Bry­ony Gor­don

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - MUM AND ME -

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

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