“Your sister’s just got a lap-dog.”
On the other end of the phone, my friend was perplexed by her mother’s news.
Her sister had never seemed the type. She was no image-mad Paris Hilton; surely she’d never do a Britney and do portable pet chic. Although Jacqui must be South Yorkshire’s undisputed accessories queen, a woman with several hundred pairs of shoes (I kid ye not) and a jangly necklace to match every outfit, she’d never had a sibling rival champing at her well-shod heels for the title.
She simply couldn’t imagine her sensible sister doing something so frivolous as toying with an eye-candy pet; going all coochy-coo over some dinky-sized canine she could shove in her handbag and trade licky-licky air-kisses with.
Puzzled, she tried thinking laterally. Maybe mother didn’t mean a Chihuahua or a Dandy Dinmont... Was there the very remote possibility the octogenarian was being sarcastic about some new chap her sister had taken up with? A particularly docile and obedient type? (A rare breed; snap up immediately one crosses your path).
But surely that couldn’t be right, either. So she tried thinking topsy-turvy, the angle her mother normally sees life at. And suddenly it all made perfect sense; her sister had got herself a new laptop.
It was yet another Motherism. One of those utterly priceless slips of the tongue that our mothers don’t even realise they’ve made, then look askance as their seemingly sane sons and daughters roll around on the floor.
Just a week previous, another pearler had dropped from Jaqui’s mater’s mouth. It involved the grandchildren, who were on yet another day off school. “It’s one of those Incest Days,” she tutted. “Never had them when I was young.”
Mostly, Motherisms are down to advancing age. The forgetfulness that comes with the greying of the curls and the liver-spotting of those care-worn hands. They just can’t get to the right word every time, bless. Though Grandma, my ex’s mum, has been doing it pretty much all her life.
Hers were such classics she could have sold them to Hilda Baker. How was my little hunch-backed car, she would enquire, then wonder why I was lying prostitute on the Wilton (flowery, red and bought to last at least 30 years).
Talking of carpets, a workmate confides her mum can’t get her head around the “vac” word and insists she’s mowing hers. I can just see her now, striding up and down the sitting room with the Flymo. Another friend recants the day, long before they’d invented Sky, her grandma announced she’d just ordered a satellite from John Lewis for her little pensioner’s flat. Turned out she meant a centre light.
We who are still capable of doing a Google-style search through the old grey matter and come up tramps every time (sic) shouldn’t laugh, really. It will be our turn before too long. Some sooner than others. The Husband has just reminded me I insisted we’d had a bottle of Third World wine the other night.