Man in the Middle – Chapter 56: Mixed emotions about the day ahead

I often wake up with mixed emotions about the day ahead. I’m not sure why. I used to be bubbly at breakfast and often thought I was at my best before noon. Carpe diem, I used to say to myself every morning, like Bertie Wooster, pumped on Highballs for Breakfast. Now, I start too many days with my teacup half full and sugarless. ‘I’ve lost my mojo,’ I say to my wife, as a chunk of ma

Man in the Middle – Chapter 55: In the sweat of your brow shall you eat

My wife gets anxious at the weekends. It’s not just because she has to spend more time with me. It’s because she likes to GET THINGS DONE and with the working week behind her, she has to hunt around for things to fill up her time. And ours. It’s not enough for her to drift her way through the weekend like a jelly fish, happy to be swept along by the tide whichever way it ebbs and flow

Man in the Middle – Chapter 54: Sipping roast parsnip soup

Mother is slowly sipping roast parsnip soup under the watchful eye of her carer. She eats her lunch purposefully, leaning her head down as she brings the spoon up to her lips. Her right-hand trembles, but this time the soup doesn’t slop over the side of the spoon. ‘We’re going make you big and strong again,’ says the carer, cheerfully, as Mother swallows the warm soup. ‘Huh,’

Man in the Middle – Chapter 52: My diet got stuck in the buffet car

I am standing naked on the bathroom scales with my eyes shut tight and my head bowed like a criminal in court, waiting for the judge to pass sentence on me. I already know the verdict: guilty. The only question is how severe the sentence will be. My crime? My diet has gone off the rails and got stuck in the buffet car and I have broken all the dietary vows I made so recently to myself and m

Man in the Middle – Chapter 51: My teacup overfloweth

  My teacup overfloweth with joy. Both my kids start work today. I am happy for them because this is a landmark on their journey to adulthood. The rat race needs running and it’s their time to step onto the wheel of capitalism and keep it spinning. I hope they enjoy their turn. Really. The old toad work is not always too bad. I am also happy for myself and my wife. This could b

Man in the Middle – Chapter 50: An appointment with the Memory Clinic

Mother is the centre of a lot of attention

Mother is back home after ten days in the hospital and is the centre of a lot of attention. Not just from us. She’s on the care list of the NHS integrated community response service team, which includes a nurse, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a social care assistant, a social worker and her GP. Even a handyman. All have been i

Man in the Middle – Chapter 49: Acute Deliriums episode one   

The first time Mother suffered an attack of acute delirium I thought she was playing up. It was a month or more ago. She was in the sitting room watching Good Morning Britain on the TV and I was in the kitchen loading a large sausage sandwich into my mouth. I could barely hear her calling with all the churning and jawing noises as the first bite of sandwich did a whirlwind tour o

Man in the Middle – Chapter 48: The Mystery of the Colman’s Mustard tin

Man in the Middle - Chapter 48: The Mystery of the Colman’s Mustard tin

10 August, 2020 / By Man in the Middle ‘Mrs. Johnson. Dr Smith will see you now.’ I am in the queue at the family clinic waiting to help Mother show the doctor her right leg, which has turned blue like an uncooked lobster and ballooned up again. ‘Mrs. Johnson?’ The doctor’s surgery makes

Man in the Middle – Chapter 47: The salt cellar

Man in the Middle - Chapter 47: The salt cellar

4 August, 2020 / By Man in the Middle Mother has a silver salt cellar cupped in her hands which she holds out towards me as if she were a beggar. Her gesture reminds me of the scene in Oliver, the musical, when the young Oliver asks for a second portion of gruel. I am unsettled by her gesture and my reaction to it, but I can’t work

Man in the Middle – Chapter 46: Walking boots and sweaty socks

I take off my walking boots and sweaty socks in the porch of the cottage and hobble bare foot to the kitchen mantel piece, where my mobile phone is charging, below a map of the Brecon Beacons. The family and I have been out walking along the River Usk for over four hours and we deliberately left our phones behind to see if we have the willpower to detach ourselves from the mobile phone netw

Man in the Middle – Chapter 45: Mother and Jean Paul Sartre

Breakfast. Mother licks her index finger and pats it onto the crumbs of pain au chocolate on her plate, while casually asking my daughter what existentialism is. ‘It was all the rage thirty years ago. But you don’t hear people talking about it anymore,’ Mother says, as if mourning the end of the golden age of dinner party banter. My daughter stops supping up her Cheerios and takes

Man in the Middle – Chapter 44: Will the pubs be open in the Brecon Beacons?

I am co-chairing with my wife a family meeting to discuss the battle plans for the week-long holiday we’re about to take in the Brecon Beacons. I am co-chair in name only, of course, because my wife has already made all the decisions and my only job as co-chair is tell the children to shut up if they interrupt her while she explains what she’s decided we’re going to do. Some men mi

Man in the Middle – Chapter 43: Mirror in the Bathroom

There’s a time in every man’s life when what he sees in the mirror scares him

The balding man in the bathroom mirror has a double chin and jowls which droop like the sails of a yacht on a windless sea. His blue eyes have faded to grey. The skin under his eye sockets sags like an airbag which should have been packed away after a collision years ago but has been left hanging from the

Man in the Middle – Chapter 42: Cannabis Gravy

In America you can buy Thanksgiving gravy infused with cannabis which my daughter cites as one example of how good gravy can enhance a meal. ‘Enhance is one word for it,’ I say thinking about the havoc a dose of THC, the chemical in cannabis, might have upon Mother who loves gravy like F Scott Fitzgerald loved Gin Rickey’s. We’re debating the merits of gravy because we’re plann

Man in the Middle – Chapter 41: The Death of Patriarchy

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 40: Would you ever eat your cat?

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 39: A cure for baldness

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 38: The best iron money can buy

  A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intac

Man in the Middle – Chapter 37: Cummings and goings

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 36: For whom the bell tolls

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 35: Nachos

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 34: The lure of yoga

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 33: Hilary Mantel & the dead body

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 32: Howard Hughes Stays Over

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 31: Can you be Hygge without hugs?

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 30: Has Covid made pants pointless?

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 29: Mother’s birthday

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 28: Covid-19 didn’t ruin Mother’s Day

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y

Man in the Middle – Chapter 27: Can’t Hear, Won’t Hear

A middle aged man realises his elderly mother can no longer cope alone, so she moves in with them. Squeezed by the demands of the demographic time bomb and the requirements of the rest of the family, the Man in the Middle is bemused that life has become a hi-wire act, just when he thought it should start getting easier. How can he keep everyone happy and survive with his sanity intact? If y