Mum's the Word

Relative success on the home front

But five minutes in, as they sip a welcoming brew…

“Brought you a gift,” says my aunty.

“Have you got a screwdriver?” says my uncle, “we’ll get it up now.”

I unwrap an antique brass door knocker in the shape of a piper, skirling away.

“Love it,” I say, and I do.

“You don’t have a door knocker.”

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Don’t I? I go outside and look. Sure enough, there isn’t one. They must have remembered from last time.

“How do people get in?” says my aunty. Who knows, but they manage.

I test the knocker next day when I return from work, a solid tattoo announcing my arrival. Inside there’s a whiff of something I can’t place. Something lavender-y. I follow it to the source: my aunty standing with a can of polish in hand, surveying the entire wall of books she’s dusted and re-organised.

“Wow!,” I say.

“I’ve done them by height,” she says. “You won’t be able to find anything.” She smiles, caring not a jot.

“Thank you, that’s amazing.”

“Except that top shelf. Up you go.”

Resistance is futile. I dust and re-arrange to her satisfaction, then we stand back and admire.

“If it wasn’t for my back,” says my uncle, “I’d be up there dusting the very top. It’s not been done since last time I was here.”


Now where there was rope, there is a door handle, where there was a broken Yale, there is a shiny new one, where there was dust, there is gleam.

“She saves up these jobs for when we visit,” says my uncle.

Not true. I just don’t do them.

“Your kitchen cupboards have held up, haven’t they?” says my aunty later.

“Yeah, it’s the bathroom that’s the problem.”

Oh no, what have I said. n