Monday 22 January 2001


I will never make a novelist, because when it comes to writing it all down, I can't remember clearly any of the million and one vexations of my weekend with Mum. Suffice to say we ended up having a flaming row in a supermarket restaurant at which point Mum burst into tears and said, "I'd like to go now", leaving half her food.

A few fragments:

I arrive on Friday evening, having been told to feed myself before arriving. I am attacked remorselessly by that wind-up tampax of a dog. The house is freezing.

I work myself to exhaustion on Saturday, with no thanks at all from Mum. Sunday at the supermarket, she turns to me in the queue for the meal and asks, "Are you going to pay for us both, then?". Charming - only then do I remind her that I've gone to considerable lengths to indulge her this weekend and without any thanks.

Conversation turns to my Sister: "Well, [her friend] reckons that Dad spoiled [my Sister] terribly", to which she adds "He REALLY DID spoil her VERY MUCH". At which point, I said something along the lines of that not being really true, and why did she say that, and why is it always necessary to blame someone? - to which she replied that SHE doesn't think so, only [her friend] had said so .... which is not what she said at all. She will NOT face up to her own remarks, and will disown a statement, "horrified", 20 seconds after spitefully uttering it.

Mum wants me to bleed the radiator in the bathroom. I let some air out but there's no water, so I go to the boiler room to find that there's no pressure in the system at all. No wonder the pump has been straining so noisily! I get the system filled up again, but the pressure gauge shows the pressure dropping rapidly again. There must be a leak in the central heating system. Mum goes rapidly into a diatribe about all sorts of things, how she's going to sell the house, but first she'll have to get it painted. Later, she says that she'd like to move to the South of France. I question the feasibility of this, when she is unable to drive anywhere she is not familiar (she won't read signposts). I question the wisdom of her moving somewhere where she doesn't speak the language and wouldn't understand bills etc (tactfully avoiding criticising her for not understanding bills in English). Though I couch these as worries about her, she is terribly offended, and reels off a list of people who have expressed their admiration for how well she is coping with her affairs since Dad died. She is now going to sell the house, move to a smaller one and use the difference to buy "all new furniture."

I have not managed to convey a hundredth of the frustrations of the weekend, but I'm already too upset to continue. She does have a lot of annoying habits and ways of speaking, and she is supremely selfish at times, but I have to admit that the real problem is with me. I am like a coiled spring with her, and I'm constantly waiting for her to say something (she never fails) which is annoying or wrong, so that I can contradict her. I spend the whole time not meeting her gaze for fear that she'll see the hostility in my eyes. Where does this all come from? How has she managed to produce two children who are so angry with her?