Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas Shopping II

English: Self-made photograph of a Brita kettl...Image via WikipediaMother is a living, fire breathing advertisement for the success of the British welfare state.

Still living independently, at 95 she had a hip replaced and this year, at 96, she has had a knee replacement and her doctor tells her that she should now be good for another ten years!

She has help in the mornings and evenings, has a shopper for the heavy stuff and a wonderful young woman who mucks her out once a week and keeps me in touch with the things mother would rather I did not finding her on the kitchen table leaning on her zimmer frame to remove the batteries from her smoke alarm in case it went off while she was cooking her Christmas roast.

She shouldn't have been either..... on the table or contemplating cooking her Christmas she had planned to come out to us over Christmas and the New Year, but her plans have been scotched by her doctor who has told her not to take a long haul flight for several months yet, for fear of thrombosis following her op.

Believe me, the Skype was hot after that little announcement.
She had me consulting every flight comparison site in creation to find a way of breaking the flight into shorter components to get past the medical ruling and I am now an expert on how to get from Southampton to Milan via Amsterdam in order to catch a twice weekly charter flight to a provincial airport in Costa Rica while ensuring that only the cheapest ticket offers are used.
All to no avail.
The Atlantic crossing was something even mother could not overcome, but the research will not be wasted.

When she does get the green light to travel there is no way that she and American immigration officials should meet.
One request for fingerprints and a mug shot and she'll be over the counter before you can say Homeland Security, thrusting her British Legion badge into the operative's face and announcing that she hadn't fought Hitler to be treated like a criminal by...of all people...Americans!
Depending on their speed of reaction they might have her in an orange jumpsuit before she gives them chapter and verse on America's late entry into two world wars and her views on what should be done to President Bush...but I wouldn't place any bets...
So she'll be travelling on other from Madrid, or via Mexico City...or the charter from Milan.

So, unexpectedly at home for Christmas, mother needed to get her shopping done.

But not quite as you might think. She has resisted all attempts to get her online, even with offers of specially adapted keyboards and goodness knows what else by a very helpful lady from some section of the local social services.

No. She doesn't want to be swamped by spam.
(I have a sneaking suspicion that she is thinking of the canned variety of said...but best not to ask...)
And she doesn't want to be swamped by pornography....there's enough of that on the television.

But you can keep in touch with people....

There are some people you don't want to keep in touch with...the telephone's good enough for me...I can see who's calling..and anyway, people are always breaking into it. I don't want my details going all over the world...

So it works like this. She makes a list. I ring her on Skype. She gives me the order. I put it online and Tesco deliver.
Easy peasy.

Not this time.

She has two good neighbours.....both elderly.
The three of them have various disabilities and problems, but they work on the Norn system....sharing the abilities between themselves to keep all three of them going.

Mother is now mobile and can add up faster than the till.
Barbara has back problems but has good sight.
Adolpha (my nickname for this vegetarian of Austrian extraction) is hard of hearing but can carry the trays from the buffet once the other two have sorted out what is on offer and at what price.

So what's the problem?
The problem was that Barbara had just bought a mini jug kettle from Tesco to avoid her carer heating up more water than necessary for one cup on tea.
Mother wanted one.
I added it to her order.
I  rang her to tell her it was on its way.

Now, ringing mother has to be well planned.
Since her young days as a hurdler she has been keen on...not to say obsessed .in all its forms and the television offers a great variety most afternoons.
So before ringing it is advisable to check BBC and ITV programmes online to make sure not to commit a gaffe.

Interrupted in contemplation of Formula One she can be testy.
Interrupt the Hennessy Gold Cup and you've got Krakatoa on speed.

The seven hour time difference doesn't help, either.
Still, all prepared, I rang her number...only to be answered by Adolpha.

Who's that?

I told her. I also said that I'd wanted to tell mother that I'd ordered her kettle.
Fatal error.

I could hear her reporting to my mother....

There's some woman on the 'phone who wants to sell you a kettle.
Noises off (mother).
Adolpha returns to the telephone.

She doesn't want one.

Receiver goes down.

I ring again.
I get Adolpha.

I've just told you she doesn't want one. It's a disgrace, harassing elderly people...if you don't get off the line I'll call the police. And how do you know she wants a kettle anyway?

Reports to mother again.

Something's not right would this woman know you've ordered a kettle? She must have hacked at your daughter's computer....they're not safe...nothing's private these days...

Returning to me

She doesn't want one. Understand?

