36 Married to very patient husband Harry, and mother to Edie, three
Mum has only been living out of London for a couple of years, but it feels more like decades. Getting public transport with her is like being in a particularly tedious version of Crocodile
Dundee, in which the hapless hero finds he doesn’t understand how to use contactless.
I’d be sympathetic if Mum had grown up in the countryside. But she was born half a mile from where Harry, Edie and I currently live, so her complete inability to grasp basic concepts such as ‘stand on the same side of the escalator as everybody else’ baffles me. Bringing her in for a meeting at The
Telegraph meant her staying over the night before. This had its benefits: Harry and I got to go out for dinner and she gave Edie breakfast while we showered (not together, obviously. This column isn’t going that way, don’t worry). But as soon as I announced we were getting the train to the office, any of the benefits vanished out the window. ‘The train?’ she said. Her perfectly made-up face suddenly went as white as a sheet. ‘But, but, but, won’t that take a very long time? Wouldn’t it be better to get a taxi?’
‘A taxi? On a Monday morning? When the train is only a couple of stops? You did work in London, didn’t you?’
She did. But even then she used to drive to her office. She would drive to the corner shop if she could. Perhaps this is why I have such an aversion to getting my licence: I know that I would immediately become completely immobile and put on every pound I have lost during my marathon training. (Did I mention that I’m doing a marathon?)
‘Will we be able to sit down on the train?’ asks Mum, panic in her voice.
‘Probably not. But don’t worry. We’re just going to Victoria, not Calcutta.’
It’s the most interesting journey I have made for some time. Because as we pull out of Clapham Junction, and Mum starts to worry about how she will get out of the station with her contactless card (‘ You just tap it on the reader.’ ‘ What’s the reader?’ etc) I glimpse the next few decades ahead. I am now parenting my own parent. Gulp.
It is like being in a tedious version of Crocodile Dundee where the hapless hero can’t use contactless