Thud-thud-thud: there’s a firm but hasty knock at the door. The sort of knock that signifies urgency, desperation and determination. Something’s up. Through the frosted glass, a silhouetted figure billows out clouds of steam.
You hesitate to answer. Who is this mysterious adventurer and why have they battled the snow to get here? What could possibly be so important as to risk life and limb in these treacherous conditions?
Scenes from Harry Potter flash before your eyes and you wonder if, just maybe, the secret powers you always knew you had are ready to be unleashed by this bobble-hatted Hagrid.
Your hand nervously clasps the chilled metal handle and – ‘Only me, darling!’.
What the f**k is Mum doing here?
Startled, you open the door and there she stands; ice enshrouded eyebrows, crampons hugging the latest X-90 Pro Karrimor By-Christ-These-Could-Kill-A-Polar-Bear boots, and a pair of frozen fingerless gloves.
Why always the fingerless gloves?
Ushering her in, you notice a wheelbarrow, shielded by tarpaulin, standing by that tiny little step in front of your house which she refuses to carry anything over.
‘Be a dear and bring that in for me, would you, love?’
Heaving, you lump the great wagon into your hallway and kick an old fag packet under the rug. Fingers crossed she didn’t notice that bad boy.
You remind her that this is, in fact, your house and not hers. It doesn’t seem to make a difference though, and there she goes: methodically sweeping up breadcrumbs, piling glasses into the sink and, in typical motherly fashion, telling you to lose some goddamn weight. Well, telling you that that t-shirt used to be too big for you and that she’s glad you’re eating well.
The passive aggressiveness is exhausting already.
But why is she here and what’s with the wheelbarrow? The answer, of course, is snow.
‘Thought I’d bring round some provisions, pet. You know, in case you got snowed in.’
Remarking that the snow is about half an inch deep, you realise you’re being ignored. She’s unpacking the wheelbarrow.
Out come the loaves of bread, pints of milk and metric tonne of eggs. Good stuff.
Then it’s the paracetamol, plasters and pick-axes.
Finally, after a few thermal vests and a pair of long Johns, she seems to be done. Oh, ‘one last thing’, she tells you, and a pair of gloves land in your hands. Fingerless, of course. Brilliant.
Mothers universally go out of their way to look after their beloved children and when the snow falls, this undying commitment to faffing and fussing seems to be taken to a whole new level.
But what about her? How is she managing amid the carnage of the Beast?
‘Well, your father is outside and he’s just attaching the chains to our new car’s tyres. Better to be safe than sorry, he reckons. I’ll tell you what, he isn’t half overreacting to this weather.’
Not the only one, you think.
Time for the hourly meteorological update. That anonymous ‘they’ who only parents seem to know about has been speculating again.
‘They say there’s more of it coming. Storm, oh what’s her face, Grace? Well, she’s coming down with quite a vengeance this evening and her and that Beast From the North are gonna cause one hell of a problem. That’s what they’re saying, anyway. Could be wrong.’
It’s from the East, Mum. And she’s called Emma.
‘Well, you better be safe wherever it’s from, sweetheart. I don’t want my baby getting cold – oh! Hang on!’
The air crackles and bleeps. A fuzzy voice springs suddenly from nowhere.
‘Come in, do you read me?’, it blurts.
‘10 4, Julie. Loud and clear, my love.’
You begin to interrupt.
‘Sorry, dear, one moment. Out.’
She puts down the walkie-talkie, one finger whacking the buttons as she strains her neck as far away from the device as possible, peering over her glasses to see. Classic mum pose. She’s bought it in case the phones go dead, of course. You should have guessed.
Better to be safe than sorry.
The air crackles again.
‘We have a code red, ladies. I repeat, code red.’
‘Mother of God,’ she mutters, face pale, eyes wide. ‘Code red is serious. I’d better go, love, your father and I are needed for the people’s safety.’
Rushing out of the house, your mother leaps into the chain-equipped gritting lorry outside.
‘We thought we better buy one in case they run out, dear. Oh, and stop bloody smoking, your father and I are worried.’
Off they drive, gritting furiously on the way. Watching them leave, you see the entire road is that rusty brown colour of too much grit. Looks like Mum’s being safe again, not sorry. Typical.