lovey lovey lovey lovejoy
Mum could not come with us to the park because Lovejoy was on. She couldn’t make the post-game celebration either. I put down the phone and edged my gaze to face my wife. She was looking incredulous.
‘It’s a good one, apparently. An unsavoury stranger comes to the village and Tinker finds a rare coin in his loose change.’
‘That TV programme, with the antiques dealer.’
‘I know what Lovejoy is! She’s not going to watch her first grandson in his first football game because of a thirty-year-old show about some dodgy geezer with an even dodgier mullet?’
A few days later I had a brainwave. I did next day delivery, Lou wrapped it and then we went around there together. Mum insisted on making the tea, despite the present wrapped up in gaudy paper on her coffee table. She dithered in the kitchen, some of the water eventually making its way into the teapot, and only then did I get her back into the lounge.
She regarded the gift doubtfully.
‘Is it my birthday already? Where’s the rest of the presents?’
‘It’s a little spontaneous gift,’ I said. ‘Do you want me to open it?’
I flinched in the full glare of that Mum stare that was straight out of forty years ago. Lou stifled a snort.
Mum rose and fetched a pair of nail scissors from the sideboard. Very carefully, she cut the pieces of Sellotape, unwrapped the gift and then began to fold the wrapping for reuse.
I held out the present to her. It was a DVD boxset.
I said, ‘It’s every single episode of Lovejoy. Now you can watch it whenever you want.’
She peered at the picture of the cast on the back.
‘Don’t they all look so young. He’s dead now, you know, Tinker, the sidekick who wore the beret.’
‘Yes, but in here, he lives on. You can watch them on the DVD player we got you for Christmas.’
‘That’s nice dear. Tea?’
I said, ‘Mum, Friday evening, Georgie has a school play. Will you come?’
‘Friday? Oh, I can’t do that. Your father and I never miss Lovejoy.’
Lou and I looked at each other. She shook her head, pointing at me as if to say, “your mum”.
Ever so gently, I said, ‘Dad’s not with us anymore.’
Mum treated me to a withering look.
‘Do I look that dotty? Of course, I know your father’s dead. But we always said, no matter where we were, if Lovejoy was on we’d watch it together. So that’s what we do. We settle down and we watch Lovejoy.’
I took hold of Mum’s hands. They felt small and withered and lost within my own.
I said, ‘Mum,’ and waited till she looked at me with a vague smile. ‘Mum. Dad’s in heaven now.’
Mum rolled her eyes.
‘Obviously. I was at the service, you know.’ She freed her hands and regarded me with another of her Mum stares.
‘But don’t you know the first sign aliens will have of us is television signals? I think they’ll reach as far as heaven, don’t you? Honestly, Louise, he must drive you to distraction.’