Normal Mum-insane: Mum says, ‘Let’s all do this great gluten-free diet I read about in the Daily Mail!’
Mum buys three loaves of gluten-free bread. It’s so disgusting our mouths curl up. The family goes on strike and Mum hides her sandwich in the flowerbed and next week we’re not gluten free any more.
That’s normal Mum-insane. But this is serious insane.
She’s standing at her bedroom window which overlooks Rosewood Close, where we live. No, standing sounds too normal. Mum does not look normal. She’s teetering, leaning over the edge, a wild look in her eye. And she’s holding my brother Frank’s computer. It’s balanced precariously on the window ledge. Any minute, it’ll crash down to the ground. That’s £700 worth of computer.
Does she realize this? £700. She’s always telling us we don’t know the value of money. She’s always saying stuff like, ‘Do you have any idea how hard it is to earn ten pounds?’ and, ‘You wouldn’t waste that electricity if you’d had to pay for it.’
Well, how about earning £700 and then deliberately smashing it on the ground?
Below us, on the front lawn, Frank is scampering about in his Big Bang Theory T-shirt, clutching his head and gibbering with panic.
‘Mum.’ His voice has gone all high-pitched with terror. ‘Mum, that’s my computer.’
‘I know it’s your computer!’ Mum cries hysterically. ‘Don’t you think I know that?’
‘You do not need your computer!’ Mum yells, so furiously that I flinch.
‘Mummy is going to throw the computer!’ says Felix, running onto the grass and looking up in disbelieving joy. Felix is our little brother. He’s four. He greets most life events with disbelieving joy. A lorry in the street! Ketchup! An extra-long chip! Mum throwing a computer out of the window is just another one on the list of daily miracles.
‘Yes, and then the computer will break,’ says Frank fiercely. ‘And you won’t be able to play Star Wars ever again, ever.’
Felix’s face crumples in dismay and Mum flinches with fresh anger.
‘Frank!’ she yells. ‘Do not upset your brother!’
Now our neighbours across the close, the McDuggans, have come out to watch. Their twelve-year-old son, Ollie, actually yells, ‘Noooo!’ when he sees what Mum’s about to do.
This piece was first featured on summerofpenguin.com, a month-long celebration of stories and ideas on the London Underground’s WIFI network in partnership with TFL and Virgin Media. So if you happen to be travelling by Tube this summer, be sure to read a story on us.