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It’s difficult to fully explain – let alone comprehend, I expect – the tradition of Playing Tornado at The Mom’s. You really are going to have to suspend rather of a lot of disbelief, but I assure you this is actually how we roll.

I had been ever so slightly disappointed that an opportunity to play tornado hadn’t come up when we entered my third and final week of another fun game called Playing Summer (it’s a less exciting game for everyone else, but it means that I get three weeks of actual sun instead of bright cloud and rain). There had been hardly a cloud in sight which was good in some ways (I need all the Vitamin D and exposure to the Outside I can get whilst at home) but the ground was dry as a bone, and the temperatures hovered around 40C with the humidex. It was so humid you actually felt like you were melting. I don’t mind the dry heat (I think, it’s been ages since I’ve experienced it but my memory is that I was okay) but humidity is not good. Especially not good for the joints, and it makes mine particularly creaky. I was swollen the entire time I was home – fingers, feet, all of me, puffed up with the creaks. This means that I limp and waddle. Keep that image in mind.

On the evening in question, it had been extremely humid – the weather information I got from the internet said it was 100% humidity which I’m not entirely sure is possible without rain but never mind, you get the picture. I was itching for a bit of tornado.

But there were no clouds on the horizon. Nothing doing.

The Mom and I, after finishing dinner, shuffled off to our separate screens. The Mom’s habit is to take Mrs Beeton upstairs (she sits on the far end of the dinner table, lording it over us as we eat), then brush her teeth and put her pjs on, and this being summer her pjs are literally a t-shirt and undies. She was indeed wearing trainers but it is beyond me as to why. Was she going to go outside in that get up? I wouldn’t have put it past her.

Anyhow, just before I go to have my night cap, she comes barrelling into my room.

“There’s a tornado coming!” she screeches.

I look out the window. The sky is clear.

“Is it? Is it really?”

“There is something horrible and red shouting at me from the TV?”

“Is it blocking Wolf Blitzer’s face?


Taking a deep breath I replied, “Not necessarily a bad thing. Change the channel.”

“It’s on every bloody channel!”

I’m at this point assuming that there’s some screw up with the TV since only the day before we’d been to see The Mom’s cable, internet, and phone provider and had switched up the things she has so that now she has things she uses, and those things only.

“Right, show me,” I say, pointing to her room.

“You can’t hear the god-awful bleeping from here?” she asked incredulously, as though a helicopter were in the room with us and I couldn’t hear it.

“I’ve gone a bit deaf,” I shouted at her.

Rolling her eyes, she hustled me into her room to see the TV.

“Huh,” I said.

I returned to my room for my laptop which is the way I cope with any and all problems. Start with the laptop, if Mr. Google doesn’t know, call the lawyer.

I asked the internet if there was weather coming and if it might be ugly, and the internet assured me that all was well.

The red thing though, still there. And now I could hear the bleeping.

I heard noises behind me and saw The Mom, still in just a t-shirt and her undies and trainers, throwing random things into a laundry basket that holds her ‘files’. Now, her files are normally kept on the floor at the foot of her computer, so this new location caused some confusion.

“These are my important papers!” she yelled half in panic, half in exasperation – that I couldn’t see that they were obviously the important ones because they were in a yellow laundry basket.

“Yes, of course. Obviously. No idea how I missed that.”

“Shut up! Pack a tornado bag!”

“My tornado bag is already packed. It remains packed when I am here in summer. Just in case.” I may have said that a tiny bit more smugly than intended.

“Smart ass. Get the canaries!”

“Which ones?”

That stopped her in her tracks. “Your sister’s birds, for sure. If there’s time, grab Dad.”

“What about Gary?”

“Gary has a goitre and a hole in his face!” She replied.

“I’m not convinced this is happening,” I said, scrolling down my screen.

“But look! CNN has a giant red warning!”

“What the hell does CNN know about here? Those people are in Atlanta!”

“They have ways!”

“And I have the internet!” I retorted showing her the screen. “Besides which, you cannot play tornado without putting on pants first. It’s in the rules.”

Shaking her head at my obvious foolishness, she scrutinised the screen.

“That radar does look deceptively clear,” she said.

“It does. And frankly, I just don’t feel like a rousing game of tornado tonight. I have to drive to Stratford tomorrow. On the highway. You know how I feel about the highway.”

“It’s not actually a highway.”


“You like driving fast.”

“You remember what happened with the truck yesterday? When I nearly drove over the median because it was plainly going to crush us?”

“I remember that. The truck was, I maintain, not going to crush us.”

“No, because I got out of the way.”

“Yes,” The Mom said, putting her laundry basket full of important papers down. “Perhaps it is best if you get a good sleep tonight. Wouldn’t want the heebie jeebies to get you while you’re driving my car on the highway.”

“No, bad look for everyone.”

“We probably won’t die,” she surmised.

“No, probably not,” I said, closing the laptop.

A few seconds later, the giant red thing covering Wolf Blitzer’s face went away and the horrible sound with it.

“See? Even CNN cancelled tornado.”

There’s some kind of effect Wolf Blitzer has on The Mom – it’s calming and hypnotic. She crawled into bed next to the parakeet.

“So I’m going to take my medicine now because officially the game’s been called off, yes?” I asked, backing slowly out of the room.

The Mom flapped her hands at me. “Yes, fine, go do what you have to do.”

“I’ll check the weather again later.”

But The Mom made no reply, because Wolf was talking about Trump and she is powerless to resist such things.