We are in the middle of a management meeting. Okay, there are only three of us, but together, we are almost impossible to manage and it always takes us ages.
I go to make the tea. The phone rings. B answers it and I can hear him chatting away. When I come back in to the room, he mouths "It's your mother!", and passes the handset over.
Me: [cautiously] Hello?
Ma: [bellowing] Hello dear! I can only speak to you for as long as it takes to peel a cabbage!
Me: [thankfully] So not that long then?
Ma: [still bellowing] I've rung up to find out when you're in. I'm going to put your christmas cake on a carrier.
Me: [still back there with peeling cabbage timescale thing] .....
Ma: [continued bellowing] I wanted to know what days you'd be in for it to be delivered. I've managed to ice it, so I'm thinking that tonight after I make the forty holly wreaths that that chap in town wants, I'll wrap it up. It should be hard enough.
Me: [as before] .....
Ma: [now bellowing over background of cabbage peeling noises] And the pudding of course! Denise sent her mother some flowers by Amtrak and they were very good, so I was thinking I'd phone them.
Me: [finally finds voice] Yes? Or you could just take it to the Post Office and send it Parcel Force?
Ma: [slightly quieter, still clearly peeling cabbage] I hadn't thought of that. Yes, perhaps I could. I'll sort it out anyway, so long as you're in.
Me: Yes, I'll be in. And even if I'm not, they'll just put a card through the door and I can get it redelivered.
Ma: [bellowing, redux] Here, speak to your father. He said he was going for a wee and a sit-down, but he's put his big gloves on and his hat and scarf, he's going out I think.
Me: [vainly] We're kind of having a meeting ...
Ma: [now bellowing at Pa] Here! Speak to your daughter!
Pa: [in background, faintly protesting] But I'm going out! On my mobility scooter! Look! I've got my hat on!
Ma: [very loudly indeed] Here you are! Here she is! Say something!
Pa: [resignedly] Hello.
Me: [resignedly] Hello. Are you going out then?
Pa: Yes. It's sunny. Don't want to miss the sun.
Ma: [bellowing in background] Here! You take the receiver! You hold it!
Pa: [suddenly bellowing back] I can't! I've got my gloves on! I told you! I'm going out!
Ma: [bellowing] Here, take it!
[bellowing suddenly becomes muffled]
[phone clearly drops to floor]
Pa: [comes back on line] I'm going out then. I'll pass you back to your mother. Nice to talk to you anyway.
[pause, as resigned grumbling gently recedes in to distance]
Ma: [slightly less bellowy] There, he's gone out.
Me: [finally finds voice] We're having a meeting, actually.
Ma: Well, I've peeled my cabbage, I've got to go and make those forty holly wreaths now. Speak to you soon!
Me: Yes, bye then.
Ma: [has already hung up]