The fun started even before I got her home. On the train from Gatwick to Clapham Junction there was only one seat and Doris, my 84 year old mother took it. Unfortunately sitting beside her was a Goth in full regalia on route to hit the town, dressed in black with lots of metalwork piercings, painted face and heavy eye make-up. Quite attractive really- if ghouls are your thing.
Standard Operating Procedure in situations like this is to completely ignore scary people and avoid eye contact but this is Doris, so of course she decides to strike up a conversation with this ‘person?’ sitting beside her. I wasn’t sure how this was going to go but rather surprisingly the Goth smiled back and chatted away happily. The juxtaposition was startling, this little old lady from the ancient lands of Brigadoon contrasting sharply with some extra from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video.. if his arm had dropped off it would have been perfect..
I looked at Doris ‘s face and knew exactly what she was thinking. She was thinking “is this a man or a woman…?” . I knew it was a man but she wasn’t so sure so her conversational tact was a probing one “have you any (Goth) children?” “do you have a partner..?” “what’s your favourite colour, pink or black…?” , I was waiting for some sentence with the words “what’s a Prince Albert?” in it..
We got off at Clapham Junction and I knew she would ask me before we left the station platform – I put her out of her misery and told her he was a ‘he’, she looked shocked, why would a man wear make-up….. at that moment I thought I probably ought to take that poster of Boy George down from the guest bedroom wall before she gets home..
Ironically, it seems somewhat appropriate that Doris met a Goth on the train even before she got here because the entire evenings conversation last night was about who’s kicked the bucket at home. Consequently she seems to spend a lot of time at funerals and graveyards and I think that’s also the favoured place to hang out when you’re a Goth.. might as well go the whole hog Doris and put on the heavy black make-up – now THAT would put the fun back into fun-eral..
So, Doris (and Bob) settled in during the night but we had burglars, at least that’s what I first thought when I heard stumbling footsteps at 4am, then I realised it was either Bob or Doris looking for the loo in the dark – is it this door? “No!, Doris, this is my bedroom, the loo is in the next room..!” and then at 6:30 I listened to both of them fumbling around the kitchen looking for light-switches and the cornflakes. You will recognise the sound as cupboards are opened and closed almost immediately because it’s actually the fridge and doesn’t contain breakfast bowls. I had to look after two dogs one weekend and like all dogs they spent the entire first night exploring the flat and checking everything out, this is exactly what it felt like last night, Doris and Bob exploring, sniffing around, unfamiliar territory, trying to find simple things… like the loo..
I took them both out for walkies this morning, sorry, I mean a walk, it’s like having two large children, watching out for them and there’s this London phenomena call ‘traffic’, they don’t seem to realise that they aren’t actually meant to stop half way across the road because there’s a shiny penny on the ground and then take half an hour to pick it up whilst a red double-decker bus bears down on you. I try my best not to curse within earshot of them, don’t want to offend them but when I saw the bus coming at them full pelt I did let slip two words, the second one which was HELL!
I left them outside Tecos, the grocery chain with clear instructions not to go anywhere whilst I went across Tooting High street to use a hole in the wall machine. VERY clear instructions. I was only gone two minutes but when I came back they had both disappeared – at which point I thought do I just go home and hope, like homing pigeons or dogs they pitch up at the flat tired and hungry during the middle of the night with a big smile on their faces or do I contact PC Plod and get him to send out an APB… fortunately I noticed them in the charity shop next door haggling over the price of a second hand book with some bemused shop assistant. I retrieved them with “we don’t actually haggle in this country Doris, and especially not in charity shops…” sigh..
I noticed something strange yesterday, if you’re a bloke and walk down Tooting High Street with your baby/toddler son or daughter almost every woman will glance at you and involuntary smile because it’s so sweet, the same effect happens when you’re 50 and walk down the street with your 80+ mother, you get the same smile from woman, (you get the look of pity and ‘thank Christ that’s not me’ from men), just woman, maybe they think ‘now there’s a good catch, he’s capable of looking after a small dog, toddler, elderly mum (delete as appropriate). When I looked after that small Scottie dog for a weekend it was like a babe magnet, all these woman smiled at me and came over to stroke my Scottie (no, that’s not an euphemism!). If there was a Victoria Secrets shop in Tooting I would have taken Doris in there in the hope that some woman there would come over and stroke her and chat me up.. ok ok, I know taking 84yr olds into Victoria Secrets shop is probably going to raise a few eyebrows from the clientèle there but on the other hand wouldn’t you like to date the son of an 84 yr old who still visits Victoria Secrets??
Or perhaps not.
This evening I was surprised to see Doris about to eat some M&M’s, at least I thought they were M&M’s, turns out they were multi-vitamins, calcium tablets, cod liver oil tablets and about a zillion other tablets she thinks are necessary for an even longer life. I did wonder why she rattled like a tambourine when walking down the stairs this evening, now I know. I have to wonder about the logic of this though, why bother, like, come on, if you get to 84 you have pretty much beaten the Grim Reaper at his own game so why not live it up a little?
If (when!) I get to 84 then I’m going to live it up a little – or a lot, I’m going to take up smoking because, come on, it’s hardly going to fucking kill you, is it?, it takes years and years of smoking to do that and I’m going to take up serious drinking, no no, really serious drinking, I’ve been drunk twice in my life but I’m going to be drunk every friggin day because even if I start drinking heavily at 84 then the chances of me dying of liver failure is still going to be slim. And the other thing I’m going to do is partake in extreme sports because, fuck’it, if I die from a hang gliding accident or from sky-diving accident, well at least everyone will say he’s had a fair innings, it was his time. In the 90’s in LA there was this craze for thrill seeking kids to run out across the road and dodge the speeding traffic, for the kids doing it it was a real adrenaline buzz – and I dare say provoked a few heart attacks for the drivers as well, I think if I can get to 84 then I’m going to do the same thing, I’m going to dash out across Tooting High Street during the rush hour, I think I should get a real adrenaline buzz and feel really alive – and I should be OK – as long as I don’t spot a shiny penny in the middle of the road…