“The chain’s on.” HWIOO pushed the door, “Mam? Mam, it’s me. Are you alright?”
Moment’s later we were greeted by a figure peering at us through the glass, “You’re not supposed to be here until tomorrow. You’ll have to go away and come back then.”
“No, Mam. I said on the phone it would be the 30th.”
“That’s tomorrow.” The door was still being held half closed and we were looking nervous on the doorstep. Presumably this is how double glazing sales persons and certain well-known groups of door-to-door religious persons must feel.
“No. It’s today. I said.” HWIOO tried again, “Remember.”
“You never did. Well I suppose you’d better come in if you’re not coming back tomorrow. Are you sure you’ve got the right day?”
“Yes Mam. I said when I rang you on Wednesday that we’d see you on Friday 30th.”
“But you always come on Saturday.”
By now I was beginning to wonder what was going on in there…tea dance; poker game; toy boy; chocolate gateau…as it turned out, and so far as I could see, none of the above.
HWIOO explained again.
“And I wish you wouldn’t mumble.”
“Hello Mam,” I bellowed when I was finally allowed across the threshold.
“What have you done to your hair?”
“Nothing.” They probably heard me next door but one. I patted my updo to check that there were no stray ends. My friends Tatiana and Stan once said it was a Victorian governess hairdo and it’s usually modelled by ladies into 1950’s vintage style so it’s not exactly cutting edge but I love the fact that I can do it.
“Well I don’t like it. You should get yourself a haircut and a nice perm now you’ve reached your age.”
I didn’t ask what age but quite clearly the implication was I’ve reached the mutton masquerading as lamb stage of my existence. A fact that was confirmed when we told Mam that we are hoping to move to a larger house very soon.
“Why do you want to do that? You’re both getting on you know. You should be downsizing – and what do you want a garden for?”
HWIOO ran through the fact that the Number One Daughter and the little madams come to stay and then there’s Kaitlin, Bernie and Jupiter and Venus as well as the Mater not to mention the Number One Son. “And,” he said, “there’s all the books. We need a room that we can use as a study.”
Mam sniffed. “What do what to keep books for at your age?”
It was, I decided, going to be a long day – and it didn’t look like there was going to be a cup of tea let alone a fatted calf.