Mother courage October 24, 2007Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
My mother’s visit is so close I can feel its tepid breath on my neck. It also coincides with the Russian deciding it’s time to update our lives and me finally dropping off the pace after a valiant effort to keep up with the world.
Darlings, what do I do with a mother in town for A WEEK? Yes, a week. In almost November, when even I – and I am not in my 70s – only want to leave the house for three seconds at a time because it’s so utterly arctic. Your tips would be greatly appreciated. Let me give you a few tipping tips by telling you something about my mother and the sort of things she likes to get up to…
German knowledge: n/a (although that’s not surprising, seeing as she’s never studied the language and that’s not much worse than I speak it and I’ve lived here for 6 years)
So it’s 24/7 mum.
My sister and I sniggered as we booked her flight over the internet while chatting on the phone. “What am I going to DO with her for a week? We don’t even get Home and Away.” My sister had my mother’s card to book the flight, which was a great show of trust in itself, as my mother usually shields her details from me when we visit a cashpoint machine together like a girly swot hiding their schoolwork. The flight, inevitably, cost 2p. “Mum, it’ll be 2p,” my sister shouted. “Can’t you get it cheaper?” my mother inquired reasonably. I assumed she wouldn’t be going for the voluntary carbon-offsetting payment.
My mother’s been to Berlin once before. In November. For a week. It was so freezing she couldn’t bear to leave the house and she loathed every second of her stay. She said our house was disgusting – we’ve moved since – and if we had that type of curtains… and we really shouldn’t eat mince… and if we just put a little bit aside every month, we’d be as rich as Croesus in no time. My mother is very much from the you-were-lucky generation, not realising, of course, that she was, in fact, very lucky to be around at the time when it was possible for a 21-year-old newly-wed to buy a house in central(ish) London for 30p…
So it’s been a hive of activity here to try to dedisgustingify our flat. The only practical thing I can do is paint. In fact, and I don’t know why I’ve been endowed with this ability, I can do it better than the Russian and that gives me trillions of bigger-cock points and him woeful cock-shrink. But not wanting to allow this skill of mine not to be put to good use and, let’s face it, painting is also rather unpleasant, which means the Russian thinks it’s trebly worthwhile, my beloved is always looking out for an opportunity where I can don my mask (which I remove after three seconds because I can’t breathe) and get busy with my roller. (Darlings, but I’m so a brush-man. Rollers are pants.)
One piece of good luck for me is that the Russian is, like most Russians, a great believer in the temporary solution. So rather than us repainting the whole damned flat, we just scoot around the place – it doesn’t take long – looking for non-white patches and agree to rewhiten those. I rewhitened like nobody’s business and pretended manlily not to notice when I could see the Russian looking on in loving admiration of the fact that I was a) occupied doing something useful and unpleasant and b) occupied at all. He offered me tea. “Got any cake?” I asked in my best Estuary and then tried to pinch his arse.
So the flat’s presentable for Mrs. Inberlin senior, but what about the cultural programme? Normally, for the home bits of any visitor’s stay, we have the wonders of the internet for them to play with and the map of Europe in the hall for them to stare at. But my mother is pre-internet and doesn’t believe in Europe. She’d rather die than leaf through one of my (four) books. No, the telly is her only friend. I zapped through our channels to see if anything passed muster. Euronews might have her entertained for nineteen seconds and the soft porn bemused for another twenty. “Darling, if we move the furniture around, might we be able to get a different set of channels?” “No, but ve kyen buy anuzzer recyeivyer.”
We trotted off to my least favourite shop in the world with bright lights, spotty assistants and wall-to-wall electrical goods. Darlings, and this is where I realised I have officially become old. My only other boyfriend of note was older than me so I have always felt young. I was the one who was lavished in praise for being able to set the video. But the technology carousel has either just picked up enough speed or I’ve just lost enough strength to be thrown off the ride and cast into gadget oblivion. I don’t mind in the least.
We found the receiver. The Russian compared it to others and spoke to me in tongues. “Hmm, maybe TBS4 recyeivyer eez byettyer zan TBS5.” He then had manly conversation with one of the spotty assistants about which wire he’d need to be able to use both at once and I wandered round the shop. And, darlings, I didn’t know what most of the things were. I approached one thing which looked quite pleasing. A flattish oblong with engaging lights. I whittled my choices down to a scanner or a sandwich-toaster. The Russian reappeared at my shoulder sporting fresh bruises, blood and singed hair. “Oh, what happened to you?” “Oh, you know, ze assistyent and I decide to khev fight and light our farts for manly fun.” “Oh I see… Darling, do you think this thing is a scanner or a sandwich-toaster?” “It’s lifestyle,” he answered curtly. Please no-one tell me what a lifestyle is. I want to live in mother-level ignorance of all developments from here on in.
We still haven’t got Home and Away, but we do have a million Arabic channels and the soft porn’s got softer.