x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

How I manage my mother

My mum still, after all these years of nine-to-five working hours, seems to think I live the life of a lazy student.

Barring a short bout of unplanned freelancing, I've been in full-time work almost solidly since 2004. Granted, this isn't the greatest stretch of consistent steady employment by anyone's imagination, but it's enough, perhaps, to acknowledge that the days of university laziness have been left behind.

My mother, however, hasn't managed to accept this fact. In her mind, it seems, her only son spends his days asleep, half asleep or in some state of slobbery, probably in a dressing gown.

Even now, years after I began the nine-to-five adventure, I still receive calls from home asking: "Are you still in bed, then?" And no matter how many times I say: "No, Mum, I'm sat behind a desk at work. I've been doing this for a while now," it still doesn't sink in.

And not being at work means that I can't ever possibly be busy. "Can you search for some flights for me?", or "If I send you the details, can you compare these two washing machines?" and "I think I may have deleted the internet, can you check?"

"Mum, I'm at work and will be working for the next five hours."

"But you've got time to do it now, haven't you?"

Naturally, living - as my mum believes I do - like a scruffy student, my diet is also worthy of parental criticism.

"Another takeaway then?"

"No, Mum, I've just cooked a green curry using entirely organic ingredients."

"Right, don't eat too much junk, it's bad for you."

Moving to the Middle East only made the situation worse, giving my mum the added impression that I was on some sort of permanent holiday. "Are you by the beach then?"

"No, Mum, I'm at work, it's a Tuesday."

"Oh, that's a shame, you should be by the beach."

"Yes, it is."

"Can you do this Amazon order for me? I don't like buying things online."

I've sent my mum articles I've written, links to various websites I've contributed to, even magazines in which my mug is featured next to a big block of text that I've churned out, but to no avail.

Whatever I do, she still thinks that I'm lounging around and therefore free to pester with an ever-increasing list of requests. Efforts to point out that, having retired, she's got far more time on her hands have proved fruitless. She's got to go out to meet Jane, and then to buy milk, so I must do it.

When I do return home to the UK, usually in need of a lengthy sleep, out come the big-gun chores.

"Right, now you're here, I need you to trim the hedge, paint the front room and try to get the car going."

Mums. They're magical, aren't they?