Thursday, 18 August 2011

Families are funny Part 2

I didn't write this note, honest. Check out for more post-it fun.

I promised you some more quotes from “The Book,” my family’s personal record of weirdness. (We all need something to read on these dark, cold, er, August nights.) Reading the books as a whole reveals some odd themes. For instance, most of my entries seem to be a case of premature dementia: “I can’t remember the word for... I can’t remember it now.” (It was mittens... I kept calling them “muffins”.) “What’s that word for making a credit card come alive?” Activate? “Yes!”) Which sounds strange for someone who writes as much as I do... maybe I just have too many words floating around in my head.)

My dad, however, shows an unusual level of empathy with birds, with declarations such as “If I were a bird, I’d have a nest all through winter,” and when watching a wildlife documentary, “I wouldn’t want my mother pecking me.” (A programme about exotic pets elicited the comment “I don’t see how you could have a relationship with an alligator, really.”) Spending a lot of time in the garden obviously affects his thought processes; Apropros of nothing, he once mused “Of course, when you eat honey, it’s been chewed by little bees and spat out.”

And for someone who spends most of his time gardening and playing golf, Dad has an unexpected alter-ego that we refer to as “Christophe.” (Imagine a character with a smock, beret, cropped trousers and a pencil moustache.)

Christophe is the side of Dad which feels the need to criticise the outfits of women on television and has a deep love for Lush products, with all of their unusual ingredients... once prompting Mum to suggest “Tell your son what you did in the bath with your liquorice.” (For the record, he ate it.)  

He lives in our hearts: this is how I imagine Christophe would look. (This is actually 
Phillip Bloche, yet another celebrity stylist. They get everywhere, don't they? Like ants.)
My mother the comedienne has a kind of wide-eyed Lucille Ball vibe, apparently totally unaware that what she's saying contains double entendre-style hilarity. This child-like simplicity means that she's probably the person with the highest number of entries on the book, with comments such as “It’s all too hard... this is a children’s book..!” when puzzling over some writings about the solar system.

She also resembles a small child in her generosity; always anxious to share. She regularly throws rubbery jelly sweets in my direction, saying “Eat these! They’ve got spinach in them!” and once begged “PROMISE me you’ll have some of this chocolate!”

Growing up, our family always had a somewhat laid-back attitude to housekeeping, resulting in one visitor asking “are you aware there’s a cake under this cushion?” (To be fair, it was in a bag) and when a drink was spilled, my mum saying with relief “It’s alright, it’s all gone into the cushion.”

My parents’ idle chatter is a heady combination; my mother’s stream-of-consciousness conversational style and my dad’s ability to think along completely different lines to her. For example, one such talk went like this:

Mum: I don’t take sage anymore, because that lady said not to....although I haven’t had as many hot flushes lately.... but then it’s been colder, so it’s hard to tell, isn’t it?
Dad: You saw a froggy the other day, didn’t you?”

We soon realised that he was referring to the weather being unseasonably mild for December, hence the frogs appearing in the garden. Incidentally, the ‘rents are very fond of these and have a little frog friend, Ferdinand. Mum was once heard to say “Would he eat a bit of potato?” and “He’s getting to know my voice!” before Dad informed her “They don’t have ears". (Actually, it turns out they can hear – with tiny eardrums in their lungs! Who knew?)

I have inherited my mother’s tendency towards malapropism; her attempts at ethical shopping resulted in: “You’re supposed to buy that rechargeable cod.” (And her idea of organic vegetable boxes? “I always imagine it just a little thin carrot covered in mud.”) I tend to confuse words which look or sound similar, such as euthanasia, utopia and Esperanto. Which makes conversation about languages quite interesting.

May I include a non-family anecdote? I’ve recently been enjoying Sunday morning trash TV in the form of The Rachel Zoe Project. You may recall the name – she’s the celebrity stylist who dresses everyone in big loose dresses and leggings. She also talks, hilariously, like a robot; a valley girl accent with a monotone delivery which sounds exactly the same whether she’s saying “Oh my god, that’s hilarious,” or “Oh my god, shut up right now. This is a disaster.” If you’ve never seen her, imagine someone whose face is numb with novocain. (Actually, she has funny little bulldog cheeks too, so maybe she has some recurring dental problems.)

Anyway, her assistants are equally emotionless and odd, but one of them made me giggle this week when gushing about a designer: “The collection was amazing. Each dress was better than the next.”

Believe it or not, I’m no stranger to the stupid comment myself. After being surprised to discover that Russia is technically part of Asia (in my school, the first three years of geography lessons was spent making relief maps out of paper mache), I said to my dad “I didn’t even know Russia was in China!”


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