When she was young, and probably everyone else was too, my mother went to Canada. We had a lot of family over there. Her own mother was one of ten children, and many of them emigrated after the war. For work and… to be fair, I’m not sure. I suspect, even those who were too young to fight, needed a change. A big change, true enough, but a change. And Canada is stunning.

Now, the way she told it, my mother was ten years younger than she really was because it suited the story. This is the stuff I am made of. The only reason I know she was in her thirties, not her twenties, is because I have Google, and can check the date the book was published. I’ll get to the book in a minute.

Anyway, she went to Canada, to meet some of her uncles, aunts and cousins; people who were raised at a similar time, but in differing circumstances, and who she was at pains to impress. It was just her nature.

She picked up a book at the airport. It was The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer. She had heard a lot about Germaine Greer, and desperately wanted to read the book. However, knowing that her mother’s sisters were probably similarly perturbed by any acknowledgement of nudity, my mother ripped the cover off the book before she got on the plane.

Cover assault notwithstanding, it was a brave moment for my mother. Around that time, she had wanted to buy a lava lamp. And perhaps she even would have, except that her friends at that time told her that “the lava lamp had disappointingly phallic implications.”

Now, my poor mother was terribly naïve. About as naïve as she wanted to believe everyone else was. They weren’t. However, she was mortified by the idea of having a light-up penis in her window. And with that, she never bought a lava lamp.

She told me the story when I was around twenty-one. It was a day or two later that I bought her a lava lamp.

Not even slightly phallic, it was green and yellow. She was delighted.