we don’t always believe in belief


You often hear people saying something along these lines:

Something horrible happened, but we survived. And then something else horrible happened, but it could have been so much worse. Someone Up Above must be looking after us, because we got through it.

My mother has said it a lot in the past, but she’s not the only one. And every time I think: hang on a minute. If someone has their eye on you, if someone saved you, why did it happen to start with? Why did you need to be saved? If someone’s looking after you, how did something so horrible happen?

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The churchgoer in the street

In which major international issues do not disturb the local parish


Given that today, in the news, there’s rather a lot about the slowly-growing and now likely forthcoming schism in the Anglican church, I thought I’d ask the average churchgoer in the street about it. Well, the average churchgoer who is also my mother, at any rate. She’s a fairly average “active” Anglican, though. She’s white, middle-class, female, edging towards elderly, lives in a commuter village, and goes to church every week. She’s a Sunday School teacher, has organised the parish’s Christian Aid collections, sings in an ecumenical Christian parish singing group,* and generally is far more active and puts more effort into religion than most churchgoers, never mind the huge percentage of Anglicans who tick the relevant box on the census but never cross the threshold of a church for anything other than weddings and funerals.

So, I said: “what are you going to do if the church splits in two? Is anyone going to leave St. Nick’s over it?”

Her answer: “What split?”

“You know, the one that has been rumbling for the last few years.” I tried to explain how the rather homophobic Peter Akinola is a figurehead for a group of largely-American homophobic conservatives, who do not like the Archbishop of Canterbury and have been threatening for some time to lead a schism, sometimes in the hope of bending him to their will, sometimes apparently meaning it.

“I’ve not heard about any of that,” she said. “We don’t talk about that sort of thing at church. That’s nothing to do with us.”

So, there you have it. I don’t think The Mother is particularly ignorant. As I said above, I think she’s probably less ignorant than your average churchgoer is likely to be, because she takes a very active interest. But to her, the politicking of a motley band of Americans and Africans isn’t important. An earthquake in Lambeth Palace isn’t important. The Second Coming occurring in the Lady Chapel of our parish church probably wouldn’t disturb most of the congregation, so long as it didn’t disrupt the Mothers Union or the bellringers, and everyone still got a cup of tea (or coffee) after the Sunday communion service. For your average English Anglican, dogma is something you recite during the service without really listening or understanding. It certainly isn’t something to get all argumentative about.

* where “ecumenical” means “Anglican and Methodist”, because they’re the only churches in the village. I’m not sure what they’ll do if those often-suggested plans to subsume British Methodists within Anglicanism ever make much progress.

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Things I have accomplished

In which things get listed


This week, I have managed to:

  • be completely baffled about the nature of relationships, women, and other people in general.
  • Make someone happy, just by putting a website online for them
  • (I didn’t even design the website myself)
  • Explain the meaning of the term “shaggy dog story”
  • Annoy my mother, as per usual
  • Annoy the cat, by ignoring him when he tries to wake me up at 5am
  • Let other people get me down (see point 1)
  • (yes, I know they’re not numbered)
  • Let me get myself down
  • And thus piss off most of the other people I know, by moping constantly.

On the other hand, I can always cheer myself up by reading what people have been searching for on the net, that has led them on a misguided goose-chase to this place:

drunken squirrel – sorry, no clue
carpenter furniture jokestart here and be prepared to groan
birthday presents for goths – black things? Possibly?
things you do automatically – I’m not sure. They’re automatic. I don’t really notice them.
how to snog a colleague – use your tongue
gerbils show around west midlands – I really have no clue now
“i hate grimsby” – don’t we all, dear
extreme kidnapping fantasies – Oh-kay…
sex in forest – …that’s enough of that, I think.

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Experimental breakfasts

In which The Mother tries to prepare something healthy


Ever since I moved back in with The Parents, The Mother has been insistant that I have a Proper Breakfast. Unfortunately for me, her idea of a Proper Breakfast was always a bowl of corn flakes. I’ve never been a fan of breakfast cereal,* and tried to explain to her that there’s not that much justification for eating it. It was originally invented by an enema-obsessed nutritionist who was very concerned about bowel movements, and believed that masturbation was evil. His brother added salt and sugar to make it more palatable. If you think it doesn’t taste very good now, bear in mind that the current Managing Director of Kelloggs Europe has admitted that “if you take the salt out you might be better off eating the cardboard carton for taste”.

The stick approach doesn’t work with The Mother very easily, though. You can point out how unhealthy something is until you’re blue in the face – and I did, pointing her to articles such as the one that quote is taken from. It wasn’t until my dad told her that the Sunday Times was claiming that new research had worked out the healthiest breakfast of all. A “traditional German breakfast”, apparently, consisting of “cheese, ham, and rye bread”. So, the next day there was two slices of toast, a plate of sliced ham** and a selection of cheeses on the breakfast table at 6.30.

