Saturday 27 January 2007


Mum's friend P has been encouraging Mum to watch a period series set in Liverpool - I rang last night at 7pm (2 hours before the show) and she had already been watching TV for 2 hours so as not to miss it. She couldn't tell me the name of the show or anything about it, what time it was on, or what time it was now... she just knew to watch the television until it came on... I feel quite depressed by this for some reason, even though Mum was fairly oblivious to how wretched it sounded.

Wednesday 24 January 2007


The phone rings. It's 8:30am. It's Mum. She knows never to ring me this early - hasn't done for a year - something must be wrong. She sounds breathy over the line.

"I'm looking out the kitchen window and it's snowing. It looks so beautiful!"
"... really?"
"Yes, I rang P to tell her that [the dog] would be missing this"
"What time did you ring her?"
"Oh, about 9:30"
"Mum, it's only 8:30 now. Are you sure you didn't ring them a bit early?"
"NO, they get up early. They're not like you."
"I'm only saying because you obviously think 9:30 was some time ago and we've another hour to go 'til we get there...."
"... G, I know what time it is."


The Warden rang today to ask if we were going to sell Mum's car. He said that the last time it had been used was when I drove it last Summer. Since then, Mum's been using the cheap community taxi service. He told me that he'd received a letter from them asking him to speak to Mum. She'd been bad-mouthing the service after failing to turn up at a rendezvous in and having to pay a normal taxi to get home. I'd heard her side of how they'd left her stranded ages ago - it turns out, of course, that the driver WAS there in the right place at the agreed time and had been extremely concerned for Mum. Even though he eventually drove to the flats to check that she was okay, Mum still spent weeks telling all her neighbours how she'd been let down badly. It's a testament to their good will that they let her continue to use the service.

The Warden also said that after Mum's last visit to the Dental Hygenist, she turned up at his office the next day, claiming she was waiting for a taxi to take her shopping in town. In conversation this drifted into being her appointment with the Hygenist again. He suggested that she rang the surgery to check and when she returned she told him that she was tired and had decided not to go shopping that day.

Tuesday 16 January 2007


I got a call last night from Mum's friend P. She and her husband have been taking Mum for holidays to their home in Somerset for the last few years. Since a rather Mum-tastic mix-up in Autumn, P has been calling me whenever she's concerned about Mum's mental health. She rang last night to tell me that after speaking to Mum she was worried about Mum's dog. Mum had complained that the dog was now regularly defecating in the hallway, and P knew that the reason for that is that Mum seldom takes the dog for walks any more (and reacts hysterically if she 'does her business' on the shared lawn outside her window). P wanted my 'permission' to ask Mum if they could take the dog off her hands for the rest of Winter, until Mum felt that she was up for walking again. I told P that I was sceptical that Mum would give up her companion and chief object of conversation, but said that I understood her concern and she should try it and see.

Today, Mum rang me to tell me that she was going on holiday to P's place in Somerset and that she'd be away from home for a month. I knew she had it all wrong but pretended innocence and asked a few questions which she couldn't answer. I suggested that she call P back to clarify, and of course she came back to admit that it was the dog that was going on holiday....for a week. I rang P directly, who told me that she had just told Mum (minutes ago) that it would be late Spring before they'd return the dog, though she really thought it would be more humane to keep her permanently, given that Mum really doesn't know how to look after her.

I'm delighted that Mum is taking this so positively, though I suspect it's just another instance of her being so easily manipulated. However, I'm worried that she'll decline even faster without even the dog for company. Once again, I feel anxious about the future and guilty that I'm so far away and can't nip Mum's mistakes in the bud before they get out of hand.

Thursday 11 January 2007

insurance and sad christmas

Mum rang me this morning, as is always the way, after she had done something. She said, "I woke up this morning and I suddenly thought 'my car insurance needs renewing', so I rang Norwich Union to arrange it and they said that the car needed an immobiliser before they would insure it, so I've arranged for someone to come today to install one".

My heart sank, because Mum is actually insured by "More than" (part of Royal & Sun Alliance), and I happen to know that the insurance is renewed at the end of February, automatically. Also, her car already has an immobiliser fitted. I've handled all this stuff for the last 2 years.

I explained as calmly as I was able that I was going to have to ring and try and undo what she had done. I asked for the number she had rung and she gave me an 0800 number. When I rang it, it was indeed Norwich Union - or an Indian call centre representing them. The operator took a while to understand what I was talking about but we eventually established that Mum's details were nowhere on their system.

I rang Mum back to ask her where she'd got the number from, thinking that it was likely to have been junk mail that had told her that her insurance was up. She couldn't tell me where she'd got the number from. I asked her if she had talked to the Warden today. She told me that she had just seen him after speaking to me. I told her I'd ring him, as she had likely told him a different story and I wanted to see what extra details she had remembered for him.

The Warden told me that she had actually spoken to him an hour or two before and that it was HE who suggested Mum call me, as he was a bit dubious that the car required an immobiliser. He said that he'd asked if she'd checked her insurance documents and she had replied that she couldn't find them.

I rang More Than (another Indian call centre), who wouldn't talk to me without Mum's authority, even though I'm named on the insurance. Eventually, they called me back to say that Mum had rung THEM this morning to renew the insurance, rather earlier than expected, but that they had agreed to continue insuring her and noted that the car may not be fitted with an immobiliser - I corrected that. They had not arranged for anyone to fit one - so I'm hoping that part of the story was all in Mum's head.

I never uncovered just where the Norwich Union number came from.

(I've left out a few steps in this process because narrating them would have prevented me from sleeping tonight).

Every single time she does something on her own initiative she screws up. Every single time I spend a day sorting things out for her she agrees that she'll ring me BEFORE she does anything next time. And then we go through the same process again the next time because she only rings AFTERWARDS. How can I possibly think about travelling or living abroad when I have to intervene like this so often? I've taken over or automated all her responsibilities to try and prevent fiascos like this, but short of bricking up her front door and cutting the phone cable, I can't prevent her from doing something random like today's crap.

However, the Warden told me some new stuff about Mum that she's either mercifully forgotten or has kept from me for fear of embarrassment. It was no surprise to learn that he and most of the other residents view her as completely gaga or that she's continually leaving her key in the outside of her door. However, I the one consolation I had about not going to visit this last Christmas was that I knew the residents were having a party, and that Mum was looking forward to it. Indeed afterwards she had told me what a great time had been had by all. But it turns out that Mum didn't attend. The next day, when he asked her if she'd had a good time, she glowed and said it had been super, but the resident standing next to her had to intervene and say "But, my Dear, you weren't there!". "Oh, was I not?" Mum answered, confused. Apparently she then spent a while outside the Warden's Office door on Boxing Day until someone explained that he wouldn't be coming in. She had no idea what day it was.