'Oh, Mother!'

It seems that as the years proceed one is irresistibly drawn to becoming more and more like one's mother. Do not misunderstand me. I love mothers. But they do develop traits that inevitably irritate their offspring, and these, one would hope to avoid.

It is true that I do not ask to be driven to major stores on major thoroughfares and expect the driver to wait for me outside the main door while I do my shopping. My mother had a sanguine approach to traffic that was peculiarly vexing, and she brushed aside all regulations governing road-users. I am glad to say I was sufficiently maddened by this to refrain, nowadays, from asking any driver to wait for me anywhere that is blatantly illegal. I just like him or her drive round and round and round the block till I emerge with my parcels.

What I am a little surprised about, though, is to hear myself disentangling my (or for that matter anybody else's) family tree to anyone who cares to listen. In my youth I found my mother's interest in progenitors appallingly boring, and her passing remarks to friends on friends, such as "Betty was a Bancroft and had a pretty sister who married the second Featherstonhaugh boy," or, to me, "Your Great-aunt Alice married when she was very young, so Harry is really your second cousin twice removed," of a tedium almost past bearing. Yet last week I caught myself telling a captive luncheon guest about my great-grandfather who maym have been temporarily engaged to the Empress Eugenie, and again may not have. My friend, being my age, parried with the unlikely tale that she could trace her family back to Thomas de Cochon. Pursuivant Rouge Dragon to Henry II, and probably beyond. Ridiculous. All the same time, why on earth do the years make one so interested in history?

And also so oblivious to the names of pop singers? My mother was aware of Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, but really only nominally, since she sturdily maintained that all the records I put on our gramophone sounded exactly the same. Impossible, she said, to differentiate between tunes or voices. It made me hopping mad. "Oh, mot-therm !!" I would cry.

And yet here I am, in exactly the same situation. In the middle of the night , when I am awake sometimes. I listen to the little transistor radio balanced on my stomach, and allm the modern songs are a caterwauling, cacophonous, unidentifiable disaster, and all sung by groups with no musical talent whatsoever. never heard of any of them, either.

Mother, I'm sorry. I take it all back.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.