I arrive at my parents’ apartment yesterday and as I get to the top of the stairs I hear my Dad saying in an agitated voice “you should have handed it to Jak!”
“Well where is she?!” my Mum replies testily.
“She’s just coming up the stairs now!” my Dad is clearly in a tizzy.
I take a deep breath and slap a smile on my face ready to face whatever crisis is looming.
“What’s happening?” I ask.
My Dad is clutching the phone. “We’ve just had TalkTalk on but your mother hung up on them”.
They’ve been having problems with their phone line since January and I have had such a nightmare with TalkTalk that I complained to Ofcom this week. As my parents are vulnerable and disabled they have a legal duty to prioritize any repairs.
What my Dad doesn’t know is that I’ve made a formal complaint to TalkTalk’s head office and I told my Mum that if they rang her to simply say that my Daughter is dealing with it, please contact her and hang up. The reason being, TalkTalk have tried to keep my parents on the line for over 2 hours the last three times they’ve contacted them and it’s stressed my Mum to the point of ill health.
Just then, the phone rang again and it was TalkTalk, the upshot of which is they are sending the 5th engineer out today as a matter of priority. My Dad looks at me with tears in his eyes and says in a chocked voice “You are such an Angel. I have no idea what we’d do without you”.
My Mum, OTOH, seems very confused.com and I realize she is absolutely hammered. At 11.30am. FFS.
They sit down to their lunch, a ready meal I got them from Tesco.
“We didn’t get the meal for two” Mum slurs accusingly “we got 2 separate meals for one”. I look at the pile of food on each of their plates and don’t think they’ll starve any time soon.
“OK” I reply and change the subject.
My Dad tells me he’s been speaking to their next door neighbour who’s son had a baby yesterday. A little girl called Harper. Lovely 🙂. Within minutes of that conversation, my Mum pipes up “Lee’s wife had a baby girl yesterday. They’re calling her……………what did they say Dad?”
“Harper” he replies.
“Harper!” Mum exclaims.
“Lovely” I say.
They finish their lunch and I ask if they enjoyed it. Mum tells me “It was really nice but we didn’t get the meal for two, we got 2 separate meals for one”.
I take a deep breath and smile before replying “well, it looks like there was enough”.
Half an hour later we’re discussing plants in the garden, which inevitably turns into an argument between my parents on which of the greenery on the wall opposite the lounge is a honeysuckle. As tensions rise I try to diffuse the situation by telling them it’s not worth rowing over a bush. My Mum then announces, smiling falsely “Lee’s wife had a baby girl yesterday. They’re calling her……………what did they say Dad?”
“Harper” we both reply.
“Yes, Harper. I like it” states Mum.
My Dad clears away the plates and makes us all a brew. As I tuck in to the Celebration chocolates Mum tells me “Y’know those meatballs we like?”
“The ones I got you with your shopping yesterday?” I ask, knowing what was coming.
“Yes. We didn’t get the meal for two, we got 2 separate meals for one instead” her tone is suspicious.
“Does it matter?” I ask, unable to conceal my irritation.
“No. No. Just sayin'” she slurs.
I take the cups away to the kitchen and begin to wipe the counters down.
“Jak!” Mum shouts through at the top of her lungs, “Guess what? Lee’s wife had a baby girl yesterday! Isn’t that nice?”
I can’t resist. “Yes, I know. Harper. You’ve already told me”.
“Well I can’t remember telling you!” she shouts back, clearly narked.
6pm that night I’m lying in the bath, hair covered in shampoo, when the phone rings. It’s my Mum. “I just wanted to tell you that Joan’s son Lee had a baby yesterday!” she tells me excitedly, “isn’t that lovely?”
I know I should just let her tell me the tale, but I’m tired and hormonal and have Johnson’s Baby shampoo in my eyes which, let me tell you this for nothing, does sting and I can’t help myself “I know Mum. A little girl called Harper. You told me when I was there today. Three times.”
“Oh” she’s both disappointed I’m not excited at her news and embarrassed, which comes out as anger. “Well I’m sorry to have bothered you!” she says in a huff and puts the phone down.
Maybe if you weren’t roaring drunk every fucking day you might actually remember conversations with your precious child. I don’t say that of course. What would be the point?
Today is a new day, in which I’ll inevitably go through versions of yesterday all over again. Like a Groundhog. A fat, middle aged, tired, sick, hormonal Groundhog. I reach for the Jaffa cakes, my second packet this week. Fuck it. I’d rather be a fat but chilled Groundhog than a thin loonatic, rocking in the corner and dribbling.