My mother called me today to ask me what the time was.
In her house she has (and this is from memory, so forgive any inaccuracies) three wall clocks, three bedside/alarm clocks and a handful of watches. She also has a TV, video recorder, computer, oven, microwave and a central heating system that all also display the time.
She can check any of these. She can even dial 123 and ask the talking clock. But does she?
No. She makes an international call (to someone in a DIFFERENT TIME ZONE) to find out the correct time.
It seems she was worried that her alarm clock had gone off late, and that she would miss an appointment at the hairdresser. She pretended not to listen when I made the point that having a ten-minute conversation with me would only serve to make her even more late.
Shortly after my father died, only 6 years ago, I took my Mom to Australia - on the holiday that my Dad had promised her, in order to celebrate her retirement. The trip took us to countries in four different time zones and across the international dateline.
Did this faze her? Not at all.
All she was interested in on that trip was flirting outrageously with the stewards on Qantas and having her photo taken in her business class seat ("it's my first time 'up front' you know"). The complete and utter shame of it.
Anyway, in six short years she's gone from being the older woman who flirts with the boys to an old woman who doesn't know what time it is.
So did I tell her the time?
No, I did not.
Instead, I told her that every time she calls me with one of these crazy questions it puts her one step closer to officially being an 'old lady'.
"I'll go and see what time the TV says", she said. "And if I ever hear you call me an old lady again I'll come round and show you how hard an 'old lady' can punch".
Now, that's more like it.