Family: Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

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Eldest’s rock’n’roll lifestyle is derailed

Sunday morning and my mobile rings as Youngest and I lounge on the motherbed. It’s Eldest Child, phoning from that London where he’s gone with his band to play a gig. Somewhere in Camden, a weekend of music and mayhem no doubt and I’m jealous. But he doesn’t sound like someone surfing the rock’n’roll wave.

“Hello. I’m so tired of London,” he says.

“When you’re tired of London you’re tired of life,” I say in my annoying mother way.

“No, not life. Just London,” he says.

“It’s a saying. Samuel Johnston, 18th century writer, who...”

“No-one cares,” cuts in Youngest.

“Anyway,” says Eldest, “we missed the bus...”

“Hungover?” I say.

“No,” he sighs, sounding hungover, “Can you lend me £90 to get the train home please?”

Ah. Tempting… but no, he’s my child after all. So I say, “Yes, of course.”

Come on, who hasn’t lost, or in my case thrown away, their return ticket, missed the train/bus and been fleeced by evil rail company extortionists?

“We thought we’d left in plenty of time, but we were travelling for at least an hour and still miles from the bus station. London goes on for ever. What’s wrong with it? Anyway, I’m at the counter and need to pay, so ...”

OK, I pay the money into his bank online. Isn’t technology wonderful? Gone are the days when I could tell my mother I was in Spain and head for Marrakech. Just as well.

My phone rings again. It’s him, even more tired of London, even more tired of life, even more hungover.

“Can you pay in more money please? Their system has charged me twice and the refund will take 24 hours, so I need to buy another ticket...”

“Aw no, that’s all you need when you’ve a raging…”

“I’m not hungover…”

Just snappy. I shell out yet more cash and a message pings its arrival. “Thanks mum. On train. Going to sleep now.”

“Yep,” says Youngest, reading over my shoulder. “Hungover. That’s why I don’t drink.”