CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

The great unwashed

During half-term, I had a wonderful time amongst (relatively) normal people, but the onslaught of illogical stupidity (i.e. mother) was waiting for me and started droning, as soon as I got back and the front door was closed.

For once I didn't give her the chance to continue whining and instead made her go through all the photos I'd taken, related what a good time I'd had and unpacked all the nice things I'd been given by nice people in front of her.

And though - strangely - she said very little, it clearly disturbed her. She wanted to know why and the question sounded quite hurt and indignant. I told her it was because they know I don't have much money and they care. I'm certain she did "get" the idea (did she realize I did it deliberately to show her I'd been living well?), but I could see she didn't like it, because it represents a threat to her control over me if I have a network of allies that strong.

On the Monday, she was back to her usual crap. When I took my jeans out of the washing machine (I'd dared to touch it while she was out), she took them and exclaimed "they're wet", almost as if I'd given her something like a slimy creature. Well, things that have been washed tend to be wet!

To attempt to translate this to "mothereze" thinking, what she meant was that they were wetter than what she considers acceptable. I think she thinks a tsunami occurs if things are not properly spun. Unfortunately, to get her washing machine to properly spin for her taste, requires setting it to wash at 90 degrees. If my clothes were washed at 90 degrees they'd be totally ruined and only fit for throwing away. Those were stretch jeans.

She'd rather use more heating energy than is needed to run the national grid to totally ruin clothes and throw them away, so she can avoid wetness. Maybe this equates to saving water.

She has no qualms about the condensation forming damp and now black mould caused by worn out window seals, lack of ventilation and inadequate heating, mind you.

Ergo, we is not talking about someone capable of reason here.

She went to put some potatoes - that had come straight from the supermarket and been stored on the open worktop - the only place they don't go moldy - right by the window where the cat sits - into the microwave to cook in their jackets (and only in the microwave, which taste like crap / soggy paper.) As she didn't, I pointedly asked her if she was going to wash them first.

At first she didn't reply, but launched into accusing me of being mad, then claimed nobody ever eats the skin. My information suggests differently.

No point saying that I do: I'm just a freak. Actually, she does too! :)

She then exclaimed you would "NEVER wash them and put them in there" [the microwave]. Well, I always have. You can dry them first, I suppose, but I've never found the tiny bit of dampness to cause any harm at all.

Once more, I told her she has an unhealthy obsession about water.

Once more, she accused me of being mad and began to cackle, madly.

I've no idea why I bothered to make and freeze meals for her (and, you can be sure I shan't bother another time), because most of them were left uneaten.

Being able to have showers with water at a normal pressure were a particular delight while I was away. Ours is still like showering in lukewarm drizzle.

She still won't hear that there's anything wrong with the pressure here, but then as one of these definitions of the great unwashed suggests, "The great unwashed must be distinguished from homeless people ... the [former] have homes and often have money, they're just dirty."

She says that "other people's" pressure has been boosted. I check. It hasn't. I tell her that I can tell that the pressure is markedly lower than in the 3 homes I've owned, the 3 others of hers I've lived in and countless others I've rented, many of which have also been single story, so no that isn't the "excuse" either. She brushes it all aside as though I'm incapable of knowing.

She won't see the problem, of course, because she doesn't use the shower.

This is not part of the old "bath once a week, whether you need it or not" culture that pervaded Britain in the dark ages (everything up to the 1960's), because my mother has not used the shower more than once or twice (max) in the 5 months I've been here. She claims she has "much more often than you think." I know she's lying, but just shoot her a look.

Then, she changes her story and says she doesn't need to shower, in a voice that suggests she's superior to it. She "strip washes" a few selected body parts.

That simply does not do for me and besides, that is colder and slower than showering and the main requirement for me is that I need hot water to help alleviate pain and I absolutely must not get that cold while showering or I'll be in more pain, i.e. it's for health reasons, not some frivolous like or dislike.

Of course, I think I'd have a perfect right to have simple likes and dislikes, but she obviously disregards those as invalid if she does genuine needs.

Part of all this is gross meanness, part of it is a misguided, ignorant and near obsessional preoccupation with "saving water" (she's the same with heating, lighting, etc.), but I simply cannot seem to convince her that "the authorities" have not mandated that people stop showering, sit in the cold and dark.

Next she had a problem with the phone: it was flashing. Actually, just the answering machine bit was flashing to show that she had a message. She claimed that she couldn't remember how to listen to it. Then she said she had listened to it and it was still showing a number (which it should) and she seemed not to grasp the idea that it would do so, until she erased it.

All the time she was in flapping around the house like a headless chicken, in panic mode, as though it was a real problem that would end the world.

Twice in the last week she's had messages from "nobody"; silent ones where the caller had not left a message. It happens, people phone and decide not to leave a message, presumably. I figure if it was important enough, they would, or they'd be in touch again. These too caused her sky to fall.

These are not new things or technology she's incapable of learning, as she's been managing with all this perfectly well for quite some time, so either this was an act, simply to get my attention, or she's forgotten. Either behaviour, I pointed out to her, is of someone who can no longer cope as a grown up and, if she can no longer manage, then "I'll have to do something about it, won't I?"

Then finally, the friend who was supposedly going to drop everything and advise her about the gas boiler phoned back after a whole two weeks, not, strangely, the two days she said he would call in person within. So, maybe she did phone him after all, though I'm now inclined to think that she spoke to a machine, even though she claimed to be and behaved like she was talking to him personally. Once more, either she was lying and acting for some devious or insane reason, or she's become too senile to tell the difference.

Either way, this is not the behaviour of a sane, capable being, is it?

And - forgetting once again that I can hear every word she says - what does she say to him? That he "better leave it now", i.e. she didn't need help.

It didn't matter whether she intended to renew the boiler or not (I know she didn't), but sweeping the problem under the carpet won't make it go away. We still needed questions answering. Once again, she is failing to do what's needed to maintain the house and may as well throw money in the streets for what the obvious general decline is doing to the value of the property.

Please let me wake up from this nightmare!

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