Saturday, 20 October 2007

circle in a spiral

I decide to ring Mum, as I didn't hear from her yesterday.
"Hi Mum"
As usual these days, Mum doesn't say hello back but just launches into the conversation.
"Yes,  I got this envelope yesterday...PAYE payment enquiry... and so I rang them and they said I needed to speak to [the company who pay Mum's pension]"
"Hold on.... what's this envelope?"
"It really flummoxed me."
"Well, why didn't you ring me before ringing them?"
"I don't know."
I ask Mum to read the letter to me. She begins at the top and slowly reads each line of the sender's address, then her own, then a jumble of code letters and numerals. She ends there, sounding satisfied.
"Mum. I'm sure there's more to the letter than that. What flummoxed you?"
"Oh!" she exclaims, suddenly realising that the letter is folded and there's more below.
It seems like a standard reply to the Tax Return I completed for Mum recently. It says that they've received it and calculated that she over-paid by a small amount last year.

I ask Mum to post this letter up to me for my records. Mum sounds quite unhappy at the task ahead of her. She asks for my address and I slowly dictate it to her. I then ask her to find a blank envelope and write it out now while she still remembers the task. I remind her where the envelopes are.

A few minutes later, the phone rings. Mum has found an envelope and wants to know my address. I dictate it slowly to her again. I ask if she's put the letter inside the envelope yet.
"What letter? I'm not writing a letter, am I?"

I remind her about the letter from the Revenue. She says she can't find it. I ask her to look for it. 

Five minutes later she rings me saying, "I've got the first line of  your address, but can you give me the code?"
I dictate my address for the third time. I ask if she found the letter yet. There is silence on the other end of the line, then a sigh. Without a good bye the receiver clatters down and I'm cut off.

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