23 Apr 2012
Hestia goes to the garden centre
Thus I found myself lying in bed staring at the ceiling at around 6am on Saturday morning. Too much staring at the ceiling isn't good for you; you start to think of all the little niggles and bothers that you have in life and before you know it, you're in a foul mood and it's not even 8am.
And so it was on Saturday.
My mother takes an inordinate amount of time to get ready to go anywhere these days. And why should she hurry? The getting ready is, when you live on your own, something that doesn't need to be hurried. It's part of the fun. 'It puts my day in,' she once told me. So I bit my tongue and put on a faceful of make-up myself, to pass the time.
By the time we were ready to hit the garden centre, the rain had come on. This meant that I would have to use my windscreen wipers which squeak like crazy. Tartarus remarked once that they sounded like a mouse being shagged by a bullock. And he was right.
So, picture the scene. I am sleep-deprived. I am in a bad mood. I am being driven mad by my windscreen wipers. I am being given driving tuition by my mother. I catch Sonshine's gaze in the rear view mirror. He looks sympathetic. Things must be REALLY bad if an 11 year-old feels sorry for you.
The garden centre was teeming with life - probably because of the rotten weather. We mooched around the plants for a bit and I suggested buying Juno some plants for her hanging baskets as her belated Mother's Day gift. I didn't forget - she was on holiday.
Clearly this was acceptable and she found herself a large basket in to which she stuffed her wares.
'Tell you what,' I said. 'Let's leave the baskets here and go and get a cup of coffee and a toasted sandwich in the cafe.'
This brightened Sonshine immediately. I had asked him to keep a smile on his face and to act interested around the plants. Unfortunately, the deal could only be sealed if I agreed to give him a fiver. The deal was done.
So it came to pass, dear reader, that I was standing in the queue to order our food, feeling sullen and murderous when someone tapped me on the shoulder. A tall, good-looking man was standing next to me, smiling.
'I knew it was you - you haven't changed a bit.' he leaned over and kissed me lightly on the cheek.
'Good. God. I haven't seen you in 30 years,' I gasped. Thank you God for make up, hair dye and the wise decision to pull on my Spanx knickers this morning.
And there he was, reader. My oldest, dearest friend - let's call him Prometheus - who held my hand in Primary school and who sat next to me in Secondary school while we struggled with Algebra and Thomas Hardy. And whom I hadn't seen since we toddled off to different universities.
And here he was, in a Garden Centre. And he was smiling at me.
I placed my order and he carried my tray over to our table where my mother and his mother were catching up.
Prometheus was always very posh. He lived in the biggest house I had ever seen. His bedroom was not a morass of lego bricks and dried-up felt tip pens. An only child, he lived in monastic silence. Or that's how it seemed to me - who lived in a permanent cloud of James Last and Neil Diamond. And who suffered the ignomy of sharing a room with her younger, noisier brother.
Prometheus was clever, well-mannered and kind and I'm sure his mother was absolutely terrified that we would end up together. I'm not quite the Right Stuff, you see. She never said that, of course, but you can feel it. If you've ever not been the Right Stuff, you know exactly what I mean. Tartarus's mother, on the other hand, was terribly grateful and relieved that I might consider him The Right Stuff. And that her daughter in law turned out not to be a Brazilian Prostitute.
'What are you doing these days? ' I asked
'I'm still a pharmacist' he grinned.
'He works freelance now, but has his own business. Very successful', added his mother. Oh yes, I was clearly never going to be the Right Stuff.
'And what do you do?' he asked.
'I...erm...build websites and...erm....blog a bit and stuff.' I spluttered. Fuck! I don't do anything. I don't have a career. I didn't ever write that book. And I bet you never read the Times Weekend Magazine the only time I ever had an article in it.
'Hestia is a Tarotist. She's very good. You should see some of the fantastic people that she works with,' interjected my mother. Proudly.
'Well....I do that too.' I stammered. Embarassed.
Prometheus looked intrigued. His mother shuddered. No. I was not the Right Stuff.
The waitress brought over our food and Prometheus turned to go.
'Are you on Facebook?' I floundered Oh you fuckwit. He's a PHARMACIST. He's not on bloody Facebook.
'No.' He reached into his jacket pocket and produced a black leather business card case. 'But I do read my e-mails. Here's my card. Let's keep in touch.'
And with that they were gone.
'Nice boy that,' said Juno approvingly as she cut into her toastie.
