A guide to facetiming your parents from Cambridge

Explaining how an iPhone works to your parents is so much more fun through an intermittent and blurred conversation

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It’s that time of the week again: Sidge is shut, your bike is locked up and our lectures are over – yet you learn for another job. That’s right: it’s time to give your mum and dad a call and see what pearls and shrieking wisdom they can impart today.

Of course, give them a few chances to successfully answer the phone: they didn’t have iPhones in the 1860s or whenever it was that they were born, so you need a little patience (aka drink) for the task ahead. Anyway, even once they’ve picked up, they’ll probably end up muting their microphone, or prematurely ending the call, or accidentally turning the camera around and then claiming that they are unable to turn it back, leaving you with the vision of a shadowy fingertip for the remainder of the conversation.

So timing is critical: try to call when your fave television programme is being screened and then have your parents balance their phone on the edge of the sofa. That way, you’ll be able to watch TV without paying for a TV licence, and you won’t have to actually speak to your parents and tell them any details about your day – it’s a win win! So for this reason, and this reason alone, make sure they know how to actually use FaceTime before you leave home: you want to be able to access the highest definition of Gail Platt and Steve McDonald you can get.

Have no fear my beloved Steven, not even uni can tear me away from your voluptuous loins

And, like the pics you take at ArcSoc, it’s all about that camera angle: don’t let them even glimpse your laptop stand of dominos boxes, or your pencil case made from Chinese takeaway boxes, or the condom you’re using as a bookmark. Instead, before you call, remember to chuck a few pens across the table and throw some open books over your bed – the illusion that you’re doing work is basically the same as doing work, right?

But when they ask for the obligatory tour around your bedroom, make sure you accidentally on purpose drop your phone as the camera approaches your laundry basket – they don’t need to know that you haven’t done any washing at all this term, despite the fact you’re nearly in week seven (they say you make the best friends at uni and I certainly have – with my deodorant).

Bonus points if you stealthily set up your drying rack in the background of the shot, and slide some throwaway laundry banter into the conversation: “I cleaned the lint filter today, life is such a gift”; “bought some new washing powder and loving life”; “blessed to have a washing machine capable of eco-friendly washes” etc, etc. The trick to successfully FaceTime your parents is simple: just say what they want you to say. And they bloody love it if you talk about laundry.

So blessed. So moved. Can’t believe this is my life.

To avoid the topic of your nap-ridden life, ask about the neighbours, the pets, the cleaning – anything! But be warned: internet connection is a sneaky beast, and you have to be incredibly cunning to beat it. You may tell your parents that you got a 2:2 on your last essay, but they will hear you say that you got a tattoo of Christian Grey. Morse code would probably transmit a more accurate message than the abysmal combination of Facetime through eduroam.

And try to tell them anything about your social life, and you’ll be faced with the revelation that they already knew what you got up to because they’ve stalked you and your friends on Facebook. Yes, mum, it’s truly fascinating that Great Uncle Chas used to live in a village close to the one that’s twinned with the place my new pal was born in – but I just want to tell you about the fab night I had, and so an episode of ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ is really not necessary.

When your mum knows more about your friends than you do

In the end, you realise what put you off calling them in the first place:  Facetime provides them with a medium to moan at you from one hundred miles away, and it was their soporific complaints that drove you away from home to uni in the first place. But even when you’ve decided enough is enough, you have to wait for them to set up a complex contraption of mirrors so you are able to guide them through the arduous process of pressing the big, red ‘End Call’ button.

So maybe don’t bother calling – after all, eight weeks is about as long as it will take for your parents to realise their phone is ringing.