Friday morning for me in Costa Rica, Friday afternoon for my mother in England.
Time to call her for her shopping list.
She used to have a shopper, but when she retired and handed over to a younger woman mother could not get along with things.
Items would not be bought…didn’t have any….the sell by dates could be as close as the next day….oh, it’ll be all right…or some cheaper alternative would be provided…that’s the brand my kids prefer…
So now I call her on Skype, she gives me her shopping list and I go on line to Tesco and make the order which will be delivered to the door a week later.
Thus she doesn’t have to carry anything heavy and doesn’t have to go out at all if the weather is inclement.
So, the nine o’clock coffee out of the way I wind up Skype.
The ringing tone is answered promptly and my heart sinks as a suspicious voice asks
Who is it?
Glory be, mother’s friend Adolpha, over eighty and hard of hearing, has collared the ‘phone.
I tell her it is me and I’m calling to get mother’s Tesco list.
Fatal error. I hear her saying to mother
There’s some woman here from Tesco trying to sell you something.
As I am about to bellow a correction down the ‘phone in the hope that mother can hear it at the other side of the room, Luzmilla – Friday is cleaning day – comes in from the balcony shooing a dog before her. Volubly.
At the other side of the world Adolpha adds
Some foreign woman.
Seeing I am on Skype and assuming that I am talking to my mother Luzmilla shrieks a greeting into the laptop.
I suppose they have to meet targets, says mother’s voice.
Plenty of English people would like those jobs replies Adolpha, herself from Austria. It’s a disgrace and she doesn’t even speak English!
Now look here, whoever you are….
At this point I manage to get her to understand that it is me on the line…
Well why didn’t you say so!
Here, it’s your daughter.
We get down to brass tacks and mother is just wondering whether to change her brand of tea bags when Monty the lamb, unable to find Leo and in need of milk, nudges me sharply on the arm and bleats loudly.
What on earth was that?
That doesn’t sound like a lamb….too loud.
Luzmilla, who fed Monty on her lap when he was tiny and adores him, tells me she will heat the milk while I’m on the ‘phone and as Monty bleats again as he sees the fridge door opening she replies with a bleat of her own.
More like a camel…No, I think I’ll stick to the same ones…Now, meat…
We set off again while Monty is fed and Luzmilla moves off into the bedrooms, her progress marked by the banging of the broom against the skirting boards.
Then the insect sets off. I don’t know where it is, I don’t know what it is though I imagine it to be some sort of over endowed cricket but it makes a noise like a dentist’s drill and can be heard over a wide area.
Now what’s going on….I’ve lost my train of thought…
An insect? No insect makes a noise like that…Danilo must be working somewhere…
Lamb chops – but loin chops, make sure they are loin chops – decided upon, the merits of gammon come under the spotlight as opposed to pork….and then the dogs bark furiously as Danilo’s son arrives on his motorbike with the day’s supply of fresh milk for Monty, to be received by Luzmilla with much shouting at the dogs to be quiet.
It’s a madhouse…whatever is going on? The milkman on a motorbike…still I suppose it’s better than mine – a new man I think, comes creeping around late in the morning, when he thinks I can’t get to the door fast enough to complain about the Gold Top! If that’s from Jersey cows I’m a Chinaman.
I think they must water it down, says Adolpha in the background and she and mother discuss the likelihood of this, oblivious to the seconds ticking away on Skype, their conversation ending in
You can’t trust any of them these days.
Mother decides on the gammon.
We have run through most of her list with a slight pause at Evian water as she was sent Buxton water in error last time and does not want a goitre at her age and then she thinks she will have a packet of breakfast cereal….
Puffed wheat, I think…
And then the guinea fowl strike up, legging it past the back door…
I know what that is. That’s those awful birds you had in France who kept trying to drown themselves….
Whatever possessed you to get some more….and don’t let them send me organic puffed wheat.
Tasted like cardboard and a tiny packet for the price….
Yes, that’s the lot….
We say our goodbyes and as I shut down the call I hear Adolpha’s voice in the background
They said it was organic, but how could it be? It came in a cellophane packet….what’s organic about cellophane?