Monday, 25 January 2010

Travelling with Mother

Living near my mother means that I now get the pleasure of driving her around if we both happen to need to go to the same place at the same time.

In the last week I have taken her to pick up a prescription once and to Morrison's twice. I've told her it's good preparation for when she gets properly old and I take her on little outings to non-events such as the launch of a new sandwich filling at the Garden Centre, but as she's just told me that her and her friends are having a 'Grand Day Out' on Thursday and travelling 30 odd miles to witness the opening of a new Waitrose, I think she's beaten me to it......

Anyway, I am already noticing a pattern to our journeys and it goes something like this:

1. THE FEAR: Whilst seated in the car she feels the need to clutch something - either her handbag or the seat belt running across her midriff. She looks vaguely petrified and whenever the car corners or brakes she lurches in a terrified manner. As nobody else lurches or clutches whilst sitting in that seat, I have put this down to a combination of her small stature, nervous disposition and the psychological effect of being powerless as one of your offspring drives a car. My kids are a long way off learning to drive but I can only imagine the terror.......

2. THE BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NEIGHBOURHOOD'S MISERY: She will make a comment about just about every house we pass and these comments rarely fill you with a sense of joy. No. In fact these comments seem to fall roughly into one of three categories:

Category A: Breakdown of a Marriage: As in - 'Her husband's left her because he was having an affair with a young Pole/she was addicted to on-line Bingo and lost their life savings/she was having an affair with a Lithuanian who came to do the garden'.

Category B: Terrifying Illness/Complications Of: As in -
'He's had 4 quadruple bypasses and a new liver. Can't speak anymore and his lost all his teeth', 'She went to Peru and caught a deadly monkey disease, they're raising money to find a cure and ship her to France', 'He was searching for a gas leak, lit a cigarette and was blown the length of the A38. Never been the same man since'.

Category C: Dogs: As in - 'They've got Cocker Spaniels', 'She has a Westie, called Willy', 'They have Red Setters, not the most sensible of dogs.....'.

Category C isn't too terrifying until you combine it with the above to form:

Category D: Dogs combined with marriage breakdown/terrifying illness: As in - 'They had a Black Lab but he took it when he left to live with a woman in Wookey Hole and broke her heart. She spends her days wandering the lanes clutching its empty lead....', 'They bred Yorkshire Terriers until they both contracted Ebola, lost all their limbs and couldn't walk them anymore.........'.


Funnily enough category E is 'Suicide' (or attempted suicide) by resident or relative of someone in that house. I can only figure that they've all given my mother a lift to Morrisons at some point and never got over it.

3. NICKNAMES: She knows many of the people we drive past but if I ask her who they are she never replies 'John' or 'Freda'. No. She gives me names such as (and this is a direct quote from this afternoon's conversation):

'Whose that guy with the Springer Spaniel you are waving at?'
'Mixed Grill and a bottle of Rioja'.
'No I asked you what his name is'.
'Yes I know. Mixed Grill and a bottle of Rioja. Well actually NO. That was his name until they changed the menu at the pub. Now it's 'Steak dinner and a bottle of Shiraz'.

Erm, moving on.......

4. DISAPPEARING IN SHOPS: One minute she's standing next to me tutting at the quality of the eggs, the next she's gone. It's a bit like the toddler only she's not known to slap random women on the arse of expose her 'ding ding'. Oh and she doesn't make shrieking noises or scream NOOOOOOOO which makes it harder to locate her. I have to wander the aisles looking for a smallish woman in a navy blue fleece (which narrows it down to about 1/2 the women in the shop and doubles my shopping time).

Is this how mothers pay their (adult) children back for all those times they drove them mad in Tescos?

Hmmm, in that case, I have a lot of planning to do......


  1. Oh yes! It's a mother's right to embarrass their offspring! Mine used to strike up a conversation with anyone,anywhere.
    Loving your mother's descriptions though - it sounds like quite a neighbourhood.
    Sue xx

  2. Are you quite sure we don't have the same mother? The handbag/seatbelt clutching thing is EXACTLY what she does when I am behind the wheel.....:)

  3. My parents do the nicknames thing too. Their neighbours include The Pirhanas, Short Pants, Bo Diddly, Mrs Halifax Town and New Short Pants.

  4. 1 & 2 definatly sound like my mother in law - full of death and misery - and I will not drive her anywhere because of the seat belt clutching terror! If she got lost in the supermarket tho I would probably just go home!!!

  5. Oh God I must be getting old as I refer to people by nicknames all the time. I must stop talking about the woman across the road as "Shake and Vac".
    (found your blog via Not Waving but Ironing - she can always spot a good-un!!)

  6. Oh Vic, Hilarious as ever. Mwah x

  7. I know the fear! My mother is the worst passenger with me driving. (I am sure it says more about her than about my driving skills, by the way) clinging with both hands to the passenger door and with her eyes shut, almost hyperventillating.

  8. It appears there are a whole raft of women of a certain age out there, traveling the country whilst clinging on desperately!

    My OH is terrible at the nickname thing (as some of you may know from the posts about Mr Squirrel) so it's not just my mum! Bex - I am intrigued by 'Mr Short Pants' and then NEW 'Mr Short Pants'. I need more on this situation...;)

  9. I've just dribbled coffee all down my Winceyette nightie laughing at this - hilarious! At least she hasn't progressed to category F - lulling you into a false sense of security, 'You know Tony from number 23, who's got the Mastiff and the limp?' 'Yes.' 'And whose daughter Jean works at Safeway?' 'Yeeesss.' 'Well he's DEAD! DEAD AND BURIED! Brain aneurysm last week!'