'Did I tell y' about the doctors' surgery?' asks mother.
'No', says I.
Soon after, I'm looking at this:
...And my sister and I are laughing at the very twenty-first century apology, from So So Sorry, of Spennymoor, that appeared on the local newspaper's website. (It was his kid wot dun it, apparently - burned the doctors' surgery down.) Confirming the gravitas of the blaze, mother grimly adds, 'They had to close Asda'.
On Saturday, my mother laid some flowers in the walled remembrance garden at the crematorium, in Durham. It was a bittersweet moment. She cried, I patted her back.
Later, in Durham, sister and I were on a Day-Before-Mothers-Day mission.
'Do we need wrapping paper?' I ask.
Sister locates the wrapping paper in Waterstones, swears, and re-directs us. 'Haway. Indoor market'll be cheaper.' A daughter's love, a daughter's economy.
Later still on Saturday, I recognise some things about mother's life in the small town that I'd previously undervalued. As she's describing the trials and tribulations that various friends and faces have been dealing with, I ask where she gets all of this information from. Seems that a walk through town is sufficient. People on the street. Tiny details, good for the soul.
Sunday, we went out for lunch, prior to my drive back. In the family restaurant, it seemed like tattoos were en vogue. But then I notice that many of said tattoos have that slightly blurred - stretched - quality. And I listen to how some of the fellow diners are speaking. 'More on rogue, than en vogue', I decide, admiring the line, but choosing not to share it. Wouldn't want to offend, see. Or get beaten up.
I get back to Stoke-on-Trent at around 6:45pm, and Emma gives me the lowdown on her weekend. 'I missed you', she adds. Fifteen minutes later, The Boy - returned by his Dad - steps in, throws his arms open and around me for a big hug, and says, 'We didn't win the talent show, but everyone laughed when we mixed the cat food into the rice pudding. And Miss Stokes asked who wrote our script. She wants you to help her with something, I think.'
And not to miss out on this lo-fi reunion, the cat wanders in, heads for the fireplace, and starts to bite the tulip stems.