All it takes is a slight rise to her eyebrow or an intentional silence when all around are full of praise.
She is my hairshirt and my best support. My walking, talking conscience. My critical inner (and oh! so outer!) voice.
She does a fine line in what she euphemistically describes ‘constructive criticism’ – really a justification for unbridled ripping apart of your subject… and yet, when I need it most she comes up trumps. Loves me despite the haircut she doesn’t like (patently, silently, with only a ‘well, there’s only two weeks between a bad cut and a good cut‘ type of comment); despite the fact that I had ‘too many‘ children (only the second of which she truly would have sent back when he was a toddler); despite the fact that two undergraduate degrees and a post-grad have bought me nothing but clever public service penury; despite the fact that I never wear colour (but you look so much younger in green); that I shaved my head when I was a punk teenager (ohmigod get away from me – you’re not my daughter); that I defy and challenge.
I am told by my 18yr old that I do my own version of this to her. But I really don’t believe that at all.
Anyway, three weeks ago mother was called up for jury duty – and the trial began yesterday. She donned her finery and travelled into the High Court to become one of the randomly chosen fifteen.
She’s taking the duty not to discuss the case very seriously – well, more seriously than I thought she possibly could. So, rather than simply splurge the details all in one go – she drip feeds us tantalising little snippets… ‘two deaths’ ‘under the influence of drugs whilst driving a car’ ‘looked spaced out and fell asleep in court’… Wonderful.
The defence lawyer is a man I know of (friend of a friend – Scotland’s small). Pity the poor prosecutor whom my mother describes as ‘a bit drippy and useless’ or ‘not very good’ and as an aside ‘I hope you’re better than that’ (no pressure then Mum). Yet she is absolutely absorbed in it. Years of watching Rumpole and Crown Court have prepared her for this moment.
And though she has a complete intolerance of all things illegal-drug related (part of the indictment apparently), she is taking this necessity of objectivity and ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ very seriously indeed.
With a little bit of luck this accused will avoid the automatic and adverse judgement that us mothers are obviously so prone to…