It was my mum’s birthday on Monday. As ever, my sister and I have made it look like we have co-ordinated our cards by buying her ones which are designed to look as if the least bit of effort, thought or care has been put into choosing them.
We bought my mum a blue poppy which is, apparently, quite a needy plant when it comes to looking after. Absolutely the best thing to get a woman who can only see out of half of her eyes and is occasionally convinced someone has stolen stuff from the garden because she’s not looked at it properly. I can only assume that when Carole found this present the shop must have been all out of puppies.
My mum’s friends whisked her away for a couple of days in Lancaster. I don’t know if it was for her birthday, or just a coincidence that the two happened to coincide, but it’s definitely something that happened. So she was incommunicado for a short time. My uncle, doing his brotherly duties, attempted to check in with my mother during this period and was, understandably, worried that something had befallen her.
He sent me an email asking if everything was alright. Which made me think, if anything, that he assumes that if things weren’t alright I wouldn’t be letting people know. Whereas I most definitely would. Anyway, I explained that mum was away for a few days and when she would be returning.
He made contact when she got back.
I know that, because I have another email from him.
It’s quite a short one.
It says “I am now looking at a bill for 1 hour, 33 minutes and 1 second.”
There’s a greater than 90% chance he was phoning from France.
My mum is a absolute demon when it comes to talking on the phone. To such an extent that she refuses to take the handset out of the base unit at home because – she complains – the battery only lasts for an hour before it goes flat and cuts her off.
And just to make this clear, mum is absolutely terrible at speakerphone. It sounds like she’s miles away. I understand why she does it (sort of), and I know it’s a lot easier for her than holding the phone and faffing that way, but it’s like talking to her when she’s at the bottom of a well. I don’t know whether to listen to her slagging off the neighbours or get someone with a rope to go round and try and pull her out.
And my uncle had that for an hour and a half. Of his money. From France. Probably.
We baulk at twenty minutes sometimes. We run a very strict policy in this house. My mother can only be called after 7pm, when it’s free. It’s just too big a risk to take any other time, unless it’s a huge emergency. She phones me willy-nilly during daylight hours to tell me things she’s just remembered, or ask how to change a battery. She once rang to complain tattoo fixers wasn’t on TV only for us, eventually, to work out she was an hour early. This is the sort of thing we deal with. We talk for ages. And then when I see her she asks if there is any way she could lower her phone bill.
I’m not surprised she was on with my uncle for an hour and a half. It’s an easy trap to fall in. She’s like the telephonic equivalent of a mermaid luring sailors to their doom on some sharp rocks. She lures you in and before you know it, you’ve grown a beard.
And she’s on hand’s free with the sun providing all her electricity.
She could go for ever.