Mother has been invited to her friends 90th birthday lunch at a local manor house, I have offered to drive her there and back. The lunch starts at 1pm, so I have been commanded to pick her up at noon for the 15-minute journey to the restaurant. As I arrive at her house, she is, as I anticipated, standing in her open doorway wedged between the doorframe and her walking-stick like a ‘string cut puppet’. I have to admit, she brushes up quite well and I feel a moment of rekindled affection for the old bird.
The usual rigmarole getting her into the car, instructions, directions and incesant driving advice. On the way she expresses her concern that she maybe seated next to that awful woman Gertrude, who apparently has eyes like E.T, halitosis and teeth like a Victorian rocking horse. After negotiating the restaurant steps, I guide her into the bar and leave her with her fellow pink rinsers, managing to slip out quickly thereby avoiding the usual barrage of criticism for neglect.
I leave my phone number with the receptionist and instructions to call me when my mother has finished her meal, or is too tipsy for public display.
The phone rings at 2.30 and I make my way back. Sadly, I am slightly too early but settle for a coffee and a slice of birthday cake at the back of the room. Mother is in full flow regaling her fellow diners with a story about an Anne Summers party she attended in the 1970’s. Apparently, one of the girls went up stairs to insert some love eggs, but on the way back down the eggs fell out which she promptly slipped on, careered down the stairs and broke her ankle.
On the way back home, mother tells me that one of the ‘Gang’, Sybil, is now in a nursing home and screaming the place down. It seems that Sybil was quite a prude all her life, and the only person to ever seen her naked was her G.P. So it came as no surprise to my mother that Sybil wails like a banshee when a six-foot four male carer she has never met before, sticks a cold flannel up her nightdress twice a day.