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Wednesday, 6 May 2009

so long

My father, who doesn’t type but seems to manage his iMac well enough to read my blog, e-mailed. It would be erroneous to condemn this for terseness since I can picture the flattering time taken in its creation, “I’m fed up with eBabe. Please arrange an uplifting piece mid-May for my return. With thanks.”
Who says the telegraph is dead.
I hastily inserted the mememememe below, just in case, to provide the necessary buffer. See? What a good girl.

Then I phoned them. But the planned big goodbye, prior to their trip away, dissolved into a predictable, “I’ll get your mother,” from my father, leaving me talking to myself. You have to entertain yourself in my life.
My mother bustled onto the line. I could hear the busy sashay across the seagrass and quaked slightly.

“Now, darling,” she said, “I’m in the middle of doing your father’s lunch.” This is code for Make it Snappy, honey, you’re last in line.
But she was sad because they were just back from depositing big black dog in dog-hotel, dog being very much on her last legs so my mother felt guilty and wretched and was raw from an epic farewell, and I was up for playing Mrs Nice because I’m kind like that.
Tears bring briskness. I understand that. They’re meant to pop the coil at ten years old, not hang on, however beloved, until gone 15. Newfoundlands that is, not mothers. Or, wise up, Newfies, with the requisite capital N (which my spellcheck quite rightly queries), to those in the know. Which by association I am, although I assert my right to protest that I am but a parvenu, and only elevated thus far by dint of the Newfie before last, Rupert, being drafted onto me by my fond mama (fond of Rupert you understand, more than me) as my bridesmaid. Really. A red ribbon and all. And you wonder why I have a dog thing?

“Have you packed? Ready to go?” I tried to inject a little eagerness into proceedings, a little briskness of my own of the Encouraging and Moving Swiftly On variety.
“Yes, well, almost, just one or two last minute things, which might call for a trip out to the Mall.” Ahhh, yes, happy panicking moments dithering over sun-factor 30? Or 40? at Boots out at Cribbs Causeway. We’ve all been there: no holiday complete without, and often the highlight, although way back factor 30 didn’t exist and the idea of 40 would have been thought "silly."
“But, if we die while we’re away, the books on the hall table are Clare’s.”
“First things first,” I said, the brake on the sardonic: the holiday’s meant to be fun, yes, not a call to last rites. My mission had been to wish them well on their jaunt round Petra, Libya, Sinai and co and, if anything, I guessed she might remind me in which books she hides the tenners.
“She’ll want them back.”
I promised to make it a priority. To be honest, I wasted time nursing a foolish fantasy, should death-talk kick in, that she might say something gruff, something rough and ready like, “You’re not a hamster and God knows you’ll never be a Newfie” (splutter), “but, if we die, you’re, well, you’re not too bad. You’ll do.”
Instead, I muttered my new mantra, ‘hall books, Clare; hall books, Clare’ a couple of times to give it a chance of staying in my memory.

There was more.
“And the cross, by the bed, large Indian thing.”
“Yes?” I said, for me, for me, to guard against the devil
“That’s for Andrew and Sarah, it’s written on the back so you won’t go wrong.”
“Fine, well, great, OK. Consider it done. Really, you mustn’t worry. Yes. Now make sure you have a fantastic time.” Half of me wondered which one of us would notice first that I was speaking as if to a 90 year old.

My brother rang. No 90 year old nonsense here. I asked him if he’d managed to speak to our parents before they went away.
“Yeah,” he said, “load of stuff about what’s ear-marked for Janet.” Janet being the cleaner.
“Oh,” I said, “I didn’t get Janet, I got Clare. Did you get Clare?”
“No,” he said, “Who’s Clare? Clare can fuck right off.”
“They’re Clare’s books.”
A telephonic Gallic shrug. “Et?”
“Did she say she loved you?” I asked, buoyed by the distance between Gloucestershire and Paris to venture bravely into intimacy land.
“No?” he said, surprised. This surprised me, him being ole wonder boy. “But she wouldn’t, not unless they actually did think they were going to die, that’s when you say that sort of thing. Afraid you’ve a long wait, old love, dream on.”

“Oh,” I said. “OK, there seems to be this cross.”
“Yeah, he said, “Andrew and Sarah…”
“Yes,” I said, remembering my semi-fervent promise, that which had fought with a need to remind my mother of Eliza Doolittle, the drunken aunt and the hat pin (My Fair Lady for the shaky of reference-getters) and been overcome. “What did you say.”
“I said I’d bear it in mind,” he said. “Best I could do.”
Quite why he remains her favourite baffles me.

29 comments:

ChrisH said...

We love you, Milla, and I'm sure your ma does too (in her own, it has to be said, rather formidable way), but just to be sure I'd find myself a red ribbon to tie round my neck if I were you. And, to be fair, I always remind the kids where the wills are kept when I'm off on a journey (but then, I'm using up my nine lives pretty rapidly). Lovely blog, m'dear.

Pipany said...

It's because she loves you so much maybe? I'm trying here Milla...sigh. I think it's always the children who keep in touch, help out regularly, etc who get overlooked. The others seem to be the adored though feckless it seems.

bodran... said...

You really had a newfoundland as a bridesmaid !!! LOL oh milla that deserves a blog of it's own if you could bear it.. x

Potty Mummy said...

And, just wondering, who ARE Andrew and Sarah? Are they particularly in need in redemption? Do they even WANT the cross?

Calico Kate said...

