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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.31: Can you be Hygge without hugs? ‘Is the ‘Dutch Housewife’ a porn movie?’ asks my son, looking up from his phone. ‘Why would we

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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.30: Has Covid made pants pointless? I’ve given up wearing trousers. They’re superfluous in the current situation. Unless I have to go outside to the

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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.29: Mother's birthday I’m wearing black leather driving gloves and carrying a plate of scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. It’s Mother’s birthday. I

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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.28: Covid-19 didn't ruin Mother's Day The Sun and our cat are celebrating Mother’s Day together in the garden. The Sun is dry combing the grass and th

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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.27: Can’t Hear, Won’t Hear I’m waiting, shamefacedly, for my appointment with the audiologist at a leading high street retailer where Mother bough

Man in the Middle – Chapter 26: International Women’s Day

A middle aged man decides 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.26: International Women's Day We’re celebrating International Women’s Day by searching for the Lost Batteries of Mother’s Hearing Aid, which sounds

Man in the Middle – Chapter 25: Blue Suede Shoes

A middle aged man decides 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.25: Blue Suede Shoes Mother holds a glass jar of orange marmalade in her left hand while she lances a knife into the jars’ mouth with her right, as if

Man in the Middle – Chapter 24: Goop

A middle aged man decides 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.24: Goop It’s dawning on me Mother and I are trapped in a psychodrama neither of us remembers auditioning for. Day by day, our roles as parent and chil

Man in the Middle – Chapter 23: Laurence Fox

A middle aged man decides 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.23: Laurence Fox My Wife and I regularly watch the police TV series ‘Lewis’. But I wouldn’t call us fans. Usually, we’ve forgotten by breakfast w

Man in the Middle – Chapter 22: Rice Pudding

A middle aged man decides 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.22: Rice Pudding I am making a chocolate rice pudding when my Mother asks me if I plan to poison her. She’s crept up next to me at the stove and is poi

Man in the Middle – Chapter 21: New Year Resolutions

A middle aged man decides 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.21: New year's Resolutions New Year’s resolutions are like donkeys at the Grand National.  They seldom reach the finishin

Man in the Middle – Chapter 20: Musical Mothers

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.20: Musical Mothers Mother is reading about Margaret Mackie, the pensioner, whose version of 

Man in the Middle – Chapter 19: Reeling in the years

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.19: Reeling in the years There is a black and white picture of Mother on our sitting room wall. She’s in an editing suite. It is 1941. She is working at Denham Studios as a third

Man in the Middle – Chapter 18: Kitchen Sink

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.18: Kitchen Sink Mother is washing her clothes in the kitchen sink. She is kneading them slowly and methodically like a master baker with a new batch of dough. On the counter next

Man in the Middle – Chapter 17: Resolutions

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.17: Resolutions It’s New Year’s Day and everyone is slouching in front of the TV. Only the TV is off, because one of Wife’s New Year resolutions is that the family should wat

Man in the Middle – Chapter 16: Rorke’s Drift

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.16: Rorke's Drift We didn’t watch the film ‘Zulu’ this Christmas. Instead, we relived it. Not literally, of course. But as wave after wave of friends and relatives hurled

Man in the Middle – Chapter 15: Christmas Crackers

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.15: Christmas Crackers This Christmas we have people flying in, popping by and sleeping over. It’s going to be a week-long Bacchanal which will test our livers, family unity and

Man in the Middle – Chapter 14: Made in Chelsea

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 14: Made in Chelsea I have never believed life imitates art. But I do now because Mother is telling me about her courtship with my Dad. It’s as if they had modelled their ea

Man in the Middle – Chapter 13: Burning down the house

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 13: Burning down the house Wife is telling us that it is essential that Mother doesn’t feel like a lodger in our home. She must have full citizenship, not settled status is the

Man in the Middle – Chapter 12: Political junkie

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 12: Political junkie Brexit has made Mother a political junkie. It’s put the drama back into democracy and the Ping-Pong into Parliament as far as she is concerned. She watches

Man in the Middle – Chapter 11: Archaeology

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 11: Archaeology Mother is sitting in the window leafing intently through a stack of loose leafed, old photographs. She looks at the front of each photograph and then folds it ove

Man in the Middle – Chapter 10: The Phone

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 10: The Phone Mother is having problems with her new phone. Or rather she is having a problem with the people who phone her. ‘Ever since I moved in, the only people who phon

Man in the Middle – Chapter 9: Mother moves in

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 9: Mother moves in I am hanging Mother’s paintings and pictures in my study. The study smells of drying paint and I have a headache. I am not sure if the ache is because of the

Man in the Middle – Chapter 8: Cakeism

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 8: Cakeism Mother thinks Boris Johnson is right about cake. She supports having it and eating it, wholeheartedly. She’s just watched the Daily Politics discussing the impact of

Man in the Middle – Chapter 7: No Respite

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 7: No Respite Mother and I agree we’re going to ignore the advice of the Minister for Loneliness to ‘take your grandparents on holiday’. The Minister used to do it and wants

Man in the Middle – Chapter 6: Shopping with Mother

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.6: Shopping with Mother I don’t know many men who enjoy clothes shopping. I know even fewer who’d risk buying clothes for their wives or girlfriends without them being present.

Man in the Middle – Chapter 5: The Will

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you’d like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No.5: The Will Since my father died, I’ve been trying to persuade Mother to make a will. It’s been a decade long guerrilla war fought on behalf of the principles of Good Sense and

Man in the Middle – Chapter 4: The Kettle

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you'd like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 4: The Kettle Somewhere in the world, there is always a Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition about to open. Which means somewhere, someone is always blathering on about Da Vinci’s genius

Man in the Middle – Chapter 3: The Tardis

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you'd like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 3: The Tardis Mother is a Time Lord, like Dr Who. She has a Tardis, which she uses frequently to travel back to the past and other familiar places. Like Dr Who, she doesn’t like t

Man In The Middle – Chapter 2: Bored Meeting

A middle aged man decides his elderly mother can no longer cope alone. 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 you'd like to begin at the beginning and missed the first instalment, you can read No. 1: The Letter here No. 2: Bored Meeting My mother, 95, is going to move in with us. It’s a question of when, not if, according to Wife. I am not as sure as she is. Mother actually hasn’t said