My Mother has returned from Los Angeles where she has been visiting one of my sisters for a month. It's been rather quiet round here. Disconcertingly quiet. It's difficult not to miss hourly phone calls with regular updates on the dog's appetite/Shirley-the-Competition's latest downfall/the new rich tea biscuits Recently Discovered/Dad's vasectomy (still a matter of interest twenty years later apparently, he's never been the same poor fellow).
But miss them I did, not least because I had to steal myself to enquire about any particular area of obsession of My Mother's and report dutifully on progress or lack of in a weekly e-mail to my sister. The report was then printed out for My Mother's perusal and comment (she can't read the computer language on the screen and has to have it translated into English by the printer). Have you ever asked your Dad about the state of his vasectomy? The one he's forgotten he had? The one where he's never been the same poor fellow and has probably forgotten about on purpose. No? Well I have, once a week for a month, and it doesn't get any easier. I don't think he realises you see, that My Mother has his vasectomy down as Particular Point of Interest (PPI). I think she just checks surreptitiously, how I don't know and I am unwilling to debate the possibilities. So now Dad thinks that I have developed a once weekly curiosity about his fertility capabilities, or lack of them. I think he has concluded that I have deemed it Husband's Time, because he keeps looking at him mournfully and patting him on the shoulder with a kind of there there hunch of the shoulder. I swear I even heard him whisper you'll never be the same.
So the best thing about My Mother returning from LA is release from Vasectomy Watch (coming to a screen near you) and now I simply have to listen to updates rather than research the material myself. Ah, bliss.
Such was the anticipation that I even offered to pick her up from Heathrow myself, oh yes, I even told My Mother myself. Oh darling, she breathed, that is grown up of you. Now, when you get to the airport look for ARRIVALS. She spelled arrivals for me in case I had trouble spotting the sign, I was all set.
I arrived at Terminal Two fairly buoyant, it's amazing what a month away can do to soothe the nerves and plant Forgetful Fug in you memory. Crikey, I was even giving fond inner smiles to our hourly conversations, her A-line skirts, Deidre Barlow perm, beige Hush Puppies (well, it had been a month).
I stood, eager and excited, tiptoed and straining trying to catch a glimpse of her through the ARRIVALS channel (see, I had done my homework). Her plane had landed but so had eighteen others so it was a little difficult to check everyone who was coming through. And then I heard it. The Cooo ee! that the Forgetful Fug had hidden from my memory. It pierced my brain, blasting away the Fug in the manner of a sonic blaster gun. This Cooo ee! takes no prisoners, it says here I am, take notice of me, and if you don't I'll shout it louder. Soprano. I whipped around trying to catch her, to let her know another greeting wasn't necessary. Once again I was in the playground, surrounded by giggles, whispers and points (I eventually solved the Playground Problem by telling My Mother that all students over seven were expected to walk to and from school on their own as part of Independence Training. I told my friends that My Mother had run off to be a lion tamer. It was believable) My eyes focused across the barrier in the direction of the call. Focused and re focused. That was her wasn't it? It was, it was, but different. She was wearing a leotard. And matching stirrup tights. And leg warmers. And head band (sparkly).
She had, as she informed me later, found her inner self in LA. She'd discovered something alright but I fear it was her inner, older, fatter, Jane Fonda.
There you are dude she yelled across the concourse (dude?), and to my shame and horror she dropped her bag and proceeded to lift her leg high in the air and wrapped it around her head. Power Yoga she breathed, it'll do you the world of good sister (Sister?). It'll get rid of those saddle bags of yours! It'll help with your cellulite too, although I don't think even Power Yoga can deal with it all. And the wonky way you walk, I'm sure it's because of your weak core darling, we'll soon get you sorted out. She clutched her saddle bagged, cellulite sodden, wonky walking, weak cored middle daughter by the arm and marched me out of Terminal Two.
I'd missed her, oh yes. But never mind, she plans to make up the time I have missed with frequent visits as opposed to phone calls. In fact she's on her way now, bin liner in hand, to De Carb my house.