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Man in the Middle – The Tardis

The Man in the Middle writes our new blog series. Musings from a middle-aged man living with his aged Mother and the Family.

Mother is a Time Lord. Like Dr Who, she has a Tardis, which she uses frequently. Mostly, she travels back in time to familiar places, where she feels in control. The future is another country, unknown and insecure.

She prefers to travel with others, because the Tardis is a large, hollow ship for one. Usually, her passengers are friends and family. But sometimes she will press gang strangers, like a nonagenarian pirate. These kidnappings happen randomly and she gives few warning signals, though phrases such as: ‘Do you remember rationing?‘ often precede trouble. These are ‘trigger words’, which tell me it’s time to intervene or escape.

‘She hasn’t had her pills yet,’ I say weakly, hoping the potential victim will take the joke as a chance to flee.

Hostages to time

‘My son’s embarrassed by his Mother,’ she says, fixing her victim to the spot like Medusa. ‘Has been since the 70s. In fact, he’s always been embarrassed by his entire family.’ She winks at them.

After each incident, we end up agreeing she has every right to speak to whom she pleases about whatever she wants. We also agree it is ‘high time’ that I ‘loosen up’. So it goes.

The majority of her kidnap victims make the mistake of sitting down next to her. If they’re stationary for more than five minutes, they’re fair prey. Consequently, the children only allow their most socially robust friends to sit next to her. Though, the children are willing and frequent flyers in the Tardis, themselves. In fact, they have collected so many miles they have reached platinum card status, which gives them privileges to go where others are not invited. They return, like big game hunters, with trophies. The biggest prize is to come back with a story I’ve never heard.

Did you know Granny modelled with Roger Moore?

‘Did you know Granny modelled with Roger Moore?’ they say.

‘Yes, seen the photos.’

‘Did you know Granny’s mother was imprisoned for stealing from a blind woman in the war?’

‘Yes, but let’s not repeat that. Standards were different then.’

‘What about the American she was engaged to, after the war?’ they say.

This is news to me.

‘If she hadn’t dumped him, none of us would be alive,’ says Daughter.

‘Even if she had married him, 25% of our DNA would still exist, just elsewhere. It could be worse,’ according to Son, using dubious biology and maths.

I suspect all old people are Time Lords man in the middle

I suspect all old people are Time Lords. But what do their travelogues mean? If Mother is reminiscing about an old fiancé does it mean she regrets marrying my father? And why has she never trusted me with the story?

After all, I accompany her in the Tardis too. I have been to Denham Studios, where she worked on wartime propaganda films, and attended British fashion shows of the 50s, when she was a model. I have travelled to a Peabody Estate in central London, where she lived with eight siblings in two bedrooms, trapped between a weak father and a violent mother.

Most places the Tardis travels are sepia-tinted and sweet. But sometimes the Tardis crashes into a bog of remorse, or returns to scenes of unresolved dilemmas, which can’t (but should) be forgotten.These trips open old wounds. Perhaps the American fiancé is one of these?

Just listen

Wife says: ‘It doesn’t matter. Just listen. This is your family’s oral history.’

‘Granny is our family’s Homer,’ says daughter.

‘Exactly,’ I respond. ‘One day, I will share my story with you, too.’

‘Which will make you our Homer Simpson,’ says Son.

© The Man in the Middle

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