Janet Christie’s Mum’s the Word

Brexit has nothing on this kitchen sink drama


Saturday morning and Youngest arrives back from her sleepover, apparently with the Oompa-Loompas.

“It’ll fade,” she says. “And it always looks worse in daylight.”

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Right. She disappears into her lair.

“I don’t understand tan,” says Eldest to me. “And wouldn’t you want to look better in daylight?”

“Nah, make-up’s about the pics, reality doesn’t matter,” I say.

He shakes his head over the younger generation and we go back to the crises in hand, namely the kitchen floor’s up and Other Parent’s presence. He’s brought forms in another language requiring signatures and proofs of identity so the children can have dual nationality post Brexit, what with him now being a ‘migrant’ despite 40 years here.

Meanwhile the simple matter of the fitter arriving to lay new lino has become a teeth sucking and calculation on the hoof exercise that sees the cost multiply by six when he sees the laminate and possible carpet underneath. There’s talk of costs for double lifting and concrete screed and blah, blah.

I agree to get him out of the door. I’ll take it up myself.

“What I need is a big industrial hooky thing,” I say.

Middle opens a drawer and pulls out a butter knife.

“Yeah, you were being rinsed,” says Eldest, helpfully. “Have you got my bank statements for proof of identity?”

Right now? Really?

“You must sign here,” says Other Parent, oblivious to the floor situation. Pausing in the ripping up of laminate, I sign where he tells me, oh and the copy, because he’s nothing if not efficient. Except he’s told me to sign in the wrong place. Well, he’s the one that knows the bloody language.

So we all end up in the sitting room, babbling, all of them on the sofa, me standing knife in hand, even Biggie Smalls joins us and sits on the forms.

Then Youngest appears and stands in the middle of the room. “Right. What’s going on people? I come home for a rest and everyone’s here and everything’s happening. Too much! Everyone stop talking. Everyone needs to calm down.”

Miraculously we stop talking, all eyes on her.

“What needs to happen here…” She’s the eye of the storm, the voice of reason, we sit silent and await further instruction, impressed as the Youngest family member takes control.

“What need to happens here is… I need to go and do my hair and make-up.”