It was … well, different, at any rate. Better than cornflakes, certainly, and I told her so. The next day it was back onto the corn flakes; but today, a bacon baguette was waiting. Excellent!

I know how my mother’s mind works. She heard that German breakfasts are healthy. She prepared the nearest thing, in her mind, to “ham and rye bread” – a bacon roll. So now, she thinks not only that a bacon roll is a traditional German breakfast, but that they are intrinsically Good For You. This is definitely a good-looking development if you ask me.

* “Pencil shavings,” as at least one Roald Dahl character called it.

** pre-sliced supermarket sandwich ham, I think. Probably far higher in salt than corn flakes, but don’t tell the mother that.

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Returned

In which the cat comes back


Back in July, my mother lost the cat, accidentally releasing him on the way to the vet’s. She spent hours putting up posters in that part of town, searching round the neighbourhood, answering calls from people who thought they had seen him, but to nothing. After a month or so, the calls dried up, and we assumed he wasn’t coming back.

Yesterday, I got home from work. I went upstairs, changed out of my work clothes, and went to the bathroom. In there, I heard something squeak. A door, or something, squeaking once then twice, just like the cat used to miaow. Strange, I thought, opening the bathroom door to find him wandering on the landing, rubbing against the corners of the walls.

The mother had a phone call yesterday, from an elderly woman living maybe a quarter of a mile from where he had gone missing. She’d been feeding him for about a fortnight, and happened to go in a shop which still had his poster on the wall. She phoned us, dragged him out from underneath her sofa, and the cat came back. He’s lurking in the garden now, trying to re-establish his position in cat society.

Cat

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Missing

In which the cat is lost


Talking about pets: the cat has vanished. Not near home, either.

The mother was taking him to the vet, on Monday, in his cat box. She was a few paces away from the surgery – a mile or so from home – and the cat box, in her words, “fell apart”. It’s a plastic affair, with a removable lid, and it’s picked up by the lid too; so if you haven’t done up the catches right, it will fall apart. And The Mother has never shown any ability to be able to do up the catches right. I have shown her how to do it many, many times, but she still refuses to learn.

The cat immediately scarpered, and hasn’t been seen since. Since then we’ve had thunderstorms and constant rain, and The Mother – when she isn’t out looking for him – keeps saying things like “oh the poor dear, I hope he’s found shelter somewhere.” Which makes me think: no, you’re not allowed to say that. You would be allowed to say that if the whole thing wasn’t completely your own fault.

More than anything, I’m angry. I’m always angry with my parents at some level, because they are intensely annoying people. This, though, has left me angrier than normal. My mother has always been annoyingly semi-competant, being able to grasp 90% of an idea, but missing out the 10% that actually gives it its shape and flavour.* Most of the time it isn’t a big problem, but occasionally, it matters.

* Like the time she saw “Thai curry sauce” in the supermarket, the sort that you add to stir-fried vegetables, and thought “Ooh, I’ll make a Thai curry.” So she cooked some mince, heated it up in a pan with some tinned kidney beans, and added the stir-fry sauce to it. Ta-daa, “Thai curry”. It wasn’t inedible, but she didn’t seem to understand that she’d actually made something entirely different.

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Heart of darkness

In which The Mother is suspicious


The mother seemed a little concerned yesterday. “You’ve been wearing a lot of black clothes lately,” she said.

“Yes?”

“Are you a goth?”

I had to run away so I could burst out laughing. No, mother, I’m not a goth. There’s more to being a goth than wearing black trousers and a black t-shirt for a night out. “No,” I told her, “and besides, I know lots of goths who wear things that aren’t black.”

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End of the week

In which we dislike all politicians, and wonder what to give The Mother for her birthday


The week in summary: behind on blog posts, behind on reading, slightly up on real work.

When I came up with the post categories for this site, “Political” was in there from the start. From the start, I knew the position I’d be writing from: my political stance is that you can’t trust any of them.* It’s good to see that the latest political funding row bears that stance out. Or, it would be good, if none of these people had any power.** It’s slightly scary to think that some of them run the country.

Now that the sun’s out, it’s about time I started planning more holidays. Renewing my passport would probably be a good plan, too – but can anyone suggest places to go? Something else I could do with suggestions on: birthday presents for The Mother. Her birthday’s coming very soon, and I really have no idea what to get.

* Well, it’s more complicated than that, but that’s the most important part.

** The Tories don’t have much, of course, but you never know what might happen in the future.

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