She freed a carload of caftans*

In a workshop today a man’s mobile rang, filling the room with the loudest, most cacophonous, aural riot of a ringtone you could ever imagine. The man was wearing a bottle green blazer, stripy shirt and was working the taxi driver look: slightly longer hair at the nape of the neck – the beginnings of a mullet. Moustache by default, sir, yes sir!

The first time the phone rang the man sitting next to him – who was wearing a beret, and was about 8 foot tall – closed his eyes.

The second time it rang – and while the mobile owner and was looking in the other direction – beret man for the briefest of seconds bared his teeth and snarled at him. Snarled at a stranger! With grrr sound effects! Life surely cannot get better than that.

But hold your bets, because a couple of days ago my father told me about my mother’s recent discovery of Ebay. The background to this is that my intelligent but technophobe mother learnt to operate a mouse in approximately 2002 when she grasped the idea that one can allow the mouse to break contact with the table surface, and that in fact one must do so in order to navigate a computer successfully: until then I would walk in and find her facedown on the table with her right arm completely outstretched before her as if she was doing front crawl, waiting for someone to manoeuvre the cursor away from the edge of the screen (backwards mousing was another level altogether of course).

Once she conquered the mouse there was no stopping her, and apart from the occasional lapse when I would find her about to inadvertently marry a Romanian in a chatroom she thought was the Marks and Spencer online shopping page, it was plain sailing.

She recently decided that she wants to purchase a Mexican-style caftan folk dress like the one that she bought in Los Angeles in 1984 while we were there for an uncle’s wedding. My father was apparently insistent that she wear it to the wedding celebrations themselves because he had ‘put good money into it’ – by which logic we should all sleep in our oak wood coffins before we die in order to get our money’s worth. I vaguely recall the dress – I always thought it was just a galabeyya. In any case she successfully placed a bid which represents a monumental step forward. The problems only came later. She was the sole, and therefore highest bidder, but when prompted by the automatically generated Ebay email to place a higher bid and ensure success, she apparently almost did so – effectively trying to outbid herself. My father managed to prevent this but was unfortunately not around all the time…

She has somehow managed to bid for and buy, not one, but three Mexican-style caftan folk dresses.

She has no idea how this happened, and one can only hope that Croydon stages a fancy dress Frida Kahlo retrospective or my mother is invited to the Mexican Ambassador’s residence (three times) or I decide to have a Mexican-themed wedding or funeral, in order to ensure she gets her money’s worth.

*There is an extremely poor standard wordplay joke in this title, for which I apologise. I simply cannot resist these urges.

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