It’s Thursday morning and my mum has press-ganged me into making her a ‘unique’ toilet surround.
“I’ve had 3 joiners visit,” she says. “I showed them my toilet drawings. They said they’d ring me back, but they never called back.”
“Really?” I say, as I flick through pages of drawings.
“The style,” she says. “It’s Spanish renaissance.”
“It looks like something Henry the VIII would sit on,” I say.
“Can you do it? she asks.
“I’ll ring you,” I say.
I’ve been putting this job off for three months, hoping she’d find a joiner to take on the work. But it seems there are no joiners in her local area who specialise in gothic toilets, so I’ve had to bite the bullet.
For next three hours I toil away on the installation without interruption. Then she appears carrying a tray overloaded with Kit Kats.
“I’ve brought you a snack,” she says.
“Looks like you’ve robbed the Kit Kat factory,” I say. She tuts, and looks at the toilet. A confused expression sets in.
“What’s the matter?” I ask.
“I’ve spotted a problem.”
“Is it the carved eagle?”
“No, you’ve done a good job with that. I think the wooden panelling is too high at the front. I wont be able to sit on the toilet.”
I’m no fool. I realise that as your parents get older you have to help out more, but I didn’t think there’d be this much whittling.
We both scrutinise the facade and sure enough, I’ve created a fabulous medieval toilet surround for an old lady who can only use it if she wees standing up.
“I’ve got it,” she says excitedly. “I’ll buy a disabled toilet seat. Margaret’s got one. They’re 4 inches thick. Then the seat will be high enough to miss the panelling.”
My mum now wants to raise the toilet seat to a height that she can only reach by pole vaulting.
She disappears again. I try to come up with some solutions. She reappears.
“Ordered it,” she says excitedly. “But there’s a problem.”
I put my chisels down and sit next to the carved eagle.
“Go on,” I say.
“Well, the internet was really fast. I didn’t have time to check the delivery address. It’s going to your sister’s house.”
“Why did you use her address?”
“A couple of weeks ago I was really poorly. I didn’t want to make a fuss but I thought I was dying. So I used her address for my online shopping.”
This is a great piece of forward thinking by my mum. She’s organised a second address to accept packages just in case she dies during the delivery process. Enabling her to buy gothic monstrosities off ebay whilst suffering a heart attack.
We decide to take a break and mull over our options. I call my wife to keep her in the loop. She hates being out of the loop.
“Have you finished making Liberace’s toilet?” she asks.
“I think you’ll find it’s the King of Spain’s toilet,” I say. “It’s all going well. You now need a ladder to get on the toilet and my mum has sent a disabled toilet seat to my sister.”
“You know why she’s doing this, don’t you?” she says. “Your mum is on her own. The project is just an excuse to get you to visit.”
This may be true, but I’m more inclined to think it’s an elaborate way to launder stolen Kit Kats.
I nip downstairs. My mum is watching Flog It.
“Before you go,” she says. “I want to talk to you about another project I’ve got planned. And I don’t want you to take three months to do it,” she says jokingly.
With my wife’s words fresh in my mind, I sit down and take a look at the drawings for her new project. I do it without my usual protestations.
“Looks interesting,” I say.
“The style, it’s…”
“Spanish renaissance,” I interrupt.
“Good. You’re beginning to understand what I’m all about.”
“Yes, I think I am,” I say.
My wife was right. I need to stop making excuses and visit my mum more. I get so caught up in my daily routine that I forget she’s got no-one to talk to. So I sit with her and we watch Flog it together. Well, she does, my view of the TV was blocked by a mountain of Kit Kats.