Nanna just for the day
Let me name three people who ought not run a rest home.
Jane, Joseph and Stuart. I rate their friendship highly but their respect for the elderly needs work.
Last weekend I went for an overnight jaunt to the capital. They hoovered me up from the airport and spat me back out in Jane's lounge where I was told that because it was the first time I'd visited them in Wellington since turning 40, I was in for a special day of surprises.
I should have known these surprises would not involve punkawallahs, foot rubs or the hand-feeding of grapes.
First, the gifts. A bright yellow, hand-knitted cardy decorated with a band of reindeer and featuring bat-wing sleeves.
"There you go Nanna," they said. I was ordered to wear it for the duration of the day. "And here's your bag."
Never mind I had a lovely duck-egg blue handbag of my own, now I had to lug this huge brown and beige tartan canvas sack around with me.
"Open it," they urged.
The bag was not filled with shiny trinkets. It contained a packet of Gingernuts, a bag of Werther's Originals, some half-finished knitting, a giant pair of bloomers, knee socks, a jar of Promite, some crumpled up plastic shopping bags and too many old receipts.
I was obviously so shocked by the way they were treating me, I began referring to myself in the third person.
"Oh, Nanny is so lucky," I said. "This cardy makes Nanny look like she's got Bingo Wings."
"Funny you should say that," they said, and unwrapped the Bingo game, rolled the numbers in the barrell and called things like "two fat ladies, 88".
Next, we trundled up to the nearest park for a game of petanque that Nanny was surprisingly good at.
In the midst of all this, a cyclist biked into the path of an oncoming car so Nanny had a chance to do her civic duty and call the emergency services.
(Note: Nanny truly did sound like she was battling early onset dementia because she had no idea where she was and had to pass the phone to someone with a full set of marbles.)
Nanny could have done with a sweet sherry after that kerfuffle but we had to head into town for the next "treat".
Please bear in mind I was lugging a huge brown bag and wearing a jaundice cardy all the while.
We walked into a beauty salon.
Knowing this was an "old lady day" I started picturing the nice things that could happen here.
Would we be soothing nanny's arthritis with a massage or ironing out her crinkles with a facial?
I was genuinely excited.
"Old ladies have hairy lips so we've booked you in for a lip wax," they said.
They were not kidding but Nanny took it like a good sport and the others went out in sympathy by having a little something waxed as well. Just when Nanny'd had it up to pussy's bow with being treated like a geriatric, it was time for a nice cup of tea.
Now Nanny would have been perfectly happy with a thermos down by the harbour but instead they took me to a gorgeous place called Martha's Pantry.
You know you're in for something lovely when the place comes with a tea menu and a list of tea specials.
What a lovely day. What a way to make nanny feel special. I still feel pretty special because my nude top lip is now getting a bit spotty with the regrowth.
Memories of the bingo, the bowls and the high tea are fading but the lip wax just keeps on giving.
- The Press