Mother is like Dr Who. She is a Time Lord and has a Tardis, which she uses frequently to travel back to the past. Like Dr Who, she doesn’t like to travel alone, so she usually recruits fellow travellers from friends and family.
Sometimes, she press gangs complete strangers on board like a nonagenarian pirate. These press gangings happen without warning, though if I hear her asking someone a question such as ‘Everything is so expensive now, don’t you think?’, I know a kidnap attempt is imminent.
At moments like these I have to choose to flee or risk her wrath by intervening to save the potential victim. She is most likely to attempt a kidnap at the chemist, Sainsbury’s, the bus stop or the doctor’s waiting room. But she’s also ruthless with people who sit next to her. If they’re stationery for more than two minutes, they’re fair game.
‘She hasn’t had her pills yet,’ I say, hoping the victim will take my weak joke as a chance to escape.
‘My son’s embarrassed by me,’ she says, fixing the victim like Medusa. ‘Has been since the 70s. Do you treat your Mother the same way?’
Each time I intervene, I end up agreeing she has every right to speak to whom she pleases about whatever she wants, wherever she wants to. It is, after all, a free country. She tells me it is high time that I loosen up.
The children are willing and frequent flyers in her Tardis. In fact, they have collected so many memory miles they have reached platinum card status, which gives them privileges to go where others are not invited. They return, like big game hunters, with trophies. They compete to come back with a memory or a tale which I don’t know.
‘Did you know Granny modelled with Roger Moore?’
‘Yes, seen the photos.’
‘Did you know Granny’s mother was imprisoned for stealing from a blind woman in the war?’.
‘Standards were different then. So, let’s keep that under our hats.’
‘What about the American she was engaged to, after the war? If she hadn’t dumped him, none of us would be alive,’ says my Daughter. This is news to me.
‘Even if she had married him, 25% of our DNA would still exist, just elsewhere. It could be worse,’ says my Son, combining dubious biology and maths.
My imagination becomes a tumble dryer. Why is Mother reminiscing about an old fiancé? Does she regret marrying my father?
After all, she has taken me back through time to Denham Studios, where she worked on wartime films. I have been in the Tardis to a 1930’s Peabody Estate in Covent Garden, where she lived with eight siblings, trapped between a weak father and an alcoholic mother. Why has she never trusted me with this story?
I speculate that most places the Tardis goes are sepia-tinted and sweet. But sometimes it crash lands into a bog of remorse or returns to scenes of unresolved dilemmas, which should be forgotten, but can’t be. Perhaps the American fiancé is one of these?
‘It doesn’t matter,’ says my Wife. ‘This is oral family history in the making. Embrace it.’
‘So, Granny is like Homer and she’s recounting her Odyssey?’ says my Daughter.
‘Exactly,’ I respond. ‘One day, I plan to do the same with your children.’
‘Only your story will be more Homer Simpson than Ulysses,’ says my Son.