My son has this picture book called Why I Love My Mummy. Its main aim is to basically brainwash the kids into thinking you’re wonderful. There are all these animals doing stuff with their mums – elephants, for example, and rhinos and that – and then it goes: “I love my mummy because… she takes me to nice places!”
I always think silently to myself: “I love my mummy because… she brainwashes me into it.” I don’t mention it out loud, though, because, generally speaking, brainwashing works best if you don’t mention it out loud while you’re doing it.
So, there’s this rabbit kissing a baby rabbit’s foot, and a cat carrying a kitten over a puddle in its mouth. The caption for the rabbit is: “I love my mummy because… she kisses me better!” And for the kitten it’s like: “I love my mummy because… she looks after me!”
My son always improves on it, though. His version is, like: “I love my mummy because… she kisses my foots.”
And: “I love my mummy because…. she bites me in my ear.”
FUCK, I miss him. I’ve been in America for a week and I actually miss him. The only things I miss in Germany are my son and bitter lemons. But, anyway, here comes a Very Scientific List indeed. I hope that guy who got pissed off about the tomatoes is listening.
Here goes: I Love My Mummy BECAUSE:
1) She thinks you shouldn’t give people books back when they lend you them:
Once, when I was eight years old, my auntie lent me a load of Agatha Christie novels. I finished them, and then, one day, when I was going over to see her, I put them in a pile so I could take them with me.
“What are these books here, Cint?”
“They’re Auntie Radha’s.”
“What are they doing in a pile by the stairs like that?”
“Well, I want to give them back to her. Because I’ve finished reading them.”
My mum burst out laughing. Then she sat down and held my hand in hers.
“Cint,” she said carefully. “You don’t give people books back when you borrow them. That’s not what you do. You keep them. That’s what you’re meant to do. You keep them in return for all the books you’ve lent people that you haven’t got back. Nobody ever gives books back that they’ve borrowed off people, ever.”
I looked at my mum, slightly skeptical.
“Really?” I asked, unsure.
“Yes,” she said, smugly. “Think about it. If you really liked a book, you wouldn’t lend it out, would you?”
2) She doesn’t believe in fundamental things everybody else in the world totally believes in:
Just off the top of my head: tablecloths, fabric softener, kitchen towel, sun cream.
“I better put sun cream on Rico,” I said one summer, back in England.
“Yeah,” she said. “Or you could just not bother. I never did with you when you were young.”
“Mum!” I looked at her in shock and outrage and other disapproving emotions like that. “He might get skin cancer. Look how white and pale he is, he’s practically translucent.”
“Well, they have to say that, don’t they?” she said thoughtfully. “The sun cream people, I mean. No one would ever buy it otherwise.” Slight pause. “I mean, I never bought it, anyway. Just put a hat on him, like.”
3) She is the Queen of the Retort:
You know how those market stall boys in England shout and yell at you and stuff, trying to get you to buy your tomatoes from their stall? They’re like the Turkish market in Kreuzberg, only approximately 1,000 times more passionate. Well, one time this guy goes to my mum: “Half a pound of juicy toms, love?” And my mum goes: “Yes, please.” And then he goes: “I like a lady who says please.” AND MY MUM GOES: “Well, I like a man who says thank you.” Respect, Momma.
And another time this gypsy outside Ilford Exchange threatened to curse my mum for not buying her lucky heather, and my mum just sighed, all exasperated, and said: “Don’t be so silly. If you’ve got such supernatural powers, why are you selling lucky heather for a living?”
4) She’s really insightful sometimes:
One time on the telly when I was about 10, this woman said boxing was a beautiful sport – I think it was on Wogan. I asked my mum why she thought that. My mum said: “It’s because the men are almost naked. She’s basically a pervert.”
5) She never gets angry with me for forgetting Mother’s Day:
Happy Mother’s Day, Mum. I love you, everything about you, but especially the way you always have 3,450 plastic bags with different types of biscuit in them with you wherever you go. I still don’t want a fig roll, though.