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Rear View Mirror: Gary's mum

Taxi driver Tony Schumacher on tea, sympathy, stacking shelves and flatulent dogs

Written by . Published on March 2nd 2011.

Rear View Mirror: Gary's mum

 WHOEVER designed the china teacup deserves a slap, I thought as I desperately tried to figure out a way to cope with the paper thin one I was currently holding in my big, clunky hands.

Index finger too big for the handle, strong tea the temperature of Satan’s wee and a coffee table, smaller than a box of Swan Vesta, lingering just out of reach on four legs that would struggle to hold up a dust mite, were only adding to my discomfort.

All of this wasn’t being helped by the arthritic, dreadlocked, farting spaniel that was resting his head on my leg, its milky white eyes struggling to focus on the huge plate of ham sandwiches which balanced inches from his sniffling twitching nose.

For a moment even the dog looked disgusted and a sandwich curled its lip at my shabby treatment of an old widow

The sandwiches, out of all of us, seemed most at ease with themselves. That was probably due to them being together for so long. The ham was so thin it looked like a fissure in the fine white marble of an ancient Greek altar. An ancient Greek altar that had fallen in a vat of cold margarine and then been left in Death Valley for a week.

All this was compounded by an elderly lady trying to suffocate me with fairy cake every time I breathed in. My afternoon visit to a mate's widowed mum was turning into a trial that David Blaine would shake his head at.

I’ve known Gary for over 20 years; we met as two spindly teenagers working in a supermarket over the busy Christmas period. On our first day we had both been assigned to work under a vicious old troll of a woman in the wines and spirits department. The old battleaxe would send us up ladders to fetch boxes in the storeroom, always certain to cop a feel as we made our way back down with a box of advocaat balanced nervously on our shoulder.

“Don’t worry I’ll make sure you don’t fall” she’d say as she would grip the back of our nylon overalls with Woodbined stubs of fingers as we cried “I’m alright thanks” in nervous falsettos.

I lasted four days before the beep beep beep of tills and Roy Wood pushed me to the very brink of sanity and I walked out at lunch time, “I’ll just be some time,” I said as I draped my overall over the back of an orange plastic chair. For all I know it’s still there.

Gary lasted a bit longer; in fact he now manages one of their super-duper shiny stores down south. I think the troll ended up being put on trial for war crimes and was hung at the Hague... or at least I hope she was, I like to imagine as she went up the ladder towards the barely spinning noose the hangman grabbed her bum and said “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you fall.”

“You haven’t touched your sandwiches” said Gary’s mum as she daintily picked the cherry off another fairy cake and passed it to Dog Marley on my knee. “It’s lovely to see you Anthony, I don’t see many people since the funeral.”

For a moment I felt rather worthy and benevolent at visiting her, the lovely lad who always remembers his old mate's widowed mum, but any thoughts of a Pride of Britain award were quickly dashed with the rejoinder “I’ve not seen you in years”.

Her words hung in the air. For a moment even the dog looked disgusted and a sandwich curled its lip at my shabby treatment of an old widow. Guilt flushed my cheeks and I switched the tea cup to my other hand.

“Oh you know what it’s like, I’m mad busy, in the cab, writing and all the other stuff, it’s murder finding the time,” I replied pathetically.

“It’s all right, love, I’m only pulling your leg,” a gentle nudge from a sparrow's wing of an arm caused me to smile. “Gary says you write a column now.”

“Yeah, for an online magazine, has he not shown you?”

“He has his computer, but I don’t understand them, takes me all my time to work this thing.”

She pointed at a remote control resting on the arm of her chair. Under it lay a TV listings magazine and I could see red circles around programmes of note.

“Do you want me to ask if they need a telly reviewer?”

“I’d be no good, we only really watch the old films don’t we Charlie?”

Charlie the dog, raised an eyebrow and broke wind, then went back to staring at the inside of a cataract.

“How old is he now?”

“He’s 14, poor old lad is not as fast as he used to be”

I rubbed my hand over the little bony head and Charlie sighed a wheezy sigh. It was hard to imagine the bounding bundle of fun that had danced around my feet on a Friday night as I waited for Gary to get ready.

I looked at the old lady sitting next to me, spindly legs in fluffy pink slippers wrapped in tights so brown they looked like Cuban cigars planted in marshmallows, sky blue cardie and navy blue skirt, topped with a cumulus of grey hair that was due a set. The same warm face that had opened the door all those years ago was there though, burnished with age but still dashed with the lightest of blusher, applied even though nobody would see it. Not even Charlie.

“I’m glad you’ve come though son, it’s nice to know you still think of me, have another cake”

I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’d only called around to borrow Gary’s Dad’s socket set. I’ll pick it up next week when I pop round as promised. As long as I’m not too busy, that is.

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womanjadFebruary 28th 2011.

Oh Tony - you know what I'm gonna say!

The Big SisFebruary 28th 2011.

Yet another gem, think theres an aunty due a visit!

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