Mamma has taken to international travel like a Kardashian to cosmetics. Not content with jetting off to Spain, where she cruises the boulevards like some sort of pensioner criminal – think Ray Winstone in cropped summer trousers and a big floppy hat – she’s now about to go to Tuscany.
The chosen airline for this is KLM. This is a good thing. My mother is fond of the Dutch. Well, let’s be honest, everyone loves the Dutch. Apart from me, that is. I have long harboured an intense and quite irrational fear of our Netherland neighbours.
For one thing, look at the height of them. You’re not telling me that’s not deliberate. As a regulation pint-sized Scottish woman, I find much to fear when Dutch and German companies start taking over our supermarkets. I bet they re-arrange them to their height requirements. How am I going reach for tins of beans when they think everyone that shops there is 5ft 10in? I’ll have to invest in climbing gear.
KLM is an excellent airline with a truly outstanding customer-care profile. Mamma will be whisked from Glasgow to Schiphol, and thence onwards to Florence.
Fun fact, trivia lovers, Schiphol Airport is the only airport in the world to have had a sea battle on its runways. The Battle of the Haarlemmermeer in 1571 was decisive in the Dutch War of Independence, and then the Dutch got independence and promptly made Holland bigger by reclaiming land. Smart move, you’re only going to annoy the jelly fish. The sea battle site is now directly in the path of incoming Airbus 380s. If that doesn’t impress the badoobies out of your friends at the next pub quiz, then get new friends.
Schiphol is a massive airport. Brilliantly, the Dutch have built a huge shopping centre and parked some planes outside. If it was any bigger, Trump would be announcing trade tariffs against it.
Whilst mamma was at her information exchange group, or as Edinburgh Leisure like to call it, Leith Victoria Swim Centre, the alarm was raised. It’s only a 55-minute window between the two flights. She can move at a fair old pace when the word ‘Sale’ is in sight, but how about a big busy airport?
Passenger assistance is the way ahead and, as mother’s travel agent, that means I have to contact KLM and ask if they can transport this precious cargo from Gate 2 to Gate 2910.
It seemed simple enough. There was an email address, and I fired off the request. Within minutes, I received a call from Pieter. He was checking flight times and gate arrivals. Boxes ticked.
Irma emailed. She wanted to know the flight times and gate arrivals. I replied. I didn’t mention Pieter. I know the Dutch are famously open-minded, but I really didn’t want Irma to know I was seeing another customer service operative behind her back. Not yet, anyway.
Pieter called again. This was worrying. Had he found out about Irma? I wasn’t ready for a major emotional showdown. No, no, this was to check the dietary requirements for ‘yo mumma’. This, I assume, is my mother’s gangster name when she’s cruising the mean streets of Stockbridge looking for bargains in charity shops.
Pieter, I said, she’s only going to be there for 55 minutes. What on Earth are you going to feed her? Later I realised what an opportunity I missed. I should have said, she must be force fed tapioca every five minutes.
Vengeance, mother, for that pudding back in ’75.
Irma emailed to ask how mobile ‘yo mumma’ was. She didn’t write that, but I bet she said it. I replied somewhere between Douglas Bader and Strictly Come Dancing. She could make her way out of the plane, but it was making her way through the airport that worried her. Cue instant email with details about little buggies and images of scarily tall smiling Dutch people.
Pieter called. The KLM love machine was in full swing, I thought. I’m only trying get one little Glasgow woman shifted from point A to point B. It’s not the bridges at Arnham. Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned that.
This time it was about medication and air ambulances. Gee whizz, I said, she’s not being airlifted, Pieter. She’d be quite happy with a collie-buckie if you had a strapping lad to hand. Which you do, being Dutch.
There was the discreet ruffling of actual paper in the background and gently murmured conversation. I think I guessed the truth before Pieter came back on the line. My mumma had been mixed up with another mumma.
Yo mumma, he said, is being looked after by Irma, who, and I quote, is just super-outstanding.
Pieter, I said, have you been cheating on me all this time with another mumma? And to think I was worried about me and Irma…..