I know, I know. I should be writing about Jordan, not plagiarising a well known (and outstanding) Twitter feed / book / sit-com.
But what the hell, here goes! Because, now that the dust has settled post Mother’s Day, I suddenly felt inclined to ask; What’s in a Mum?
Well, typically about 50% fat… a bit of muscle and sinew, some rapidly degenerating bone matter and a series of internal processes that take turns in causing trouble. All wrapped up in cheerful wrinkles and hair that defies anything as restrictive as a ‘style’. The heart is generally the largest organ (though this is only because the ass is not considered an organ).
But we love them anyway, because they love us, because we’re genetically pre-programmed to, and because they feed us.
I’m over thirty and mine still feeds me.
This is my Mum. She’s a gnome.
She loves to tell me about how people start to shrink once they get beyond a certain age – it’s true. You stop growing in your early twenties and by the time you’re thirty-five you’re already starting to feel those years weighing down on your spine. My Mum struggled to reach five foot tall at age nineteen (in platform shoes and a top hat) and it’s been down hill ever since. If it carries on at this rate, by the time she retires she’ll be about waist high.
My mum is great for two reasons:
Firstly because she’s the very soul of compassion, generosity and comfort. Anything she can do to help someone, she will do without hesitation.
But mostly because the reflexes controlling her mouth are about four times faster than those which govern her brain. This has, on occasion, resulted in words coming out before they’ve been properly processed. Had she sufficient time to ponder her statements before uttering them, I’m sure she wouldn’t say half the awe-inspiring things she does.
But she hasn’t, so she does. And I get to save it all up, remind her about it remorselessly, and eventually record it in my blog so that all six of my readers can have a good laugh at her too.
That being said, here are a couple of recent examples from our Jordan trip.
Driving through the desert we were all awed by the alien-ness of the landscape. We sat in stunned silence as fields of orange sand strewn with rocks rolled by. The desolation stretched to the horizon in every direction and it’s scale was just breathtaking. Every now and then we’d pass a handful of bare concrete houses surrounded by market stalls made of sticks. It brought a bit of colour to the journey and some welcome interest to the eye – none more so than mum. She hadn’t said anything in over an hour when she sat bolt upright, stared straight out of the window and said, “That’s a very big cauliflower.”
We were understandable impressed by her contribution. It would certainly give us something to discuss for the next hundred kilometres…
Going for dinner in the hotel restaurant, she paused to listen before opening the door. It was a tiny place which doubled as reception, and we’d eaten there the last two nights running, so her caution seemed a bit unnecessary.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“It sounds very busy in there!” came her stage-whispered reply.
I opened the door and stepped through to a muted roar – Manchester United were playing Arsenal on the tiny telly by the bar, and someone had just scored. Apart from the receptionist, avidly watching the match, the place was empty.
I had to mock her. “Do you know, for a minute there it did sound like there were 80,000 screaming fans on the other side of this door…”
Browsing Arabic TV channels in our room later, she displayed an impressive capacity for understatement. “That’s an unusual sport,” she said.
On the telly, on Dubai Sports 2, commentators chatted and important statistics flashed across the screen as several bearded men dressed in full traditional bedspreads were attempting to throw enormous fish. Each was holding what looked like a narwhal by the tail, then spinning, spinning and releasing it at high velocity. It was like a hammer toss only, y’know, with fish. Unusual indeed.
Whilst sitting at a computer, trying to send an email back home:
Mum: “I can’t read my writing!”
Me: “But… you’re typing?!”
But taking pride of place amidst my memories of the trip, beyond all the subtle amusements of her getting locked in the loo, or having a laughing fit whilst trying to use a squat toilet, or her bartering down to £1 for a necklace then trying to pay for it with a £50 note… better than all that by far, was mum’s complete inability to speak pidgin English. You know, the kind you sometimes use to get your point across. Great example: our taxi guide to the Ancient Roman city of Jerash. He spoke more English that I did Arabic – but only by a handful of words.
Me to taxi driver (slowly and clearly, with hand gestures): “We go Jerash now. Go castle after, okay?”
Taxi Driver: “Okay.”
Mum to Taxi Driver: “Well, unless Jerash is open a bit later, ‘cause if it is we could nip to the castle first and get it over with, then we’d have longer to traipse round Jerash. What you reckon?”
Taxi Driver (veins popping out of his head): “Uhhhrrr…?”
Mum to Taxi Driver: “What I mean is, is one of them open later than the other? We don’t want to rush to get somewhere if it would be better to do the other place first, but we also don’t want to miss out on the castle because we take too long in Jerash.”
Taxi Driver: “Ah… you go Jerash?”
Thanks Mum! We love you!