I’m no beautician as anyone will tell you, but I recently had to give my mother a much-needed manicure (long story). The only quiet place we could find was a bench outside the hospital (very long story), slightly away from the busy path and surrounded by neglected perennials – no, the metaphor didn’t escape me. My more dextrous sister usually does the nail-cutting, so I’m not as adept as I ought to be, and I was terrified I’ll slice off a fingertip. As I searched for my nail clippers, Mum said she wanted her glasses ‘for protection’. I wasn’t sure greater scrutiny would assist either of us in our joint endeavour, but I couldn’t really refuse.
Then I gave her a biscuit to eat with her right hand, while I examined the nails on the left hand, deciding where to start. The first finger looked straightforward-ish, so I took a deep breath and went in for the kill. Ping, neatly clipped (no blood) then carefully filed smooth. Good job done. I approached her middle finger with growing confidence and snipped it perfectly (still no blood). I relaxed a bit, this wasn’t as hard as I expected, and even if there was blood, we were less than 50 metres from A&E so all would not be lost. Now for the thumb. This was trickier as I couldn’t find the right angle without putting her in an arm lock. Finally I lined things up and pressed down on the clippers hard. Ping, her thumbnail snapped off, and flew straight into my eye. Now there was blood – my blood!
Okay, no, I’m lying. No blood. I did manage to extract the offending sharp object from my cornea without too much trouble. I glanced at Mum who was trying not to laugh, and pointing at my handbag. I sighed, found my own glasses and put them on ‘for protection’. As always, she was right.
Later as I drove home, I smiled, reliving the intimacy involved in the manicure, and realised that, as mother and daughter, it had done us both the world of good. Who needs lively chat and deep conversation when you can just sit together and giggle? For the first time since lockdown, I felt truly lucky. Liz John