Feb 12, 2019: Text

Sometimes I genuinely worry about how easily I can understand my mum’s texting.

And this is not just a product of the stroke, this is something which she has been blessed with since she first gripped that second- or third-hand Nokia and tried to form a message before pressing the “loaf of bread” button to send it.

Mum’s texts are atrocious.

She has developed her own text speak, but without including anyone else in the process. So whenever anything comes, there’s nothing to refer to. It’s not like an acronym that the young people are using that has passed you by – you can’t give it a quick Google. This is my mum shortening text in a way that no-one who was around at the invention of language ever thought would happen.

For example, she texted me her shopping list the other day. I do her online shopping for her because it’s just easier. Since the stroke she won’t do real supermarkets unless Carole is with her and, obviously, she couldn’t – and definitely can’t now – use any sort of technology other than her £9.95 phone handset. So it’s a long text to me, and then I sort the shopping out.

I don’t do it straight away.

I need to be in the right frame of mind to do it. I have to be at my best, mentally, to overcome the challenges I might face. Like, for example, in the middle of the list she’ll insert her availability for deliveries because she’s just thought of it. Or she’ll repeat things several times and you have to weedle that out. Or she’ll press the buttons until she’s on numbers and not letters and then you have to translate her messages by working out button press sequences.

I should incorporate one of her texts into an escape room.

And people would be like, “What’s Ornjs?”

That’s how I used to be.

Now I know, straight away, no messing, that that means oranges.

But you also have to bear in mind that there isn’t any consistency between texts. Last time oranges was oranjs, you see. There is a common thread, but you do have to put in the work.

Ckn kt.

This is the best one she’s come up with so far.

Chicken Katsu that is. Normally I’ll get something like cat sick, because that’s how she lovingly refers to it. But today, she’s stripped out all the vowels and plenty of the consonants, like she’s in a hot air balloon that’s about to land on a roof and they’re frantically bailing stuff to gain altitude.

I’m not sure I should be proud that I can understand this.

The fact that this has nothing to do with the stroke – I mean, oh god, imagine if the doctors had done some sort of test on her texting skills instead of whether or not she could make toast – she’d still be in hospital now. I’d be having to provide historic texts of evidence of her mental wellbeing not having changed…