The Independent: There's no way I'm pounding the sidewalk with someone who looks like Joan Baez's fat ugly sister

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There's no way I'm pounding the sidewalk with someone who looks like Joan Baez's fat ugly sister

The Independent/2006-08-31
By Cooper Brown

My mom has come to stay. Jesus Christ, how old does a guy have to get before they stop hassling you? I assumed there'd be some sort of cut-off point that we'd mutually agree to and we could all go our separate ways. Not for the Coop.

My Mom is a frickin' hippy. I'm not talking someone who does the odd bit of vegetarian cooking or made me have long hair when I was a kid (although both happen to be true). I mean that she's a total GRADE ONE hippy.

I'm going to get all American and tell you about my childhood for a moment if you don't mind. I think it'll explain some stuff. I was born in 1966 and Mom probably didn't even notice for a couple of years as she'd consumed so much LSD. From the age of about five we lived in a hippy "collective" in the Redwood forests just north of Eureka in northern California, my hometown. It was "heavy shit, man". As far as I could make out, conventional marriage wasn't the done thing up north and my Mom had about six "official" husbands who wandered in and out of the Teepee whenever they pleased. I called them all "Dad" and Mom's never revealed to me which one, if any, is the real Cooper Senior. This actually comes as something of a relief as they were all, without exception, complete hippy assholes who couldn't deal with the concept of soap, water or the 20th century. It also allows me to cling to the hope that my real dad might be cool and not the flautist from Gong.

When we left the "collective", Mom joined "The Family". This was a completely fucked-up hippy cult type thing that followed the "teachings" of a guy called David Berg and we became "Children of God". I'm not going to linger here too much about what happened with these freaks - Google it, it's well documented. To cut a long story short, I have a profound, deep, hatred of all things hippy and I suppose that my life has been spent pursuing the diametric opposite. Get this and you'll get the Cooperman.

You know the "Kill All Hippies" T-shirt? That was the work of a young sophomore Cooperman and made me enough dough to go through Berkeley. See, the Cooper-man's a little bit more complex than some of the freaks and geeks who've been writing in about me these past weeks. Maybe you shouldn't rush to judge.

Anyhoo, a visit from my Mom isn't high on the wish list but over she came and she's shacked up at my apartment for two frickin' weeks. Major bummer! Now she's straight at me for my "possessions" and how I'm into money and status.

"Yeah, dead right - you know what? The reason I'm into all that stuff is so that I don't end up like you, with lentils for brains." This doesn't go down well.

Just to get out, I take her to see the sights of London. Problem one: she won't get in my freshly re-sprayed Quattro-porte. Problem two: I tell her about the graffiti incident and she thinks it's MY fault. Problem three (BIG problem): she wants to walk. The Cooperman does NOT walk. Walking is for the mentally ill and the homeless and there is no frickin' way I'm pounding the sidewalk with someone who looks like Joan Baez's fat ugly sister.

In the end we compromise and get on a bus. It's the first and last time I've been on one since I got here. Jesus Christ! How does anyone do it? Mom starts hassling the driver about how it should be an electric vehicle while I try my best not to get stabbed by the three hooded teens lounging over about 10 empty seats while we have to stand. Oh for a handgun.

We get off at Marble Arch because she wants to go see Speaker's Corner. Ken Livingstone should just build four walls round the whole thing, lock it up and throw away the key. Every nut-job in the Yookay was out shouting rubbish about everything. Typically, Mom thought it was "ammmaaazzzing" and we had to spend a humiliating half an hour talking to some freaky Muslim dude who was calling for an all-out attack on the White House. Back home this guy would be in Guantanamo before he could say, "No bacon with that, buddy", but over here he's allowed to do his thing and my Mom thinks the guy's a frickin' prophet. The bearded mullah finally asks me what I do and I tell him that I'm a newspaper columnist for The Independent and the guy goes nuts and starts bowing down at the altar of Robert Fisk. He thanks me profusely for coming and urges me to tell the truth to the world. I promise him that I would do just that. It's so great to be able to fulfil that promise.

I try real hard not to get my Mom to meet Victoria but she suddenly turns up unannounced at the Cooperdome. My Mom answers the door, and that's that. Next thing I know, they've gone to lunch together to a place called Blah Blah Blah, and that does sound real appropriate.

Three hours later they come back and Victoria is totally into her, it's like she's just collected another trophy freak for her fashion friends. Victoria starts telling me all this stuff about ME as a kid that my Mom has told her. I try to chill but finally blow and ask Mom whether she's told Victoria about "The Family" and its views on sex with children? Everyone goes berserk and Victoria totally takes my Mom's side and, yet again, I'm the bad guy.

I get out and go round to Ben's and he has the solution to my problems.. I don't go back to the apartment for two days straight and I don't think that my Mom even noticed. Eight more days of this shit - count them down with me. Cooper out.