Deborah Ross: Our Woman in Crouch End

A friendly warning from Mr Cheese: only 360 shopping days left until Mother's Day 2007
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The Independent Online

This is an account of one mother's Mother's Day. Any similarity between this mother and myself is entirely coincidental and anyone who suggests otherwise will be hearing from my lawyer, Mr Cheese, of Cheese, Cheese, Cheese & Rigby. Some people say this lawyer has been fabricated purely for intimidation, but it is not the case. I have personally met all the Cheeses, although not Mr Rigby, who remains frustratingly elusive. Here goes:

While it's true that this mother has suffered some Mother's Day disappointments, she doesn't want to put pressure on her family to shower her with all the lovely treats she so deserves because she is a smashing mother, even if she says so herself, which she often does. "I'm smashing, I am," she will say, in a very non-pressurising way. As such, who exactly puts up all the notices that appear all over the house in the preceding days - "Mothers' Day: One Week To Go!"; "Mothers' Day: Only Two Shopping Days Left!" - is anyone's guess. As it happens, the mother wishes that whoever is doing it would stop. In particular, she feels that using a laundry pen to mirror-write on her son's forehead - "Mother's Day: Not Another Pasta Calendar, If It's All The Same To You!" - while he is asleep is taking it too far.

If there is to be a gift, the mother isn't picky. It's the thought that counts, although sometimes the mother has thought about the thought and while she accepts that thoughts do count, they are never quite as good as a present. The mother thinks anything will do so long as it is given with love - or at least isn't crap. The mother can recall being small and buying her own mother: A Thousand Recipes For The Freezer from WH Smith. This mother does not want A Thousand Recipes For The Freezer, or even A Thousand Recipes For Anywhere, because the mother feels that if the family are not accustomed to her cooking the same four things over and over, then they only have themselves to blame. They've had lots of time to get used to it. This mother often thinks: "Thank God for pasta with pesto," and: "Thank God for pasta without pesto," and that's two of the recipes for you, but do not reprint without permission, or you will be hearing from Mr Cheese.

Handbags & gladrags

The mother suspects that if a spontaneous gift is forthcoming then the father will probably have to fund it, as the son spends all his money on chips and Lynx even though the money could be better spent on the mother, who is smashing. The mother doesn't understand why he has to buy all those chips when he can always get pasta with pesto or pasta without pesto at home. It just doesn't make sense to her. As for the Lynx: what doesn't kill you makes you stronger - although, that said, if you have a liberal user in your household you may wish you were dead anyway. As it is, this mother always gets up earlier than necessary to allow for plenty of gagging time.

Whatever, the mother thinks that all hints in the gift department are probably best directed at the father. Happily, the mother finds a page in a glossy magazine showing the top must-have handbags. The mother thinks this is a good place to start, although she doesn't really get must-have handbags, which you must have or what? Your guts will explode out of your ears? The mother puts her hand over the price of the "Joni" by "Luella" and asks the father to guess how much. The mother who, aside from being smashing also has a great sense of humour that is never cruel or mocking, knows this will be a laugh. The father, for example, recently bought a pair of cords from George at Asda for £8 and has been fretting ever since that they might be a fashion mistake. The father says: "Well, it looks cheap, but you wouldn't ask if it wasn't expensive ... £35?" The mother agrees that the more expensive a bag is the cheaper it looks. This is something she doesn't get either. But still.

She shows the father the price. The price of a "Joni" is £4,720. The father gasps and says: "You could get a Daewoo Matiz for that." The mother does not tell the father he is always showing himself up by knowing all about the cheapest things you can buy, or that she can't imagine anyone on their deathbed thinking: "I wish I'd bought a Daewoo Matiz", but would like you to know what she has to live with all the same. The mother does not think she'll be getting the "Joni" which is, apparently, available from Harrods even though it looks as if it came out of a New Look bargain bin.

A bear says 'I care'

Anyway, Mother's Day itself turned out to be super, even though there wasn't much of it as the mother, determined to enjoy her surprise breakfast in bed, lay there waiting for it until just after 5pm. She was sorry to ruin the surprise by getting up just after 5pm, but thought that if she lay there any longer she would not be able to get up at all without fainting. Some mothers might have thought: "They could have managed a croissant between them. How hard is that?." But this mother doesn't have a resentful bone in her body and if, say, she were to spit a little into their pasta with pesto or pasta without pesto, who would know?

Still, she did, eventually, get a seriously lovely present - a pewter teddy with a clock in it, that is now next to her computer - as well as a home-made card. One of those notices put up by whoever had said: "Mother's Day: Shops Sell Cards As Well, You Know!", but she was strangely pleased to get it all the same. (and, remember: Mr Cheese is watching!)