Skype is the foundation of a healthy, informed, long-distance relationship between an emigrant and their family. You can call home for free and reminisce about childhood activities, enquire as to the health and various brazen outbursts of nieces and nephews and generally keep the home fires burning.
My Dad had a tough time getting used to Skype. The first few times I called home, he sat in the corner of the room giving the screen the side-eye as I think it just was a bit too much technology in his face. My Dad was born before World War II and he once told me an amazing story about being really small and listening to the radio during a late-war bombing campaign. One of the bombs was so loud through the speaker that the radio jumped off the table. This is not the correct generation of man to be coping with the age of skype and internet memes.
Anyway, I called home a few weeks ago to say yip and do a general catch up but the internet was flooded by my Mam going bananas about a coven of cats setting up home in the neighbours garden. My Mam has been watching the cats multiply for a few months, and had reached literal boiling point. It was like watching an episode of Tom and Jerry where some fella’s angry at them for messing and there’s steam coming out of his ears. She had decided to begin embracing the internet and the first thing she watched was this lovely video about cats…
The absolute feline horror of the situation forced my Dad to overcome his internet fear and speak DIRECTLY INTO THE CAMERA. It took a lot of bottle. It was an emotional moment.
Every call since has been based around the cats and i’m following it like a series of The Wire. My Mam has now gotten advice off the internet which involves soaking rags in bleach and tying them to the trees in the garden ‘cos cats hate the smell. I’m waiting on a photo of our once pristine, urban garden having been transformed into some kind of Waco-style commune, with stinking dishrags hanging from branches.
Tonight’s call was the clear winner though. My Mam has now read on some chat forum that if you mix bleach with “a quart of tiger’s piss”, (her words, not mine), that the cats hate that and they’ll fuck right off. A quart of tiger’s piss? Excuse me? Who figured that out? Who sprayed their city lawn with tiger’s piss and then realised that the neighbourhood moggies did a legger very soon after?
I am hoping and praying the next call opens with a discussion about her negotiating a quart, just a quart, no more, no less, of tiger urine from the staff in Dublin Zoo.