Thursday, 18 April 2013

mystery item


My mum, as frequently pointed out by everyone, is amazing. Also a bit mental.

When I was a student (basically: all of the nineties) she would periodically come and see me. She would always bring a care package. This would be a plastic bag containing a collection of (in student terms) pricy groceries, like olive oil, coffee, posh dark chocolate and Alpen. Always, in addition, there would be a mystery item of some kind, that she thought might be useful. Which usually meant something that she had a spare spare of because she thought she might need a spare, and then discovered she already had a spare, and she didn't need two spares. Thus: horseradish, mint sauce, mango chutney, etc. Once in a while, the mystery item would be something a bit crazier. Suede protector. An electric tape-measure. Fingerless gloves.

This was bloody great. In my last couple of years, I played a lot of hockey. She and dad came to every home match. I spent two years in unimaginable oily, Alpenish luxury.

I also got a lot of mystery items. Especially mango chutney. My mother has a gene that means she can't tell if she has mango chutney in the fridge, and which causes her to buy spares at an incredible rate. The gene also means she can't tell if she gave her son some mango chutney two weeks ago.

As a student, I actually didn't need much mango chutney. By the end of those two years, I had eaten the chocolate and Alpen, but I had a cupboard full of mango chutney, and then another cupboard full of horseradish, cranberry relish and mint sauce. (I didn't often do roasts.)

Since the nineties, not a lot has changed. Partly because my financial situation didn't improve for a long time, and partly because my mother is a creature of habit. But I see her less than twice every three weeks (sadly) and I sometimes do roasts, so the build up is less frightening.

But once in a while, the mystery item, still, is a proper left-field zinger. Yesterday's was, I think, the all-time Top of the Pops.

(It was on offer.)

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