The best medicine?

Okay, to cheer us all up…

When my mother came out of hospital, we felt quite cheerful – only a few days earlier she had been very close to death, but a stent and a couple of litres of blood had perked her up no end. She, my sister and I coped with it best with black humour and there were a lot of funeral and cancer jokes – though that was between the three of us; when a quite close friend tried to join in the hilarity we felt it hit the wrong tone entirely.

One day, the phone rang. Mummy was in bed and Wink and I were both sitting in the elegant but not very comfortable Edwardian armchairs in her bedroom. Mummy picked up the phone – it was evidently someone wanting to send her raffle tickets to sell for charity. She listened politely and then replied “I’m afraid I’ll have to say no – I’m rather ill and only just out of hospital”. “We’ve got until December 17th before the draw takes place,” said the caller brightly. “Unfortunately,” said my mother fruitily, but with great kindness, “I may not have until December 17th myself.”

Embarrassed apologies and goodbye and the phone went down. All three of us fell about laughing. We were still chuckling when the phone rang again a minute later. Mummy picked it up and said ‘Hello.” A squawk of dismay and another apology from the horrified chugger, who had been so flustered that she’d redialed.

We nearly cried with laughter. For days later, one of us would recall it and snort again with mirth.

5 comments on “The best medicine?

  1. Monozygote

    That is heart-breaking. The poor chugger, I mean.

    I like the genteel way you talk about the close friend “hitting the wrong tone” – I have to say I would agree, however close a friend they were.

  2. Dave

    I get a lot of spam callers. I can now recognise them, because they ask for someone who left here ten years ago. I usually respond with Eric Morecambe’s immortal line:

    ‘I’m sorry, there’s no phone here.’

    I then put the phone down.

  3. Z

    It’s not a pleasant job, cold-calling, is it? At least these people are phoning on behalf of proper charities and not asking *you* directly for money – though the effect is the same, because of course you don’t go round your friends flogging the raffle tickets.

    Mobile phone sellers are easy to deal with – I tell them truthfully that I only spend £15-£20 per year on calls, so it’s not worth having a contract.

    KW, she was splendid, but when not happy, very hard work. I’m glad we had those six months which repaired our relationship, which had suffered over the previous 15 years.

  4. PI

    It is mind boggling how insensitive the odd person can be. My first husband and I knew a very enthusiastic dinner party giver and we were constantly being invited. A day after my husband had his heart attack the husband rang with another invite and – a bit tearful – I explained what had happened. He wouldn’t take no for an answer – they would delay it until he got out of hospital. Then I had to be quite firm.
    Great that you have laughter memories – the best kind. We found gallows humour – black anyway – when someone close was in hospital with an acute breakdown.


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