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All about my mother: Home help

Hot on the heels of my new homeowner status comes the inevitable forceful offers of help. My dad, who has nothing left to paint, wallpaper, sand or build in my parents' house, gets animated at the first sniff of a badly hung door or a wall in need of shelves.

Ridiculously early on Saturday, he arrives down with a box of tools, a drill and what looks like a hair dryer (it turns out to be something for blasting paint off walls).

Right behind him, marching up the path, is my mother, armed with cleaning paraphernalia.

This is meant to impart to me that a) she doesn't think I own things like a brush or a bottle of bleach, and b) that hers are better/stronger/more industrial strength.

"Not dressed yet?"

"Seeing as it's 9am on a Saturday morning, no."

"Throw some clothes on. I'm going to have a go at that back room."

"But it needs to be redecorated, not cleaned."

"Well, you could draw pictures on the dust in there, so there's no harm in making it more presentable 'til you finally get around to it."

Aha! That's the crux of the matter right there.

She assumes it'll take me 'til my pension years to do the necessary face-lift stuff on the house.

Jesus wept. There is a circle of hell for mothers who think they know everything.

"Make us a cup of tea, will you love?"

I stomp off to the kitchen. Ominous -- and head-wrecking -- drilling noises are emanating from upstairs.

That's it. I stomp back in.

"Listen. Why don't you let Dad do the essentials and you take it easy?"

She pretends she doesn't hear me and starts rolling up her sleeves.

"Where are your black sacks?"