I talked to my 83-year-old mother last night. It was Sunday morning in New Zealand and she was cooking bacon and eggs for my sister Jocelyn and two of my brothers. She was complaining that Jocelyn had fiddled with the oven’s fan bake setting but I could tell she was excited to have her children home.
The previous evening, my other brother (I have three) had celebrated his big birthday with a fancy dress party. The party was held in his barn which, when I was growing up, belonged to my parents. I mention this because when I was 17, I held an epic party in that barn. It was like Glastonbury without the security team or portaloos. The neighbours have never forgotten it or at least, they’ve never let me forget it. My actual memory of the event is vague because I drank too much and may have passed out at one point.
For my brother’s party, my mother went as Granny Clampett (of Beverly Hills). Before leaving for the party, Jocelyn helped her with the granny wig but as she was pinning it to Mum’s head, she noticed a foul smell. The new synthetic wig, fresh out of its plastic bag, reeked of fish.
‘I had to do something,’ said my sister. ‘I didn’t want people thinking my mother was a fishy old lady.’
Mum got back on the phone. ‘That bloody Jocelyn,’ she said. ‘I couldn’t smell any fish but she sprayed the hell out of my head with my good Red Door (Elizabeth Arden).’