The Gor­don fam­ily pulls to­gether to help Jane

The Sunday Telegraph - Stella - - NEWS -

Bry­ony Gor­don 38 Mar­ried to a very pa­tient hus­band Harry, and mother to Edie, five

Iam a bit wor­ried about Mum. In fact, I have re­alised that I am per­ma­nently a bit wor­ried about Mum. She’s there at the back of my mind all the time, whether I am in a meet­ing or deal­ing with a tantrum (thrown by ei­ther my­self or Edie), or at work. This, I sus­pect, is some sort of karmic pay­back for my be­hav­iour between the ages of 15 and 37. It might also be a way of pre­par­ing me for what is to come with Edie in 10 years’ time. I have al­ways said that if my daugh­ter is even a tenth as badly be­haved as me, then she will be on a leash un­til she is 45.

It’s not, of course, that Mum is out caus­ing merry mis­chief in the coun­try. Quite the op­po­site – and that’s the prob­lem. I would like to think about her on the razz in Hen­ley or Mar­low with Belle as her wing-woman, per­haps flut­ter­ing her eye­lashes at some older gen­tle­man across a bar, but the truth is she seems to spend all her evenings with Zorro. When I call she seems hushed and dis­tant. As ever, it’s not what she says – it’s what she doesn’t say. ‘Oh I’m fine, fine!’ is the re­sponse to en­quiries about her well-be­ing. I wish she’d just come out with it and tell me that she feels rub­bish. Life is much eas­ier when you are hon­est.

I’m so bored of danc­ing the dance of fine­ness with her though that even­tu­ally I de­mand she comes and stays with us. ‘Like a sort of fam­ily stay­ca­tion,’ I ex­plain. I’m not sure how re­lax­ing it will be, given that it will mostly in­volve be­ing jumped on by Edie, and also be­cause

I am a lit­tle con­cerned about in­tro­duc­ing Zorro to Katie and Char­lotte, the guinea pigs. But, in the words of my mum’s gen­er­a­tion,

‘It will be fine.’ It al­ways is, even when it isn’t. And this is what we do. This is fam­ily.

Jane Gor­don Age un­known Mother, grand­mother and 24/7 child­min­der

There is some­thing com­fort­ing about find­ing my­self, al­beit tem­po­rar­ily, liv­ing as part of a unit again. Life is so much louder in a fam­ily home than it is in my cot­tage. Why, it is so noisy at Bry­ony’s house that it isn’t pos­si­ble to hear the dark thoughts in my head, let alone the hum of do­mes­tic ma­chin­ery (which last week had threat­ened to send me mad).

From dawn till dusk the whole place echoes with the sound of Edie do­ing what chil­dren do (laugh­ing/cry­ing/shout­ing/ singing) in­ter­spersed with Bry­ony’s re­sponses as she does what moth­ers do (laugh­ing/cry­ing/shout­ing/singing). Then of course there are the strange, al­most ex­trater­res­trial, squeaks that em­anate from the grand-guinea pigs that are, since Zorro and I ar­rived, con­fined to their kitchen base for their own safety. The only per­son in the house who doesn’t raise their voice from time to time is, of course, Harry. True he does con­verse rather more with the lads (Char­lotte and Katie) than he does with his women, but I think that’s prob­a­bly a re­ac­tion to the fact that his wife and his daugh­ter – and right now his mother-in-law too – make so much noise it’s dif­fi­cult for him to be heard above them.

But the ear-shat­ter­ing cli­max to my cur­rent stay in Lon­don came last Sun­day when the ex­tended Gor­don clan – Naomi plus fi­ancé Jerry (still no date, dou­ble sigh), Ru­fus and fe­male ‘friend’, and ex-hus­band Jack – got to­gether for lunch. There were mo­ments dur­ing that meal (Bry­ony cooked a tra­di­tional roast) when the deci­bel rat­ing was off the scale and, re­ally, it con­firmed to me that noth­ing in life quite matches up to time spent as a fam­ily. When a tear­ful Edie re­luc­tantly went to bed that night, kiss­ing us all in turn, she said what I was think­ing. ‘Please can we do this every week?’ The longer I spend in this deaf­en­ing fam­ily the less keen I am on go­ing home. The ques­tion is, though, how can I re­ar­range my life so that week­ends like this be­come the norm and not a nov­elty?

‘Oh I’m fine!’ is al­ways her re­sponse – I wish she’d come out with

It is so noisy at Bry­ony’s house it isn’t pos­si­ble to hear the dark thoughts in my head

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