When it was 37 degrees a few weeks ago, I had to work late so my husband was the first home. He enquired with his mother, who was childminding, why there were no windows open. She said she 'didn’t know if that was something we did'.
His dad is obsessed with traffic. It is his main subject of conversation with his friends, and he will always know before us if my husband’s train has been cancelled. Imagine having the time and inclination to get up at 6.30am every morning and check your 39-year-old son’s train is running.
He is also obsessed with our bins. He rearranges them, squashes more recycling into fewer recycling bags, takes out stuff to keep. Shortly after having Deceptively Angelic Looking Child 2 I had to make him stop going through our bins because they were full of those enormous sanitary towels they give you in hospital. Used, of course. Worse (well, maybe not worse…) he takes stuff that isn’t rubbish. We found our old toaster in use in their garage. And don’t get me started on why the toaster is in use in the garage and not the kitchen. The point is we hadn’t finished with that toaster.
Recently, I took my mum to London to see Barbra Streisand. On the way she asked me if I could show her how to make a contactless payment. When I got over the shock that she had never made one previously (because 'she was scared it might go off in her handbag') I said I didn’t really need to show her, you just tap your card on the machine. But alas she did make me show her, one step at a time (FYI there is only one step). As we walked through Hyde Park a bird crowed and she stopped a woman to ask if she was wondering what kind of bird it was. The woman couldn’t speak English and for a few minutes I wanted to die as the woman tried to be polite as my mum KEPT TALKING TO HER about the bird in the tree that the woman hadn’t even noticed.
She is one for a fad with books like 'Becoming a Supple Leopard' dotted around her house; there is always a lot of one particular food, like five pineapples on the worktop the other week, or bags and bags of prunes the week before, or molasses the week before that, based on what she has read in the Sunday Times about them, and her YouTube search history is really quite something- lately she is obsessed with One Direction and Eddie Redmayne. Once I asked her where her bowls were. She said, 'bowls? What do you mean bowls?' Not only had she decided to get rid of all her bowls, she had erased their very existence from her memory.
We had a carpenter in recently to build a window seat in our bedroom. He was cutting wood in the front drive and had a little chat with my mum when she popped over. Then he went upstairs and continued his work. Thirty seconds later my mum went upstairs and thought he was a second builder and had the same conversation with him again. He even said 'That’s my identical twin downstairs' but she didn’t cotton on.
These are people who were doing important jobs just a few years ago.
Then of course there is Barbra herself, who sang Silent Night in July and at one point brought on her cloned dogs.
At the other end of the age spectrum I have to live with someone who cried yesterday because she 'didn’t know how to draw a pexagon' and someone who thinks it is normal to roll her peas across the dining table and catch them in her mouth in the style of Hungry Hippos.
Here’s to us, the ones in the middle, the workers, the ones keeping the economy going, the ones who don’t have time to put out their bins let alone ferret through them. The ones who have made a thousand contactless payments in the last year alone and, if typing in your PIN takes ten seconds, savour the 2.7 extra chargeable hours that has saved them. And here’s to Barbra Streisand. I won’t be cloning the Enormous Puppy any time soon but a little bit of me would like to be that awesome and crazy.