Mother really does know best! - lockdown life 2020

Updated: Jul 11

For many years, my fridge sported a magnet, whose message was not entirely in jest.

“Stop me, before I become my mother,” it wailed.

In those days, as a cosmopolitan, London, singleton, I couldn’t have been more removed from my rural roots. Every out-of-hours trip to the local deli, for that essential slice or two of essential Pecorino, would elicit conceit.

“No shopping lists for me,” I would inwardly smirk, revelling in my highly available world.

But not these days. My mum is a child of WWII and old habits have stuck. But where once I would casually mock and chide her actions, now I see the merits of those ways.

Life has become a series of mother-style lists and, incredibly, through some kind of DNA-programmed osmosis, I’ve actually started sounding and looking like her too.

“You’ll just have to eat what’s in front of you, we can’t afford to be choosy,” I caught myself espousing to a confused teenager.

Living in beautiful Perthshire, there is much for which I must be grateful; particularly given current restrictions.

From our own front door, we have miles of space to explore, with no need to start the car’s engine.

Exhausted by our one daily dalliance, we can duly admire rolling hills and circling buzzards without breaking curfew.

But this favourable environment hasn’t stopped me becoming the household Captain Mannering, upholding Government guidance on every front. Kitchener would have been proud.

“Put out all unnecessary lights please, think of those poor folks having to run the power stations.” Thank goodness daylight saving pushed the clocks forward; I only had to use that line once.

Most shockingly, I’ve actually caught myself regulating bathroom habits: “Just three sheets when you go to the loo,” I trill.

As when I was a child, breakfast milk-administration is now supervised; no more over-indulging of Cheerios.

After meals, pans are soaked and briskly hand-washed, where once they would have languished in a machine.

Just like my mum, there is a shopping list Blue Tacked to the inside of a cupboard (quite why it’s on the inside is a good question. No one will see it but that’s where mum used to keep hers).

Just a month ago - I would throw open the fridge and consider nutrition on the hoof, now menus are planned with military precision. Another ‘mumism’.

A donated turnip has morphed into three incarnations: leek and turnip soup (excellent); venison and turnip casserole (thank you BBC) and turnip scones (not as good as tattie ones but now waste here).

Clothing too has changed. The apron, or vernacular ‘pinny’, is very much ‘of the season’. Mum is a stickler for good presentation. So, like her, the apron now covers relatively smart attire. Whereas Canterbury’s were the BC – Before Covid – home trouser of choice, I now see the mental health merits of keeping up appearances.

It’s said that what goes around comes around.

You bet it does. As ever, mother really does know best!


Mairi Fraser

6 April 2o2o


The Times 01 May 2020



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