Social skirmishes

It’s Friday and I’m in the north of the county at a small parents’ group held at the local baths. It all goes far from swimmingly. A very grim and intimidating session courtesy of one young aggressive mother who has “issues” with social services. But at least I’m off for the afternoon and head up the M40 to spend the weekend with my parents.

My mother is a Northern Mother – a martyr to the damp cloth and every surface has a slightly tacky only-kind-of dry feel to it.

Upon entering Warlock Mansions, I decline a cup of tea (risk assessment kicks in wherever I am) and sit down. I’m too exhausted to fully focus so, with half an eye on the Mansfield Argus and half an ear on my mother’s big neighbourhood news round-up, I start to nod off.

“Rosemary, do you remember Martin Beardmore?”

This is the Northern Mother’s classic opening gambit for someone who has died. Without waiting for a reply, she continues: “You must do. He married Lindsay Pidcock her dad worked at Flanders or was it Blount’s? You know who I mean, he was the one with a funny leg. Not Martin – his dad. Although I’m sure Martin wasn’t quite right. His mother ran off with the wife of the piano player at the Miner’s Welfare club. Although she turned out not to be a lesbian after all, didn’t she. Didn’t they go to New Zealand? Or was it Bridlington?”

“Bognor,” I say.

“No need for that Rosemary. I’m only trying to make conversation. Anyway, can you remember Martin Beardmore?”

“Yes,” I say wearily. “Is he dead?”

“How did you know?! I only found out this morning. Who told you?”

“Just a feeling, mum, just a feeling.”

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