Receiver down again.

The next day, another attempt.

The receiver is picked up and a voice says suspiciously


Not mother, clearly.

Is that Adolpha?

No! Wrong number!

And down goes the receiver again.

I did catch mother the following day and gave her the news of her kettle.

Oh, you might have to cancel that.
There's been some telesales woman on trying to sell kettles, and I wanted to  get a price...but Adolpha put the 'phone down on her and the next day I think it was her again...about the same time...and Barbara did the same before I could ask her about the price....but she might ring back...

Yes. mother...she well might...

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  1. Oh Fly, I caught this just on my way to bed and am now helpless with laughter! Your mother shares a lot of characteristics with my indomitable mother-in-law who at 9 years younger would certainly climb on the table if necessary and would look contemplatively at the garage roof!

    Women of their generation have lived through a lot and it shows. I wonder whether the softer younger generations (including mine) will make such tough and feisty old people?

  2. Reminds me of some joke I read on a matchbox when a teenager - something about three old women, and there was confusion about Thursday and thirsty, Wednesday and windy, and I forget what else. Telling jokes, as you can see, was never my forte.

    I've just been moaning about technology, but how amazing that you can do your mother's shopping for her from across the Atlantic...

  3. Perpetua...we're not bosom buddies...our prejudices do not coincide...
    You're right about their feistiness though...there is no way I'd have climbed up on her table to disable the smoke alarm!
    She reckons her good health is down to unpoisoned food when a child and rationing in the war!

    Pueblo first struck me when I could call from a telephone box in darkest France and contact my dog sitter..forty years ago and more!

  4. I wish I had half your mother's spirit, I really do. I suspect my family are glad that I don't.

  5. Your mother is quite a character. Mine is too, although a fair bit younger (78) and has just started using a computer.

    She's even on Facebook! (and is on my friend list so sees everything I write... have cut down on my FB use...)

  6. Great story--had me laughing :-) I love the image of the Norns; a geriatric A team.

  7. Steve, I bet you can do Krakatoa on speed if roused!

    Sarah, aren't we lucky to have mothers so capable and independent...even if yours does read your FB...

    Niall and Antoinette, I couldn't call them the three graces...but they make a pretty good team!

  8. Rosie, I'm still waiting for the reaction when the kettle is delivered...

  9. Oh, this was priceless and I had a good laugh! Thanks for the e-card. My security software detected a virus when I down loaded the card and caught it before it could do any it's down to me remembering the password...

    I hope your mother likes the new kettle.

  10. e, sorry about the virus...I'll contact the company and let them know.
    She has yet to receive the kettle, but, be assured, I'll hear all about itif it's not up to scratch!

  11. I like that "I get enough porn on TV" part. She must have Cable. But at 95 she sounds incredible, you are very lucky.

  12. The Banking have no idea what is classified as 'porn' for mother, starting with anything invoving Bruce Forsyth

  13. Oh goodness, I had a good laugh at this one. Sounds exactly like my mother, although mine (unfortunately) is not on another continent. Pity we'll not have tales of her travel to you, I imagine she'd be giving you an earful.

  14. ADoC, the airlines don't know what's about to hit about four months' time!

  15. Dumdad, she is...luckily for me...indestructible!
    I still remember her visit to us in France during a football world cup...supper had to be arranged to fit in between the two matches on TV every day and all we heard from mother was cries of abuse of blind referees and footballers (foreign) tackling foul...

  16. For some unknown reason ( me but maybe not to Blogger) this post didn't appear on my reading list along with posts on other peoples' blogs so I've been searching and catching up this morning.
    I'm so glad I did. This is a gem of a post and I'm still laughing. Your mother is absolutely amazing xxx

  17. Ayak, Bloggered again! It's happening to me too with some blogs I follow, so I'm late catching up.
    I'm lucky she is so independent...and thank goodness, the kettle met with approval!

  18. How very lucky you are to have such an inspirational mother. They don't make many like that. How I'd love to see her and her friends in action - what a great documentary it would make.

  19. nodamnblog, there are times when I also think it is lucky that said mother is the other side of the Atlantic....but I am lucky that she is so independent.
    I just wonder how many old ladies there are who band together to keep themselves going...I wouldn't mind betting that there are quite a few.

  20. my mom is 80 and runs a gallery on Cape Cod. And you can believe she is the boss.
    I just hope I have some of that spirit at that age.

  21. Sharyn, and so do I...for both of us!