I am finally reading Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections.
I also went to my parents’ for some of half term.
The two met half-way over dinner one night.
Dad: So I suppose you realise I have Christmas on my mind now, Darling.
Me: Gosh, really, Dad? It’s the first of June.
Dad: Yes, well, I made the Christmas pudding in February.
I don’t know what your plans are but I want you to know that you shouldn’t host it.
Me: Why not?
Mum comes back from the kitchen.
Mum: Anyway, Aunty Jenny kept the bungalow dreadfully. It totally let down her side of the cul-de-sac.
Dad: Because you hosted it last year. And once you’ve done it two years in a row, you’re down to do the bugger every year, believe me.
Mum: For example, in the bathroom she had this old towel at the window in place of a curtain. Why you would want to do that I have no idea. Although I suppose it was a bathroom.
But it was just hanging in these threadbare, willowy strips. Can you imagine?
Me: No, it’s fine, Dad. It’s a Christmassy house.
Dad: Well, that’s true, to an extent. But we should have it here, even though Mole* said I’ve become an old fart and can’t cope with it- not exactly but in so many words.
Mum: So I said to her housekeeper, ‘Get her to take down that old towel. It looks terrible.’ And she said, ‘No. Jenny is very insistent that everything stays exactly as it is.’
Me: Thanks, Dad, we’ll see.
Mum: And I said to her, ‘Oh, just take the bloody thing down. She’s blind anyway. She won’t even know.’
Mum: Well, she was. Almost deaf too.
By the way, the people who do the worst plastic bags are Sainsbury’s; the best: Morrisons. That’s why I save Morrisons’ for when you come down because of all the rubbish you create.
Dad: Well, I’ve said my piece. It’s up to you.
Bruno (very still): Can anyone guess which part of my body is moving? No? No? My toes.
Later, I sat on their top floor balcony in the hot evening. It is booby-trapped for pigeons, which keep swerving in to poo on it, driving the Folks doolally.
There were miniature, tinfoil windmills poking into my back and blobs of bleach dotted around the place and when it was very peaceful and I was meditating on the tops of the swaying trees, Dad lunged out of the door and shouted, ‘Dadadadadadadada’ in a very deep voice, to deter an approaching grey visitor.
Dad: Bastard birds. It’s either them or the shite-hawks.** We bought netting today. It’s the only option left.
If you haven’t read The Corrections, it’s so good.
If you haven’t met my family, they’re available for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.
If you are my family, I’m going to ask for 10% of any bookings which result from the above.
* one of my sisters