An ordinary conversation

An ordinary conversation

Written from memory shortly after my mother died in June 2011.  The script was rehearsed and played many times

B:  [picks up the phone, presses some numbers, and waits.  There is a sound on the other end, indicating someone has picked up]

[loudly] Hello, Mum, it’s Bonnie

M:  [shouting] Is that Jackie?  Hang on a minute, I’m not quite in my chair [sound breathless].

[as if in pain] Ooh!  Hang on a minute.


Right, I’m with you now.

Who is it?

B:  It’s Bonnie, Mum.

M:  Is that Bonnie?

B:  Yes, Mum.

M:  Hello, Dear.  What can I do for you?

B:  Nothing Mum.  I just thought I’d ring you for a chat, ‘cos we’re going up to the caravan tomorrow.  Today’s Friday.

M:  Yes, I know.  I haven’t seen Gilly for a while.  She doesn’t come as often as she used to.

B:  Did you see her on Wednesday, Mum?

M:  Oh, I don’t know.  I might have done, I forget.  Brain’s not working as it used to.

Can you hear me?  Only I haven’t got my hearing aid in.

B:  Yes, I can hear you.  Can you hear me?

M:  There’s something wrong with this phone.  I can’t seem to get a proper signal on it.  I must get Geoffrey to have a look at it.  It’s never been right.  Bloody thing.  I wonder whether I would be better off with an ordinary phone like you girls have.   Nice and small so I can hold it.

B:  Do you mean a mobile phone,  Mum?  I don’t think that would be right for you, sweetie.

M:  [far away, sounding wistful]  Oh, well, you’re probably right.  It’s just me.  I’m getting old, Bon.  I’m not the woman I used to be.  I don’t know, there’s something wrong with my brain.  I don’t like it.

[recovering herself]

Anyway, this phone’s never been right.

B:  I think it might be because you haven’t got your hearing aid in, Mum.

M:  Well, I’m all ready for bed now – no point in bothering them now.  Mind you, I haven’t had it in all day.  My fault, I forgot to ask.

B:  You shouldn’t have to ask, Mum.  They should remember.

M:  Well, there’s a lot of things you don’t know.

B:  Like what?

M:  Like the way I get spoken to.  Not all of them, just one or two …

B:  What do you mean, Mum?  What’s been happening?

M:  Oh, just the night staff last night.  She really upset me, she did.  ‘Do you realise that’s the third time you’ve buzzed this evening, Violet?’ she said.  So after that, I took meself to the loo.  You see, I can’t help it.  I’ve tried sleeping in my own bed but then I wake up all hot.  I can’t explain it.  It’s as if I’m on fire, and I have to get out of bed.  Then I just stay in my chair after that.

B:  They shouldn’t speak to you like that, Mum.  You pay their wages.

M:  Yes, well, don’t say anything Bon.  I don’t want any trouble.

B:  I won’t say anything without your permission, Mum, but just remember they have no right to speak to you like that.

M:  [bright and breezy, determinedly changing the subject] Anyway, how’s things up there?  Everyone alright?

B:  Yes, we’re OK Mum.

M:  Bet you’re all getting excited about the wedding, aren’t you?

B:  Yes, Mum.  We’ve got two.  We’re off to the States soon for Oli and Claire’s wedding, then Joe and Sam’s is next year.

M:  Oh, yes, he’s marrying an American girl, Oli, isn’t he?  Where are they going to live?

B:  They’re coming back here to live, Mum.

M:  Oh, that’ll be nice.  When’s Rosa coming home?

B:  I don’t know, Mum.

M:  You’ll have a house, full, won’t you?

B:  Well, Dan’s living in Leeds now.

M:  Oh, he’s in Leeds, is he?   Near Ian then?  I’ve got a soft spot for Dan.  I think you and Phil have done bloody marvellous, with all those kids.

Still, it’s nice that you got out to see her.

B:  Yes, I’m very glad.

M:  I know what that feels like.

B:  I know you do, Mum.  I know.

M:   I don’t know how you cope, having your daughter live thousands of mile away.


Anyway, I’d better go, Bon.  Me arm’s aching.

B:  OK, Mum.  I’ll ring you when I get back.

M:  Where are you going again?  Oh, yeah, the caravan.  My brain doesn’t work as well as it used to.

B:  You don’t do so bad, for someone who’s 96.

M:  No, I s’pose not.

B:  Anyway, you take care of yourself.  God bless.  We’ll speak soon.

M:  Bye-bye dear.


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