Mum’s old habits are now com­ing to the fore

Mother re­ally does know best

Perthshire Advertiser - - SPACE ODDITY COVER FOR CAPTAIN TOM -

For many years my fridge sported a mag­net whose mes­sage was not en­tirely in jest.

“Stop me, be­fore I be­come my mother,” it wailed.

In those days, as a cos­mopoli­tan London sin­gle­ton, I couldn’t have been more re­moved from my ru­ral roots.

Ev­ery out-of-hours trip to the lo­cal deli, for that es­sen­tial slice or two of es­sen­tial Pecorino, would elicit con­ceit.

“No shop­ping lists for me,” I would in­wardly smirk, rev­el­ling in my highly avail­able world.

But not th­ese days.

As a child of WWII, mum’s old habits have stuck. But where once I would ca­su­ally mock and chide, now I see the mer­its of her ways.

Now my life is a se­ries of mother-style lists and, in­cred­i­bly, through some kind of DNApro­grammed os­mo­sis, I’ve ac­tu­ally started sound­ing and look­ing like her too.

“You’ll just have to eat what’s in front of you, we can’t af­ford to be choosy,” I caught myself es­pous­ing to a con­fused teenager.

Os­ten­si­bly still fol­low­ing her school’s timetable, she’s caught be­tween old world and new. Poor soul.

Liv­ing in beau­ti­ful Perthshire, there is much for which I must be grate­ful; par­tic­u­larly given cur­rent restrictio­ns.

From our own front door, we have miles of space to ex­plore, with no need to start the car’s en­gine.

Ex­hausted by our one daily dal­liances, we can duly ad­mire rolling hills and cir­cling buz­zards with­out break­ing cur­few.

But this favourable en­vi­ron­ment hasn’t stopped me be­com­ing the house­hold Cap­tain Man­ner­ing, up­hold­ing gov­ern­ment guid­ance on ev­ery front.

Kitch­ener would have been proud.

“Put out all un­nec­es­sary lights please, think of those poor folks hav­ing to run the power sta­tions.”

Thank good­ness day­light sav­ing pushed the clocks for­ward last month. I only had to use that line once.

Most shock­ingly, I’ve ac­tu­ally caught myself reg­u­lat­ing bath­room habits. “Just three sheets when you go to the loo,” I trilled.

As when I was a child, break­fast milk-ad­min­is­tra­tion is now su­per­vised; no more overindulg­ed Chee­rios.

Af­ter meals, pans are soaked and briskly hand-washed where once they would have lan­guished in a ma­chine.

Just like my mum, there is a shop­ping list Blue Tacked to the inside of a cup­board (quite why it’s on the inside is a good ques­tion. No one will see it but that’s where mum used to keep hers).

Be­fore lock­down I would throw open the fridge and con­sider nu­tri­tion on the hoof, now menus are planned with mil­i­tary pre­ci­sion. An­other ‘mu­mism’.

A do­nated turnip has mor­phed into three in­car­na­tions: leek and turnip soup (ex­cel­lent); veni­son and turnip casse­role (thank you BBC) and turnip scones (not as good as tat­tie ones but no waste here).

Cloth­ing too has changed.

The apron, or ver­nac­u­lar ‘pinny,’ is very much ‘of the sea­son’.

Mum was (still is) a stick­ler for good pre­sen­ta­tion. So, like her, the apron cov­ers rel­a­tively smart at­tire.

Whereas Can­ter­bury’s were the BC – Be­fore Covid – home trouser of choice, I now see the men­tal health mer­its of keep­ing up appearance­s.

It’s said that what goes around comes around.

You bet.

As ever, mother re­ally does know best!

Most shock­ingly, I’ve ac­tu­ally caught myself reg­u­lat­ing bath­room habits. “Just three sheets when you go to the loo,” I trilled

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