It’s a minor fib to say I have no plan at all for this year. The one answer I was able to give to the ‘what will you do’ question was that I would spend more time with my parents, who, I’ve recently come to realize, can probably now be described as elderly. Luckily, they still have the majority of their marbles, if not quite enough for a tournament, and are able-bodied enough to enjoy their universe. This has certainly shrunk over the years, but still supplies them with enough fun and interest to keep them going. Although they now appreciate a bit of help around the house or with shopping, hanging out with them doesn’t have any carer dynamic at all, and I want to enjoy time with them for as long possible before this perhaps becomes the case.
I enjoy spending time with them and their mildly nutty habits. My mother’s sage and individual commentary on life – “There’s nae sugar in ice cream” or “Can you turn the sound up on that thing fae where yer sitting?” – is guaranteed to make you think. My dad’s thing is technology, and in this he’s always been ahead of the curve. In 1982, we were one of the first homes in Greenock to have a video recorder. So what if it was a Betamax and subsequently sat mocking us redundantly for the next 14 years. He also jumped on the minidisc wagon long before anyone else and is still waiting for the rest of you saddos to catch up.
His most recent technological passion is texting. I’ve lived abroad, studied in far-flung cities, lived on remote islands and not once in all those times away from home, literally not one single time, did he write to me (put the violins away; he was always good at calling). Now, however, put a mobile phone in his hand, and suddenly he’s channelling Dickens. He mastered texting about six months ago, and since then there’s been no stopping him, even if his texting habits are mildly eccentric. You have, for example, a window of precisely seven minutes after he sends a text before he calls…to check you got his text. And for someone who has never been a natural letter writer, his texts have an odd formality to them, always starting ‘Dear’ and written in paragraphs. I reproduce this morning’s text here, sics n’all –
‘Dear notplanning, we are going to w,bay
for lunch,known in oldem times as
Footnote – I wrote this this morning then went to catch a train (going to lunch in w,bay, seeing as you ask). As I was walking to the station, a very elderly woman who was walking with the aid of two sticks stopped me and asked if I’d help her cross the road to get to her bus stop. This was a couple of minutes walk away, and as we walked and chatted, she swung her sticks in quite a kamikaze fashion, so that twice I almost fell over them, nearly taking us both down. She’d had a fall a few months ago and since then had lost her confidence, explaining, ‘since ah turnt 85, everything’s gone a bit barmy’. Gulp. Remind me never to complain about the 40s again.