Oh Milla! Will Pops read this on their return?? Perhaps he will read snippets out and they will hit home and she will rush round arms wide .......? Non?

Thanks for visiting the other day, sorry hadn't read yours that eve, Yes, Yes will do Meme soonest - when have faced fallen over greenhouse (see moans in forum). You so weren't the last!!
CKx

Calico Kate said...

Oh Milla! Will Pops read this on their return?? Perhaps he will read snippets out and they will hit home and she will rush round arms wide .......? Non?

Thanks for visiting the other day, sorry hadn't read yours that eve, Yes, Yes will do Meme soonest - when have faced fallen over greenhouse (see moans in forum). You so weren't the last!!
CKx

Mud in the City said...

That cross - did she mean the Duke & Duchess of York? I'm sure they'd be delighted!

(Newfie as a bridesmaid is fabulous. Did she get a snog from the best man?)

KittyB said...

Ugh - snogging a dog, banish that thought from the last comment. Ugh again.

Anyhoo, I was reading Alexander Armstrong's column in this week's radio times and it struck me as familiar in style. And then it struck me again (ouch) that it was just like one of your blogs. Are you his ghost writer?

If Clare doesn't want the books I'll have 'em.

Exmoorjane said...

Big black dog? I thought it was a hamster. Dead hamster.
Petra? (not name of dog) seriously jealous.
Could make trite comment about appreciating mothers while still around but that would only instil guilt and not even be true so won't.
Somewhere in our bookshelves are two fifty pound notes - wedding present - neverbeen found.
Cross - is the devil still visiting?
She does love you, really - sometimes mothers just have weird ways of covering it up....
btw, link to mummy bloggers is on my blog now....go grab it with both paws.

lampworkbeader said...

Join the club with mothers, at least yours tells you her intentions. My eldest sister, who never lifted a finger, was the golden child, us other two mere after thoughts. sigh! Oops! sorry about the exclamation mark.

Fennie said...

That is so vintage Milla as to be, well, vintage Milla! And it made be laugh out loud which for a repressed old grump like me is always a good test of whether a piece is funny. But then I love Newfies having had two. Or rather, they, me, if you see what I mean. You are a wonderful observer and interpreter of human nature.

Frances said...

Milla, I completely understand that call with your folks, and the follow-up with your brother.

Something quite familiar about them.

xo

Milla said...

she loves me really, I know she does. thanks for your comments, chaps, just don't dream of taking me seriously, m'kay.

Pondside said...

Why were you talking to my parents?...and who gave you their number?
My dad writes email as though there's a charge per character. My mum's calls are now salted with 'don't forgets' of the last will and testament kind.
Uncanny.

Edward said...

As the lucky recipient of the best parents-in-law in the world, I'd just like to say that Milla's parents are, indeed, formidable, but in a very good way. As are the various Newfies (currently on the third that I know of).

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I felt a little like I was reading about a conversation between my own mother and her offspring, i.e. me, younger sis and older brother. 90, just about sums it up.

Great post, Milla.

CJ xx

Faith said...

Did you really have the dog as a bridesmaid? Surely not. Funny as always Milla.

(have you come up with a modern fairy tale yet?)

Cait O'Connor said...

This is so funny Milla, no-one else writes like you (that's a compliment by the way).

elizabethm said...

Love Edward's comment. When it is your turn to be a mother in law I suspect you too will be formidable, in a good way, obviously.
I am another who is puzzled by the cross - vampires?

Weeping Sore said...

"You have to entertain yourself in life." Inspired! If only I could apply that lesson when people annoy me. And people do.

Potty Mummy said...

Am definitely not taking you seriously, Milla. SO not seriously that I have given you an award.

Preseli Mags said...

I really loved this one, particularly your brother's comment regarding Clare. Is your mother close to the Duke and Duchess of York? As for the Newfie as bridesmaid (with ribbon), I won't believe it until I see photographic proof. Priceless.

Maddie Grigg said...

I thought it was just my family that did this sort of stuff. My mum's ornaments already have stickers with names on and my brother (the favourite) wants the big framed 19th century photos in his modern house only because he's afraid I'm after them.

sea-blue-sky & abstracts said...

Hi Milla

Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment - which was much appreciated!

When I visited your blog earlier there wasn't time to read everything and, not wanting to lose the contact, I decided to 'follow'.

Your writing is compulsive reading! Best wishes.

Lesley

Dave Pie-n-Mash said...

Hilarious! I am picturing your parents as Rosemary Leach and Geoffrey Palmer. Have you ever thought abut making a fly-on-the-wall documentary about them? You'd make a killing.

Milla said...

An outbreak of chortling, here, Dave. Casting would be more on the Claire Bloom / Ken Bates line. That will hurt. But he and I (father and me, not Ken and me, durrrr) were on a train once, Chelsea had just won (THANK GOD!) and walking through the compartments, a rousing chorus started up with all the fans slow clapping my pa and bellowing "one Kenny Bates, there's only one Kenny Bates ..." Seemingly there are 2 actually. One of them my father.

LittleBrownDog said...

I'm afraid I really do not get Newfies. Even as more of a dog person than Milla (well, admittedly that's not hard) - they're just so darned BIG. Make a nice rug, though... Perhaps that's what she's saving up for you. A rug with a dinky red ribbon in its topknot. To remind you of happier days? Am I getting warmer?

Kate said...

What a great idea, dog as bridesmaid. My dog is way too ADD to do it though!

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