Mother’s Hip by Barry Normal

Have you, your friends and family ever played that game with a telephone, a local directory and the freephone numbers of companies contained inside? The one where you each ring a free number and wind up the operator who answers?

“Hello XXXX Insurance Company. Michael speaking, how may I help?”

“Yes, hello Michael, I’d like a quote for my car. Say is it legal for me to drive and talk to you at the same time?”

“No sir. That could incur you a fine and points to your licence.”

“Okay, hang on, I’ll just pull my motorbike over. . . Right, before we continue, do you mind if I ask a quick question?”

“Er, no”

“Good. Now, tell me, Michael. If God approved of the war in Iraq then why are you working on a Sunday, the day of rest?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Why are you working on a Sunday? You should be home spending quality time with your family and worshipping God.”

“But today’s Thursday, sir.”

“It is? Never mind that; let me arrive to the point. Do you mind if I sing for you, Michael? I’ve a terrific voice. No really, and I know you’re not a record industry executive, but it would mean a lot to me, because I’m thinking that if I could sing you can assess my talent and then comment upon it, because you are a person who buys and enjoys music, aren’t you Michael. Michael?”

“I suppose, but.”

“I would then like the tape of this conversation, which I will send to the major record labels, along with the other tapes I have amassed. You see, Michael, the recorded female voice at the beginning of this phone call advised me that this call was being recorded for security and training purposes. I would like a copy.”

“Sir, if you don’t want to proceed with a quote for your home or motor insurance then I am afraid I will have to end this conversation.”

“Don’t be like that, Michael, listen. It’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now go.”

And before the cat can go, Michael has gone and the line is dead.

My Mother always does a great freephone skit for the entire family each Christmas. She rings an unsuspecting victim and pretends to whoever should answer that she has fallen is hurt and unable to stand. Sometimes she lets this dark humour go too far, going into agonising detail, and the rest of us think she’s just being sick, twisted and out to shock. But when she’s on form she is amazing.

For some families it just would not be Christmas with out the Morecombe and Wise repeats on TV. For us, it wouldn’t be the same with out Mother saying down the phone to some poor unfortunate, “it’s okay, I can stand, I’m up,” before the rest of us, trying not to laugh at her antics, bang our hands down hard on the table.

“No. I’ve fallen again,” she whimpers, “and this time I think my hip has gone.”

Mother, you could never lose your hip, cool, kudos, or razzamatazz, as you prefer to call it. You are the best.


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