'Mum, I don't generally lead off in conversations that I read Tarot cards,' I sighed, looking at the business card.
'How not? Never be ashamed of what you do. Never. You work hard. You'll always get people ready to pull you down, whether you're a Tarotist or anything else. Right? So you might as well be proud.'
I nodded. Sometimes my mother astounds me.
I stuffed the business card into my pocket and carried on with my lunch.
'Don't lose that card,' she said. I glanced up at her, but her gaze was fixed firmly on her coleslaw.
Delphic utterances by Alison Cross at 17:35
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Score 1 for Juno :-)ReplyDelete
Yeah, sometimes she comes up trumps. Once a decade or so :-DDelete
Mothers... 2 parts irritation to 1 part wisdom. Or is that just mine? And me... I like this story a lot! xxReplyDelete
Mine is probably a different proportion. But she does sometimes come up trumps. And every time it amazes me!Delete
What a silly woman - I'm sure you are 100% the Right Stuff! Anyone who takes their Ma round a garden centre of a Saturday morning sounds pretty good to me! Glad you were all dolled up when your met them though! xxxReplyDelete
She's actually a very nice lady, don't get me wrong :) and I hope that Prometheus and I can keep in touch. At the end of the day, a pharmacist is a great job, but an engineer can keep your lights on in a power cut. That's the Right Stuff for me :). Unless, of course, Mr Clooney gives me a call!Delete
Eeeesh, I thought by pharmacist you were admitting he was a drug dealer! Still not outwith the bounds of possibility. Then Mrs Right Stuff wouldn't be so haughty.ReplyDelete
oh good grief!!!! Noooooooo - he's a PROPER drug dealer!!! That would be SO funny ROFPML! I love that idea :-DDelete
Dear Alison, I am so glad that you were looking fabulous and that your mother was magnificent. You both forgot to say that you are bringing up a lovely boy virtually on your own, and that you write a hilarious blog. Still, such a frisson of something. Mmmm. love LindaxxxReplyDelete
Well perhaps not FABULOUS exactly, but not the car-crash that I COULD have been! I'm not sure about the frisson. I never am. Anyway, he hasn't replied to my e-mail :-)Delete
mmmm....sometimes the past should stay right there...but your mum is right be out loud and proud!!ReplyDelete
I am now out. And proud. About the Tarot stuff anyway :-DDelete
Hmmmm... He still remembers you...ReplyDelete
AND he has his own drug supply.
I can see a beautiful friendship re-flourishing.
Maybe you could get Mrs Right Stuff to help with your greenhouse, you know, kill all the little bugs.
Hey - I'm fairly unforgettable :-DDelete
He had lost his hair which meant that I spent most of the conversation trying not to look at the top of his head. I'm sure he thought *I* was on drugs or something :-)
Haha! I'm glad I'm not the only mother, who has to pay her son to be "nice" ;) And your encounter with the pharmacist..is that a story "to be continued"? :) xReplyDelete
*whispers* he's forgotten about the money. For the moment. Pretty sure that he'll remember it at the weekend lol!Delete
I'm trying not to wonder what "Spanx" knickers are, and what one might do whilst wearing them.ReplyDelete
Spanx.....erm, well they basically stuff all your fat bits into your organ cavities so that you look svelte. Unable to sit, but svelte :-)Delete
Loved it! Your little lot all did themselves proud. And Juno is right, you should be proud of yourself! Better to do something unusual and be fulfilled than do something boring and hate life. CxReplyDelete
For sure, for sure! It's never boring, is it?!Delete
Ali, what a gem of a story! Loved it! I identified with the bad mood/squeaky wipers/maternal driving tips/garden centre scenario! I think the pharmacist would have been really intrigued by the Tarot readings and your Mum is Right, mothers always are, so Grandma W tells me. There is a national shortage of Syndol. I find your pharmacist very attractive...ReplyDelete
As soon as he replies to my e-mail, Blighty, I shall endeavour to secure a supply of Syndol. He's the sort of chap that even at primary school always insisted on walking on the outside of the pavement, so that you, the laydee, didn't get splashed by some vindictive bugger in a Beetle. He reminds me of Millhouse in the Simpsons in many ways :-DDelete
No, not Millhouse - who's the wee posh guy ... Martin Prince?!ReplyDelete
I love that your mother did that. MY mother still surprises m in nice and welcome ways and you get to surprise Sonshine (I think that is the rule right?)ReplyDelete