Saturday night and I am on a mobile phone talking to a teenage girl who is impersonating another teenage girl’s mother. It is somewhat surreal. ‘ But you sound so young…’ I keep saying. ‘ Really? ‘ She sounds genuinely surprised, this young girl pretending to be a grown-up. ‘ Well, my name is Sharon and I’m The Mother and they’re arriving any minute and shall I get her to call you when they get here?’ She repeats this sentence several times, she has clearly been told not to deviate from her Mother script.
The call with the mother impersonator is the culmination of an hour’s worth of parental detective work triggered by the refusal of an offer for a lift by DD and her friend R to the nice, quiet sleepover they are attending – alarm bell 1, teenagers NEVER turn down lifts – the unprompted offer from DD of the phone number I am now calling – alarm bell 2, teenagers NEVER willingly hand over parental contacts – and a story so full of holes and inconsistencies that I am tempted to sit DD down and give her a few tips on lying to mothers about one’s whereabouts based upon my own shameful teenage experiences – I would never have concocted something so complicated and unwieldy.
One quick phone call to R’s mother in which we quickly untangle this web of Saturday night teen deceit and I call back to inform the fake mother that R’s mum is on her way now to get the girls. I also ask her if she is aware that the landline number she has given me doesn’t tally with the address the girls are supposedly staying at, meaning she is not telling the truth about where she is calling from?
‘ Really? I don’t know why the number is wrong, that’s weird…’ She sounds genuinely surprised by this news and I must admit to a grudging respect for whoever I am talking to’s determination to stay in character regardless of the clear factual evidence to the contrary. When DS checks the number the next day we discover it belongs to a girl in his year who is a keen drama student and renowned for her acting skills. ‘ She’s really good ‘ he says. ‘ Not at mothers ‘. He smiles for the first time this pre-GCSE weekend and I stop worrying for at least a minute.